How far should I go?

How far would you take it?

  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it

    Votes: 17 50.0%
  • If you're gonna go 90%, might as well go 100%

    Votes: 8 23.5%
  • Shut up and drive it as is.

    Votes: 9 26.5%

  • Total voters

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Jan 6, 2003
Started working on the new project, and as I'm fixing some of the smaller things, I can't help but keep digging deeper and deeper, until now I've almost got the whole front end apart. What start out as a minor repair is all of a sudden turning into a complete overhaul

As I start making a list of all the things I am going to do, I'm am beginning to think that I might as well take it all the way down and do a restoration. The question is, how far would you go to restore a vehicle that's already in pretty good shape? Mechanically, there's nothing wrong, the drivetrain is solid w/no leaks, I'd say it's probably a 7-8 out of 10. Should I go ahead and drop the whole drivetrain out to get the frame sandblasted and painted? I'm worried that if I do, I'll probably end up screwing something up and causing some leaks and other headaches later. Also, if I'm not having problems with the transfer case, do I risk opening it up to see if it needs a rebuild?

If I do strip it to the frame, what do people do about the spring shackles and frame gussets and things like that, stuff that is semi-permanently attached? They're all in good shape, but taking those out requires I drill out the factory riviets so I can get into all the corners and everything. Same question with the windows, the seals look great, but in order to do a complete job, I'd have to take the windows out and probably risk destroying the seal. Part of me thinks I should leave the factory stuff alone, that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Then again, since I'm gonna be taking it all apart, why not put a little more effort and do it all correct. What do you think?
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I'd fix what you have apart, then drive it for a while while you further contemplate how far you want to go with it. A restoration isn't exactly a weekend job, you won't be able to drive the truck for a LONG time, and if your heart and soul isn't into it then you can end up cutting corners or getting fed up with it and letting it sit longer or get rid of it. If everything works I wouldn't mess with it, if something doesn't work address just that little problem, it sounds like you have a pretty solid platform to start on, might be hard to get it back to that condition once it's torn .02.
My .02 do you have other wheels? what kinda wheeling you want to do with it? Myself I have fairly clean daily driver,I know basically which mods i want to do,and know what i want to do in it,it doesnt hurt having extra wheels so when the 40 is down i can still go play(of coarse my other wheels brake more than my 40?)

But mostly have fun with it wheel it!
Yeah, I should've mentioned this isn't my daily driver, it's actually my third set of wheels so it's not like having it apart causes any problems. But yeah, I guess I'm just gonna put it all back together right now and have some fun. Maybe I'll just try doing stuff in sections, so I can drive it in between. It just when I'm working on something, and I start thinking hmm.....since I've spent all this time and effort getting this thing apart, I might as well replace or rebuild this thingamabob next to it at the same time, and then it all snowballs from there. Must......practice.......self........control........:)
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1. Make sure the steering and brakes are 100%; the safety of others is at issue.

2. Make sure the transfer case and rear end are solid. They will immobilize a vehicle.

Do other repairs as time, money and inclination permit.

Thanks for all the replies, I'm starting to think things out more carefully now. I'd love to have a restored rig, but ultimately my goal is to take it to the Rubicon and a few other destinations I've been dreaming about. I think if I put too much effort into it, I might be too scared to actually take it off road.

To respond to the other posts

1)Steering is working, but a little loose. Next on my list of things to do is to get the stock steering system working perfectly before I decide if I want to go with PS. Brakes components are new all around, from the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders.

2) One of the things I was wondering about was how do I know the condition of the transfer case and rear end (or anything else for that matter) without actually taking it apart? I could check the oil, but what is that really gonna tell me? As of now, they work fine, no leaks, no strange noises, but unless i see it with my own eyes or have done the work myself, I can't be 100% sure. And if I did take it apart, then of course my brain tells me I might as well go an make some changes... Must....control.....self....:D

I checked out your website, pretty cool. I'm gonna have to drop by your stores one of these days.
I'd drive it and enjoy it for what it is. If you want to take it to Rubicon, restoring it completely might make you cringe with every rock in your path.
I feel for you Ducktapeguy.

I keep telling myself as I over fix cosmetic stuff on my trail FJ40 that it's a trail rig. It just seems lately that every time I take a piece off to fix, I end up doing way more to it then is necessary for a trail rig.

I think I found a cure for that though. I bought a 2nd FJ40 to tear down and restore. :grinpimp:
G_Stratton said:
I feel for you Ducktapeguy.

I keep telling myself as I over fix cosmetic stuff on my trail FJ40 that it's a trail rig. It just seems lately that every time I take a piece off to fix, I end up doing way more to it then is necessary for a trail rig.

I think I found a cure for that though. I bought a 2nd FJ40 to tear down and restore. :grinpimp:


In a no-compromise world, you'd end up with at least 3 cruisers eventually: one trailer queen rock buggy, one expedition rig, and one resto rig. ;)

Unless your truck has got a really cherry body [or you're just a poser] I'd go for the expedition rig scenario.

I have owned and worked on a lot of rigs in the last 25 years.

On all but the FJ40, I worked on them to keep them in running order.

On the Cruiser I want to take pieces off, restore them and lovingly put them back on.

It has got to be a sickness. ;p

The only cure could be owning more cruisers. :D
G_Stratton said:
I think I found a cure for that though. I bought a 2nd FJ40 to tear down and restore. :grinpimp:

DING! DING! DING! I think we have a winner! I like your advice. One resto rig, and one trail rig, maybe one more just for spare parts or fun. The only problem is, I think I'd rather get a jeep for a trail rig. Not because I think they're better, but because I just wouldn't care if i banged it up or rolled it on the trail, it's only a jeep. I actually like jeeps, but I feel like they're more "disposable" than an FJ. if one breaks, just dump it and go buy another. Maybe that's the jeep thing I keep hearing about?

I think you people are right, it is a sickness. I thought it was just because it's a new toy for me, but I'm not like this on my other cars. I usually fix them just to keep them in optimal running condition, don't really care too much for the little things. I try and rally in my daily driver every chance I get, and it shows. But for some reason, i just want everything on the FJ to be perfect.

What's your idea of an expedition rig? Is that somewhere between daily driver and trail rig? I think maybe that's what I'm going for, a nice looking daily driver I can take to the trails at anytime.
I have two 40's one is my DD that is almost completly stock, but it still does the job when I need it. I have taken it on level 4 trails in Moab with little issues. I found a 1968 40 sitting in a neigbors back yard with a blown motor and no brakes. This is the rig that when I get my garage is going to be stripped down and built to be my trail rig. Ford V-8, Auto tranny, 9", Detroit, 35" +, SOA, and a whole lot of toys( if the pocket book can take it!)

As for a trail/ road rig there are several drivetrain/ suspension setups that you could choose that can make a huge difference. Depends on the level of drivability you require on the highway and the level of off road performance you are willing to sacrifice to achieve that highway performance?

Enjoy and just have fun with it. It is you cruiser and everyone will have a personal opinion but you are the only one that knows what will work for you!

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