just acquired a 40

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Aug 22, 2005
Hey all, I just acquired a '76 FJ40 from a friend. This is originally a California truck and WAS in mint condition 16 years ago. It has been neglected (parked under a fir tree) and hasn't been driven in a few years. The body is starting to degrade and the motor (2F) needs work. I'm not concerned about the motor as I can deal with this but it is the body that concerns me. I would love to do a frame off resto but don't have the space or know how to do this. I don't weld and have done very little body work in my time.

Who in the Vancouver area could do this and at what cost? If it is too expensive is it considerably cheaper to do fiberglass or aluminum panels? Obviously having a mint truck would be pretty sweet but am I wasting my time if I keep it on the road and do a panel here and there... as in would I be fighting a never ending battle unless I did a frame off? Anyway, thanks in advance for any lower mainland info.

Doing a Aqulu tub is a good way to go.It all comes down to $$$.Doin the whole tub gets your truck looking mint fast and also gives you the space to clean-up the frame and other bits when you have the old tub off.The swap can be done in a week end and is fairly simple(no welding involved).A bit longer if you what to attend to all the little bits while your torn down.
Any auto body guy will tell you this, it can cost as little as you want or as much as you want. There are certain things you have to consider, number one is what do you want out of the truck? what will you use it for? how original do you want it to be? and how much time and money do you have?
After you figure out the above....going with aluminium is nice, no rust issues but honestly there is no point in going half way, if you do just the back then you have the firewall to deal with down the road, then the windshield frame, then the tailgate, the hardtop (not including the fibreglass), the doors, etc. Bonding aluminium to metal is in my opinion a bad idea if you are doing it between the back 1/2 and the front. Different story if you are replacing the entire main body and still using the metal hood, fenders, doors, etc.
If you want to go for more original, you can get replacement steel panels, they weld onto existing panels (after you cut all the ugly away), and have to be sealed, treated with something like an Eastwood rust encapsulator, and primer-ed/painted (use self etching primer, bonds much nicer). A lot more prep work then aluminium and especially if you are doing it in sections and keeping a good deal of the original metal.
What condition is the frame in? if that's mint then there is a point in doing it properly and spending some bucks. If you want a truck that you will never have issues with again when it comes to rust then you can go as far as getting the frame galvanized and doing full aluminium body.
As for the restoration as you drive it, ask anyone it almost never works, it costs less upfront but you never get it done right and in the end you end up with either an unfinished job or you are always chasing your tail and trying to keep up with the things that are breaking. You could do it in sections and spread it over a couple of years if you go with aluminium as it won't care if it has been sealed and treated properly, with steel it gets touchy.
Since you would be looking at having someone do it for you the steel work would be more expensive, cut, grind, weld, bondo and paint. The aluminium labour would be less but I don't know how expensive the parts are.
Figure out the questions on top and go from there, you will save a lot by doing as much yourself, in many cases with a 40 all you need is basic metal tools and a welder wince a lot of it is straight sheet metal and minor curves/bends.

P.S. - I have a welder for sale.
I have found that you deal with the major issues first.Then you can spread all the other stuff over the years to come.I plan on being buried in my 40 so time isn't an issue.$'s are and don't hurt as bad if the ten's of thousands that you will spend are spent over several years.Get the bones done first.Frame being #1 then engine,body,and wiring.Check out Aqualu.com.That's where I started.I ordered a complete tub from them.Took the totally roited body off,cleaned up the frame and por 15'ed it while waiting on delivery.When the tub came in Greg and I watched the supplied video then went at it.That was the shortened version.In actual time the frame off took about 3 months and a truck load of beer.I did go alittle farther then mentioned,ie replaced almost every nut and bolt with stainless,painted every part seperatly(then the whole thing once alltoghter),new seats, redid the hard top and so on and so on and so on....My point is start with what you can,don't over burden yourself with too much all at once.I've seen some people do and then just end up looking at thier truck as if it's just a money pit and get rid of it before it's where they wanted it.They've all ended up kicking themselfs.Get her going then over the years you can watch her grow into a beatiful monster.
Thanks for the info... I'll have to sit on that for a while. I'm leaning towards an aluminum body as it seems I'll be able to do it in pieces and not worry about the rust in between. Plus the hood is still in great shape and a couple of the doors. The hard top is rusty in spots... not too bad... but I like the soft top idea anyway. The other thing is that I don't have a ton of free time so I would want to hit in a weekend or two if at all possible. I am handy... just not with welding.

youll be way way ahead of the game if you keep the one you have for parts and buy some one elses 40. I have seen several decent ones for less than half the cost to put them together.
Hard to give advice if you don't post pics monton.

That said, if it isn't totally rusted out then I'd probably tackle the mechanicals first, and drive it a while to decide if the investment in a full resto (time and money) is something you absolutely want. I really like the 40 series, but they aren't for everyone...
Hard to give advice if you don't post pics monton.

That said, if it isn't totally rusted out then I'd probably tackle the mechanicals first, and drive it a while to decide if the investment in a full resto (time and money) is something you absolutely want. I really like the 40 series, but they aren't for everyone...

This is good advice, IMO.
If the frame is shot, it's only useful for parts. Expect to spend $25,000 for a nice truck in the end. Next thing I'll be looking for once I purchase a workspace is a good body/frame to swap my current setup into. Lots of work, but I'm still enjoying it.
The reason why $20,000 for a JDM rig is considered cheap.

Amen, brother. If I think about all the time I put into knockin' rust off my frame,patching it, and replacing the frame rail doublers at the rear, I would have rather spent the money on a clean truck that you don't have to do that to. The thing is still tweaked as one rear body mount sits a little lower than the other which happens to be on the same side as the lower arched leaf packs creating a pretty decent case of Cruiser lean. I think of it now as being good from a far, but far from good. After pokin' around at my BJ40's frame I'm glad I decided to trade it against the cost of the bodywork on the wagon. That truck would have been another headache. The learning experience through the whole process has been invaluable to me though. I'm much more selective of the condition a truck has to be in for me to purchase it, and have a far better idea of what to look for.
Yup, dollar and time wise you are way ahead buying a well equipped BJ74 as a starting point for a wheeling truck.
But I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my rusty/seized engine/$600 basket case 66 FJ40.
If you really want a 40 find the best shape truck you can afford. The prices have come down a lot and there are good resto candidates down south.
Decisions decisions... BC40, I like your idea of tackling the mechanical first and getting it on the road. Then I can enjoy for the summer and worry about aesthetics later, perhaps over the winter. I really don't plan on doing the full $25,000 resto, although that would be a sweet truck in the end. What are your opinions of the 2F? Is it worth rebuilding it or dropping in a 350? I would love to keep it original but above all want reliability first. Also, do any of you have experience swapping in a diesel motor (3B) and what is involved? Right now it has an auto tranny (not sure 3 or 4 speed)... what are your opinions of this tranny? Keep the chat going... I'm really only just learning about 40"s... thanks.
2f's are great engines, very reliable, and very simple. If you have the parts for the swap, a 350 or other small block chev is also a great engine, pretty much as reliable, and also very simple, and way more fun :)

And don't fret about the stock power train, it can handle a 350 easily.

You mentioned you have an auto tranny in your 40, what kind? Not sure if I've ever seen a Toyota automagic in a 40.

There are fibreglass body parts available as well from Gozzard, and one or two other vendors that I can't think of the names.

Cool, just noticed Gozzard is Canadian!

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