Highlandcruzer's FJ40 Un-restore......and Re-restore/slow build up

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Apr 1, 2007
Albemarle cnty, VA
Well, I thought I would start a build thread to share some pics, and a little history, and also give myself some extra motivation.

I have been a Toyota fanatic since my dad first bought an '85 mini truck, and I watched it generally show-up and out last my first vehicle: a Heep.

I've owned and wheeled three '84/'85 mini trucks. While reading everything I could about my mini's, I ran across more and more FJ40's. I decided that I just had to have the grand-daddy-of-them-all, the truck that my "indestructible Hi Lux" was engineered after.

While visiting one of my newer customers one day, I noticed in his open garage, the rear of a blue Jeep........After spending another 15 minutes there, something caught my eye........it said Toyota! I tried to play cool, and not show him how exited I actually was. :D So I said, "What year is your FJ40? The first thing out of his mouth was, "You wanna buy it?" Err uh...He he.......Yeah, I might! So I walked over to take a look at it, again trying real hard not to show too much enthusiasm. Wow, it was really solid!

Turns out, he loved it, but it just wasn't practical for his family anymore. He told me that his son had just gotten his learners permit, and he didn't want to have his son begging to drive it, as he felt that it just wasn't safe enough to be his first vehicle. He had not advertised in any way at that point, and said that I had first dibs on it, and that he would contact me before selling to any one else.........

It took me six months to convince my wife to let me buy it ! :eek: I sold my mini truck....I was a nervous wreck! I couldn't sleep. I had pictures of FJ40's on my refrigerator to "remind" my wife. :D

Once it was mine, I spent endless hours going over every nut and bolt. Unfortunately, even though I had stumbled onto it a couple of times, I didn't take much notice of IH8MUD. The only forums that I'd been on previously didn't do much for me......Soo, I wasted my time looking through other not-as-helpful websites, auto traders, newspapers, and junk yards, in my spare time, looking for parts and ideas. It was a lot of work, to say the least! If only I had 'Mud! :doh:

Fast forward to two years ago: I moved, and started my own business from scratch, which meant no more discretionary income to buy Cruiser parts! :crybaby: Well I hate to see my rig just sit and do nothing, so basically I've been tearing it up, little by little, over the last two years wheeling, and haven't been able to keep up with replacing what I've damaged.:frown:

Finally, my business is taking off, and it's back to fun...er..work. :D

I lost most of the pictures I took while restoring the first time due to a computer crash. I'll start with the old poser pictures that I have left.

Yes, I have a square bezel: ask the P.O. :rolleyes:

Warning: More Poser Shots..........

It didn't come with a hard top. I took these after I finally found one. I paid way too much. :crybaby:



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Scott, is that thing as clean as it looks in the pictures? What a score!
Thanks for the compliments guys!

It's definitely my baby. I cherish my FJ40 way past the point of it being a healthy admiration! :D It's "the other woman". I have had the Cruiser sickness since well before owning one!

Well, I had gotten it pretty darn clean while living in NC. One thing I new from my Mini trucks was that, if you could afford it up front, you'll save money by not starting with much rust. And I was very, very fortunate that this one was garage kept for all of it's history, known to me. It only had a couple of very small, quarter sized, areas of cancer. A couple in the rear floor, and one in the drivers side floor pan. Believe me, I know how lucky I am!

The frame had been pretty gunked up with several layers of under coating and paint. I slowly but surely, spent hours and weeks hand scraping the frame in my driveway. It actually had most of the original shiny frame paint left, thanks to all of the gunk! So, inch by inch I carefully scraped and lightly sanded the frame and put a coat of fresh paint over the entire frame, on my back, in my gravel driveway. At that same time, I replaced all of the body bushings.

When I bought it, It had a set of really old, hard, and dry rotted 31-11.50 Cooper all terrains. They rode awful ! And with the factory gears and no tach, it did not sound happy approaching highway speeds. So, I shopped around for tires. At the time, I was planning to use it as a DD, so I wanted some reasonable, all around tires. I decided on 33-12.50 Pro Comp mud terrains, and bought a set of five from Down East Offroad in Wilson, because it came with the original factory Dunlop for the spare. They balanced great, were super quiet, and road like a dream. I have been pleased with them offroad and they've worn very well. Now that it's no longer a DD, I would like to replace them with swamper's. :hillbilly: At the moment, I'm leaning towards Q78's, and I'd like to mount them on factory steelies.

It had some really old, beat to hell, Rancho shocks on it. Also, a stupid huge, old truck shock, bracketed to the tie rod, for a steering stabilizer, in addition to the original factory stabilizer. It was really difficult to turn the wheels with the manual steering. After removing that stupid stabilizer, it felt like I had power steering all of the sudden!

It already had Confer lift shackles, and I assume, Confer springs?, so I just cleaned them up. I bought the Hell For Stout shocks and stabilizer. I've been pleased with them. It felt like a Cadillac, compared to the old junk!

I wasn't a big fan of the factory bumper,because it stuck out so far, and I wanted a winch, so I bought the HFS bumper set up for the 8274-50 Warn.

I did a very decent paint job at this time, and a fairly decent bedlining of the interior.

All it came with was a Bestop and half doors. Lucky for me, it already had the half barn doors. But, I planned on driving in the cold alot, and really wanted a hard top. Well, again, I wasn't yet acquainted with the LC community, and searched far and wide for a hard top. I finally found a all-but-rust-free, early hatch style top and early vent hard doors. I really wanted the correct Ambi door top, but it was all I could find at the time, within reason.:frown: The top was Freeborn red, the doors green, and really very pretty. I wanted to be sure that nothing was hiding, and make it look decent to install, so I stripped the paint and just primered it black. By that time, I was leaning towards a full frame off, because my perfectionist inclinations kept pushing me further, so I never painted the top and doors, to this day.

I went on to dress up some odds and ends in the engine bay, and replaced a couple small interior parts that were showing their age. Painted and touched up this and that. I installed a tach, I dismantled the front heater, cleaned the core, replaced the foam with hardware store weather stripping, and lightly sanded and painted it.

I didn't have a fan shroud, so I bought a nice one off of e-bay. I dismantled what I needed and drained the coolant to install it..........would not fit. What? :confused:.......I researched and called around to make sure that I didn't have to wrong shroud or something. Turns out, a PO had split and band-aided the radiator surround to install an oversized radiator! You couldn't tell by looking, and it worked, but I still just wanted it "right" I have yet to resolve that.

Well, my manual steering was very loose, so I determined that it was primarily the gear box. I believe the big stupid stabilizer was the reason for the wear.
I figured that you would be able to adjust it, at the time, installed, I just couldn't figure out how. So I bought a freshly rebuilt gearbox off of e-bay. It turned out just as described, and the steering was instantly very tight. I didn't even need to replace the TRE's!

The brakes were not so good. My master cylinder was leaking, as well as the drivers side calipers. I bought a rebuilt MC locally, rebuilt calipers from CCOT,new brake lines and new pads. I then adjusted the rear drums.

At this point I had a good daily driver, that comfortably took me on my commute from Clayton on the beltline doing 70-75 daily.

I did some light wheeling around NC.....And now we've reached the point where I move back to Virginia.........The UN-RESTORE BEGINS!.............
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Nice rig Scott. We appreciate the time you take to write up the history. You've almost inspired me to do the same.

The Un-Restore

Again, 2 years ago, moved to Virginia, started a business, and had no money for the FJ40. :frown: I've never had much desire for a garage queen. [Unless it's a secondary Cruiser.;)] I can't stand to own something that I don't use either. Plus, I bought my 40 to wheel ! So one thing has lead to another.....scratches, chips, dents, bends, breaks etc. I won't allow anything detrimental to happen, and if I have the spare cash I would normally just repair, replace, or upgrade damaged parts.

Rust and neglect are my main enemies. So I am a freak about maintenence and rust prevention. So with the following pictures, don't think that I'm just destroying/abusing my 40. I always wash and maintain after wheeling. I'm just using it for what it was born to do ! She still cleans up nice. It's just not as pretty as it was 2 years ago. :D

BTW, My wheeling pictures are limited, because I haven't been in the habit of bringing a camera on trail rides/wheeling in groups much. IH8MUD as much as the next guy, but occasionally it's fun, and it's nothing a garden hose won't fix. [for the most part;p] Plus, I'm not one to back down from a challenge very often....which is how most of these pictures ended up happening. :doh: And, no matter how much I look like I messed up :lol:, I promise you, the 40 made a hell of a showing compared to the Heeps and domestics at the same events. :steer:.............

BTW I'm posting lots of pics, mostly because I don't have much better to do with them.:lol:



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Nice rig Scott. We appreciate the time you take to write up the history. You've almost inspired me to do the same.


Thanks Ramon! I'm mostly just wishing that I had documented better, what I've done so far. :frown: So I guess there's no time like the present!

I think you should!
I wish I could claim the really nice shots!

My camera is a pretty average Sony. Starting with the last of post 15, my friend-and-neighbor took them.

He also happened to have a '78 FJ40 shortly before I met him. It's a shame, he told me he would'nt of sold it, had he met me first.

His camera's a Canon 1D markII. Most of the really nice shots you see from here on out, were taken by him.:cool:

He tags along on some of my "adventures". I've got some really artsy ones of my cruiser. It's nice to have a photographer as a friend.

Example: In post 18 the top is his, the bottom is mine.
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