1983 FJ60 Restore/Build - Elsie

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Feb 3, 2015
Hi everyone!

I bought a pretty beat up 1983 FJ60 with 210,000 miles. The last owner(s) were rough on her and she shows signs of being wheeled pretty hard. But, despite that, I still see life in Elsie! I have always wanted a FJ60/62 and I got this one pretty cheap. My goals include:
  • Rebuilding and Passing emissions with the 2F in CO. I thought about a V8 swap but like the idea keeping it original, no computers etc...
  • Fixing the suspension. It has a 2" body lift and 33's. The steering is pretty sloppy, and the springs are shot. I will roll smaller tires in the future.
  • Doing some body and paint work. Not showroom, but looking clean.
  • Interior work, new seats and making sure stock components and electrical work.
I ran a compression test and got the following with a warm engine:


Since those numbers are pretty low, I should expect to rebuild the motor right? Any thoughts about what rebuild kit to get? I am looking at this kit from JT Outfitters to start.

Thanks, I look forward to the project.

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I agree with keeping the truck stockish. I'm looking forward to your build.
I did a seat swap not too long ago, if you need any help just message me
That's an interesting paint scheme. Looks kinda cool like it is almost.

For the engine rebuild I would want to make sure you know what you're going to need/ get. I would stray away from that kit and make sure to get OEM gaskets and seals where it counts. Oil pan gasket being one of the most notable. Get ahold of beno or another mud guy with good prices on Toyota parts.

As far as rings and bearings, I'm not sure. Also I see that set comes with new pistons. Is it standard practice to replace the piston itself? If so.. I didn't do that back in 2007. Engine runs just fine.

Those compression numbers are crazy. It can run and drive in the current state?

Gotta love a tractor motor! :hillbilly:
Yep, she runs!

I was thinking because the compression was so low, I would need to bore the block and put in new cylinders. What were your compression numbers before your rebuild?
hi Jay,
just watched your compression test, and have a couple of questions/suggestions. I'm at work now, so I didn't get the audio with the video, so I have to ask, was the engine warm? was the person cranking the motor holding the throttle wide open? it appeared the engine was only allowed to crank 4-5 times, while the gage continued to climb. before rebuilding this motor, could you redo the test both dry like you did, and then after sqirting some oil into the cylinders for a wet test. if the compression improves greatly wet, the rings are not sealing, if it remains similar, your valves are not sealing well. that being said, at wet test usually has a slight improvement either way. also, let the engine crank until pressure stops building(within reason) and make sure you have a good battery on charge so the engine cranks at the same speed for each cylinder.
I think you may find this engine is still good, good luck
Ok, we charged the battery. Warmed the engine. Had throttle full open. And, let the pressure build past 4-5 turns.

Results from ALL THREE tests are:

First Test Second Test Wet Test
1 - 85 90 93
2 - 90 81 85
3 - 90 81 85
4 - 85 82 85
5 - 87 85 87
6 - 90 75 82

What do you think?

HEre is link to new compression test video.

Thanks, Jay
Hi all. Since my last posts I have done a few things:

1. I pulled the engine using a 1TON engine hoist from HF that I found on Craigslist for $100. I coupled it with a engine puller chain set from O'Smileys. I was able to reach the transmission to bell housing bolts fairly easy. I used two 12" extensions for the top and an extension with a universal for the bottom. I put a jack under the transmission to support it. The motor still weighs a lot! Oh yeah, i did it by myself.



2. After the engine was out, I removed the pressure plate (had to rotate flywheel with large screwdriver to get to all bolts), clutch, and flywheel. Then, I could access the bolts to remove the bell housing.

3. I then mounted the engine on a HF 1/2 TON stand using 12x1.75x80mm bolts and washers that I got at Home Depots.


4. I removed some accessories, then I removed the manifolds and got to the head. I removed the rocker arms and rods. Then, I took the head to a local machine shop for a valve job. Should be done next week.


5. So, because I had low compression and the numbers improved when tested wet, I will continue the tear down and get to the pistons and rings. Let me know your thoughts...

Wow seems like you got a lot of carbon on top of the pistons especially #6. What do the cylinder walls look like?

The cylinder walls look pretty good. No vertical lines or rough spots, just some carbon at the top 1/4 inch.

It appears that I will continue to tear down and do a full rebuild, I am looking for suggestions on kits and parts. I am thinking it needs rings at the least which could lead to bore and new pistons.

Let me know if you think I am on track.

Thanks, Jay
So my six year old continued the tear down.

She found the camshaft will need to be replaced!

Then we put it all in the truck and went to the machine shop.

The machine shop immediately saw that the cylinders are egg shaped and will need to be bored. So much for just a ring job! Looks like a full rebuild and three weeks at machine shop! I emailed Beno about parts. He already responded wanting my number to assist.

When we got home we made a parts washer using a 10 gallon tub with lid and some SIMPLE GREEN cleaner. Its earth friendly!

And we started painting parts too!

Having fun! More soon...
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Time for an update. The engine has been at the machine shop for the past several weeks, and will be done in another two. Then, it will be time for reassembly. The shop bored the block and ordered the rebuild kit through their parts guy. The kit includes pistons, main bearings, cam bearings, oil pump, freeze plugs, pin bushings, camshaft, lifters, and timing gear kit. There are also doing a valve job.

Nice to see some handwriting on parts:


I have been working on the exterior while the machine shop machines. Taking it down to metal on fenders and other parts that have some surface rust. I used some Airplane Stripper, washed that off, then used a grinder with pad. This fender is in great shape and since been sanded with fine grit.


We are going to fill some spots, prime this fender and front door and start painting, section by section. Going with a bone white and maybe some orange. I keep contemplating stock tan 484. BUT, I love this paint job:

Japanese Orange and White.jpg

More photos when I start painting.
We rebuilt the carb yesterday. It went smooth. I used this kit from Specter Off Road:
Carb Kit-
Fits 8/80-8/87

I used the FSM, a video camera and a seven year old to get it done.


I also ordered a clutch kit from SOR. Motor should be back from machine shop soon!
Can you post a picture of how you bolted the engine stand to the block? I just bought the same stand and am trying to position the arms so I can get all four on there, right now just have three and it's bouncy :eek:
I remember it was a bit tricky, here is a photo of how the unit was set. I will look for a shot of the motor on the stand. Currently it's at the machine shop.
Thanks for asking!

I got the motor back from the machine shop in late May of 2015. The rebuild kit they included, and machined the engine to, was a Masterkit 704230.

I used the Factory Service Manual to put the engine back together.

I had a hard time getting the distributor installed. So, I had my mechanic friend come over to assist because I thought the cam was off, or I could't align the oil pump shaft correctly. He too struggled and finally got it to go in with some "nudging".

We dropped the motor in, it ran for seven seconds and died. We couldn't start it again. After further investigation, we realized the distributor was broken. We tried for hours, days, weeks and eventually months to get it unstuck. I put Elsie in the garage where she sat for a year.

Finally, I got the time and energy to get back to work in November 2016. I dropped the oil pan to get a better look and found the oil pump was stuck to the distributor. I pounded, hacked, pulled, and was about to push it off a cliff and finally the oil pump came unstuck!

The distributor didn't mate to the oil pump correctly. And, we had forced it in.

Here are my lessons learned for a rebuilder reading this:
1. Make sure the new oil pump and distributor mate up before you put the entire engine together.
2. The distributor is the last thing you should install. Do it after you have dropped the engine in.
3. Post the build up on IH8MUD so you can get assistance.

I used the old oil pump and new oil pump and created a hybrid that works. I found a used distributor from Classic Cruisers here in Colorado. They shipped fast and the part worked like they promised. Home

Just two weeks ago, Elsie was running again.

Here is where I am today:
- Adjusted the valves and got the timing at about 10 degrees for high altitude.
- However, the carburetor was running rich, and the gas level was too high in the carb sight glass.
- And now, the carb is dry and getting no gas. I diagnosed the fuel pump, the original one, stopped working. I have a new part and need to get it installed. I will let you know how that goes...

-New exhaust system
-Pass Colorado Emissions!!
-Finish painting her. I went with stock tan 484 and have the first quarter and door of the truck painted.

Still having fun! More soon…

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