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Sep 19, 2009
Houston, Texas and Colorado every July.
Excidedly, I got my HJ45 back from the paint shop. What started out as a "get rid of the rust and repaint", turned into a "well, might as well replace the parking lights, decals, weatherstripping", well "also the mirrors", repaint the mirror holders, oh, and the air cleaner, and the shifter knobs", door pulls, tail lights, on and on...:D. I bet you guys know how this is!! HJ has a "not originally supplied in this truck" 2H motor with an H55 5-speed, split case t-box and full floater rear end. (as well as "non-original" wheels). So it's not completely "numbers matching".

So here's the delima. My original goal was, build this baby to take me, my wife and kids, high into the Coloado Rockies as an "expedition" vehicle (the Baja run is also soooooo tempting...). Sooooo, of course....I need a canvas top over the bed (supported by a cool roll bar system), and a winch (no ARB bumper cauz I must maintain some originality...., gotta add troop seats so the kids have a place to sit, oh, and that safari rack I have left over from the Landro*cough*ver I rolled dodging a deer....would fit awesomely on top of the roll cage, of course I don't wanna get stuck so front and rear ARB lockers (no one will see them anyway), gotta have the air compressor for the lockers so why not add a small air-tank to air up tires (makes sense to me??), add an extra battery with a solar charging blanket (don't wanna get stranded when I power the ARB fridge and, oh, did I mention the cool stereo,mp3 player with the sub woofer under the seat??.....)well. you see the route I am on.

The question, "Am I ruining an otherwise, somewhat "original" HJ45? to a disgraceful place? One where I will only be able to post on the "Expedition Threads"from here on out?

I guess I am really just in need of confession here.

So, attached are a few "before" pictures.......

P.S. Have you seen those American Racing Teflon Mojave wheels, sick!!!!:):)


Be nice,

If the steering wheel was on the american side I would think you were thrashing a real beaut' but its not so hack away!

PS, I don't think I would recommend running something that pretty and valuable in Baja, some drug lord might take a liking to it..
Build it however it's most useful to you. Unless you plan on parking it in the garage or re-selling, your utility is what matters. Even if it were a US model, it's already non-stock, so none of the mods you mentioned would hurt anyway. Enjoy it to its fullest!
I'm working on a very original and complete 45LV, and have been wrestling with the same issues. In the end, I put the tree on the floor (very painful decision), added proper seat belts, lined the bed, lifted it a little, etc. Half the fun of these things is making them your own. Restoration is for museams, in my opinion.
It's your truck... do with it the best it will server you. You can always go back to the original configuration when you decide to.
BTW ... very nice truck !! You need to post the VIN on HJ47"s thread on FJ45 registry.
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Thank guys...easy to be schizophrenic here!! (maybe it's me...)

I do appreciate the feedback.

Cheers, Eddie

OK, so fast forward a bit. I have the winch installed, front and rear ARB's with air compressor under hood (of course air tank should I need to air the tires)...ahhh, I did change out the front axles to the stronger ones, NL fridge in place (front of the bed) leaving room for 2 stackable Zarges boxes beside. This takes up the room from the front of the bed to the wheel well start. From the wheel wells to the tail gate, we are fabricating troop seats on either side; enough for 3 per side. On top, a "roll" cage which will sport a black canvas cover (for the kids of course!). Next, welded (cantilever) to the front of the cage is a custom roof rack (covering the cab roof) to carry sleeping bags, tents etc. Night driving lights will be mounted to the front of this rack. Under hood, two Odessy batteries with NL battery isolator to keep me safe when "out of range". Partner Steel 18" stove complete with stand and 4# mounted LP tank so cooking will o longer be MSR backpack dehydrated meal at a time (for 6 eating took forever!!). OOps, forgot some custom sliders to protect the steps... (all this should be done in a week or two)

Next, I decide on water storage and if foldable solar panels are a safe addition (probably). Finally, a Topo GPS unit, probably with a Tablet PC so my aged eyes can see! Communication equipment and a Spot and I think I am close!!

I've gotta quit reading Overland Journal....going broke.

I'l post some pictures sometime next week.
photo warn.jpg

OK, below are a few photos of the roof "rack" (which will get covered in black canvas) and a picture showing the details of the troop seat frame.
At this time, the upholstery guy is making seat backs and bottoms and the canvas top. I have the rack at my shop in sandblast and ready for black powder coating.
The 45 is on a lift with diffs off, having the ARB's installed (and the stronger axle up front).
We added an equipment rack (which will go over the cab roof) cantilevered from the rack to hold camping gear. It also has tabs for lights.

Moving along nicely!

I'll post a few more pics throughout the week. It will really start coming together.
...couple more pics

...picture shows how the troop seats sit over the wheel wells (stopping just to the front of the well to allow some needed storage room (fridge and Zarges boxes). and another pic showing some detail on the light bar.
rack5.jpg the way, the guys at Javier's in Houston are doing all the design and mechanical work. If you EVER need anything, and I mean anything done on your crawler, 4 x 4, expedition vehicle, or whatever, you'd be silly to go anywhere else (assuming location is reasonable). These guys are great and very nice to boot....

....they even humor me and let me come by to chat and drool, never making me feel as though I'm a pest (which I am sure I am)
I gotta ask.. you not planning on ever taking the top off again?
....frankly, not sure what my long term plans are. But, if I do wanna remove it, I could. We didn't build the cage as a true "roll bar"; welded to frame it bolts to bed/frame (although it could help some if we were to...). It is really a frame to:
(1) support a canvas top
(2) add troop seats
(3) incorporate the roof rack for tents, sleeping bags, (light stuff)

I'm going back and forth...I have 3 kids who invite 3 friends when we go mountain camping so I need the room to "go slowly" and explore to find a base camp.
However, once the kids "move on" (they are 18, 16 and 14) and it's primarily my wife and I, I want to do more "hard core stuff" like Troopy type travel.
So, not sure where this is all going....

Biggest "problem"...I LOVE this truck!!!

Hopefully I answered your question!!
you did.. I love the rack.. just figure someday you might love the wind in yer hair.
Blasphemy is having a cruiser and not using it for it's intended purpose. If these modifications make it fit your needs then go for it.

I've a very similar bed-bar plan. Differences are the roof portion, mine is a separate rack that mounts to the roof gutters. (I take my top off every summer, I'd leave it off all year if I had a covered parking area.)

The seat mounts on my design are removable and the bar mounts to the bed-rail, not in the bed.


Why the extra smaller diameter bar running front to back?

And that thing looks beefy as hell, what's the material, O.D. and wall thickness?

black powder coated rack

OK, my shop blasted and powder coated the rack (2) pictures...both with truck rack hanging on the rack we use to put painted items in the oven for cure.

Then we took it over to the upholsters to create the black canvas top and the seat cushions and seat backs.

The smaller tube will be what we lace the canvas top "rope" to. It's a method we use on t-top canvas covers for offshore fishing boats...I'l post a pic when complete.
coated rack on "baking" rack.jpg
coated rack2.jpg
...while at the same time...

...truck is up on lift installing ARB air lockers.
First picture shows "normal" diff. Second shows diff with locker installed.

Third picture is rear third member waiting for its new occupants.

(Sorry for bad pictures...using iPhone...)

(Front is basically identical).

Man, this is fun.....
standard diff.jpg
diff with ARB air lockers.jpg
rear 3rd member.jpg
air compressor

...quick shot of ARB air compressor to activate the lockers AND fill on board air tank to take care of tire needs...
tube sizes...

Dan, I believe the dia is 2" (maybe 1 1/2") wall=???
I'l confirm tomorrow.

Sadly, this truck will stay in a garage at our place in Colorado (I live mostly in Texas) and we'll use it simply to explore the Rockies when we go up there. That's why I'm building it (at this point) as a "kid /gear" carrier.

As I mentioned, once it's primarily my wife and me...may change a few things...(don't even want to mention the crazy ideas I've been chewing on...this is a real addiction!!!)...hint (sheet metal in place of canvas...a troopy of sorts) Thank God that's 3-4 years from now.

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