New PNW GX'er

Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
107
Location
Kitsap Peninsula (WA)
Howdy All.

I've lurked here for well over a year and am now happy to report that I just recently acquired a 2004 GX (finally!). I have been looking for a new project for some time now, having been out of the wheeling scene since about 2003 when I sold my SAS 1986 Toyota short-bed truck (owned since new!). I started out looking at 100-Series/LX470's but was put off by the asking prices relative the condition of the vehicles out there and my budget. I think I started my lean toward the GX thanks to the Budu Gear build of their GX: THE BUNDU GEAR BUILD - LEXUS GX470 - Expedition Portal and later on, Dan's GX project.

That, plus the rising prices of 4th-Gen 4Runners, sealed the deal. I was more or less waiting to be completely moved back west after a 10-year sentence living in Michigan. Now that we are here and settled (Seattle area), the time was right! Mine has fairly high mileage (~200k) but has a fully-documented service history from day one and 13 miles: two timing belts/water pumps, new radiator, new brake calipers, new CV boots, x-fer and diff fluid changed as recommended by Lexus as well as other fluids, filters, etc. It's got NAV but other non-NAV examples either had sketchy service histories or questionable title status. The truck runs great and has no squeaks or rattles to speak off!

Some of you may remember me from the old 4x4Wire and Off-Road.com/TLCA Mailing List days ("WTF is a 'mailing list'?" :rofl:). I'm no stranger to Toyotas or off-roading so if you recognize me, say hi (@little_joe). In a past life I was a Toyota tech and eventually moved over the corporate side, working for Toyota at their powertrain R&D Centers in Los Angeles and later, Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Home" has always been the PNW though, so I hope to spend a lot of time getting into the back country and exploring this beautiful area.

Just a rough list of preliminary plans for the GX, not in any kind of order:

  • 255/80-17's on stock rims or FJC take-offs
  • FJ Cruiser-Trail Teams take-off suspension
  • Skid plates
  • Snorkel
  • ARB or Ironman Bull Bar
  • Lighting
  • Rear storage
  • 3rd Row delete
  • A VERY thorough detailing and cleaning, especially the interior
Thanks to everyone for posting their projects and builds...it's great for inspiration and an awesome source of information! Hope to see some other Seattle/Tacoma/Everett/East-Side GX'ers out there soon!
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
250
Location
Riverside, CA
Welcome- I look forward to seeing your build come to fruition.

Is there a specific reason for the trail teams suspension over other available options?
 
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
1,078
Location
Gilbert, AZ.
Welcome aboard!

Bundu Gear GX - funny, that was for sale across town a while back. Some travel of mine at the time made it a bit difficult to go actually see it in person but when my schedule cleared, I was really interested and pushing the seller for a little while trying to coordinate a time to get over to him. He didn't get back to me despite being really active via phone and email early on. He later sold it to someone else (which is great). I still wound up with a white GX, did the lift/suspension on my own with a couple buddies and couldn't be happier......
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
107
Location
Kitsap Peninsula (WA)
Welcome- I look forward to seeing your build come to fruition.

Is there a specific reason for the trail teams suspension over other available options?
Mainly cost considerations. This will be a budget build so I'll be looking for take-off suspension from a TT FJC or a Tacoma TRD (for the front, at least). I think that set-up will net about a 2" lift. When I was at Toyota R&D, we'd play with suspension combinations from similar series vehicles for ride and drive evaluations and one swap was a Trail Teams suspension swap into a 120-Series 4Runner. That setup resulted in a nice ride with a slight lift so I'd like to try that in the GX. I can likely adjust the height with trim packers for the rear if the FJC-TT springs don't quite offer enough lift. It will be a bit of experimentation at first so I'll report on my findings.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
107
Location
Kitsap Peninsula (WA)
Welcome aboard!

Bundu Gear GX - funny, that was for sale across town a while back. Some travel of mine at the time made it a bit difficult to go actually see it in person but when my schedule cleared, I was really interested and pushing the seller for a little while trying to coordinate a time to get over to him. He didn't get back to me despite being really active via phone and email early on. He later sold it to someone else (which is great). I still wound up with a white GX, did the lift/suspension on my own with a couple buddies and couldn't be happier......
Thanks! Yeah, that truck really got me thinking about the GX over the 100-Series and of course, Dan's GX helped as well. I remember seeing the Bundu Build on eBay but at that time, I was half way across the county and really wanted to create my own ride. What's funny is that I spent nearly 10 years working on these things (and Tacomas, 4Runners, LX's, etc.) and never realized their potential. I guess one gets complacent working around them day-in, day-out. At the end of the day, you just don't want to bother with them anymore...LOL!
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
250
Location
Riverside, CA
Thanks! Yeah, that truck really got me thinking about the GX over the 100-Series and of course, Dan's GX helped as well. I remember seeing the Bundu Build on eBay but at that time, I was half way across the county and really wanted to create my own ride. What's funny is that I spent nearly 10 years working on these things (and Tacomas, 4Runners, LX's, etc.) and never realized their potential. I guess one gets complacent working around them day-in, day-out. At the end of the day, you just don't want to bother with them anymore...LOL!
It's interesting to have someone here who has worked for powertrain R&D at Toyota. There's so many things we can pick your brain on! I'd like to hear what conditions determine timing belt life if you are at all familiar. Was your team allowed some creativity in your work- such as sticking V8's where they don't belong (thinking regular cab taco with a 4.7 and 5-speed, ha!)?
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
107
Location
Kitsap Peninsula (WA)
It's interesting to have someone here who has worked for powertrain R&D at Toyota. There's so many things we can pick your brain on! I'd like to hear what conditions determine timing belt life if you are at all familiar. Was your team allowed some creativity in your work- such as sticking V8's where they don't belong (thinking regular cab taco with a 4.7 and 5-speed, ha!)?
Timing belt life is typically researched on dyno test engines as part of a durability cycle. This test isn't specific to timing belts but the overall longevity of the engine components as a whole. We'd run 24-hour durability cycles on, say, a series of maybe 2-3 2UZ-** engines with about a 10 minute shutdown every hour for engine oil checks. Toyota Japan would determine the amount of cycles and dictate when the engine test would be complete. At that point, the engine would be completely torn down, tolerances inspected and every component cataloged, measured and photographed. Ultimate determination of replacement of preventative components was the responsibility of a team in Japan that considered many other factors such as cost. There is a fine line between dictating when a part (or even fluids, for that matter) SHOULD be replaced and when the consumer might determine it to be too excessive or too costly. A balance needs to be set at some point so that the product is competitive with other brands and the consumer/owner isn't saddled with frequent (and $$$) trips to the dealer. The car business is a crazy one. It's all about profits but the Toyota model differs in that they want repeat customers even though they produce a product that can accumulate many hundreds of thousands of miles. They really have that part figured out.

LOL! If we weren't drooling over 200-Series Land Cruisers with cloth seats, 1GR V6's and 5-speed transmissions (with Arabic writing on all of the documentation/decals) we were likely just stuffing the newest version of the 4.6 into a current model year Tundra. We did mention several times that a V8-powered FJC would be cool though! Toward the end of my career there I was uploading different software updates into tow-package Tundras to set the temperature at which point the thermostatic trans fluid cooler would open up: Upload software, test drive, log data point, repeat. Really exciting, huh? :bounce:
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
107
Location
Kitsap Peninsula (WA)
In all fairness, many of the test trips were fun; tow testing in Death Valley and along I-70 (Eisenhower Tunnel) in Colorado, off-road trips to Big Bear and durability runs at the proving grounds. The laboratory work was the most tedious though.

Keeping things on topic, here's a pic of my old truck:


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That was taken at the Obstacle Course at Hungry Valley SVRA right after I completed the SAS. I do plan to head back to SoCal so I'll be sure to hit you up.

Once I get the GX cleaned-up I'll post some pictures and start a build thread. Who's up for a Puget Sound area GX meet?
 
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