The $500 ScienceMobile build

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
So, the goal is relatively straightforward:
Take a 07 Liberty do a few repairs and upgrades, and end up with a project that can haul me and all my field equipment to various remote locations to look for worms no one cares about, hunt fossils, and car camp like a champ. Well, that and it still has to be what apparently is called “mall rated” so my feisty, yet tiny wife can still drive it to work on snowy days...

So to start it off, here’s what some luck and 5 bills got me:
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
So, all in all just to start we it’s an 07 limited edition with the usual engine and such. As a VW guy, it’s all pretty much Greek (at this stage of the game)to me as there are cool add ons like heat and AC and extra cylinders !
Yeah, that’s a bad window regulator but from what I read, that’s pretty common, and a cheap, easy fix.
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach


But, underneath is the real issue...that for it driveshaft was pulled to make it “drivable”....

and the current owner doesn’t want to spend the money or do the work- and that screams deal! To me
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
It has been sitting long enough the battery was flat, but a jump and it started right up without issue. Just over 80k miles- 2nd owner- clean title- yada yada yada.

thanks to the info here and a few other sources, it’s looking like 300$ more and I’m on the road!

next step is to get all the goo and juices swapped out. This is something I’d normally do myself, but currently only equipped to catch a few quarts out of a Bug.

I recently Learned about HOAT...and I’m fairly certain the green stuff in the radiator ain’t!
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
As a caveat, I should say this now. I have never worked on a vehicle built after I was born. You youngins should Google “USA bicentennial” to understand where I’m at and why I’m paying someone else to change fluids and plug one of those newfangled computer thingies in to read codes and such.;)

I did change the front passenger wheel bearing on a first year Chevy Equinox one time, but I had a case of beer and an actual mechanic to guide me through that nightmare...
 

duderz7

Full Access Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
678
Reaction score
241
Location
Weiser, ID
These are not that tuff to work on, especially for a reformed vw guy. Just take your time and a do some reading and or ask questions here. We can help keep money in your wallet. Us Liberty driving weirdos got to stick together.
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
While I have certain bits of this vehicle soaking in good ol’ Kroil I’ll lay out the plans thus far:

back seats gotta go. I don’t need em and I need the space. I’m putting in a low profile flatfloor right over the factory stuff. Under the floor will be a roughly 35 gallon water reservoir and a five gallon waster reservoir. Water as I spend weeks solo in various deserts, badlands and the Sandhills of Nebraska. Waste tank is small as certain chemicals I use in the field should never be loose in the environment.

I’ll discuss the design and fabrication of all that later.

with my tank designs, I still have storage space under the floor, so there will be four compartments available. One is reserved for batteries for the solar cell that hours on the roof. I need electricity separate from the car to run an array of equipment, from various sensors to a portable DNA sequencer and various microscopes...also, would like to be able to watch a few movies when the weather gets crazy, but without running the engine all the dang time.

plus, need the room to haul my camping, backpacking, backcountry EMT gear, and Toprope and canyon SAR equipment...in addition to specimens and samples both biologic and geologic.

for the exterior, need a proper set of roof rails to support various sensors, coms gear, and the solar. Also need to outfit for a propane tank, a spare tire, traction boards, and three jerry cans.

Have to lift around two inches for both ground clearance and weight. Also need some heavier wheels and tires. Where I go is generally fairly mild, but ground clearance is needed!
 

tommudd

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Messages
20,359
Reaction score
1,665
Location
Southeastern Ohio
Yes from the looks of those front springs they are toast !
4 OME springs 2297/2948, 4 shocks, bilstein or OME, rear longer of course , and bumpstops will get you going and haul the weight you will have
Bet you are an inch to inch and a half lower than stock height
Measure left front, on level ground
middle of the wheel ( hub area) to bottom of the flare and report back
Springs are almost stacked and CVs pointing up towards the wheel :(
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
;);)
Yes from the looks of those front springs they are toast !
4 OME springs 2297/2948, 4 shocks, bilstein or OME, rear longer of course , and bumpstops will get you going and haul the weight you will have
Bet you are an inch to inch and a half lower than stock height
Measure left front, on level ground
middle of the wheel ( hub area) to bottom of the flare and report back
Springs are almost stacked and CVs pointing up towards the wheel :(
I suspected as much but was unsure. Good news is I had plans for the suspension anyway, so might as well do it now!

As I lay here under it, as best I can tell, all the suspension is shot.

Awww shucks, that justifies a grand or so of the OME stuff...guess I’ll get a small ladder so the wife can get in and out...
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
Also, I have a question about this photo in particular:
You must be registered for see images attach

I see this gap here...is that normal, or is that a sign of wear?
 

tommudd

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Messages
20,359
Reaction score
1,665
Location
Southeastern Ohio
;);)
I suspected as much but was unsure. Good news is I had plans for the suspension anyway, so might as well do it now!

As I lay here under it, as best I can tell, all the suspension is shot.

Awww shucks, that justifies a grand or so of the OME stuff...guess I’ll get a small ladder so the wife can get in and out...
927/948s will lift it 2.5 inches over new stock height
My 89 year old Mother who is 5 foot and had both knees replaced can still get in my 03 that is up 2.5 inches with 31s
tell your wife to JUMP !!!! ;)
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
Yes that is how you align the front end
Thanks....haven't even gotten that far into the care and feeding of this beast yet. Certain noob manuals have not arrived yet, so I'm winging it a little as I hunt down problems and potential problems.
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
927/948s will lift it 2.5 inches over new stock height
My 89 year old Mother who is 5 foot and had both knees replaced can still get in my 03 that is up 2.5 inches with 31s
tell your wife to JUMP !!!! ;)
She just pulled in the driveway and her and my daughter have a bet going as to how long it will be before the swearing starts and the "universal adjustment tool" comes out!
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
So I ended up inspecting and rust busting till dark yesterday. Then inadvertently stayed awake till 0400 reading the factory manual above. It is a bit chilly and rainy today and tomorrow, and the bug is in the garage, so likely won't get much actual work done. However, it appears that if I'm smart, I might as well rebuild the entire suspension system now rather than Nickle and Diming it.

Sure, that is going to cost me a grand or so more in the short term, but with the goal of being Millard County Ready by July 15th of this year, this is the best course of action. Truth is, I honestly do not know how comfortable I am rebuilding the entire system solo. I have reached out to a few shops in town for estimates. This is mostly for safety reasons.

On the other hand, it does look fairly simple so more research is needed.


I ordered OME Front and rear springs, Figured what the **** and ordered OME struts and shocks too. Bump stops definitely need replacement, but I have a bit more reading to do before I order them. This portion at least, is something I am familiar with. I am also eyeballing the highly acclaimed JBA UCAs...as best as I can tell thus far, if I ain't runnin' those reds with a lift, I'm doin' it wrong and just asking for trouble later on....which with my luck means waiting for an evac from the middle of nowhere which will cost about three times more.

Sure, a bit more expensive project right out the gate, but still cheaper than making payments or having to deal with the lowest form of human life- used car salesmen!;)

(Fun fact: the original Kong dog toys were just VW microbus rear bumps!)
 

LibertyTC

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
8,380
Reaction score
1,021
Location
B.C. Canada
I used 927-948 OME springs, OME front shocks (still standing up well years later) for rears you can use Bilstein, longer travel rear shock from an 04 Dodge Dakota club cab spec.
Front bump stops, Teraflex, rear 2 hockey pucks bolted into rear perch.
Of course JBA 4.5's makes it handle like a sports truck with better alignments.
I like having a new tall coffee holder ...:)
You must be registered for see images attach
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
One aspect I am mulling over during this zoom meeting to schedule more zoom meetings, is exterior coatings. I'm not certain how familiar many of you are with the Nebraska Sandhills, but this is one area I end up spending lots of time in for work. I do it old school, carrying a fence repair toolkit, as I found ranchers are actually very happy to let me drive through there rangeland in search of specimens if I am willing to not only repair any fences I have to cross, but if I do repairs for them as I find them. Needless to say while the driving is easy (the sandhills are basically dunes millions of years old with prairie grassland growing on top of them), access is nearly impossible if you don't get friendly with the landowners. Plus, in the remote desert areas I end up in, the gravel gets airborne pretty much every time the wind blows.

Anyway, there is a ton of invasive cedars, cacti, and lots of paint abrading brush to drive through. I have no intention of covering the entire vehicle with Linex or Rhino, but am researching various anti abrasion coatings for the lower half. I don't mind chips and scratches, but the propensity of Nebraska to dump literal tons of salt on the roads pretty much guarantees skin cancer- At this point there is only a little pre-cancer on the body, and that will get treated in the next few days while I'm waiting for parts.


I am also attempting to source a snorkel. I hate to use that term as I don't want or need the aquatic type, just the dust type, preferably with the oil bath washable filter. I ended up having to buy and install two air filters on the rental during my 3 week trip in 2019. They plugged up quick!
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
I used 927-948 OME springs, OME front shocks (still standing up well years later) for rears you can use Bilstein, longer travel rear shock from an 04 Dodge Dakota club cab spec.
Front bump stops, Teraflex, rear 2 hockey pucks bolted into rear perch.
Of course JBA 4.5's makes it handle like a sports truck with better alignments.
I like having a new tall coffee holder ...:)
You must be registered for see images attach
Noob question: I see the term "hockey pucks" used quite frequently... is this literally hockey pucks or Jeep slang for a specific product? I keep picturing lots of folks running flat ***** through a drill press in the off season!
 

LabRat

Busting 3/8” drive ratchets like a Pro.
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
810
Reaction score
613
Location
Bellevue NE
Yes from the looks of those front springs they are toast !
4 OME springs 2297/2948, 4 shocks, bilstein or OME, rear longer of course , and bumpstops will get you going and haul the weight you will have
Bet you are an inch to inch and a half lower than stock height
Measure left front, on level ground
middle of the wheel ( hub area) to bottom of the flare and report back
Springs are almost stacked and CVs pointing up towards the wheel :(
Reporting back. Order is df, pf, pr, dr.
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
You must be registered for see images attach
 
Top