Beach Cruiser Diary

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

Jun 20, 2012
Spring Hill, KS
First of all I would like to thank all of you guys that have posted on this forum. If it weren’t for your knowledge and passion for these machines I would have never began this cruiser addiction.

To begin, here’s a brief background about how I came across this website and eventually my 1986 Beach Cruiser. In April of 2010 my then girlfriend, now wife, and I began surf fishing the beaches of the Texas coast. By the end of our first trip I had landed a 32”+ “Big Ugly” and she had landed her first blacktip shark and for a lack of better words, we were hooked on surf fishing. We managed to do alright using my 2wd Tacoma to get around the popular touristy beaches but as our fishing interest grew, so did our need for a 4WD. We wanted to get to some of the more remote beaches where the sharks were bigger and the fishing was better. We discussed trading the Tacoma for a 4WD Tundra but the cost of a new truck plus the thought of tearing up a new truck from the salt and the sand didn’t make sense to us. My wife suggested we find a cheap 4WD that we could run back and forth in, that we wouldn’t mind getting salt and sand all over. And so the search began! I searched Craigslist night and day weighing out my options. I finally came across a FJ60 that I thought looked like it would fit the bill but the age, high mileage and my lack of knowledge made me hesitant and it sold. That’s when I started searching the internet looking for some information on Land Cruisers and that’s when I found ih8mud. After reading through your posts and seeing the passion you guys have for these trucks I knew if the right one would come along, I would have to scoop it up. Wouldn’t you know a few weeks later I came across one for sale by the original owner and I went to take if for a spin. After a short drive and about an hour of talking and looking through old photo albums of all the places the previous owner had been, from caving in Colorado all the way down to Mexico City, I knew it was the one.


Black Drum AKA "Big Ugly"
Pete's Camera 002.jpg

4' Blacktip
Pete's Camera 004.jpg

On my next post I'll try to bring everyone up to date on what I've done so far and what direction I would like to go.
Pete's Camera 002.jpg
Pete's Camera 004.jpg
Sick story! Surf fishing sounds like a "board-load" of fun. :lol:

Its cool that the original owner showed you all the places they took it, makes me want to start compiling pics after my trip two weeks from now.
Sweet :)

That drum is for sure an ugly fish haha.

Catch that in Galveston?
wish I could still afford to get my cruiser to the coast, gas prices are screwing me out of alot of good times. Gotta drive my beater mazda instead....its not like I'm not gonna fish.
Good luck with the build
Ok, since bringing the beach cruiser home I’ve done most of the general maintenance: changed all the fluids, new filters, replaced the spark plugs, flushed the radiator, replaced the wiper blades, new gas cap, new shocks, new tires, and of course a good wash and wax.

The back window was out of it when I bought it and with little luck of finding a new one locally, I decided to cut a piece of plexiglass and put it in for now. It’s not perfect but being that it’s primarily a beach cruiser, I can live with it for now.

After getting the new tires, I replaced a few wheel studs, not because of the guys that put the tires on, but because the previous person that removed the tires managed to cross-thread two or three of them. While removing the front hubs I noticed that the brake calipers were looking pretty sorry. After a little research on ih8mud and youtube I decided that rebuilding the calipers wouldn’t be too bad even for a novice like me. I was able to knock it out in one night and could tell a big difference when I was done.

Once I felt the cruiser was road-trip worthy, I purchased a roof rack to carry the kayak and the rods and we headed to the beach (roughly 300 miles round trip).

10-24-11 047.jpg

The first trip went off without a hitch minus the sorry excuse for a radio.

10-24-11 033.jpg

At least the fishing was good, we managed to catch 11 bullreds that day and even managed a double (two at one time).

10-24-11 088.jpg

I still haven't brought you completely up to date but that's all I have time for right now.
10-24-11 047.jpg
10-24-11 033.jpg
10-24-11 088.jpg
See what Toyota wants for hatch glass, sometimes they are not expensive on glass.

For obvious reasons, the next thing on my list was to upgrade was that darn radio. Thanks to some generous suppliers from work I received a Best Buy gift card that was just enough to pick up a new head unit. It’s nothing special just a cheap Pioneer but it beats that cassette player from the early 90’s I was listening to.

7-19-12 014.jpg

I replaced the front door speakers with 5-1/4” Pioneer TS-G1343R from Wal-Mart. Once again, nothing special but I saw they were recommended here on Mud and they fit in the door panel without interfering with the window. A buddy of mine had some speaker grills laying around that were bigger than the 5-1/4’s but they fit right over them and not only do they provide a little protection, they finish the doors out well.

7-19-12 015.jpg

He also donated a pair of 5x7’s and I mounted them above the wheel wells in the back. I finished the stereo off with a new antenna and needless to say it sounds much better now. (I've been meaning to finish out the wood panels that I put in the back but I'm not sure what I want to use. More than likely I'll just paint them with some gray paint that matches the interior but I'm open to suggestions.)

7-19-12 016.jpg

Now that I had a stereo that actually looked like it would work, I figured now would be a good time to replace the window regulator. You could pretty much move the window up and down at will, from inside or out. It was an easy fix and took less than a half hour to complete.

My first major repair was taken care of by Jeff at Bayside Services. I found him under the Cruiser Mechanics thread and appreciate the recommendation. Jeff is very knowledgeable about Cruisers and was very easy to work with. He rebuilt my transmission and transfer case, replaced the rear main seal, the clutch, and the tie rod ends. Needless to say those were not the cheapest repairs but they were worth it.
7-19-12 014.jpg
7-19-12 015.jpg
7-19-12 016.jpg
Need a little feedback

This last weekend we made another beach run to Matagorda which is approximately 140 miles. Once we got down there I threw the cruiser in to 4-wheel drive and proceed 8 miles down the beach without any problems. After a long day of fighting the seaweed and rip current we decided we'd head back home. Since the tide was low I was able to take it out of 4-wheel drive and take the low road off of the beach. Back on the highway we were running between 60-65 mph which is pretty typical. At about the 120 mile mark of the 140 mile trip I crossed over a large flyover (overpass) and as I'm coming down the flyover I notice the temperature gauge shoot way up above normal. My temperature gauge usually runs about 1/4 of the way up the gauge but now it was sitting about 3/4 the way up the gauge and was just under the red line. As soon as I noticed it I dropped my speed down to around 45 mph and turned on the heater to try to cool the motor down. Being that it was 2:00am and I was not in a very good part of town I continued creeping down the road for another 5-10 miles monitoring the gauge until I found a safe place to stop. The gauge never reached the red line but I was concerned since this has never happened before. I got out and open the hood and everything seemed normal and no evidence of any leaking coolant. After sitting for about 15 minutes I fired the cruiser back up and everything seemed back to normal. I finished the last 15 miles or so and the gauge never moved again.

It's a little funny to me because you would think that the engine would be running hotter on the way down to the beach since it was closer to the heat of the day plus the extra load it was under while in 4-wheel drive. Instead it starts acting up while driving in the cool of the night.

So, what are your thoughts?

My first instinct tells me to replace the thermostat and check the hoses. The radiator was flushed last fall and when I checked to coolant level it seems normal and is still pretty clean looking.
if your cruiser was running fine and otherwise exhibited no signs of overheating, it could have just been a thermostat or gauge gremlin.

a lot of people recommend getting an aftermarket temp gauge for better accuracy and reliability. hopefully that is it and not true overheating condition.
Definitely sounds like gremlins or possibly a bad gauge. Keep driving it around and see how she functions, if it happens again then you know something is up and further investigation is needed. If nothing does, then you can chaulk it up to the gremlins (or a nice excuse for the wife to replace some things).
Lots of gauge problems are caused by the common ground behind the gauge, you might do a search to find more info. Often the temp and the fuel will both spike at the same time and then slowly come back down. No such a biggie when you see them go together since you can tell that it's a gremlin, but it might be a clue.
My 60 will get "hot" sometimes. I usually just put water in the overflow at the next stop and it behaves normally after that. I'm a firm believer in OEM fan clutches. I know they are good cause my aftermarket one doesn't pull as much air. I need to buy some oil and rebuild it. I've been driving around with it in the 60 for a good year haha
Well, it's been two months and even though I haven't been on any long road trips, the times I have driven it have been problem free. My best guess would be a gremlin but I'll continue to watch it. I'm planning another long run to the beach over Labor Day so if it's going to act up, that's when it will be.
Have you given any thought to rust prevention? I know in Australia they have some kind of electrolysis attachments to the truck body and frame to reduce oxidization. Salt water and landcrusiers can be a bad thing.

At the end of the fishing season last year I crawled underneath it and hit any areas that were showings signs of rust with some ospho and a wire brush. Then I sprayed it with some Rust-Oleum undercoating. Surprisingly the underneath is pretty clean and I thoroughly rinse everything down after every trip.
Well I'm 99% sure that the temp gauge issue is like most of you have suggested and just a gremlin. This weekend we put 620 miles on it and like pylehooker said both the temp and fuel gauges went up at the same time. I'm going to pull the dash apart and check the connections. I also had another minor mishap with some electrical, had a short in the cigarette outlet which threw a few sparks before knocking out the power to the radio. I'm hoping it blew a fuse and didn't fry the head unit.

Other than that the Old 60 ran great, we toned it down a little on this trip averaging closer to 60 mph instead of the usual 65 mph and the MPG improved from 10 to 12.5. That's roughly 12.4 gallons for fuel saved at around $3.75 per gallon or $46 and some change.

I'll post some pictures of the trip once I get them uploaded.
This is a great thread. I love the story and the truck. Keep the pics coming. And show us some more fish!

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom