New Cruiser Owner - need tips and advices (1 Viewer)

Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Oklahoma City, OK
21 y/o m, bought my 97 cruiser back in May of this year. $6k, 255,000 miles, good condition (usual minor body flaws, interior wear, but no mechanical issues or rust), trustworthy seller who gives me tips when I text him, seller regularly comes into the coffee shop that I work at, came w custom rims and 37" tires, custom NWTI front bumper, sony head unit w aftermarket speakers, 'yota rack removed and gutter mounted rack added, turn signals and running lights/brights were swapped for clear housings (? haven't seen this on any other cruiser so idrk), no spare :(, old man emu stabilizer, no 3rd-row seats (I would've just sold 'em when I got the truck so seller saved me the hassle of getting on craigslist), factory locking dif, lifted by prev owner but idk how much - I'm guessing 2-3".

so far all I've done is change the fluids, new battery, new alt, new starter, working on replacing the bearing in the ac pulley (having trouble getting the snap ring out since I can't see into the pulley from above), working on installing subwoofer (need to get started on my toolbox/bed platform before I wire that bish in and secure it).

for my toolbox/bed, I'm doing that myself; I'm capable enough at woodworking to handle a simple box. I can add my plan details for that in another post. but basically I plan on either ripping out the passenger-side second-row seat or figuring out a way for it to fold and work as the head of the bed. wide drawer under bed-side of box (passenger-side). area behind the driver's-side second-row seat will be taller for 2 drawers and I'll put the sub up against that seatback. I'll cut off the inside panel of the tailgate for another storage compartment.

want to get a metal rear bumper for spare that I also need to get. could also mount jerry cans and hi-lift jack there. a ladder would be a plus, but not a necessity since I'm 6'2" so if I add running boards I'd easily be able to reach the middle of the roof basket (below).

will also get a winch (for the front, duh) at some point, I'm not going down any big trails anytime soon so it's not the most necessary accessory at this point.
plan on setting up a second battery (I've done light research, blog post said to get a marine/boat battery for the secondary since it's better built to drain to 0. that's about all I know).
not really interested in getting an air compressor anytime soon, but I could be convinced otherwise if there's something I don't know.
will get a light bar when I get a basket. need to find a good pair of small led's for the ports on the bumper. (damn lights are stupid expensive; I get the prices of most things, but why are lights still so expensive in 2020?! people build gaming pc's for the price of those lightbulbs)
want to get a rooftop basket and mount a homemade shower (plumbing pipe painted black ya know).

I don't want a rooftop tent cause I'd like a basket for storage. I like camping but I hate setting up tent poles, so I had the idea of making my truck into a tent for solo (maybe duo w a lady) adventures (since there'll be a bed inside). my idea was a custom tent that would store in a box up in the rooftop basket; it would ideally be able to be set up in under 2 minutes. the tent would encase the entire truck (w 20" give-or-take ground clearance the wind going under the truck would make it very cold inside very quickly I imagine). I plan on moving to the CO Rockies around march of '21 so I'm worried about how cold the inside of the cruiser may get while camping in the Rockies in the winter. basically, imagine one of those portable tent garage things that would store in the basket. would not have any poles, would be supported by the truck beneath. would include a tube to fit around the exhaust and direct the gases outside the tent, would also have a couple of carbon monoxide detectors in the cruiser and tent for extra caution (though I don't plan on running the truck while under the tent much, I'd just like the option to do so). this idea is on the back burner for me, I'm more focused on the toolbox and general restoration of the truck (again good condition, but much to be improved). maybe this is a stupid idea, again I'm new to the industry but it seems cool and useful to me. again I could be wrong tho.

I expect/hope the engine lasts another 10 years. open to getting a healthier, less driven fz-fe once this one dies, not big on the idea of an American LS in my Japanese truck. found a turbo kit from wits' end for $6k for this engine. hopefully my current engine will have enough life left in it for that turbo by the time I have the money for the kit. otherwise I'll have to get a new engine at the same time, less than ideal imo but maybe a blessing in disguise? I expect it'll be at least a year or two before I have the money for the turbo.

I'm new to driving a truck, only ever driven sedans daily (learned to drive on an Expedition tho so the cruisers nothing new, I'm a good driver). this is my only vehicle though so it's best I keep it available for daily driving since I work most days, however for mechanical issues I'm obviously able to figure out a ride should the truck need work over multiple days. I have some experience in woodworking and general handiness. I'm fairly smart and a quick learner so I'm more than willing to dive into the guts of the truck. OKC has CruiserCorps so I plan on going by there and getting some advice from those guys sometime. I enjoy the outdoors, but I'm not a huge trailhead. so I don't anticipate going on any intense trails anytime soon, definitely not going rock crawling soon (a financial burden I don't care to bear for something that doesn't excite me nearly as much as a light trail to a scenic view) also not huge into muddin' (though I did some light mudding this past summer, I'm not building a farm truck is the point). this is my daily driver that I want to be overland-capable. Camping and hunting are much more my speed as opposed to rock crawling, muddin', or intense trail climbing.

sorry if that's a lot, I'm new and just being thorough. please lmk any mechanical issues I should watch out for, any accessories/projects I should look into, any ideas you have about anything I've talked about above. I'm new to the cruiser family and need guidance; I greatly appreciate any advice/tips/wisdom you guys have to share!
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Comet

Knower of little, master of less.
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Joined
Nov 22, 2009
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Location
Southwest Virginia
A lot of what you said was lost in translation. I read that you paid an acceptable amount for a decent vehicle. You are tall. You hate tent poles and a box in the back (minus the 3rd row seats) will house all your four season camping gear. Somewhere you will store a Russian bride. Please correct if i am mistaken.
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
207
Location
Bellingham WA.
Congratulations on both a nice truck and being aware (at such a tender and green age) that paragraphs are actually a thing. A little verbose though don't ya think? :slap:

Nice to see your enthusiasm, you've picked the proper platform to spend that on. The rig should last you at least another 100,000 miles if you baseline it correctly. You should be proud, it's a nice truck. :cool:
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
607
Location
Eastern Washington
Get yourself a factory service manual. They used to be available for free or you can pay $15 for a subscription for a month and download one here:

TIS (toyota.com)

Since you have contact with the previous owner ask if he knows when the front axel was last gone through and if he changed the Pesky Heater Hose (PHH) or not. In fact, if you can, get a list of all the preventative maintenance work he did and compare to what you can find on here.

As to the AC pully, assuming I understand what your challenged with, you don't take it off by removing the snap ring. There is a bolt through the center and then you loosen up the tensioner bolt (accessible from under the truck after removing the front skid pan) and it drops out. The snap ring is only there to remove the bearing from the center of the pulley but typically you buy the unit as a complete assembly (bearing + pully) and you probably can't get that out with the unit still on the truck.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Oklahoma City, OK
Hahahaha y'all are great. honestly did not expect responses so soon. glad to see some people cared enough to read part of my novel and still care to reply, so thank you all
A lot of what you said was lost in translation. I read that you paid an acceptable amount for a decent vehicle. You are tall. You hate tent poles and a box in the back (minus the 3rd row seats) will house all your four season camping gear. Somewhere you will store a Russian bride. Please correct if i am mistaken.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by translation; maybe a reference to the way I speak/write, either way your synopsis is hilariously mostly accurate. the Russian bride part caught me off-guard and gave me a great laugh so thank you for that.

Congratulations on both a nice truck and being aware (at such a tender and green age) that paragraphs are actually a thing. A little verbose though don't ya think? :slap:

Nice to see your enthusiasm, you've picked the proper platform to spend that on. The rig should last you at least another 100,000 miles if you baseline it correctly. You should be proud, it's a nice truck. :cool:
thank you, I only try to be clear and thorough as to reduce confusion. overlanding rigs and their components seem fairly technical, so I just don't want anyone misunderstanding me and then going down a useless rabbit hole of advice that doesn't even apply to my situation. I consider myself one of them "ideas-man" so as soon as I got the truck my mind was instantly intrigued with learning about it and personalizing it for my needs. plenty of ideas to be had and hammered onto the truck so I hope the rig lasts my lifetime and much longer (with the occasional engine rebuild/replacement).

Get yourself a factory service manual. They used to be available for free or you can pay $15 for a subscription for a month and download one here:

TIS (toyota.com)

Since you have contact with the previous owner ask if he knows when the front axel was last gone through and if he changed the Pesky Heater Hose (PHH) or not. In fact, if you can, get a list of all the preventative maintenance work he did and compare to what you can find on here.

As to the AC pully, assuming I understand what your challenged with, you don't take it off by removing the snap ring. There is a bolt through the center and then you loosen up the tensioner bolt (accessible from under the truck after removing the front skid pan) and it drops out. The snap ring is only there to remove the bearing from the center of the pulley but typically you buy the unit as a complete assembly (bearing + pully) and you probably can't get that out with the unit still on the truck.
will do on the manual. I will definitely get as much info from the prev owner as he's willing to give before I've annoyed him too much :). I was able to remove the a/c clutch (? I think that's the wheel on the front of the pulley), but my goal was to do the a/c project at home since it's just a squeaky bearing. I don't want to have to take it to a shop to drain the system and remove the whole pulley, I was hoping to just fish the old bearing out (while leaving the pulley attached to the block). If that's not going to be possible, then I can muster the funds to have my mechanic friend help drain the system, from there it'd be real easy to remove the whole pulley, pop in the new bearing, and slap it back on. again, this just seems more costly and labor-intensive than I previously imagined necessary. I haven't messed with that "issue" in a while since it's gotten cold (so I don't need a/c) and I took the a/c belt off to keep from hearing the awful sound of a squeaky bearing. I can get in there again and post a pic of what the pulley looks like currently. i thought that if i was able to get the snap ring out, then i could just pull the pulley wheel off, replace the bearing, slide it back on, add the ring, then screw the clutch(?) back on simply. again I'm untrained so this could all be impossible or far more difficult than i thought it'd be. i just don't want to deal with the hassle of emptying the system if it's not necessary. lmk how wrong i am

someone deflared and sprayed the truck
yes it's deflared. my father was concerned about the appearance, but I like the look both with and without them so I'm good with it the way I have it for now. maybe one day I'll find some cheap flares and throw them on if I desire that look enough or if there's a function to the flares that I'm not aware of (thought they were just extra protection from mud and water flung from the tires but y'all know way more than me so pls enlighten me if I'm only partially correct). I'm nearly certain that black is the original color and paint job. someone did repaint a few parts for sure tho, I know the panels just below the doors (sorry I don't know all part names) were repainted with decent quality (7 out of 10(?)). based on the quality of their work on those panels, I'd be very surprised to find out they had painted the whole truck because nearly all of the paintwork looks factory. there's a bit of clear coat damage on the doors and a little on the back hatch, but it kinda matches the state the whole truck is in currently so it's fitting. plan on fixing those flaws myself soon though (it's just clear coat, the truck has personality rn that I'm fine with living with for a bit). once I'm satisfied with the quality of the mechanical components, I'll put more energy into the aesthetics and get a full repaint from a professional.

please don't interpret any of this as smart-assery or snark towards any of y'all. I'm a very sarcastic person but I'm also extremely grateful for all of your input. No sarcasm, smart-assery, snark, or other funny comments are directed at any of you. any of those that I do throw in are purely for comedic relief, like the Russian bride comment...that was 10/10.
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
989
Location
KN4YJE LUGOFF, SC
You are more verbose that most, I'll give you that.
Great looking rig. That thing is ready to play on the trails just the way it is, with the possible exception of needing sliders to protect your rocker-panels. But that depends on the trails and if you chose to take the "hard path".
That's no mall crawler, kiddo, take it out and play with it, it will blow your mind where it will go. I'll tell you the same thing I told my daughter when teaching her how do drive in The Mean Green Bean, "It'll go dang near anywhere you point it, don't point it at anything you don't plan on driving right up and over the top of."
Go with a friend, because if you get that beast stuck, it'll take two more just like it to get it out. LOL

There was a recent post about knocking the pully off an AC compressor, FlintKnapper posted a pic of the taken apart unit. I'll see if I can find it for you.
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
989
Location
KN4YJE LUGOFF, SC
here it is:
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
533
Location
Colorado
Looks like someone had the forethought to deflare THEN mount an appropriately configured front bumper. Kudos on that.

A quick note on a heat source other than the Russian bride for winter camping ...if you intend to camp at altitude in CO - above 8kft (which is easy to do here) - your standard-fair propane heater with built-in co2 sensor will not function reliably due to lack of O2 at that altitude. It will cut out regardless of actual co2 measurements.
So...your options are a fire (dodgy given all the fire restrictions of late), an electric-based heater (costly on resources for lengthy stays) or a white gas heater of some sort.
Proper ventilation will be based on retention of faculties while in use. lol
I use a 40 y/o Coleman catalytic heater and just make sure it warms up outside the tent before bringing it into the tent - or the truck on a couple occasions when I didn't want to burn vehicle fuel. They put out some stank, so it's not ideal but better than no fire, especially when solo (or when the Russian bride says she married you to get TF out of Siberia).
 

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