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Old 06-29-2015, 02:27 AM   #1
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87 Suzuki Samurai JX

I've been without a 4x4 for a few years now but finally came into possession of this Suzuki Samurai.



It had a few issues passing emissions but I finally got it on the third try.

Replaced the Carburetor because I botched the first one trying to rebuild it. I'm sure it still works but I have extremely limited time to work on this thing.


One of the first things I did was to replace the factory Tape Player. I purchased a $13 two speaker amp on amazon and re-wired the speakers.




I soldered some wires onto the PCB on the inside so that I wouldn't have to deal with a barrel connector.

I've upgraded the set up with a cb-radio and a ram mount phablet holder.



I mounted the antenna on the rear tire carrier and used some cushioned straps to hold the cable.


One of the things I hated about my Jeep was that it was white. So I decided with this rig I was going to go all black. I let my nephew strip the paint off of the old hood and painted it black with Duraliner bedliner.



I also painted the front and front fenders. going to work my way back with the doors and the back of the Samurai over the summer. I had a hell of a time getting the doors off. I bought an impact screwdriver from Harbor Freight and that has quickly become a favorite tool of mine.



This hole in the exhaust was patched with some foil (of all stuff) and some clamps. It looks like it ripped off of the bracket at some point.

No big deal. I used some exhaust patch tape and some strapping to fix it. I thought. I drove to Pueblo to visit my mom, a 100 mile trip.
On the way there the engine stalled out and I had to pull over. I got the engine to start back up and was able to get the remaining 30 miles to my moms house.
Once I got there I looked at what had happened.
The exhaust split in two on the way there.

I used my moms car to run to the auto parts store to get something to fix it. Luckily I hardly ever drive this thing around without my tools with me.

I've since added a couple more clamps on each end. It passed emissions like this so I'm going to keep it for a while.
I did pick up a complete exhaust system from a buddy, but the tailpipe comes straight out and I've heard that the exhaust fumes can roll back into the cab when they're routed that way. This exhaust, which I'm positive isn't the original has the tailpipe coming out to the side. I'll hold onto that exhaust just in case.

The negative terminal on the battery was loose when I got it. We put a screw into the terminal strap to hold it tight which I knew was a temporary fix. I know I'll want to run a winch and some other lighting accessories soon so I purchased some $5 Fastronix Military Spec Battery Terminals from Amazon.
They are quite beefier than the stock terminals.



I didn't have a crimper or the crimps to use to on the larger main wires coming off the battery but I recently learned a trick at work. I used some big ground lugs to attach the wires. I had to drill out the mounting holes on the ground lugs to 3/8" to fit on the fastronix battery terminals.



I've got some larger lugs saved for when I had a winch and some other electronic goodies I have planned.



So I've noticed recently that this beast is drinking oil. I checked the dip stick last weekend and noticed that it was DRY! I changed the oil again because I've blown a few engines this way. So when I went wheeling yesterday I noticed that the oil on the dipstick was between the marks on the dip stick, which I suppose means that it ate half the oil I put it into it because the reading was at the top mark on the stick when I changed the oil. I've also had to top off the coolant a couple of times now. The temperature on the dash stays pretty consistently in the middle mark so I haven't been too worried about overheating.

I suppose my planned list of mods/repairs are:
  • Fix The Engine Drinking Oil/Coolant Issue - Whether this means a rebuild of the head or just a head gasket I don't know. I honestly have to DD this thing and can't really afford to be out of a vehicle at this point. But I feel like its coming...
  • Battery
  • My-Side Harley Carb Kit
  • Roof Rack - Packing Camping gear for two adults and a toddler now
  • Skid Plates - Diff Armor
  • Rear Tire Carrier
  • Rear Cage - Minimally since now I have a daughter to worry about keeping safe.
  • Full Cage - One can dream
  • The Transfercase Cradle from Zuks Off Road
  • Lockers
  • Lift - I'm going to try to resist the urge to want to put this thing on 37s. I suppose I'd be happy if I could get it on 33s as I don't ever have the money to keep a rig purely as a toy. I have to Daily Drive this.

Anyway. I'll try to keep this thread updated it.
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Old 06-29-2015, 12:21 PM   #2
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It appears you are headed in the right direction with your build. I have a couple of thoughts you might be interested in.

If you have the means to build it yourself, you might consider an EXO or EXO type cage. It offers a bit of protection for you, Zuke body, and serves as a roof rack. I'll not argue the point, but a quality black pipe works just fine. I am very pleased with mine, and it did its job in a rollover (on side) even though the cage is still under construction.

I think Skid Plates and Diff Armor are a must. I have the full Trail Tough belly pan, pipe cap Diff armor and a sheet of 1/8-inch on my stock fuel tank skid. Each of them have battle scars, which shows they are used. Don't forget the rock sliders. If done properly, they can do a lot to save the sides of your Zuke and doors.

Rear Tire Carrier can get pricy, depending on what you want. Although I prefer to get the spare off the tailgate, it will be okay there if you avoid the temptation of large/heavy tires. Usually, you have to also add a bumper when you move the spare from the tailgate.

Unfortunately, most people spend the money on other stuff because it adds bling-bling, and leave the Rear Cage as their last purchase. Cages are pricy. I am partial to the EXO cage, preferably connected to the frame/bumpers/sliders. I believe if it protects my sheetmetal, it will protect my body as well, and does not takeaway room inside my Zuke. I agree, one can dream. That is a good start point.

The Transfercase Cradle from Zuks Off Road I have the TT Mighty Kong. I think a good t-case cradle can save you lots of grief, especially on a DD. It is not easy to locate highway vibrations due to bent t-case arms. I have been there and done that.

I have Lockright Lockers. They are often referred to as Lunch box lockers. I have a locker in the rear, and one my work bench. One day I will install them in the front, just have not really needed them for the five years I have had them. Lots of guys are lunch box haters, primarily because they will make a loud banging noise under the right circumstances. It took me about a week to understand what circumstances made them pop. Very simple to prevent, just a slight change in driving habits. I think mine has only popped three or four times in the post four years plus.

There are many ways to do a lift. I used the TT YJ kit. If you do yours from scratch, do your homework. There are many considerations. A sloppy lift can be a nightmare Also keep in mind that a lift includes steering mods. You can have a very capable Zuke without a lift, and run some decent tire diameters.

"I'm going to try to resist the urge to want to put this thing on 37s." Lots of luck. There are many things to consider with large tire diameters. The most important is to resist the follow the leader mentality, forget the bigger is better belief and think about the pros and cons. A DD and trail only machine have different requirements and needs. I am partial to smaller tires on my DD. The little 1.3 (EFI) really struggles on the highway hills. The difference between 30 and 31 inch diameter is obvious. Just that 0ne inch makes the 31's 5-pounds each heavier, which kills hp. I resisted the bling-bling and replaced my 31's with new 30s. They have taken my through the Rubicon several times, I still have the same clutch I had in 2004. If this is true; "... I'd be happy if I could get it on 33s as I don't ever have the money to keep a rig purely as a toy. I have to Daily Drive this.", I suggest you remind yourself to check the pros and cons on each modification you make. Know why you are making the mod. Stock gearing on even 31-inch tires really sucks, street and trail. My build in in my signature.

Wayne
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Old 06-30-2015, 01:17 AM   #3
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Thanks for the in depth response. Yeah. Honestly I'm weighing things in terms of longevity. I want to have a rig that'll last me a while.
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Old 06-30-2015, 10:45 AM   #4
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I constantly read anything over 33-inch tires is where things easily break. I see the logic. I have twisted a rear axle with 30-inch tires. I honestly cannot see any advantage of bigger tires other than an inch or two clearance. Pick a new line addresses the inch or two clearance. There will always be an obstacle that is a tad higher than your clearance. That is why you have armor.
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Old 06-30-2015, 08:26 PM   #5
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Sorry I haven't been able to give your extremely well written post an adequate reply.

Honestly I would love an exo cage but I lack the skills and tools to pull one off and no one makes a kit for an exo.
33's are what I ran on my jeep and felt very comfortable driving that around. I'd probably stop at 33's unless I won the lottery.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:29 AM   #6
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Keep in mind, there are many differences between a Jeep and a Samurai. HP and axles for sure.
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:01 AM   #7
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Fair point.
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:07 AM   #8
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I am curious though, why 33s?
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Old 07-06-2015, 02:55 AM   #9
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Well Honestly, I like the stance with 33's and I think with 33's and a locker and decent gearing I'll be able to do some of the harder trails here in Colorado.

Well. This weekend I decided to take a chance and drive this beast 240 miles to Grand Junction to visit my girlfriends family for the the Fourth of July Weekend.
I got some advice from another Samurai group as to some spare parts to take and set out on the road. All in all I put about 600+ Miles on the Samurai and it got great gas mileage. Around 20+mpg! Way better then the 10mpg I got in my TJ.

Earlier in the week I swapped out every vacuum line I could find and added this check valve that was missing from the TCAC system.


It helps keep the air going into the engine at a constant temperature and for some reason it was missing from my Samurai.



So, as I've mentioned this thing has been drinking oil and I made sure to bring extra. I've seen this spot used for storage by other people and it fit the 5-quart jug just great.




It drank a quart or two of oil on the trip up to Grand Junction and I have yet to see how much it drank on the way back as I just got home about 3 hours ago.
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Old 07-18-2015, 01:12 AM   #10
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I picked up some seafoam and a leak down tester from harbor freight. Not sure if the tiny compressor I have here is adequate for the leak down test but I hope to yield some helpful results soon. I plan to do a wet compression test and add the seafoam to the oil here soon.

I came across another item that was inside the Samurai when I got it. It appears to be an old timing belt so I'm hoping that one of the previous owners replaced the timing belt and a nice new one is inside the cover.
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:52 AM   #11
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Spent some time this Saturday performing a less essential modification to the Samurai. I made the doors removable by modifying the hinge.
My nephew, Jason, helped me make some mirror relocation brackets as well.

In retrospect I should have been trying to diagnose the reason for my low compression but spending some time teaching my nephew some basic fabrication seemed funner.

I used a sawzall to cut the hinge off the door.



Using the removed hinge and some flat aluminum stock and the mirror I marked the holes for the hinge and for mounting the mirror. If anyone is curious, a 10-32 screw fits the stock mirror holes perfectl.



I drove around a bit on Saturday to drop my girlfriend off at work and the mirror relocation brackets worked well.

I painted the body mounted hinge brackets with duraliner bedliner.



I ran out of bedliner just when I needed it most. I wanted to paint the relocation brackets as well but I'll have to do that at a later time.



Hopefully today I'll do a leak down test on the engine and clean out the dead leaves in my vents.
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:06 AM   #12
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Quick update. Finally got around to that wet test. Showed about a 15psi increase on cylinders 2 and 4. Change on 1 and 3.

Using the leakdown tester I was able to verify that I was losing pressure by hearing it come out of the valve cover.

I suppose I'll plan on doing the cylinder rings and head gasket and the suggestion was made to do the rod bearings as well.
I suppose if I tear into it this much I'll replace the valve stem seals as well. I don't know.... Seems like a big project and I've never torn into an engine this much.


In the mean time I've replaced the starter and the wiring to the start as well as my own homebrew clicky starter fix using a relay and a fuse.

I'll post some pics soon.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:17 PM   #13
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Did a little bit more maintenance today. Whoever owned this Samurai before me swapped the oil switch out with a oil pressure gauge. I'll have to get another switch to replace it but in the meantime the oil pressure gauge install they did was not up to par.

The tubing is broke or the this fitting is leaking. I think I may have been losing a bit of oil through here because my Samurai never left wet spots anymore so I think it was just squirting out while I was driving.


They ran the line to the gauge right through the firewall without using a grommet or anything.



I had mentioned that I had needed to replace my starter. I was hoping this wasn't the case so I first tried my own clicky starter fix. Apparently the starter is powered straight through the ignition switch unlike most other vehicles who do this through a relay. A fix is to add a relay in place of the starter wiring so that the ignition is powering the relay and the relay is relaying power straight from the battery to the starter. This didn't solve my poor starting problem but I think it was a good addition none the less.



Installing the new starter was pretty easy. Just remove the air box to get better access.



At some point in the last few weeks I cleaned out all of the dead leaves sitting in the heater vent box. I used a conduit plug to plug up the hole. My vents still blow out some leaves every now and then but I can live with it for a while. I'm told to get great results I have to remove the entire dash and clean everything out with a pressure washer.



I was doing some cleaning last weekend and wanted to get underneath the rear seat just to see what was under there. I removed the drivers side bolt with no issues but as soon as I cranked on the passenger side bolt the head broke clean off. I attempted to drill out the broken thread and tried to use some extractors to remove it but didn't have any luck. It was rusted in there extremely bad I guess.




Unfortunately I broke the nut off the body while trying to free those threads. I had to drill through a crossmember on the bottom of the Samurai so that I could add a nut from the bottom. I used a holesaw for this.



On top of that I discovered that I did have a bit of rust to deal with after all. I'll have to repair this rusted hole before winter. It's behind the rear drivers side wheel well.

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Old 08-23-2015, 01:00 AM   #14
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Take a few minutes to grind a point on the door hing pins, it makes getting the doors back on much easier.

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Old 08-26-2015, 03:42 AM   #15
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That's a great idea! I'll give it a shot.
Thanks.
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Old 08-26-2015, 11:36 AM   #16
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A couple comments on Tire size.

I have done the whole progression of my current samurai. Started out stock. Did a spoa lift 31" tires, locker f/r and 4.89 gears in the t-case. I kept up and did more things than jeeps on 33-35" tires did. The biggest issue is hills and ledges which is a wheel base issue that tire size can make worse. I have since, switched to toy axles on YJ springs, ran 33's for a while, and now I am on 35" tires, and it is a trailer queen. It is not very street friendly. I do sometimes miss when I had it setup on 31's.
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Old 09-03-2015, 01:54 AM   #17
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Thanks for the input bhaugen.

I admit a big part of my desire to put it on 33's is purely for looks.
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:11 AM   #18
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Well I've been doing a few things here and there to the Samurai since the last post.

I had to replace my window cranks a few months ago but the new cheap Amazon ones I bought broke after about a month. The tabs on the knob broke off after regular use. I used a 1/2-13 bolt to repair them. Nothing fancy. Just a button head bolt and a jam nut with red loctite.











This has been working great and I expect it to be a permanent repair.

So I decided to take the Samurai and my 2 year old daughter on their first camping trip. Me, Adam and Aaron decided to go run the Jenny Creek trail and camp at Jenny Lake this last Saturday.

I've been wanting to keep a Fire Extinguisher in the Samurai for a while. The seals on the front axle of my old TJ caught on fire once (I suppose that happens when you strip all the teeth off the pinion gear and try driving it down the high at 55mph). and I was glad to have a fire extinguisher with me then to put out the flames. I optioned a bunch of spots for this cheapy $20 extinguisher from Home Depot before deciding on the targa bar. It's actually not a bad spot and I don't hit my head on it unless I'm contorting myself weird to look back.



Also for this trip I didn't want to fight over the cigarette lighter USB charger with my girlfriend so I decided to install another one. I've had a couple marine cigarette lighters sitting in an old junk box for about 10 years now so I decided to put one to use. Space is cramped inside the Samurai but I found a good spot for it on the rear passenger side of the radio box where my cheap amp and CB Radio are.







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Old 09-20-2015, 10:13 AM   #19
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I've been liking to keep a 5qt jug of oil with me under the hood with a funnel because this Samurai is drinking oil. Not as bad since I fixed the poorly installed oil pressure fittings but still. For the camping trip I stored some extra stuff under the hood as well. Some miscellaneous hardware and fittings as well as some gear oil.





I always like to have some tools with me in any vehicle I own but I've been shuttling my standard tool bag too and from work for working on the Samurai and it's rather large.



I picked up a tool roll from Amazon for the trip as well because I really wanted to save space inside the Samurai.



I strapped a multimeter to it in case I needed to diagnose an electrical issue.




My battery was giving me some trouble a couple of weeks ago and I finally had to replace it. I used a cheap Duralast battery from Autozone and finally got a universal battery hold down to keep it from bouncing up and into the hood. I had to drill an extra hole into the battery tray for one of the retaining rods.




The trip went extremely well and I ended up having enough room for everything. We picked up one of those fancy Yeti coolers last minute before the trip since every other cooler we had and could borrow did not fit on the seat next to my daughters car seat well enough. The Yeti roadie was PERFECT! and it kept ice extremely well and I expect to get years of use out of it. I would have preferred to save a bunch of money by going with the RTIC coolers but they're on pre-order and I have no idea where to source them locally.

We ended up strapping the sleeping bags and pads to the spare tire with some straps.



This worked out extremely well.

The trip was really fun and I have to say that the Samurai did well and it continues to impress me. I am a bit disappointed with the lack of crawl ratio though and I'm adding T-Case gears to my list of must-do up there with the engine rebuild. I had to floor the gas peddle in the 1st gear low range to make it up the rock gardens on Jenny Creek and my girlfriend did bump her head once or twice.....

I haven't done much to the Samurai since the last trip but I did attempt to fix my drooping passenger side mirror with a neoprene gasket between the ball and the mount.






Since the camping trip, which was only 1 night and by no means the epic trip I have been wanting to do by the way, I've been more or less set on having a roof rack and decided to make one. I picked up a bender and a couple of stick of 3/4" EMT conduit. I'm not done yet but I will definitely post when I am.






That's about it for now.
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Old 10-27-2015, 12:49 AM   #20
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I've gotten some things done here and there. The Samurai doesn't seem to be drinking oil since I fixed the pressure gauge lines.

I've been working on the roof rack every weekend. I think I've finally settled on some mounting methods for it. This is going to be just a fairly brief but pictorially heavy post.

I had Joe weld the main hoops for me since I had no experience welding myself at the time. These are the main part of the rack and I wanted these welds to be solidly done. Huge thanks to him for doing the welding.

I picked up a cheap tubing notcher from Harbor Freight. I picked up the holesaw from home depot.



I cut a couple of more pieces of conduit that will support the second hoop above the lower. I wanted a 4" gap between the hoops. In retrospect I should have done something shorter, like maybe 2".




I did a mockup to get a feel for what it would be like all welded together.



Did another sitting on top of the samurai.



I got the posts welded all by myself! Been playing around with a 115v that my brother in law has. No gas, but some of the welds look ok.

I got the slats cut and notched last week and got them welded up this Saturday.


(There's a recall on the iPhone camera's and mine has been going bad.)


I was checking out the space and my daughter decided to crawl into the cooler.



I still need to weld the top hoop to the posts but the base of the rack is more or less completed.

I've made some bracketry from aluminum to support the rack that doesn't interfere with the soft top and doesn't require me to drill into the body anywhere.





(I'll try to fix these squashed pics soon)

There was some black trim on the bottom portion of the targa that I replaced with some 1x1/4" aluminum to tie the roof rack support to. This will simply keep the bracket from swinging and chewing away the paint on the targa and isn't intended to support any weight. It's attached with stainless steel sheet metal screws.

I made the window frame brackets a couple of weeks ago. The pictures speak for themselves in how the bracket works. I plan on running a length of conduit from the window frame to the targa brackets.


Threw the rack on top of the Samurai again to get an idea of how it'll look.



I'll leave this post with a teaser of some other things I have planned.

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Old 10-27-2015, 01:07 AM   #21
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Rack turned out nice! I made one very similar back in July. Keep an eye on your mounts. The way I attached mine it would vibrate from the wind when going above 80km/h, after a month or so of the shaking it fatigued the metal around the support and a chunk broke off with one of the legs. I'm still planning on repairing it and adding a bunch of supports to reinforce the mounts mine had 4 legs 2 came down the windshield similar to yours but my rear legs came down near the rear corners. If I had to do it again I'd make the frame and legs from ridged conduit then the sides and base from emt.
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Old 10-27-2015, 05:48 AM   #22
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Nice work man.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:48 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunninWild View Post
Rack turned out nice! I made one very similar back in July. Keep an eye on your mounts. The way I attached mine it would vibrate from the wind when going above 80km/h, after a month or so of the shaking it fatigued the metal around the support and a chunk broke off with one of the legs. I'm still planning on repairing it and adding a bunch of supports to reinforce the mounts mine had 4 legs 2 came down the windshield similar to yours but my rear legs came down near the rear corners. If I had to do it again I'd make the frame and legs from ridged conduit then the sides and base from emt.
I've considered that setup. I really just don't want to drill into the body if I can avoid it. If I have problems I'll drill right into the targa as a last resort.

I'd be interested in seeing any pictures you have.

Thanks for replying.

Thanks NagTrainer.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:13 AM   #24
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However you decide to mount it try and make the legs attach at more then 1 point on the cage with some trusses. Emt is extremely thin and mine didn't stand up to the vibration from wind.

Last edited by RunninWild; 10-28-2015 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 10-28-2015, 10:33 AM   #25
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Both cargo racks look good!

I just moved from northern Colo. Got tired in first month (2009) with lack of power with 1.3 so swapped in 1.6 16V. Best upgrade I did. Caboose was thrilled after his swap too.

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