'76 Resto-mod rebuild thread

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Mar 14, 2012
Buxton, ME
Its time to document and get input on my project. I purchased this 1976 FJ40 in July of 2020, but didn't really get started on the rebuild until this summer. When I purchased it, it had been sitting in garage, dismantled for 8+ years. There are lots of parts in labeled bags. She is mostly stock which was a huge selling point for me. When I went to look at her, she did not run, but we were able to spin the engine, so that was a plus! Once I got her home, I was able to piece the parts back together (with a little help) to make a decent looking 40. This is the most complete she has been, or will be for a while. My plan was to simply get her back on the road and play, but as will happen, I have started down the rabbit hole...



One of the first priorities for me was to make sure I could get the engine running. I didn't have an ignitor in any of the bags of parts, or a good coil. I purchased the Pertronix kit from Marks Offroad. He was great to work with, and responded to all of my questions and got me through the conversion. With a little help and some luck, and a new starter, I was able to get her running! I put her up on jack stands, and got all four tires spinning. Not necessary, but it was exciting to see. Now that I know the engine runs, the real work begins. I went back and forth on what to do about the tub. I have heard great things about Wally's tubs in Vermont, but in the end, I purchased an Aqualu tub. I pulled the tub and cowl as a single unit, knowing that the cowl needs work. I figured the cowl would be easier to work on at a bench, opposed to working on it in place.

The drivers side floor and A-pillar were pretty well rotted. I decided to cut away the rot an replace with new metal.



At this point, I realized that I had nothing to reference when welding the new pieces on. If I have it skewed in or out, it will affect how the new tub mates tot he cowl and what the door reveals will look like. This phase got put on hold.
While I mulled over the body issues, I tackled some frame concerns. There were a couple of areas near the rear spring mounts that I could put a screw driver through. Luckily, I had purchased a spare '76 frame about 8 years ago for a different project truck that's been on hold. I decided the best path forward was to swap the frames. I took the donor frame to get sand blasted. I painted it with Magnet Paints Chassis saver.


So far, I have been really happy with the paint. I don't plan on running this through the Maine winters, but you never know...
My donor frame didn't have a good rear cross member, so I pulled it from the original frame. Popping out the rivets is a pain in the ___! Once I got the rear cross member off, I realized it had some really thin spots where the corner braces were attached. I ended up cutting out any thin areas and replacing with fresh steel.


Once it was all painted, I got it mounted. I had to drill out the mounting holes to 3/8" and used Grade 8 bolts attach it.
The next step was taking everything off the old frame and getting it swapped over to the new frame. I needed to get back to a rolling chassis, so I didn't clean up the axles or springs. I'm still up in the air as to what to do with the springs, so I figure they can wait for attention. I will probably pull each axle individually and rebuild it before the spring. I think I am going to put the disc brakes on the back, so that will happen at that point.
This past week, I enlisted some help and got the cowl back on, and set the new tub on the frame. This is where I am starting to run in to issues and will be looking for help and suggestions from anyone that has installed an Aqualu 3/4 tub. My intent is to line everything up and make sure that my door gaps are even before I start welding any of the replacement pieces to the A-pillars. The first issue I ran into is that when the tub sits on the 1/2" body mounts that come with it, the pocket for the gas tank hits the hump on the cross bar.


Has anyone else had this issue?

The other thing that I have run into is that when I mounted the cowl to the frame, none of the new tub mounting holes lined up with the body mounts on the frame. I ended up disconnecting the cowl and sliding everything forward 1/2" to make the tub holes line up with the frame mounts. Now my cowl is 1/2" too far forward.
Working on getting the cowl ready for paint. There is still some body work that needs to be done. The PO made mess of the firewall. There is something that mounts above the gas pedal, but I don't know what is supposed to go there. There are also a bunch of what looks like non factory holes that I think I can fill in. can anyone tell me what mounts in the red circles? Are any of the green holes necessary?


Sand blasted

Epoxy primer and paint

Still needs a little filler around some of my patches, but the firewall and dash are done. This was a major hurdle for me getting to this point. This weekend I should have it mounted to the frame/ tub, then I can start putting everything back together

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