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


8/3/16: I didn't really do any work on Betty in July because I spent most of it on a road trip. Went from Phoenix up to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho then over to Jackson, WY and back down. I went with my buddy in his 2015 4Runner and this sketchy 1958 camper that he bought for $300:


As soon as I got back I tackled the one major issue with the Monty that is keeping it off the trails: The 4x4 lever with the disappearing red ball fulcrum.

First step was to remove the center console where I found 20 years of goodies that had fallen through the seams:


Here is the old shifter, there is supposed to be a plastic ball inside the metal cup but it has totally disintegrated:


I got a used white ball shifter from a Monty owner off the Mitsubishi Monteros USA Facebook group:

It had some holes in the rubber boots so I patched them with Red RTV:

Here is a link to another thread on this forum about replacing your 4x4 shifter. In this thread I posted a link to the aussie pajero site which you'll definitely want to check out if you're doing this swap because it has a lot of detailed info and pictures.

Here is what the top of the transfer case looked like when I pulled out my old lever:

And this is the position you want the forks and spring to be in when you place the lever back in. I moved the forks manually by shoving a large screw driver in there and pushing on them.

I cleaned up the surfaces and applied a thin layer of black RTV and then placed the lever back in and reassembled.

If your transmission shifter is also loosey goosey and has excessive side to side play then now is a great time to fix that issue as well. I found the remains of what looked like a plastic bushing where the shifter pivots so I decided to use a metal washer in its place. It did not fit so I had to grind the hollow metal pipe down a bit on a bench grinder but now I can make my transmission shifter lever as tight or as loose as I want and it should last forever:
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8/10/16 Continued: While I had the center console apart I took the opportunity to install a RAM Mount Cup Holder. There isn't an amazing place anywhere in the Montero to put this but I saw someone else on here used this location and I agree that it is probably the least intrusive spot.


8/25/16: I also used the opportunity of having everything apart while working on the transfer case shifter to replace the Rear Locker switch the previous owner installed. It can be actuated in any gear, at any speed, and even though it is pretty well tucked away behind the 4x4 shifter I was scared of it being accidentally engaged. So I ordered a toggle switch with cover and red led light from Amazon and installed it in its place. I had to use a replacement trim piece from a junkyard donor and do some careful cutting, drilling, and gluing but I'm very happy with how it turned out:
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Man, your posts are inspiring. It's all these little details on my montero that tick me off so bad, but I'm the most impatient person to go through and fix all the small things like this. I usually leave the problems and hope it just works itself out one day. Good job on being motivated. I'll get there one day maybe.


Man, your posts are inspiring. It's all these little details on my montero that tick me off so bad, but I'm the most impatient person to go through and fix all the small things like this. I usually leave the problems and hope it just works itself out one day. Good job on being motivated. I'll get there one day maybe.
Thanks man! I've found that when I first get a vehicle that is the time to go balls-to-the-wall on the cleaning and little tidbits that don't work. Because after a few months of getting used to it, I stop caring and rarely get around to those sort of projects.


8/7/16: Yes, I know we're going backwards in time a bit but while one thing is being worked on, another is as well. I decided that running the 35/13.50R15s that came on the vehicle when I bought it was overkill for me since I'm mostly an overlander and not a rock crawler. After a lot of research I decided to go with 15x8 alloy wheels with somewhere between 3 and 4 inches of backspacing. I found this set of 4 on OfferUp and decided to go for it:

I also decided that on this rig I wanted to run wider tires than my last Montero and that I also wanted to try out All-Terrains instead of Mud-Terrains to help cut down on the road noise. After weeks of being persistent I found a brand new set of BFG KO2 33/12.50R15 on craigslist. The seller's story is truly heartbreaking if true: The seller just bought them from Discount Tire brand new, he took them straight from the tire shop to a camping trip, everyone got wasted, he let his gf take his XJ back into town to the convenience store to get more beer and she ended up rolling and totaling his XJ somehow. He only had liability insurance on his Jeep so he was screwed and was in the process of parting out whatever he could salvage. The tires literally have 30 miles on them and when I took them to Discount to get mounted they let me buy the Road Hazard Certificates for them so I'm covered while wheeling.


8/8/16: I had saved all of the JAOS goodies from The General Li but hadn't decided to install them yet because I wasn't sure if I was actually going to keep Betty or the General. Now, with the tires and 4x4 lever in place I was able to go wheeling and see how this rig compared. My buddy just bought a stock 2000 Discovery II so we both needed to test our new vehicles. We just went up to Sycamore Creek and put them through some light tests in the dry wash. With the front Detroit locker, Betty has gobs of traction. She can climb anything effortlessly. The problem is that soft riverbed roads are very taxing for the driver because the front locker is constantly pulling you all over the place as the tires grab different traction.


But like I said, this thing can climb anything. Going up "Widow Maker" was like going for a Sunday drive:

Here's a view on the way down from about half-way up:

So after this successful first test, I've 100% made up mind and will keep Betty and sell the General. Yes, the bump steer is super annoying on soft roads but I'm going to try adding a steering stabilizer to see if that minimizes it.

8/13/16: Now with my mind made up, time to bolt all the JAOS goodies on. I put the Front Skid Plate on before going offroading a few days before and now I put the Bullbar on. Should have taken 1 hour but it ended up taking 3 hours, isn't that how things always go?
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I just realized that a couple other things took place in June that I forgot to post about:

1. After getting the new tie rod ends and idler arm installed I took it to a shop and had them do an alignment. I also had them replace the fuel filter and transmission filter. I provided them with the filters which I got off of Rock Auto and I also supplied them with SP-III from the Mitsu dealer.

2. Shortly after this was done I spent a Saturday refreshing the cooling system. New radiator hoses, thermostat, and Peak Long Life Coolant. I did 6 distilled water flushes (1 gallon each), you can see the results clearing up with each flush:
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8/15/16: I'm down to the last main issue with the vehicle that existed when I bought it: cracked passenger side exhaust manifold. So I took a chance and ordered this Chinese one off ebay for $60. I inspected it when it arrived and other than one small pit on the mounting surface it looks okay. The pit/hole/defect in the mounting surface was pretty small so the gasket filled it up and now my truck is running nice and quiet.

After much craigslist/offerup searching, I found a wheel that matches my new 15x8 alloys. And then a few days later I found a 33/12.50R15 tire in good condition. So then I took them down to Discount Tire and had my spare tire mounted up. If you look carefully at the previous photos of Betty out in the desert you'll notice that I still had the 35" spare back there.

With the spare tire taken care of, I quickly mounted the JAOS Ladder and Luso Overland Recovery Point on as well.


She's looking good and best of all - everything is fixed. Literally the only thing that doesn't work on this vehicle right now is one of the windshield washer nozzles. :)


At the end of my July roadtrip to Idaho, I stopped at Rocky Road Outfitters just outside of Salt Lake City and picked up my new set of Supersliders.

Even though these sliders are more expensive then the Trail Gear option, I decided to go with them because acording to the description they are unbreakable (lifetime warranty), have some nice features like the angled end caps, and come in an easy bolt on solution. Perfect for those of us who don't know how to weld.

So I get home and try installing them and find that the front leg is too long. As you can see, the front of the slider sticks out away from the frame and is too far away to bolt onto the pinchweld:

Grandpa and another Montero owner with the same sliders were kind enough to get me some measurements from their supersliders and that helped me confirm that they were made incorrectly. RRO is standing behind their mistake and is open to making a new pair for me or having a local fab shop here in Phoenix cut out the extra 1" and reweld them and bill them directly. Though now that I'm looking at these sliders for the first time (there are not any good pics of the sliders and their legs or how they mount to the vehicle on the RRO detail page) I'm not a big fan of them. Firstly, the legs are tiny 1" tube and there are only 2 of them. No way that is going to be strong enough. I suspect that a lot of the strength comes from having the slider bolted to the body pinchweld. I'm not a big fan of that because 1. it eliminates the possibility of ever getting a body lift. 2. ties the frame and body together in a way that it wasn't designed to do and I'm sure creaks and rattles would develop over time. 3. With impacts over time I'm sure the holes in the soft pinchweld metal will loosen up. 4. I totally believe that these sliders are harder than rock and will never dent or break, because when I come down hard enough on a boulder the body will give first.

So I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to do with these. If you think I'm worrying about nothing and that these would work well for you then come and get them for $400. What I might do is have a local fab shop cut off the legs and pinchweld mount entirely and weld on 3 or 4 beefy legs, plates, and gussets to the frame.

I really like the look and design of the slider and kick up, it's just the legs that I'm not a fan of.

Stay tuned for more on this soon.

9/12/16: Got a new windshield today, and they gave me a $60 rebate/kick back. I've never been paid before when something on my vehicle breaks, how nice. :)


Expedition Leader
When I do order my sliders it will be the Trail Gear 67 inch setup that several others on here have used with success on the Monteros, with the body lift you can adjust everything where you want it before welding them up. As for attaching to the pinch weld, I was thinking of using the factory running board bolts/holes that are already there using some "L" brackets, combined with being welded to the frame brackets it should be more more than enough support for any downward forces by humans standing on them.


8/31/16: Time to install my custom sleeping platform. I decided to open up the rear panels and remove the 3rd row seat belts. I went back and forth on just leaving them in even though there is a 99% chance I will never need them. But in the end, I decided it would be too weird to have them just dangling there and they would get in the way a little.

The last time I did this job on my previous Montero, I also took the opportunity to replace the rear speakers. But these speakers still sound good so I said screw it and decided to do all that work to simply remove the 2 seat belts, tuck the cd changer wires behind the plastic trim, and vacuum/clean some more.

With everything put back together, the bed only takes a few minutes to reinstall (it's just 4 bolts, 4 screws):


Then I did a little upgrade to the platform by adding a D ring at each corner so I can tie things down on the top level and keep them secure.

I had been searching for floor mats for a long time and found some nice Armorall ones at O'Reilly. I just had to trim the drivers side a bit and it fights really nicely. The only downside is that these come as a 3 piece set for around $40 (1 front driver, 1 front passenger, and 1 2nd row runner) and the 2nd row runner mat was too wide by about an inch or two because this set is made for full size pick ups. But I sold the runner on OfferUp for $10 so not a big deal (it was insane, I posted it and got like 10 messages instantly, there must be a floor mat void in the market haha).

The rubber quality is really good, not too soft, not too hard. Nice big voids to trap mud and they stay put pretty well. Part #78990-Blk
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9/03/16-9/04/16: So with Labor Day weekend just a day away, I asked my wife if we should do anything special? She said, "let go camping in Sedona", ok, you don't have to twist my arm!

We left Phoenix around 11am on Saturday, drove straight to Broken Arrow Trail and had an awesome time. This was the most serous offroading my wife has ever done and it was a great place to put Betty though some more technical tests. She's a beast, and cannot be stopped. There was nothing on the trail that needed more than 1 try and my wife did great, she only found 2 of the obstacles too scary and wanted to get out. I only let her out once though, she got to scream down Devil's Staircase.


After a great couple hours on the trail we headed west of town into the national forest and found a camping spot for the night.


We took our 2 dogs and although the sleeping platform was crowded, we slept well. This was the first time I had tried out the platform overnight and with a 3" memory foam mattress on top it was almost like sleeping at home. I've found that I can camp indefinitely if I sleep well, but if the bed sucks then I'm over it after 1-2 nights.

The next morning:


We headed into town for breakfast and then decided to take the more "overland" route back to Phoenix. So to rejoin the I-17 we took Shnebly Hill Road which is a dirt track that climbs along the red rock rim for a few miles until it reaches Flagstaff elevation (ponderosa pine forest) just south of Munds Park. I let my wife drive for a good portion of it (her first time driving 4x4) and we often stopped to let the dogs play in the creek along the roadside. She had such a good time that she's already wanting to plan more trips. All in all, it was a great overnighter.




Ceiling Cargo Net

9/13/16: Wow, this build thread is finally caught up with real life, thanks for hanging in there!

Over the Labor Day trip to Sedona, I noticed when laying in bed that it would be nice to have more storage room. There are certain things that you want handy, like your pants, toiletries, sweater, extra blankets, etc. and having them just laying on the edges of the bed cuts into the amount of available space and it can be hard to track stuff down amongst the covers.

The Montero has a roomy interior with a few inches of height above the oh-******** handles and I've seen photos of fellow members adding a cargo net or bungee chords for extra storage. So I spent some time measuring the ceiling and searching online, and eventually settled on this cargo net.

When I first tried hooking it up, I found that it was too big and sagged way too low when loaded (even with light stuff like sleeping pads). I spent a good amount of time fooling with it, tying knots in the bungee chords at each end to try and remove some of the elasticity but to no avail. Then I did some searching in the forum and found someone who used a similar net but made an aluminum frame for it with upside down hooks on the end that sat between the headliner and plastic trim. This seemed like a great idea and I spent some time mocking up my own version and was just about to go to Home Depot to buy the aluminum when I had a different idea:

Ceiling Cargo Net Install

Step 1: Loosen the 3rd row seat belt bolts. On the long side of the net, count inwards 1 spot to the 2nd net hole along the edge of the net. Place this net hole over and around the right side 3rd row seat bolt. Make sure to get the thick edge rope of the net and the bungee cord around the bolt. Then tighten the bolt to pinch the net in place.

Step 2: Do the same thing on the left side. You now have the rear of the net hung. FYI - If you use the 1st hole of the net (corner) the net will be looser and objects will make it sag more. In theory, you can even move it over another spot inward it you want it even tighter.

Step 3: Tighten the screws holding the 2nd row grab handles. Go the the right side, 2nd row door, and pull the net towards you. Run a small cam buckle strap through the 5th hole of the net (counting inwards along the long side towards the center) making sure to capture the thick edge rope and bungee cord, and then through the grab handle and tighten (not too tight).

Step 4: Do the same thing on the other side of the vehicle. Double check for symmetry and then tighten both sides as tight as you can/want.

Step 5. Attach a zip tie to the grab handles and hook the plastic bungee hooks to it. This helps widen the net a little and take some of the flex out of it.

Step 6. Test the net. Make adjustments if you want it tighter or looser.

Step 7. At the rear mounting points, tighten a zip tie around the net just before it goes around the seatbelt bolt so that there is no way it can come off accidentally.


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Love all the updates and looking good! I think I have the same pittsburgh tool set from harbor freight :victory:.


Awesome thread! Man I'm jealous my wife likes camping, but not too far and my two year old can't be in the car too long either, will have to wait, on the meantime I will try to upgrade the Monty for whenever they are ready.