Intro & 1964 FJ40 4.3TBI/SM420 RestoMod Build (1 Viewer)

Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Hello all, I am Michael, I live in Bothell WA just north of Seattle. I just purchased my first FJ40 three weeks ago and have been reading and researching on here ever since :) I figured it was time to sign up and say hi and introduce my build to the world. Sorry if this is long!

A little about me - I am new to FJ40's but I am an expereinced backyard wrencher. My first 4x4 was a 1977 Chevy Blazer that I bought when I was 18 and sold about 10 years ago. At the time that I sold it was equipped with a 402BB with TBI fuel injection, Dana 60 front with lock-right & hydro assist, 14 bolt welded rear, np205/th350 and many other good things. I installed and rebuilt everything on that truck. Now I have purchased a FJ40 because I have always liked them and wanted a nice classic rig I can enjoy more on a casual basis. This is my first project in 10 years!! I am so excited to be wrenching and getting my knuckles busted again! Outside of trucks I am an amateur photographer, mostly nature stuff. Shoot with a Canon 70D and 6D.

My 1964 FJ40 - Warning, this is not a purist build! It is definitely a resto mod with a lot of original touches though. The one I purchased was a partially finished truck that the owner was selling due to divorce. He had alreay done all the body work/paint and drivetrain is all in place and mostly gone through. It has a Chevy 4.3 Vortec TBI motor, SM420 & orginal transfer case and axles/brakes. It has a Chevy tilt steering column and is converted to power steering. Motor is supposedly gone through, no leaks or oil sepage and good oil pressure so it seems to be the case. I need to compression test the motor at some point. For me the 4.3 Chevy motor is a big plus, I love TBI - its so simple and reliable and easy to work on. It is also fits in the engine bay with so much room to spare! So far everything shifts and functions perfectly. Bearings and outputs are tight. It came with 31" and 33" tires on rims- I have installed the 33's and plan to refinish the white rims. I have spent a few thousand at CCOT, Cool Cruisers and Spector getting lights, emblems, etc to finish the build right. I know many would prefer to do the entire build themselves, but the work that has been done so far on this truck appears to be done really well - good paint and primer/body work. That is such a huge headache Im happy to not have!

The Bad - Suspension is a hodgepodge! The front has 2" lift springs with stock shackles according to the PO and they appear decent but a little rusty. PO claims the rear is stock with a shackle lift and has some weird shocks installed with helper springs? Shackle angle is terrible! That needs to go. I think I may need front axle seals but not 100% as the truck mostly sat for a few years and I have read sometimes oil separation will cause a little oil to leak out. The tranny/T-Case crossmember is a homemade version of the (AA??) rear t-case mount. I don't like it and it seems many around here don't like that style of cross member either. I would like to build one to use the mount on the AA SM420/LC T-case adapter but it will take some serious fab work to get around everything. Need the heater duct from firewall to heater, 1964 style seems hard to locate.

So Far - I have installed a lot of parts but I am waiting for his painter to finish all the doors, windshield frame, vents, grill bezel and tranny tunnel. I am using stainless steel hex head bolts where I can, running a tap through everything, using anti-seize or blue lock tight where appropriate. I thought I had a bad rear transfer case seal as I was leaking oil from the parking brake drum. I also had a small oil leak from the pto cover on the sm420. I ordered the seal and new brake shoes for the t-case/parking brake and tore into that yesterday. Got it apart and it turned out to be leaking from splines, so the parking brake was ok. I did find out in the process my rear driveline was not tightened down all the way on the diff side of things! So for good measure I replaced the t-case seal since it was apart, cleaned everything and put new nuts and bolts in for the driveline and parking brake backing plate. Drained the tranny and resealed the PTO cover, refilled both and took her on a test drive and everything is working great! I also replaced the upper shackle spring bushings in the front as they were wore out. I used the basic CCOT replacement bushings as I plan to change the shackles in the near(er) future when I address the rear springs. That went surprisingly easy. I have repainted and refinished a lot of the parts that came with it - gauge bezel, glove box door, knobs, roll cage, fuel filler... Had to drill holes for the front turn signal lights - PO filled them and was going to do something else. Also the holes for the rear emblems had to be drilled as it is new sheet metal there too. Its a little scary drilling through nice fresh paint. Purchased the HFS HD front shackle bumper from CCOT - solid and the holes are in the right place but the finish is terrible and the shackle mount holes are oversized (~1/8") for the shackles they include and I don't see a reason why you would do this. I'll repaint and get larger shackles. Installed the later style round taillights, CCOT bumperettes and the HFS hitch mount. I like how everything is looking so far.

Plan Going Forward - Replace suspension components as noted above, maybe a new soft top (no hard top currently, has used soft top that came with), get dash lights all working, repaint rims, shim axles as needed, rebuild front end if axle seals are indeed shot, install some sort of rollbar mounted stereo, new crossmember, new front seat and mount, rear bench (maybe), monstaliner interior, paint frame and underside as needed - PO did not do a frame off and there is some surface rust but nothing major. I need to cleanup the wiring harness - PO put in the Chevy harness that went with the motor and there are a lot of unused wires and plugs. Need to get a Chevy service manual and eliminate anything thats not needed and also solder any wires where they used crimp connectors. Then I will drive and enjoy! I do not planning to wheel this truck - camping, back roads, around town mostly.

Advice I'm Seeking - So I have searched and read A LOT already, so I apologize if I am repeating...
Suspension - I think I can keep the front springs (they are a 6 spring pack and are pretty thin leaves) but want to replace the rear with lift springs and put new shocks on all around. PO claims about 2" lift - Im not sure how to verify that. I have 33" tires on now and the clearance is 1-1 1/2" on the rear quarter panel at the closest point on the front bottom edge. A little more breathing room would be nice, but again she wont be a wheeler. I don't want a lot of lift. So new shocks, new shackles, new rear springs.
Soft Top - There are not a lot of options out there! Living in Seattle I need something to protect against the weather. Is Bestop the only complete kit option out there? I've seen the factory style tops, but then you need the bows and it seems the combo is very expensive!
Reverse Light - seems so simple but SM420's generally don't accommodate a switch and then I am not sure if I should go factory style above the rear emblems or bumper mount? In my mind I was going to get some 2-3" round surface mount LED lights to go on either side of the rear hitch mount, but I am having a hard time finding anything like that!
Gauge Cluster - so currently only has speedo and and fuel gauge function due to motor swap. I also like gauses with numbers so you know exactly where things are at. Dakota Digital seems so expensive! Right now I have one of those triple gauge pods with volt/oil pressure, temp - want to eliminate that long term. Ideas/solutions?

I'll post pics, but I have been really bad about taking them as I go - I tend to dive in and focus on work not taking pics haha.

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78fj40mg

TLCA #23510
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
4,072
Location
PNW, WA.
Welcome to MUD Michael!:bounce::bounce2:

That's a nice project 40 you got there, it looks like you'll be up and running in no time at all. Please let's us know if you have any questions we're here to help you.
 
Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Welcome to MUD Michael!:bounce::bounce2:

That's a nice project 40 you got there, it looks like you'll be up and running in no time at all. Please let's us know if you have any questions we're here to help you.

Thanks! I saw your reply in the suspension thread about torfab.com in Everett - I'll definitely talk to them about solving my suspension woes! Any other Seattle area shops to check out?
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
8,577
Nice rig. You may want a different Trans if your just gonna be using it for cruising around town. Sm420 is strong but their are better options if u want it to be more smooth.,also, the ps box mount has been installed wrong, the notch in the crossmember has severely weakened the crossmember.
 
Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Nice rig. You may want a different Trans if your just gonna be using it for cruising around town. Sm420 is strong but their are better options if u want it to be more smooth.,also, the ps box mount has been installed wrong, the notch in the crossmember has severely weakened the crossmember.

Thanks for the input. I noticed that about the crossmember and I am guessing thats why they welded in some C-Channel to the front of the frame? Which of coarse made changing bumber more difficult. I wonder if this is a strong enoughfix or if I should address it further?

The SM 420 definitely leaves something to be desired but I am use to full size truck transmissions and it doesn't bother me at this point. I'll probably not worry about it until down the road when I've got everything else in order. A NV4500 would be awesome someday.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
8,577
I think just cruising down the road it would be fine as is. Going offroad at all, I am not sure, their is a lot of pressure on the front frame area since the leaf springs mount in the front which thus supports the weight of the vehicle. I think if you got into much of a fender bender, the cross member being cut like that would likely make it much more likely for extreme frame damage to occur. The frame horns that extend out from that cross member are weaker than the rest of the frame, in an accident they get tweaked, but I think the purpose of that cross member is that it isolates the weak horns from the strong frame. Kind of like a crumple zone. Some people reinforce the horns a great deal and make them as strong as the rest of the frame. Thus when they hit a Ford Festiva, instead of bending the frame horns, it just cuts through the poor little car. Also since the PS box turns the tires, it puts a lot of force in the area where the box is mounted, so you don't want any weaknesses in that area. Maybe someone with more engineering type experience will chime in lol. If it was me, while you are doing the bulk of this work, I would just put in a replacement ps box bracket, and repair the cross member. The box should be moved forward and down. Typically people cut a hole through the cross member for the steering shaft to go through rather than cutting a "c" which makes it much weaker. 4x4labs has a nice kit for mounting the steering box.
 
Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Made progress under the hood with the wiring and removed a bunch of uneccesary things and resoldered a bunch of wires that had crimp connectors shabily holding them together. Need to figure out a fan shroud for goof measure as well, but overall happy with the engine bay. Maybe a coat a paint later on down the road.

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Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
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Location
Bothell, WA
And while I wait for my windshield fram and other parts from the painter I rattle canned the steelies and got the dash board functional. I hate the tach and the triple gauge pod which will get replaced...eventually. They are functional so thats always a good thing.

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Joined
Jun 5, 2007
Messages
5,162
Location
Brea, Calif.
Ok , I'll weigh in on your build:
(1) I love your front cage connectors, connector bars between front cage and rear bar are in center of the arc, away from drivers head. Yours should be the perfect example when schooling on installing front cages.
(2) I'm not in love with your power steering hoses, much cleaner set up shown in ebay #261702058064.
(3) I feel your pain in running the rear "coil-over" shocks. Not only do they have your rear end double spring loaded, but the valving in coil-over shocks works about 90% in the wrong direction. Your rig has a "heavy engine" front end and an "empty bed" rear end, guess what an overly stiff rear suspension does to your body???
(4) Your rig is a prime candidate for a 700R4 auto tranny (once the cash flow is right). Your shorter V6 engine affords plenty of rear drive shaft length after 700R4 install, you pick up an overdrive, you pick up torque multiplication at the torque converter, you don't have to shift, and when you remove the clutch master cylinder you have room for a Toyota power brake booster- - - win, win, win.
 
Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Just to update this thread a bit...last weekend I did the aluminum radiator and custom fan shroud. After getting everything hooked up and going I have to say it turned out very well! You can really feel the air being sucked through the radiator now :)

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Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
Then I got some parts back from the painter...I'd like to say everything mounted up without an issues, but it seems the PO did not do a very god job of fitting things while doing the body work. I got everything on, it looks good, but might have to go back and make some tweaks to the mounting of the tailgate half doors.

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Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
81
Location
Bothell, WA
This weekend I made a mount for the new front seating - I'll post the pics when I finish that install - and I did the Monstaliner on the interior. Overall I really liked the Monstaliner product. I choose to spray it on but hand rolled/brushed the edges and firewall foot well. There was no good way to tape off the firewall to spray that area without spending a whole day just on that. I also found myself running short on time and had to rush more than I preferred BUT we had rain in the forecast here in Seattle for all this week so i had to get it done last night! I finished about 10:30pm.

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Last edited:
Joined
May 20, 2016
Messages
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Location
Bothell, WA
Oh and I choose the light quartz grey color to contrast all the black. I also did not want an all black interior during the summer months! I have to take a few more pics, but this was after two coats with the sprayer and after this dried a bit I removed all the tape and plastic and hand painted the rest of the firewall.

I used electrical tape to tape off the edges - so no thats not overspray on the paint! :)
 

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