Builds 1987 BJ74 Build: Let's daily drive a BJ74 in Los Angeles (1 Viewer)

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I've been wanting to start this thread for the last year. Finally decided it was time to do it. You can follow along in my BS in Instagram as well if you're into that sort of thing-@losangeleslandcruiser. I'll do my best to keep it up! I also really want this to be a record for someone searching around for documentation on maintenance and modification of one of these trucks. A lot of it is standard Land Cruiser tech, but JDM 70 series have some weird and cool features you only see on these trucks. What follows will range from every day maintenance, to the reality of living with a weird, JDM RHD 4x4 in the USA, I'll touch on registration, and some trick upgrades. When she's all done and ready to go, we're hitting the trails! The events in this thread begin in August 2019.

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So, I was the guy who brought Princess the 4BT powered FJ62 back to life with the intent of making an adventure ready, rock crawl able Land Cruiser out of the rotten corpse of the truck. Princess was a famous-ish Proffitt's build from the early 2000s that changed ownership a few times only to end up on the side of some dudes house with a blown head gasket wasting away. Long story short: It was an unmitigated, if not entertaining disaster. I threw everything I had at the truck. As much as I loved the truck (and the finished product drove and performed like a dream when it wasn't broken), the fatal flaw in the 4BT/H55/Toybox drivetrain moving a 6500 lb monster on 37s was too much to overcome. I had invested far too much into the powertrain to start over, and after the 4th failure of H55F/Toybox combo during a surprise Father's Day camping adventure, I decided it was time to part ways with the truck.
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I had owned an HZJ73 before Princess and loved every minute. I sold it after I botched the CA registration and replaced it with Princess. I was really taken with the 70 series. It was a true evolution of the 40 series (my first vehicular love affair), with rock solid build quality and the AC/power windows and locks combo of the high trim JDM models that made my wife want to spend time in the truck. Mid wheelbase models have everything- manageable size, the perfect wheelbase for off road and just enough room for kid/dogs/gear to do everything. I've also decided that a diesel is the only way to own an old 4x4 and daily drive it often. I can't deal with fuel the fuel economy you get with a gas Cruiser, and the stress of planning a trip with a range of less than 300 miles per fill up is just not necessary. I do live in Los Angeles, and owning a diesel Cruiser poses special challenges here, but more on that later.
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While I was haggling with several potential suitors for Princess, this 1987 BJ74 popped up on Craigslist with 200kms on the clock and a little work done. I decided to check it out on a whim on a weekday evening when I needed to get out of the house. If I did sell Princess I'd have just enough to cover it with a bit left over. While it was a little rough around the edges, I got a good feeling from the truck. It was advertised as RUSTY but after examining the truck, it was pretty mild compared to what you tend to see in the average unrestored FJ60. Rot in the rockers, a couple of little bubbles here and there and a manageable spot under the carpet in the rear right corner at the body mount. The hood had been repainted and clear coat at the top of the fenders and the FRP top was giving up the ghost to the CA sun, no biggie. Interior was good, drivers seat has seen better days. Under the hood, everything was original minus a rebuilt alternator. Hoses were old but fine. AC didn't work, and the clutch master was low on fluid. It had a brand new OME medium kit on it with half rotten 2nd generation 33" BFG Mudders on factory FJ60 rims. Most importantly, the truck had factory cable lockers that worked, a smooth and quiet H55F manual (required for an old, underpowered Cruiser, automatics are for hipsters and people with soft hands, fight me ;) ). It also had a factory PTO which I thought was neat. I had zero experience with the 13B-T power plant, but it reminded me of a more civilized 4BT Cummins. It had plenty of power and could motivate the truck well enough. The truck had Washington tags registered to the seller's business in Seattle, and he told me he'd let me keep the registration there until it was up. I drove the truck and was pretty taken. Despite needing some love, it drove well, and reminded me of all of the reasons why I loved 70 series trucks, they are fantastic. I had some thinking to do.... should I do it? How can I pull all of this off? What happens if I can't register it in California? If it blows up, will my wife divorce me? Will it blow up?
 
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Joined
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Princess had a lot of tire kickers, save for one gentleman from Texas who was about $7k under my asking price but was offering cash. Luckily for me, the seller of the BJ74 on my end wanted to make good on a promise he made to his wife to replace the deck on this house. He was way too open about how much money he had into the truck after importing it and fixing a couple of little things and installing the new suspension, and said that all he had to do was make sure he was right side up. His mistake (or maybe he really did just want to be right side up). This allowed me to go back to the guy in Texas and propose stripping some of the expensive bits off of Princess to make up for the difference. We ended up making a deal for $15K for the truck minus the half broken H55F and Toybox, the brand new 37" Toyos, the stereo and the odds and ends. I ended up whittling the seller of the BJ74 down to $13,500 for the BJ74. We were off to the races with a couple grand in the bank along with a pile of parts.

I took payment for Princess, scheduled a second test drive of the BJ74 to make sure I wasn't doing something stupid. I took a bunch of pictures and sent them off to a bunch of friends to check myself (my wife already thinks I'm nuts so she isn't a great sounding board). I got some enthusiastic thumbs up for the price, so I bought it.
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I spent the next weekend pulling the trans, Toy Box and T case from Princess. Two weeks later a truck arrived and just like that after two years of toil, Princess was gone.
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The very first thing I had to sort out was where the fluid was going in the master cylinder. The slave cylinder was a little damp, so I hopped on the phone with Cruiser Outfitters and picked a replacement up.
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Installed it with no drama I even had my lovely munchkin (and future Land Cruiser aficionado, who is SO EXCITED about the new Cruiser) to help me bleed the clutch.
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But alas, that would not be the end of the issue.
 
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I noticed that it was still losing fluid slowly. Must need a clutch master. Fine. I'll do it next week, I started looking for the right booster and realized there are no new ones available. At the time I didn't want to try and rebuild, because I did that on my old FJ40 and didn't get great results. It started drinking fluid quickly and I couldn't figure out where all this fluid was going. Two days later I find that the truck won't turn off with the key, and a quick 'Mud search lead me to a the shut off solenoid on the left hand side near the fuel pump- pop it and the truck shuts down. My dumbass didn't even realize- but there's a clutch booster, and come to find out the whole vacuum system of the truck is reliant on that being sealed. There's surprisingly little information out there about the clutch booster on 70 series and about how the system actually works. If there isn't a good seal on the booster, the vacuum system that operates the shutdown and the 4wd system doesn't have enough vacuum and the shut down solenoid doesn't pop and 4wd doesn't engage.

After doing some testing, I found out that if I popped the main hose leading to the booster off and plugged it with the key off, the truck would stall, leading me to the booster. I noticed the boot on the inside of the firewall was a little damp. The only thing I did discover during my research is that if your booster is bad you're screwed. They aren't made anymore, and what's out there is expensive. They can be rebuilt, but that means your truck is down, and furthermore removal is apparently a serious battle. Luckily before I started really tearing things apart I got on the phone with @cruiseroutfit and Kurt walked me through how the system works. He explained that when a clutch master goes bad, brake fluid wrecks the seal between the firewall and the booster, causing it to just suck fluid and ruins your vacuum, and that the damp boot on the inside of the firewall is likely just because of all of the fluid it's inhaling. They sell a seal for the firewall and while they don't sell a new clutch master they do sell a rebuild kit.

I took a few pictures along the way, maybe it'll help the next guy. Before removing the clutch master, I highly recommend you invest in some brake line wrenches. I couldn't find mine, and removal of one of the lines was a bitch and nearly stopped me in my tracks. The fittings were caked on there with years of grime and a little rust on the exterior and one did not want to budge and I couldn't get leverage. With some creative work with a screwdriver and vise grips I managed to get it off without ruining everything, but it was a close call and took way to much of the precious time I had budgeted to do this before kiddo bedtime.

Here's the seal kit.
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Here's what you'll find when you pop the clutch master off, below it is what you find when you remove the seal (pardon the bad picture). You have the remove the little heat shield to get to all of the bolts. There's a metal retainer with tabs that fit into a groove in the booster, pressing the seal in place. You pop that off and and you can fish the seal out. Excuse the bad picture, but you can still see the gunk and build up in there, it must have been leaking slowly for a long time. I carefully cleaned it out with a rag before putting in the new seal.
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Here's the seal itself with the retainer. Compare it to the picture above and you can see how it works. You press the seal in, then install the retainer on top of it. I used a small screwdriver to snap each tab into the groove.
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Here's the back of the clutch master and what the plunger looks like. Pretty standard, just like a boosted brake master. Remove the snap ring and pull the guts out. I don't have any good pictures, but the bore was full of crap I was afraid it was rust and there would be pitting, but some patient cleaning using a screwdriver wrapped with a thick rag (careful not to scratch the bore!) with some brake cleaner sprayed on it and I managed to make the bore shiny and like new, and I blew out the reservoir and clean it while I was at it. Lube up the new guts and and reinstallation is the reverse of removal, easy peasy.
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Finally I bled everything myself using a shock to hold the clutch down because I'm a god damned resourceful American.
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After everything was all buttoned up and bled, I fired the truck up. Clutch felt great, shutdown worked. After taking the fluid for a few days there was zero fluid loss. Overall a painless repair to what I was afraid would become a big problem if the booster was bad.
 

SNLC

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I have rebuilt a clutch booster on a 70-series. Easy job other than reassembly, without the SST shown in the FSM it is really difficult to final assemble the housing.

Pictures can be found in the PZJ70 refresh/rebuild thread.

Cheers
 
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The bane of vintage Land Cruiser existence: floppy sun visors. This is the most ghetto hatchet job so far (I'm sure there will be more, ha!), but as of today, this fix is still holding and I use and abuse the visor as intended.

I popped the visor off and discovered that plastic bit that holds it in place was broken and cracked. Side note: the truck is from a fishing village in Japan and was stored in a moist environment. You can tell because a lot of the exposed raw bits are oxidized, but everything painted around it is ok. Case and point: the end of the visors. The inside of the windshield frame looks good from what I can tell, but the hardware has this junk all over it.
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The rest of the visor worked just fine. I didn't want to buy a new one unless I had to so I tried this: I sanded a couple of notches in the both sides of the plastic that broke so some bailing wire could get a little bite, then I superglued the broken piece in place and held it in place with some some vise grips. After the super glue gelled tightly wound the broken bit with bailing wire (I didn't want the superglue to completely cure so that it could flex a little bit while I wound the bailing wire), then I let the finished product sit overnight to completely cure in place. I bolted the end result in place and viola: fully functional visor for the price of $free.fifty.
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Joined
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I have rebuilt a clutch booster on a 70-series. Easy job other than reassembly, without the SST shown in the FSM it is really difficult to final assemble the housing.

Pictures can be found in the PZJ70 refresh/rebuild thread.

Cheers

I figured it would be something like that, but lucky for me I didn't have to get too deep into it.
 

Bazz

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My sun visors are liable to fall off of you look at them the wrong way. Screwing into fiberglass :|
 
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Good work on the booster repair, I had mine rebuilt few years back, FYI I had also purchased a new one from a online seller maybe 6 years ago, probably still available.
 
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Good work on the booster repair, I had mine rebuilt few years back, FYI I had also purchased a new one from a online seller maybe 6 years ago, probably still available.

I found a Chinese manufacturer who claimed to have them. As much as I'm all about OE or high end stuff on these trucks I was willing to give it a shot if it needed one.
 
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Around the same time, I was afforded the opportunity to replace the shoes on the Cruiser. The old BFGs were old and doing what I've always seen old BFGs do: cracking up and falling apart.

One of the shops I worked at had a set of brand new 33x12.50 Falken Wildpeak AT/3s on some new 15x8 steelies, all I had to do was swap out my wheels and tires for rollers. I swapped them out without hesitation.

I did have to flip the spare tire carrier around to fit the new tire, and it is pressed against the rear door and wiper, something I have to deal with later.

I can't tell you how nicely the Falkens are on the street. I haven't had them in the dirt yet, but if they're anything like their sister M/Ts they should hold their own. My single complain is that they're stiff and heavy as F, and you can feel the weight. Still, it's a welcome change from the squirrely old BFGs, and the steelies have a nice offset. They do kiss the mud flaps at full lock.
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One thing I LOVE about JDM vehicles is the stuff you find in them. I've had two and been around several. They tend to be well sorted and preserve some cool stuff. My last rig had off road club stickers all over the inside. This one is cleaner, but I found these business cards in the pocket of the driver's side sun visor. It all makes sense now with the moisture damage and mildew. The truck lived in a fishing village. These are the owner's business cards, he was a fisherman. So cool. I put the business cards back in the visor where I hope they will live forever.

I wonder what the owner would say about the fate of his truck? He clearly cared about it. It's in good shape and has a turbo timer, the sort of things you find in a vehicle that has been loved...

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FJBen

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One thing I LOVE about JDM vehicles is the stuff you find in them. I've had two and been around several. They tend to be well sorted and preserve some cool stuff. My last rig had off road club stickers all over the inside. This one is cleaner, but I found these business cards in the pocket of the driver's side sun visor. It all makes sense now with the moisture damage and mildew. The truck lived in a fishing village. These are the owner's business cards, he was a fisherman. So cool. I put the business cards back in the visor where I hope they will live forever.

I wonder what the owner would say about the fate of his truck? He clearly cared about it. It's in good shape and has a turbo timer, the sort of things you find in a vehicle that has been loved...

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Very cool! I'd translate that and try to stalk them online. Might be cool to reach out to the previous owner.
 
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Quick note on fuel and fuel economy. After a few tanks of fuel, I came out with an average fuel economy of 22mpg, not too bad on a mix of city and freeway driving.

I did a few fuel experiments. A friend of mine had a ton of B99 floating around, so I ran a jug of that cut with a full tank of fuel for a few months. No issues, truck ran great.

Now days I almost exclusively run Propel fuels, I have a station not too far from me. It's highly refined biodiesel, but it gets along with any fuel system. I became a believe in there stuff while running it through Princess, and have found the same results with the 13BT. The biggest difference is stink and smoke. It's hard to tell if it "runs smoother" with these paint shaker 4 banger diesels, but it certainly seems happy.

I am a huge believer in practicing what you preach, and I preach responsibility and doing your part. Bio fuel offsets a good chunk of your carbon emissions, not all, but a chunk, and they do a great job of lubricating the fuel system. I do run a bottle of diesel treatment every so often, especially if I have petrol diesel in rotation based on everyone's anecdotal advice, but I don't think I really need to because of the lubricity of the fuels I use.

I ran everything from B99 to WVO in Princess and it ran great! I'm sure I could do the same on the BJ74 on a regular basis (I do have plans to upgrade all fuel lines at some point just as an excercise). If you live in a warm climate, an old diesel will happily eat just about anything. The question is always in the injection pump and whether the rubbers they used are designed to withstand those sorts of fuels. They do swell rubber seals. I haven't seen a lot of info on how these injection pumps handle high percentages of less refined bio fuels over time, and unlike the 4BT Cummins VE Pump, the injection pump on the 13BT isn't something you can get parts from easily so I'm probably gonna go easy on the "alternative fuels."

There are plenty of threads on different fuels if you want to explore it yourself, I encourage any vintage diesel to experiment with fuels. I while ago I was looking into bio fuels as part of a possible business venture that didn't pan out, but that info carried over to my personal vehicles.

Enthusiasts like us aren't really the problem when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions and smog, that's more a result of the "machine," the auto industry and industry in general. But since we drive vehicles that are specifically designed to explore the great outdoors, more of us should do what we can do set an example so that the outdoors are still there for future enthusiasts to explore and vehicles like ours are allowed to stay on the road. The march of progress is inevitable, but we can do our part to keep our image squeaky clean and not be labeled as a part of the problem.
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FJBen

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@MyCruiserisaHogBeast Nice! I'm averaging 19mpg right now over 18 fillups going back a year.

Of course this is based on my odometer and 255/85r16 tires Mud tires. However my odometer and GPS are almost exact on. Speedometer is only a few kms off. So either someone changed my speedometer gear at some point, or it was just wildly off from the factory.

I only have almost 7000miles on the new engine, my average speed is 42mph according to the GPS and 90% of my time is 60~65mph 2 lane, no traffic but possibility of anywhere from no wind to 30mph head/tailwinds :rofl: I also have fuel turned up a little, and boost up to 11psi.
 
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So sometime in early February, I noticed an occasional sputter/bog in the truck. I knew it was due for a fuel system clean out. I am a huge fan of SeaFoam, and decided to do a fuel injector hot soak and complete fuel system clean out while I do an oil change. The sputter must be a clogged filter. I run so much biodiesel BS through this, that has to be it... right?

Well, the hot soak worked AWESOME. For anyone that doesn't know: you run the tank nearly dry, get the motor hot, fill the new fuel filter with SeaFoam, dump the rest in the tank, then you crank the motor a couple of times to get straight SeaFoam into the injectors and then you leave it for a while. Once that's done, you hit the road and run it as hard as you can to heat everything up and blow out all of the junk. I've had great luck with it before, and this was no exception. The puff of smoke I would get at hard acceleration disappeared, I definitely gained a little bit of power and believe I gain a MPG or so. Sweet! Side note: she doesn't burn a drop of oil. Pretty sweet.

The sputter didn't go away though... WTF is up with that? Could it be air???

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Suddenly one day driving home on the freeway, the truck suddenly DIED while merging onto the 134 from the 5. Full pedal, just PLOP. I put the clutch in and cranked it while rolling and it spat and sputtered back to life and I got back on the road. I got home and couldn't see ANYTHING wrong. The next day it almost died twice on the way to work and didn't want to restart. I decided to check the primer, popped it off and started to prime it and it sprayed diesel straight into my face and eyes. That must be it! Air in the system. When I got home I took a glop of black silicone and slopped it around the base and into the handle just to try and see if I could improve things while I waiting for parts. I called the fine folks at Cruiser Outfitters and ordered a Bosche primer. Installation is easy, grab a 17 mm wrench, screw the old one out, plug the new one in. New primer comes with a compression washer and everything. Installed it and....
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After a drive around the block it died. WTF man!

Time to get serious, so I called @SteveJackson, the man, the myth, the legend from Land Cruisers Direct for some help trouble shooting the issue. He said it must be air, and explained to me the process of isolating components. And here we go down a whole rabbit hole.
 
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Low hanging fruit came first. I decided to empty the water separator/prefilter and check for leaks. It was due anyway. Removal is easy, just pull the clamps from the incoming and outgoing lines off and pull the lines, undo the clip for the warning light and loosen the clap, pops right off. There's a little 10mm (if memory serves me) plug on the bottom, unscrew it and pour it out. There wasn't a lot of sediment at all, which means good news for the tank, as it's likely not rusty. The water separator was in great shape so I bolted it in. Made no difference for the stalling, so to make sure I isolated the filter by filling a water bottle full of fuel and and sticking the line in it. No difference, on to the next thing.

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Made no difference for the stalling which was no surprise considering the condition of the filter, so to make sure I isolated the filter by filling a water bottle full of fuel and and sticking the line going away from the filter to lift pump in it. No difference, on to the next thing.
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