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Why the H3?

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I've sold the Montero and miss it and getting back to overlanding I realized there were some lessons learned with that platform, and while I looked in ernest to find another Gen III, or even a clean 2.5, there's that law about nostalgia that says you can never go back. I'm also now without a garage, limiting my own wrenching and rattle-canning, and someone boosted my entire Craftsman mechanics set reducing me to scratch. In junior high I think we called this a do-over.

I thought I'd go the Jeep route: incredible aftermarket, proven platform, and huge user support systems. But, as we say in this area, you can't swing a gray-hair around without hitting one, the ubiquitous general purpose vehicle. Ditto the FJ. So I turned to the Hummer H3. I've secretly wanted one since they came out in 2005 and with its limited run and termination in 2010, the market hasn't quite figured out what to do with it.

I've made fun of Hummers since the H2 hit the market, and w…

NiLight LED Light Bars

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The Hella 500FF lamps located at the base of the A-pillars were overkill, not in terms of light, but in lamps, making eight lamps total on the front of the H3. I eliminated the 500s and installed a pari of NiLight 30W eight-inch light bars on the Garvin roof rack.  I used the existing circuit for the previously installed Hellas when they were mounted on the roof rack. The wiring is insulated and runs down the A-pillars to the Blue Sea fuse block.  The light bars offer a better area saturation while the LEDs are more efficient that the halogens. Their lower profile makes them less conspicuous as well. Build quality and materials are the same as the Cree lamps, best to replace the hardware with stainless.


H2O to the H3

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The dog deck was built to accommodate two six-gallon water cans below it that sit the in rear-seat foot wells.

These work well for long hauls, but I wanted a way to store less water for every-day use without twelve gallons constantly sloshing around.

I've kept a 4L MSR dromedary bag in the BOB and thought to find a place where that could stow out of the way but still be accessible to water the dogs on their daily outings and have some on hand for our own hikes, as well as for emergency use.

The MSR dromedary bag has a perimeter webbing that makes it easy to hang and attach. I suspended it from the seatbelt anchor on the C pillar and clipped it to the Safari Strap to keep it from bouncing around. I picked up a 10L bag for the driver side, pictured at the top of this post.
The spouts are accessible to fill dog dishes or camel backs and despite interior temps, the water stays relatively cool. I'm thinking I'll return the 4L back to the BOB and replace it with a 10L on the pa…

Video Update

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The condition of interior modifications two years into the H3 build.

Smittybilt XRC Winch

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This has been awhile in coming, since our Three Hour Tour, in fact; a winch. Since then I've yet to be in a situation where we've needed planetary gears-not for lack of trying-we've just had better approach angles, more adept at articulating a fly-by-wire throttle, and more prudent lines where we overcame obstacles and terrain without even so much the Hi-Lift or the TREADs. But I keep going back to the Barracks trail, that night we spent, and even though we made it out at some aesthetic cost to the Montero, a winch would've made it a short trip.

It's a Smittybilt 9500 lb. XRC standard winch and it's mounted on a MaxMate Grille Guard with a winch mount. I replaced the N-Fab Grille Guard, reluctantly - I was hoping to get an integrated mount fabricated that would fit behind the stock grille to preserve the approach angle, but to no avail.

The swap adds another 120 pounds to the front end, retarding turn-in and adding a bit of mass to the tendency to oversteer, e…

Seat Back Pack

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The H3's front seats have a small cargo stowage system on the back of each that serve little practical purpose and when packed just a smidgeon beyond their capacity, detach from the seat back and spill the contents in the rear footwell. It's the worst designed feature of the H3's interior.

If you've been following this build you know I've gone through a couple of versions of creating an application using the seat back for better storage, but none to my satisfaction - either too much or not enough.

This year for Fathers' Day my thoughtful kids gave me the Condor camera bag pictured above, a 9"x12"x8" padded bag with a front zipper pocket with a mesh pocket and sleeves. The photo gear I use tucks away into another bag fitted for another compartment, so I repurposed the Condor bag to hold foul weather gear and other items for our travels, and devised a way to attach it to the driver-side seat back.

I had a duplicated order of a Yak Gear Kayak Deck …

Auxiliary Lighting

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One of the earliest mods on the H3 was the installation of a pair of Hella 700ff lamps to the grille guard, and while they doubled my visibility off-road, I wanted more shine on the peripheral, and closer to eye-level. I also wanted illumination off the rear of the H3 for backing and working to set up camp in the dark of night, as well as work lights coming off the side of the vehicle. We do a lot of night travel in the Summer with daytime temps past the century mark. 
I went with Hella 500ff lamps for the peripheral lighting, mounting them to the air-intake covers at the A-pillars. The air intakes are a composite of two layers, the painted shell and an inner layer that mounts to the frame. The lamps are mounted aft on the intakes with stainless steel washers underneath to reinforce stability.  On top, the lamps sit on white nylon bushings to protect the finish and provide friction in adjusting the fixtures. The bushing is surrounded by a black zip tie that binds the wiring to the ba…

Bugout-Bag Retainer

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Stowage is hard to come by in the H3 when it's configured and packed for overlanding, making me evaluate any possible nook as a space to store gear. I keep a bug-out-bag (BOB) on board at all times and have been stuffing it under the dog deck making it difficult to retrieve in a hasty egress.

Enter the passenger-side rear window well, a six inch deep, 11" x 22" (roughly) vertical space, coming close to the dimensions of my BOB. While obscuring this window appears to reduce blind-spot visibility, I found little visual loss from the driver position when checking through the rear passenger door window.

Having kayaked for decades I thought to use a Bungee Deck Kit from Yak-Gear and adapt it to the periphery of the window well. The kit consists of six pad eyes and two J-hooks along with mounting hardware for a kayak deck. I replaced the hardware with 3/16" aluminum rivets with a 1/2 to 5/8 grip range. The kit also include ten feet of 1/4" bungee cord that I measure…