MY WIFE SAVED ME $10K! – MY INSPECTION ADVENTURE (4 Viewers)

TheHardWay

Ain't as easy as it looks
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We all know Rule Number 1 when buying a 40, right? Of course we do. No purchase without a hands on inspection and drive. PERIOD Now, my better half is a sensible woman, so last December when I caught fj40 fever for the first time, she agreed to go along with buying one as long as I followed Rule Number 1. Well, by then I had already been following the Ebay auctions for a month, being slowly sucked into that madness, trying to cost out shipping that beige 40 from British Columbia, then that white one from Washington state to southern New Mexico without flying up to inspect, because the photos looked so good! Luckily, the Friday after Christmas I checked Ebay and HOLY CRAP – one came up for auction from right here in Las Cruces! Seller provided a dozen photos, enough to jump that fever to the next level.
IMG_0404.JPG

I didn’t waste any time, and when I found out the seller lived two miles away I was over at his house in a flash, wife in tow. I’ve done all kinds of mechanical and body work on trucks and cars over the decades, so even though I didn’t know jack about fj40s, the brief inspection and drive (and a second drive by wife!) was enough to convince me to get this one, which I did (FYI, an Ebay seller can cancel the auction as long as no bids have been made). Well, I’ve gotten quite the education since then, learned a LOT about these cute little beasts and only shelled out a couple grand since then, de POing it.

Fast forward to early October. A posting appeared in the Mud fj40 classifieds for a ’77, like mine. The seller wanted $12,500 for a nearly all original.
Allofit.jpg
I know, the bezel is from a '79 (seller preference). When I told my wife, she didn’t say it, but I could tell she was thinking it: Are you crazy? What the hell do you need another one for? Well… I don’t… uh, but the seller had taken so-o-o many high quality pictures, the majority of them from under the frame, sitting high up on a lift!
Frame.jpg

For several days I studied (drooled) over those photos. That frame looks aged, but clean, complete and unmolested.
He wasn’t local, but the next best thing - only 240 miles north of us. Ohhhh, noooo, feels like fj40 fever again! :meh:(sigh) Why fight it – I had to let this play itself out, so I contacted him. We had two phone conversations and many e-mails, and he was very helpful – answered every question I asked, sent pix of whatever I asked for. He’d had it since 1993, taken his kids camping, only minor off-roading. Fever getting hotter….
And those pictures… I had to see for myself if it was as good as those pictures made it look. Even though I hate the drive from here to the Duke City, I bit the bullet, took a day and a half off work, set an appointment with him and my wife and I drove up the night before. Now, I’d only paid $10k for mine, so that became my deal breaker number and I wouldn’t move it – up or down- unless my inspection convinced me otherwise.
Sill.jpg

I must say, seller was a stand up guy. My wife and I got there just before 9am as he was bringing out boxes from his garage filled with parts he’d bought over the years that he hadn’t gotten around to installing. I spent 45 minutes just going over the 40, opening the hood, doors, kneeling to look at every photo now brought to life (wow, what a difference owning one makes when doing an inspection). He wanted to talk, which I already knew from the phone calls, so I let him talk to her while I concentrated on my inspection. No distractions!
Engine.jpg

As I peered into the engine compartment I noticed a four inch long 2X4 laying against the crankshaft pulley housing – WTF?… When I showed it to the seller he shrugged and said his mechanic must have left it there after last week’s compression test. Uhhh - okay, well the only apparent damage was a shallow groove in the 2X4 from the pulley rubbing against it, so-o-o-o-o….
I had asked that he not start it before I got there. I wanted to do a cold start so I could compare it to mine, which fires right up, but belches blackish smoke that goes away as the choke is pushed in. So, here we go: pull choke, pump gas pedal once, turn key and vroom, WOW, no smoke! Even a You Tube video could show that. BUT, within a couple minutes of listening to it idle I could hear valve clatter, and then my wife asked what that other weird noise was. Sounded like a leak somewhere in the exhaust, probably from the header. I asked if I could drive it to his Toyota mechanic, and he said sure, even let my wife come with me while he stayed home and waited. Stand up guy!
We climbed inside, and yet another annoying noise greeted us - the electric fuel pump. Seller told me his mechanic convinced him to install it some time ago. He implied he’d gotten used to the loud hum. Wha-a-at?. I don’t see how that would be possible, but oh well, let’s get to the main attraction and hit the road.
There’s a reason it’s known as a shake-down cruise, and this is what, if nothing else, I want to get across to anyone considering a sight unseen purchase. I’m not saying pictures lie, because they are a valuable tool - the more the better - but they do allow you to deceive yourself if you’re caught up in 40 fever, and that can cost you dearly. Between the valve clatter, the whoosh of the fuel pump and what I came to determine eventually was the water pump bearing, the rattle of the ambulance doors and the front door windows shaking in worn out window channels, we could barely hear each other talk. I tried rolling the window down, but that didn’t help at all, and led later on to a very serious problem.
When we finally found the shop and parked, now what - the driver’s door wouldn’t open! I struggled with it for a couple minutes, then crawled out on the passenger side. When I met the mechanic (owner) I handed him the 2X4 and told him where I’d found it. Didn’t faze him in the least. I asked a number of questions about the 40 and got a lot of hemming and hawing, leading me to the conclusion that this guy might be a good Toyota mechanic, but he’s not a Landcruiser mechanic. We left and headed back to seller’s house, my wife now driving.
After 10 minutes she pulled over complaining of a headache and insisted she could smell something that reminded her of antifreeze. I popped the hood and saw no evidence of leakage from the engine, no spots on the pavement, so got back in and continued driving while she navigated. We were now well past the quarter tank mark on the fuel gauge, so I pulled into the next gas station to put a few gallons in.
In those few minutes while pumping gas, it became quite clear what I would be facing if I made him an offer. Sure, he loved this 40, but the poor guy was NOT mechanically inclined, and just like the PO of mine, when something needed work he just took it to a mechanic and paid whatever he was charged. Over the past 21 years he had only fixed things when they broke. Classic case of DEFERRED MAINTENANCE DUE TO BENIGN NEGLECT.
I had already made a list of what I thought needed to be done based on the dozen times I’d studied his photos, and it had now doubled just from that one hour drive. Uh oh. Fever gone. I couldn’t justify to myself paying more than $5k, and even doing all the work myself, I’d be spending another $5k and several years of weekends and vacation days to fix it all. I'm not saying it's not worth what he's asking, it's just not worth it to me. I didn’t want to insult him with a lowball offer, so after we pulled into his driveway and got out I told him there was just too much that needed to be done for what he was asking. He reacted philosophically to the bad news (relief!), and with that we got in our truck and headed back to Las Cruces.
As we drove and talked we both complained of headaches. OH MY GOD, we must have been breathing CO2 from that exhaust leak and had mild cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never had that before! Luckily it passed and we treated ourselves to a great local Mexican meal in Williamsburg.
The next day I sent him an e-mail thanking him for letting us drive off in his 40. Then I said this:
“ For what it’s worth, I made a list of what I found, positive and negative, about your 40:
+ The body is clean, with the expected rust spots. The frame is rust free and solid. All the parts are there.
- The door strikers are not like the originals on mine, and I suspect they are not the correct ones for yours. Adjustment is problematic and maybe impossible.
- All four doors desperately need new weatherstripping AND adjustment. Both door windows need new channels AND adjustment of the window lift mechanisms.
- The entire floor pan is riddled with surface rust, and needs to be naval jellied, ground smooth and rustproofed, then primered and painted.
- The door cover panels are shot and need to be replaced.
- The dash cover is shot and needs to be recovered or replaced.
- The floor mat is brittle and should be replaced.
- The shifter boots need to be replaced.
- The seat belts need to be repaired or replaced.
- The rear sill is rotted and needs to be replaced.
- The turn signal lever does not auto cancel and needs either repair or replacement.
+ The engine is solid and has most of the original parts. No apparent fluid leaks.
- THERE IS A DANGEROUS LEAK IN THE EXHAUST SYSTEM – CARBON MONOXIDE IS ENTERING THE CAB FROM THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT. My wife got a bad headache as we were driving back to your house and smelled something we later concluded was CO2. Before we had reached Belen we both had headaches and she felt dizzy. I strongly advise you to NOT drive without the windows down and the vents open, and not very far.
- The valve clatter is very loud and you should have them adjusted.
- The electric fuel pump is distractingly loud and should be replaced with the original manual pump.
- I suspect the water pump bearings are failing.
- The engine will not hot/warm start without using the choke. Something needs to be adjusted, repaired or replaced.
+ The brakes work, and the steering tracks straight
- The brake fluid desperately needs to be flushed and replaced with new fluid.
- The rear drums need to be inspected. I suspect they not only need adjusting, but the brake cylinders may need rebuilding or replacement.
- When braking, there is a disconcerting shudder in the last 10 feet of braking coming from the front end. I noticed your front hubs are not ‘free’, but are locked, which may be the cause, and at least should be inspected.
- The steering at low speeds is very difficult. The tires don’t appear to be inflated to the proper pressure.”
I will say I do like that 40, and was still interested in it after all that. Hell, all of this stuff listed is doable, with enough money and time. At the end of the e-mail I even offered him $5k for it, which he politely declined in his response. My point is I wouldn’t have learned everything I did about it by staring at a bunch of photos or watching a You Tube video. If you’ve read as many Mud threads as I have, you’ve read quite a number of buy first, inspect/regret later Tales of Woe. The cost to me of this eye opening inspection and drive, was the round trip gas and a couple meals, but it was an INVALUABLE experience that will serve me well the next time FJ40 FEVER HITS

And it will… oh yeah… it will. :confused:
 

TheHardWay

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For over 10k with the rear sill needing to be replaced, as sign of a lot of serious rust issues I would have passed on it right there.
Undersill.jpg
This is the underside, below the sill. You can see the amby door stop captive nuts. It's the worst section in the whole body underside and I believe could be driven many years like that. Give me time to learn how to weld!
 

RAYJON

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I am still amazed at what people ask not knowing a thing about land cruisers and having done no PM in years... add up all that was wrong and what it would cost in a shop to fix it... 5k was a fair offer.... BTW opening up the valve lash will help hide a wore out cylinder head... goes with scotchbright in the breather/pcv valve... that may also have been the reason for the hard warm start... valves not sealing. f motors run well even wore out...
 

TheHardWay

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I am still amazed at what people ask not knowing a thing about land cruisers and having done no PM in years... add up all that was wrong and what it would cost in a shop to fix it... 5k was a fair offer.... BTW opening up the valve lash will help hide a wore out cylinder head... goes with scotchbright in the breather/pcv valve... that may also have been the reason for the hard warm start... valves not sealing. f motors run well even wore out...
Yeah, he admitted he hoped it would be bought by someone for a frame off restoration to be sold for $40-60k, thus justifying his asking price - - well, yeah, it could happen - - sometimes you just get lucky!
 

TheHardWay

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Maybe, although he'd already turned down an offer from a buyer in Alabama of 10,500. He was such a nice person, I didn't have it me to try and crush his dream.:oops:
 

JohnnyC

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That was a HUGE 1st post :)

I think I will need to buy the cliff notes if anybody is selling them lol

Kidding ... It was a fun read

The steering could be just unlubed steering components combined with non power steering

Do not get rid of an oem floor mat... Use 303 protectant on it... Let it soak lay it on thick... Save it.... If you should run across what you think may be a bad dry cracking oem mat again :)


Alot if things on a cruiser are fixable/repairable/rebuildable

If your doing the work.... It's not all that bad... 6-7k as pinhead said would be more inline IMO for an offer
 
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TheHardWay

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That was a HUGE 1st post :)

I think I will need to buy the cliff notes if anybody is selling them lol

Kidding ... It was a fun read

The steering could be just unlubed steering components combined with non power steering

Do not get rid of an oem floor mat... Use 303 protectant on it... Let it soak lay it on thick... Save it.... If you should run across what you think may be a bad dry cracking oem mat again :)


Alot if things on a cruiser are fixable/repairable/rebuildable

If your doing the work.... It's not all that bad... 6-7k as pinhead said would be more inline IMO for an offer
Yeah, I gotta admit, I wanted that floor mat BAD. The strip between the driver's seat and the door, however, cracked when I lifted it to look at the floor rust. Been wondering if that's something that could be repaired. Even the area under the gas pedal wasn't worn out!
IMG_3515.jpg
 

allan man

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Doesn't look bad at all as mentioned above, I would rather buy something that I can see how much surface rust actually exist compared to someone who rattled can the frame.Most 40s at that price range all look like that. I didn't read the entire 1st post, did you buy it?
 

TheHardWay

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Doesn't look bad at all as mentioned above, I would rather buy something that I can see how much surface rust actually exist compared to someone who rattled can the frame.Most 40s at that price range all look like that. I didn't read the entire 1st post, did you buy it?
Nope. His asking price was 12.5K. Before the inspection I would have offered 10. After the drive I knew there was a s***load of work to do and 5 seemed generous, but by then I wasn't so keen on buying it, spending 500 to rent a truck and trailer it back to Cruces, and my wife and I were feeling a little sick from the carbon monoxide we'd been breathing from the drive, so we left.
 

allan man

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12k seems a bit high, however 6-7k cruiser with minimal rust are hard to come by.....prices have gone up since you typically see cruisers on flee bay go from 20k- and up.
 
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For that price you can do better. I have seen some nicely restored ones going for around 15k. Not nut and bolt restorations, but they don't need much work. Prices these days seem like they are all over the place at the moment.
 

FJ404345

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Lascrucer, I think in this case you got saved by the Fj40 madness bell ,because you brought your wife with you. First I had my doubts when she had gotten a headache, but you had gotten one too so your fine.

This one is a difficult call.

It looks to be bad maintained and had no TLC over the years.

On the other hand it seems it never have been used offroading with the special battery set up like that.


:cheers:
 

TheHardWay

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12k seems a bit high, however 6-7k cruiser with minimal rust are hard to come by.....prices have gone up since you typically see cruisers on flee bay go from 20k- and up.
Totally agree. Some of the junk being auctioned on Ebay makes me laugh, and I'd have been willing to go to 7 or 8, but there's a lot more to the sellers story than I felt comfortable disclosing in my posting, so he will either get lucky and find a high end buyer, or maybe we'll be talking again. I can wait.
 

TheHardWay

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For that price you can do better. I have seen some nicely restored ones going for around 15k. Not nut and bolt restorations, but they don't need much work. Prices these days seem like they are all over the place at the moment.
Yeah, two weeks ago there was a Freeborn Red one from Albuquerque on Ebay. I watched the last half hour of the auction, and it was crazy fun. Winning bid was $19,450. I had asked a couple of questions about it that the seller didn't answer, then the day after auction ended he sent me an e-mail telling me the winning bid didn't have the money to pay for it. He then offered it to me for $16K. Since I was driving up there to look at the beige one I asked this guy if I could check his out too. He said it was crated and in a storage building, and he was in Georgia recovering from surgery and wouldn't be back until November. I smelled a rat, and let it drop. From the pictures, though, it was a great looking, beautifully restored truck.
 

TheHardWay

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Lascrucer, I think in this case you got saved by the Fj40 madness bell ,because you brought your wife with you. First I had my doubts when she had gotten a headache, but you had gotten one too so your fine.

This one is a difficult call.

It looks to be bad maintained and had no TLC over the years.

On the other hand it seems it never have been used offroading with the special battery set up like that.


:cheers:
She was totally for the purchase BEFORE we took it for that fateful drive. Her senses are much more acute than mine, and she's been watching me these past 10 months working on the Olive Green Beast, Zeke, and was very helpful pointing out things that she saw, heard and smelled as we put the seller's rig through the 3rd degree. She would have offered 6K.
 
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My biggest disappointment is the fact most the emissions are gone and header replaced the stock exhaust. Later models in original condition are getting harder find. In the southwest having a rusted sill doesn't mean there is a bunch of hidden rust like many other parts of the country. Look at the pictures underneath and under the hood. Tag on the hood probably means it never been painted. If your looking for yourself the price might seem high but I'm guessing a restorer who plans on flipping it would rather paid more up front than take it apart and chase rust everyway. Late time I remember seeing a replacement tub it was around $7K or higher. Not even sure what the current status is of getting one. Rear sills are a couple hundred dollars. Because of all the non stock running gear being run in these usually not to hard to find replacement running gear parts. Twenty-five years ago it wasn't easy finding a FJ40 disc brake axle. If you did it wasn't cheap. I expect prices on the 40 series to continue to rise. In a couple years someone reading this thread will probably say I wish I could find a FJ40 that clean for $10K.

I think if I was the owner I would try eBay a couple of times and then just part it out if it doesn't sell. Would rather do that then sell it for $6K or $7K only to have someone put $5K into it and sell it for $25K. Which wouldn't be to hard to do. The before pictures wouldn't look too bad as a starting point. Which helps sell it when the buyer sees the before as well as the after. Your not going to be wondering how the bottom of all the door were replaced and was the top rusted out.

As for laughing at eBay prices those tend to lower than what some of the auctions are bringing. This is where market is heading on 40 series. It's not just what is this worth as a used car but what is it going to be worth as a collector. Used you look at what is going to cost to fix. Collector looks at what is going to cost to get it restored and how much is going to be worth if I sell it. I don't think it to the point of buying and paying someone else to restore one. The restoring will still be the one making the best profit. But restoring yourself you can make a profit. Hasn't been that way always.
 

TheHardWay

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Reply to Living In The Past: this had been hit by a septic tank truck back in '93. Only required a replacement passenger fender and side apron, but owner decided to have entire rig repainted w/original Desert Beige. What I didn't like was that the body shop masked off window and windshield weatherstripping, so IMO you can't claim it's original paint.
Having the rig up on a floor hoist allowed him to take excellent pix of EVERYTHING under there, and you can see it hasn't been messed with AT ALL. I don't mind admitting I still want to get this rig, but until seller is emotionally ready to let it go for $10K or less, it ain't gonna happen.
 

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