1997 FZJ80 Rehabilitation (1 Viewer)

Joined
Apr 17, 2018
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413
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Pensacola, FL
Back-story:
Hi all, I've been a Mud member for about two years now. Thanks to this site I bought my 80 from another member in 2018 and have been enjoying it ever since. It's a 1997 so it's got that 1FZ-FE inline goodness under the hood. Currently sitting around 248K on the odometer. I bought it at 239K and my only real regret is not having had the money to drive it more often :cry:.

Now, when I purchased it I was aware that there was an intermittent P0401 code. I also received a fairly detailed collection of maintenance records. The vehicle appeared to have been taken care of and showed no signs of major issues. Fast forward to present and it is still happily chugging along. I've made a few minor repairs (cut out clogged cats, repaired snorkel bracket, patched radiator, etc.) but it has never left me stranded. But...the longer I have owned it the more it has become apparent that some serious PM is in order - and that brings us to this thread.

Repairs that are relevant:
- Patched upper radiator tank w/ JB weld (over a year ago and still holding :D)
- cut out clogged catalytic converters and straight piped it for now

Planned Repairs/Maintenance:
- Head gasket replacement kit from Wit's End (planning on having head machined)
- new OEM radiator
- new radiator hoses
- new coolant (obviously)
- valve cover gasket kit from Wit's End (includes TB gasket)
- tune up kit from Wit's End (plugs, wires, etc)
- entirely new exhaust (parts TBD but leaning Magnaflow y-pipe with either custom or DIY cat-back)
- whatever is needed to clear the P0401 as long as I don't have to sell any body parts to get it

While-I'm-in-there's:
- new fuel filter
- new throttle cable
- new/rebuilt injectors?
- new vacuum lines
- new hoses/lines for anything that looks worn/in need of replacement

Game Plan:
- have oil tested by Blackstone just to verify the health of the engine before I pull the trigger on these repairs
- get price quotes for having the work done
- decide how much my time is worth and if I want to tackle this myself (I'm pretty handy and I have basic tools and a welder but I would he doing this in my driveway because I can't fit the cruiser in my garage)

Any helpful advice and information is welcomed. Those of you who have done any of this before, please chime in. Yes, I used search. Yes, I've read threads on most of this stuff. What I'm really trying to get out of this thread is: for an 80 that has old/leaking exhaust, a high probability of having the original head gasket, a previously cracked radiator, and some decent but normal wear on the engine accessories - is this the right route to take to get her back to health or am I overlooking something? Long term I'm considering a turbo upgrade and REALLY long term (we're talking when the 1FZ gives up the ghost) I'd like to do an engine swap. But for now I want the vehicle to be in good, serviceable condition for another 100k. So let me know what y'all think.
 

NorCalFJ100

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Feb 13, 2016
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Los Angeles, CA
I think you have a pretty comprehensive list! I would replace the pesky heater hose and the small coolant hoses that are at the back of the head that go into the firewall regardless of how they "look" it's cheap insurance and they are tough to get at once the head is back on. You'll also need to consider new OEM head studs or ARP.

How are your steering knuckles?

PS: I would tackle as much as humanly possible on your end. It's a right of passage to know how all this stuff is put together if you're in this for the long haul and plan to do any off-roading...
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
413
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Pensacola, FL
Good point about the head studs. I was planning on replacing them but I forgot to mention it. And I hadn't thought about the coolant hoses on the back side. The PHH has already been done previously but I should probably check that out and make sure everything is as it should be. As for doing it myself - I want to. It's going to be a judgement call in terms of timing though because I may be moving in a couple months and I don't know if I will have the time to finish all of this in my "spare" time before I leave.
 
Joined
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Anyone have any advice about having the head machined? I've never had something like that done so I really don't know much about what a good price looks like it what ask the shop for.
 

NorCalFJ100

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Los Angeles, CA
They look fine, not leaking. But I also haven't opened them up to make sure.
No signs of leaking, you probably don't need to take em apart. Maybe just think about adding some grease through the top of the knuckle for PM.

I think you can reasonably spend $500 to have the head pressure tested, machined, valves all checked to spec and new seals installed. Otherwise maybe $150 or so if all you want is the head resurfaced.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Pensacola, FL
No signs of leaking, you probably don't need to take em apart. Maybe just think about adding some grease through the top of the knuckle for PM.

I think you can reasonably spend $500 to have the head pressure tested, machined, valves all checked to spec and new seals installed. Otherwise maybe $150 or so if all you want is the head resurfaced.

Ok cool, I had figured about $500 so that's good to hear. And as far as adding grease to the knuckles. I've done that once before but how are you judging the fullness of the knuckle? Just eyeballing it through the fill hole?
 

baldilocks

Battle Ground, WA
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I’d be looking into why the cats were clogged. No record of when the knuckles were dissembled and serviced? Do it now and erase all doubt.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Pensacola, FL
Why are you going to replace the head gasket? If it's not giving low compression numbers or leaking coolant or oil into a cylinder or other, then...WHY?

Don't fix what's not broke.
Primarily peace of mind. I guess I can just roll the dice and drive it - and you're right, it will probably be fine - but I intend to go places that a tow truck can't reach and I don't want it to fail when I'm there. Maybe I'm not approaching this correctly but it seems to me that I wouldn't want to refresh the top end (new valve cover gaskets, TB gasket, wires, plugs, hoses, etc) and then have to pull it all back off later for the HG. Am I just paranoid? And if I leave it - what about force induction on an original HG at > 250k?
 
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Colorado
 
 
You'd think as a resident of first state to go under water, you'd want to replace your cats rather than cut them out. :flipoff2: New magnaflow y-pipe will take care of that though. My cats gave up their "scrubbiness" by 300k.

If compression and leakdown are good, the head gasket is good. Does it burn oil? I intend to replace mine some day, not because I fear HG failure and breakdown, but because I have leaking valve stem seals.

:edit: I turboed my clunker at about 315k miles. Not positive if the head gasket is original, but no reason to suspect it was changed. Also, if you're planning on a turbo, that magnaflow y pipe will just get tossed or chopped up anyway. If you find a supercharger, then you can keep using the y-pipe.
 
Joined
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Messages
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You'd think as a resident of first state to go under water, you'd want to replace your cats rather than cut them out. :flipoff2: New magnaflow y-pipe will take care of that though. My cats gave up their "scrubbiness" by 300k.

If compression and leakdown are good, the head gasket is good. Does it burn oil? I intend to replace mine some day, not because I fear HG failure and breakdown, but because I have leaking valve stem seals.

:edit: I turboed my clunker at about 315k miles. Not positive if the head gasket is original, but no reason to suspect it was changed. Also, if you're planning on a turbo, that magnaflow y pipe will just get tossed or chopped up anyway. If you find a supercharger, then you can keep using the y-pipe.
Ok so maybe I'm being a little over zealous? And yes I figured the y-pipe might get tossed but I won't be going the turbo route for a while. Should I just try to patch the current one?
 
Joined
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If it's not cracked and leaking, you can have the exhaust shop weld in a universal cat for pretty cheap. If it is cracked and leaking, then go for the new magnaflow. They can be repaired once or twice by welding, but usually it's just a bandaid and wont hold for too long.
 
Joined
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565
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Chattanooga, TN
With a pending move and a lot of options for baselining/PM listed here you may need to do the work in stages and see where you end up timing and $ wise with the smaller tasks before jumping into the head gasket replacement. Knocking out a front-end service for instance is a good early task so that you know you are solid there and it's a good DIY project. You may also inspect and find that some brake components (hoses, etc.), front-end/steering (ball joints) components or suspension bushings/etc. need attention while under there so there can be a lot to attend to if most of what's there is original. Checking for leaking is a good indicator of health at each axle end but lifting each wheel (individually works) and checking for looseness/slack in the bearings is also an important check. Look around online for guides that can help you know what to look for with wheel bearing, knuckle/trunion bearing and steering rod end looseness which can all be inspected pretty easily once you know how.

I went the HG as preventative maintenance route at 225k miles roughly and don't regret the decision at all. It made it a lot easier to replace all the heater/cooling lines, vacuum lines, etc. etc. and getting to do a visual inspection of the wiring harness, cylinder bores, etc. was a nice bonus. Replacing the valve stem seals at this point seems like a very good idea on all of these that are running the originals and likely to cut most oil consumption if you see any. In my mind, even if you are in tow truck range trying to avoid sitting stranded and dealing with the hassle of getting towed/etc. is worth the costs/time of PM.

If you can space out the work so that you can do most/all of it yourself that seems pretty smart too as mentioned above. If you go where there is no tow truck service then knowing how your rig is put together is very valuable as you may well be the only available mech. if something goes wrong.
 
Joined
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I like the "small tasks first" approach and taking this a chunk at a time. That appeals to me. The problem, as I see it, is that the other maintenance I'm doing (new radiator, new exhaust, new valve cover gasket) lends itself to just going ahead with the HG because everything else will be disconnected.
 

Bludozer

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I like the "small tasks first" approach and taking this a chunk at a time. That appeals to me. The problem, as I see it, is that the other maintenance I'm doing (new radiator, new exhaust, new valve cover gasket) lends itself to just going ahead with the HG because everything else will be disconnected.
If you plan to keep the truck for a long time, that isn't a bad thought process.
 
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@Wrencher93 Yeah, you've got a good point there regarding the efficiency of doing all of those jobs at the same time.

While I can't help you weigh all of the factors you have to balance I can share a few details from my experience that may help you plan.

  • When I did my HG and "while you are in there's" I didn't pull the radiator as it was recently replaced. I put cardboard over it to protect it from damage but left it in place. The oil pump, power steering pump rebuild/etc. and main crank seal replacements would have been easier with the rad. out but it was all doable with it in place. My point is that the rad can be done separately but yeah, it would save some time to just do it at the same time as everything else.
  • After my HG replacement my valve cover leaked because the seal had slipped near the back on install. I had to pull/reseal the valve cover after I had assembled/started the engine. This was surprisingly easy the second time around so I wouldn't make all of your plans based on having to do this job twice essentially. Similarly I ended up pulling the throttle body off again after running for a little while to do more work on the EGR plumbing as I recall. This also turned out to be easy/minor after I knew my way around in there.
  • While I'm glad I did the HG plus a ton of other stuff at the same time it did end up being a lot taken apart for a long time for me as I don't get more than a few hours to work on things at a time. While it's a little more work it would have also been nice to do a job, drive for a while, then do another job, vs. the long period that I had parts spread around my small workspace and a non-op truck. By the time that I was re-assembling the first parts that came out it had been months since I removed them on my end, which isn't ideal and cost me time referencing my photos/manual/mud to remember how a few things went together.
  • Are you replacing the headers with your exhaust work? If not then the exhaust work is mostly separate from the head job in my opinion. If you are pulling the headers during your exhaust work then it's more of a reason to go ahead and do the head work I think.
  • The un expected time sink in this project for me was the parts sourcing shopping. Finding all of the part numbers, shopping for cheaper prices, making sure I wasn't missing anything then re-ordering what I missed took hours of time.

Not trying to sway you one way or another, just sharing some thoughts based on what I experienced. In the end I appreciate my 80 every time I drive it and we've done a ton of long/short trips in it so the time/$ was all worth it. The "best" way to attend to these rigs is different for all of us and using a shop, diy in stages or diy all at once can all make sense. Share pics. and tales from the trenches whichever way you go :)
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
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Pensacola, FL
@Wrencher93 Yeah, you've got a good point there regarding the efficiency of doing all of those jobs at the same time.

While I can't help you weigh all of the factors you have to balance I can share a few details from my experience that may help you plan.

  • When I did my HG and "while you are in there's" I didn't pull the radiator as it was recently replaced. I put cardboard over it to protect it from damage but left it in place. The oil pump, power steering pump rebuild/etc. and main crank seal replacements would have been easier with the rad. out but it was all doable with it in place. My point is that the rad can be done separately but yeah, it would save some time to just do it at the same time as everything else.
  • After my HG replacement my valve cover leaked because the seal had slipped near the back on install. I had to pull/reseal the valve cover after I had assembled/started the engine. This was surprisingly easy the second time around so I wouldn't make all of your plans based on having to do this job twice essentially. Similarly I ended up pulling the throttle body off again after running for a little while to do more work on the EGR plumbing as I recall. This also turned out to be easy/minor after I knew my way around in there.
  • While I'm glad I did the HG plus a ton of other stuff at the same time it did end up being a lot taken apart for a long time for me as I don't get more than a few hours to work on things at a time. While it's a little more work it would have also been nice to do a job, drive for a while, then do another job, vs. the long period that I had parts spread around my small workspace and a non-op truck. By the time that I was re-assembling the first parts that came out it had been months since I removed them on my end, which isn't ideal and cost me time referencing my photos/manual/mud to remember how a few things went together.
  • Are you replacing the headers with your exhaust work? If not then the exhaust work is mostly separate from the head job in my opinion. If you are pulling the headers during your exhaust work then it's more of a reason to go ahead and do the head work I think.
  • The un expected time sink in this project for me was the parts sourcing shopping. Finding all of the part numbers, shopping for cheaper prices, making sure I wasn't missing anything then re-ordering what I missed took hours of time.

Not trying to sway you one way or another, just sharing some thoughts based on what I experienced. In the end I appreciate my 80 every time I drive it and we've done a ton of long/short trips in it so the time/$ was all worth it. The "best" way to attend to these rigs is different for all of us and using a shop, diy in stages or diy all at once can all make sense. Share pics. and tales from the trenches whichever way you go :)
I appreciate the info. That kind if insight is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm still in the process of deciding which route to go but knowing what other people have experienced is valuable either way. Originally I wasn't planning on headers but if I'm going to replace the rest of the exhaust I might go ahead and put new ones on. Mine are rusted but so are everyone else's. I think I need to spend a little more time finding my exhaust leaks. I know of at least two. One is where I welded the pipe in after the cats were cut out. The other is near the muffler. I'm not sure if the headers or y-pipe are leaking. Need to check.
 
Joined
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Pensacola, FL
I’d be looking into why the cats were clogged. No record of when the knuckles were dissembled and serviced? Do it now and erase all doubt.
Any thoughts on how I got the clogged cats? I'm no wizard when it comes to this stuff. I have an FSM, can read, can count to ten, and I'm reasonably handy with tools - but I'm self-taught when it comes to vehicles.
 

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