Builds Cara the white '84 FJ60! (1 Viewer)

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Forget the dash temp gage. Do you get nice hot air out of the vents and does the upper radiator hose get hot?

The dash gages are problematic on older trucks. Mine didnt work for the first year of my ownership until I figured out where the sensor wire was broken. If you start and drive the truck and its been 10 miles of decent speed driving and you get low or no heat out of the vents then I would pull over and pop the hood. Stand at the drivers fender where you are in the air coming off the fan. If the thermostat is opening and closing properly you can actually feel the temperature in that air blast change from hot to cool to hot to cool etc.

And if you do open up the T stat housing make sure you have a new oem T stat, housing gasket, and upper O-ring as they don't necesarily all come with the new T-Stat.
 
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kenavt

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In the last two weeks, I finally put some real miles on the truck beyond puttering around town (>50 miles across two trips) both to @Seth S's points, and to actually get some use out of it and put in some quality bonding time. Here's what I learned:
  • Yes, the upper radiator hose does get hot and there's nice hot air out of the vents
  • The air blast at the drivers' fender... is generally just hot all the time. I do feel the air blast change from hot to slightly less hot, but it's barely noticeable.
  • After I run it for a while (each of those 50-mile runs), the temperature gauge increases to the very beginning of the white bar (just barely above the bottom).
Spent yesterday doing a coolant flush of the radiator (and installing a new coolant overflow tank), and learned a few things:
  • The gauge does work! Unplugged the temperature sender wire and shorted it to chassis GND, and the temperature gauge shot all the way up.
  • The underside is absolutely filthy with sludge, will try to put in some elbow grease this week cleaning it up to actually see where leaks are.
So I'm thinking that either there's something wrong with the thermostat (broken, and closed such that it's always circulating and the temperature is always cold?) or the temperature sender itself.

The other problem I ran into that I was trying to solve with a coolant flush is that I definitely have large air bubbles in my coolant system. I can hear them rushing around when I first start moving (especially if the heat is on). I hoped the flush would get them out, but I only drained from the radiator (not also the engine block), and then burping it for 30 minutes on a hill made no difference. So my next plan is to: find some way to test that the thermostat actually opens/closes, get a full set of new hoses and clamps because they're swollen and old, and then to do a full flush including engine block drain plug to hopefully get the air out.
 
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kenavt

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The more I think about this, the more I think the thermostat is probably broken closed/open (whichever direction is for circulating). That would explain the low temps, plus the fan air largely being hot and never cool. I suppose I could test this by either deconstructing the thermostat and boiling it or with an IR camera?

Also - forgot to mention: the upper radiator hose (hot) is generally very pliable and easy to squeeze, even though it gets warm. Not sure what this datapoint tells me, other then maybe that coolant is not circulating well.
 
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A squishy upper hose says you are not building pressure in the cooling system, either due to the engine not coming to temperature (t-stat stuck open) or a bad radiator cap, or both. When fully hot, the upper radiator hose should be too hot to touch and firm/plump.
 

kenavt

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Updates! With the recent shelter-in-place rules placed down in the Bay Area and the truck safely in my garage, I've had a lot of time. So I've made some good progress, but have a lot more to go.
  • Did my first ever coolant flush to replace the coolant, and put in a new coolant overflow tank (instead of the one with the missing cap). I only drained from the radiator plug (not the engine block plug), so there's still air rushing around the system (even after burping for half an hour) and I'm not surprised about it.
  • Installed new side markers! One was cracked, the other missing.
  • Finally put in a new air filter hose (but needs a properly sized hose clamp to make it secure).

Also just had these arrive from SOR, and I'm excited to work with them. Looking to install them this weekend.
  • Four new radiator hoses and clamps (the SOR Kit 054-002K-KIT)
  • A new 180-degree thermostat, O-ring, and upper housing gasket
  • A new OEM coolant temp sending unit
  • New rear wiper arm and hardware (the truck didn't come with this)
The big project, however: I started stripping out the interior to install new carpets from DNP (after they had been sitting in my apt for three months). That includes removing everything in the interior, cleaning everything, throwing away what's moldy, and then installing new carpet. So far, I've removed and replaced the rear carpet, and decided to throw away a lot. The old speakers (nonfunctional) and gross, somewhat mildly old rear interior panels that the speakers were mounted in are gone; the center console will be gone; the rear belts will be gone as soon as I can figure out how to install the Seatbelt Planet rear shoulder belt kit. The rear interior panels be replaced with nice plywood ones that my roommate and I are already working on - pretty excited for those!

I stumbled across a couple random things while stripping the interior - does anyone know what these are? The first one is this plate that was bolted into the frame under the carpet... no idea why.
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This second one, if I had to guess, was the radio hookups for the NMO mount on the roof, and includes a thick cable running from the front of the car that I haven't investigated yet. Pretty sweet.
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I came up with a good long-term goal beyond just working on the truck - a week-long Highway 395 road trip through Owens Valley in August-is! I want the truck to be fixed and tuned up to be able to run from the Bay Area up to the mountains at elevation, comfortable enough to sleep in, and able to get to a few fun spots off the beaten path. This is guiding the work I'm focusing from now on - both focusing on mechanical things, interior comfort, and maybe one or two upgrades along the way.
 

kenavt

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Another fun update on the coolant situation... I drained the coolant, replaced the T-stat (with a used 180-degree SOR part) and upper radiator hose. Turns out I bought a 80s-series WTSU, and the lower radiator piping is no longer OEM because some PO removed the AC (so I couldn't replace those two lower radiator hoses), and I didn't have time to remove the alternator to replace the bypass hose. Regardless, I'm not seeing any difference in system behavior. The temp gauge still basically doesn't rise (without a new WTSU, I'm not that surprised - but I do know the gauge works), and I don't feel the fan air blasts change from hot to cold (just always hot). And the upper radiator hose still doesn't get super firm (it does get pretty hot, but it still gets a normal amount of firm I think considering it's new).

So I really am not sure what's going on. Per what @SteveH said, I think some amount of pressure is building up, because I stupidly took the radiator cap off when the engine was lukewarm and a decent amount of coolant came off (and onto me). I honestly wouldn't be too worried about it except for the fact that the engine is always idling at ~1200 rpm regardless of how long it's been running, and I do want it to idle properly (for fuel economy if nothing else). I will also try to get around to tuning the idle speed, since I think that's too high anyway.




I also finished installing the new carpet from @dnp and it looks fantastic and made a huge difference with the smell! Also put OEM plastic pads on the clutch and brake pedals from CityRacer (somehow they had disappeared, thanks PO). Just now time to make something happen with the seats.

My friend helped pop out this dent on the rear left fender, it's almost perfectly smooth. And I installed both side marker lights that I had lying around (the one on the right was missing, so I think water may have been getting inside that way - that interior panel was rather moldy). Also picked up a rear wiper arm (since that was missing) but still need a blade for it.

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Lastly, I found the radio code and got the radio working playing. Apparently from Googling around, this Blaupunkt is a close cousin if not the same radio that was an optional upgrade on contemporary Porsche 911s, which is pretty cool! I'm going to try and keep it, don't see any reason to ditch it - it plays music using the headphone jack cassette tape adapter just fine.

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kenavt

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I'm really confused about what could be going on with my coolant system.

Went for a short drive yesterday, and when I started off I could immediately hear coolant rushing through the system (heater core open), although not as much as normal (which I'm not surprised about since I thoroughly drained and burped it this time). That, combined with the thermostat appearing to not open/closed, makes me wonder if I have some sort of way that pressure isn't being built up. I kinda see a few different options for how this could be happening:

  • Bad radiator cap
    • I think the only way to reasonably fix this would be to buy a new one.
  • Bad head gasket
    • The coolant
    • I should check the oil and see if it's milky throughout including the dipstick.
  • Something else?
    • I'm really not sure what else could be the issue... maybe some part of the system isn't holding pressure somehow? The Toy Shop in December did run a pressurization test and said I looked good (after replacing one hose). Maybe that needs to get repeated.
  • Everything is actually fine, and I'm just trusting the WTSU and/or instrument cluster too much.
    • Can verify this by buying a new WTSU (since I know the cluster roughly responds, by having done a short test), and/or using a mechanical gauge. I'm going to go ahead and buy a mechanical gauge, if only to give me more info about what's going on.
    • This means my idle is wildly high (~1200rpm) which seems, wrong, but its possible.
 

kenavt

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Long time... no updates. A lot has happened in the world (#blacklivesmatter), but less with my truck. Starting to scope out summer adventures across California and excited to get started!

To that end, have done a few things over the last couple of months:

  • Replaced interior bulbs with SOR pieces (they had burned out and fortunately my transparent plastic pieces were in decent shape)
    • In hindsight... should have tried an LED upgrade, I'll do that when they burn out next.
  • New aftermarket parking brake boot from SOR, looks good! Old one was gross and ratty, threw it out when I replaced the carpet.
  • Boiled the old thermostat, and it works. So something else is up with the cooling system
    • Also bought an mechanical gauge but of course I'm having trouble removing the current WTSU so haven't installed it yet.
  • Replaced the air filter
  • Replaced the hood insulator with OEM part 53341-90A00, looks awesome! Clips were OEM part 90467-09014 but were able to re-use most of the old ones. The old one was literally torn and ratty, stained with oil and grease... my roommate cleaned the underside of the hood and we popped the new one on:
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  • But by far the biggest thing, the best for last... Brandon from Classic Cruisers in Poncha Springs happened to have a set of good-condition seats and door cards from his truck that they're parting out. Took about two months of back-and-forth (especially around shipping with the pandemic), but a pallet arrived in my garage the Friday before Memorial Day!
    • My roommates helped me install them over the holiday weekend (due to a recent elbow sprain) and now the interior positively glows. Looks original, no weird smell... the GF is pretty happy.
    • I still have a couple of small custom projects to do for the interior, but with the new carpets, seats, and door cards I'm pretty much there! More/better pics to come.

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More pictures next post:
 

kenavt

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Alright, a lot has happened since my last post (again). This'll be update post one of three or four...
  • Mounted the Seatbelt Planet rear shoulder seatbelts! They feel like a huge upgrade, I'm very happy with them. They're just bolted directly to the frame... I will need to get better pictures.
  • Pulled out the antenna wiring for now... it was hanging out behind the rear cargo panel and I didn't want it. Left the hookup for the antenna hanging, maybe I'll return to this later.
  • Put the truck to real use for the first time! Drove out to Marin to pick up a desk for my roommate that just barely fit, and then picked up some old school lockers for my other roommate who has turned them into cool shelving for his bedroom.
  • I almost have these new interior panels done to replace the old ratty ones! It's plywood from Home Depot, jigsaw'd to match the shape of the old one, then given a polycrylic finish. I spent a while trying to find attachment methods (tried buying new plastic rivets and gluing them to the plywood, tried magnets) but just ended up drilling holes and putting in "U-style" nuts where the plastic rivets were, to have the plywood bolt in. They currently aren't in the truck because I'm finishing burning in a really fun pattern to them.
    • Also bought Rockford Fosgate R14X2s to bolt into the panels. There were Sony speakers wired into the old panels before that were blown out and didn't work.
Ill-fated attempt to glue in the plastic rivets... the glue would fail after 1-2 cycles.
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Rear panels put in! Also probably the best view I have of the new rear shoulder seatbelts until I get close-ups.
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kenavt

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Next up, I took Cara to a new friend to get inspected/looked over before doing a road trip: Mudrak and Gary in Sonoma! I asked him to rebuild the steering knuckle (leaking like crazy), but he then found a whole bunch of other frontend work that needed to be done, that I forgot to take photos of. He insisted on just re-building the brakes, steering, and knuckles. Ended up holding onto the truck for just over two weeks, and the results look great.

In total they did:
  • New tie-rod ends (looked like the old ones were about to fail, which was terrifying)
  • Rebuilt steering knuckles and wheel bearings (the bearings were just plainly shot)
  • New brake rotors, calipers, and front pads
  • Took off the carb to track down the EGR exhaust gasket leak for me - replaced pipe, inlet gasket, and exhaust gasket
    • I forgot to mention this, but I got a new tailpipe welded on in December by the fine folks at Chris's Smog Shop in SoMa, and they pointed out that the exhaust gasket was leaking.
  • Replaced header valve (leaking)
And they also did lots of little things that I really, really appreciated for no charge that made me really happy ☺️
  • New gear shifter cap showing the proper 4-speed tree, no longer blank ☺️
  • New matching black lugnuts all around
  • Remounted a fluid cylinder
  • Re-routed and added a couple of hoses, I think I'm probably back to stock-is now
  • Tightened up the trim on the steering column... the column had felt like it had been flopping around a bit, no more!
Gary really didn't seem worried about the coolant system... something to the effect of "is it staying cool? no problem then". I opted for just deciding to trust the WTSU and check for milky oil when I do my next oil change.

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Also the GF and I spent some time drooling over this beige FJ60 that Mudrak had just finished building up... Gary said it had over $40k in it with a E-ROD conversion. It has the 2" OME lift and black rims that I want to get some day!

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I also did a mini-version of that road trip I talked about back in May! The week after Fourth of July, I took a couple of days off work. The trip was absolutely awesome:

Wednesday, drove from SF through Sonoma Pass up to 395 to Mammoth Lakes to pick up friends, then went camping in Tioga Pass.
Thursday, had a Yosemite reservation so drove from Tioga Pass into the Valley, then back to Mammoth Lakes and stayed with those friends for the night.
Friday, drove over to Convict Lake then camped solo in Inyo NF by Mammoth.
Saturday, drove home to SF from Mammoth.

Only problem I ran into the whole trip was during a bit of forest road driving for the Friday night. Got to the dispersed campsite I wanted, only to find out... my hose from the radiator to the coolant reservoir had sheared (it had a lot of slack, so I think it had swung around) and I had lost some coolant. I limped the ten miles back to Mammoth the next morning, got new vinyl tubing from the NAPA store, and was on my way.

It was an absolute blast of a trip and the truck seemed to run really well! The only real problem was that one hose, and then my personal comfort sweating through all my clothing driving hours through 100-degree Central Valley heat ... at some point I'm going to pay a shop (probably Mudrak) to add AC.

Going through Sonora Pass on the first day!

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My Friday night campsite:

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The hose that sheared... was very anxious the whole night and very careful to just limp the truck back to civilization the next morning without dropping too much more coolant.

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kenavt

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Lastly to conclude a summer of interesting updates, I went on a camping trip this past weekend up to Letts Lake Campground in Mendocino NF with the roommates that the truck would never finish. To listen to my harrowing tale, read on, dear reader...

To prep for the trip, I changed the front diff oil and transfer case oil with 80W-90, and did an engine oil change with 10W-40. The oil wasn't milky at all (but plenty black), mo that made me feel pretty good about the head gasket. But I thought it might have been down a quart or two of oil... my dipstick doesn't measure depth properly (the oil guide has snapped off inside the block), so it was hard to tell, just eyeballing it from how much it filled up the milk jugs. On the way back... well... looks like I destroyed my 2F. First time ever using my AAA membership, towed it back to Mudrak.

The truck had run pretty hot climbing through Mendocino NF the day before... almost entered the red per the temperature gauge (before kicking the heater on). Driving back from Mendocino, things seemed to be going just fine (other then the 100-degree Central Valley heat baking the GF and I).

But around Vacaville when we pulled over for lunch, it felt like that the truck might have been a bit down on power. It was really struggling to get moving in first gear (I had to floor it for it not to stall out), which it sometimes had experienced in cold starts in 100-degree heat but never after running for 2-3 minutes (figured it was some sort of carb gas flow thing). After eating, we got back on the highway in stop-and-go traffic, and I don't think the truck ever quite had the same amount of power again. It was just able to do 60, but not any more, and it really struggled with the grades going along I-80 into Vallejo, to the point where semis were passing and it wouldn't do more then 45.

As we entered Vallejo, the truck just felt like it was losing more and more power (and like it might have hiccuped once or twice). I pulled over after the 780 interchange (25 miles from Vacaville), where the engine died mid-turn on the offramp and wouldn't start again. Opening the hood, I found that the coolant overflow hose had come off the coolant overflow tank and dropped a bunch of coolant on the ground. Called the tow at that point to Mudrak because something was clearly very wrong.

My friends tailing me the whole time told me that for the 5-10 minutes before I pulled over, the truck had been shooting oil onto their windshield (???). And a few minutes after the oil spritzing started, then blue smoke started coming out of the tailpipe, then it switched to billowing white until the engine died on the offramp.

Mudrak was closed that Sunday, so showed up first thing next morning and talked to Gary. He said the compression was shot, he suspected it was the piston rings at a minimum, and that they wouldn't rebuild the engine but swap a new one in (and they have a huge backlog right now for that). I need to find a place to put the truck in storage by the end of the week, and then figure out what to do next.

I'm really not sure what I'm going to do next. From how long the engine had been down on power (losing cylinders?) and spewing things, I'm not even sure it's worth trying to do a rebuild (Mudrak/Gary definitely didn't think so). The obvious choice I think is to put in a new 2F (or sell), but I'm also considering maybe doing a diesel (like a 1HZ or 12HT) for extra power and fuel economy (and also put in a H55F while I'm at it, to make highway cruising easier). I would really like a 3F to move to fuel injection, but I don't think that's possible under our dear overlords CARB. Don't have a place to work on the truck, but I might be moving soon and have a chance. Open to any opinions and thoughts on what to do... first thing to find a place to store it where I can think and make plans.

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I was not supposed to be back here so quickly... almost a month to the day from the last time.

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Man that sucks.
Low oil will kill it quick. Did the valley plug leak/blow out?

Might be time to find a take out 2F and get to swapping. It's not hard, just very time consuming.
If you're real adventurous, start gathering parts for a 2FE conversion now, or a stand alone EFI kit to add when you swap in a used 2F.
 

HemiAlex

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I'd bet money you lost the galley plug from the engine getting hot after losing coolant. Once the oil started disappearing, it was a matter of time before the engine locked up.
 

kenavt

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When I go pick up the truck from Mudrak this weekend I'll take a look at the oil galley plug and see if it's still there. That would definitely help explain things. The engine does still crank, it's not seized.

I'd love to put in fuel injection (I think my ideal next move would be a 3F, maybe with a H55F) but I'm paranoid about any non-stock things getting through CARB. Maybe one day I'll leave California and then can easily drop in whatever I want. 😄

I think if I decide to just go the 2F route (and I move someplace that lets me), I'll do it myself - inspired by @ntdb! I bought this truck partially to start getting my hands dirty learning more about cars, might as well start with an engine swap with an engine this simple (minus the smog equipment)!
 
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If you are looking to get back on the road as quickly as possible, and try to keep costs to a minimum, my vote would be to swap in a rebuilt or "lower" mileage 2F. Gives you time to continue driving and thinking about what you want out of the truck, and you can then circle back at a later date and do a variety of engine swaps and other upgrades (i.e. H55F, etc.)

My $0.02
 

kenavt

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Took a week off of thinking about this partially because it just makes me sad, and mostly because work is taking up all of my time and energy right now. In the last few days, started to plan and scheme some more... and here's where I'm at currently.
  • Inspired by @ntdb and his Treebeard beard, I'm really thinking I can - and should - do a 2F engine swap myself. Then I can tear down the current engine and maybe send it to someone else (or if it's bad shape, I have friends who would love to turn it into some sort of fancy art piece).
    • I got this truck partially because I wanted to learn to wrench. I need to view this as a great opportunity to learn how to do that, and have the patience to follow through, and not be sad about it 😊
  • As @srogers said, I'm leaning towards just trying to get ahold of a used 2F from someone to keep costs down. I can revisit doing something more powerful and great like I'd want (diesel or a 3F or a junkyard LS or something) if I ever move out of California (which I want to do some day, maybe sooner rather then later), or fully understand the smog rules.
    • Since the transmission and transfer case are leaking rather badly, assuming I would be able to get ahold of a cheap 2F I think at the same time I would take the opportunity to switch in a H55J (to get overdrive, I desperately want that on the highway) and then rebuild the transfer case. Probably engine first, get that going, then work on the transmission and transfer case.
  • After all the trouble with the coolant system earlier... no matter what happens, all of the current coolant system is going to replaced and gone, starting with the radiator and the cap that Gary at Mudrak seemed pretty suspicious of!
  • The biggest thing: I don't have the space to do any of this work right now, but I'll probably move in the next couple of months so having that space is a priority. Gives me time to do more prepping and planning.

Oh and @onemanarmy I just started reading through the California-specific smog rules... it sounds like that if you swap in a newer engine, they expect all of the same emissions and evaporative-related equipment from the donor vehicle to also make it over, down to the exact part numbers (and for O2 sensors, locations within 1 inch). So if I picked up a 3F, I expect I'd also need all of the FJ62 or FJ80 equipment. If I just installed a 3F head on top of a 2F... I don't know, maybe that would fly. Maybe that would be a good upgrade in 1-2 years if I sort out everything else.
 

kenavt

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Update... the truck's still sitting in storage, but I'm hoping by the end of the month to have a garage to put it in, so I'm starting to look at two things:

1) where to find a good-condition 2F, as close to the Bay Area as possible. Open to any and all suggestions :) I'd love to meet someone in the Bay Area doing a swap, and I've also heard there's a shop in Riverside that does great work (Yota1 maybe? but they mostly have 4-cylinders on their site)
2) how to tow the truck with a tow dolly 100 miles (front wheels up, rear wheels rolling on the ground)? read through a few threads and there seems to be two schools of thought: one is put both transmission and T-case in neutral (which is what my owner's manual says), the other says put transmission in neutral and T-case in 2H (to avoid starving part of the T-case with oil). Yes, I know pulling the driveshaft would make this really easy, but that'll be really difficult to do when I pick the truck up. When would you want to do one versus the other?
 

HemiAlex

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Call up corsetti cruisers in LA. He usually has good cores. I had a friend buy one and he went the extra mile to get him fixed up.
 

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