smorris preps an Outback for cross-country exploring
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This is a discussion on smorris preps an Outback for cross-country exploring within the Builds forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; This is not a WRX. Stop now if you're not curious about what I'm doing... Now that I've sold the ...

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    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    smorris preps an Outback for cross-country exploring

    This is not a WRX. Stop now if you're not curious about what I'm doing...

    Now that I've sold the WRX Wagon, I've got a new project. Youngest daughter is graduating high school in a couple of weeks, and in the fall we will be taking her to Seattle for college. Heading out (from Ohio) will be a straight through Interstate trip. Coming back will be exploring as many out of the way places as we can find for anywhere from two weeks to two months.

    Like the Bugeye WRX, I've had this Outback since new, although I've made very few modifications to it proir to the last month or so. This isn’t going to be an off-road build thread. I’m not putting together a rig for day trips rock crawling or weekends in the desert. My vehicle is just plain not fit for these type of excursions nor do I have any interest in doing so. I am putting together a vehicle that will be comfortable for hours of Interstate travel at a time, and then capable of going on forest roads, gravel, dirt, and mild trails wherever we happen to find them. With that in mind, you will see as many comfort and convenience modifications as capability mods. I’m building a softroader.


    Starting Point:
    2008 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT Limited (turbocharged) with 34k miles as of May 2015
    - Obsidian Black Pearl
    - 5 Speed Manual Transmission


    Factory/Dealer Installed Options:
    - Auto-Dimming Mirror/Compass w/Homelink
    - Floor Mats
    - Winter Floor Mats
    - Rear Cargo Net
    - Rear Cargo Tray


    Interior:
    - Dash Cubby GPS Mounting Plate
    - Rear Dome/Reading Light
    - WeatherTech DigitalFit Floor Liners (front only)
    - LED Interior lighting conversion
    - Sportster 5 Sirius Satellite Radio
    - Garmin nuvi 2798LMT GPS
    - TapTurn Signal Module
    - LED Cargo Area Lighting
    - LED Liftgate Flood Lights


    Cosmetic/Convenience Mods:
    - Liftgate completely debadged
    - Smoked 3rd Brake Light and Back-Up Lights
    - Hella Supertone Horn Kit
    - LED Backup and License Bulbs
    - Redline Tuning QuickLIFT Elite Hood Strut

    Towing:
    - 2" Class III Receiver Hitch

    Softroading Specific Mods:
    - RallyArmor UR Mud Flap Set (black/gray)
    - ARB Touring 2500 Awning
    - Primitive Racing Skid Plate
    - 2011 Forester XT wheels for all-terrain tires
    - Viair 450P Portable Air Compressor
    - OPT7 32" C2 LED Combo Spot/Fog Light Bar


    Cargo and Storage:
    Two configurations on different sets of crossbars. Swap back and forth in about 30 minutes. There are brackets for the awning on both setups;
    Configuration A:
    - Subaru Heavy Duty Cargo Basket (Same as Yakima LoadWarrior) on OEM crossbars
    - Yakima LoadWarrior 18" basket extension
    - FourTreks Modular ARB awning mount
    Configuration B:
    - Thule 450 Crossroad set w/58" crossbars
    - (2) Yakima Fork Lift bicycle racks
    - (2) Thule Hull-a-Port Folding Kayak Mounts
    - RhinoRack Foxwing awning mount


    Possible/Future Plans:
    - Light Brackets for Yakima Basket (Waiting to Install)
    - Yokohama 225-60-17 Geolander A/T-S Tires
    - 3/4" Strut Spacers (Waiting to Install)
    - 2004 Outback Heavy Duty Rear Struts (Waiting to Install)
    - Fridge/Freezer
    - Sleeping Platform
    - Onboard water storage
    - Brackets for Jerry cans
    - Interior Storage (where back seat currently is)










    (Crappy phone photo through a window screen)










    2011 Forester XT wheels I bought to mount the AT tires on. Tread was better than my OEM tread, so I'm using them now, and will get AT tires in the fall.


    Sirius radio and Garmin GPS (with temporary wiring)



    Updates to be posted as they occur.
    Steve



    [EDIT]
    5/16/15 Clarified rack configurations
    6/3/15 Added Viair 450P compressor and LED light bar
    Last edited by smorris; 06-03-2015 at 03:39 PM.
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

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  3. #2
    Registered User jfisch822's Avatar
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    This is very cool, I like it
    My Build Thread - "Scrappy Doo" 2013 Subaru WRX Hatch
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    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    I ordered a Viair 450P Portable Air Compressor and an OPT7 32" C2 LED Combo Spot/Fog Light Bar.

    The compressor arrived today, and it is very nice! Larger than I expected, as I was planning on putting it in the hub of the spare wheel. I guess it will get stored in the rear footwell until I build some storage compartments.

    The LED light bar will go on roof configuration A with the basket and awning. I'm re-painting the basket, and then I'll assemble everything for when I want to swap configurations. Power will be a plug somewhere in the back so there are no wires when using configuration B.

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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  5. #4
    The Member michaelwfox's Avatar
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    That sounds like it will be an awesome trip!
    My "Build" Thread!


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  6. #5
    \_(ツ)_/ Rambo's Avatar
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    Interested in how you wire the light bar. I've wanted to get one for quite some time (I actually have the same OPT7 bar in my Amazon wish list ), but couldn't ever figure out a tidy way of bringing out external power without drilling.

    Since you have a 2008, you have a SAT input stereo option on the factory HU, but you're obviously not using that. If you like, I have a Subaru ipod connection kit that replaces the SAT box I could give you.

    I replaced the OEM ipod box in mine with this: Subaru 06-09 USB Android iPod iPhone Bluetooth AUX adapter

    This gives me factory-integrated bluetooth audio and calling, and a USB input. It works fairly well, with only occasional hiccups. It's nice to control BT music and calls from the steering wheel controls.

    Also, I know you don't have the factory navigation, but the factory nav has a video AUX input, and a dedicated reverse camera channel. I was able to wire up a factory fit reverse camera that automatically displays on the factory nav screen when I shift into reverse. I still need to find a good use for the other video input.

    Do you have a trailer wiring harness? If not, there's a factory pigtail in the left rear fender.

    Also, with the rear seats down, a twin air mattress fits great.
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  7. #6
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    And it will just be the first of many! As of September 23, we will be empty-nesters (unless she comes home for the summers, which she is not expecting to do.) We have a lot of places we want to explore all over the country.

    We have been watching a show on the Smithsonian Channel called Aerial America. Each episode is video from a helicopter over a specific state. It covers interesting geological, historical, cultural sites as well as cities large and small. I sit there with my tablet bookmarking all the interesting places, especially the out-of-the-way ones. And there are endless websites listing unusual sites off the beaten path.
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  8. #7
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Isaac,

    I have the Sirius radio going into my AUX input on the factory radio, and use the hands-free phone features of the Garmin, which includes access to my iPhone's address book via bluetooth. I'm not sure when I would use the iPod connection kit that you've so kindly offered. I don't really listen to any music from iTunes on my phone.

    The Garmin nuvi 2798 has a rear view camera, which I haven't yet mounted. It is pretty low quality, and I half wish I'd saved the money and just bought the 2797 instead, but I'll put it in anyway.

    I have not purchased the trailer wiring yet. I have it favorited at etrailer, and know where the factory wiring is thanks to their excellent videos.

    As for wiring the LED light bar, I'm not sure yet. My thoughts now are to wire-tie the harness to the basket, and run it to the back of the car. Then possibly in at the top of the lift gate, down the space beside the strut, and inner the bottom. (about where the trailer wires would hang out. I plan to add a plug at the point where it comes in the top of the lift gate so I can easily change rack configurations. Then I need to get power from up front back to the back of the car.

    Another option is to come down the A-pillar with some sort of clip along the edge of the windscreen and into the engine bay. Last option is to come in at the top of the rear window (frameless - yay!) and plug into power at floor level. I'll play it by ear as I get to it.

    Here's my inspiration for sleeping/storage although not that tall. Just enough to get over the incline of the rear seat back. Or I've considered removing the back seat altogether, and building storage up to the floor height to fill in the gap for a level sleeping platform.

    Lots of plans! How many of them I get to, I guess I'll find out come September...

    Thanks!
    Steve
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  9. #8
    \_(ツ)_/ Rambo's Avatar
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    No worries, the kit will continue to collect dust. The Subaru iPod kit is 32pin connector only (the lightning adapter will work for audio, but not charging). I figured if someone had a use for it, it's out there for free.

    As far as wiring goes, the tailgate wiring grommets might be a good spot to enter the car from, since they're right at the top of the rear hatch. I fed the composite video cable for the backup camera through the left one. Plenty of free space for extra cables.
    Isaac -- 2003 WRX sedan Stg II - Gave its life for mine 6/2013.
    2007 Outback 3.0R wagon
    Proud owner of a N.E.R.D, Member 1.3810-23

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  10. #9
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rambo View Post
    As far as wiring goes, the tailgate wiring grommets might be a good spot to enter the car from, since they're right at the top of the rear hatch. I fed the composite video cable for the backup camera through the left one. Plenty of free space for extra cables.
    Yep, I used the right grommet for the wires for the lift gate LED strips, and will use the left one for the backup camera. Still, both ends of those are on the wrong side of the lift gate seal, unless I open one up in the middle.

    BTW, if you want the OPT7 C2 32" lights, now might be a good time to buy. I ordered the LED bar and compressor Sunday, because Amazon started collecting Ohio state sales tax on Monday, and it saved me $25 in taxes. Today, the OPT7 light is $25 less than it was Sunday evening...
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

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    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Today I added the rear view camera that came with my new Garmin nuvi 2798. I still had all of the trim off from when I added the LED strips, and wanted to get things finished up. I mounted it on the plastic piece between the left license plate light and the lift gate latch. The bracket is made to mount with two self-tapping screws or onto the license plate frame. I used one of the self-tappers, and also glued it to the plastic piece. I drilled a hole behind the plastic trim, and fed the cable through there.

    I made the job extra hard on myself. I ran the power cable through the grommet between the body and lift gate, down the D pillar, removed the tail lamp assembly, fed the power cord to the tail lamp, and then looked to see which light is the backup lamp. Y'all know where this is going; the backup lamp is on the lift gate, right beside the new camera...

    It is a crappy quality camera, but better than none, I guess. Or at least an added bit of security, as I'm already a fervent neck-swiveler.

    I got all the trim back on, and somewhere over the past couple of weeks lost one umbrella plug. I'll find it somewhere, but that's one more item off my checklist!
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  12. #11
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Here's the crappy low resolution and way too wide angle. The first photo is from 15-18 feet in front of the red smart, and the second from 4 feet. By comparison, the camera on my daughter's Mazda 3 is very sharp and clear in all lighting conditions. That and the loaner 2015 3.6R (which was similar to the Mazda's) are my only experience with rear view cameras.

    Oh, and the image is reversed, which on the Mazda and new Outback, it isn't.






    Here's a photo at around 11:00 local, with only my LED backup lights for illumination. Not as bad as I expected, but still not much to write home about.



    All in all, I'd recommend the Garmin nuvi 2797 rather than the 2798. The 2798 is $350 on Amazon, and the 2797 is $220. Plus, the 2797 can be found factory refurbished with full warranty for even less, whereas I couldn't find a refurbished 2798. (Although Amazon now shows the refurbished 2797 at the same $220 as the new one, so no savings there.)
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  13. #12
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Meanwhile, here's the output from the OPT7 32" C2 LED Light Bar. It is just temporarily wired to the battery, and the lamp is laying across the engine cover. Eventually, it will be mounted to the front of the Yakima LoadWarrior roof basket.

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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

  14. #13
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    That's significant output. Great shot.
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  15. #14
    zax
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    Exciting Steve! You'll nearly double her mileage after your trip I'm sure. I myself plan on tackling a cross country trip (Route 50 from San Fran to Ocean City) on top of a 1983 BMW R80 motorbike next year, in honor of my late father.

    I think my car-of-choice for a cross-country trip would be a Buick Roadmaster Estate. In some ways the Outback is spiritually similar to the Roadmaster. You'll have fun I'm sure of it!
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  16. #15
    Moderator smorris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zax View Post
    I think my car-of-choice for a cross-country trip would be a Buick Roadmaster Estate.
    Especially if you were doing the Route 66 trip!


    Quote Originally Posted by zax View Post
    some ways the Outback is spiritually similar to the Roadmaster. You'll have fun I'm sure of it!
    I grew up with '60s station wagons, and have always been fond of them. I learned to drive in a '62 Ford Falcon wagon. The last Buick Roadmaster Estate was the epitome of classic wagons. I recently had the opportunity to drive a 2014 Mercedes Benz E350 Estate, and that's about the only current production vehicle still available in the USA that carries on that tradition. To me, the current Outbacks are SUVs, but that's what everyone seems to like about the post-2009 Outback. go figure...
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    Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA - Moderator - Fun Drives and North Central States
    The Morris Garage
    2008 Outback 2.5XT Ltd __2002 WRX Wagon (sold) __ 1958 MGA Roadster __ 2008 smart Cabrio __ and a few scooters...

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