Builds 1974 FJ40 Practical Rebuild (1 Viewer)

Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
I decided to make a build thread so I could keep track of my progress with this vehicle. The reason I have held off posting much up to this point is really to avoid the negative comments and you'll see why. Below is the main photo from the craigslist ad:

0DF830FB-598A-4B47-8633-6354E7774257-10882-00000547408D7E20.png


I've always been a Toyota fan. I strongly believe they are the best engineered vehicles on the road. I've owned 3 4Runners, 2 Tacomas, and a few Lexus. I was actually searching for a first generation 4Runner when I found this FJ40 about 4 hours away from me. I live in Charlotte, NC and I found the FJ in Greenville, TN. From the pictures and the description it sounded like a heck of a deal. The owner was asking $13,500. He was extremely nice on the phone and seemed like a stand up guy. I knew I wasn't going to give him close to his asking price but he told me to come up anyway and we could talk. So I did. I brought my wife's V8 4Runner and a U-Haul car hauler up to Greenville, TN and I must say... it was the most beautiful drive of my life cruising along the French Broad River through the mountains.

When I was about an hour away from this guys house I could've sworn I saw a little bit of smoke when I looked in the side view mirror and I thought... "what the heck is that?" so I pulled over and did a shakedown of the car and trailer. I saw nothing wrong so I continued to chug along. As I got closer I got extremely nervous. I was by myself driving through this single lane mountain road without a gas station in sight and no cell reception... I also had the "smoke thing" in the back of my mind. The only thing that calmed me down was the beautiful weather and driving along the river so I rolled the windows down and tried to relax.

I finally arrived at this guys house and saw the FJ sitting at the top of his driveway and I remember thinking to myself “man that thing looks awesome. I think I made the right decision”. I then meet this guy and begin looking over the truck and start to get concerned. The body looked good from 10 feet away but as I got closer I started to notice that this thing was pretty hacked up however, he was including a bunch of parts, it had a newer 4” lift and brand new wheels and tires. The 2F motor that was transplanted it ran and sounded great. It had 4 wheel discs brakes and a bunch more goodies. I was getting nervous because I was on the fence about the whole thing and I wanted to get back on the road before dark. Driving those windy mountain roads with no cell reception at night had me a bit freaked out. I knew I had to make a decision quickly. I figured hell, I’ll offer him a little less than $10k and see if he bites. He seemed disappointed but he agreed. So we loaded up the FJ and I hit the road.

IMG_2177.JPEG


To make a long story short, as soon as I hit the "mountainous roads", smoke started pouring out of my rear driver brake area. I assumed the caliper boot got torn and was leaking brake fluid. I stopped at a gas station and loaded up on brake fluid and made it home. Shortly after I got home I realized that it was actually an axle seal leaking gear oil onto my hot rotor. I replaced the seal and the 4Runner has been fine ever since.

I had two major concerns after looking the car over.

1. The wiring was an absolute mess. I'm not talking messy wiring... it was a miracle that it hadn't burned to the ground. It was hands down the worst wiring I've ever seen. I knew I would need to address this SOON.

2. They body is a throwaway. Most of the floor pan has been replaced with pieced together sheet metal. Some has been welded horribly and some has even been just cut and screwed in with self tapping screws. I was really bummed that the sheet metal around the gauge cluster had been hacked up. I knew I wouldn't be able to use a factory gauge cluster. The fuel gauge was the only thing that worked on it anyways.

I know what you're thinking. "Why did you even buy it?". It was an impulse buy, however, I still enjoy it... a lot. I think it still gets just as much attention on the road as the "nice" ones do. It's still fun to drive. The frame isn't rusted out or anything so I am going to invest all of my time and money into the drivetrain and suspension. Eventually I'd like to find a cheap donor vehicle and swap all of my nice parts over. I might even luck out and find a nice tub to throw on it. For now I just need something to tinker on and enjoy.

The first thing to go was the junky Smittybilt XRC winch. I was rewinding it so that the cable was neatly wound and when I released the reel button IT KEPT GOING. I essentially had to let go and let it self destruct. I didn't want to put myself in harms way by trying to pull the battery terminal. I think being out in the elements had just gotten to it. It was in bad shape. I'm thinking about replacing it with the Harbor Freight Badland Winch. If anyone has input on that one please chime in!

IMG_2590.JPEG


I was getting puffs of smoke after the engine idled for extended periods of time so I ended up replacing the valve stem seals. Noticed that a couple of the springs had popped off when I pulled the valve springs. Not too bad of a job on such a simple motor.

IMG_2820.JPEG


Of course the windshield bolts did not have spacers in them... It caused the windshield to bounce around when the bikini top was off. This had to be fixed. The threads were stripped out so I grabbed some more brackets from another member on here. I had my buddy machine the spacers so that the windshield was secure.

IMG_3094.JPEG
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
Obviously the whole wiring/gauge situation had to be addressed. So I addressed it.

I ended up getting an aluminum machined panel from CVF racing. It was oversized so it would work perfect since my sheet metal was all hacked up. To make it work, I would have to do some additional cutting. I decided to use all Autometer Ultra-Lite gauges. I looked at several options and these just seemed the most reliable.

IMG_3102.JPEG


I used all Autometer sending units as well. Including the fuel sending unit. I did have to file out the bolt pattern on the fuel sending unit a bit for it to fit the Toyota tank.

All gauges were installed and it was all pretty straightforward. Luckily everything worked the first time I plugged it it (this was after the harness make-over). The gauges I used were: Mechanical Speedo, Tachometer, Fuel Level, Voltage, Oil Pressure (yes I did get the proper BSPT adapter), and Water Temp. I also used Painless Performance indicator lights for left and right blinkers and high beams.

IMG_4546.JPEG


IMG_4570.JPEG


I can't speak highly enough of Summit Racing. The gauges were delivered in one day and the customer service was great. The speedo arrived damaged and I didn't really care so they sent me a $25 gift card. When the rest of your car is this beat up I really don't think anyone would notice a bent bezel on one of your gauges haha.

IMG_4543.JPEG


IMG_4552.JPEG
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
So let's talk about the wiring. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words right?

Here is the driver's side kick panel where the fuse box is supposed to be.

IMG_3341.JPEG


IMG_3532.JPEG


IMG_3346.JPEG


I couldn't live with this rats nest of wiring so I decided to pull every inch of wiring from the vehicle and completely redo it. I decided to rebuild the original harness. Everything I was reading about aftermarket harnesses scared the crap out of me. So I downloaded all of the schematics for a 1977 FJ40 (My 2F is from a 77) and got to work unwrapping the harness to check out the condition to see if it was salvageable. Well... long story short, it wasn't.

IMG_3359.JPEG


IMG_3349.JPEG


I ended up getting a great deal on a used harness in good condition from a 77'. I unwrapped it and deleted all of the emissions junk and ended up getting a little OCD with the rebuild. I replaced all of the connectors with waterproof Deutsch Connectors. What I noticed after the rebuild was that my alternator was on the wrong side of the engine. Yes... a weird custom bracket was made to put it on that side for some reason. So I found someone on facebook to sell me the proper alternator bracketry to get it back where it belongs so I can plug it in to the factory connector.

After several hours of stripping, depinning, cutting, crimping, shrinkwrapping.... I ended up with this:
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
This is now the kick panel where the rats nest used to be:

IMG_3994.JPEG


DSC00782.JPG


DSC00783.JPG


DSC00791-1.JPG


DSC00787.JPG


I was EXTREMELY PLEASED to find that once I plugged everything in... EVERYTHING WORKED! The blinkers, the headlights/high beams, the blower, the wipers, the brake lights... very exciting :)

In addition to just the kick panel, this cleaned up the engine bay so much and now you can not see a single exposed/colored wire throughout the entire vehicle.

It was a lot of work... but the peace of mind was worth it!
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
In the mix of all of this.... I had to take care of a couple of other things. The shackles were crappy eBay shackles and they were binding up. This was due to extreme overtightening from the previous owner. I replaced them with factory style shackles from CCOT. Believe it or not, this really improved the ride. I forgot to mention the lift is a 4" Rough Country lift. Well it was supposed to be until I found out that the rear leafs had a part number that matched FRONT leaf springs... and this explains why the ride is still so stiff. This will be fixed soon. I really wish I could do an OME lift but I'm wanting more lift than just 2.5".

70CF8FBB-F2BC-4FB0-855D-D065DEE682F6-3660-000001A3A7522AE4.png


In the midst of replacing the fuel level sender... I found out that the front seats were held in by 2... YES TWO 1/4-20 bolts to the floor board. WTF!! So now I had to rip the seats and everything along with them out only to find that there was half of a seat frame in there that was barely bolted on.... UGH.
IMG_3170.JPEG


So I did the obvious... I went ahead and ordered OEM seat brackets so I could properly bolt in my seats. Along with Corbeau FJ40 specific brackets and sliders... and along with that... I ordered a couple of Corbeau Baja JP's.

IMG_4409.JPEG


IMG_4411.JPEG


csu-26402bwpr_qq_xl.jpg


I figured that the wide version would be more appropriate. I am 6'4" and about 235 lbs. These are supposed to arrive by the end of next week. Looking forward to having seats that are actually bolted in lol.

I had the used factory brackets sent out for powdercoating. I chose a semi-gloss/satin black.

The idealogy behind this build it that everything that gets removed from the car gets reconditioned before it goes back in. That way it's clear what has been touched and what hasn't. I also think this method is good for just improving the vehicle overall over time.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
21
Location
utah
very wordy but quite interesting narrative . I'm in a like position with the wiring story but have a mechanic who has wired a number of cars and is going to work on mine.
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
860
Location
Rocky mtns
The first thing to go was the junky Smittybilt XRC winch. I was rewinding it so that the cable was neatly wound and when I released the reel button IT KEPT GOING. I essentially had to let go and let it self destruct. I didn't want to put myself in harms way by trying to pull the battery terminal. I think being out in the elements had just gotten to it. It was in bad shape. I'm thinking about replacing it with the Harbor Freight Badland Winch. If anyone has input on that one please chime in!
I don’t have any direct experience with the Harbor Freight winch, but I have buddy that swears by it. He was into demo derby- suicide Lincoln’s were his flavor. Even if he won, the remains of the the car were winched on to the trailer. Sometimes the wheels still rolled. He never had any troubles with it and recommends it to this day.

Looks like a fun truck. Beaters, and yours doesn’t look like a beater, are very freeing.
 

tlaporte

SILVER Star
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
872
Location
Pasadena, CA
This is now the kick panel where the rats nest used to be:

View attachment 2168780

View attachment 2168781

View attachment 2168782

View attachment 2168783

View attachment 2168784

I was EXTREMELY PLEASED to find that once I plugged everything in... EVERYTHING WORKED! The blinkers, the headlights/high beams, the blower, the wipers, the brake lights... very exciting :)

In addition to just the kick panel, this cleaned up the engine bay so much and now you can not see a single exposed/colored wire throughout the entire vehicle.

It was a lot of work... but the peace of mind was worth it!

From where did you source the Deutsche connectors?
 

mattressking

10 digits to freedom
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
2,327
Location
San Diego, Calif.
From where did you source the Deutsche connectors?

He may not use corsa-technic, but its one place with a large selection.

 
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
215
Location
PHX
Beautiful work on the wiring! Of you keep powering through the PO's mistakes it looks like you will end up with a great driver which is a lot more fun than a museum piece when it comes to '40s!
 

ceylonfj40nut

Waiting for Barn Time
SILVER Star
Joined
Jan 11, 2015
Messages
3,345
Location
TX
This is now the kick panel where the rats nest used to be:

View attachment 2168780

View attachment 2168781

View attachment 2168782

View attachment 2168783

View attachment 2168784

I was EXTREMELY PLEASED to find that once I plugged everything in... EVERYTHING WORKED! The blinkers, the headlights/high beams, the blower, the wipers, the brake lights... very exciting :)

In addition to just the kick panel, this cleaned up the engine bay so much and now you can not see a single exposed/colored wire throughout the entire vehicle.

It was a lot of work... but the peace of mind was worth it!


Love what you did on the harness. Can you please share details on connectors used, sheathing, and all other bits? This could be helpful to many trying to rebuild their old harnesses. Well done!!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
Love what you did on the harness. Can you please share details on connectors used, sheathing, and all other bits? This could be helpful to many trying to rebuild their old harnesses. Well done!!

Thanks! Here you go:

www.deutschconnectorstore.com - I essentially just counted however many 2,3,4,6 pin connectors I had on the stock harness and that's how many I ordered. I ordered the DT series.

You will need this to install the pins - Amazon product
Make sure you buy the solid pins and not the stamped pins.

Other than that I wrapped the whole harness with TESA tape upon completion - Amazon product
Then I loomed the whole harness with braided wire loom. For the larger sections you will need to use split loom. Make sure you have a good hot knife and heat gun for cutting the loom and shrinking the heat shrink.

Also, coolerman's wiring schematics were an absolute life saver - http://www.globalsoftware-inc.com/coolerman/fj40/schematics/

I ended up running signal wires through my harness before wrapping for oil pressure and tachometer signal and wired it to a 12 pin plug for when I was ready to plug in my new gauge cluster.

I'm not really an electrical guy. I'm a mechanical engineer by trade. I just kinda dove in head first. It takes time and patience but it's completely doable by most people if you don't try and rush through it.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Charlotte, NC
I've got one of the Badlands winches on my trailer. It works... sort of. Quality is kind of questionable.

I had part of it break in a non-critical area so I keep running it:
View attachment 2169064

All of the 'power' wires are garbage and undersized. In one year outside, they corroded up the sheath of the wire. I had to cut a bunch of wire as a temp fix to find spot that wasn't rotten. I'm going to replace it all with 00 quality wire and connectors.

Thanks for the heads up. Makes me want to look at alternatives.
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
860
Location
Rocky mtns
For what it is, I don't think it is bad. But I would 100% upgrade all the power wires.

I don't know what caused the breakage :(

If you need an immediate working winch, it'll work.

Personally, I'd hold out for a used Warn 8274.
I did consider the harbor freight after my friend recommended it, but then I found a truck for sale that had an 8247. I pulled the winch and sold the truck for an extra couple bucks. The Warn has yet to cause any issues and it looks the part on these trucks.
Another option would be to pull the Smittybuilt apart and see if it’s fixable. winches aren’t terribly complicated machines. Might be cheaper to fix what you have.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom