SONICMASD's 98 Montero LS Build & Adventure Thread: Black Betty

SONICMASD

Adventurer
Out of nowhere and after just 5 months of ownership, I decided to sell my beloved first Montero: The General Li. A lot of cool work was done on that vehicle which is chronicled in the build thread, but now it's time to start a new build thread for my new-to-me Montero.

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5/26/16 - Speaking with Toasty, I learn that he has a 98 LS that he just picked up in a trade for his Mighty Max Crawler and is looking to sell. So I take a look at it and decide that even though I've already put in a good amount of sweat and $ into The General Li, this new rig simply has too many advantages to pass up.

This new rig shall be know as Black Betty and here are the specs:

Pros:
98 Gen 2.5 LS
4.9 AWD Conversion
Manual AISIN hubs
Rear Factory Air Locker, Front Detroit Locker
OME Rear Coils
KYB Gas-A-Just Shocks all around
Front Suspension Seats
Bluetooth Stereo
Trailer hitch and trailer brakes installed
Currently sitting on 35x13.5x15 Toyo MTs
Mechanic owned for last 40k
Timing belt service, cooling system, tune up, valve stems all done 40k ago
Lower ball joints done recently
Cloth seats are all in good shape, not all torn up



The Cons:
200,750 miles - but it is up to date on maintence (timing belt, valve stem seals, cam seals, etc. done at 160k)
Dirty Interior - nothing a few hours of work can't fix though
Broken Door Lock Actuator
2nd Row seats won't tilt forward
Power Mirrors don't work
Rear Defroster doesn't work
Tierods and Idler Arm are bad
Cracked passenger side exhaust manifold
No Moonroof
Transfer case shifter fulcrum has disintegrated
Rocker panel damaged on passenger side
Front fenders bashed in with a hammer to clear the 35s
Mud flaps gone to clear the 35s
Rear bumper has some damage, it backed into something
Rear locker can be engaged any time the switch is flicked since it was a home install - ANY time, like even on the highway at 80mph

Here is what she looked like when I bought her:
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So by going from a 97 SR to a 98 LS I'm losing the moonroof, nicer trim, and white ball transfer case shifter. And most importantly I'm losing 40,000 miles because the General Li is at 161,000. But I like the look of Gen 2.5s more and I'm getting a lot of performance upgrades that would take me years and thousands of $s to eventually get to like the re-gearing, OME coils, and front locker.


First things first, I removed all of the add-ons off the General. I'm swapping the JAOS skid plates, bullbar, offroad lights, and ladder.

The General is looking more like a Sergeant now:
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SONICMASD

Adventurer
5/27/16: I started fixing all of the easy, little tidbits first. Honestly, that's what I'm best at. I'm not the most mechanically gifted person so I would much rather deal with random interior nonsense than replace a transfer case or oil cooler, etc.

The front door speakers were blown so I installed some cheap ones I got for around $20.

Out with the old:
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In with the New:
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Then I tackled the problem with the pesky door locks not working properly. If you hit lock and they lock but then instantly unlock (or vice versa) then you need to rebuild your door lock actuator. It's super simple and the hardest part is getting the damn actuator case split down the middle and opened. Then you just glue some new bump stops where the old ones used to be. This project is covered in great detail here.

You can see the degraded bump stops on the side of the case here:
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I rebuilt them with small pieces of heater hose that I glued inside the case using Gorilla Glue, AKA Harambe Glue
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Next up, when I took the front passenger door panel off to replace the speakers I noticed that it was starting to split and probably wouldn't survive another removal:
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This looks like a job for: Fiberglass!
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SONICMASD

Adventurer
Is it running more lift than just the OME coils?
Nope, torsion bars are not cranked either. The 35s in the photos are very worn and are closer to 33s at this point. Also, they probably rub under heavy articulation while at full or near lock. The previous owner removed the mud flaps, trimmed the front bumper, and bashed the front fenders in with a hammer to make room for them but a small body lift would have been a better way to go IMO.
 

Toasty

Expedition Leader
I think the OME coils and T bars he bought were 0" or .5" lift, I told him to just get a 2" body lift for the 35x12.5's he had on there originally. He came from the Toyota world where body lifts push through the body so i think he was a little scared to run a BL.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
5/29/16: I really enjoyed having the transmission indicator lights being brighter on my last Montero. I found that sometimes when you're wheeling and shifting gears frequently it's handy to have your current gear stand out a bit more. So I pulled out the instrument panel and replaced those bulbs with green LEDs, everything else I just left as incandescents.
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6/2/16: A few little things were done on this day:

1. Replaced the Air Filter - Found a closeout deal on Rock Auto for name brand Air Filters (Denso I think) in private label packaging for like $2 each so I bought both that they had in stock.
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2. Cleaned the Mass Air Flow Sensor and Throttle Body. The Throttle Body definitely was not the worst I've ever seen but it needed a good cleaning.
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3. Took off the heat shield and confirmed the previous owner's suspicions that the passenger side exhaust manifold was cracked (no wonder this thing sounds a little like a dirt bike):
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6/6/16:: Along with the Air Filters I got a lot of other goodies from Rock Auto. Including Moog Inner and Outer Tie Rod Ends and Idler Arm. They were really easy to install and no special tools are needed. The job was actually delayed by a few days though because one of the zircs was defective on one of the outer tie rod ends so I had to get a replacement in the mail before being able to finish up this job. All done:
IMG_3673.jpg

Also on this day I started trying to figure out why the 2nd row seats won't tumble forward. First thing I did was remove the bottom cover on the 2nd row seats and holy cow, the previous owner's kids spent A LOT of time in the back seat! Candy, crayons, chuckee cheese tokens, toys, popcorn, ahahaha:
IMG_3674.jpg

The other seat had just as much trash collected in it as well but sadly, looking under the seats, I wasn't able to find an easy answer and resigned to revisit this issue later in the week.


6/8/16: More little things - I replaced the PCV valve. Wow, first the tie rod ends and now this, 2 easy things to replace! I'm used to everything on these vehicles being a lot more work than what I'm used to when compared to other vehicles I've owned, but not these 2 items. The PCV valve couldn't be in an easier location. Now this might not be that big of a deal to you but I remember replacing the PCV valve on my wife's 96 Explorer 5.0 and it is a PITA to get to; it's behind the engine within a 2" gap between the firewall so you have to lay on top of the engine and cram your hand into the gap between the firewall and try and feel for it and then try and have enough strength in your finger tips to get the damn thing out of there after it's gotten used to being there for a decade.

I also replaced the back up lights with these Philips LED bulbs. Makes a pretty big difference (yes, i know a tail light is out ;-) ):
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PA_JERO

Adventurer
Hey, you forgot to change your other reverse light. And just in case you already forgot, your taillight is out.
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/11/16: 2nd Row Won't Tumble Forward Fix

1. The first thing I did was remove the bottom/underbelly panels off the 2nd row seats. This can be done with a right angle screw driver ($2 at harbor freight), there are 4 small philips screws, one at each corner of the panel. See photo on post above.

Removing this panel turned out not to be necessary to fix the problem but it gives you a good view of the cables and springs under the seat which are important for other functions, such as sliding the seats forward and back so if you're having those sorts of problems start here.

2. Then then next thing I did (after prodding and playing unsuccessfully with everything exposed by removing the underbelly panels) was to remove the small circular corner plastic cover. Again the right angle screw driver was necessary. Thinking back now, I think there is only 1 screw holding this cover on, maybe 2.

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Again, removing this cover did not help solve the problem. Instead it exposed the cables that control the back of the seat's ability to fold flat.

3. So after many many hours of messing with these seats I decided that my best was to study the functioning 2nd row seats in my other Montero. If I had not owned 2 Monteros at the same time, I'm not sure I would have ever figured out how to solve this problem. Eventually, here is what I discovered.

To unlock the claws holding the base of the 2nd row seat down there is a pin on the inside side of each seat which if pushed down will unlock them, allowing them to tumble forward. You will need a small flashlight and long flat head screwdriver. If you look in the seam in between the two 2nd row seat bases, near the middle and in between both the forward and aft springs, there will be an exposed pin (aka end of a round bar about 1/8" thick) sticking out of each seat base.

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Place the screwdriver on top of it and hammer down to unlock the clasps underneath the seat, thus freeing it and allowing it to tumble forward.

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Here is a clear photo of the pin in question (the seat next to this one is tumbled forward, exposing this view):

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Steps to tumble a non-tumbling seat:

1. Start with the 2nd row upright in the normal position.
2. Pull the top button knob up to fold the back of the seat down.
3. Hit the bottom latch release pin down with a long screwdriver and hammer.

Then the fun part of tracing the cables and seeing why they aren't allowing the seats to tumble forward can now begin. Either the wires inside the rubber sleeves have stretched out over time and need to be tightened, which was the case with one of my 2nd row seats. The cables are easily adjustable by loosening/tightening the 2 nuts where the cable is attached to a metal bracket:
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Or you might have a broken cable. There is yet another plastic cover to remove if you want to view the end of the cable. This is where one of my seats had snapped a cable end, but I was able to salvage it:
IMG_3716.jpg

Well, that's it. I hope that helps someone because I looked all over the internet and couldn't find any posts dealing with this issue. Found some posts about other 2nd row seat issues, but none regarding the tumble feature.
 
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SONICMASD

Adventurer
6/12/16: Started the day by putting on the highly recommended Cabela's Trail Gear seat covers that several other Monty owners are running. Be careful when you order these because there are a couple different models of Cabela's "Trail Gear" seat covers and only one works with the Montero and its armrest seats (ask me how I know). Here is the correct link: http://www.cabelas.com/product/CABELAS-TRAIL-GEAR-SEAT-COVERS/1791205.uts?productVariantId=3837301

I decided to take my time and install the seat covers under the plastic seat trim for a cleaner look:

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Then I did another easy upgrade and swapped out all the interior dome lights for the brightest LED bulbs I could find:
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As all of you probably already know, there is not nearly enough light in the cargo area of the vehicle with just that one dome light above the rear door. I'm going to have to find a way to add more light back there so if you have any ideas please let me know. I've saw someone wired some LED flex tube lighting back there but I have no idea how to do that (I don't even know how to solder haha).
 

Toasty

Expedition Leader
There is originally a side light you can turn on and you can put it anywhere on the truck. Unfortunately most trucks have lost this feature. Buy one on E-bay and install an LED bulb, that plus LEDs in the dome will help out greatly.
 

jaccox23

Adventurer
I bought but have not installed two 4" lights strip/bar for the rear to tap into the trim running along the headliner on either side about where the rear wheel wells are to add some light between the sunroof and the cargo light. I also bought an 8" in the same style and tapped it into the cover that goes over the rear third tailight on the rear door. The 8" was a perfect length on this and I plan to run all the wires to the cargo lamp and solder them into that so they come on with all the other dome lights or can be controlled by that switch. Some people may not like the look of them but I could care less really. I just liked how easily it would be to mount them and hide the wire behind paneling by just simply drilling a hole and run the wire out of sight. Hope this helps or gives you a bit of an idea. Hopefully I'll finish it all up soon. Been too humid and rainy here to get around to finishing it up. The idea of the 8" on the rear brake light cover is because i eventually intend to build a small flip down table from the rear door and that light hovers directly over where i want the table to fold down.
The 4" strip: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013XBRY7O/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The 8" strip: https://www.amazon.com/Partsam-Marker-White-Utility-Application/dp/B00YGZP7G2/ref=pd_bxgy_263_img_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=VE0T2T2DW9JSCE4GVCTC
 
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SONICMASD

Adventurer
I bought but have not installed two 4" lights strip/bar for the rear to tap into the trim running along the headliner on either side about where the rear wheel wells are to add some light between the sunroof and the cargo light. I also bought an 8" in the same style and tapped it into the cover that goes over the rear third tailight on the rear door. The 8" was a perfect length on this and I plan to run all the wires to the cargo lamp and solder them into that so they come on with all the other dome lights or can be controlled by that switch. Some people may not like the look of them but I could care less really. I just liked how easily it would be to mount them and hide the wire behind paneling by just simply drilling a hole and run the wire out of sight. Hope this helps or gives you a bit of an idea. Hopefully I'll finish it all up soon. Been too humid and rainy here to get around to finishing it up. The idea of the 8" on the rear brake light cover is because i eventually intend to build a small flip down table from the rear door and that light hovers directly over where i want the table to fold down.
The 4" strip: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013XBRY7O/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The 8" strip: https://www.amazon.com/Partsam-Marker-White-Utility-Application/dp/B00YGZP7G2/ref=pd_bxgy_263_img_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=VE0T2T2DW9JSCE4GVCTC

I love the idea of adding 1 of those 4" lights on each side of the cargo area, I just wish they had on/off switches in case you wanted to turn them off separately. I'll have to see what I can find. Thx for the link!
 

SONICMASD

Adventurer
There is originally a side light you can turn on and you can put it anywhere on the truck. Unfortunately most trucks have lost this feature. Buy one on E-bay and install an LED bulb, that plus LEDs in the dome will help out greatly.
Ya, I have the factory flashlight, just hoping to find something that I don't have to plug in and hold, etc. I do like that flashlight though, great Mitsu idea.
 
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