Almost HJ60 Owner with some Questions

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Jul 7, 2016
West Coast
Hi folks - newbie here looking to secure an '89 HJ60, theoretically with 100K miles, and a 5 speed out of Europe. A few questions for any generous Cruiser heads who know:

- We will primarily use this vehicle for skiing, recreational off-road, and off-grid transport. I bought in on a passable level of performance based on my readings, but any expectations on how the 2H engine will perform for hilly freeway driving in the mountains? Is it worth it to add an after market turbo and what effects might be expected on reliability if so?

- How about the same performance question if a small camping trailer or even as much as a 21 foot boat in a pinch? Possible, passable, or painful?

- Rust levels are very good based on photos, and "97% rust free" according to dealer, but I'd like to get this thing sealed up and bullet proofed from the get go. I had read that phosphoric treatments are good. New window seals recommended. 2K primer or rust encapsulator. Any other ideas or trade-offs to consider?

- Any recommendations for security on this setup from theft? A steering wheel club? Or not likely to be a problem?

- Any problems likely with registration/emissions if imported through a dealer?

- Finally, this model supposedly has "factory" front and rear lockers for the front and rear, but I have not been able to confirm that is possible for an HJ. Likely after market or real? If factory, any idea about the reliability of that setup or how well they work?

Thanks in advance.
Hey name,

I'll answer one of your questions.
Your location says "West Coast". That usually does not bode well for importing non-USA diesels when it comes time to register them.

I would quadruple check the assurances of said dealer that your diesel cruiser will absolutely be able to to be titled and registered and be able to deal with any possible future smog tests before buying it.

A stock 2H towing a 21ft boat up in the mountains isnt going to be fun.
Thanks on the registration heads up.

Won't be taking any boats over mountains, just passengers.
Performance wise at mountain HW / passes .. poor, to very poor based on engine health.

2H it's a NA decent torque low rpm very reliable but slow engine .. unless you put some money on turbo, fuel, intercooler .. don't expect any HW speed going uphill with a trailer in the back ..

you will have more opinions on the Diesel Section .. but will be like this.

About lockers, I don't think they were an usual option on HJ60 ... cable locker were almost mandatory in all 61 but that's another story.

I'm a 20 years old mark owing one .. so I can tell ..
Hj60 owner of two years here. Truck is great, slow on the big hills. I am able to maintain 55 on high grades but the altitudes are max of 2000 or below. I am now in the process of turboing as I am actually trying to get a bit more power. They are very reliable engines though, and lots of people turbocharge them. Tapage runs mad psi's through his 2h and he has had no issues. an egt gauge would be mandatory though. I am building my turbo from scratch, could not justify spending 3k on a kit. I am about $600 in it so far and I think I have everything I need to piece it all together. Will be running a supra turbo on it. Bottom line is, make sure u can register it if your in CA and go from there. These are great trucks.
Huge thanks! I hear the 2H is supposed to be indestructible, but does a proper turbo install diminish that at all?
It does not, well some say it does but if you take good care of it and u drive it accordingly, not racing it and if you watch the egt s you should have no problem. The 12ht which was the engine that followed had direct injection and piston skirt cooling and lower compression ratio of 18:1 as opposed to 20:1 in the 2h. That is toyota's turbocharged version of the 2h essentially. I would say not to worry much about it. allmost all 2h engines in Australia are turbocharged by their owners.
Tencha had her first turbo in 2006 or so .. I've push her up to 18 PSI with alcohol at some points .. still there.

but pay attention to my sign .. !
- Rust levels are very good based on photos, and "97% rust free" according to dealer, but I'd like to get this thing sealed up and bullet proofed from the get go. ..

If there's any rust on the body, get it addressed right away. As in, completely removed. If necessary have it cut out and new metal welded in. Then, keep the body washed and waxed regularly. Areas prone to rust, not surprisingly, are the bottoms of fenders, quarter panels and doors, plus the tail and lift gates. I've also seen some that rust around roof and windshield, though mine has never shown any signs of this.

With the frame, depending on condition, I'd just clean it up and paint it. You may have to repaint it every few years to keep the protection up. A local guy has been doing that with his 90's vintage Ford truck with great results. The frame looks to be in perfect condition, despite the fact that salt is applied to our roads at times in winter.
Ummm, hate to be the downer, but the 2H is not indestructible. It is an awesome long lived engine, but the piston rings tend to eat at the ring lands on the piston, especially in cylinder 5 and 6. This seems to often happen in the low/mid 300, 000 kilometre range and shows up as a loss of compression in those cylinders.
The Turbo will not help this condition- it'll make it worse, though the increase in performance (at least for a while) will be awesome and make it passable as a ski/mountain vehicle. If you put Alfin pistons and new rings in, though, the engine will likely last for a hell of a long time- so maybe buy a set of pistons, rings and a set of engine gaskets (while they are still readily available) if you plan to keep the truck long enough to hit 300K Km.
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Great to know - thank you. I see you have an AXT Turbo. How much of a difference did that make over the base performance? Is it an expensive fix to swap out the pistons and rings?
any turbo ( kit or not ) properly match to your targets / engine will make an important improvement .. AXT and others on the market are design to improve but keeping boost under safe conditions as they came stock .. AXT about 8 PSI last time I install one ..

it will also depends on how much fuel you put in the recipe ..

Having had a couple of 2H powered Landcruisers as well as an aftermarket Turboed unit and a 12HT I'd say that the N/A 2H is pedestrian but very reliable if treated sympathetically and all scheduled and recommended maintenance is kept up.

In my experience they are not a suitable unit in the modern era for regular highway driving up and down mountains, as they'll frustrate you with their lack of power and hold up traffic, especially if you are towing.

Contrary to popular belief not all 2H motors are turboed in Australia. A good number are but it'd be less than half. There's a few things behind this including cost and reliability issues. On the flat, provided you don't want rapid acceleration, a 2H is fine. They are fantastic off-road.

I've seen a 2H powered 1985 HJ60 with 800,000km on it, still on the original engine with no major work.

If you are considering going the aftermarket turbo route; get your motor leak-down tested by a reputable diesel mechanic beforehand. Then you'll know what your baseline is. If it's not consistent across the pots you can replace pistons etc without a full strip down - much more cost effective.

With the turbo set up I unless you've been doing this sort of diesel tuning for years - buy yourself a well-tested kit (like AXT) and get it properly set up for fuel and low boost (for reliability) by a reputable tuner - this will save you thousands of dollars and weeks of trouble. You'll want to closely monitor your egts (no piston skirt cooling!) so get a gauge plumbed in while doing the work.

Happy to provide more detail but that's a start!


+1 on everything Tapage and Ironbark said!

The AXT turbo lets me keep up with modern traffic on the highway and makes mountain driving possible. Without it was very slow up long hills with the frustrating necessity to jump between gears to keep climbing. (you'd over rev in 3rd and change to 4th and then start lugging cause the engine couldn't keep up)
The AXT lets me do the hills I used to do in 3rd gear, in 5th with occasional 4th dips for the steeper bits) And it has the power to climb in lower RPMS without lugging.

So I'd consider it essential for mountain driving, unless you've driven a 1971 volkswagen bus your whole life and its speed made you happy...

A pyro gauge is also essential, as it is really easy to overheat a turboed 2H on a long hill, even one that is set to stock fuelling with 8 lbs of boost.

Not sure if I'd want to tow anything significant up any major hills. I've towed a 15 foot Zodiac RIB with a 50 horse motor, (which is pretty light) and felt a significant slowdown.

As for the cost of the piston replacement, I had a complete engine rebuild done by a reputable shop so it was pretty expensive. Around $7000 CDN. I thought about just replacing the pistons and rings, but figured I should bite the bullet and do a proper rebuild with an engine rebore, since putting new pistons into a worn bore seemed like a false economy.
So that price was for an engine with no real problems except the pistons and rings. All the bearings and seals and obvious wear items were replaced or repaired.
Regarding "west coast", if you mean California, the only way a non-USA diesel can be successfully "registered in California" is if it is titled and registered in another state first. Then it can be registered in California. If the dealer will do this for you, then you are in luck. I looked into directly importing a BJ60 from Canada and have it confirmed, that because of the CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations it would be impossible to legally register it. (I really wanted that BJ60...grumble.)
Tapage, Ironbark, Freewheel, glorm-- catching up on this thread now , sorry about the delays. Big thanks for the comments, input, and recommendations based on what you've seen. Super helpful and extremely valuable info. No substitute for direct experience eh?

This rig just showed up yesterday so I'll keep you posted as my situation develops or if more questions come up. New to cruisers, but hoping to smarten up fast!
Yay! Good luck!

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