"Legion" my 19+ year 1969 Fj55 Build Thread (2 Viewers)

Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
Typically I only name my vehicles when I have bloody knuckles and sweat equity involved.

At age 15 I bought my first truck or car depending how you classify the El Camino.
It was a 1966 Malibu El Camino I named "Eddie" after the Iron Maiden mascot.
Like "Eddie" it started out a corpse and I breathed life back into it with new paint, tires, and engine work.
It was fast as hell and mean like Eddie with a built Chevy 327 running Fuelie Heads, build Turbo 350 trans, loud exhaust, and 1000 Watt Alpine/Infinity sound system I kept pegged.
(Regrettably Eddie burned up when the kid I sold him to parked off-road to sex up his girlfriend and the headers started the brush underneath on fire)

iron-maiden-eddie.jpg


In college I restored a 1955 Chevy 210 (made Bel Air Clone) I named "LulaBell" after the" Lula Pace Fortune" character played by Laura Dern in David Lynche's "Wild at Heart".
This car was sweet and sexy like Lula and attracted lots of attention. I would constantly get "Thumbs up" when driving Lulabell which was nice because I mostly got the finger when driving Eddie.
Lulabell.jpg

Cut me some slack on the hair. By the end of the '80s I had moved on from Iron Maiden to Ministry, Germs, and Joy Division.
Parked behind LulaBell is my Brother-in-Laws Scout Terra Diesel. His father was original owner and brother-in-law still owns this truck.

Which brings me to my 1969 FJ55 Landcruiser I call "Legion".
Initially I would describe my Pig as a "FrankenCruiser" referencing how I had lost count of the number of vehicles that had contributed parts.
This became "Legion" after I stumbled onto the biblical reference from the Gospel of Mark frequently known as the "Miracle of the (Gadarene) Swine and the exorcism of Legion".
The story shows Jesus exorcising demons out of a man and into a herd of swine which then run into the ocean and die.
Jesus asks the demon for his name and is told "My name is Legion, for we are many"

The swine reference and the "for we are many" cemented the name for me.
My wife calls it "The Paperweight" which until recently was very accurate name as well.

Here is a recent pic of Legion
Current FJ55.jpg
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
My first encounter with an FJ55 was in 1983 while I still owned Eddie. I grew up in Santa Barbara California and I was exiting the 101 freeway when I noticed this strange vehicle entering the freeway on the opposite on-ramp. I did quick U-Turn smoking my tires to get back onto the freeway to check out this vehicle. This exhibition of speed wasn't necessary to catch this beast its just how I drove back then.

If my memory serves me correct it was YELLOW/WHITE but could easily have been faded ORANGE/WHITE. Perhaps it was Gordobe if he was living in Ojai then and passing thru Santa Barbara. 4x4s to me back then were K5 Blazers and Broncos. I had never seen anything like this before but it would be another 16 years before I owned one of my own.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
In 1997 I joined a technology start-up that had just relocated to Reno Nevada. Over time I made new friends and one of them was telling me about his project of transplanting a Willy's Power Wagon body onto a Ford Ranger 4x4 frame with IROC Z engine. It was just a crazy enough sounding project that I wanted one of my own. So around 2000 without doing any real research on restoring FJ55s I located a Rolling Frame and Body in Austin Texas. To me it didn't matter that it was missing engine and drivelines as I was going to graft it onto a Blazer or Jimmy anyways.

My first real "Theory versus Reality" lesson came when shipping it from Austin TX to Reno Nevada. Car transporters REALLY don't like non-operational vehicles and mine didn't have working brakes to top it off. The house I had bought was on 1/2 acre with 2 car garage and shop but the driveway was very steep.

MVC-178L.JPG

I had lots of pucker moments moving it out of the garage and back.
The street is just visible at TOP/LEFT of image.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
A good buddy from grade school worked for GM dealership so I got a smoking deal on brand new GM Goodwrench engine.
I didn't know much about 4x4s so I started hunting around Reno for fabrication shop to help me with engine and driveline fabrication.
I'm into Motorcycles and at the time I had an XR650R I would drive around the various local industrial parks and check out businesses on the weekend.
While tooling around on my bike I noticed an FJ45 build at the local 4 Wheel Parts franchise that eventually ended up being this beast on portal axels.
Turns out the vehicle owner owned the business so I had found my fabricator.

Timsfj45.jpg
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2011
Messages
172
Location
Hendersonville North Carolina
As I get older, I am buying some of the same cars my friends and I drove back in the '80s. One of my best friends in high school had the '76 FJ55. It looked so different from the dozens of other 4x4s our group had and it climbed like a goat. The impression that this unique looking truck lasted and I purchased my '79 FJ55 about 8 years ago. It too is a bit of a Frankenstein as it came with a SBC 350 and TH400 tranny. I dont wheel it / abuse like I did my other trucks but I dont baby it either. Now days, it makes regular trips to Lowes for lumber atop the roof rack and some yearly rabbit hunting. It looks and sounds great and with the positive traction in the rear and, it climbs like a goat...
I just purchased a 1978 280z and its a rust free Arizona car. Just need brakes and I'll have it back on the road. I had a 1976 280z when I was in the military but too many deployments and not enough time or money forced its sale.
My last ride, maybe, will be the AMC AMC- preferably the 1970. My other best friend in high school had a 1969 AMX and although it was replete with mechanical problems, it was a fast and very unique ride.

We have a couple of modern cars that are amazing, and so very ordinary... None of the aforementioned rides are good on gas, perform well in the rain or would be long distance reliable but I wouldn't have it any other way.
ATTACH type="full" alt="20200301_125025.jpg"]2474472[/ATTACH]

20200301_125025.jpg


IMG_20191204_133537033_HDR~2.jpg
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
In 2000 all the rage was Spring Over and Shackle Reversals so of course I had to do that. Scout Power Steering boxes were easy to come by so that was an easy decision. My 1969 FJ55 axles were drum brake and I wasn't reading good things about something called a "Birfield".

I was online stalking all the sages on brokenbirfield.com and although I couldn't identify a Birfield in a pile of parts I convinced myself I didn't want any part of that grief. So went DANA 44 with Discs in front and Chevy 10 bolt with Drums in back.
Saginaw.JPG


IMG_1514.JPG
IMG_1513.JPG

Due to the increase width of the new Dana 44 had to outboard the leaf springs.
In hind sight wish I had know to box the frame and add fish plate like RUSH55 did on his.
I guess time and how hard I wheel this Pig will be determining factor.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
As I get older, I am buying some of the same cars my friends and I drove back in the '80s. One of my best friends in high school had the '76 FJ55. It looked so different from the dozens of other 4x4s our group had and it climbed like a goat. The impression that this unique looking truck lasted and I purchased my '79 FJ55 about 8 years ago. It too is a bit of a Frankenstein as it came with a SBC 350 and TH400 tranny. I dont wheel it / abuse like I did my other trucks but I dont baby it either. Now days, it makes regular trips to Lowes for lumber atop the roof rack and some yearly rabbit hunting. It looks and sounds great and with the positive traction in the rear and, it climbs like a goat...
I just purchased a 1978 280z and its a rust free Arizona car. Just need brakes and I'll have it back on the road. I had a 1976 280z when I was in the military but too many deployments and not enough time or money forced its sale.
My last ride, maybe, will be the AMC AMC- preferably the 1970. My other best friend in high school had a 1969 AMX and although it was replete with mechanical problems, it was a fast and very unique ride.

We have a couple of modern cars that are amazing, and so very ordinary... None of the aforementioned rides are good on gas, perform well in the rain or would be long distance reliable but I wouldn't have it any other way.
ATTACH type="full" alt="20200301_125025.jpg"]2474472[/ATTACH]

View attachment 2474472

View attachment 2474481
I go to car shows now and I am amazed the value they are getting for the cars I drove in High School. One of my classmates had a Plymouth Superbird he drove/raced into the ground. In 1983 we thought it was the ugliest car ever made but he could smoke the tires in every gear and while on the freeway doing 50 MPH. Now they sell for $165K
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
I can't really complain about Rust on my FJ55 compared to what I see many of you go thru, Near as I can tell in 1987 or so (based on tags that were on truck) the owner pulled the drive train and parked the vehicle in his garage and used as storage unit (as relayed by owner I bought from). The headliner was out so the roofline had very little rust and the rockers and wheel wells are all solid. I had some minor dents in the usual places to repair. Used stud welder to pull dent in rear passenger quarter panels and some dents from rear bumper ends to both back quarters. I did have to weld up about 100 holes in the interior where the PO installed a carpet kit using sheet metal screws. That cheap flux core harbor freight welder splattered slag like you wouldn't believe.

.
MVC-068F.JPG
MVC-067F.JPG
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 17, 2013
Messages
4,150
Location
Boise Idaho
I guess time and how hard I wheel this Pig will be determining factor.
That’s a really nice pig with lots of hard to find rust free body parts, unless you’re willing to take that pig places it shouldn’t be rock crawling on 7+ rated trails I can’t see why you would need to box the frame.

Maybe 20 years ago before these 55’s where considered classics I could see bolting on a set of tons and taking them out for some hard core panel bashing wheeling trips. I can tell you from experience ripping panels off your restored pig is no fun.

Keep the pictures coming, you’ve already sidetracked my morning and I might as well just spend the rest of my day sitting here reading your post!
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
I managed to do frame off body restoration without a rotisserie. I made a bedframe like platform out of wood, added castors, and just rolled the body onto its side when working on the bottom. It worked but I was mostly doing paint removal not metal repair. I coated everything in POR15 then used the POR15 top coat primer. The paint I used was AkzoNobel Sikkens single stage. I have painted 3 cars in my life and that was over 20 year period of time so wouldn't consider myself an expert by any stretch but am happy with the results.

108_0833(1).JPG
112_1231.JPG

111_1174.JPG
112_1236.JPG

Enjoying a beer high as a kite on lacquer thinner.
Date on pictures for reference is 2003.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
I did encounter my share of "Dead Ends". Those moments where you curse a bit and try decide next best direction.
Early on I had to deal with the rear tailgate hinges. The bolts were so rusted I had to drill them out.
For some of you this is an easy day but for me was covering new ground. I cut the old ones out, made new out of stainless steel, and then welded it all back up.
My good friend Ed Gresham (now deceased) was master tool and die maker and helped me make the stainless bits so Legion has bit of his sweat as well.

108_0804.JPG
108_0803.JPG
108_0835.JPG


I'm not a very good welder but I can grind like a Rembrandt
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
My pig was 3 on the tree and now has Turbo 350 so this left the steering column looking odd.
The ignition on '69 is to the left of the steering wheel below the headlight switch.
I considered moving to the later ignition that is mounted in the column but really like the factory location on mine.
IMG_1508.JPG

Some grinding
IMG_1509.JPG

Some fiberglass
IMG_1614.JPG

and voila
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
I get buy with some help from my friends (even if I have never met them in person)

Bought this nice door from Ige in 2001 (I think) along with pallet of other parts.
Its now my passenger side door although I removed the wing window and used internals from later year door.
IMG_2206.JPG


Luke's Burning man picture has been inspirational as it contains both Iron Pig + hot chick.
lukanius.jpg


Ron @scrapdaddy came thru with paper Glass Templates when the company cutting me new glass lost the original pieces they were using as pattern.
Over the years have bought many parts from @shmukster and appreciate his well catalogues items.
Recently bought some door plunger seals from @PabloCruise and the list goes on-and-on with many of you buying from me thru ebay over the years.
Bought these cool Japanese import Turn Signal/Parking lights from @overton several years ago the sold my '69 ones to SloCuisers
IMG_1508.JPG
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
Speaking of doors most of mine were cracked where the bottom hinge mounts to the door. So my mission early on was to find and acquire as many doors as I could. In 2004 I end up finding this guy up in Klamath Falls, OR who says he has doors, hoods, body parts, as well as some hard to find items scattered all over his property. I can have it all for $500 but the hitch is I have to take ALL OF IT not just cherry pick.

Its an 18hr round trip for me so I want to leave in middle of night and get their during daylight but turns out the guys religion prevents him from engaging in financial transaction Friday thru Saturday on the sabbath so he asks if I can schedule arrival sundown Saturday. Initially that seemed OK to me but getting to his house turned into an ordeal. It was one of those at crossroads set your odometer and go 11.5 miles and turn right onto dirt road, go 5.5 miles to fork and stay right, etc. Only issue was it had snowed and melted turning the road to deep mud and I was in a GMC Jimmy pulling a trailer in 4 low. Tires were doing about 15 MPH and my ground speed was about 3 MPH. I have no bearing where I am and looking for spot to turn around when I find myself in his driveway.

Wife and kids are all standing outside waiting with him so I jump out of the truck and start shaking hands. All good until they invite me into their house and they have this pellet stove burning and it has to be 85-90 degrees in the room. They are being polite and want to take my jacket and I realize at that moment I have my H&K USP .45 rigged up in a shoulder holster thinking I was going to meet some off the grid weirdo.

Turns out he was local Autoshop teacher, all around good cruiser guy, and true to his word. I scored the later model hood I am using, six doors, tailgate, and some sections of body sheet metal I didn't need for my build but later resold.

IMG_2377.JPG


Most of the doors were rougher than mine but one of the driver doors I picked up had what looked to be factory gusset or backing plate.
It was spot welded in to strengthen the door right where mine was breaking. The locations of the spot welds is what made me think this was OEM.

IMG_2201.JPG


I drilled out the SPOT WELDS and removed the plate
IMG_0984.JPG


Then I transplanted it to my original drivers door after welding up the area that had cracked.
IMG_0989.JPG
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
One nice thing about starting my build almost 20 years ago was parts then were just scarce and not yet unobtainium. Their was supplier called "Off Road West" that advertised honest to god OEM Dash Pads, Glove Box Doors, and Instrument Cluster Bezels (think that is what it is called). I would lust after these but never seemed to have the money to buy but finally said F'it and bought set on a credit card.

I might have got the last set as the company ceased operations shortly after that.
Had I know DOME LIGHTS would sell for $500 EA I might have bought all their stock

IMG_1523.JPG


Gauges.JPG


My original odometer seized and rounded off the gear so I grafted in an FJ60 Odometer so I could get tripometer.
Reset it to 0 Miles to reflect the engine miles which recently caused confusion with the Sheriff that had to verify the VIN and Mileage for my title

IMG_1501.JPG
 

PabloCruise

SILVER Star
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
20,417
Location
Northern Colorado
I would constantly get "Thumbs up" when driving Lulabell which was nice because I mostly got the finger when driving Eddie.


This became "Legion" after I stumbled onto the biblical reference from the Gospel of Mark frequently known as the "Miracle of the (Gadarene) Swine and the exorcism of Legion".
The story shows Jesus exorcising demons out of a man and into a herd of swine which then run into the ocean and die.
Jesus asks the demon for his name and is told "My name is Legion, for we are many"

Pretty funny about people giving Eddie the finger! Too bad things got too hot for Eddie...

Cool story about Legion's name! Can you edit the title of this thread to make 1969 (vs. 1966)?
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
203
Location
Reno, Nevada
I bought this Heep Swing-out rear bumper for $250.00. I knew it was going to be bit of challenge as a rear bumper as the FJ55 tailgate is wider than the Spindle to Latch distance on this bumper. Was going to widen the whole assembly but once apart I decided to make the bottom portion into a front bumper. The shackle points and cut outs in the bumper ends made for custom look I liked. I'll use the upper portion when I fabricate the rear.
Heep Bumper.jpg
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom