Builds 1974 Reassembly

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May 31, 2017
dalton ga
Greetings. I purchased a 1974 FJ40 as a project for my oldest son and I to work on. The truck is red and virtually rust free. The truck had a V8 conversion where the front motor mounts were removed and a Saginaw PS conversion. Whomever did the conversion did a pretty crude job that included running the exhaust through the frame and hacking up a body mount. I am a “practical originalist” meaning that I want it to be as stock as possible with some sensible upgrades. Through the graciousness of many members here and craigslist along with a bunch of cash, I have secured many good parts including a low mileage 74 F engine. One of the reasons for this thread is that I am going to need some help getting it back together correctly with the correct bolts and parts assembled as they were from the factory.

While it will be a patina freeborn red cruiser, it will have the following upgrades:

1. Original power steering gear from a 1980 FJ40 with a FJ62 pump and lines
2. Late model roll bar with the shoulder belt attachment points
3. 1978 4 speed and transfer case. It originally had a 4 speed and I will hopefully find the correct one some day
4. Front disc brakes installed by the PO but I may upgrade to FJ62 birfs and brakes as I have a couple of complete sets here
5. FJ62 master and brake booster if I can get the booster to fit
6. 78 Distributor and coil
7. Bestop soft top. I would like to find some correct red hard top sides one day as I have the lift gate and cap
8. Late model jump seats with the legs. No real reason for these other than I own them.
9. SOR front bumper\grill guard with warn winch.
10. American Racing wheels but I have both a stock welded set and a FJ62 chrome set.

The truck has been disassembled for months and I am now at a stage to reassemble it. The tub is at a local body shop getting no less than 80 holes filled in from the previous installation of a couple of different sets fender flares, body armor, full cage, rear seat and seat belts. The inside of the tub will have to be painted from the hole filling along with the rear outside corners of the tub. All the other body parts are in my basement where I have been working on making them shine again.

Here is a pic of the frame as it sits today.

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One of the first big things I had to do was to repair the frame. The holes for the exhaust were filled in and the front crossmember removed along with the passenger side body mount and small block engine mounts. I bought a crossmember from a mud member and removed the engine mounts and body mount off a rusty frame by heating the rivet heads till red hot and popping off the heads with an air chisel. I then heated the headless rivets till red hot again and drove them out with an air punch. The next step was to reinstall the rivets in as an original manner as possible.

I watched a ton of youtube videos of people hot riveting and while a fairly simple process, I simply did not have access to the production type tools that a lot of them were using. From my study, a rivet needs to extend out of the hole 1.5 times the width of the hole that the rivet is fitting into and then a heated rivet is placed in the hole, bucked and hammered or pressed into its final form. Most of the videos showed the rivets heated in a forge then placed in the hole. Luckily, I ran across a website with instructions on how to install rivets in a Ford Model A frame (see: Big Flats Rivet - Home) with the instructions are to install the rivet, buck it any way you can, heat it up and smash it down. This was the only method available to me.

We used five different sizes of rivets.

1. 5/16 x 3/4 for left side engine mount.
2. 7/16 x 3/4 for front crossmember
3. 7/16 x 7/8 for front crossmember and right side engine mount
4. 3/8 x 3/4 for right side body mount
5. 3/8 x 1 for top rivets on right side body mount.

The tools for the job are:

1. Acetylene and oxygen torch

2. Ingersoll Rand air hammer

3. 2 custom rivet sets where the round head rivet set was reworked on a lathe to match the profile of the original rivets

4. Bucking bar consisting of a bolt with head modified to secure the rivet, nut, lock nut and small piece of square tubing

5. Two pieces of square tubing for bucking the rivets inside the long frame rails and lots of clamps.

Note: You have to have 3 people. One to heat the rivet, one to do the riveting and one to hold the clamps as they will vibrate loose as the hammer is vibrating the frame. Also the larger rivets had to be heated twice to smash them all the way down.

Tools shown.





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Here are some pics of the riveting in action. I have some videos as well. How do I post a video?















Original rivet

Rivet installed by me

Rivet sizes

Wow, you are off to a great start on the rebuild! I will be following your build thread because I hope to be in the position later this year if all goes well. Thanks for posting and I'm looking forward to more updates.....
Really nice work.
Thanks for the comments. The gussets are in a box, somewhere. Here is a video of the frame riveting.

ttstepp920, thanks. I sure could make some sets or I could detail how I made the buck here. It was not difficult. I had to buy 100 rivets of each size so I have 90+ rivets of each size that I would be happy to part with. To get the factory look, you would have to modify rivet sets as well. If you had just one job to do, I could let you borrow the sets and the buck stuff. I have thought about selling enough rivets to do a job and and lending out the tools with a deposit sort of like autozone does.
Very impressive! :clap:
I would like to have not had to paint anything on the truck including the frame but painting the frame was unavoidable because of the welding and rivet repair that had to me done. Other parts had to be painted because they were so rusty that it was not smart not to. We used to have an old school radiator shop in town that would dip my parts and they came out very clean and I only had to clean them up with a bead blaster. It was also very inexpensive. Well, that shop has closed and the other shop uses some new epa approved process and has to charge a lot more. I don’t really have a local person to do sandblasting either. I wanted to strip my original wheels so I made up a batch of lye and water and am letting them soak. The lye is simple drain cleaner from Lowe’s. There are obvious precautions to take but it seems to be working. I am going to let it sit in there another day before I flip it over. See pics.



I have a question about the leaf spring ubolts. I have 4 ubolts that are 13 mm and four that are 14mm. The long ubolt is 14mm that goes on the front. The parts diagrams show both 13 and 14 mm nuts for the front and back. Is there a particular order they were installed? Right now I have all the 14mm bolts on the front and the 13mm bolts on the back.


A11 folks would Indeed Be proud if they saw that VIDEO

Awesome work !

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