New guy with a 3fe and blown head gasket looking for advice (12 Viewers)

Joined
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Ga
Hello all first time posting, short time lurker. Thanks for the great site.

Let me preface by saying I am no mechanic but I have rebuilt a couple engines, transmission and transfer cases and have installed several lockers and gear sets. No mechanic, but I am familiar with wrenching on things. I am however new to the TLC wold and am quickly learning that locating parts and info is a little more difficult than finding things for a 90 model ford or chevy. Anyway....

I recently acquired a 90 fj80 with a known engine issue. No compression on 1 and 2 so off the head came. The HG was blown between 1 and 2 but other than that it looks ok. The 80 is not at all trashed but it is well used and am trying to decide the best route to go to remedy this problem. It is set up with an OME 2.5" lift, front winch and aussie locker in the rear.

So far this is the only TLC I have ever driven and I have no idea what a properly running 3fe is capable of. I dont want to sink a ton of money into a complete rebuild only to be dissatisfied and end up swapping in an LS (have an Lq4 on a stand now) in a year or 2. However I am very much the type to do things right and do them once.

The options I have come up with so far are:

1. Clean up the head and block the best I can and put it back together with felpro gaskets, but order the OEM set to have for a future date IF I want to do a complete rebuild in the future. I will also install a new water pump and thermostat and maybe reseal the timing cover and install a front main. (if thats possible, havent found out yet what a front gasket R and R entails). I will also most likely send the injectors off to be tested/rebuilt. And I pretty much desmogged it to get the head off. Cats already ran away before I got it. This would allow me to see if I like the 3fe without shelling out a bunch of money up front and decide if I want to gather parts to rebuild it correctly or start gathering parts for an engine swap.

2. Go ahead and pull the engine. Have it and the head checked out/cleaned up and order what I can while I see what bearings and rings I will end up needing and do a complete rebuild.

3. Dont bother doing anything to the 3fe and start gathering parts for either an LS swap or 4bt. I do have an LS sitting here (need to open it up to check condition/reseal) and may have 4bt I can get from a backhoe that I would for sure rebuild and turn up (I deal with diesels on pretty much a daily basis, I'm much more comfortable with them, cummins especially)

I'm sure I forgot some details but will quite typing now as seem to be getting long winded. I have read and read for days but I could really use some advice sooner than later so I can get this ball rolling as soon as possible.

Any info, opinions or advice is welcome. Thanks in advance.
 

Stoshu

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The 3FE is pretty underwhelming even when in top running form, and especially with the 80's AWD dragging it down further.

If you have the time, resources, and a solid LS engine to work with, I'd go for it. I'm currently gathering the parts to swap an L92 and 6L80E from a 2007 GMC Denali into my 91 FJ80 and am really looking forward to it. Pretty involved swap, but the end results seem to be well worth the effort. Here's an 80 series MUD thread that details a number of LS swaps.


Good luck with your decision!
 
Joined
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Plano texas
Hi, I blew a head gasket at 70,000 miles. We now have 400,000 on the same head gasket. This engine will run 75mph just fine...while towing our trailers and three of our 4 boats. The bigger boat we have to slow down to 65. Mike
 
Joined
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Ga
Stoshu Thanks for the quick reply and the link. I have started reading about some of the swaps here but have spent more time reading up on the 3fe. I am sure the info is out there, but if you would humor me.... whats the best way to mate the offset transfer case to a GM trans? I have seen the split case referenced here and there but not exactly sure what the means.

I would consider just running an atlas but to my knowledge they dont offer an offset rear output.

Oh, and why I am not real excited about dumping a bunch of money into the 3fe for a rebuild is the numerous comments I have read much like yours above about the 3fe being less than impressive from a power stand point.

Thanks again
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
165
Location
Baton Rouge, LA
The 3fe is a tractor motor. It is the closest gas engine can be to a diesel as far as simplicity and power band that you will find on the road today. Pull that head, clean both surfaces and look for other problems. If you dont see anything obvious, stick a new oem Toyota head gasket in there and torque it down. You will need a couple other gaskets like a the intake/exhaust gaskets and the thermostat housing to head gasket. If it had good oil pressure and compression before, there is no telling how long it will run. You can check the head for straightness but it is all cast iron so if there are no cracks, it is probably good. Might cost you $200 tops. Is it a gamble, maybe but this is a very old design and pretty forgiving. Worth the risk in my opinion. Just DO NOT use anything but a Toyota gasket.
 

Stoshu

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Nov 1, 2014
Messages
565
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NE PA
Stoshu Thanks for the quick reply and the link. I have started reading about some of the swaps here but have spent more time reading up on the 3fe. I am sure the info is out there, but if you would humor me.... whats the best way to mate the offset transfer case to a GM trans? I have seen the split case referenced here and there but not exactly sure what the means.

I would consider just running an atlas but to my knowledge they dont offer an offset rear output.

Oh, and why I am not real excited about dumping a bunch of money into the 3fe for a rebuild is the numerous comments I have read much like yours above about the 3fe being less than impressive from a power stand point.

Thanks again
As mentioned, the 3FE is a fine engine, it is just painfully underpowered in this platform. That is just my opinion, and you know what they are worth. If you've never driven an 80 with a 3FE, try to find one at a local LC club event and see if you can drive or get a ride in it. Pretty sure you'll be able to make an informed decision after that.

The easiest solution for the GM trans to the HF2A FJ80 transfer case is a Mark's adapter. While they are a bit spendy, it really takes the guess work out of the problem and places the T-case in the OEM position. Here's a couple links:

4L60E to HF2A

6L80E to HF2A
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
165
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Baton Rouge, LA
Just for clarification I am not arguing against the LS swap. As a 3FE owner myself, I had considered it myself once my 3FE dies. A head gasket on a 3FE is not as big of a deal as a blown head gasket on a 1FZFE and in no way should be the reason to do the swap. If for no other reason, a running 3FE without a blown head gasket can be sold to a 40 owner for more money than it will cost to fix it.
 
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Jul 15, 2014
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Babson Park, Florida
As someone going through the same situation I would recommend having the head magnfluxed first. It may have cracks or previous repairs that make the head a boat anchor like the one on my son's project truck. Currently having a head I sourced here locally being rebuilt with SBC valves.
 
Joined
Dec 14, 2020
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Ga
Thanks for all the replies.

After some more time in the shop last night inspecting and measuring (I know the ls will fit but was curious how tight) both the 3fe and lq4 I think my plan is the NellC said and put a HG in it. However I will be pulling the heads on this lq4 to inspect it and go ahead and start to rebuild it for a swap in the future.

Really I want this thing running as quickly as possible to see what a TLC is really capable of. I will install new parts where needed like water pump and hoses in the even I do get lucky and the new HG holds for a year or 2. Should be ready to drop in next winter.

I will build the lq4 for low end tq and let the hp end up where ever.

I will see about getting pics but I'm not that computer inclined.

Keep the replies comings. I've got a plan but that can always change.
 
Joined
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Ga
Just checked out the adapters. Spendy, yes. However coming the the engine mounts and having the guess work done for you is definitely worth something. Thanks for the links
 

RockDoc

I'll take Bruce Vilanch for the block.
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Use Toyota gaskets, make sure you check / retorque the head bolts after install (after 2 or 3 heat cycles check them and adjust the valves, again after say 500 miles).

What type of use will the truck see? Trails, gravel and secondary roads it'll be fine if in good tune, freeways not so much.

Make sure the throttle and "kickdown" cables are adjusted fairly taught to get the most out of the engine, you should be able to hold a gear to say 3600-3800 rpm with foot to floor. In my experience with FJ62s a 3FE & A440F don't come to life until 2500rpm. Balancing gearing and tire size can make a huge difference.
 
Last edited:

Broski

I love Wheelin my 80
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Thanks for all the replies.

After some more time in the shop last night inspecting and measuring (I know the ls will fit but was curious how tight) both the 3fe and lq4 I think my plan is the NellC said and put a HG in it. However I will be pulling the heads on this lq4 to inspect it and go ahead and start to rebuild it for a swap in the future.

Really I want this thing running as quickly as possible to see what a TLC is really capable of. I will install new parts where needed like water pump and hoses in the even I do get lucky and the new HG holds for a year or 2. Should be ready to drop in next winter.

I will build the lq4 for low end tq and let the hp end up where ever.

I will see about getting pics but I'm not that computer inclined.

Keep the replies comings. I've got a plan but that can always change.

My vote was for the LS swap, But I do believe that a new HG well get you up and going while you work on the lq4.
After 5 years of ownership the 80 still impresses me with it's capabilities, you well not be disappointed;)
1608039356003.png

If you have a smart phone it's super easy to upload pictures if you take them on you phone, go to Mud on your phone write your reply, lower right hit attach files it well give you options, select photo library, then select the photo you want and up load, It's really that easy.
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
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24
Location
Peoria IL
HAHA I just went through this. Cliff notes currently I have the 3fe running but was given a 2004 suburban last week with 260k miles on it, runs great but has a lifter tick.

Long story:

I bought my 92 sight unseen off ebay for a low price but body and chassis was 98% rust free, with a known bad head gasket. I originally planned to just do a head gasket and flip the truck but after having and working on it for the last 6 months I already kind of love it. In the beginning my plan if I liked the land cruiser was to drive the 3fe for 1-2 years then get serious about the LS swap. Literally 1 week after getting the head swap done I was handed a 04 suburban that was owned by my neighbors father and was the family truckster. Basically with the a/c system acting up, and the body rusting apart they were offered $100 for the trade in. It was then given to me and is in running and driving condition. Truthfully if this had happened months before I would have just went full bore LS swap. Even with getting a free engine, transmission, harness, ecu, and gas pedal from the suburban I still figure I will spend around 4k doing all the work myself on the swap. Basically includes, new valve train, a few odds and ends on the ls engine, marks adapters, etc.

Here is a chart of what I did with when putting the 3fe back together. I basically spent 1k but that included things you might not need, like a radiator and o2 sensors. Also you will learn alot from this forum!
PartsPriceWhere
Head Gasket Set
93,22​
Rock Auto
Radiator Cap 16401-54750
13,1​
Toyota parts deal
Aisin Thermostat 90916-03052-J
20​
Rock auto
Oil Dipstick 15301-61040
Cooling Hoses
Upper Rad hose 16571-61140
24,7​
toyota parts deal
Water pump to Heater Upper 87245-90k53 from 60 series
8,08​
toyota parts deal
Water Pump to heater lower 87245-90k36
21,53​
toyota parts deal
Lower Rad Hose 16572-61030
16,05​
toyota parts deal
Lower Rad hose 16573-61060
20,48​
toyota parts deal
Cylinder Head rework
340​
Kinsley machine
water pump
80​
Rockauto
Rocker arm assm
80​
ebay
Radiator
180​
GPI
o2 sensors
82​
 
Joined
Dec 14, 2020
Messages
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Location
Ga
I would use the fj80 for anything it could be used for. I'm in Ga so not a lot of rock crawling but I am offroad almost everyday for work. I would like to be able to run down the interstate with it. If you are familiar with Peterson's Ultimate Adventure, I would set this up similar to the rigs on there. Be able to cruise down the hard road for a couple hundred miles then turn off to wheel, rinse and repeat. Actually have some good friends in North Florida I'd like to be able to drive down to, wheel with, then drive the 250 miles home.

I dont have nor want a smart phone. I did get pics but cant put my hands on the cable to load them up. I will see if I can dig i up today.

Thanks for that list. I ordered the OEM gasket set yesterday and will work on ordering the other parts today along with sending injectors off or cleaning/testing.

Summer is by far my busiest time of year. I think realistically I should plan on getting this thing going as is, gather parts/go through the lq4 and plan on early fall 21 pulling it apart for the transplant. If the head gasket can get my roughly 10 months I'd be happy with that.
 

Broski

I love Wheelin my 80
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I would use the fj80 for anything it could be used for. I'm in Ga so not a lot of rock crawling but I am offroad almost everyday for work. I would like to be able to run down the interstate with it. If you are familiar with Peterson's Ultimate Adventure, I would set this up similar to the rigs on there. Be able to cruise down the hard road for a couple hundred miles then turn off to wheel, rinse and repeat. Actually have some good friends in North Florida I'd like to be able to drive down to, wheel with, then drive the 250 miles home.

I dont have nor want a smart phone. I did get pics but cant put my hands on the cable to load them up. I will see if I can dig i up today.

Thanks for that list. I ordered the OEM gasket set yesterday and will work on ordering the other parts today along with sending injectors off or cleaning/testing.

Summer is by far my busiest time of year. I think realistically I should plan on getting this thing going as is, gather parts/go through the lq4 and plan on early fall 21 pulling it apart for the transplant. If the head gasket can get my roughly 10 months I'd be happy with that.
I am very familiar with the Ultimate Adventure ( I had a 40 year long running subscription with Peterson's) My Reg in Post 13 is built to UA specs it can rock crawl with the best of them and can still run down the highway at 75 mph
Besides whatever motor work you do, Plan on another 15k to build out your reg to UA specs ;)
As far as the smart phone at 61 years of age I get it, I'm retired now but when I was still working a cell phone was a must, and the old flip phone was not cutting it. To me they are a tool, and now that I know how to use it I would not be with out it.
The sooner you take the plunge the better, it won't be long be for the old phones don't work ( they won't service the old platform )
Technology is marching on with or without us, so you can learn as you go or have a bigger learning curve when the old phones no longer work.
I still prefer the computer for internet tasks over my smart phone. PS my pictures load right to the computer automatically from my smart phone no cable.
 

baldilocks

Battle Ground, WA
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Under powered is an opinion and slow is a state of mind. Is a Landcruiser under powered and slow or is patience a lost virtue? The vehicles that everyone harvests those V8’s were never intended to be off-road perpetually like your fj80 was. There are many who love their 3fe and there are those who will never have enough acceleration capability. Opinions are cheap so I’ll give you mine for free. That V8 won’t net you the off-road performance of the stock six cylinder unless you are in very deep mud or desert racing. Why not buy a 90’s blazer If that’s what you really want to feel under your hind end?
 

Broski

I love Wheelin my 80
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Under powered is an opinion and slow is a state of mind. Is a Landcruiser under powered and slow or is patience a lost virtue? The vehicles that everyone harvests those V8’s were never intended to be off-road perpetually like your fj80 was. There are many who love their 3fe and there are those who will never have enough acceleration capability. Opinions are cheap so I’ll give you mine for free. That V8 won’t net you the off-road performance of the stock six cylinder unless you are in very deep mud or desert racing. Why not buy a 90’s blazer If that’s what you really want to feel under your hind end?
Please explain why the LS won't net the the off road performance, There must be some reason big dollar racers use V8 over the inline 6. Thanks ;)
 
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Ga
Baldilocks. If the 3fe was cheap to work on and easy to get parts for I'd have no problem rebuilding it. As far as a 90s blazer, I dont think I have to tell you there are much more differences than just he engine between a cruiser and a blazer.... And here in Ga very deep much is something I encounter a lot, wether I want to or not

Broski, this aint my first build, I am aware of the costs of offroading but I do appreciate the input. As for the phone thing its not that I dont know how. I have had smartphones. Its not that I cant, I choose not too. Im not much more than half your age. If I didnt work alone so much in remote areas and in dangerous situations I wouldnt have cell phone at all but I think thats a subject for another thread.... Thanks for all the advice

PC150457.JPG
 
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Never mind the dirty shop. I'll clean it up this week hopefully. Best I could do for pics with out dragging the thing outside.

PC150458.JPG
 

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