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Written by  Mike P.
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{tab=Meet The RAPTOR}

I chose the name RAPTOR ( Reinforced Amphibious Personal Terrain Observation) for my rig. It is to be used for exploring beautiful places like Ouray, CO and others around the country. {mosimage}


I followed the concept & design of the FJ for years before it ever came out for sale to the public. I read every article that was written and saved any picture I could find. I was hooked the first time I saw it.

I purchased my Toyota TRD SE FJ Cruiser in early Feb 07



The Following is a breakdown of changes that have been done to this base unit. I will be adding more as time and finances permit. The RAPTOR is an ongoing project, even now.  RAPTOR is being built as an Expedition capable vehicle, so I want to be thorough in every mod that I make.


Road Armor - Titan Front Bumper

I decided to go with the Road Armor Titan front bumper because of the type of terrain that I will most likely encounter when off-roading. Also living in the heart of the Ozark Mountains we tend to have a lot of deer crossing the highways at night, this will also help to protect the vehicle in any unfortunate wildlife encounters. From Road Armor {mosimage}

All Pro - Rear Bumper W/ Hitch

I went with All Pro’s rear bumper because of their upcoming swing arm for fuel carriers. I have been looking at all the manufactures designs and feel that the All Pro is the best option for me. I noticed that most everyone is strapping fuel to their roof. Since no one makes a  rack fuel system, I decided to design a fuel storage system myself.

I liked All Pro’s approach to carrying fuel for keeping the fuel can on both sides of the vehicle. This helps distributing the weight evenly when on the trail in an off camber situation, along with keeping the COG as low as possible.  I am just waiting for All Pro to start selling the swing arm for the rear bumper. I also like the All Pro rear bumper for the departure angles it has. From All Pro Off Road

Bud Built Skids

I decided to go with Bud Built skids for my rig not only for the reputation for having well designed and tough skids, but meeting Bud in person in Ouray, CO at the first FJ Cruiser Summit. I like to support vendors that take the time to go out and meet their customers. From Bud Built


Inchworm E-Locker Motor Skid Plate

I went with the Inchworm E-Locker because I like the design and again their products. I also got to meet them at the Summit. I felt it was prudent to protect one of the most sensitive pieces of equipment under the FJ from trail damage.  It’s also backed up by the Bud Built skids. From Inchworm

All Pro Rear Lower Shock Skid Plate

I went with the All Pro Shock Skids for protection of the lower part of my Donahoe Racing rear shocks. The rear shocks on the FJ are susceptible to trail damage along the lower portion of the shock housing. The shock skids help prevent damage to my rear shocks out on the trail. From All Pro Off Road

All Pro Rear Trailing Link Skid Plate

The All Pro Training Link Skid again helps prevent any type of trail damage to my rear lower links. I am of the mindset that armor is your last line of defense before damage occurs. It could be the difference of coming home safely having wonderful stories to tell, or broken down in the middle of  nowhere trying to find a way to limp off the trail, finding a part, installing it, etc. From All Pro Off Road

TRD Sliders

I am staying at this time with the TRD Sliders that came with the TRD package. I'm normally not a big fan of “OEM” accessories, they are usually are more for aesthetic purposes than function. But this is not the case with the TRD Sliders, I am very impressed with not only their fit, but also who well they're made. They are VERY heavy, which was a big surprise when removing them for the body mount chop.  Maybe down the line I’ll switch to an aftermarket slider, more than likely it will be Demello’s. But right now, they are performing how they were intended.


Mickey Thompson 8x16 Classic Locks w/ Black Faux Bead Lock Ring

Wheels and tires were a very hard decision to make. I have owned many types of custom wheels over the years. I was looking for something a little different than what everyone else was running.  I had been reading about other members that bought the MT’s, some members had rub issues when they got them on their rig’s, others stated they had no problems.  I am very happy with the Mickey Thompson’s I chose. I had the chrome bead lock rings powder coated black to off-set the chrome wheels. I think that gave it a more aggressive look. From Mickey Thompson


Dick Cepek Mud Country - 305/70R16

Tires were another area that the decision was hard to make. I was going to go with Nitto Mud Grapplers. I love how aggressive they are, but did not like that they were not siped for handling in wet conditions. In the end, I went with Dick Cepek Mud Country’s. I purchased them while visiting Rough Country in Dyersburg TN, for the Coon Creek Crawl. They are awesome off and on road, very quiet riding tires for a mud terrain.  From Dick Cepek

Custom Body Mount Chop

I looked around for a competent shop to do my body mount chop.  I found a small Custom Hot Rod shop that had opened up close by, and decided to see if they would be able to do the work that I wanted. I found they were from CA and used to build Sand Rails out there. I gave them some pic’s of Tina’s (VDM) chop she had done. They said great pic’s, we can do that. It looks like it came from the factory that way.


”New Version” Donahoe Racing 3.5” Coilovers

I had a hard time deciding which suspension system that I wanted to go with. I narrowed it down to Donahoe Racing, All Pro Off-Road and King. I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time with some great people. I’m talking about the 2007 FJ Summit in Ouray, CO. The Saturday night at the raffle giveaway I was able to get a great deal from a member that won the Donahoe. From Donahoe Racing

Camburg Upper Control Arms

I thought I might be able to get away with using the stock UCA’s for a while, but that was not the case with using the “New” DR Coilovers. I called Jason Demello and asked him for some advice on UCA’s. In the end I bought the Camburg UCA’s. From Camburg Engineering

All Pro - Pro Link Rear Lower Control Arms with Johnny Joints

I decided to beef up the rear lower control arms on the FJ. I had noticed some other owners had some breakage out on the trail, thin walled tubing is not made for that type of abuse. It works great as long as no directional force is applied in just one area; “pushing inward” deforming the spherical wall. When that happens; catastrophic failure is almost certain. I decided to go with All Pro’s Pro Links, they are a heavy walled tubing with greaseable Johnny Joints. From All Pro Off Road

All Pro – Rear Upper Links with Johnny Joints

I also went ahead and changed out my rear upper links with the beefier All Pro upper links. I have not heard of anyone breaking an upper link yet, but why take the chance. From All Pro Off Road

Gorilla Lugs & Locks (Black)

I also went with Gorilla Lug nuts & locks for the wheels. I have black ones; I thought the color contrast looks better than having chrome. From Gorilla


Warn M8000 Winch

I decided to go with a WARN M8000 winch. They have been around forever in the four wheel drive world and have established an unbeatable reputation for having the most dependable winches on the market. I will change out to synthetic line for safety reasons down the road, but will use cable until the need arises to change it. From Warn


TRD CAI (Cold Air Intake)

I decided to go with the TRD CAI instead of the AFE because of the pictures I saw of both. With the TRD, the box is totally enclosed except for the top which is enclosed with a aluminum lid with a rubber backing held down by six Allen head screws. The only thing I will have to do is make a small transit piece that will go from the Snorkel to the CAI box.

Relocated Rear Differential & E-Locker Breathers (SCUBA Mod)

I then decided it was time to do my SCUBA MOD (a.k.a. Relocating the Rear Differential and E-Locker breather MOD). Toyota has already relocated the front Diff & transfer case breathers, but left the rears alone. I decided to relocate mine up higher, up into the engine bay where the others ones are.


PIAA 510 Ion Super White Driving Lights (2)

I went with the PIAA driving lights instead of fog lights because of the height of the rig. It gives me better visibility when driving on dark roads. From PIAA

IPF 900XSD Extreme Driving Lights (2)

I spent a lot of time looking into and reading about the different off-road lights. I was looking for a light combo that would work in very rough conditions. These lights are the only ones that can be fully submerged under a foot of water while on for up to two minutes. I wanted that capability when having to forge a river crossing at night. I will say, they are a very bright white light. I'm very happy with the IPF's. From IPF

IPF 900XSS Extreme Pencil Beams (4)

I also went with the IPF 900XSS Extreme Pencil Beams for the top of the roof. These will be mounted to a custom Baja Light Bar. It will be another month or two before I receive it. From IPF



Lowrance 540C Baja GPS Unit

I have been looking at all the different GPS devices on the market for a long time because I do a lot of traveling. I am a spoiled when it comes to GPS screen size. I have been using my 15" laptop screen in the vehicle running a GPS for about 4 years now. I was at West Marine one day and started looking at the Lowrance units that they have on display. I went back home and jumped on Lowrance’s web site and did some research and found the 540C Baja GPS was just what I was looking for. It has a 5” screen size, it takes cards for very detailed maps of around the world. It will also handle the abuse of off-road use. I mounted it just above where the rearview mirror. This will give me a good view of the GPS while traveling. From Lowrance

Scanguage II

I bought the Scanguage II to help monitor my engine performance. I wanted to see the difference before and after I purchased my CAI. I noticed that running the Scanguage, I am able to monitor my Intake Air all the time along with many other features. I was getting about 20 –26 degrees over ambient air temp before installing my CAI. Once I installed the it, I was able to not only hear and feel the difference but I could see the difference on the Scanguage. My intake air temps dropped to now 4-5 degrees over ambient. I think everyone should have the Scanguage. What a great tool. I watch it more than I watch the instrument gauge cluster in the vehicle. From Linear Logic

ARB Roof Half Rack

I was going to buy the All Pro roof rack then shorten it down to a "Half Rack" but in the end, I felt it wasn't going to be cost effective. I think it would have looked great, but it would have cost well over $1,500 by the time it was all said and done. I saw another member’s vehicle with the ARB Half rack on it. I liked how sturdy and well-made ARB products are, so that is what I plan to go with. From ARB

{tab=Full RAPTOR Mod List}


Road Armor - Titan Front Bumper

All Pro - Rear Bumper W/ Hitch

Bud Built Front Skid plate

Bud Built Middle Skid plate

Bud Built Transmission & Transfer Case Skid plate

Bud Built Rear Cross member

Bud Built Fuel Tank Skid Plate

Inchworm E-Locker Motor Skid Plate

All Pro Rear Lower Shock Skid Plate

All Pro Rear Trailing Link Skid Plate

All Phase Rear Differential Skid plate (Ordered)

TRD Sliders

Pro One Side Mirror Light Guards

MANIK Tail Light Guards


Mickey Thompson 8x16 Classic Locks w/ Black Faux Bead Lock Ring

Dick Cepek Mud Country - 305/70R16

Custom Body Mount Chop

”New Version” Donahoe Racing 3.5” Coilovers

Donahoe Racing rear Shocks & Springs

Camburg Upper Control Arms

All Pro - Pro Link Rear Lower Control Arms with Johnny Joints

All Pro – Rear Upper Links with Johnny Joints

All Pro - Ultimate Sway Bar Links (Not Installed yet)

Gorilla Lugs & Locks (Black)


Warn M8000 Winch

Warn Fairlead Roller

Warn Receiver Hitch W/ Recovery Shackles

4 Ton Come-Along

(2) 3.5 Ton Shackles

ARB Tree Saver

ARB Snatch Block

ARB Safety Cover

ARB Snatch Strap

ARB Tow Strap

ARB Large Recovery Storage Bag

Hi-Lift 48” Extreme Jack

Hi-Lift Base


TRD CAI (Cold Air Intake)

Relocated Rear Differential & E-Locker Breathers (SCUBA Mod)

ARB Safari Snorkel (Custom Install to CAI)

Std TRD package SS Exhaust System

Mobile One Synthetic Engine Oil

Mobile One Filter


PIAA 510 Ion Super White Driving Lights (2)

IPF 900XSD Extreme Driving Lights (2)

IPF 900XSS Extreme Pencil Beams (4)

Red Neon Under-dash Lighting (Night Vision) Driver & Passenger sides

Rock Blocker Head Light Covers (Smoked)

“Custom” Baja Style Light Bar (Ordered)



Cobra 148 NW ST Sound Tracker SSB CB Radio

Lowrance 540C Baja GPS Unit

Uniden CT7 Police Scanner

Scanguage II

3’ Fire Stick CB Antenna

Bandi CB Mount

Whistler Radar Detector


Duel Vehicle Horns

Emergency Window Breakage Tool

Fire Extinguisher

Sceptor 5gal. Fuel Cans (2)

Tire Plugs, Patches & Tools

JB Weld (For Extreme Trail Breakage)

Heavy Work Gloves

Signal Flares

ARB Recovery Damper (Ordered)

Survival Kit (Very Comprehensive)

CCW Weapon Mount


Fiskars Axe

Fiskars Shovel

Maxx Air Compressor

Staun Tire Deflator

Heavy Duty 4x4 Tire Gauge w/deflator button

Tool Kit including Hack Saw, Breaker Bar

ARB Roof Half Rack (Coming Soon)

Spare Vehicle Fuses

Gorilla Duct Tape

S.S. Bailing Wire

Large Breaker Bar

35mm Socket (Hubs)

GoJo Hand Cleaner

FJC Spare Parts including (2) CV Boots, (2) Upper Rear Links, (2) Rear Lower Links, Serpentine Belt, more to add


Custom Wet Okole Seat Covers

Vent Visors

Stant Locking Gas Cap

RAM Laptop Vehicle Mount

Ellis Precision CNC Billet Aluminum grab handles

Ellis Precision CNC Billet Aluminum Battery Clamp

Window Tint 5% Driver & Passenger Side windows / All Rear Windows 20%


Removed stock emblems

Blacked out Mirrors, Door Handles & Bezel

Blacked out Front Turn Signals & Rear Tail Lights

Shorted Shifter 3"

Installed Custom Shifters

Door Sill Custom MOD

Removed Plastic Fenders


303 Aerospace Protectant for all Exterior Plastic

Mr. Clean Car Wash System For Exterior


All Pro Rear Bumper Swing Out Spare Fuel Carrier (Ordered)

Outback Air System (Coming Soon)

ARB X-Jack Exhaust Jack

Duel Optima Battery Setup

Synthetic Winch Line

Complete CV Axe setup (Spare)

S.S. Break Lines

Spare Radiator Hoses Upper & Lower

VIAIR Reserve onboard Air System (Running Air Tools)



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    Read 9120 times Last modified on %PM, %29 %860 %2013 %13:%Aug