My Almost Frame-Off Restoration – ‘77 FJ40 RHD (1 Viewer)

Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
20
Location
NH
It all started with a leaky radiator…

Last October, the original radiator on my RHD ’77 FJ40 finally gave up the ghost. By the time I got it replaced, it was early November. Unfortunately, the troops from NHDOT had already been out spreading copious amounts of salt on our roads after early season ice storms passed through. I have been religious about not driving this rig on winter roads since I bought it back in 2004, so I was quite anxious about driving her the 28 miles from the repair shop to my house.

This turn of events would eventually become the catalyst to my soon-to-be restoration. At this point, I was reminded of an impressive Bronco restoration done by a friend of mine the year before…in particular, his body work and paint looked amazing. After seeing the restored Bronco, I started toying with the idea of doing the same to my rig. She was already in very good shape, but the PO had repainted the truck in a color that was close to mustard yellow, but obviously not the original Toyota 532. So, being the impulsive person that I am, I drove her a ½ mile to the shop that did the Bronco, asked the owner for an estimate to do the exterior and the next thing I knew, she was parked snug as a bug inside his shop, ready for a wintertime exterior paint job. This is when the slippery slope started…

First let me say that I am not mechanically inclined, nor do I have the space and/or equipment needed for a DIY effort. So, my contribution to this project would consist of shopping for and buying the necessary bits needed to do the job. To those that are DIY’ers, I am envious of your skills! Nonetheless, I do love my Land Cruisers and as the years have gone by, I’ve realized that staying on top of the condition of my rig only increases the value and longevity…so here I am.

After careful inspection of all the various body/glass gaskets, the shop felt that everything was salvageable except the door seals and window vent gaskets. And of all things, they found that a leaf on the left side hood hinge was broken. So off I went on my first shopping spree.

A few weeks later, the dismantling was well under way. As more and more parts were unbolted, it became obvious that I should paint the interior too since a lot of the effort of this was in taking things apart...’never going to be easier than doing it right now’ I told myself. Which then evolved into “why not reupholster the ratty seats while I’m at it? They’ll look like a sow’s ear next to that new paint job.” So, out they came and off they went to upholsterer.

After getting a thorough education on all the finer points of vinyl upholstery and foam cushions, I settled on what we thought was a pretty close color match on the original vinyl and piping. The foam was actually in very good condition, so no work needed there. One idea that I agreed to was the recommendation to not use the OEM stitching technique (exposed threads on the wear surfaces) and to go with a folded stitch/seam in a similar pattern as original. My initial plan was to leave the jumps seats alone – they were in very good shape - but then I realized that the faded material would look lighter than the fronts, so they too were added to the job.

Having now made the decision to paint the interior, the shop recommended that we separate the roof from the side panels so he could do a better job with the white. ‘Sure!’ I said. ‘We’ll need a new gasket though.’ He said. ‘No problem.’ Said I. And again I off went shopping… Little did I know, the gasket would cost more than half as much as the windshield frame (YIKES!). $299 was the best price I found, so I did it.

Meanwhile, the shop kept telling me how good the body condition was and how little rust repair was going to be needed. Before I brought it to him, I knew the door bottoms had a bit of cancer, so I ordered replacement bottoms to be welded on. Other than that, the bodywork was rock solid…that is, until they got to the windshield frame. They tried to salvage it, but the more they sanded/ground it down, the thinner the corner meat became…eventually I bit the bullet and decided to spring for a new-to-me frame from Cruiser Parts LLC here in Sullivan, NH. The shop recently found two soft spots on the driver-side rocker panel, which were easily cut out and patched with some postage stamp sized pieces of sheet metal.

Eventually the discussion came to whether or not to pull the tub and tackle the underside, motor, drivetrain and frame restorations. Two things came to mind: time and money. A) I had already gone WAY over budget on my original plan for exterior paint and B) he said doing so might mean I wouldn’t be able to use the rig for the coming summer. Both bummed me out. If my intention was to have a show quality restoration or to get the highest bid in an auction, I suppose I would have pulled the trigger. But the reality is that my drive train is very strong (only 77K original miles), the engine bay isn’t pristine, but it isn’t ugly either. So I drew the line at taking that step. An alternative that the shop suggested was to remove the steering column and brake booster from the fire wall (and as many little bits as possible) so he could get a new coat of paint there. While he was at it, he’d unbolt the tub and tip it forward so he could restore as much of the underside as possible while there. ‘Go for it!’ I said.

I have also decided to go back to the original split rims with the Toyota gray. These are have been completely sandblasted and will soon be painted for new rubber (anybody have any suggestions on size without a lift?).

As has always been my agreement with the shop, he only worked on my rig when he didn’t have insurance jobs to do. Now that spring is here, he has had more time to devote to the rig and he’s getting close to starting the paint soon. With any luck, I might have the truck back as early as Memorial Day.

I’ve posted a bunch of pictures on Drop Box that were taken yesterday…here’s the link if anyone wants to check it out.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/lm9r3tsevoo1yfv/AABpy-YBVI7oaa8H-kEz_FEYa?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/b6jkhrfiagzs2fl/AADt4UTaNMzEb5JL33KEVBgca?dl=0

To see what the truck looked like prior to restoration, check out this link.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/lk1cfen35uaqs0s/AADdJVzDo5NbOG01ulCDPijUa?dl=0

My parents always taught me that it isn’t polite to ask how much someone paid for something, so in case anyone wants to know but doesn’t want to ask, here’s where I’m at cost-wise. Not bragging or anything, but I do feel this information is relevant to those on this forum that are contemplating a ‘non-DIY’er’ restoration project.

  • Exterior paint: $6,800

  • Interior paint: $2,200

  • Replacement Parts: $1,500

  • Upholstery: $1,200

  • Misc.: $300

  • Total: $12,000.00

    As paint moves forward, I’ll be sure to update my post…and certainly will post pics of the completed project.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
8,871
Location
New Zealand
Wow. Impressive!

I'd have downloaded some of your fabulous photos too except they're a bit too small.

Mustard is my favourite colour too..

:clap:
 

78fj40mg

TLCA #23510
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
4,072
Location
PNW, WA.
Very nice!
However, it's a slippery slope with these trucks they require plenty of $$ to restore but then you can sit back and enjoy the ride!:

Some of your photos:

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IMG_3615.JPG


IMG_3616.JPG


IMG_3617.JPG


IMG_3618.JPG


IMG_3619.JPG
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
936
Location
Ont - Canada
sweet 40, even before the refurb ... can just imagine what it will look like after ... thank you for sharing your costs ... in my opinion money well spent as your have something pretty special there, including the colour ... looking forward to seeing the finished product ...
:smokin:
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
8,871
Location
New Zealand
I'll try using my ESP to find out some details about your lovely mustard FJ40 ....

Here goes:
2F engine number 143275
Chassis FJ40-240226
Odometer reading: somewhere around 31000kms

How am I doing Landwrecker?

:D
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
20
Location
NH
I'll try using my ESP to find out some details about your lovely mustard FJ40 ....

Here goes:
2F engine number 143275
Chassis FJ40-240226
Odometer reading: somewhere around 31000kms

How am I doing Landwrecker?

:D

You were close on the mileage, except you need to add a one in front of it - currently at 134,000 kms...
Until I visit the body shop again, I'll have to take your word for it on the other details...

Did you get all that info from the license plate? The one in the picture is the plate that came with it when I bought it back in 2004.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
8,871
Location
New Zealand
....
Did you get all that info from the license plate? The one in the picture is the plate that came with it when I bought it back in 2004.

Yep. It's obviously been in New Zealand. (I recognised our plates.)

Interestingly the licensing people here have the colour listed as "gold" but then I guess some people would consider "mustard" to be "gold".

And it's odd that they missed the 1 in front of the odometer reading. It makes me think that maybe it wasn't sold new here but perhaps was imported second-hand instead.

Whatever the case, it sure looks to have been in exceptionally good condition...

I doubt there'd be any left here looking as nice as that one (even prior to your excellent strip-down & rebuild work).

:clap:
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
20
Location
NH
Yep. It's obviously been in New Zealand... It makes me think that maybe it wasn't sold new here but perhaps was imported second-hand instead....

I bought it from an ebay broker in Georgia...he brought it back from NZ to USA in a shipping container with a bunch of Land Rovers...said he went down for the LRs and spotted mine and couldn't pass it up...

At one point I got the phone number from the NZ mechanic who serviced it and he told me all about it...apparently spent its life on a farm...told me the lack of decay was due to the fact that NZ doesn't use salt on their roads...(is that true?)

I have many peculiar configurations for a '77 - like no roll bar, clear front directional lenses, split bench seat, manual throttle, hatch back, vent windows, etc. I was also told those are specs unique to rigs Toyota shipped to your country...not sure if that's true, since I've never been able to verify with anyone.
 
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
8,871
Location
New Zealand
..told me the lack of decay was due to the fact that NZ doesn't use salt on their roads...(is that true?)..

Yes it is true.. But there are ever-increasing moves here towards adopting things (and forcing them on the entire population) on the basis of "increasing safety". So there are mutterings here from "roading authorities" wanting to start spreading salt on some roads in the winter months (probably because they fear being sued for leaving a road open when one of these people "with no brains and no feel for the slippery conditions" comes to grief on an icy corner somewhere and happens to claim a life or two in the process).

At the moment they only spread grit (not salt) on the road in icy conditions..


...I have many peculiar configurations for a '77 - like no roll bar, clear front directional lenses, split bench seat, manual throttle, hatch back, vent windows, etc. I was also told those are specs unique to rigs Toyota shipped to your country...not sure if that's true, since I've never been able to verify with anyone.

For 1977 FJ40:

No roll bar was standard here. (We weren't "a nanny state" back then.)

I could be wrong but I suspect those clear indicator lenses are not original to the vehicle. Many of the cheap aftermarket replacements suffered colour-bleaching. In other words, they probably started off having amber colour in the bottom portion and then lost it all due to the ultra-violet from the sun. (But the good news is that I think they're still available from Toyota.)

Split bench seats were standard here.

Lift-back was the norm with VLS models while ambulance doors were the norm on VKC models...

Drums-all-round was standard here too

I think the small opening rear ventilation windows appeared here in Aug 1976

So I don't think there are any nasty surprises with this lovely vehicle...:)

:beer:
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
20
Location
NH
Hey Sarge,
Not a whole lot has changed...slowly working toward finishing bodywork.
Long story short, the body shop had some employee issues and things kinda came to a screeching halt.
Getting closer to the paint stage at the moment.

The biggest update is my decision to go with a full frame off restoration (can you say 'slippery slope'? - what's next?).
Once I got a peek at the top of the frame members (which were fine), it seemed silly to come this far financially and physically to not redo the frame. So, presently the motor and chassis are sitting in a conex while the body panels and tub get painted. Once that's finished, they'll go into the conex and the chassis will go inside for its resto.

With any luck, she'll be on the road by mid-summer...just not sure which summer
I'll post some more pics once I have some color to show off.
Ross
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Messages
3,751
Location
Ohio, Illinois
Glad to hear the progress , even a little bit is a good thing . Still stuck on trying to make those clips , that little project has driven me nearly nuts over the last year - when I've had time to work on it...
Sarge
 

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