78 FJ40 To rebuild or replace? Advice needed so I can sleep a few hours at night! (1 Viewer)

Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
Ok, I know there’s been pages and pages on this topic but every truck is different along with personal situations. Here’s the facts-

I’m a 49 yo father of 3 older kids (youngest 14) wife and dog- with a pretty busy work schedule but plenty of energy.
Love to tinker with anything mechanical.
Rebuilt a 73 Fj40 back in the late 80s (frame off, fiberglass tub, 350, suspension lift, 35s you get the idea) still have it-

Starting a rebuild of a 78 Fj40 with my 14 year old son. Trying to keep it as stock as possible for the classic Fj40 look and feel.
Pros of this Fj40- great mechanical condition. Motor, drivetrain just need cleaning and paint. Sheet metal on hardtop sides, driver and pass doors, excellent as well as rear doors excellent. Interior is clean and in great shape. Now the bad- rear sill gone, both quarters well on their way rockers have some holes and small hole drivers floor pan behind the seat. Would like suggestions from those that have been here before. I’m not a body man but have done some welding and I have plenty of persistance. Part of me, due to time constraints, wants to replace the tub with a 3/4 tub but there’s something telling me to fix what I have.

Plan on breaking it down to bare bones and cleaning/fixing/painting-frame up.
Want to change suspension for a better stance and ride (suggestions)
Have access to a shop and most tools necessary for rebuild.
Really excited to get into this project with my son, just don’t want to make a mistake with the body.
Pros/cons of 3/4 tubs from all those that have been there/done that- pls checkout the pics and tell me to go for it or replace.

Thanks in advance!!

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Joined
Aug 29, 2015
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860
Location
Rocky mtns
I wasn’t looking for a restoration rig on mine and I went Aqualu. It was a huge time saver. It’s not period correct and probably isn’t worth as much as a pristine steel rig. I don’t care- this is gonna have my finger prints all over it.
In my mind they’re are two reasons to go steel:
1)Resale value- how long will a 16-20 year old hold onto any car?
2)Time spent teaching the kid how to fix stuff- I had zero experience with a welder, but if I was taking one on with my kid, we’d learn together.

On a separate note- outside of a period correct, numbers matching example, I think a properly done aqualu cruiser would be pretty compatible resale in today’s market. Not everyone wants a truck to garage queen. Icon has proven this over and over.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2012
Messages
545
Location
Indiana
My '76 was/is like that. Some home brew patchwork by previous owners (2x2 square tubing for the sill), some by me, rockers and floor pans. I'm teaching myself the sheet metal and welding part, which is good. All in all though, my tub is trash, I'm just putting on bandaids and keeping the rig driving without spending thousands of $'s. These tubs are a rust bomb can of worms. If you have the cash, go with a replacement tub. Aqualu isn't without its challenges I've read, but would be nice not to worry about rust when you get done.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
523
Location
Sebec, Maine
Just did a wheels up restoration on my 78 FJ40LV-KCJA last year, if everything else is good except your tub then I'd recommend going with a 3/4 Aqualu aluminum tub like I did. It would take care of your back sill as well as the front door sills. I have a peace of mind now knowing that I should get many years of service and no rusted tub, although I'll have to take special care of the steel frame. It took me from May to December but I bet you could have your tub changed out in a couple months and then time to cruise!
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
Messages
5,551
Location
Southern Colorado
If you're going to drive the truck a lot in Mass, you will never beat the rust, long term. While that tub is salvageable, you might be better off long term with an aluminum tub. If the truck will be a garage queen, then steel will work.
 

curtislow

Third fj40
SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 2, 2010
Messages
368
Location
Western Massachusetts
Depends on what you have more of time or money,an fj 40 is great mid life mistress.
After you shell out the money for the aluminum tub there will be plenty of time spent on the other needs of the 40 mistriss. Along with plenty of money, it never ends. It truely is a sickness, but much better than some others.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
Thank you again everyone....new member here, love the support! Once we make the decision iI m sur e
Just did a wheels up restoration on my 78 FJ40LV-KCJA last year, if everything else is good except your tub then I'd recommend going with a 3/4 Aqualu aluminum tub like I did. It would take care of your back sill as well as the front door sills. I have a peace of mind now knowing that I should get many years of service and no rusted tub, although I'll have to take special care of the steel frame. It took me from May to December but I bet you could have your tub changed out in a couple months and then time to cruise!


looks awesome! Love the color...I haven't done a ton of research yet but have heard hard top fit/alignment can be a bit difficult. Weve got 2.5 years before my son gets his license so not in a huge rush. Thanks for the response, really appreciate it!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
I wasn’t looking for a restoration rig on mine and I went Aqualu. It was a huge time saver. It’s not period correct and probably isn’t worth as much as a pristine steel rig. I don’t care- this is gonna have my finger prints all over it.
In my mind they’re are two reasons to go steel:
1)Resale value- how long will a 16-20 year old hold onto any car?
2)Time spent teaching the kid how to fix stuff- I had zero experience with a welder, but if I was taking one on with my kid, we’d learn together.

On a separate note- outside of a period correct, numbers matching example, I think a properly done aqualu cruiser would be pretty compatible resale in today’s market. Not everyone wants a truck to garage queen. Icon has proven this over and over.

I still have my 73 I rebuilt as a kid in the 80s so as long as no unforeseen disasters I dont think we will be selling it?? I do have some small spots on the fenders that will need work so if we decide to tub it we can still do body work just not as much:) Thanks for your input!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
After you shell out the money for the aluminum tub there will be plenty of time spent on the other needs of the 40 mistriss. Along with plenty of money, it never ends. It truely is a sickness, but much better than some others
Love my choice of my aqualou tub. I wasn't doing a frame off concours restoration and I live in New England.Nuff said. Great product.

If you're going to drive the truck a lot in Mass, you will never beat the rust, long term. While that tub is salvageable, you might be better off long term with an aluminum tub. If the truck will be a garage queen, then steel will work.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
After you shell out the money for the aluminum tub there will be plenty of time spent on the other needs of the 40 mistriss. Along with plenty of money, it never ends. It truely is a sickness, but much better than some others.

I know about the sickness..got into it in the 80s now I've corrupted my son, like you said there are worse habits!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Mass
After much thought have decided to remove the body from the frame to get a good look at it and make a final decision on it. Question for the group-

Judging by the amount of rust, would bracing the body before removing be necessary?

I plan on lifting the body off with a rotary 4 arm lift and leaving the factory roll bar in place for support.

If I decide to tackle the rust would it be best for fit and finish to reposition on frame or can it be fixed while separated?

Thanks in advance!
 

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