Builds 'Biscuit's Big Adventure' -- driving a 1992 Middle East spec RJ77 across America

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Dec 4, 2015
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Dubai, UAE
Hi all,
I've previously posted on Mud about 'Biscuit', our 1992 Middle East spec Model 77 I bought here in Dubai, did some work on, and then shipped to my home in Virginia. I still have a bit more time here in Dubai and the truck was not going to be used much in the US for the time being. Just in the garage. But I happened to watch a youtube video of the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum in Salt Lake City and the museum staffer mentioned they were looking for a 77. Our family already has a Packard on loan at the Packard museum in Dayton Ohio so I thought I would check if the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum would like a loan of our old truck. Museum staff were enthusiastic and very helpful and we agreed on a 2-year initial loan. It was just a matter of getting the truck to Salt Lake, a distance of more than 2000 miles (over 3400 km):
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I decided that I would try to drive our old truck, together with my son, Jonathan, during a 1-week break between classes in August. I mean, what is the point of buying these things if not to drive them?! I was a little worried both because of the small 4-cylinder engine and because of the couple of mountain ranges we had to go over.

I had about two weeks to prep the truck and drive it across the country. There were two things I really wanted to address: nonfunctional oil pressure and tach instruments and cleaning up the bull bar I had found at the scrap yard in Sharjah and had had installed before the truck left Dubai. My son also had been driving the truck a bit and noticed some coolant leaking when the weather was hot. Turned out to be the heater hoses at the back of the engine which looked to have been original and were in poor shape. I looked like I could order them online but the timing was troublesome so I went to a local full-service parts store and they allowed me to hunt around in their collection of Japanese heater hoses until I found ones that had sections similar to the odd shapes on our 77, which we then cut down and installed:
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Note use of 'proper' clamps!

On the bullbar, the first thing I did was pull it off, learning that they guys in Dubai had not done that great a job putting it on. But in fairness, it was very rushed getting it ready for shipping and there was only enough time to throw it and the OEM Toyota/Asin winch physically on the truck and not much more. I will have to be redone as the bolt holes don't line up well enough to allow installation of the two hooks. (Right now the two hooks are in a box in the back of the truck waiting for that.)

Here is the bumper as it came off the truck just after I had cut the hole for the winch:
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And here is the same bumper after straigtening, sanding, polishing, scuffing, masking, priming, and painting with bed truck liner:
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On the instruments, I had picked up a instrument cluster at the scrap yard in Sharjah before sending the truck and I tried installing it but when I applied power my son reported a tiny puff of smoke...so that was that. Time for Plan B. Admittedly a kludge. I bought inexpensive oil temperature and pressure gauges on Amazon, as well as a combined digital tach and hobbs (engine time) meter, and an inexpensive housing. I did not want to remove any of the existing sensors so I used a 'pancake' adapter under the oil filter with 4 ports, two of which were filled with the pressure and temp sensors. I really was out of time and was reduced to going to Home Depot and getting whatever wire they had. I asked for 3-conductor (one for each sensor and a shielding ground) but they gave me 2-conductor. I used it anyway. As I said, I was running very short on time, and my son was taking his exams so his time was a bit limited.

Here's the wiring going in:
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Long story short, I got the gauges in with the help of my son and they worked--with a quirk I will tell you about later.

Next time: setting off on our journey...
 
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Joined
Apr 7, 2019
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Arlington, Virginia
Lots of people took interest in Biscuit as we were driving. In fact, early in our trip, a guy on a bicycle at a traffic light stopped to talk with us a bit about the truck. We couldn't talk long as the light changed a moment later, but he got a kick out of the old LC and the fact that it was from Dubai and were on our way to Salt Lake City. More people than I first imagined took interest in these vehicles. I'd even place a bet that Porsche/BMW drivers only wish they could receive the same amount of friendly attention we received from random people who know a little about LCs.
 
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Dec 4, 2015
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Dubai, UAE
I forgot to mention that I also took off and painted the runningboards with truck bed liner. They had been painted with something that acetone just wiped off--it had been done at some time in the past by the PO. The mounting points were one of the few areas that showed some corrosion and we ended up drilling out the factory pop rivets which were in poor, poor shape:
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But they went back on easily enough:
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And finally putting the new license plate on the front of Biscuit:
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And here's Biscuit as our truck appeared when we finally started loading up for the trip--at about 5:30 pm on a Friday afternoon in Arlington, a suburb of Washington DC:
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D21FJ60

Daydreaming
 
Joined
Apr 19, 2009
Messages
797
Location
Marshall, VA
Sub'd. I Love that truck.
When it's back in the area I want to come check it out, any excuse to go down to Arlington/DC is a good one!
Are those the oem wheels ?
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2015
Messages
374
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Dubai, UAE
Sub'd. I Love that truck.
When it's back in the area I want to come check it out, any excuse to go down to Arlington/DC is a good one!
Are those the oem wheels ?
Hi D21,

It will be a couple of years, I'm afraid. My loan agreement with the museum is for 2 years.

Regarding the wheels, I wrote up some information on how I got them in the original thread linked in the first post above. In brief, I looked at the spare and found it was an original Toyota rim and went and found a used rim dealer in Sharjah and asked him to find 4 more just like it. (Biscuit had somewhat questionable Chinese alloy rims on it when I bought it.) But when I got the new-old rims we found that they had the wrong offset and I had to put 35mm spacers on the four wheels. The technical expert at the museum explained to us that they were proper Toyota rims for the era but had come off a heavy duty pickup truck and had a different offset. So they are correct, but incorrect in a way. This is one of those wonderful things about taking Biscuit to the museum. Their expert also helped me understand why some of the electrics under the hood didn't make sense--disconnected and so forth. It turns out that sometime in the PO's possession the engine, or at least the head, had been swapped. I was actually pretty thrilled to learn that as it frees us to put something with a little more guts under the hood when we get it back. The suggestion was made that we might consider a 1HZ swap, which I would dearly love to do.

Best,

John
 
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Dubai, UAE
To continue....

So we set off during the DC rush hour in packed traffic on Friday, 9 AUG 2019, bravely battling the tired commuters. Up through Virginia across the river into Maryland, stop and go the whole way. Hot day and by far the furthest we had ever driven the truck, with only the tools that I could carry on the flight back. Me monitoring the new oil pressure and temperature gauges, but with the aircon running.

After a half hour the oil pressure started to fall and the oil temp, both as indicated by the new gauges, started to rise. But the water temp as indicated by the gauge in the dash never went above halfway, and we decided to press on. The aircon worked fine to begin with on this hot and very humid August, Washington DC evening but it also started to falter with the air flow out the vents eventually dying out completely even though the fan was running at full speed. I concluded that the aircon's evaporator was freezing up. We turned off the aircon and the oil pressure and temperature dropped immediately. Even a little too quickly.

Not to leave you all in suspense, we eventually figured out that what we had was some kind of electrical interaction between the aircon motor and the new gauges. This goes back to the rush I was doing thing to get ready and my use of unshielded home depot 2-conductor power cord wiring from the sensors to the gauges. I could just throttle the guy at the Home Depot who sold us 2 conductor rather than 3! But maybe even 3 conductor power cord would have done the same thing as the ground really isn't a shield in this kind of wire.

Anyhoo...

We made it all the way to Breezewood, Pennsylvania, a distance of 120 miles that first night, before checking into a nice little motel, actually one of the Budget Inn chain, run by a nice family that asked about our truck.
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(Time shown is not actual--I'm in Dubai as I write this and Google assumes I'm traveling right now rather than at rush hour.)

I asked the proprietor if there was someplace close I could buy a beer, and he must have sensed how tired we were and he ended up giving me 3 random beers, one of which was a Stella, and all of which were mightally enjoyed, Singapore-style with ice, before I turned in for our first night on the road:
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Joined
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Arlington, Virginia
The motel we stayed at was run by a kind Indian family. I forget which part of India they were from but the younger family member (22-25) took an interest in Biscuit. He recognized it, probably saw a few back home I guess. He was fascinated in the fact that we were driving across America to put the truck in a museum. He was also surprised that such a small engine could pull such a large vehicle all that way. As it turned out, the little carbureted 2.4L 4cyl engine did do the job, but slowly, and disliked the thin air of the mountains. We only had one stall in Utah during the last leg of the journey, and large performance drop in the mountains.
 
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Utah
Sorry if I missed it (blame the Makers Mark), are you trying to make Cruiser Fest?
If you need any assistance hit me up. I'm close by in Utah.
 
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Dec 4, 2015
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Dubai, UAE
Sorry if I missed it (blame the Makers Mark), are you trying to make Cruiser Fest?
If you need any assistance hit me up. I'm close by in Utah.
Hi Tony,
No, Jonathan and I finished the trip and flew back East a week ago, unfortunately. I'm actually back in Dubai now, where I work.
 
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The next morning, Saturday the 10th, we left Breezewood and headed East on 70, stopping at a big fruit stand where we purchased some really nice peaches and two items new to us:
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The first item, 'bacon cheese', sounds good in theory but in practice it is not as good as you might hope. Had kind of a very salty processed cheese food feel to it. I will be avoiding in future. The second is a Pennsylvania Dutch treat known as a 'gob'. This is actually a fairly accurate and descriptive term for what you get. Sadly, I cannot recommend this one either. But it was a new experience and that was what this trip was all about. Incidently, in the gob's background you may note the absence of an ashtray. In the rush of doing the additional gauges I forgot to put it back in the truck. I'm going to have to remember to mail it to the museum in Salt Lake.

We then got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike--first time in at least 25 years for me, after figuring out how it worked--we actually backed out of the toll plaza when we found the booths to be unoccupied, a traffic infraction I am sure. But it eventually came back to me that the entry ticket is what determines the price you pay when you exit. Simple actually, but strange for someone who grew up in California.
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I really don't know what to make of this road sign on the Turnpike... North to Pittsburgh I understood. But South to California?
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Turns out there is a little town called California, Pennsylvania. It even has a California University (of Pennsylvania). A close friend's daughter goes to Miami University of Ohio, which makes just as much sense. One day perhaps I will go to California, Pennsylvania and have a look around.

Onward we went, stopping for a very nice lunch in a bar and grill in Wheeling West Virginia called the Bridge Tavern & Grill, which I do recommend. It has a nice view of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which was the It was the largest suspension bridge in the world from 1849 until 1851.
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(The view from the bar and grill.)
 
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Jonathan and I split BLT and reuben sandwiches. I mention this because this was the second reuben sandwich in Jonathan's young life. The boys were raised in Singapore and Bahrain (a small island nation next to Saudi Arabia). Jonathan's first ruben was at Raffles Hotel in Singapore at Raffle's pastiche of a New York deli, but he did not remember it. So in a way, it was his first. And the Bridge Tavern & Grill does a pretty good one.

After lunch we walked onto the bridge, which was, for me, rather nerve wracking as I dislike great heights.
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You stand on this rather coarse grating a full 150 feet above the water. For a guy that does not like heights it was disconcerting. Also disconcerting was the fact that the bridge was closed to traffic because some idiot drove a tour bus on it, exceeding the weight limit and damaging the span. The walkways to the right and left were even less substantial, being made of aluminum slats only about a cm thick. I know, intellectually, that cars and trucks used to drive on it, but I really did not enjoying walking out to the mid point.
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But there is no doubt that it was worth it. It was a truely beautiful day and it was an incredible view of the Ohio river North and South. This is the South view:
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While on the bridge Jonathan joked about dropping Biscuit's key, which suddenly made me think about the fact that we had exactly ONE key to the ignition, and even though our truck uses I'm sure standard Toyota components for the ignition lock, the ideal of trying to find a dealer with the parts if we did happen to lose the key made me think I should have a spare made as soon as possible.

We had parked Biscuit on the top of a four story parking structure near the Bridge tavern and as walked back to Biscuit we passed Wheeling Coin and Hobby and I saw a display of keys in the window. We went in to find the owner relaxing in a chair next to some Star Trek collectables. I asked him about the keys and he seemed very startled. Apparently we were the first people in a couple of years to do so. Jonathan told him what the key was for and a little about the trip while I sorted through the blanks looking for the right era of Toyota keys, eventually finding one. The store owner, who had not made a key in a long time, muffed the first one but the second one looked good. He actually refused payment for the key, wishing us luck on the rest of our drive across to Salt Lake. I thought that was awfully nice of him. Jonathan went back in to try to buy a key chain but unfortunately he did not have anything suitable.

One last thing about Wheeling West Virginia: it was the home of the Marsh Stogie Cigar Company. What looked to be the former main factory was right next to the modern parking structure. You can see the old sign just above Biscuit. Apparently Abraham Lincoln smoked Marsh Stogies. You learn something new every day.
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I'm a long-time cigar (not cigarette) smoker, always looking for that mythical good, cheap cigar, so I tend to notice cigar-related things in the background of places that I visit. Did you know, for example, that the center of the US cigar industry is in Tampa, Florida, and that the cigar rollers there played a significant role in the history of labor relations in the US?

Next, 'rolling' on to Dayton Ohio and America's Packard Museum...
 
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I’m in Dayton if you want to met for dinner
Dear DM, thank you so much for the invitation. I'm kind of writing this in arrears. I had the intention of writing it as we were going along, but there was just too much going on. I will be going back to Dayton again not too long from now, hopefully with my older son and I will DM you then! Thanks, John!
 
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To pick up the story...

We left Wheeling West Virginia in the mid-afternoon and our goal was to make it to Dayton before the Packard museum closed at 5 pm. America's Packard Museum is absolutely great but it is like a lot of smaller car museums in that I infer that it largely depends on volunteers for staffing. I had been unable to reach any staff before we were on the road to Dayton.

The drive was uneventful but it rapidly became clear that we were not going to make it there by 5.
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I hoped there would still be someone in the back when we got there. Not coordinating this better was entirely my fault.

Well we did make it there and we were -just- able to make out our 1924 Packard 226 Touring sitting quietly in the background:
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He's the green gentleman right at the back. He's nothing too fancy--was bought new by a jeweler in Richmond, Virginia and is only the 6 cylinder--their mid-priced car at the time. It was good to see the car again after so many years. We loaned it to the museum in 2001 just before moving overseas and that was the last time I had seen it--and it was running and driving. Top speed, flat out, was 45 MPH. Driving our Biscuit is not the first time I've driven an old car that makes no pretense of keeping up with modern traffic. Not sure I would take our Packard out on the Washington Beltway and drive from Arlington to Baltimore the way we used to. Really good memories of this old car.
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We walked around the museum and knocked on the windows but it was 6:30 by the time we got there and there was nobody around. (The Packard museum has since gotten back to me and we will make a special trip out to Dayton in the not too distant future.)

We got back on the road and ended up calling it a day in Indianapolis, Indiana:
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Next: Adventures at Walmart and some shade-tree electrical.
 
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You didn't happen to sell a white 72 911 a number of years ago did you? I bought a 911 from I believe a John Young in Arlington a long time ago....and made me wonder after I saw the Porsche/Bmw bit. (I never met the seller, it was through his friend at the time as the seller was out of the country).

Otherwise, great looking truck, good luck on the drive! Perhaps try and stop in Ouray if you can!
 
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No.... not me, MK. I have an ex brother in law who is a BMW guy, but I find them a little ... delicate. Re Ferdinand P's creations, I admire the engineering but I've never felt the attraction. Had a Alfa coupe for a few years and it was a real pain. Maybe that's why. That all said, I bought a 2005 SL500 here because the owner of a garage I know offered it to me at a real good price because the top did not work and it drives like the world's most luxurious go-cart, but I find it unnerving to be about 2 feet lower than all the rest of the traffic in Dubai. Bad car for a daily driver in Dubai. But super fun to drive when not in multi-lane traffic with driver's of varying levels of skill, and still big enough for me to fit in it. I've subsequently spent a few thousand trying to get the top to work, which it has for short periods, and it is now getting to the season where having a convertible would be very nice, so I will give it another go, I think.

Reminds me of a story: One day I was driving home in a model 100 and a DHL driver was tailing me, literally 6 feet off my bumper around Dubai Marina (single lane road where I was) at about 40 mph. I pumped the brakes a few times to try to get him to back off but he came right back each time. We happened to be going the same place and so after we parked I went up to him and said he had been driving too close. The DHL driver demurred. He said that as long as he could see my back tire he was far enough away. I asked him if the was true at 100 kph. He said yes. There was absolutely no understanding of human reaction time in relation to vehicle speed or what would have happened if I had had to stop suddenly. And sadly, you see this ALL the time on the freeways of Dubai. Mostly commercial drivers who drive vans a few feet behind the car in front of them at 100 kph or more. The Dubai government is trying to get them to change but change is slow. Meanwhile, being in a big SUV feels much safer than a little, albeit highly powered sport car.

Re our drive across the USA, my son and I had a wonderful, wonderful time. And we did make it. I'm just a bit behind on completing this thread. It is the weekend here in Dubai now and I should be able to complete the story. What I'm doing is transcribing whatsapp conversations we had all the way across the country. I got a bunch of friends together and created a single-use group chat called "Arlington to Salt Lake" so they could follow along and comment as we progressed. It was quite nice having friends in the Middle East, South America, Asia and the US traveling along with us.

So stay tuned. More to come!
 
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After an unmemorable night at a motel in Indianapolis, I decided that we had had enough of the Japanese-language head unit, so we headed to a nearby Walmart and pickup up the least expensive Android Auto head unit:
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And an inexpensive bike lock so I could finally stop locking the OEM Toyota gas can inside the truck each night:
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And after a detour to Lowe's for a couple of wiring tools we were missing we parked behind a local Goodwill and tore the dash apart again:
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It is a lovely memory showing my son how properly to use crimping to automotive wiring behind the Goodwill in Indianapolis, Indiana. I will treasure it always. I've always been a soldering guy, but after doing some reading I've realized I've been wrong.
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We also used some self-vulcanizing rubber tape in strategic locations, as well as zip ties and so on.

And finally, we did the 'smoke test' [youtube video] of our work. Jonathan then deposited the former head unit with Goodwill. Hopefully young person will buy it and have some fun playing around with it.

I like to think that my son will remember this years from now when it is time for him to do the same thing with his son or daughter.
 
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