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irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/20/23 5:16 p.m.
engiekev said:

How are you liking the seats you installed?

We really need to replace our Gen1 seats with something newer, they're just worn out and I don't fit too well in them.  Would be really nice to find something with integrated arm rest like the Gen2 seats.  We've also been looking at Corbeau GTS2.

the seats are great. comfortable and supportive. I do wish they were a bit lower though, I feel like I'm sitting REALLY high (though I have a foot of headroom above me. Good for sightlines on the trail, but feels a bit "up there' on the streets. I couldn't figure out any way to make them lower though....the WRX seats are simply thicker at the base than the OEM ones. 

engiekev HalfDork
3/22/23 10:23 a.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Maybe you can do a foamectomy, miata style?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/26/23 10:27 p.m.


Headed up to the MD/WV border to check out Wolf Den Run state park, which has a lot of great new trails and is making more. It's only $12 entry, so way less than Rausch Creek ORV park, and is only 2.5 hours away so that's pretty close for this metro area. The weather was perfect and after a ton of rain yesterday dust wouldn't be an issue (but water?) Anyhow, met up with Andy Thomas (rallycross national champion and featured earlier in wheeling in his big-ass pickup in this thread), and Andy just picked up a Montero Sport (stock except tires) and wanted to test it out before he does a larger build on it. His buddy RJ came as well, in a nicely-built Jeep Gladiator.


Note: just the cab of the Gladiator forward of the bed is the size of the Raider, which is pretty funny. That thing made big rocky areas look easy but did have some trouble in the tight woodland areas (the opposite of the Raider, basically)



Overall, the Raider continues to be a great little rig for blue-trail wheeling. Great maneuverability and traction, it's really sure-footed and adding the spacers actually makes a big difference in terms of how stable it feels on off-camber and off-angle stuff. Didn't have any issues all day other than a handful of hard bangs and drags over rocks due to its relatively low clearance. I definitely need to build a strong gas tank skid (said that before and didn't do it....) since I took a couple hard hits there dropping off ledges....sucky gas tank location on this thing....



I'm still having an issue with a loud "pop" sound that I can't seem to locate whether it's front or rear and only happens when (it seems) the front right wheel goes to max droop or max compression. I thought previously it was the swaybar but it still did it with the front sway removed so....will have to look into it again. Doesn't seem to actually cause any issues but it's pretty unsettling on trail. 


Andy's Monty Sport did pretty well, though lack of rear LSD showed itself a few times and he had hard hits too since his clearance is about the same as mine.




Plenty of water as well, some areas maybe 2 feet deep, so not too bad




Cruised with this couple on the way home, guess they were out camping but I was looking at all their gear on the highway for an hour....



Anyhow, a few other photos




irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/9/23 9:46 p.m.

We got new HVAC at the house last week. Instead of having the guy haul the old furnace and stuff away, I took everything apart for scrap (got about $140 out of it, so worth the hour of effort). Anyhow, haven't used the Raider Trailer much recently, so this is perfect



Figures my scrapyard pic is blurry.........



Here's one that's not, because I look so overland-y rolling with this trailer here in the suburbs.....



So yeah, that's it. Just taking the opportunity to post some pics I guess :

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/29/23 9:13 p.m.

Hey, let's do a little update here. First, a few pics of the last Rally-X. Since I was not driving my car, I rolled out to Summit Point in the Raider and used it as a basecamp

and corner-working station/photog platform

and recovery rig for brokedown Subaru rally car...

Andy was there with his Monty Sport as well (seen previously in this thread) and got to do some towing as well. Not a great day for Subies...


Now, on to some other stuff. So I think I mentioned before I picked up another pair of WRX seats - same as the ones I currently have in the Raider (except not yet dyed tan to match). I had gotten rid of the old grungy bench seat in the back when this build started and built a storage platform back there. I have to say, it was really well-built and I'm still pretty proud of it - but I found it to be a bit inconvenient for some purposes, and I've also wanted to have the ability to carry a third person in the truck on a few occasions - also handy if I ever use this thing for Rally Sweep duties, which is another future plan, where a 3rd person aboard happens on occasion. 

So, out came the platform, parts of which will be repurposed in the future.

First order of business was to cut off all the odd Subaru brackets on the seats, which are all funky and not flat at all...

Then I welded on some square bar stock as mounts since I needed a bit of clearance for the adjuster and other crap under the seat (not pictured).

The back of the Raider is just slightly not wide enough (by about 2-3") for two seats side-by-side, so here we go - the "Dakar Navigator" seat, lol. Single in the middle.  Through-bolted with backing plates under the floor (still have to make some seatbelt mounts). The wife tried it out and give it tacit approval...

Plenty of legroom for me (6') and it can slide up right near the front seats for more cargo space. I'll dye it tan to match the front seats when I get around to it. 

In any case, the plan will be to have the bazooka tube on the right of the seat (it fits) with a small platform over it mounting storage racks or something (TBD). The left side will be for access - since both my front seats have the suspension bases, they don't tilt so the backseat-rider will have to get in from the back - actually pretty easy if you're not elderly lol...

So more on that setup once I figure out what the plan is.


Side note - a couple weeks ago was driving and the clutch pedal went to the floor (I had to rev-match to shift for 10 miles home in suburban traffic...fun). So I put in a new master cylinder and got that bled/adjusted better - I think the old one didn't have the stop in the right place and maybe I was over-compressing the piston and blew it out....IDK, or it was just a cheap/crappy piece. In any case, new one in there now and everything is fine again.



irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/4/23 9:55 p.m.

Related project. I hate strapping stuff down with bungees and ratchet straps, and this vehicle always has a couple of gearboxes for recovery stuff, tools, etc. So let's repurpose some of my materials and see what we can do about that. So Jim (my rally codriver) has the cool Milwaukee Packout setup where all the boxes are held in place by a locking base. pretty neat. All my gearboxes are Ridgid and while they lock together, I didn't find any useful "base" lockdowns for them.

So the first thing was to remove the lockdown "handles" from one of my old broken boxes. These will be my base. They're just U-shaped metal bar handles, basically. After doing some height measurements, I determined they either needed to be sunk into the base or the base raised in order to be tight and lock the upper boxes. Since I'm re-using some of the beefy plywood from the old platform, lets go the former. Got out the dremel and did some manual routing...

so the handle will go like so

here's how it works, basically (the red things are some cut-up old fire extinguisher mounts, by the way. To keep this a free project, of course.

then put together some legs and stuff. Looks janky but it's a perfect fit and plenty strong. They're all braced.

then some carpeting and paint etc etc. So here's where it goes, to the right of the "dakar seat." The outer mounts are through-bolts to the wheel-well, and the inner mounts are brackets attaching to the factory rear bench bolts, basically.

Also my 90s-tastic Bazooka tube fits underneath.

Anyhow, it's solidly-mounted and I can stack multiple boxes there if needed:

So anyhow, that was a fun couple-hour project. I know it could have been done fancier with metal/welding (and I may re-make it in steel someday if I like how it works out), but I do like wood because it's easy to work with and make modifications to, and I don't have to get the welder out. And it's free.



thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/5/23 4:20 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

RE loud pop: have you checked your steering stops? My old Toyota would make terrible noises when the stop on the knuckle would scrape against the stop on the control arm. Allegedly it came from the factory with some plastic covers there but they vanished before I bought it. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/5/23 9:12 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

RE loud pop: have you checked your steering stops? My old Toyota would make terrible noises when the stop on the knuckle would scrape against the stop on the control arm. Allegedly it came from the factory with some plastic covers there but they vanished before I bought it. 

yeah, the covers are long gone but I have some rubber bumpers on them. In any case, it's not when I'm at full lock anyhow, it doesn't seem to care where the wheels are pointing. Still suspect something to do with sway bars....not front since I've detached them and still does it. Rear I put new endlinks on an didn't change anything so still a mystery. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/12/23 5:34 p.m.

Just to finish up the backseat project, I spray-dyed the back seat to match the others, so that looks better

And because I don't like my passengers to die as easily, got myself a seatbelt that matches nicely

thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/12/23 7:01 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Huh yeah, that's weird. There's only so many things that move and you've looked at them all. Old truck fun, right?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/12/23 9:46 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Huh yeah, that's weird. There's only so many things that move and you've looked at them all. Old truck fun, right?

yeah, and I can't replicate it "on demand" it just happens when i'm not expecting it, and I can never quite tell which end of the vehicle it's at. I even had a friend try to locate it from outside last time wheeling and he couldn't pinpoint it. In any case it doesn't seem to actually Hurt anything, just loud and annoying. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/28/23 9:46 p.m.

Project time - because what's better than welding and plasma cutting on a week with a bunch of 100-degree days, right?

Anyhow, I have a couple 2-gallon rotopax jugs. But of course I'm cheap so don't want to buy the mounts, so mostly I've just put them inside the rig when needed, but then I have to hear them slosh around. So let's build some stuff out of random scrap tubing, DOM, and plate I have around the garage....

Did some cutting of some old steel and some leftover tubing from when I built the rack. weld weld and we get these

Then take off the spare tire mount and do this:

And that goes on like so:

So that's the "base." I wanted to make this so it's removable, because I'm not all about the suburban overlander look driving around with my rotopax on the rig all the time....that's lame, plus someone might steal them. 

So, the outer mount is a larger DOM tubing piece that can slide over the tire mount piece...both scrap pieces leftover from the rally car's roll cage build years ago. So it goes on like this, and a bolt holds them together.

After making sure the tubes were the right spread, I put a "cap" on them, with a weldnut in the middle one. This is basically a fabbed-up copy of the actual rotopax extended mount, if you're familiar with that. 

I built a little screw-in handle of sorts. This is probably temporary until I make something a little better. In any case, it's again, the same concept as the actual rotopax one.

So with both cans loaded up and locked in, here it is:

I have a few other small things to do on this project, but they're uninteresting so that's about it.

Side note: 



mr2s2000elise PowerDork
9/1/23 11:06 a.m.

who left the oil puddle?

Recon1342 SuperDork
9/1/23 1:35 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

It astonishes me how much you can fit into these little SUVs...

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/1/23 8:59 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

who left the oil puddle?

I had just moved my wife's vehicle, was just condensation from the A/C lol....my oil stains are way further up the driveway ;)

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/1/23 9:00 p.m.
Recon1342 said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

It astonishes me how much you can fit into these little SUVs...

Something to be said about it being a big square box. Fits way more (functionally) than my wife's CX-9, which is about 50% longer but has the stupid sloped hatchback and stowaway rear seats...

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/1/23 9:18 p.m.

Well, guess I should update stuff. First, headed up a few weeks ago with Andy and some other guys to camp out at Green Ridge State Forest and then wheel at Wolf Den Run. For those that know me, I"m not historically much of a camping type, but I'm tyring to learn (and quickly accruing the right gear for car-camping).  In any case, the Raider is fine for a solo or 2-person trip using tents, and the little awning is nice to have (though it didn't rain)

The next day we got the crew together to tackle some wheeling, with a lot of mud. 

 The Wolf Den Run blacks are mostly do-able with some good effort by the Raider and some of the other rigs, but we also had some first-timers and some stock-ish/lower clearance vehicles with us so we stuck to the upper greens and blues.

Stock 2nd Gen Sequoia did respectably, even on street tires - though he bypassed some of the tougher stuff

But Mike actually did all the blues in his Outback wagon lol


Though the Raider did the bigger obstacles a lot easier than he did since I coudl choose basically any line lol

In any case, the Raider did fine all day and for the 150 miles of highways each direction (which is more tiring in the Raider than wheeling lol). That said, I was still regularly getting the loud pop/creak/bang sound on flexing up front, which didn't seem to hurt anything but still annoying/embarrassing.

So after getting it all cleaned up I decided to investigate further after some tippers from the Montero group. First I greased up all the balljoints in teh suspension and steering, which all seemed fine and weren't too dry. Also did the upper control arm inner mount, which was pretty dry and I've heard can make odd noises. Then I pulled the steering idler arm since the boot to it has looked bad for some time, and this is what it looked like - and didn't seem to be fully seated in the taper of the linkage (!!)

So that looks like a good case of metal on metal and possibly causing the popping/binding sounds, perhaps? In any case, I had a spare (different style balljoint setup on it, so maybe it'll be better, and also greasible. So that's installed

Scientific testing on my curb and ramps didn't cause any noises, so fingers crossed....

It also tightened up the steering well, so that old idler arm definitelhy must have had some slop, happy it didn't result in anything breaking. Need to inspect things more closely going forward with this rig.


irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/30/23 7:23 p.m.

With a few trips coming up, time to finally get around to beefing up the gas tank skid, which is pretty flimsy and has already allowed a few dents in the tank.


Rather than scratch-build, figured I'd just plate the OEM skid with some 1/8" steel, which I had sitting around in the form of the base of my old home A/C outside unit


Cut the edges off...


cut some relief lines and did some bending. Since I don't have a press brake, have to improv...


and then just basically wrapped the OEM skid and welded it all together, long story short


cut some drain holes (same as stock) and test fit. Had to do some bending since the assembly flattened out a bit during welding...


A few coats of paint


And, installed


Down the road I'll probably build an even heavier-duty one from scratch, but that'll wait until I happen to have some good steel sitting around for free, since I'm cheap 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/7/23 11:24 a.m.

Last time out wheeling I noticed my GMRS reception was pretty terrible, even at close range. I've been using a shorty Baofeng antenna that seemed to work fine, but suddely didn't. After checking it out, there's clearly something banging around inside the enclosure, so it's probably just broken. This was a good excuse to finally relocate the antenna from the little platform by the spare tire (along with the radio and CB antennas) back up to the roof with something a bit more effective.

Initially I planned to put it on the edge of the rack, so I had ordered up an RFMAX RBC450 no ground plane 36" antenna. The dog picked it up for me.

In the end I decided to do it through the roof itself with an NMO mount directly, since I don't much care about drilling the roof on this thing. Of course, there's a rack in the way with the chicken coop flooring, so had to cut a notch in that for the antenna and spring base to pass through it. I put it right behind the gearbox up front - specifically so I could use the interior light switch assembly to hide it and not have sloppy wiring.

And through the roof...

There's a metal support seam for the headliner there, where the roof "bumps up" toward the rear, which ended up to work well to hide the wiring without actually taking down the ancient headliner whose foam dissolves upon touch...

So, all set now. We'll see how much improvement it gives in a couple weeks when we head out to the trails again.


irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/23 10:44 p.m.

Time for another trip! Andy set up another run to Wolf Den Run, but this time the intent was to do some harder lines, and some freshly-cleared trails (and map them, sine they're not mapped yet). As it turned out, a couple days of rain would make for some interesting conditions. Also continuing my gearing up with the correct stuff for camping, as I learn more about what I need, what I can fit in the little truck, etc.

Headed up to western Maryland in the early morning to meet up - some of the guys camped the night before but I couldn't get up on Friday.

Upon arrival, it was clear this was a group of much better-equipped rigs than my previous rides with Andy - which were mostly near-stock 4x4s, while most of the attendees to this one were fairly heavily-built rigs with much more ground clearance, lots of lockers, more gear, and more weight than the little Raider, with several of them pretty heavily setup for long-duration overlanding type of stuff with full kitchens, RTTs. One of the TAco guys said his truck was around 6000 lbs....which is about what my Sequoia is! As it would turn out, the weight would hurt these guys in the slippery, steep trails we took.

RJ's triple-locked Gladiator was there, basically the guy who can get anywhere and get anyone else unstuck lol

A couple nice Tacos

Mike was there with his finally-working XJ, which proved to be pretty much unstoppable, and a big upgrade to his long-bed Tundra lol

Plus a few others, and Andy in the Monty Sport

All in all, Wolf Den Run has some rocky sections, but a lot of it is steep semi-rocky + clay-based dirt. WIth the rain, freshly-fallen leaves, and steep upgrades it was a challenge in some areas. Right at the start we decided to tackle a new trail marked green/blue, which was that way for a while, but then took a 90 degree turn up a very steep hill that was basically untracked. To make it more fun, directly below the hill was a long drop into a valley and teh main road below. Sketchy.

Andy gave it a shot first, and made it about 1/4 of the way up before losing all traction and slowly sliding backwards. We quickly hooked up a strap to a tree while he set up a winch spot. Then 15 minutes later he was winched up to the top.

I decided to give it a go, hoping my light weight and LSD would help me get up there. No such luck, didn't even make it as far as Andy. Initially started winching up with my little 5500lb guy, moving up slowly...

by then, RJ had found a way around and ended up at the top and we all figured it would go quicker to use his big-boy winch with a snatch block to drag me up there....you can kinda see how steep it is here, but it was a LOT steeper than it looks, especially with zero traction.

So if one were to slide back down, it would be to end up down in that road way down there, over a near-vertical drop....

The reast of the group didn't even bother, and took the bypass, and we continued on. About an hour later, we reached a trail previously used by UTVs only (mostly hunters) but now open for full-size vehicles. It was a long uphill (maybe 1/8 mile by my estimates, with a bunch of tight turns and a few narrow spots between trees and large rocks that the small rigs could threat through but the bigger guys would have crawl a bit. Everyone was a bit tentative about it. RJ headed up, triple-locked, and made it up a few minutes later. Andy went next and made it up too. I took off and carried good speed, acting more like the rally driver I am and apart from a few especially steep areas managed to keep traction and get to the top. Then the E36 M3show began. The white Taco did not hit it very hard and instead was double-locked and trying to take it slower (a bit scared to slide into trees). That wasn't the way.....about 10% of the way up he got stuck and then proceeded to mud-pit the entire area sliding back and forth going noplace. Traction boards didn't help...

(again, this was pretty steep, looks flat in photos lol)

Then RJ backed down a ways to a flat-ish area and we linked a bunch of tow straps together and RJ slowly dragged the Taco most of the way up the hill....this took about an hour...

Next up was the Tundra, who got stuck in the same place and spent a lot of time spinning tires to try to dig (and eventually found some rocks and tire smoke lol). He eventually made it past that spot and up to the top

The other Taco with M/Ts carried speed and made it up no problem, as did Mike's XJ, which made it look easy with its huge MTs and light weight.

From there we hit some scenic spots and ate some lunch


After the day was over we headed 30 minutes up the road to the camping spots, started a fire, got a lot of shelters and awnings up, and had some dinner and hung out. 

Set up my little camp

It rained overnight, but the tent (REI) was leak free and I more or less placed it well for the little awning to give me a good entryway. All in all, still need to refine my list of gear, especially for cooking, but I'm getting there. I know my parents got me something useful for Christmas already, and if you've followed my Sequoia thread, it's the 6-foot version of what I just put on that ;)

On the way home, checked out a very-low reservoir. Can't see it well here, but there was a big Chevy 4x4 stuck in the deep mud at the bottom (or at least it looked so). I didn't see anyone around and my little rig probably couldn't have helped anyhow, so didn't go too far down for fear of the same mud lol...

So, lessons from this trip:

- I definitely need a bit more suspension rate, and height. I was hitting things nobody else was (not a surprise with this group), though the little Raider is still able to go around obstacles if needed. In any case, as I put more stuff into this Raider, I plan to upgrade the torsion bars and springs over the winter to improve things and give me a bit of height. Nothing drastic though. 

- Slowly accruing camp gear. I pay close attention to what the experienced guys pull out of their rigs for dinner, sleeping, comfort, etc and jot down notes on what things to look into, or how they arrange things, etc. I have some ideas for improving the Raider in terms of storing stuff rather than just having everything in huge bins in the back....

- For the types of trails we go to most often, M/Ts are probably preferable to A/Ts. Something to think about down the road whenever I replace tires. 

- The Raider continues to be impressively capable, going places pretty easily that a lot of high-dollar rigs with us were struggling with. Part of that is because it's small and can pick better lines, of course. But all in all still pretty happy with its capabilities in regular trail stuff (though the lack of flex/clearance makes really large rocky areas much more difficult. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/28/23 8:49 a.m.

I love this little rig.  Traveling and traversing on 10% of what the others are spending!  Maybe less.  

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/30/23 11:09 p.m.

Thanks, and I have some plans that should be mildly interesting as well :)

java230 PowerDork
11/1/23 12:29 p.m.

Looks like a fun little trip! I have to ask though, was no one aired down? It makes a massive traction difference.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/1/23 11:25 p.m.

Everyone was aired down (I was around 15 myself). It was just that slippery - and we sometimes go wheeling in the winter and deal with ice, slush, frozen mud, etc. This was more slippery lol. 

I will note, though, that the Raider is on load range C tires so at 15psi it gets a nice tire bulge. Most of those bigger rigs were on load range E tired and even aired down they don't flatten out nearly as much (I can vouch for that since I have them on my Sequoia). IDK how much difference that makes but I know some of those guys were well under 20 psi, most of them on M/Ts (I was on A/Ts). 

creature503 New Reader
11/2/23 6:50 p.m.

Man, do I have alot to go over and read tonight. lol


Currently doing a SWB Raider / Pajero build with a 4m40.

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