New body for the family 55 (1 Viewer)

Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
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Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Hello, I am a long time landcruiser lover. I have owned 2 fj 40s , two fj 55s and three fj 45s. I live on an island in Washington's Puget Sound, and have for over 40 years. I have four children who were raised here. The older kids all learned to drive and got their license in our family wagon, a 79 fj55. Flash forward way too many years and the poor old 55 is/was a virtual rust bucket. I loved and cared for that wagon with my heart and soul, having lost a previous '70 fj55 to the road salt devil. In 1984 this 5 year old 79 was a near mint beauty when I bought her. We went on many family camping trips, often pulling a 1966 aloha travel trailer with the polished, waxed and lubricated Piggy. Well. as often happens, the family changed, the wife left and took the 55 (and the 80) and the kids and I fended for ourselves. Not so bad, really. A few years later my oldest son and I tricked her outa the 55 and it was his... Then mine again. I'm really sorry for all the drama, but it gets better. Well somewhat. The 55 has served us very well over the last 20 years as a sort of 'lifeboat' to get all our essentials up our mountain road when the snow was too deep, the ice too slippery or the road was just plain washed out. To the best of my knowledge it remained chained up on all four wheels for the last ten or 15 years. As Neil Young pointed out, the rust never slept and I ended up with a fine running and hard pulling rusty landcruiser. Long before I bought my first landcruiser (the 70 fj55) I got involved in ancient ford trucks. Mostly one ton and larger. I have owned probably 30 of them. So Here I am today grafting the body/cab of a 47 one ton onto my beloved old fj 55. I have a set of 33 9.50 15s on mini truck wheels, which fill out the 47 ford one ton wheel wells quite nicely. They rode on 34" dia 7.50 x17s back in the day. I have 3 full cabs for this type of ford, but I'm starting out with a factory ford cowl assembly to get the geometry right at first. At 67 years old it involves less bending over. I have seen sooo many old ford trucks put on suburban chassis with the wheels sticking out like a hotwheels car or gag, placed on an s10 or ranger 2wd frame and slammed to the ground with 22" rims. Gag me with a tire iron. The 55 has the same track width and is a natural fit. I have the rust free body parts I need many times over. So far my investment has been 4 sawzall blades and some oxy-atcetylene and a few cuttoff wheels to remove the old body.

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Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Thanks guys! As I mentioned I have a bunch of these trucks. They are pretty cheap to buy and also to fix once you have amassed a personal junkyard of '42-'47 ford trucks. I enjoy a challenging project and over this past winter I installed a cummins 6at 210 cu in, 120 hp turbo diesel in my 47 one ton pickup. It's bolted to an SM465 and has the stock 4.86 rear axle. Fasted speed limit on Orcas is 40 mph and it's very hilly. Worked out perfectly. In the 3 years of spare time before that I cut everything but the cab and windshield off a '46 half ton (on the trailer) and created a woodie wagon by eye with a pile of maple boards. Just wanted you guys to know this isn't like one of those CL ads where some guy mocks up a bunch of junk on another bunch of junk, gets stumped and lists it as a rat rod.

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red66toy

GOLD Star
Joined
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Seattle, WA
Alright! Looking forward to following this Gary! Hopefully we can connect again out at Orcas in the future. :)
Cheers
 
Joined
Sep 9, 2020
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Location
Oregon
Hey island45. I have been looking for a factory box for a ‘44 I have been using in my yard for art. Do you happen to have an extra? My truck was a war era stakebed originally. The front fender turn signals have been converted to pop up sprinklers :)

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Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
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@island45 remember someone picking up a 45 in my area (AZ) years ago, that wasn't you was it? Seems your familiar with old trucks. As an late teen/young man drove a number of trucks usually over 2 tons. Many of them had what was called a split rear end. This were two speed operated by a knob on the transmission shift cane. Cable ran from knob to the rear diff. Always thought would be cool for the rear diff in my FJ45. Have any idea how light of truck had these rear axle. By your age sold like might have had experience with these trucks.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
The 45 in the first pic came to Orcas in 1967 when it was new. Bill bought it in Cali and was headed to Alaska in it. Well, he met a cute girl on Orcas on his way north and never made it to Alaska. He started a chainsaw shop instead. When I came here in '76 I tried so hard to buy it from him to no avail. Finally years later he called me and said 750.00 with valve imbedded in a piston. That's when pic #1 was taken. I set it up with a 2f and a full floater from Canada oh, and a set of 16" splits from a junkyard in White Rock BC. You can see my 55 already had the 16s. That 67 eventually ended up with Landpimp, who may still be a regular on this site. In the interim I did buy a central Oregon '66 45. Dammit, a perfect body but that got away too. The Arizona truck came from ShoLow AZ and was an internet find with no engine,stored 26 years and I bought it for 2500. That is in a thread here called 'Late Thursday of Early Friday', the projected delivery rate. I love the yard art but only have two pickup boxes, a 6 1/2' talf ton and an 8' one ton and too good for yard art. Having made my living with my hands and living on a rock, (and having 4 kids) I never got to put much away for retirement so now I still work everyday in the woodshop, and glad of it. This current project is a way for me to keep active with my hobby and be creative and not buy a bunch of expensive and hard to find parts. It blends two of my passions and who knows?, My kids will be able to drive their families around the island on summer visits in their 'high school car'. Well, sort of.....
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
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Oh, as for the split rear axle question I have only had one.... In this two ton. AND it needed it. It was vacuum operated like an early transfer case with a knob on the dash. Ask Spotcruiser about the dirt road leading up to my place. He will agree it was essential.

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From the early seventies until about end of the seventies worked for a number places that had trucks with split rear axles. Was the first place I learned to drive a stick shift. Couple of fifty's pickups with column shift and fifties 16' stake bed with a split rear axle. Northern AZ isn't flat by any means. With the loads I was hauling needed the two speeds in the rear axle. Probably the closest I'll ever get to driving a two speed rear axle again is a Fairey Overdrive.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
19,470
When I can't sleep my mind wonders to who knows where. Tonight one of the things was this picture.
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Just had to find to confirm my memory had the right person. Forgot you sold that 45. Probably why I haven't seen post from you. My best chance at a 55 was going on twenty years ago. Was going to buy one from a wrecking yard for $500. When I went to get it a yard monkey had drove the long forks on a forklift thru the windshield and lifted the 55 to move it. Someone had sold it to them with the engine in the back. Clean title and rust free. No 55 so I don't wonder down that far on Mud's main page. Stopped at the 45 section. January will have had this one twenty-five years.
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So where is the main build thread going to be in the 40/55 section or down at the bottom in the 55 section? Interested to see how it comes out.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
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749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Yesiree, that's me a week or two after the 45 arrived from Show Low. I think I will keep on posting on this thread, as It should have a more diversified group. Besides, I can almost feel some piggy guys holding back the tears as one of their 'beloved' wagons gets chopped up. Since this is a tech forum I might tell you where I am mechanically with this oddball contraption. As mentioned, I drove it down from where it was stored in a shed to strip it in front of my shop. I would say equal thirds of oxy-atcetylene, sawzall and cuttoff wheel. The front brakes are shot and they stick on, so lately I have been using the parking brake. I now have new rotors, calipers and pads. My plan all along has been to make certain that this will even work before getting into the mechanicals and for the most part I now feel it will. This afternoon I should complete the grille panel with better 'jailbars'. It needs to look good for my sanity. After that I will pull the front sheet metal off and weld on my newly fabbed front bumper brackets to adapt the ford front bumper. I will keep the cowl on for now so I can figure out my first big challenge. BRAKE BOOSTER. With this much narrower firewall there is no way I can fit even a small booster, never mind the stock one. I want power brakes and front discs. This being a '79 has factory PS (and 3.73s). I see two solutions I will look at. One that intrigues me would be making a cross-shaft mounted on heavy steel with ball bearing pillow blocks supporting a shaft 3/4"? that has two levers with adjustments. This would adapt the stock booster over to the passenger side. There is a lot of real estate on that side. Sure, it's kind of wacky, but I'm cheap and I even have some new pillow blocks. Another would be wilwood's backwards facing master cyl pedal bracket. For the brakes it uses two side by side brake cylinders. Both small bore with a clever adjustment bar that is used to proportion the front/rear ratio. It is available with a third cylinder for the clutch. They are compact and available optionally with remote resevoirs, which would be easier to fill than from under the dash. About 375.00. Not sure if I'd wanna go with hydrovac. Ever heard of anyone doing either of these?

 
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Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Finding good body parts for an FJ55 is so difficult and/or expensive. I have so many 47 ford truck parts, many from Montana and other dry western locales. When I need a part I just go down to my boneyard and pick what I need. I already have a bunch of old trucks so I'm thinking of a 2 door 5 passenger convertible body of my own manufacture. Like my home made woody wagon it will be a sort of driver/beater for the dirt roads, but with those 3.73 gears it will spend some time on interstate 5 for sure. I taped a photo of my project onto my kitchen window and traced the outline, then sketched a preliminary body. Could be wood like a 47 ford sportsman convertible of made from scrap metal. Not sure, time will tell. Hoping to spend less than a grand. I have lots of parts here on the ten acres and a sawmill for the wood. Oh and a lifetime collection of tires.

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Tank5

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Joined
Nov 16, 2009
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2,785
Neat project, Subscribed.

The first car I bought was a 49 GMC pickup. I have often thought it would be cool to have that truck again to re live the early days but off course now I would put a land cruiser drivetrain under it or swap the body on an 80 chassis. No time for that now, so I will watch you do it.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Pulled the front sheet metal off in one piece yesterday as my two boys came by for a socially distanced beer (or two). Today I hot wired the skeletal cruiser and fired it up. No radiator so kept any runs to about 30 seconds. Did a compression check. The '79 2f has 195 k on it. 142-135-135-145-140-141. It hasn't been driven farther that 1/2 mile in at least 15 years. Now I will get after those stuck brakes. Have the major front parts, but the rear drum setup will need everything. The fire wall is so narrow I could use factory booster, but there'd be no room for a clutch master. Wilwood's twin brake master and clutch master assembly (3 cylinders) takes up something like 8 1/4" total width and protrudes into engine bay like 4 1/2" . All this is well short of the carb. It seems expensive to me, but probably cheaper than a crash and all those lawyers arguing in the courthouse about a home made brake system. Ok, time for a turkey sandwich....
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
749
Location
Orcas Island in NW Washington State
Pulled the front sheet metal off in one piece yesterday as my two boys came by for a socially distanced beer (or two). Today I hot wired the skeletal cruiser and fired it up. No radiator so kept any runs to about 30 seconds. Did a compression check. The '79 2f has 195 k on it. 142-135-135-145-140-141. It hasn't been driven farther that 1/2 mile in at least 15 years. Now I will get after those stuck brakes. Have the major front parts, but the rear drum setup will need everything. The fire wall is so narrow I could use factory booster, but there'd be no room for a clutch master. Wilwood's twin brake master and clutch master assembly (3 cylinders) takes up something like 8 1/4" total width and protrudes into engine bay like 4 1/2" . All this is well short of the carb. It seems expensive to me, but probably cheaper than a crash and all those lawyers arguing in the courthouse about a home made brake system. Ok, time for a turkey sandwich....
Well it's brake decision time. Talked to wilwood on the phone and they need the diameter of the caliper pistons and the rear wheel cylinders. The masters for their pedal assemblies are available in 6-1, 7-1 or 8-1 ratios. I have opted for the 3 masters in a row. Clutch, front, rear. There is a balance bar between the front and rear masters that is threaded and the rod is moved side to side to give infinite proportioning between them. Would somebody know what the brake part sizes are for a 1979 fj55? I would appreciate it thanks. Also, you can see the alternator there. Is it internally regulated? If it has a regulator it will still be attached to the cut up body somewhere like a fender well. I also got the steering hooked up and running it, the power steering is flawless as usual. Heres some pics. I am cleaning things up finally and have the champion aluminum radiator installed. This rad is made for flathead ford trucks that have had a small block chev adapted. The hoses are located very well for the 'Fordcruiser'. Oh and the last two are showing (on a junker wheel) how a period correct ford hubcap fits a stock LC wheel. I may go capless though....

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