Buying the Unicorn (1 Viewer)

Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
30
Location
Colorado Springs
I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor. Did you ever figure out where the metal came from that killed the turbo?
No we never did. It really was strange. I mean it was almost like someone dropped metal inside the air filter. Our 2 best guesses are that it accidentally got in the air cleaner when it was shipped (unlikely) or someone purposefully sabotaged the truck (equally unlikely). It was a pretty posh neighborhood and the truck is loud but that seems a little extreme. It really does look like bits of shipping staples that passed through a shredder or something like that.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
2,491
Location
South KC
I’ve spent a lot of time getting my 4bt auto right. But very happy with my rattle box.... I find that it’s rattle is really just an idle thing. Since there going down the. Road you really can’t tell the difference other than more boost. I say this with experience. My good friend is the identical rig but 6bt. Have gears? We found both in drivable but to noise vibration and harshness. 3.55 are perfect without getting rubber over drive that just causes other issues.

That trans controller should be able to handle it. Sounds like it’s inputs are not calibrated. Like it doesn’t get the tps. I’ve run mine with factory computer (Toyota) and now with PCS. Standalone worth every penny. Super tunable but takes time to get there. It’s a custom app so base tunes will not be close to where they need to be. PCS didn’t even have a base tune for the Toyota trans I used so extra time.

I’m an engineer and unfortunately put no faith in the degree. I’ve meet more “engineers” that likely never graduated high school than I’ve meet in my professional career.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
Messages
763
Hope it works out for you. I find it takes lots of trial and error at times. It seems like you’re getting there. I’m kind of amazed at that piston.

Not surprised to find shocktower running his mouth off. That’s about all he’s good for, and it’s usually wrong. Just ignore him. If you’re happy/sure you will be happy soon, that’s all that matters.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
30
Location
Colorado Springs
Update on the unicorn:

We have done a bunch of work (man I have great friends!)!!! My buddy re-did a bunch of th
Let's see how this goes. My first post ever:

I had been looking into getting a land cruiser but honestly I am pretty much a cheap skate and was having a hard time parting with the kind of cash it would require. I was open to an 80 or 100 series as I needed it to be at least nice enough and easy enough to drive that my wife would be willing and able to do so from time to time.

I almost pulled the trigger on a few different rigs that were in the $20,000-$25,000 range and were basically ready to go as overlanders. I know me and I am not a do the project a little at a time, kind of guy. I have to just grind it out until it is done or just buy it pretty much complete. That is the route I was hoping to go.

My brother had been helping me look and he found a previously listed 80 series that had not sold. He hit the guy up and he seemed pretty much ready to let the thing go for what I felt was a VERY reasonable price! I kept calling it the unicorn. As in, too good to be true and unicorns do not exist, they are imaginary.

The rig came with a professionally done 4BT swap with a 4L80E and a bunch of overlanding gear! I was excited but also knew this could be a bit more than I could handle if things needed to be worked on. I am a pathetic mechanic and knew basically nothing about diesels. Lucky for me I have some brilliant friends, one of whom is a great mechanic, diesel or otherwise and one of his best buddies is a 4bt nut! He has owned a TON of them (honestly I think he has 4 sitting around right this moment). So with them to help I felt like it may be something worth pursuing.

Oh did I mention the rig was 1700 miles away and had been sitting for a few months... I talked my mechanic buddy into flying out to take a look at it and we decided that if it seemed all good we were going to drive it the 1700 miles back home. We looked it over for a couple hours and both test drove it for a few miles and honestly it was better than we expected. It was by no means perfect but seemed like a legitimately good buy.


I didn't even dicker with the guy just paid him the agreed upon price, signed the docs and we decided to drive the thing about an hour and a half away and stay at a friends house that night, get up in the morning and give everything a final going over and then heading for home. Well... we got about 15 min down, the road at night, in the dark, in an area we do not know at all and the engine started making this terribly loud banging sound, then the turbo dies a very audible death a few seconds later. We could hear the tone of the turbo change and get deeper. "Oh crap" was pretty much it. We pulled of at the first available exit to investigate.

Pulled the air intake off and there was metal in the intake and the turbo was toast. We figured that what ever it was, it had been pushed through the turbo and was likely in the engine block so, change of plans. We got an Uber back to the seller's house. He felt terrible, had no idea what the problem was and help us figure out how we were going to get it home. He put us up for the night in a nice hotel just down the road, came back and picked us up in the morning, went with us to rent a trailer, picked up the LC and helped us locate a rental F250 to tow it home with. View attachment 2001042

So the unicorn did not exist. Towing it home cost almost $3000 ($500 in air fare to fly out, $550 to rent the trailer, $900 for the truck, about $700 in fuel, and a bit more in food, etc.). We could have just had it shipped home for about half that and probably another $500ish to fly home. The problem was it was too tall for standard shipping and we were on a bit of time crunch and could not find anyone quick enough to get it done before we needed to be back home.

Once we got it home the real fun began. We pulled the head off and there was what appeared to be pieces of a large steel packing staples hammered into the top of a couple of the pistons. Still no idea how they got there. It really makes no sense. The 4 bt swap was originally done by Proffitt's Cruisers in 2011, before they became Proffitt's Resurrections. It was a pretty basic swap and they did not put an intercooler on it. I sure wish they would have because it would have caught the metal pieces. View attachment 2001044

We ordered new pistons, a rebuild kit, and head studs, all the parts to build an intercooler, picked up a HE221w turbo from my buddy with all the 4BT parts. Decided that since we were going to be in it so deep we may as well make it great right from the start. So we ordered up new injectors, a 3000 RPM governor spring (it only had the stock 2000 RPM spring in it), 60# valve springs, an Attitude Adjuster, an EGT gauge, and boost gauge, since it did not have them and a couple pods to mount them and a Koso temp gauge. The stock Toyota gauge did work but the sender was really badly done and the Toyota gauge is just not that accurate. Since we had done a bit of tuning we just figured it was a good idea to upgrade. That turned out to be life saver. It also did not have a harmonic balancer and the 4BT guy had one just lying around, so why not add that too. We noticed that the torque converter was not the right one for the job. The previous owner had it put in by AAMCO and they pretty much just threw in something they had lying around. He had told us that he had had trouble with it for a long time and we notice that was the case when we test drove it. So ordered up a better fit.

We pulled the motor and got to work. A bunch of long days, late nights, lots and lots of money, many beers later and we had the engine back in and vastly improved. Once it was in we were reconnecting the wiring and realized that the wiring was not really soldered or crimped in place properly, so we did that properly as well. The wiring was really a pretty big mess. The previous owner was an electrical engineer and did a job good enough for an installation that sat in place but not for something bumping down the road at 80 miles an hour. We did a bit of a hack and slash job to get it up and going, knowing full well we would have to redo a bunch, if not all, of the wiring later on. There was a bunch of other stuff but if I listed it all the post would go on forever.View attachment 2001046

View attachment 2001054View attachment 2001053

Once up and running I drove it like a saint for the break in period. It was all pretty ok at first. The transmission did not run right at all but it did move down the road. We knew we needed to get the engine and turbo running right and then we could start monkeying with the transmission issues. There were issues like the waste gate would only allow for 20lb of boost, so ordered a boost controller. The AC and heater did not work. We recharged the AC and it was good to go. The heater has a plastic cable that opens and closes the valve and it was broken so that will need to be addressed but we have not got to that yet. Once we got the boost controller in we were pretty stoked to take it out and see what it would do and start figuring out the transmission quirks. What a train wreck that drive turned out to be.

Spent the first part of the day figuring out why the tachometer was not working. The set up was pretty janky and my brilliant friend found a much better and simpler solution. He also figured out that the Dakota Digital sender was not wired exactly right and remedied that. We did the set up wizard on the Tci EZ-tcu. We did notice right off that the battery voltage was reading pretty low on the hand held (more on that later). We took it out on the road. AC pumping out cold air. The sun shining on a beautiful afternoon and we started checking out what the transmission was doing.

It turns out that it was running worse than I realized. I have never owned a diesel and I just did not realize what all was going on but once we had the controller hand held going it was obvious that it was going into 4th way to early and just staying there. It had noticed plenty of issues I just did know what they were. The dang engine has so much torque that it will just chug along in 4th no problem even at VERY low speeds. The torque converter was doing exactly the opposite of what it should, locking up when no throttle was applied and unlocking when you put your food to it. We are cruising along watching the boost, the EGT's and the controller hand held when I look down and were are on the verge of over heating. We pull over, shut it down and take a look. Nothing obviously wrong. Let it cool down, go to start it and no go. Dead battery(s). Get a jump and drive it into town to the Napa. Pull the battery and they put it on a fast charge. While waiting we try to figure out what's up. We had been having some battery issues but figured it was all the starting and testing. NOPE! When we went through and re-did the main wiring we missed checking the alternator connection. It was never soldered on and was not really even crimped it was just held on by some really nice heat shrink. It had literally fallen off the alternator. So a parking lot crimp and we are back in business.

After the Napa charge up we are rolling again this time heading straight back to the shop. It is overheating a bit again right as pull into the shop. Hook the charger up to the other battery on a fast charge and the minute we hook up the cables and turn it on the fan fires up. Overheating question answered and hopeful that is why the hand held was giving low battery voltage. The second battery was so low that it did not have enough juice to run the cooling fan. By this point we have been at it again non-stop for 2 days. Its running so I drive home and start doing some research.

I replace one battery as it is pretty much toast and hope it will fix the voltage issue. It does not. I think the problems are likely from a bad tps (it has what I think is a mid 2000's Cummins throttle control sensor) so I test it out and it seems ok. It has the Cummins throttle body and the mounting bracket is just crap. It's held on by 2 bolts instead of the stick six. We new it would need to be fixed but figured, it had been running along this way for a long time and we would get to it later. Not sure who did it that way. We think it got changed some time after the Proffitt's swap. As best as we can guess Proffitt's sent it out with the throttle controlled by a Cummins computer mounted in the engine bay. Some body must have decided to change it but they decided to run the tps control back through the computer anyway. Not sure why. Dropped it off at the 4BT guys house and let him monkey with it for a couple days. He ran everything direct and just deleted the need for the computer. He also ran a direct line to the TCU since we could not tell if that was done correctly (we assumed not since plenty of the wiring had been done improperly). When tested it had 12v in and 12v out but still read 7v-8.5v on the hand held. It made the transmission run a little better but still not great.

At this point my brilliant mechanic buddy is pissed and he does not really like the TCU EZ-tci functionality so I order a new controller that will do a better job with the Cummins motor. We also decide to just bite the bullet an redo ALL the under hood wiring. So I order up two Waytek Power Distribution Modules and all the goodies that we will need to get it all sorted.

If you all have some wisdom to impart I'm all ears. It has been one heck of a ride up to now and I have no idea how much farther down the rabbit hole will go. There are still some issues I have not mentioned like I'm pretty sure I have a birfield going out. The aftermarket remote locks and alarm system are all glitchy so I disconnected it and will figure it out later. The oil pressure gauge sender leaks like a sieve so that will need to be replaced. , the power steering pump leaks so I ordered the rebuild kit for it.

I'm heading out of town for a family vacation and will likely just leave it at my buddies house so he may get some more done while I am gone but will not be updating for at least a couple weeks. Cheers and man I love this site!


Update. Got back from vacation and my buddy had put in a nice set up for a bunch, but not all of the wiring. Put in the new transmission controller and man what a difference! What we, and the previous, owner thought were torque converter issues were almost all related to a faulty transmission controller. Got it all going again but it started having a few new problems. Once warmed up to temp it dies at almost every stop if I do not pop it into neutral. Then it lugs along up to a little bit of speed an all is good again. That took a bunch of monkeying to figure out but pretty sure that it was that the idle was set a bit low. The trick is that too high and it wants to push you hard at a stop, too low and it wants to die.

Also figured out that the reason I was having battery issues (and so was the previous owner) was because someone put a 100 amp fuse on the battery cross over and it was, as you all would imagine, TORCHED!!! Well no $#!t Sherlock! The cold cranking amps of a battery are 700-800 amps. No 100 amp fuse is going to handle that load and survive! I just wired it up direct to keep it going but will drop in a much larger cable and fuse later.

Took it out for the weekend with my wife. We went over a bunch of high passes and it did really well. I can pretty much keep the posted speeds, if not even better than posted. Took it off road and man, what a machine!!! In low range it just goes! Driving it over six 9000 ft passes and two 11,500 ft passes and it really did well! Got a little hot. Too high of EGTs when the torque converter locks up for "5th" gear but still getting close to good! Average MPG was between 18 and 19 MPG at high altitude and not driving it nice, at all, and some slow off road driving. That's about double what the stock 4.5 gets!

Today was the day I figure out the idle issue and it drove great!!!

And then... the unicorn almost died!!!! I was teaching a bjj class and one of my students stops what they are doing. I ask "what are you looking out the window at? They say "your truck is on fire"!!! I run out grab the fire extinguisher and put it out. Luckily they saw it before it got bad. The ground had shorted out at a clamp and was melting the casing off and catching it on fire! HOLY CRAP!!! I disconnected the batteries and all is ok. Finished teaching the class and had my wife pick me up (had an appointment right after class I had to get to).

Went back tonight pulled the torched cable, so I can get a new one made. Did a little testing and I think the fuel pump bit the dust in the mayhem and not sure what else. My smart buddy thinks the culprit has to be the starter, as nothing else can pull the kind of power. I guess we will see...

Buying someone else's problem child has been one heck of a learning experience and boy it's an expensive one. There have been a bunch of other issues that I have just left out. I am still in it less than buying one of the other rigs that were a bit more conventional and I am still pretty happy with the way, you can tell is will be. I just wish we could get there already. Tons of power, tons of torque, great fuel economy, lots of nice gear included (the RTT was spotless, as are all the other accessories. I can not wait to see all of what Colorado and the surrounding states have to offer for overlanding. I was just hoping to get to it 3 months earlier.

As with the last post, anyone have any insight please feel free to enlighten. Other than that, I will update again later.
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
30
Location
Colorado Springs
Update on the unicorn:

We have done a bunch of work (man I have great friends!)!!! My buddy re-did a bunch of th



Update. Got back from vacation and my buddy had put in a nice set up for a bunch, but not all of the wiring. Put in the new transmission controller and man what a difference! What we, and the previous, owner thought were torque converter issues were almost all related to a faulty transmission controller. Got it all going again but it started having a few new problems. Once warmed up to temp it dies at almost every stop if I do not pop it into neutral. Then it lugs along up to a little bit of speed an all is good again. That took a bunch of monkeying to figure out but pretty sure that it was that the idle was set a bit low. The trick is that too high and it wants to push you hard at a stop, too low and it wants to die.

Also figured out that the reason I was having battery issues (and so was the previous owner) was because someone put a 100 amp fuse on the battery cross over and it was, as you all would imagine, TORCHED!!! Well no $#!t Sherlock! The cold cranking amps of a battery are 700-800 amps. No 100 amp fuse is going to handle that load and survive! I just wired it up direct to keep it going but will drop in a much larger cable and fuse later.

Took it out for the weekend with my wife. We went over a bunch of high passes and it did really well. I can pretty much keep the posted speeds, if not even better than posted. Took it off road and man, what a machine!!! In low range it just goes! Driving it over six 9000 ft passes and two 11,500 ft passes and it really did well! Got a little hot. Too high of EGTs when the torque converter locks up for "5th" gear but still getting close to good! Average MPG was between 18 and 19 MPG at high altitude and not driving it nice, at all, and some slow off road driving. That's about double what the stock 4.5 gets!

Today was the day I figure out the idle issue and it drove great!!!

And then... the unicorn almost died!!!! I was teaching a bjj class and one of my students stops what they are doing. I ask "what are you looking out the window at? They say "your truck is on fire"!!! I run out grab the fire extinguisher and put it out. Luckily they saw it before it got bad. The ground had shorted out at a clamp and was melting the casing off and catching it on fire! HOLY CRAP!!! I disconnected the batteries and all is ok. Finished teaching the class and had my wife pick me up (had an appointment right after class I had to get to).

Went back tonight pulled the torched cable, so I can get a new one made. Did a little testing and I think the fuel pump bit the dust in the mayhem and not sure what else. My smart buddy thinks the culprit has to be the starter, as nothing else can pull the kind of power. I guess we will see...

Buying someone else's problem child has been one heck of a learning experience and boy it's an expensive one. There have been a bunch of other issues that I have just left out. I am still in it less than buying one of the other rigs that were a bit more conventional and I am still pretty happy with the way, you can tell is will be. I just wish we could get there already. Tons of power, tons of torque, great fuel economy, lots of nice gear included (the RTT was spotless, as are all the other accessories. I can not wait to see all of what Colorado and the surrounding states have to offer for overlanding. I was just hoping to get to it 3 months earlier.

As with the last post, anyone have any insight please feel free to enlighten. Other than that, I will update again later.


So after all that, it turned out to be "almost" nothing. The large power feed cable to the starter was the only problem. One of the metal and rubber eyelets that hold the cable must have lost the rubber and wore through the cable shorting it out and causing the small fire. The starter is fine and the fuel pump was nothing more than a ground that had come loose when I was detaching everything from the battery terminals. Whoo! Now to return the starter I bought and keep driving it until something else breaks.
 
Joined
Jan 10, 2017
Messages
1,685
Location
New England, USA
Since the 4bt is kind of rattly... did you put any thread lock on the connections that got loose? Might help prevent them from loosening again.
 

SNLC

OCD
Supporting Vendor
Joined
Sep 9, 2004
Messages
7,412
Location
Boise - Idaho
If it makes you feel any better....

You are not the first guy with a Proffits truck that went sour on them. Just search the forum and you will see what I mean.

Cheers
 

surfpig

The Anti-Tech
Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
4,916
Location
Here. Now.
Let's see how this goes. My first post ever:

...

The rig came with a professionally done 4BT swap with a 4L80E and a bunch of overlanding gear! The 4 bt swap was originally done by Proffitt's Cruisers in 2011, before they became Proffitt's Resurrections.


If it makes you feel any better....

You are not the first guy with a Proffits truck that went sour on them. Just search the forum and you will see what I mean.

Cheers
UGH.
 

LandLocked93

SILVER Star
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
605
Location
Colorado
So long as you're comfortable with the amount of extra money it will take to sort that truck...
I would have pushed that POS through his frickin' living room had it left me stranded 15 mins after pickup.
 

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