Builds Lake Norman's '79 FJ40 Rebuild

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

Nov 9, 2006
Charlotte area
Been on the forum for a while and into Land Cruisers long before "MUD" ever existed...great forum by the way. My first Cruiser was a bone stock '85 FJ-60 that I bought back in '95 with 30K miles...was pristine and to this day I hate the fact I sold it.

Finally got back into a Land Cruiser this past fall...a '79 FJ40 with stock power steering, 4" BDS lift, NEW 33x12.5 GY-MTRs, and tube bumpers front and rear. Here are some pics:



Plans were for a truck that I could take on the trail, camping, or general running around on the weekends with my little boy.

No doubt, the truck had rust and what I could see didn't look that bad. The hard doors had some rust and ultimately needed the bottoms replaced, but the rear amby doors were perfect with almost zero rust. The rear bed had been covered with a section of sheet metal. Full Aussie heavy duty vinyl mats covered the interior. It also came with diamond plate rear quarters, rear fender flares, bumperttes and an extra 2F head. It drove OK and had "only" 129K miles, so I struck a deal at what I thought was a reasonable price. Drove it home from PA to NC (~14 hours) with zero problems.

After having it home and driving it some, we removed the was caulked to the tub and then painted! Also, I installed a bikini top. .

Finally had a chance to start prepping the truck for the trail. But needed a tire carrier since the stock one wasn't on the FJ when I bought it. Found a great 2 jerry can + tire carrier and installed it.

Last edited:
More on the '79 FJ40 rebuild...

Steve: The rear tire carrier was from another Cruiser owner...probably a one-off using stock cruiser hinges and latches. Sold it here on MUD in the classifieds section.

When I hung the tire carrier off the body and then put the big 33" spare on it the drivers side rear quarter twisted and moved under the weight!!! The rust was much worse than I thought...

After going on the on the trails for a few weekends, I dug deeper into the truck. Took a hammer and chisel to the painted over bondo and bedliner'ed rear wheel wells and removed the sheet metal covering the bed floor an found massive rust holes.

No wonder the rear quarters couldn't hold the tire...there was almost nothing hold on the rear quarter from all the rust/rot!!! Since a lot of it was covered with bondo and painted or bed liner applied over it I couldn't see it just how bad it was...

The more I dug into the truck, the more and more rot/rust I found:

- passenger & driver side floors = 80% gone...was fiberglassed over and then covered in bedliner

- seat belt mounts = smooth covered in BONDO...chipped away the bondo and found almost nothing there to hold the seat belt...took a wrench to the seat belt bolt and totally popped out that section of the floor

- rear body mounts = after a couple of taps with the nail punch found them to be practically gone

- front body mounts had rusted away from the tub on the driver's side...passenger side was over 1/2 gone too

- side steps had the typical rot

After finding all of this I came to the conclusion there was very little holding the body to the frame and the tub was rotten everywhere... No way my 7 year old was going to ride in this thing anymore...very unsafe...particularly if we rolled it while on the trail.

Here's where the re-build begins...
Last edited:
More FJ40 rebuild...

Spent tons of time looking into my options: rebuild/patch the tub, used tub, Heritage, Aqualu.

In the end, decided the tub was too far gone to patch. Looked for a used tub for months with no luck...all were in need of patch work. The Heritage tub is insane expensive. The Aqualu tub won out in the end based on strength, original look (at least enough for me...I don't care that the floors aren't ribbed...and I'm not trying to do a 100% restoration), and most importantly price.

So, the tub has to come off...more pics to follow.
You forgot to mention your new shock boots!:cool:
...more FJ40 pics

OK...started taking it apart.


Fenders removed and taken to media blaster...says he probably removed 1 - 2 lbs of bondo!!! The fenders have a couple of small rust spots, but will take some bondo to smooth them back out. Someone can probably use these fenders on a trail-only truck, but it looks like I need new fenders.

Poked around at the bed liner covered rear fender wells and found more evidence of the previous owner's (or the previous previous owner's) love affair with bondo. Chipped it away and found a huge hole on the passenger side fender. Really glad I'm replacing this tub.
Last edited:
Hey 72Rock...I'm guessing this is Kyle at 4 Wheel Parts?!?!?!

Yes...we'll have NEW shock boots on the truck from 4 Wheel Parts! The PO / PPO ran some funky backyard exhaust system that melted the boots on the BDS shocks. This exhaust will get cut off (along with the catalytic converter) and replaced with a free flow exhaust. Probably a 40 series FlowMaster like I ran on my old FJ60.
Last edited:
Ended up going with an Aqualu tub...cost was much more reasonable than Heritage and now I can say good bye to a rusty tub! Worked with Bob at Aqualu (a.k.a. "Alumacruiser" here on the forum...very helpful and knowledgeable).

Here are some pics of my tub before it left Aqualu:





After thinking through it I purchased:

- rear 3/4 tub + cowl (had both welded together...wanted more torsional rigidity)

- rear storage box

- cut out for stock FJ40 guage cluster and glove box

A local North Carolina MUD member "1phrogguy" had an Aqualu storage tailgate for sale here in the MUD Classifieds Section, so I picked it up used from him.

The FJ40 will now have tons of lockable storage space and place for jack, tools, recovery equipment, etc.

Plans for the aluminum tub are to:

- prime inside/out with good self-etch primer

- Rhino or SEM bed line the inside (black) and underside (body color) of the tub

- paint the rest of the tub...probably a stock FJ-40 LandCruiser color...single stage paint
Last edited:
looking good so far. might have to pick your brain at some point about the tub. I am probably going to have to do the same with mine at some point. I'll PM you if I am heading to charlotte anytime soon. I would love to take a closer look at it.
Damn, that's a nice tub. Glad to see you didn't go for glass. I've been having tons of fun with mine lately. :rolleyes:
Erymer: No prob...just send me a PM or an email.

JJS: Thanks...I'm stoked and can't wait for the tub to arrive...based on the quality of the tailgate that I already have, I think I'm going to be happy with the tub.

Not many pictures of me cutting it apart (it didn't take long with all the rust), but here's the end result:

Spent the last two weekends with wire wheels and abrasive discs on my grinding tools trying to get all the rust off the frame. Once that was done, I pressure washed the frame, degreased it, and etched it in preparation for paint.




There was a ton of junk inside the frame rails!! Why Toyota didn't just fully box the frame is beyond me...probably some bean counter saving a few bucks. To clean out the frame, I had to insert the high pressure sprayer repeatedly at both ends of the frame rails to eventually get all the junk out.

While I'm technically doing a "frame-off" restoration, I'm not doing a "ground-up" restoration as I left the drivetrain in place on the frame. Since this is going to be a truck that gets driven on the trails from time to time, there's no need to go overboard. But, based on all the frame work I did to remove the rust, I should have just removed the drivetrain and had the frame sand blasted too.

Next steps is to apply POR-15 base coat then top coat it with POR Hardnose Paint.
Last edited:
nice work...tub looks awesome...are you keeping the black color??...
Duke: No, the black color was a PPO modification...I think he chose black to limit the amount of masking req'd as he sprayed everything black. The truck was originally white...see the dash and door jams? Personally, I don't think white looks good on a FJ40. Really want something to contrast with the white top and bezel. Since the whole tub needs paint, I'm going to change the color...most likely an original stock Toyota Dune Beige.

Jack: It won't be the total ground-up restoration you are doing. Since I know you're debating that Aqualu body, come over whenever to look this one over.
Last edited:
...more pics

At this point, I've applied POR-15 to the chassis and then top coated it with black POR Hardnose paint. I'm not sure I like the POR Hardnose as well as the traditional POR Chassis Coat Black...doesn't "flow" as well. The Hardnose is thick paint...I'd recommend thinning it a little.

Since I didn't like the way it turned out (damned perfectionist in me), I'm in the process of sanding it down and repainting it (making 100% sure to get the paint/hardener ratio right). But, 80 grit paper on my DA takes about 30 seconds before I break through to the primer coat. That POR Hardnose is tough stuff!
Last edited:
is it me???...I can't see the pics you posted???...but I remember seeing them was looking good...I need to pick your brain about some things (brakes, paint, etc.)...can't wait to see your finished product...R
DesertDude: Thanks for the heads-up on the box...

Duke: Yeah, my photo host service went out of business. I've got to re-load all of my pics to a new photo host service.

But, rest assured I'm making progress. Over the last month of Saturdays I fully sanded the tub and it just rec'd its first coat of primer on Friday. Starting tomorrow, the SEM Protex get's applied to the underside of the tub.

Also spent today coating the inside of the gas tank, painting a bunch of small parts, and sanding the chassis down for a final topcoat.

Pics coming soon...
Nice...can't wait to see the pics....I have to come by and check it out in person...maybe I can bring over a 12 pack and talk shop...:)

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom