Builds '97 FZJ-80 Build - Mouse

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Oct 26, 2014
Flagstaff, AZ
So incredibly stoked! I'm finally getting to fulfill my dream of owning/building a cruiser. We've been looking for years. I personally love the 40s but the wife thought it was a little too rough. We drove the 60s but didn't love it. Finally we drove an 80 and we knew it was the one.

From there the search was far and wide. We've driven a lot of them looking for the right one. Either a killer deal or the meticulously maintained one.

Today we found the right deal. Original owner, 97, 203k. No rust. A few dents and dings. It needs a tune up and fluid changes but I think it's going to be great!

$1200 later she was mine.

My boys and I settled on calling it mouse because the owner had a mouse trap for a key chain and it's ironic that it's so big and white.

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Yeah! White is a FANTASTIC color :) And...$1200??? That's awesome. Congrats!
Welcome. Congrats on new family addition.
Congrats! Killer deal!
Congratulations, awesome find!
another white 80 in AZ :cheers:
I'll give you 1k for it. :D Congrats!
What a steal! Welcome to the club
Here's the latest. No lockers. I was bummed it didn't have them but I couldn't pass it up for the price. I'm the second owner. The original owner's son drove it and didn't maintain it. I got it to my dads place and my brothers and I immediately went to work. It needed a tune up, power steering fluid, oil change etc. It had been sitting for 6 months. It was misfiring badly. We pulled the plugs and #1 was badly fouled. It was also very difficult to remove. Turns out someone put it in wrong and stripped the threads (crap). So that needs attention. We checked compression (wet and dry) in each one, # 5 is low (see picture). We replaced the plugs, the wires looked brand new. It fired right up and sounded beautiful! We adjusted the timing and it sounded Amazing! So thrilled! We bled the brakes and replaced the oil and filter. It drives great! The power steering just needed fluid but appears to be leaking. The AC works great and blows cold. It needs a new battery. The drivers door at some point had been bent open beyond its normal point and we couldn't get it open. We had to take the door apart from the inside. It was a little rough. We found the locking mechanism wasn't functioning correctly. We fixed it and then focused on bending the fender and door so it would open without binding. It works now but it's a little rough. Next up I've got to clean the interior. Then start replacing all the fluids etc. When we pulled the wheels off to bleed the brakes we had a really hard time getting them off. Is that normal? It needs brakes in the front and tires. The knuckles, steering joints, and ball joints all look good.

Sorry I'm typing this on my phone while on a break and work. I know I'm all over the place.
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Busy weekend. Flew back to Utah to celebrate my dads birthday. Also spent Saturday working on the cruiser. I recruited my brothers and my dad to help me with a long list of tasks. The plan was to drive it to its new home in Arizona after all the work.

The work started early by pulling the POs plates and replacing them with my AZ plate. Then I installed the rubber duck antenna. By that point the sun had come up and it was time to jump it and get it in the garage. I was a little nervous as it didn't want to fire. Ultimately it just needed a little more juice to turn it over. It fired back to life after sitting for a month.

All the parts I had ordered from CruiserDan were sitting there in a box as promised. The dude is amazing. I told him I needed everything to do the valve cover gasket and he delivered! Thanks CDan!

After it was in the garage it was time to go for it. I pulled the valve gasket cover and decided to scrub it clean. I was impressed with how clean the cams looked. I checked the gaps on all the valves and found them in spec. The one thing that really concerned me was the foamy appearing oil laying below the cams.
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The timing chain looked good. It was tight and the tensioner looked like it still had life in it.
My bro in law stepped in and started scrubbing the valve cover while I was working on other parts. It looks brand new! He pressure washed it and hand scrubbed it.

In the mean time my brothers woke up and started tackling it. One hit the brakes while the other tackled the drivers door lock mechanism that wasn't working. He's the engineer so I knew he'd figure it out. Turns out an .85 cent spring had broken. Once he installed the new one and reinstalled the whole thing it worked flawlessly.

I started in on the interior. I pulled all the seats and plastic on the inside so I could clean the carpet. It was filthy! My bro in law pressure washed the carpet, valve cover, and all the plastic like a mad man. He was soaked!
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While he did that my sister and her kids wiped down the leather seats. My nephew found and cleaned almost $3 in change.
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Once my brother the engineer finished the door he tackled the fender flares. Once the brakes were done my other brother hit the side steps. The cruiser immediately looked so much cooler.
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Once those things were done we changed the tranny fluid and started putting her back together. The valve cover was dry and amazingly clean.

Plug 1 was stripped so we chased the hole with a plug tap and torqued the new plugs in. We then put the new valve cover gasket in and started buttoning her up. Once that was done we installed the beautiful new air intake hose and reassembled all the wiring.

New battery installed we turned her over and she fired right up. She sounded so good!!!

For her first drive we drove her hoodless to the auto parts place where we replaced all the tired, brittle, and worn out hoses. (PVC, vaccum, etc). It looked so beautiful!

We finished just in time to head out for the birthday party.
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So here's where the story turns South. After all that work we decided to take her out for a real spin to make the final decision about driving the 550 miles to Arizona.

She drove beautifully. Sounded great and we were really excited. We stopped at the gas station for fuel and a car wash. I decided to check the oil and found the dip stick cover with foamy oil. Just like what I saw under the cams. I immediately freaked!!! The HG has to be done!

So we called it a day and slept on it. We'd make the decision the next day.

So Sunday after church I spent a bunch of time researching MUD and looking for clues. I pulled the oil fill cap and found this
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So we bailed on the drive. While its driving great now it's sure to fail somewhere during that 550 mile drive. Knowing my luck it would be in the middle of nowhere.

Here's my reasons for believing the HG is gone:

1. Low compression in 3 and 5 (see the numbers above). 5 is really low.
2. Coolant was filmy and really low when I bought it.
3. Foamy oil under the cams
4. Foamy oil on the freshly changed oil on the dip stick.
5. Foamy oil on the oil fill cap.
6. These cruisers are notorious for a fail between 150-200. I'm at 203.

So what's next? Research and a Blackstone oil analysis. In the mean time figure out how to ship to down to Arizona.

In the mean time she goes back to sitting in the field until I can figure out what to do next.
While at my parents place we found this picture. This is what started it for me. That's a 1976 international Scout II. We took that thing everywhere. Camping, hunting, errands, etc. I grew up sitting behind the wheel pretending I was driving it. Back then the steering wheel was so big. In my mind it had to be a "semi truck steering wheel".

I want my boys to have the same kind of memories with the cruiser.
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(Pictured is my dad and one of my little brothers in the mid to late 1980s.)
Seems likely since you have milky oil on a fresh oil change. You could try adding a quart of ATF to really clean out the inside of the engine and change the oil again and see if you get different results. But I think your diagnosis is spot on.

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