Builds Max Powerzz gets Max Power, or Watch Me Pull a Rabbit out of my Hat!

Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
Mar 24, 2006
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929
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Denver
I've been dreaming about this for years and have finally taken the plunge. The 1988 fj62 is going under the knife and getting a kidney transplant (it's not a heart transplant, you'd have to tear all of the Toyota out of it to do that). Bear with me if I get a little nostalgic.

It all began back in 1997 when my wife and I were in college flipping through the thrifty nickel. We were driving a classy 1985 Honda Accord (it had power windows and a luggage rack, swanky) and wanted to upgrade. We came across an old fj40 and my wife actually suggested we go check it out! How could I resist, I had a model Land Rover as a kid and had a thing for classic 4x4s. My grandpa was a cowboy and I had the bug in my genes. We were art history majors and loved the looks of the cruisers but more importantly the innards that backed them up. In art lingo we call that "aesthetically pleasing with a compelling relationship between form and function."

It was for sale at a dealership in UT and they said it was a barn-find from TX. It was a 3 on the tree and absolutely un-fun to drive, it was a rat's nest under the hood and in really rough shape. I was hooked. Only $5k and it could be ours. Well, we didn't go that route, but we did start looking at Cruisers. Fast forward a couple of months and my wife actually spotted an fj55 on the side of State Street near the Purple Turtle. It was greenish, the rear window didn't roll up, and it had a hard time shifting into 1st. We loved it but he wanted $3k for it and it was pretty steep for poor college students. I decided to have it checked out at a local auto shop. The seller never showed, but while I was waiting I once again picked up my trusty Thrifty Nickel. Lo and behold a 1973 fj55 was listed for $1,700 down in Spanish Fork, a rural community south of us. We headed down in the Accord and pulled into this old-timer's yard, he had a bunch of rusted hulks out back: a Bronco, an old Wagoneer that had the special spy feature of shooting purple smoke out the back (I believe dealer installed), and a primered fj55. It had a hole the size of a frisbee in the front quarter panel but it started up and ran. It had been sitting in someone's yard in Wyoming for a decade and had relatively little rust, just a few gaping holes. There was a massive PTO winch next to it, he wanted another $300 for it and I didn't know what it was and said no thanks (now kicking myself). We drove the 55 around the block. When we got back to his house a guy checking out the Bronco said he was interested in the 55 and would the old timer consider $1200. Well, the pressure was on so we offered $1300 and it was ours. We painted it, changed the oil, and had fun. My wife got me a hi lift jack for Christmas and jack bumper mounts for my birthday, I thought I was super cool. My professor used to make me sit in the back of the class because, as he said, "I smelled like poison" when I drove to campus (read: holes in the exhaust, floor boards, and who knows where else). Many adventures later and a trip to Moab where we caught on fire, we graduated school and were on our way to DC to look for jobs in our field (no thanks to the effect of exhaust leaks on my budding brain, but I finally graduated). We were leaving the mountains and red rock of Utah for a 17 story high rise in DC, and there was no room for the Cruiser. We listed it for sale, I cried, no one was interested, someone low-balled us for $800, I wimpered some more. We needed a deposit for our 400 square foot studio apartment which cost us five times more in rent than our house we were renting in college, so we took it. We were on our way.

Tiny scans from the days before digital cameras when hard drives were measured in megs, not gigs. Meet Natasha:
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
Mar 24, 2006
Messages
929
Location
Denver
It was 2001 and I spent all of my spare time reading ih8mud. Max.Powerzz was born (Max Power - YouTube) (remember, the exhaust leaks). I was working at the Smithsonian and I came across a photograph of a tan 60 with a funky contraption for the photographer to lay down on the roof while he photographed wildlife, with leopards and other beasts lounging around his tires. It was some time after September 11 and we needed something to get our minds off of things. I wanted a sixty, she wanted an eighty with an automatic. We settled on a 62 as it had the classic styling we both loved but the modern drive train she wanted (something about the 55 catching fire in the middle of the desert...women!). Cruisers cost way more back then when gas was actually affordable; apparently they were made out of solid gold.

We found an affordable 62 listed in New York. It was rusty but reliable. I wasn’t scared of body work, I thought I was a pro after I man-handled that Frisbee hole in the 55 with bondo and fiberglass (and probably some duct tape for good measure). I just wanted something mechanically reliable. I patched up the rust as best I could in our high-rise parking lot with an inverter and a Home Depot palm sander, and topped it off with an Earl Scheib paint job. Well, apparently it was opposite day. Now I am wiser and I know it’s better to have rust free and fix the mechanicals. I didn’t know that East coast rust is different from Western mountain rust. East coast rust wears gold chains and a track suit, hangs out with a guy name Gino, and will break your knee caps for looking at it funny. You just don’t want to mess with East coast rust.

We joined the Capitol Land Cruiser Club, a cool group of folks. We went wheeling in George Washington National Forest and Uwharrie down in North Carolina. The East coast is beautiful but you have to drive quite a ways to get away from the hustle and bustle of things. We kept it stock except for a set of 31s from Lance at Iron Pig. I found a local guy selling his sixty online and asked him if he wanted to sell his rack separately. $200 later I had a relatively new Garvin Wilderness rack. As the rust began to rear its ugly head in the rear quarter panels, rockers, and tailgate, we got a job offer at a museum back in Utah and longed for the mountains so we headed back west. We had the cruiser loaded down to the axles with a few hundred pounds of stuff strapped to the roof. Over 2,000 miles and we made it to red rock country.

Meet Bullwinkle, getting red and muddy in Uwharrie and serving as pack mule:
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
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Messages
929
Location
Denver
Here's a link to the OME thread once we got it to Utah, https://forum.ih8mud.com/60-series-wagons/280973-another-getting-ready-moab-thread.html. Lots of great cruiser dudes abide in Utah. You can see the awful parking lot bondo job in the rear wheel well and the rust beginning to come through, it's WAY worse than it looks. The OME has been absolutely fantastic, to abuse a cliche the ride is literally night and day. It's held up well and been tested in Moab and the mountains of Utah. I've also loved the BFG 33s, though Alaska60 is tempting me to move on up to 35s.
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
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Messages
929
Location
Denver
Like sands through the hour glass, so are the cruisers of our lives. Or something like that, I'm pretty sure they made a show about it, or are going to. Someone better buy up the rights to Sea Knight's tale before someone else beats you to it: https://forum.ih8mud.com/40-55-series-tech/548650-saving-old-rustbucket-my-1982-fj40-tale.html I heard they are making this required reading in all schools now. In fact we should put a sticky in the 60 section linking to this, Sea Knight's tale supersedes class distinctions amongst cruisers, I think even 100 series guys will be converted by it.

While we were doing lots of PM on the 62, I caught the 40 bug and started looking for something affordable and close. I figured I made a mistake by getting the 62 which was rusty but trusty, so this time I would look for something clean but mechanically abused. One of these days I need to get my head on straight and get something non-rusty AND running. Fortunately I lucked out on the 40 despite my best intentions. I bought Kurt's first cruiser, of Cruiser Outfitters. The 62 was too comfy and I wanted something a little more classic and rugged, little did I know. I need to start a thread on the 40 but thought I would throw it in here. We've had it for two years and just got it running. I'd like to say I got it running but everything my neighbors and I did had to be UNdone by Tom, aka Alaska60. I was looking for some rust free body parts to patch up Bullwinkle and responded to an ad online. After a few minutes I found Tom was not only a fellow cruiserhead, but a wise and sagacious cruiser head. He got the 40 running in no time and somehow convinced me in a ten minute phone call to do a v8 swap on the 62. I'm not sure how we made the jump from quarter panels to vortec and the more I look back I think sorcery must have been involved, but there you have it. Tom has been a miracle worker and fixed all of the PM I've done over the years (acronyms can change depending on the context; for some PM is preventative maintenance. When I'm involved it turns into pitiful machinations).

And so Rocky was reborn. This has actually been an excellent cruiser, Kurt did most of the work with his dad and swapped in a rebuilt 2f and 4 speed, body work, etc. I won't rib Kurt too much about the paint job which changes from turquoise to blue (okay...purple) in the sunlight, I actually get a TON of comments on how cool it is from my students and at random gas stations. It seems like every time I take it out and park it I come back to a note on the windshield asking if I want to sell it. Kurt sold it a decade ago, it changed hands a couple of times, and Jim of PortalTek axles bought it. He had other projects (like a SOA 60 in his driveway waiting for a 1fz) and let the 40 go, neither of us knew it was Kurt's first cruiser till later. Tom says it's the peppiest 2f he's ever driven! (well, now that it's driving that is).
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
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Messages
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And now for the fun stuff, a low mile 5.3 Vortec ready to go. Tom is the warlock behind this witchcraft and has done amazing things. We used the 2wd 4l60e mated to a split transfer case. Rear t-case is from the 62, the front half is from a 60. We'll be able to use the mechanical 4wd linkage from the 60 mated to the rear of the 62 t-case. No more failed vac lines to worry about engaging 4wd.
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
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This awesome abode is uglyoinker's Cruiser Barn, home to many a lost and now found cruiser. They've got some awesome and rare 40's outside, not to mention 55's, 60's, and even an old Land Rover. Note the high-tech engine hoist fastened to a Toyota pickup with ratchet straps. It pulled the motor right out!

Edit: that red stuff in the engine bay is not rust, it's North Carolina clay I cannot get rid of!
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
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Question: Howell is making a custom harness to mate the motor to the Toyota, but we are keeping the current headlight harness. Do we still need to upgrade the headlight harness to go with brighter (I'll even settle for bright) headlights?
 
Joined
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Livingston, MT
Awesome! I'm excited to see the swap turn out. Tom's a great guy. I've been trying to get the time and funds to start a bumper with his help. Damned priorities.

Is that Christian's on Geneva? I just bought my first 62 from them just last year. Super nice people.
 
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Bayfield, in the San Juan Mtns. of Colorado
Thanks for the thread.

I too had an FJ55, The Grey Goose. Think Gandalf, but it could fly. And honk.

I had that rig when I met my future wife. We spent the first night of our honeymoon parked in the service drive of the Bishop, CA Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Cadilac, Toyota dealer. It was cold and at 3 am a cop wanted to know exactly what we thought we were doing. We said, "Enjoying our honeymoon!" Seems you're supposed to tune 'em regularly--who knew? I'm pretty sure at least one of my kids was concieved in that rig. It was in that rig we courted, camped, cruised and fell in love. I loved her, but she had to go in a period of personal financial instability. The FJ55, not the wife (Whose CB handle was Silly Goose), I kept her for 33 years.

Fast forward to February 2011 and the end game of a fight with breast cancer. Unless you've been through it, you've no idea how truly crippling losing a spouse is. Shortly after that a friend had an FJ60 for sale and on a whim I bought it. So now I've got the New Goose. She's coming along. She's close enough to the Ol' 55 that all the good memories come back, and different enough that it doesn't get depressing. I'd say she's a major factor in getting me through the last year. Ahhh. . .

Here's the girls, the Grey Goose, The New Goose and the Silly Goose:
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Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
Joined
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Awesome! I'm excited to see the swap turn out. Tom's a great guy. I've been trying to get the time and funds to start a bumper with his help. Damned priorities.

Is that Christian's on Geneva? I just bought my first 62 from them just last year. Super nice people.

Good eyes, that is indeed Christian's place. He's a great guy, we used to be neighbors before he moved over to Geneva with his 40 and monster 80. I can't believe they sold you their 62, that was a great find. I was hoping to buy it from them! Where in Provo are you? We live right by campus.

Toms a great guy, he does awesome work. He's actually working on my bumper right now! I don't understand the priorities thing though, doesn't the good book (FSM) say something about bumpers before bread?
 

Max.Powerzz

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Freepowder, your wife is beautiful, you must have had some wonderful times. I really can't imagine how hard that would be to lose my spouse. I'm with you, it's not about the cruisers, but the life experiences they afford. Cheers to you and the Silly Goose.
 
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The 60 has come a long way since the last time I saw it!

Freepowder, thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you two had some great adventures.
 
Joined
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Livingston, MT
Good eyes, that is indeed Christian's place. He's a great guy, we used to be neighbors before he moved over to Geneva with his 40 and monster 80. I can't believe they sold you their 62, that was a great find. I was hoping to buy it from them! Where in Provo are you? We live right by campus.

Toms a great guy, he does awesome work. He's actually working on my bumper right now! I don't understand the priorities thing though, doesn't the good book (FSM) say something about bumpers before bread?

Yeah, when I saw it up for sale I snapped it up. It's been my reliable daily driver ever since then. It's in amazing shape for having 280k on it.

We're just south of Center St. in Provo on the west side of the I15. Just down Geneva from Christian. We all need to get our cruisers together sometime. Maybe I'll finally convince my wife to let me divert some funds for the bumper.

The funny thing is that I'd seen all the cruisers at Christian's every time I took Geneva home when they closed the Center st. exit and salivated over his 40, the huge 80, and what I think is his brother's 60 that was up for sale for awhile. Unfortunately the nicer/more built 60 was out of my budget, but then a few weeks later the 62 went up on KSL. I bought it just a few hours after it went up for sale.

I've replaced the driver's door because of the rust, and fixed the mild surface rust on the rear panels. Now I just need a drivers front quarter panel and it's ready for paint. It's amazingly rust free though on the frame, where it really counts.


Yeah, I keep telling my wife that, but she isn't buying.

"Baby, can't we just eat ramen this week?"
 
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heber city,utah
Wow. If you say too much about tom he'll get a big head. I already have a hard time getting into the barn if he's there.......
 

Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
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Wow. If you say too much about tom he'll get a big head. I already have a hard time getting into the barn if he's there.......

I thought you lived outside the barn:hillbilly:

We do need to have a Utah County land cruiser round-up, I'm in if advance adapters ever sends me my adapter:crybaby:
 
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You didn't see my cot inside the barn? Also the engine pulling champion yota mini truck has been dubbed tow-mater! I'll see ya next time you're at the barn.
 
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V-8 swap will really be amazing once you get everything wrapped up. You'll actually be able to pass people on the hwy.
 

Max.Powerzz

Cruisers and Art!
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V-8 swap will really be amazing once you get everything wrapped up. You'll actually be able to pass people on the hwy.


That's what I've been told, but I'll believe it when I see it. Right now all I see are small mammals giving me the stink eye when they pass me for going too slowly...
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Joined
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WOW a thread......

Ive been currently working on body work... Cutting a ton of rust out. reshaping rear panels and chopping off rockers and painting...good thing that adapter hasnt arrived yet...wew!
I'll help Max.Powerzz get some photos up too.
we should have the adapter by Saturday.
heres some shots of some rust that has been removed. All was replaced with metal.
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