Builds 1996 Land Cruiser Build - "Kronk"

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I recently purchased my first Land Cruiser - a 1996 FZJ80 with 208,000 miles. I have been searching for an older vehicle to build up into a camping/wheeling/exploring rig for a while. I was originally going to buy a full size truck with an 8' bed and get a topper. I am 6'8" tall and a requirement for this vehicle is that I need to be able to sleep inside the vehicle. A friend suggested that I look at the Land Cruiser platform, as I might be able to build a sleeping platform inside that would be long enough. So, I called a friend that had a 1996 to see if I could take some measurements. Turns out that I will be able to build a platform that is long enough. It also turns out that he was thinking about selling his. So, I made him an offer, and he accepted.

So, everyone, meet Kronk (I name all my vehicles - the Tundra behind is called Yeti):

1570914695227.png

1570914730532.png

1570914786348.png


Although this is my first Land Cruiser, it is the 4th Toyota that I have owned. I have my 2013 Tundra, and have owned 2 4Runners (2005 and 2016).

The rig currently has an OME lift kit, a stainless steel catback exhaust system, an upgraded light harness from Slee, ARB front bumper, and a home-made roof rack on Yakima bars. I have a whole bunch of plans for it, and this will serve as my build thread. I am sort of a forum junky, and I like keeping track of the stuff I do on projects.

First on the list is to go through and perform necessary repairs/maintenance to get a good baseline. This is what I have observed and thought of so far:

  1. Compression test. Done. Results not good.
  2. Valve cover gasket/plug gaskets. (currently leaking slightly) Done....along with a new engine.
  3. PHH and FHH (PO said he hasn't done these yet. Done.
  4. Coolant system flush and hose replace.
  5. Oil change.
  6. PCV valve and hose change.
  7. Power steering fluid flush. Replaced the power steering pump.
  8. Brake fluid flush.
  9. Windshield washer reservoir replacement. (current cracked)
  10. It currently has a K&N air filter - I think I might go back to stock.
  11. Window rubber/trim replace.
  12. Tie rod ends look a little loose - I will inspect more closely and address if needed.
  13. Track bar bushings are pretty toasty. I will probably be replacing the rear with a HD unit, anyway, though.
  14. Xfer case and differential oil change.
  15. HG test. PO said he doesn't use any coolant, so hopefully it is ok. Rebuilt head and new short block.
  16. TB maintenance/cleaning.
  17. Plugs/wires/dizzy maintenance/replace.
  18. Replace drive belts.
  19. Transmission fluid.
  20. Charcoal canister.
  21. Front end rebuild - birfields are making a little noise, and there is leakage on the backside of the joints.
  22. Fuel filter.
  23. Replace brake lines/hoses.
Anything I am missing on that list that you can think of?

Now, for the plans:

  1. New lift kit - leaning toward the 4" kit from Slee. Might consider a 3" slinky, though. Regardless, I will be running some higher end shocks. I currently have ADS 2.5 with remote resis and clickers on my Tundra. That was my first venture into a rebuildable shock like that - and I am hooked. I love the setup on my Tundra.
  2. 35" tires and 4.88 gears.
  3. Front and rear lockers. Sort of leaning toward e-lockers right now, but considering ARB as well.
  4. Ditch the current ARB bumper - I am not a big fan of the brush guard look. But, definitely will have a winch bumper and appropriately size winch.
  5. Rear bumper with tire swingout and maybe a second swingout for gear/icebox.
  6. Lose the rear seats and build an interior storage/sleeping platform.
  7. Lose the current roof rack and replace with a lighter unit.
  8. Add an auxiliary fuel tank.
  9. I am considering monstalining the whole rig.
  10. I might add the part-time conversion kit so I can run around in 2WD if I want.
  11. Eventually I might end up doing a V8 swap - but I will run this engine for now. I've done a swap in a previous build and it was pretty fun.

I am sure the list will evolve over time. But this is a good start. I am really looking forward to starting. I have been reading a ton already and learning a bunch. I am sure that I will have a bunch of stupid questions - so I apologize in advance.
 
Last edited:

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Question: How do I get the "build" prefix on this thread? I don't see an option for that.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
387
 
Take a look at the Delta VS bumpers for sure. They have some of the tightest and well though out designs available (just imo of course). If I didn't have bumpers I'd be looking there. I probably still will at some point in the future when funds allow.

Def look into their panhard lift bracket, I'd thought the ride of my rig was pretty good/wouldn't get much better. I was wrong.

Disclaimer : this link may cost you a bunch of dollars...🤣


Welcome to the money pit club!
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2009
Messages
1,343
Location
South Central PA
 
 
Check your knuckles and pass side knuckle nuts for sure. Also, if you are doing belts and the other gaskets, check for the common leaks around the oil pump and front main seal and replace those while everything is out of the way already. Dizzy gasket, points and cover gasket ... blah, blah, blah. All the normal baseline stuff so you can start with a clean slate.
 

Atomic City

SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Take a look at the Delta VS bumpers for sure. They have some of the tightest and well though out designs available (just imo of course). If I didn't have bumpers I'd be looking there. I probably still will at some point in the future when funds allow.

Def look into their panhard lift bracket, I'd thought the ride of my rig was pretty good/wouldn't get much better. I was wrong.

Disclaimer : this link may cost you a bunch of dollars...🤣


Welcome to the money pit club!
Thanks for the information and link!
 
Joined
Sep 25, 2014
Messages
925
Location
Mesa, AZ
 
Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I recently purchased my first Land Cruiser - a 1996 FZJ80 with 208,000 miles. I have been searching for an older vehicle to build up into a camping/wheeling/exploring rig for a while. I was originally going to buy a full size truck with an 8' bed and get a topper. I am 6'8" tall and a requirement for this vehicle is that I need to be able to sleep inside the vehicle. A friend suggested that I look at the Land Cruiser platform, as I might be able to build a sleeping platform inside that would be long enough. So, I called a friend that had a 1996 to see if I could take some measurements. Turns out that I will be able to build a platform that is long enough. It also turns out that he was thinking about selling his. So, I made him an offer, and he accepted.

So, everyone, meet Kronk (I name all my vehicles - the Tundra behind is called Yeti):

View attachment 2105764
View attachment 2105765
View attachment 2105766

Although this is my first Land Cruiser, it is the 4th Toyota that I have owned. I have my 2013 Tundra, and have owned 2 4Runners (2005 and 2016).

The rig currently has an OME lift kit, a stainless steel catback exhaust system, an upgraded light harness from Slee, ARB front bumper, and a home-made roof rack on Yakima bars. I have a whole bunch of plans for it, and this will serve as my build thread. I am sort of a forum junky, and I like keeping track of the stuff I do on projects.

First on the list is to go through and perform necessary repairs/maintenance to get a good baseline. This is what I have observed and thought of so far:

  1. Compression test.
  2. Valve cover gasket/plug gaskets. (currently leaking slightly)
  3. PHH and FHH (PO said he hasn't done these yet.
  4. Coolant system flush and hose replace.
  5. Oil change.
  6. PCV valve and hose change.
  7. Power steering fluid flush.
  8. Brake fluid flush.
  9. Windshield washer reservoir replacement. (current cracked)
  10. It currently has a K&N air filter - I think I might go back to stock.
  11. Window rubber/trim replace.
  12. Tie rod ends look a little loose - I will inspect more closely and address if needed.
  13. Track bar bushings are pretty toasty. I will probably be replacing the rear with a HD unit, anyway, though.
  14. Xfer case and differential oil change.
  15. HG test. PO said he doesn't use any coolant, so hopefully it is ok.
  16. TB maintenance/cleaning.
  17. Plugs/wires/dizzy maintenance/replace.
  18. Replace drive belts.
  19. Transmission fluid.
  20. Charcoal canister.
  21. Front end rebuild - birfields are making a little noise, and there is leakage on the backside of the joints.
  22. Fuel filter.
Anything I am missing on that list that you can think of?

Now, for the plans:

  1. New lift kit - leaning toward the 4" kit from Slee. Might consider a 3" slinky, though. Regardless, I will be running some higher end shocks. I currently have ADS 2.5 with remote resis and clickers on my Tundra. That was my first venture into a rebuildable shock like that - and I am hooked. I love the setup on my Tundra.
  2. 35" tires and 4.88 gears.
  3. Front and rear lockers. Sort of leaning toward e-lockers right now, but considering ARB as well.
  4. Ditch the current ARB bumper - I am not a big fan of the brush guard look. But, definitely will have a winch bumper and appropriately size winch.
  5. Rear bumper with tire swingout and maybe a second swingout for gear/icebox.
  6. Lose the rear seats and build an interior storage/sleeping platform.
  7. Lose the current roof rack and replace with a lighter unit.
  8. Add an auxiliary fuel tank.
  9. I am considering monstalining the whole rig.
  10. I might add the part-time conversion kit so I can run around in 2WD if I want.
  11. Eventually I might end up doing a V8 swap - but I will run this engine for now. I've done a swap in a previous build and it was pretty fun.

I am sure the list will evolve over time. But this is a good start. I am really looking forward to starting. I have been reading a ton already and learning a bunch. I am sure that I will have a bunch of stupid questions - so I apologize in advance.
I just glanced over your plans and you mentioned the idea of high-end shocks. I have an OME/ARB lift in my 94 the shocks are great for daily but I am actually thinking about the new shock BP-51 just based on the reviews I have heard about them. Never rode on them but I will take peoples word.
 
Joined
Sep 25, 2014
Messages
925
Location
Mesa, AZ
 
Take a look at the Delta VS bumpers for sure. They have some of the tightest and well though out designs available (just imo of course). If I didn't have bumpers I'd be looking there. I probably still will at some point in the future when funds allow.

Def look into their panhard lift bracket, I'd thought the ride of my rig was pretty good/wouldn't get much better. I was wrong.

Disclaimer : this link may cost you a bunch of dollars...🤣


Welcome to the money pit club!
Delta does have some of the best thought out designs. I am running their panhard bracket on my LC.
 

Atomic City

SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Well, I did a compression test today. Results are not good. I live at about 6,000 feet, so I adjusted the readings accordingly. But cylinder #3 doesn't look good. I put a little oil in it and it came up some, but not to the level of the others.

#1 - 181
#2 - 181
#3 - 84 (108 wet)
#4 - 181
#5 - 175
#6 - 169

So, I might have a valve issue on #3 or something. I have no misfires, and no CEL. The #5 and #6 being low means maybe the HG? - if I understand correctly, the HG tends to go out there first?

There is a little smoke on startup - even when warm. PO said he didn't lose coolant. There is a crack in one of the PCV hoses, and the plug seals have never been changed - so I thought maybe that is where the smoke was coming from.

Coolant level is full currently, but the coolant sort of looks like garbage - looks like they swapped in the green stuff at one point. But it doesn't look great. I see no white/milky residue on the dipstick nor under the oil cap. I will send in a sample for some analysis and see what comes back.

Not sure what direction to go here. I am not too sure I want to dump money into this engine if I am just going to swap a V8 later in it. I really was just hoping to put a little money into it and run it for a while. I could keep it, rebuild it and put a turbo on it - but those turbo kits are stupid expensive - might as well just put some real displacement in there in the form of a V8 if you are going to spend that kind of cash.

Here are the spark plugs - #3 doesn't look that different. (#1 to #6 left to right below)


1571008621205.png
 
Last edited:

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
So I am going to pull the head, and am considering just yanking the whole engine to do it. I am considering this because it will make it easier to work on, and easier to replace all of the rubber hoses, wrap the harness, etc. It will also give me a chance to really clean the engine bay as well as the engine. Plus it will make a fun project for my son and I.

The vehicle hit an elk in the past. No frame damage, but the hood, driver fender, driver inner fender and core support were damaged. The PO replaced all of the external parts, but the core support and inner fender are still damaged/crumpled. He sourced some replacements from a '93 LC and gave those to me with the purchase. I think I will go ahead and swap those during this process as well.

So I am compiling a list for myself as to what I need/want to do "while I'm in there":

  • Pull head, send to machine shop and have them check for flatness/cracks, check valves (grind if necessary), and install new valve guides.
  • New HG.
  • Clean cooling system.
  • Upgrade power steering cooler.
  • Rebuild or replace power steering pump.
  • Replace all rubber (cooling hoses, vacuum hoses, belts, etc - including the PHH and FHH)
  • Replace fuel filter
  • Replace fuel pressure regulator
  • New valve cover gasket
  • Replace PCV valve
  • Wrap harness
  • Service Dizzy/replace o-ring
  • Oil pump seal
  • Fuel injector cleaning
  • Heater valve.

That's all I can think of right now. I'll revisit it later. Let me know if there is something else I should consider.
 
Last edited:

Box Rocket

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Joined
Jan 2, 2003
Messages
4,415
Location
Syracuse, Utah
 
 
 
Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I recently purchased my first Land Cruiser - a 1996 FZJ80 with 208,000 miles. I have been searching for an older vehicle to build up into a camping/wheeling/exploring rig for a while. I was originally going to buy a full size truck with an 8' bed and get a topper. I am 6'8" tall and a requirement for this vehicle is that I need to be able to sleep inside the vehicle. A friend suggested that I look at the Land Cruiser platform, as I might be able to build a sleeping platform inside that would be long enough. So, I called a friend that had a 1996 to see if I could take some measurements. Turns out that I will be able to build a platform that is long enough. It also turns out that he was thinking about selling his. So, I made him an offer, and he accepted.

So, everyone, meet Kronk (I name all my vehicles - the Tundra behind is called Yeti):

View attachment 2105764
View attachment 2105765
View attachment 2105766

Although this is my first Land Cruiser, it is the 4th Toyota that I have owned. I have my 2013 Tundra, and have owned 2 4Runners (2005 and 2016).

The rig currently has an OME lift kit, a stainless steel catback exhaust system, an upgraded light harness from Slee, ARB front bumper, and a home-made roof rack on Yakima bars. I have a whole bunch of plans for it, and this will serve as my build thread. I am sort of a forum junky, and I like keeping track of the stuff I do on projects.

First on the list is to go through and perform necessary repairs/maintenance to get a good baseline. This is what I have observed and thought of so far:

  1. Compression test. Done. Results not good.
  2. Valve cover gasket/plug gaskets. (currently leaking slightly)
  3. PHH and FHH (PO said he hasn't done these yet.
  4. Coolant system flush and hose replace.
  5. Oil change.
  6. PCV valve and hose change.
  7. Power steering fluid flush.
  8. Brake fluid flush.
  9. Windshield washer reservoir replacement. (current cracked)
  10. It currently has a K&N air filter - I think I might go back to stock.
  11. Window rubber/trim replace.
  12. Tie rod ends look a little loose - I will inspect more closely and address if needed.
  13. Track bar bushings are pretty toasty. I will probably be replacing the rear with a HD unit, anyway, though.
  14. Xfer case and differential oil change.
  15. HG test. PO said he doesn't use any coolant, so hopefully it is ok.
  16. TB maintenance/cleaning.
  17. Plugs/wires/dizzy maintenance/replace.
  18. Replace drive belts.
  19. Transmission fluid.
  20. Charcoal canister.
  21. Front end rebuild - birfields are making a little noise, and there is leakage on the backside of the joints.
  22. Fuel filter.
Anything I am missing on that list that you can think of?

Now, for the plans:

  1. New lift kit - leaning toward the 4" kit from Slee. Might consider a 3" slinky, though. Regardless, I will be running some higher end shocks. I currently have ADS 2.5 with remote resis and clickers on my Tundra. That was my first venture into a rebuildable shock like that - and I am hooked. I love the setup on my Tundra.
  2. 35" tires and 4.88 gears.
  3. Front and rear lockers. Sort of leaning toward e-lockers right now, but considering ARB as well.
  4. Ditch the current ARB bumper - I am not a big fan of the brush guard look. But, definitely will have a winch bumper and appropriately size winch.
  5. Rear bumper with tire swingout and maybe a second swingout for gear/icebox.
  6. Lose the rear seats and build an interior storage/sleeping platform.
  7. Lose the current roof rack and replace with a lighter unit.
  8. Add an auxiliary fuel tank.
  9. I am considering monstalining the whole rig.
  10. I might add the part-time conversion kit so I can run around in 2WD if I want.
  11. Eventually I might end up doing a V8 swap - but I will run this engine for now. I've done a swap in a previous build and it was pretty fun.

I am sure the list will evolve over time. But this is a good start. I am really looking forward to starting. I have been reading a ton already and learning a bunch. I am sure that I will have a bunch of stupid questions - so I apologize in advance.
Congrats on the new rig! Looks like you have a bit of work ahead but it will be worth it. Let me know if I can answer any questions on the Slinky suspension. Been running the 3" Stage4 kit for a few years now. You won't find a better suspension for the 80 without going full custom.
 

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Congrats on the new rig! Looks like you have a bit of work ahead but it will be worth it. Let me know if I can answer any questions on the Slinky suspension. Been running the 3" Stage4 kit for a few years now. You won't find a better suspension for the 80 without going full custom.
I have heard really good things about the Slinky setup. I just wish that they offered a 4" version. I am still debating between going with 35s or 37s. I'd like to do 37s, but most of the rigs I see with a 3" lift struggle with rubbing issues and have to do some sometimes fairly significant massaging to avoid it. I am not sure I want to mess with that too much. And I'm not a big fan of body lifts.
 

Box Rocket

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Joined
Jan 2, 2003
Messages
4,415
Location
Syracuse, Utah
 
 
 
I have heard really good things about the Slinky setup. I just wish that they offered a 4" version. I am still debating between going with 35s or 37s. I'd like to do 37s, but most of the rigs I see with a 3" lift struggle with rubbing issues and have to do some sometimes fairly significant massaging to avoid it. I am not sure I want to mess with that too much. And I'm not a big fan of body lifts.
The 3" works great! You could run a 1" coil spacer if you were determined to get to 4". There is a bit of trimming and bumpstop adjustment to do 37's and keep every inch of suspension travel. But it's not bad. I was able to get good fitment for my 37's with the 3" Slinky kit. I did add a 1" body lift a few weeks ago only because I had one on the shelf. I wouldn't do it if it was over 1" but 1" is simple, safe, doesn't require more mods and doesn't put the undue leverage on body mounts that taller body lifts can.

Personally, I wouldn't run a something other than Slinky just to get one more inch of lift. I just haven't seen any suspension ride, flex and control as well as the Slinky kits on the 80. Not worth sacrificing that IMO and there are a couple different ways to get that extra inch if you need to. If you stick with 35's the Slinky kit is an perfect fit and only needs a 1" taller 79 series frame mounted bumpstop in the rear. I didn't have to trim anything to do the 35's and have the full 12" of suspension travel.

Anyway, happy to offer any tips if you decide to do the Slinky stuff. Here's how mine sits currently with the 37's, 3" HD Stage4 Slinky kit, 1" body lift.
IMG_3428 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

IMG_0630 by Adam Tolman, on Flickr

Not sure what to say about the compression issue your having in cylinder #3 if you aren't wanting to put much money into the motor. The headgasket will buy you a little time and I think it's a good decision to just pull the motor out to do all the work you have planned especially if you're swapping body panels. While you have it out, inspect the harness right at the back of the motor above cylinder #6 where it's very close to the EGR pipe. It gets super hot and can be common for that section of the harness to develop shorts with the wire insulation gets cooked and brittle. That will be MUCH easier to deal with when the motor is out.
 

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
I have been reading and gathering information on parts to get for the upcoming engine pull. I think that I am almost ready to place an order. The snowball effect has already started - I decided to just replace every hose and gasket that I can. I also decided that I am going to replace the original radiator. I am leaning toward getting a Ron Davis radiator. Why? Because they are awesome. I'll have to think about it some more.

I got out today to do a little work on the Cruiser after finishing up some landscaping. Ever since buying it, there was a strange rattle/clunk noise occasionally. The PO thought it was a broken exhaust hanger. I fixed that, but the sound remained. My son helped me look more closely at it and it appeared that the sound was coming from the rear DS. There was a fair amount of slop in the rear u-joint. So I ordered up some more u-joints for the front and rear just to baseline. I pulled the rear driveshaft today - and the rear u-joint is definitely toast. I'll put new ones in tomorrow.

I also removed the homemade roof rack. Looks quite a bit different.

1572144509631.png


1572144536842.png
 

patrickk

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Joined
Mar 22, 2012
Messages
181
Location
Colorado Springs, CO
 
That drivers side fender looks mighty nice, would be a shame if it fell off and landed in my garage...

Nice looking rig, too bad about the HG, but I guess it gives you an excuse to baseline more of the truck than originally intended. Good luck man!
 

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
I finished up the front driveshaft u-joints. Took care of some vibration issues that I was having.

I have been compiling a list of parts to get for the upcoming engine pull and here is what I have so far:

1572834947329.png


I have a couple of "make your own" hoses in there - they are just straight hoses, or ones that you can use some stock heater hose for. I suppose you could do that with a lot of the vacuum hose, also - but that stuff isn't very expensive for OEM, so I just put it on the list.

Not included in the list is power steering stuff. I have to decide if I am going to rebuild the current pump or just replace it.

Anyway, any other thoughts on stuff to consider?
 

Atomic City

SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
Thought of a few more things that weren't on the list:

engine oil pump cover gasket - 15188-66020
front crank seal 90311-52022
rear main seal 90311-99009

The PO had the main seals replaced about 12 years ago, but the engine is going to be out, so I should replace them while it is out. Plus, the rear main appears to be leaking again.
 

Atomic City

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Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
168
Location
New Mexico
So i guess the V8 swap is out?
I may consider it in the future, but I thought about it and to be honest I am fine with the power output of the 1FZ. Sure, it isn't that fast, but I don't need it to be fast. It pulls the mountain roads around here just fine (yes, it does drop into low gear alot, but I honestly don't care that much). Combine that with the fact that I really just want to get it in a nice, reliable condition so that I can start doing the other mods to turn it into the rig I want. I know from first hand experience that engine swaps can be very finicky and can take a long time to dial in before they can be considered "reliable".

I really wanted to have this rig be a "work in progress" that I can keep up and running fairly continuously as I mod it. My last build, I did a full frame-up restomod and took it down and out of commission during the process - it stayed non-running for 8 years (mainly due to the fact that I didn't have a lot of extra cash back then). That project turned into a frustrating one for me because I never got to go out and enjoy it during the downtime. So, I don't want this rig to be down for super long periods of time if I can avoid it.

But, maybe in the distant future - I will consider a V8. It is nice wheeling with a torque monster. While the engine is out, I will take some measurements of the engine bay and save them for later. Then work on other things on the rig and drive and enjoy it. And once/if I get it to a state that I am happy with, maybe look around and see if I can find a suitable used powerplant that I can rebuild on the side. It seems like most people do the LS swaps - and I get it - they are plentiful and parts are readily available and fairly cheap. That said, I grew up a Ford guy and I have a fondness for some of the Ford powerplants. I am more familiar with them, also.
 
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