Rear Window MOLLE Panels With Blue Sea Systems Accessory Panels for the 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner
With all of the rear window MOLLE panels out there, which brand do you choose for your 5th Gen 4Runner?
I have personally installed four different brands of MOLLE panels over the last six years and have a firm grasp on what makes a high-quality panel at this point. From Orange Boxx Fabrication to Rago Fabrication and Cali Raised Off-Road to Victory 4×4, I have seen many of the MOLLE panels on the market. Up until now, everything has been pretty consistent in terms of innovation and design style.
Finn Fab, however, has completely changed the game when it comes to a MOLLE panel mounting system for the 5th generation 4Runner. The Finn Fab panel features an integrated slot specifically for a Blue Sea Systems power panel along with built-in holes for 5/16″ rivet nut inserts. Up until now, no other company has integrated something this useful into a MOLLE panel.
Find it online:
- Finn Fab Power Grids: Check Price
- Blue Sea Systems Accessory Panels Face Plates:
- Power Accessories
- Mounting Accessories
Why Switch from Rago to Finn Fab?
The reason I made the switch from a Rago Fabrication to Finn Fab was the integrated Blue Sea Systems Panel so I didn’t need to modify my rear fender well to accommodate extra power. That, plus the included and well-designed rivet nuts, sealed the deal.
Finally, after many times threading and unthreading the spacer bolts on the Rago panel, they stripped out—making them unusable…more on that later, and why I think Rago currently has a pretty bad design.
Built-in Power, Better Hardware & Better Mounting System
Finn Fab Power Grids get their name by the cut-out in the passenger side panel for a Blue Seas accessory panel (models 4365, or 4366). These are the only rear window MOLLE panels that allow you to directly bolt on an accessory panel without drilling into your 4Runner. The Blue Sea accessory panels on the power grids can be toggled off/on (anytime-hot) making it easy to run a fridge and many other accessories.
Another standout feature of the Finn Fab Power Grids is the round holes for the provided aluminum rivet nuts (threaded at 5/16″x18). Each set comes with 20 rivet nuts.
This rivet nut feature is incredibly helpful because it allows you to bolt any accessory directly to your panel without having to remove the panel from its mounting positions. With traditional MOLLE panels on the market, you have to remove the panel to reach around the backside to mount accessories. Which, as most of you with MOLLE panels know, is quite the process.
The 5/16″ rivet nuts provided are also rated for more weight than other mounting solutions such as #8 or even #10 hardware commonly found or sourced from Home Depot.
All of their MOLLE panels are powder-coated black. No drilling is required and the system bolts directly to factory locations. Keep in mind that the Finn Fab MOLLE panels do not work with the third-row seat belt.
Finn Fab Vs. Rago Fabrication Spacer Bolts
Plain and simple, Finn Fab has a better hardware system and so do most companies for that matter.
Rago Fabrication has spacers with threaded rods on both sides. If you are threading and unthreading the spacer constantly to access the backside of the panel to mount accessories (which you need to do with this design), then this will cause the threads to strip or come loose over time. Because there are individual rods threaded into both sides of the spacer, this causes the spacer to become loose from the rods thus leaving a threaded rod stuck in your 4Runner… ask me how I know.
Basically, when you loosen a spacer to access the backside of the panel, you risk unthreading the whole spacer from the threaded rod that’s threading into the 4Runner—which is not the design intention. This results in a threaded rod stuck in your 4Runner which has to be removed somehow. We used a pair of vice grips to grip the end of the rod which destroyed our threads making the entire MOLLE panel unusable. Basically, it’s a faulty design.
The Rago Fab product is not meant to be taken on and off (and they say this in their videos), however, you need to remove the panel to mount accessories. I didn’t know there was anything really wrong with my Rago panel until I saw the Finn Fab panel.
Finn Fab on the other hand used a single bolt that slides through a spacer. This system is easier to install/uninstall and you don’t risk potentially stripping or destroying your MOLLE panel if you actually do end up uninstalling the product; for example, if you want to mount something, sell the system, etc.
- Power Grid Panels (x2)
- Mounting brackets (x2)
- 3″ spacers with 2 100mm socket head bolts and flat washer (x2)
- 2″ spacers with 2 70 mm socket head bolts and flat washer (x2)
- 20mm M6 socket bolts
- m6 flat washers (x8)
- m6 nyloc nuts (x4)
There are 3 mounting locations for each grid. For the mounting location closest to the front of the 4Runner, remove the plastic cover and remove the 10mm bolt behind the cover. The rear mounting location uses the cargo hook. Turn it counter-clockwise to remove. The top mounting location for the grid uses the clothes hook located on the headliner. Remove this hook (save the bolt, this will be reused).
Step 1. Mount Bracket to Panel
Install mounting bracket behind grid with the 20mm bolts, flat washers, and nyloc nuts. Snug up very lightly—you will want to be able to adjust this before tightening snug.
Step 2. Hang Grid by 10mm Bolt
Hang the grid by screwing in by hand the bolt you saved from the headliner. Leave this loose.
Step 3. Insert Bolt & 3″ Spacer (front of 4Runner)
Insert the 100mm bolt and flat washer through the mounting location closest to the front of the 4Runner while going through the long spacer behind the grid. Hand screw the bolt to where it grabs and leave it loose.
Step 4. Insert Bolt & 2″ Spacer (rear of 4Runner)
Repeat this for the rear location using the shorter bolt and shorter spacer.
Step 5. Full Tighten Bottom Spacer Bolts
Align the grid to where you like it and tighten the two bottom bolts.
Step 6. Tighten Headliner Bolt
Remove the headliner bolt again, and lean the grid out just enough to tighten the nyloc nuts. Once they are tight, lean the grid in again and bolt in the headliner bolt snug.
DIY Tool for Rivet Nuts
There are many ways to install rivet nuts, however, one of the most common and easiest DIY ways is to slide a bolt (5/16″) through a larger-diameter (3/8″ or 7/16″) nut and use the pressure of the larger nut against the rivet nut to sink the rivet nut against its the surface mounting plate. See the images for reference. Here is a video that demonstrates how to insert rivet nuts without a special tool.
Special Tool for Rivet Nuts
We have an Astro Pneumatic Tool (part number: ADN38 XL) which is a Rivet Nut Drill Adapter Kit and features a 3/8″ adapter. If you do order this tool make sure you get the ADN38 XL, not the ADN14 – the 38 features larger mandrels than the ADN14.
The Astro Rivet Nut Tool allows you to quickly and efficiently install rivet nuts, back to back without much strain at all. If you plan on installing many rivet nuts for years to come, it’s a worthy investment. If not, maybe go with the DIY tool, although, the DIY tool can be pretty stressful on the wrist.
Blue Sea Power Panel
The Finn Fab Power grids come with a cut-out for Blue Seas Power Panel 4365, Blue Sea 4366, or you can customize your own using the Blue Sea Panel: Acc H2O 3 Socket Blank.
- Blue Sea 4365 (12vdc + dual USB X 2)
- Blue Sea 4366 (21vdc + dual USB + 12dvc monitor)
- Blue Sea 4300 series plate (blank)
Blue Sea Accessory Power Panel Install
Tools and Materials
- Drill driver
- Ratcheting driver
- Or 3/8″ drive with socket
- Allen head sockets
- Metric Sockets
- Mini Screwdriver
- Electrical Tools
- Open-End Wrenches
- Plastic Pry Tools
- Plier Set
- Needle Pliers
- Bent Needle Pliers
- Lineman’s Pliers
- Cutting Pliers
- Allen wrenches
- Wire loom
- Zip ties
- Ratchet driver
Step 1. Run Power From Battery To Cargo Area
We are going to start this install assuming you have already run power from the battery to the cargo area. If you need assistance on running power from the front to the back of your 4Runner, there are many resources here on Trail4R.com. Our post on sound deadening does a good job of showing how to remove all the plastics. For attaching power to the battery, we are using the fuse block on our DIY switch panel.
Step 2. Pop Off Seat Recliner Cover + Feed Harness
The seat recliner lever is surrounded by plastic housing. Using your plastic pry tool, you can pop this off. With the seat recliner plastic cover out, you can now feed your wiring harness through the bottom of the fender well plastic and fender well sheet metal. To keep our positive and negative leads together, we take them up with some green masking tape.
Step 3. Pull Harness w/ Long Needle Nose Pliers or Fisher Wire
Once you see the end of your wiring harness, you can pull it out with a pair of long needle-nose pliers.
Step 4. Insert Wire Fisher Through Cargo Access Point
To get the wiring harness back into the cargo area, you want to use some kind of fisher tape. We used our 50 ft. Steel Fish Tape by Klien Tools. There is a small access port just to the left of where the threaded bolt threads into the body of the 4Runner. This is just large enough to fit two 12 gauge wires, anything larger wouldn’t fit. I recommend going off to the side so that your bolt won’t catch on the wire.
Step 5. Pull Wire Harness With Fisher Wire
Connect your wiring harness to your fisher tape and pull it through. This may take some patience. We were able to get our wiring harness just to the access port then grabbed the wire tips with our needle-nose pliers to fully pull out the harness.
Step 6. Configure Blue Sea Accessory Panel
Since the Blue Sea Systems 4366 was on backorder, we decided to modify a Blue Sea Systems 4365 to become a 4366. We just ordered a generic voltmeter with two USB ports built-in. For the voltmeter to fit into the Blue Sea Systems accessory panel, we used a step bit to drill it out.
Step 7. Attach Panel to Finn Fab MOLLE Panel
Once your accessory panel is assembled, you can mount it on the panel.
Step 8. Test Panel Before Install (Wiring Overview)
Before finally wiring everything into place, test the accessory panel just to make sure everything is working.
Step 9. Heatshrink Harness & Finish Up
Once you know the accessory panel turns on and everything is working you can heat shrink the remaining harness and install the panel.
Step 10. Mount Finn Fab Panel
It’s refreshing to see that a company took the time to fix some of the most problematic areas with the most commonly purchased MOLLE panels on the market (hard-to-reach areas, mounting accessories, mounting hardware, integrated power, etc.).
And for those Rago fan boi’s out there (I was one too), I am only comparing Finn Fab to Rago Fabrication as a reference. We’re not necessarily talking down on Rago, Finn Fab just improved many areas of the MOLLE panel in general; the hardware being the main problem. Rago is the only company that uses the spacer with threaded rods on both ends. No one else uses this design, and for good reason—it doesn’t work well when installing/uninstalling panels to mount gear.
We’re excited to run a better design with the modular rivet nuts mounting system. With the Quickfist mounts, you can easily drive one bolt into the rivet nut and you’re done. No washers, spacers, nylocs, nothing. The easiest way to mount gear to a MOLLE panel…ever. Game Changer.
The Blue Sea Systems configurable power source is also pretty awesome. Now we have an additional cigarette lighter adapter 12vdc port, 4 USB ports, can monitor our batteries voltage, have an anytime-hot system, and can turn the whole unit on/off depending on our needs.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a Blue Sea Systems pre-built plate, there are plenty of cheaper or even DIY alternatives on Amazon to accomplish the same goal.