my first ever resto project. FJ45LV

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Oct 23, 2009
High in the Rocky Mountains
Well I jumped in and bought an FJ45LV that had been sitting in a field in Montana. I am a carpenter / general contractor and I build houses pretty much hands-on in all parts of the job. Being more of a wood guy and having been mentally scarred by a moped project when I was 10 years young I have always been shy about metal and grease. So I had the 45LV shipped down to Proffitt's in Salt Lake so they could get it to drive and make sure it has brakes and lights. Further down the story I'll post the pictures of the body and I hope to get some input from ye all.

The PO (3puppies) also had some good axles and disc rims and John at Proffitt's had suggested the upgrade. Here they are in the back of the 45LV.

So actually we went a bit beyond the initial "let's get her running". The Proffitt's boys installed those axles from late 70's/early 80's FJ40s, added disc brakes, dual master cylinder, a 2 inch lift with reverse shackles and spiffy new 33x 10.5 tires. The motor ran but barely, so they overhauled it and got it running really nice. Two weeks ago I had a free weekend and a hallway pass :) and I went to go pick her up to drive her back to the colorado rockies.

Man would you look at that! Here she is strutting new legs!

John was great, he showed me how to drive the three on the tree and I was off on the road. I wanted a quiet one to get used to my new ride. I chose 73 that goes from Tooele to Lehi. She was purring down the road, ah what a feeling back in a landcruiser! I had one for 15 years as a daily driver and had to sell her "Lola was her name" when things got rough after the 2008 stock crash. Look at this happy truck. That 50 miles an hour turns out to be about 44 actually. Since I have no seat belts and a straight driveshaft pointing at my heart, that's just fine.

Life is good in a landcruiser with great views all around.

Things got interesting. It can get lonely driving by yourself some 500 miles in a slow vehicle that still looks like it came right out of the field where it sat for 17 years. It was last registered in '96. But this was no ordinary trip, this was a getting acquainted trip. Somewhere near the entrance to a nature preserve and canyon on the left I see a small fire burning right next to the road. It must have just started, so I call 911 and report it as there was a bit of wind fanning the flames in the direction of that natural area. Not every day that this happens, what's next?

I catch some late dinner in Provo and I am tired. I realize that I drove 5 hours to the denver airport at 4am this morning and all in all the miles are wearing me down, the plan was to camp along the way and so we shall. But first I get a phone call from the BLM fire investigator, "Can you tell me anything about that fire? Any one with four wheelers on a trailer around?" "No sir, It had just started but there was no one there and I did not stop, I did not see anyone who could have started it."

I hop my full belly back on to the bench and take off for highway 6 into the mountains. John said the gearing was good for keeping the speed up on all the hills I would encounter and she did great. Ah, trucks are stopped here, great, I'll catch a nap on the front bench. Wow this is nice, front benches are awesome for a quick nap. The fold of the bench tucked me in and I napped a good hour. Yeah time to roll again! The night time is for trucking and I am feeling good going down the road in my new truck. I'm thinking I want to write a bluegrass song.

I made it all the way to Wellington by 3am and then drove out into the desert many miles to find a quiet spot. Down goes the tail gate and the back was long enough with the seat up to keep all 6 feet stretched out and then I passed out in the quiet darkness. The sunlight woke me up the next morning and I could see where I was. Nothing but a dirt road and sandy rocks around me. I find a sign a bit further up and a guy in a shiny new toyota truck stops and asks if I need help, well yes, I can't make out what this faded map says (and I don't have my glasses). He pulls out a chamber of commerce guide pamphlet complete with a detailed map and hands it to me, "Here is all the info you need, and here is my card, if you get stuck call me" Wow that was really nice and the timing was perfect.

I had more perfection that morning in the middle of nowhere as I needed to take care of #2 and I had no TP. Yikes, there is no grass or anything else here, this is going to be messy. There is a military ammunition box bolted to the floor in the back, it's the first time I look inside and look at that, there is a pack of TP in here! How did they know back in 1996 they would save my butt in 2012?

I took that dirt road down the Buckhorn draw into a canyon with great views of red rock cliffs, cave paintings and a swinging bridge. Then the phone rang, fire investigator Blake again, more questions, are you sure you did not see anything else? I wonder what happened to that fire, but I did not ask. I hope they got it in time.

to be continued...... he he there is more in store. I just wish I had taken that picture but we'll get to that.

Done and wrote it. See part 2 below and you'll find the answer.
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That rig is badass! One day after my fj40 is done I am gonna one llike that. Cant wait for my first shakedown run (hopefully next week). Looks like it was a pretty solid rig prior to profitts work and you know its a solid rig now.
That rig is badass! One day after my fj40 is done I am gonna one llike that. Cant wait for my first shakedown run (hopefully next week). Looks like it was a pretty solid rig prior to profitts work and you know its a solid rig now.

Yeah man, I am absolutely loving it! There are not many and if you can get one buy it. Mine is actually in good mechanical shape now that proffitt went through it but the body is very rusty but we just need a new floor pan (all of it) no problem I know just the guy who can do it.
What a great story mate!
Cool deal. Good motivation. I am working on bringing my LV back from the dead too.
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i want a 45LV sooooo bad. that thing is sweet!

wouldn't 50 on the speedo be closer to 55-60 mph with the bigger tires? or am i missing something with the newer differentials but old transmission
You make me jealous! :grin: I need to get another trip like yours, and be somewhere such that you can plop down in and sleep with the night sky. Nice rig and great story... Sounds like a chapter out of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. :beer:
i want a 45LV sooooo bad. that thing is sweet!

wouldn't 50 on the speedo be closer to 55-60 mph with the bigger tires? or am i missing something with the newer differentials but old transmission

Yes normally that would be so but I put in 4.56 gearing instead of the 4.11 or 3.77 that might have been in there before. Of course going up hill I can actually accellerate from 40 to 44 ;), but sitting on I 70 at 44 was pretty funny, even the ol' grandpa had to pass me. The others went by at almost twice my speed. Mostly I took the side roads, which I like much better anyway. With a fairly long first gear it's nice to have lower gearing for going off road and I live in an area that is over 90% public lands so I am mostly out and about and not much on pavement. Freeways are not my and not my rig's style. I have got to write the next installment tonight if I can.

The dirt road led to the I-70 underpass and for a while I drove along the freeway with a big dust cloud billowing behind me. I remember driving on I-70 and looking over to my right a few years ago and wanting to be on that dirt road blowing dust and here I am. Wishes do come true sometimes. Under the I-70 I go and on to the dirt road to Goblin Valley. By now the wind is blowing pretty hard and every time I hit a patch of loose sand, the stuff streams into the cab in great puffs through the rusted out floorboards. Pretty soon I can't see through my sunglasses and my nostrils are getting crusty. I have no idea what this is doing to my lungs but it is probably not good for me. Still 20 miles though and I am not turning back. This is too much fun. Almost to Goblin Valley and the last seven miles are paved. By now there is a thick layer caked on everything in the truck. It is also over 100 degrees and the wind is whipping sand into the air. I parked right next to one of those newfangled FJ Cruisers. Time to go for a hike in Goblin Valley and I strap on my running backpack with 100oz of water and I trot off down the path and into a land of strange formations. Very cool hey, no too HOT actually.

Here she is posing again.

Unfortunately, I am now hearing a faint noise coming from under the hood. Sounds like metal on metal, this is not going to be good. I am driving on 24 north towards I-70 and the noise keeps getting stronger. The dust is getting to me and the straight road is boring. :steer: I need to jump in the Green river as soon as I can, so I drive on wondering about the noise. This is not really the place to stop and the engine runs well and the gauges are all indicating that things are still ok. I get to Green River and ask for directions to a spot to jump in. The clerk at the convenience omits the state park right by the freeway and directs me to Hastings road. This turns out to a be a fortunate turn of events. I turn left on Hastings and follow a couple of slow cars, actually just as slow as me. After seeing many private property signs I see two cop cars and then a sign saying "Desert Rock". Some cars are turning off to the right, but I continue on to the sandy bend in the river. There are lots of cars and people and it is Saturday after all. I park and jump into the river, this feels good and the caked substances dissolve into a muddy sludge around me. As I look around I notice there are only young people here, no families, and lots of tattoos and piercings. This is unfamiliar to me but I am intrigued and a bit further up someone is standing in the middle of a gathering, he is wildly gesticulating and screaming. I carefully go to check it out.

The man stops and sits down to an applause and a woman steps up and starts a new diatribe. This is a group of poets competing for a prize. They were incredibly talented. I sit down and listen to five more of these strongly presented topics. This is wild, if it was not 2012 it would be the 60's all over again. Their appearance is a little different but they act the same. Cool what a great scene. I get approached and find out that all these people are here for Desert Rock which is a music festival held in the rocky and sandy stretch behind the hill above Hastings Road. I get back to my truck who I have not yet named. A young couple on the side of road asks for a lift to the parking area for the festival. "Sure hop on in." Front benches are made for three people and this is working great. We strike up a conversation and as we approach the gate they show their arm bands and we get waived in. Wow I am inside the camping area and close to the festival staging. Can you believe it, I just fell into a giant party! :cheers: :beer:

We park, they move on to their thing and I walk around taking in the surroundings. I go to bluegrass festivals every year and I know the scene but this one is a bit different. There is no grass, no trees, just rock cliffs surrounding a sandy camping area. The wind whips the sand into the air and most people wear bandanas in front of their faces to keep from breathing all this stuff. Knowing how great it can be at our venues I instantly feel bad for these folks. Standing there leaning into the baking hot wind I feel like a chocolate chip cookie in a convection oven.

I can't go to a concert without a band :hillbilly: and that would not be my thing anyway so I get back to my truck and open the door. I have to figure out what the noise is about and I still have a long way to go and I like to drive at night. The guy camped beside my truck says "hey was this just temporary parking?" I worry if it was ok to park here, but he says "My friend wanted to pose with your truck for me to take pictures of her." Surprised I say "Sure go for it". I close the door again as his girlfriend comes from behind his camping trailer clad in a leather bikini with a studded leather sash. She has a really cute face and voluptuous curves. My mouth just about dropped wide open as she hugs my truck and acts like an experienced model doing a professional shoot. The guy eggs her on and soon she is draped across the hood upside down with her big brown eyes staring into the camera, her studded leather sash slightly dropping over her hips. :D

No way you say, but this really happened. I had a camera in my truck but if I took a picture with it my wife would revoke all future hallway passes or give me a permanent one. So I decided not to take the picture and now I regret not being able to show you guys. So I went online to see if I could find a model picture but none could do her justice. It was just time and place, a moment never to forget. May be they'll read this and PM me. The guy was way cool and invited me for dinner but I just ate and I had to take care of the noise under the hood.

So I drove back to Green River, a repair shop was open and I walked in. The man's heavy voice came from two feet above me. He was just about 8 feet tall. "We're closed". Can't blame him, so I spent some time under the hood at the truck stop. I called John on his cell and he helped me out on his day off. A few calls later we determined the water pump had given out. When they went through the engine, they checked the pump and it seemed fine and we decided to keep it. It could have gone another five years or die the next day, unfortunately we drew the short straw on that one. The T stat also pegged itself to H so I had no idea if I was overheating. I knew the engine was cooled off, so I took to I-70 at 40mph. It was getting dark and I had no idea what temp the engine was doing so I pulled over at the first exit and parked. The hot wind buffeted the cab and shook the truck back and forth. It was a quiet and dark exit with lights streaming along the freeway in the distance. I curled up into the fold on the bench again, this time I was not happy and probably a little scared. How far can I get this way, how long is it going to take just to get to Grand Junction?

An hour later I woke up, it did not feel like I slept with all that noise and movement. I take off again, I should be able to make it to the next rest stop. The air is cooling off and the engine is running well despite the metal on metal sound. The memory of the fortuitous modeling event keeps me rolling and I get all the way to the Rabbit Valley exit. I always wanted to stop here since a friend told me there was a cool trail in a canyon. I camp my second night in the back.

After I got a strong run in through this gorgeous winding canyon (highly recommended), I feel great and I took another swing at the rest of I-70 to Grand Junction, noise and all, keeping my fingers crossed, not just for my engine but also for the traffic passing me at near twice my speed and the ol' grandpa doing 55 and passing me. :eek:

It's Sunday and the shop I need is closed. I call John again and he has me take the radiator cap off and fill the four gallon containers I carry with me with warmish water. The pressure will be off the pump and it will take longer until it fails to the point where all the water runs out and I'll be stuck. His advice is excellent and I get lucky, the leak is tiny and I use very little water.

The little country road I took leads by apple and peach orchards and a farmer is enjoying his lazy sunday afternoon sitting on a fold up chair in his tractor shed. He can surely hear me coming and as I swing around the corner I see him wave a slow hello with his right hand. I wave back at him and feel instantly connected to this farming community. Some of my friends live in this valley too, but this farmer just created another postcard memory forever seared in my mind.

The engine itself continues to runs strong. I drove quite a long time after that over the dirt road pass and coasted down the hill into my little home town. In the driveway as I stop she explodes and releases all the radiator water. She is done, but she made it all the way home. I feel like a proud daddy, I love my truck, she's the best. She knows how to get home like a good horse and she found her name for me. She is Clyde.

And that is the story of how Clyde and I got acquainted.

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Great part 2 to the trip. I think I am going to have to work on my LV this weekend. Thanks for the motivation.

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