Builds Fugly's Yota

Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
So I guess I need to start something here, if anything to keep myself motivated and keep track of where I've been.

I'm reasonably new to FJ40's, but been wheeling a long time. Last rig I had for 10 years, got it in 2005 when it looked like this (Mostly stock with 33's):
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Then this (Typical; crawler, dual cases, built minitruck rear/ diamond front, 37's):
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Then I needed a real cage (wheeling at moonrocks, welds had barely cooled :) )

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And it became this (Built 60's front & rear, 110" wheelbase, custom spring packs & FOA shocks, 37's on Racelines):
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Did most everything myself, in the end it was as as point and shoot as a leaf spring rig could really be. Run the Rubicon with 2 fingers on the wheel, ran almost everything at the Hammers except for the pure buggy trails, pit-crewed for a few people at KOH, etc. Great rig.

Then I had a daughter, and we moved to WA. There was no way this rig was getting more seats unless I cut it in half, or took all my junk off it and parked it under a 4-runner body. Plus I wanted more power and really wanted something fast & loud to take my daughter to her first day of school in. So I sold it.

Then this popped up a few miles from me:
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'69 FJ40, 327 SBC, 4 speed SM465 with granny low, stock 3-speed case, stock drum axles, mild spring under lift, 33's. Had Saginaw red-top box in it, and a GM tilt column already swapped. Needed a lot of TLC, but the bones were there. Motor made all the right noises, and it ran & drove pretty well for what it was. I worked the price until it was right and drove it home.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
So got it home and started fixing little things. New shifter and springs for the trans, cleaned up all the slop. New exhaust gaskets, redid the side exhaust, tuned up the motor with new plugs, wires, etc. Motor is likely a 67-68 car 327 from the date codes on the block. It's 2 bolt mains, but camel hump heads, some decent cam, performer RPM intake, headers, and a 600 edlebrock carb. Full MSD 6A ignition system with billet distributor. It gets out of it's own way nicely, is pretty tame at idle but sounds properly pissed off when you light it up.
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Started chasing little oil leaks, biggest one was from front timing cover. Dad and I pulled ecerything and found the harmonic balancer with a groove in it. Was probably the original stock one, so we replaced it and dd timing chain set at same time. Put on a good Edlebrock timing cover and leaks are gone from there at least. Reset the timing and found that the old chain was off a tooth. Woke the motor up even more, good stuff.


Floors also needed some repair under the drivers seat, but that was the only real serious rust-thru on the rig. So some 16 ga sheet metal went in. Frame is in good shape, the top was in not so great shape, but figured I'd work on that later.
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Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
So the thing originally came with vaccum shift, but that crap never worked. I got a 2nd transfer case with a floor shift linkage. Got that installed, vacuum junk all gone. I left the gate out so even though it's only a single stick it can be shifted hi-low and 2wd-4wd independently. We'll see how that works, the shift post mounting for the t-case is tapped into the Cruiser trans. But I have a SM465 and AA adapter, so nothing lined up. Some 3/8's plate and a drill/tap/weld deal fixed that up. Shifts fine in and out of 4wd, and high/low range.

Next the wiring was a mess. Pulled every damn bit of the old wiring 100% out. Dash drilled & cut for new gauges, switch panel. Got a new to me glovebox door and hardware from a guy in NJ 4 miles from where I grew up. Small world. Pulled the instrument cluster and refinished it. Using the aftermarket temp, oil, and volt gauges, they're more accurate than the old school Toyota ones from everything I've read. Got a new speedo cable, old one was broken in at least 2 places. Installed it and ran it with the drill motor, got it to over 100mph on the workbench
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Mocked up the dash with new paint on the instrument cluster, ashtray and glove box. Got a big ricer looking tach, thought I would have a spot for it on the dash but didn't after everything was in place. I could get a smaller one and fit it, but for now this one looks fine, is very visible, and works. Maybe I'll do something different later. Built a new wiring harness from scratch, soldered and shrink wrapped everything, all works good again. Got a marine aftermarket switch panel instead of original switches which were all shot. Looks great, works fine, 1/3 the price of trying to find new/restored old gauges. I'm no purist, I like things to look good but I'm also an engineer so it's gotta work & be reliable.

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Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
Being that it's an FJ, I wanted to get the hard top off for the summer and get some 1/2 doors. Hard top was pretty rough after pulling it and taking it all apart. More work than I was ready for or have time for right now. So on craigslist it went, sold in one day even in the shape it was in. I'll get a soft top for weather if needed, but as it's got no windshield wipers or heater right now, driving it in the cold & rain means get a coat and deal with it
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I did keep the full doors. The bottoms are rusted out and they have no seals around the windows, so will need work before running them again. That's another project for another day.

So as soon as I sold the top, a pair of FJ60 axles showed up for a steal. 3.73's and lunchbox lockers in both. One's a Spartan locker, the other is a lock-rite. The 3.73's will drop highway RPM and be like having OD vs the 4.10's. With the big 1st gear on the 465 it'll be tolerable for now, gotta keep an any out for dual cases or an adapter. I sure as hell can't afford an atlas right now.

I started gathering parts when ruff-stuff had sales and have most of what I need to swap the axles. I'm a 1/2 decent metal fabricator and have a nice little Hobart 135 with a full gas setup, so not afraid to cut stuff off and make it better. But before I pulled everything I drove it around for most of the fall until weather got bad. Drove it to work in seattle, 27 miles each way from Snoqualmie. Does 65-70 in the freeway fine, a little darty over 70 but the motor has tons left. 70 mph on the GPS is 3300 on the tach with 4.10's, 3.73's will be a little less. It works with the 33's it has now, and i'm going to build the axles & suspension for 37's. With 33's and 4.10's I drove the 4 speed SM465 like a 3 speed, starting in 2nd gear. 1st was useless on the street unless you're in bumper to bumper traffic. 37's might make 1st on the trans useful on pavement. But I'll likely have to get a dual case setup at that point to get the crawl ratio back down. My old toyota had dual cases with 4.7's in the rear case, and I liked having all the different gear options for whatever situation you were in.

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At work
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FJ60 axles and start of the swap parts
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Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
That brings me up to date. 2 weekends ago I decided the weather was done being nice for the winter and the jackstands came out. Starting on the front end 1st. Plan is to stretch the wheelbase 6" front, another 6" in the back to get it out to 102, maybe 104".

Front: Flipped FJ40 springs (probably a mixed pack when I'm done), shackle reversal, loooowwww spring over, new front bumper/cross-member, push the spring mounts all the way forward. High-steer with ruff-stuff heim kit, RCV's in the FJ60 axle with all new brakes & lines. The front will have the spartan locker in it. I'll cut the stock fenders with the new wheel centerlines, but eventually I want tube front fenders.

Rear: XJ main leaf/hybrid pack (probably, still looking for some), FJ60 rear with the lock right for now and drums. Push the mounting points back to get a total of 6"+ of wheelbase stretch. Loose the plastic fenders for some TJ tube ones, box in the frame and new crossmembers. I'll keep the round '69 tail lights, they look old school and you don't see many 40's with them around.

Not sure on shocks yet, I may get Bilstein 5100's for now but eventually I want a 2.0 diameter rebuilable remote reservoir something all the way around. My old FOA's worked well and that truck could haul ass through the woods or in the desert. At the hammers, the trails are sometimes several miles of open desert from camp on the lakebed, and half the fun was doing 55+ MPH across the dirt on the way to the trails. I get that WA isn't like that, but I want the same capability on this rig.

Will need rock sliders, trans and t-case skids, and the side exhaust re-done to come out the rear. But first I'll get the wheelbase where I want it, everything will then go from there. Here's how it sits now. Got most of the old suspension mounting points off and the PS steering mount was way stupid. At 1" of down travel the drivers side shackle would bind up against the PS mount. Dumb. Found a few holes in the frame where the motor mounts were welded on, piss poor welding & they blew thru the frame. Doesn't look like it's cracked, thank goodness. Going to support the motor, cut the mounts off, redo & reinforce/fish plate the frame. Then tie the mounts together with a removable cradle bar. Don't want frame moving when I start making the suspension work like it should.

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Hope to get it out by springtime, and the ultimate goal is to get back to the Rubicon this summer. I really want to start exploring some of the more interesting trails around here too, and will need a few shakedown runs after I start getting it back together. Hope to meet up with some of the locals here and make some new friends, and if anyone has spare parts lying around or needs a little help wrenching, I'm always willing to help out.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
Thanks boots. Brown's is on the list for the rig once it's up and shaken out. Looks like a fun place.

Frame is mostly stripped in the front, few more rivets and the rest will come off. I left the rear spring hangers in place mostly for dimensional reference until I can lock in axle placement and start marking the frame. I also cleaned off the FJ60 axle of everything but the old SUA perches. Again, left them for reference to see the original pinion angle and caster settings on the steering. They also make it easy to balance on jack stands for now.

1st shot at front axle location. That's 6" forward from stock. If I keep it and do the same in the rear I'll get 102" of wheelbase. I think that should be enough. The old rig was 107"-ish before I did the 60's and 110" after. I liked that length for climbs and downhill but I did have to monkey it around tighter turns. So we'll see how this thing works a little shorter. I'll have multiple holes on the spring perches and u-bolt plates anyway to move it forward and back to adjust after it's done. The chunk of 3"x3"X1/4" on the front will get some cutting and shaping done to it later to look slightly less fugly.

Other thing I'm doing different from my last rig is keeping the front shackle. After a lot of reading, benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages. With the fixed end closest to the t-case, driveshaft shouldn't need a foot of slip like the old rig did, and pinion angle should stay much more consistent. I'm going to french the hangers into the frame, and at the shackle end as well. Then miter the perches into the axle housing to keep it as low as I can with spring over. That way I can build spring packs to get ride height and travel to what I want, I'd rather run more spring with the mounting points real low than fight a flat spring going inverted all the time. I hate how stupid tall most of the typical spring over Cruisers look, I'd like to keep this kinda sleeper, with ride height making it seem like it's still spring under.

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Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
8,950
It's going to be tough to keep the fj40 body lines stretching the wheelbase that much. Especially up front. If u put a fj43 half tub on u could stretch the rear and gain more interior. Just an idea.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
Keeping the body lines will be interesting, I already have some ideas for the front fenders until I do tube, and the rear will get TJ tube flares pushed back as far as possible. I don't want to comp cut it...........yet. A 43 tub would rock, but that's a lot of time and $$ I don't have at the moment. So I'll do what I can with what I've got and see how it turns out.

Edit: the pics of the rigs below have roughly the same wheelbase and front axle placement as I'm shooting for. I think it looks fine and and approach angle goes way up too.

That axle in the pics is an FJ80 front with the hangers frenched in. I'm taking that direction with mine, saw that thread as well on pirate and saved all the pics to a "Build Inspiration" file I have. I probably won't cut as deep into the long side, but the diff will get surgery to lower the spring perches as much as possible.

I also like the front spring hanger on the jeep buggy, also saw that in researching leaf setups. The frame end of mine won't quite allow that, but something between that and the stock mounting is what I'm currently sketching up. Hopefully making more progress on it this weekend.
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Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
Worked out the front shackle mounting and the axle location. Somewhere between 7-8 inches forward of stock. Body / front fender modifications will be needed. Very extensive boxing/bracing/ gusseting of the shackle mount and front crossmember will also happen. Next step is to get shackle mounts solid enough to take the weight of the front end, tack the fixed spring mounts into place, and modify the axle to French in the perches. Then drop the weight of the rig onto the axle with the full spring packs and see how ride height will look. If it's too high it'll go down. If it's too low, then it'll be just right. :) From there I'll drop the rebuilt front axle into place and start on the steering before it all gets final welded.

My suspicion is that with the axle as far forward and as low as I want it to be, the front axle pumpkin will have only a few inches of compression travel before it hits the factory crossmember where the grill & radiator mount. I think I will need to cut & section & strengthen it. Looks like I can get another 2" of up travel there without too much work. I have a set of progressive bumps that I used on the mini truck that worked very well on that rig, and plan to do the same here. I want to have 4-5" of total up travel and use the bumps to manage that, and I already know that cross member needs surgery to put the steering box where I wanted it so no big deal. If it's really bad interfering, I have a bunch 1 3/4" tube that will take its place and I'll have to fab new mounts for the front clip.

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Ignore the lag bolts, needed something long enough and the right diameter to mock up with
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Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
157
Location
Cherry Hill, NJ
Been busy with family lately, my daughter is now going to be a big sister, #2 arrives sometime around September 1st. So lots to do, and I have a deadline to have the rig 100% by summer driving. Once the newest little one comes along, I'll be sidelined from working on this for a while.

Been making progress on the front end an hour or two at a time. The FJ40 springs were pretty pitted after I got all the rust off, and I had my eye out for longer springs in the back anyway. A set of well used FJ62 wrings came up locally and I jumped on them. Pulled the fronts all apart, many coats of painte and primer, new bushings, and back together they went looking like new. I left one leaf out thinking they'd need some softening with less rig on them. But maybe not. More on that in a minute. Still need to do the rears, but they also look in good shape.

So after getting set on the springs I'm going to actually use, back to finishing the front end. With the springs mounted and shackles and mounted tacked in, it needed the front axle under it to check placement and shackle angle under its own weight. I'm outboarding the springs and want to keep the mounts low so it doesn't sit too high in an SOA setup. So I started cutting out the axle tubes and a bit of the center section. I made perches out of 1/4" 3" wide flat stock, drilled holes to match the ruff stuff u-bolt plates, and capped the holes with some 1/8" stock. Then the spring center pins got shaved to sit in the pockets before mounting on the housing. Married the new plates up and leveled everything on the housing, then burned it all in. In the end I think I kept everything about an inch lower than normal spring over plates. I still have cleanup work on the axle to go and gusseting of the new plates, but it got me to where I could mock everything up and get the rig on I to own weight.

So after that was done I put it down on the springs. They felt real soft just jumping up & down on the front end some, so I think the leaf I left out will go back in. I'm also not loving the shackle angles within weight on it, so I need so move the fixed end a little. But it's only tacked in so not a big deal. What I do like it the ride height. With the axle set SOA, and full wight on the front, it's maybe an inch higher than the back which is still SUA and on the ground. That's about what I was shooting for. Any less and there won't be enough compression travel, as it is the front clip crossmember needs surgery to stay away from the axle housing. Front axle is right at 6.5" forward with the FJ62 springs. So another day of fit up and I should be ready to start final bracing and weld out of the front end. I need to get the steering box in place before I do that and cycle the springs to make sure it's not in the way of anything. Thins thing is going to be pretty low for spring over and I need space for bump stops, steering linkage, shock placement, etc. before I really weld it all up.

Pics, one from next post is not ride height, but just before I pulled the jack stands and showing how far forward the axle really sits with these springs. At ride height, shackes were at about 45 degrees and sat a littl feather forward than I really liked.

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