Builds 10 years with the 74/after-the-fact build thread

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I realized I’m coming up on the 10th anniversary of buying my 1989 BJ74, and figured it was time for a first decade report card and after-the-fact build thread.

In 2007 I’d been driving my ’85 BJ70 for 15 years. It had been the best vehicle I ever owned, but it was getting rustier and crustier all the time. The drivetrain was solid with 370,000 km on it, but the body was getting bad.

The 70 in happier times:

Scan 3 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Man it was so pretty!

Scan 4 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Norm_s_BJ70 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

I ordered a BJ74 from Outback Importers. At that time they were getting the best trucks, and they baselined the living crap out of them before delivery. They were expensive, and worth it.

The wish list was no rust, a 5 speed, FF with cable lockers, A/C, and sub 100,000 km. But even by 2007 locked and loaded up 74s in great shape were getting hard to find in Japan. I settled for an ’89 with no lockers, semi floater, but everything else I wanted. I didn’t care that much as I had a FF and an ARB already laying around waiting to go on the BJ70.

As she came to me, complete with Armour-all on the tires. August 14, 2007:

IMG_1298 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1297 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1306 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1300 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1302 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

First mod:

IMG_1314 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

My initial plan was to keep both trucks, make the 70 into a full on bush beater on 35s, and build the 74 on 33s for my long haul trip rig (I won’t call it an expo rig… you can’t make me!)
 
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I drove it as is for a year and a half, then finally started building it.

But first, Christmas Eve Day 2008 we got a rare big-ass snowfall, and I came outside early to find this:

DSCN0625 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1998 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Guess that car cover tent wasn’t rated for a snow load… :grinpimp:

Damage wasn’t bad, front fender and hood mainly, some scratches on the FRP top. Insurance covered the fix. The effects of what turned out to be a crappy repair job are showing up now….

First round was rebuilding the FF I already had, installing the ARB that was originally designated for the front of the 70 into the rear of the 74, and a full Old Man Emu lift.

My friend Rob (REDREEFER) was good enough to install the lift for me while I was out of town working.

IMG_2209 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Immediately noticed the “new” offshore Emus didn’t give as much lift as the old Aussie made Emus I had on the 70. Bummer…

Decided that a drawer system would be the next logical mod, as it would give a place to mount the ARB compressor… well it made sense at the time.

My Ranger-driving friend Graydon (hey nobody’s perfect..) built this while I held things in place and fetched lemonade or something…

One big drawer, middle compartment for 3rd 12V battery and parts, and front compartment for 2 6” mids and a 10” sub

74drawer by bj70_guy, on Flickr

The cutout on the left wing was for a CO2 tank I ended up not using.

IMG_2204 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_2206 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

And the reason for the drawer, lol

IMG_2231 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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Yay full floater! This thing had sat around for years waiting to go on the 70.

IMG_2214 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Around this time I heard about some guy named Jason who was making a few sets of 80 series sliders. He’d bought an HDJ81 and made a set for it… turned out he wasn’t half bad at it :D, and people started bugging him to make them some too. Including me!

I believe this is the first ever set of Cruisin’ Off Road BJ74 sliders (I suppose technically they're pre-COR as the company didn't exist yet...):

IMG_2313 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Super nice! (apparently I have poached the wheels and 255/85R16s off my 70 at this point…)

IMG_2428 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Installed a cheap refurb Cobra cb in the ashtray spot - it turned out to be a POS and was replaced with a Uniden 520xl not long after

IMG_2418 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

and a Craigslist find Yaesu FT7800 bolted to the console:

IMG_2420 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Dedicated 12V gel battery installed in the storage unit:

IMG_0007 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Charged by a Solar Converter

IMG_2224 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Which eventually proved to not be up to the task. It got replaced by a proper 24-12V battery charger.. that was.
That's a Euro Manufacturing E940 30A 24V-12V DC-DC battery charger, it has been great.

IMG_0001 5 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

RigRunner for constant 12V (that eventually got swapped out for a Blue Sea fuse block), and a Blue Sea fuse block under the dash for keyed 12V

IMG_0003 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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It’s now late 2009, and a small group of us are going to do the Whipsaw trail. I decided to take the 74 instead of the 70. Swapped over the ARB front bumper and went.

This was the exact moment I knew I didn’t need the 70 any more. The 74 was a wheeler :D

IMG_0086 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

getaway09062-0 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0088 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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Jason came with us on that Whipsaw trip, and I’m pretty sure I started harassing him to build me a rear bumper on day 1. He eventually relented… to shut me up, no doubt.

Norm's rear bumper 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

The man at work

IMG_0001 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Came out awesome! The first Cruisin’ Off Road 74 rear bumper:

IMG_0008 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0010 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0011 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

At a wedding one time my buddy decided to strength test it. He really wanted me to give him a ride back to his hotel riding in the fuel can carrier. It’s possible he was hammered out of his mind :hillbilly:
No I didn't - his wife put the kibosh on the plan :( :D

IMG_0205 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

It paid for itself the first trip I took it on: Cruise Moab 2010

IMG_0175 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Thanks to Tools R Us for the save, and Drew and unknown person for the ballast!…

5-1-2010_28 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

I came home from Cruise Moab wanting more tire, more gearing, and a Puma air compressor. And to go back to Utah ASAP!
 
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Got a Puma off eBay, mounted it by having a guy with a brake bend a piece of 1/4” steel 90 degrees, then sandwiching it between the compressor and tank.
IMG_0003 4 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Changed the stock wiring to 6 AWG, added Anderson power pole connectors, then bolted it all to the drawer.

IMG_0003 5 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0072 (1) by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Thus began a LONG drawn out lesson in appropriate wire and fuse sizing :D
Coles notes - the Puma draws a lot of amps. Size your **** appropriately!

The set up worked great, but a few years later I swapped it out for a (much more expensive) 24V version when my friend Glenn (Glenn-BJ74) sourced some. Works even better, and the 24V version seems a bit better built…. not that there’s a thing wrong with the 12V, it’s awesome. That same 12V Puma is now in my 81, still working great.

I lucked into a set of used but never installed Marks Transfer Case gears here on Mud. 3.05:1 low range, 1.08 high range. Figured with my 4.11 gears that would work great for 35s. greg_b had been running that combo for a while and it worked well. Ok, better than well!

My friend Ciaran (naraic) installed them while I fried bacon on a coleman stove and made BLTs. I know my strengths…

029 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Huge difference! The Marks gears are a great upgrade, though with worn out skinny 33s it was SERIOUSLY over geared in high range. 35s were a must now.

Finally installed the “Fun Killer”. EGT ignorance is bliss… until you blow your junk up! IH8 pyrometers :D

Got a dash with pod from my friend Sheldon at G+S, gutted the pod, and installed a Madman pyro and Isspro boost gauge. Must have done the stereo install at the same time - aluminum plate to mount the head unit and a place for the ARB switches poached from my 70 and flipped 180 degrees to fit the RHD dash.

IMG_0575 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0584 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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John Voo at ATEB did a nice 2.5” exhaust system with an Aero Turbine muffler. Nice tight high clearance install.

IMG_0565 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Judging by this pic I already had the Cruisin’ Off Road skid plate installed…

IMG_0567 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0571 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

The freer flowing exhaust made a nice difference, and John upped the boost to take advantage of it, though with the gearing as it was I still had a top speed of about 62 mph :grinpimp:

Didn’t stop me from taking my wife to Utah though. We did a 7800 km trip with those stupid tires and the truck geared like that. Thankfully we didn’t get run over on the 80 mph sections of Utah highway, but it was close a few times :D
 
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Great thread idea! Your 74 is a classic!

Thanks!

First stop on that trip was to the ARB headquarters in WA state to pick up what’s become my all time favourite truck accessory…

IMG_0677 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

38 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

I really like that pic as that guy is the head of ARB USA. We arrived on a saturday to pick up the fridge and they were hosting a gathering of Land Rovers. He dropped everything, gave me a quick tour of the operation, helped me install the fridge, and invited us to stay and join them for lunch.
I mentioned to him that I had been a bit concerned they might not have been open on a Saturday and I'd have been unable to get my fridge for the trip. He replied that they would have arranged for someone to come down, open up and get it to me :eek:

BIG thumbs up for ARB USA.

As an aside, I’m sure it’s different now with 70s getting imported to the US all the time since they hit the magic 25 year age, but in 2011 seeing a right hand drive diesel 74 in the States was fairly unusual. Those Rover guys descended on us like something out of the Walking Dead :D

My wife didn’t know what to make of it. I abandoned her to go in and get the fridge, leaving her to answer the Rover guys’ inquiries. By the end of that trip she got pretty good at dealing with people’s questions about the rig (there were lots), and she actually started to kind of enjoy it.

We hit Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Kodachrome Basin, and Crater Lake on that trip. Truck did great... other than the gearing. We love that area and never get tired of it. Been back 4 times since and will go again.

This pic just makes me happy…

IMG_0076 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Tripodding on another Whipsaw trip

296445_236691973049557_100001262689413_724027_186292802_n by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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I acquired a 24V 8274 that needed a little work for a good price… as it turns out it wasn't a good price, and it needed ALL the work :bang:

IMG_2247 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_2242 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

This chunk was floating in the bottom, along with several smaller bits…

IMG_2240 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_2244 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_2252 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Complete. Piece. Of. Crap.

Instead of using it for a boat anchor like any sane person would have, I found replacement parts and rebuilt the whole thing. In the end I could have almost bought a new one for the same money… oh well, I learned some stuff, and I have the satisfaction of... no, it was just a giant PITA :hillbilly:

Getting there…

IMG_0001 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Installed with some Master Pull sourced from my friend Charla (ratpuke), and one of Awl_TEQ’s really nice metal solenoid covers.

IMG_0002 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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Getting ready for 35s. Pulled the spring packs, slathered them with Slip Plate, added a leaf to each pack, relocated the axle forward 1”, U bolt flip kit from 4+, new bushings, and installed the front ARB locker.

IMG_0002 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

My friend Jason whipped up some extra side protection. My “special wheeling skills” make this a really good idea…

IMG_0004 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0002 3 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0012 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

I was still hanging on to the 70 at this point, for no good reason. I finally found a good reason to move it on, and it sold to Tor of Torfab who made good use of it. While it was kind of sad to see it go after 18 years, it died so others might live… and someone’s RHD 74 might become a LHD 74.

Adios my friend, thanks for the memories and for turning me into a Cruiserhead.
26321154577_8fe694144e_c.jpg


The reason:

IMG_0333 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Totally worth it!
 
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Around this time the rear end crapped out. The local rear end specialist that installed the ARB had done a half assed job.

IMG_1369 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_1375 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Ugly. It was 3 days before we were to do our annual Whipsaw run, and I started looking to hitch a ride.

My dad (who was a talented mechanic - apparently those genes don’t always transfer to the next generation…) had had a round of cancer-related surgery and didn’t have a lot of strength at the time, said if I’d get the 3rd member on his workbench he’d fix it.

I love this pic, it looks like he’s bitch slapping it into submission.

IMG_0059 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Appeared the rear end “specialist” that did the original install never removed the pinion to install the ARB, they put in new axle bearings but reused the pinion bearings, which gave out. Original pinion seal was still on there. And they charged me $500 for the install. Asshats.

IMG_1384 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

The old man had the rear end rebuilt as fast as I could get parts, and I made the Whipsaw run in my own truck. No issues. Thanks Dad.

Ok, for the record a 13B-T, H55F, Marks low range T case gears, F+R lockers, and 35s is a really, really nice wheeling set up, almost point and shoot… for leaf springs, at least.

IMG_3433 (1) by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_3420 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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The truck hasn’t changed much in the few years its been in this configuration. Made a removable sleeping extension that JUST makes it possible to sleep comfortably inside - if I were any taller it wouldn’t be too good (I'm 5'9").
Egress is a PITA, the storage drawer is a little too tall and covers the inside rear door handle, so getting out means some crazy yoga moves to exit though the front passenger door. It works, but I wouldn't call it "dialled in" :meh:
I guess I should get around to painting it one of these days…

IMG_0084 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

And its been on a bunch more trips. Long highway drives are definitely a lot more pleasant on 35s than they were on worn 33s. Realistically I could have gone with Marks 1:1 high range T case gears and it would have been better for the highway. The 13B-T would pull 35s just fine with 4.11s, though just how fast you want to be going on the interstate in a lifted 74 on 35s is a matter of opinion :grinpimp:
The gearing as is would likely be perfect for 37s...:hmm::D

IMG_0747 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0693 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

LOL
IMG_1225 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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The first signs of rust have finally shown up after 10 years. Windshield frame:

IMG_1700 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

This will be dealt with this summer, and I’ve vowed it will not spend another winter outside.

The crappy repair job after the tent collapse - the paint on the hood is lifting something fierce. Original paint underneath shows they didn’t even scuff it before spraying. Grrr.

IMG_0102 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

IMG_0100 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Still took 8 years to become an issue.

As of today the truck only shows 162,000 km on the odometer - corrected for 35s probably makes it around 180,000 or so. So roughly 95,000 km in 10 years - pretty low mileage, but I’ve always had a beater DD car and tried keeping the junk miles off the Cruiser. It’s been to the Moab area 5 times, down the California coast once or twice, taken my wife and I to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, Crater Lake, - most multiple times - Lassen, North Cascades, Cruise Moab, River Shiver, 6 or 7 annual Whipsaw runs, plus some local wheeling, and just plain DDing for fun. They've been mostly quality miles.

The only time it ever stranded me was due to a fragged wheel bearing somewhere in Nevada. My bad for not checking them before the trip. 35s and wheel spacers, no problem if you keep an eye on them, and I didn’t.

Gave me the excuse to upgrade to DBA brake rotors at least….
 
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About a year ago I ended up buying an HDJ81 through the estate of a good friend who had passed away - RIP Eric :frown:

It needed some work, but so much of the heavy lifting was done - lift, lockers, storage, Cruisin’ Off Road bumper, sliders, skid plates, fridge, snorkel, power distribution, etc etc. Mostly done very close to how I would have wanted.

IMG_1255 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

It’s turned out to be an awesome long haul trip machine, and it wheels great.

unspecified-4 2 by bj70_guy, on Flickr

norm - Fins and Things by bj70_guy, on Flickr

Coming home from Cruise Moab 2017 I started thinking I could probably part with the 74 as the 81 was proving to be such a good wheeler and traveling machine. Plus I could really use the money right about now…

Having spent a bit more time driving and working on the 74 lately I realized I can’t do it. Well I COULD, I just don’t WANT to.
Maybe some day… but not today. I still love this truck.

So it stays and I’m a 2 Cruiser guy. I'm good with it :D

IMG_1220 by bj70_guy, on Flickr
 
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The words “my friend” cropped up a lot in this novella. I do what I can - which ain’t much - but the vast majority of this admittedly mild build has been possible only with the help and skills of some really good friends. So in no particular order, I’d like to say thanks to a few guys who's help has been invaluable - Greg B (greg_b), Rob M (REDREEFER), Ciaran W (naraic), sheldon W (70sguy), Graydon J (not a mud guy), Jason H (Cruisin), my Dad (who thought building it and wheeling it was really stupid but helped anyway - RIP Bob) and a few really good shops: ATEB, Radd Cruisers, EBI Cruisers

I’m forgetting others I know.

This is a pretty weird "build" thread I guess, but I’ll keep it updated as anything changes on the truck. I DID mean to start it 10 years ago, so better late than never… or maybe it isn’t :D
 

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