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Old 05-18-2010, 10:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
Smooshed FOTY 2011
 
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,804
Location: Durango, Colorado
Car Year: 2005
Car Model: Forester 2.5 XT
Transmission: 5-Speed MT
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Blue Fox's Member Journal

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- POST 01 - Grille Blackout, LED Mod, Sound System
- POST 02 - Roof Basket, Rear Spoiler, Light Bar, Fog Lamp/DRL Mod
- POST 03 - HID Retrofit, Engine Swap
- POST 04 - Sick Days, Offroading Videos
- POST 05 - Mud-Flaps, Bed-Liner Coating, Painted Wheels
- POST 06 - Almost Drowned in Mud
- POST 23 - "Rock Climbing" Video
- POST 29 - The Offroadification of the Foz
- POST 57 - Interior Gets Wet
- POST 57 - Easy Sunroof Fix
- POST 57 - Snorkel & Independent E-Brake Mod
- POST 57 - Random Off-Road Clips Video
- POST 58 - Off Roading in February
- POST 59 - Forester Rock Crawling (2-Part Video)
- POST 61 - "Manual VDC" Test Video
- POST 67 - Stuck in Mud Video
- POST 68 - 2 Off Road Videos
- POST 69 - U-Drift Drifting Class Video
- POST 70 - DIY Snowboard/Ski Clamps
- POST 71 - The Death of the Foz
- POST 86 - The New Foz Arrives
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2004 XT - RIP
2005 XT - 5MT - 2" LIFT JOURNAL

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Old 05-18-2010, 10:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My name is Josh, and as many of you know, this is my 2004 Forester XT Premium, 4EAT. It has the oh-so-huge sunroof with black leather interior, heated seats, auto-climate control and the awesomeness that is the turbo.

I primarily bought the car to lower and make into a street-bound car, but my love of the great motorsport that is Rally, I was thrust into a different direction. I wanted to create a rally-inspired Forester that is capable off-road and isn't afraid to get down and dirty.

I first bought my Forester used in October 2008. It was immaculate. No flaws in the paint (except for some minor pitting in the front due to rocks and bugs), the interior was perfect, engine was perfect, and the suspension was great. What I would do to get it back to those days.

Here are some pictures of the exterior and interior when I first purchased it (and cleaned it up good).....









And here is a photoshopped image of the direction I originally wanted to go in...




But soon, after getting a couple of door dings and a couple of scrapes on the front and back bumpers, I realized that I was stressing out worrying about little dents/nicks/dings, etc. And with my love of rallying, I soon ventured out onto my very first dirt road with the car.

This road wasn't well kept. It was rutted, sandy and I was very wary of taking my car on it once I got out there. But, determined, I pushed on. While I was on that particular road, I realized how much potential this car has off-road, and was amazed with the ease it showed in sand, mud and going through ruts. From there on out, I was hooked, and abandoned my plans for a "street" version of the car. It would soon evolve into a "all-terrain" or "safari' type vehicle, and that's where it all starts..........

Grille Blackout Modification:

Sanded the grille with some 180-grit sandpaper. Cleaned all surfaces with rubbing alcohol, and sprayed on a Duplicolor "Adhesion Promotor" (clear primer). Sprayed the grille with Duplicolor "Trim Paint" which is a nice, dark satin black. Sprayed about 3 or 4 thin coats, making sure to get the corners and into the nooks and crannies before spraying the entire grille with a final coat. I carefully taped off the Subaru emblem before painting.




LED Headlamp Modification:

The LED headlamp modification was extremely simple. The hardest part is breaking open the headlamps. I put my headlamp assembly in the oven at about 250 degrees for a few minutes at a time. I constantly checked on them every couple of minutes until they got very hot to the touch. As soon as the were, I pulled them out and quickly used a putty knife to separate the two halves of the headlamp assembly. Once open, I used two LED light boards from superbrightleds.com (one from either side). The light boards themselves were originally white, so I taped off each individual LED and sprayed the boards black (with the same paint used for the grille). I used 3M Adhesive Trim Tape (found at any local autoparts store) to secure them to the inside of the headlamp. The LED boards are wired up to the parking lamps so they turn on when the parking lamps turn on. I sealed up the headlamp assembly by re-baking the headlamps in an oven until hot, and squeezing them together. I also replaced the parking lamps with white LEDs to match the mod. Here is the outcome of the modification....





After about a day, I decided I didn't like the look of the white LED's in the parking lamps. It looked a bit too "ricer" for me, so I swapped them for amber LED's, and the look dramatically improved and looked much more "stock" than aftermarket.....








Stereo System:

Next, in my list of modifications is the stereo system, which I tackled all at once. Here is what the system consisted of...

- Pioneer AVIC-P4000DVD Head unit
- Alpine Flex-5 Amplifier (4-channel + Subwoofer Drive)
- Infinity Reference 6.5" Component Speakers up front (Infinity tweeters in factory location)
- Infinity Reference 5.25" 2-way Coaxial speakers in the rear
- Infinity Reference 10" Subwoofer in custom-built small box
- 120GB iPod Classic in glove box connected with Pioneer iPod cable feeding audio and video to dash unit
- All Phoenix Gold wiring leading up to the harness

Pictures are below of the setup. It's extremely crisp. I listen to a lot of rock, classical, jazz, orchestral, and some electronic and have had the system turned up VERY loud. These speakers have not distorted nor popped at near full volume. If you are looking for a very crisp, balanced system, Infinity is the way to go by far.

First is the head unit, the Pioneer. When I purchased it, it retailed for $499, but got it for $350 on my special website I purchase my electronics from. PM me if you would like the address. It's a fantastic head unit, and the iPod integration is spot on perfect. Not to mention, it'll do video and audio through the iPod.





The component speakers went in with no problems. The factory tweeters popped right out, and I used some 3M Adhesive Tape to secure the new Infinity tweeter in the stock location. As for the front door woofers, they went right in, no fitment problems at all. I fit them flush to the door (using some rubber-foam tape between the speaker and the sheet metal), using self-tapping screws into the sheet metal (as the stock speakers only had 3 mounting screws, the Infinity's used 4). The component speakers also used Crossovers, which I mounted to the doors in the location as seen in the picture below. There is a bulge in the door card, right where they're mounted...



NOTE: To remove the door card, you have to take off the harness from the master window switch on the driver's side. Be EXTREMELY careful when removing this plug as you can accidentally separate the two halves of the harness, causing all the wires to come out of their designated slots. If this happens, here is a pin-out diagram of how to put them back in correctly......



The rear door speakers go in without any problems at all. Again, using the self tapping screws straight into the sheet metal with rubber foam tape between the speakers and the sheet metal. No other modifications were needed.

Next was building the subwoofer box, which can be a bit messy as you can see below......



But after a few hours of cutting and fitting wood, I managed to get a subwoofer box was was extremely shallow, and was the exact width of the passenger side section of the rear set (allowing me to fold down the driver's side rear seat without the box in the way).....



But after a couple of weeks, I decided that the box was far too wide as i wanted a larger space when I folded down the seats, so I went back to the garage and crated a smaller box that was the width of the driver's side rear seat, allowing me to fold down the larger passenger side of the seat. The smaller box also helped with keeping the bass tighter and deeper as the Infinity subs are designed to be mounted in very small boxes. This is the box I'm currently running at present.....



The smaller box is mounted with Industrial-Grade Velcro stuck to the bottom of the box. This velcro has not let go of this box yet with all my off-roading and crazy cornering. It's a very simple and effective mounting method. I also cut the compartment flap underneath the subwoofer so I still had access to it without having to remove the sub box as seen in the picture below...



The amplifier is mounted underneath the rear seat with more velcro. All the wiring to and from the amp is ran through the center console straight to the deck. The wire for the subwoofer goes under the carpet to the side sill, and to the back underneath the paneling to feed the subwoofer power.
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2004 XT - RIP
2005 XT - 5MT - 2" LIFT JOURNAL

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Old 05-18-2010, 10:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Roof Basket Install & Mounted Lamps:

Next in my list of modifications was to add a roof basket to give it a more utilitarian/rally look (not to mention extra space to pack equipment for camping/snowboarding/etc.) I opted to purchase the Rola roof basket as it was sleek and lowset (4" sides) versus the Yakima baskets which have a much higher side and not as sleek looking. The Rola has mounting hardware specifically designed to be able to mount to factory cross rails. Installation took mere minutes. Shipped to my house, it was $180 from eTrailer's eBay store. One heck of a deal considering it was 50 lbs and the box shipped was HUGE. They have 18" extensions for the basket as well, but I opted not to have it as I didn't want to block my sunroof entirely.







I mounted my basket as far back as I could without it hitting the lift gate when it was open. This also allowed for the basket to be further back instead of directly over my sunroof (which I use daily). Below is a view of the basket through the sunroof.....



I also mounted two small, rectangular lamps to the roof basket as well and ran temporary wiring down the side railing, and through the back of the hatch. I just drilled two holes vertical through the bottom tubing of the basket and threaded through bolts. Extremely easy, took 10 minutes to install. The wiring was very well hidden, and the lamps worked great off road, but the wind noise the lamps caused was immense. I didn't enjoy having the sunroof open anymore as even driving around at 35 mph sounded like you have the roof open at 80 on the freeway. So I removed the lamps from the sunroof at a later date.

Rear Spoiler Installation:

I don't have any pictures of the rear spoiler installation, but make sure you TAKE YOUR TIME and double check the paper templates over and over before you start drilling holes. I was very meticulous in making sure everything lined up and I triple checked my measurements, and then triple checked them again. Drilling holes in your car is painful, so make sure you follow the included instructions. I purchased my spoiler from Jackie at Annapolis Subaru (site vendor) for right around $180 shipped. Spoiler arrived a couple days later. Installation was a breeze, just make sure to check all your measurements and don't rush it. Instructions were clear as a bell, and the paper templates included lined up perfectly. The rear spoiler greatly enhanced the rear appearance of the Foz......






Rally Innovations Light Bar Install:

After a couple of weeks, the front end was looking a bit neglected like it was missing something. The car as a whole was coming together, but the front needed something to make it more rally-like. Enter the Rally Innovations Light Bar. I purchased this second-hand from a forum member, and love the way it transformed the front. It comes with some awkward mounting brackets, but went on easily and quickly, no drilling required. At first, I only wired up two rectangular lamps to the top of the bar as seen below...





But after some photoshopping later, I decided it would be best to add two more lamps on the bottom part of the bar to complete the "4-Lamp Rally Look". So I added two more lamps and started the wiring process and here is the end result...







Fog Lamp & DRL Kill Modification:

As you can tell from the above picture, I can run my fog lamps without having to have my headlamps on. This allows me to use my fog lamps as day time running lamps. First, I killed my DRL (Daytime Running Lamp) on my car. On the 04 models (and other years as well), there is a black box underneath the passenger side dash board. You need to disconnect this box, and that will kill the DRL. See link below for instructions ScoobyMods thanks to Peaty about this mod.

The Fog Lamp Switch Modification is easy to do, just tedious at times being that you are cutting a wire on the main harness under the dash. I followed the instructions linked below, and love the fact that I can use my fogs only as my day time running lamps. Follow Peaty's instructions, and you'll be set...

KILL THE DRL

FOG LAMP MODIFICATION

Make sure you are 100% comfortable with this modification before attempting. It does require tapping into or splicing original wires on the original harness under the dash. Exercise extreme caution and makes sure you know what wire to tap before attempting.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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HID Headlamp and Fog Lamp Retrofit:

For discussion on this, you can visit my thread here: HID Retrofit, Tips & Pics

I know HID retrofits are a touchy situation with some, but here's how I went about doing mine. Now, I'm not saying that the HID retrofit works on all headlamps because it doesn't. A lot of you have seen other vehicles with the "blinding" HID retrofit. I've spent numerous months studying these vehicles and have found that...

A. They weren't installed properly or wrong bulb-type.
B. The headlamp assembly just isn't compatible to a responsible degree.
C. The aim was not adjusted after install.

In my own tests and retrofits, I've found that the HID retrofit is successful on a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, 2004 Forester XT, 2005 Nissan Titan, 2007 & 2006 Honda CBR 600RR. All these vehicles I've installed HID kits on and have had very successful results......similar to those that I'm about to post.

As for my retrofit...

The kit I used on my XT was "Bi-Xenon" HID kit. Meaning it has a retractable bulb that moves in/out for high and low beam functionality, and let me tell you it works amazingly. The bulbs have a sort of "motor" mechanism on the rear that pulls or releases the bulb to make it high/low. The effect of this allows you to have the same functionality as the OEM halogen bulb.

Now, I'm VERY nit-picky and if it doesn't work perfectly, I don't want it or I'll remove it. I'm not a half-asser in any respect, so please take my word that I have done every test imaginable to make sure the retrofit did "blind" oncoming traffic or was an annoyance. My result looks just like any other OEM HID-equipped vehicle on the road. And with the proper aiming of the headlamps, I have yet to have ANYONE flash me either.

The Kit I ordered off of eBay for roughly $120 bucks. It's a Bi-Xenon HID kit at a 4500k color temperature (about the same whiteness as standard HID's). I also ordered a "HID Relay Harness" so that my HID's run off of the harness rather than the stock OEM wiring (this is for peace of mind and the ease of swapping back to Halogen in case of a problem)

You pretty much install the harness as you would any other aux lighting harness Power cable to the battery terminal. Ground to a body ground. The "source" to turn the relay on/off is connected to the original headlight connector. The "high beam" source is also connected to the original headlamp connector. The harness then provides power to the HID ballasts, and a separate connector goes to each bulb for the high-beam function.

You install the bulb like any other bulb. Insert it into where the original halogen was, clip it in and you're set. The bulb "unlocks" from the base to ensure that you can get the rubber grommet around the base to ensure a water-tight seal.

All you need to do from there is connect the bulb to the ballast (self explanatory) and you're set. It's a very easy modification, and the results (in my case personally) have been fantastic. I only recommend this mod to people who are either familiar with HID's and headlamp housings or people who are very nit-picky like myself. My buddy tried to install his into the Silverado and he had horrible results (because he didn't pay enough attention to the details). I went and re-installed his kit and it works perfectly, just like mine.

Now, I'm not saying that modding in a projector from an HID-equipped car isn't better. It is. But for those who have yet to get a projector modification done, or don't have the money for a proper bi-xenon projector setup, this is a great alternative and the results FAR surpass the stock headlamps.

Here is a picture of the bi-xenon bulb so you can get an idea of why the HID kit works as well as it does. Notice the hosing and shields to ensure a proper beam pattern........



Also, here is the beam patterns for both my OEM halogen bulbs compared to the HID retrofit. Notice how the beams are almost identical in size/shape/cutoff. I also retrofitted an HID kit to the fog lamps as well, also with successful results. (note that my driver's side Halogen fog was messed up when I took the picture. The original owner didn't install the bulb properly).

**NOTE** If you look closely at the halogen picture below, you can see more light "scatter" or stray light above the beam than with the HID beam. I also noticed that after the retrofit, the horizontal "cutoff" (the horizontal shape of the beam) was a bit more defined (as it was flatter/crisper) than the stock halogens......





Here is a YouTube video showing my headlamp system in operation....



4-Months of Hell:

For anyone wishing to read a very long story about my engine swap, you can find that here: The 4-Month Nightmare

To paraphrase, I developed a misfire in cylinder 2 on my engine. The local Subaru Dealership (Crawford Subaru, now Garcia Subaru......HORRIBLE place by the way), said it was due to "carbon buildup which broke the piston rings and scored the block". This was completely false, as the block was later inspected by an independent shop and was found to be in rebuildable condition (something the dealership said was not possible). So, after paying $1000 in labor to find out that my engine was bad, I was quoted almost $6000 for them to fix it. Instead of that, I decided to get a complete used engine. I bought a complete FXT engine for $2000, had it shipped from Jersey, and started the swapping process. Swapped the motor in, started it up and the timing belt snapped within 10 seconds. Discouraged, removed my "new to me" motor and tore it down for rebuilding. Heads, pistons and all were fine, nothing bent or broke from the belt snapping, but decided to have the heads rebuilt while everything was ripped apart. I cleaned up the pistons, installed the reconditioned heads with new seals, installed all bits onto the motor and then hurt my back severely while working on it. Having been told not to continue to lift or bend over for a few weeks by the doc, I took the car to a local tuning shop (which I didn't know about until I hurt my back), and they finished installing the motor for me. It started right up and worked flawlessly. Again, read the original thread for the details, which there is a LOT of. There are a few of the pics from that Nightmare......









And the YouTube video briefly explaining the events as well......

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Old 05-18-2010, 10:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My "Sick" Day #1

Original Thread with Narration: My "Sick" Day




























My "Sick" Day #2

Original Thread with Narration: Another "Sick" Day








Random Off-Roading Videos:


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Old 05-18-2010, 10:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Mud-Flaps:

The standard OEM mudguards on the car kept scraping when I was off-road, and I feared that I would rip them off (along with something else) if I kept using them, so I decided to remove the OEM mudguards and I put regular, generic mud-flaps in their place. I made sure the mud-flaps hung low (again, adding to the rally-car look). They're just generic mud-flaps I purchased at O'Rieley's and I trimmed them to fit (mainly the front ones)....





Side-Swiped Myself:

Original thread with Story: Side-Swiped Myself

Backed into my brothers' truck and swiped the passenger side door. It sucked, but I easily fixed it by working out the dent and respraying the lower part of the car with bed liner spray, and it turned out extremely good. You can see the details of that below.




Bed Liner Spray & Wheel Painting:

After the self-side-swiping incident, I decided to cover the entire lower portion of the car in bed-liner spray. I used the DupliColor Bed Liner Spray that you can pickup at any autoparts store. This particular spray allows for a satin-black finish, very durable and has slight texture to it (very similar to a textured plastic bumper). I started by removing all side panels from the vehicle, sanding them very thoroughly, cleaning very thoroughly, and spraying them with adhesion promotor. I sprayed several thin coats of bed-liner onto the panels, making sure I kept my strokes even as to not have the look of spray paint. I did the same with the bumpers, though, I left the bumpers on the car, and just masked off the area I wanted to spray. I only did the bottom half of the bumpers to keep the same line as the side of the car, but I'm going to be respraying the entire bumper, both front and back soon as I not sure if I like the line I created.

For the wheels, I had the tires dismounted. I meticulously sanded the wheels and sprayed with adhesion promotor. I used the Graphite Gray DupliColor wheel paint and sprayed the wheels. I had new (to me) tires mounted. The wheels came out a LOT darker that I was expecting, and not a fan of the overall look now. I'm going to be stripping the paint and re-spraying silver soon, just have to find time.

Here are some of the pictures showing the bed-linered lower portion of the car, along with the graphite gray painted wheels. (and yes, I know. I removed my light-bar for extra approach angle for the day we went off-road, I still have the light bar, not to worry, lol.)....but in plain daylight, it's hard to see that the bed-liner spray is even there. Most of the time, it blends right in.











The wheel paint didn't hold up as well as I hoped for off road. Once I got in deep sand with rocks, it nicked up the wheels pretty good (as you can see in the pictures above). I'll be respraying the wheels either silver or graphite here in the coming weeks.
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Almost Drowned in Mud:

Thread containing story of how it happened: "Almost" drowned















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Old 05-19-2010, 05:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Great photos and I enjoyed re-reading your "drowning" story again!
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Great Journal and a car and owner who's not afraid of a little dirt
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Old 05-19-2010, 05:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I like this thread... it makes me happy
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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A truly excellent photo journal!
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
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On the ROLA roof rack, do you think you could have turned the mounts upside down and gotten it closer to the roof? Or strategically place some spacers...

I want a rack that practically sits on the roof for the lowest vertical profile possible. The eTrailer site shows the mounts and it looks like it might be possible. What's your opinion?
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieKeis View Post
On the ROLA roof rack, do you think you could have turned the mounts upside down and gotten it closer to the roof? Or strategically place some spacers...

I want a rack that practically sits on the roof for the lowest vertical profile possible. The eTrailer site shows the mounts and it looks like it might be possible. What's your opinion?
The basket comes with spacers, and you can exclude using the spacers, and the basket would just be flush up against the crossbars. But since the crossbars aren't even on the ends, you'll have to have either some rubber foam or something on those areas to keep it from sliding around. I tried, but ended up mounting it like normal because I didn't feel like engineering solutions for it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is a great journal. I enjoyed reading through all of it.

I also really like your approach to modding. I can imagine your current mods being a "premium package" Subaru would offer. Looks great, good job!
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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^^ Thanks. You read quick if you read the linked threads too. lol. I like to type a lot and write out how the story played out to "set the stage" so to speak.
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