off road test run LJ78 "Prado"

crushers

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Morning all,
Yesterday was an interesting day for us (Berni, Cruiser and I). We were to go to breakfast with some of the local cruiserheads, Bruce and Chris Lowen (agent Orange 13BT 42 series on 35s or 36s), Alex Bukta and Roy Penner (lift turbo 3b 60 with 35s), Herb Peyel (lofted gasser 80 series) and then head off to Jasper for a fuel economy trip in the automatic equipped LJ78 to compare with the 5 spd I tested just recently.
During breakfast Alex asked us if we wanted to come on an "easy" run.
"How easy?"
"Wide trails and a couple small hills and a bit of mud"
"Nah, I just got the rig off the train on wed and it is bone stock. I don't really think it would be wise"
Berni and I returned to the truck and I asked her which she wanted to do. "Let’s go wheeling,” she says. (What a wonderful wife, eh?)
So we head off wheeling after we fill up with fuel and a bit of grub. We followed the group out to one of Roy’s favorite trails. As soon as we get on it I realize that there is no way I can get though this day with no scratches. I just hope there is no body damage.
Now before I go much further I should describe the truck I am driving.
1990 LJ78
Totally stock, right off the train.
Adjustable ride control
Automatic
31” BFG AT tires that I put on the day before for an accurate comparison between the auto and the 5 spd.
Coil suspension
No winch, no lift, no mods.
Elect rear diff lock.

There is no way I should be going on this run.
But it is too late now; once you start wheeling then there is no turning back. It is just too much fun and Cruiser got a long awaited and deserved day run as well. The day was beautiful, a big blue sky above us. A white layer of snow and frost on the ground in the cold and crisp air. We cane to the first hill, a nice long rocky, rough hill. So I stopped and locked the front hubs by pushing a button on the dash, then locked into 4WD by way of another button. Put the t/case into “L” and turned another button to lock the rear dif. So I started up the hill with a couple of concerns, possible lack of power developing as well as a lack of possible traction. Right away I noticed that the engine is very sensitive to throttle application. Very similar to the 13BT (manual), 12HT (manual) and the HDT (manual), just touch the throttle and vroom you move. So as you moved over the rocky terrain you have to be very careful not to bump the throttle or it just got worse, the nice thing is that as soon as you let off the truck settled down unlike the others listed. The tires did surprisingly well and up we went. Once at the top Alex comes up and says “that is the worse of them”, famous last words.
I quickly learned that you can shift from 4L to 4H by putting the auto into “N”, push the 4WD lever ahead and then the tranny back into gear with out coming to a stop. In 4K the truck did no lurching and I also found out quickly that with the gearing the little rig has you only need 4L for steep hills everything else was accomplished in 4H easily. The 2LTE is a very torquey engine with lots of grunt.
The east south facing hills were rocky but dry and the west and north facing hills had a layer of snow and in places ice on them. We were heading west so we were driving down the snow. We got our first damage on the low slung LJ78, as we arrived at the bottom of the final hill there was a good sharp drop and the rear bumper (about the same over hang as the 60 series wagon) caught for a second and loosened the rear center step section.
What a beautiful trail down to a nice stream for our “lunch” break. The stream was crystal clear and had a layer of ice around the edge. The sun glistening off the ice crystals and the clear blue sky just added to the enjoyment of the day.
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crushers

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Now where? Back up the ice and snow covered hill to try an exploratory run back into the hills along a trail none of us had been on before. This usually means carnage to one or two of the trucks. Down a short hill, up a longer steeper hill, breaking through the ice cover mud puddles. And… we are on a lease road, which is like a gravel highway.
We booted down this road for a couple minutes and found the culvert ripped out so I decided to drive the ditch and cross the small creek and promptly got stuck, my only stuck of the day. A tug back and I tried a new line and with Herb spotting I made the crossing. Those BFG AT tires performed impressively all day although they suck in the mud. Back on the road we followed Roy to the start of a new trail. After a bit of a mix up Berni and I got left behind for a minute or two. We found the group again at the top of the next hill so I headed up in 4L to catch up. As we neared the top of the hill there was a trench cut into the hill by runoff. I slowed down to a crawl and dropped over and promptly lost all forward momentum as the next short section had what appeared to be no traction under the snow. I backed into the trench with the idea of getting my tires on both sides and then drive straddling the trench to the top. As I maneuvered around inches at a time I could see it all coming together. I decided to give it a shot and up the little girl went almost to the top but the trench now took a turn that I could not make so with Bruce’s guidance we picked a new line and out the girl came on her own.
At this time Chris (Bruce’s brother) came up and made a heart warming statement “what everyone else is doing with brut force, you are doing with finesse”. This really made me feel good about the truck and my driving skills.
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crushers

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An interesting ooops occurred shortly after we started crossing the creek numerous times. Roy’s tired old BJ60 decided it needed a rest so it flopped on its side and took a break. After some encouragement by Bruce’s winch it got back on it’s wheels and carried on faithfully down the trail.
At no time did I feel a lack of power, I could accelerate up this snow-covered hills. The LJ78 felt like a 70 but with more room and a smooth ride. Berni commented more than once about how smooth off road this truck felt. The 78 have the same wheelbase as the 60 series to the cm. the width of a 70. The rear overhang of a 60 series but the approach angle of a 70. It truly feels like the best of both series. The electric adjustable shocks and the coil suspension make for a great off road truck. I followed Bruce and Roy in their trucks exactly the same places and it felt effortless. Crawling across big ruts, climbing steep rock covered hills, driving through headlight deep puddles we no challenge at any time.
At the end of the day’s run we came to a serious washout that took up 3/4s of the trail. It wasn’t just the big wash that was the concern but the deep ruts leading up to the wash that were the bugger. As we stood around chatting the best way to tackle this section Bruce drives right into the ruts and got stopped. A little turning here, a bit of backing up and getting the line right Bruce was able to drop the front end down into the washout and to the end of the trail. A great feat of driving skill shown by all that attended. Next was Herb in his 80 series. With some spotting he was able to make it down the rutted section without falling in and then down into the wash he went and out the other side. Next was Roy, his 60 being just a couple inches narrower than Herb’s 80 did make a difference as he felt his way around the beginning of the ruts and then headed down towards the wash but to keep his front end up on top he back end had to drop down into the ruts, thankfully the front end stayed up and then down and out of the wash he went.
It was my turn and I looked at the pristine LJ78 and at the wash, I really wanted to go and give it a try. I felt the little girl would make it but the banks were so high that body damage was a strong possibility. As I stood there contemplating what I should do I hear words of wisdom from Bruce. “You have done very well today, why don’t you leave it at that and take the bypass?” so I did take the bypass and the testosterone passed as well. We went out and enjoyed the gorgeous day with great friends, were able to put the LJ78 through its paces and came home with no serious damage. What more could a guy want.

For those that like the capability and ride of the 80 series but cannot afford the 80 series price tag, this truck is for you. We all were impressed with its performance even in stock condition.
Cheers and thanks for following along.
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denis

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Sometimes I'm dreaming of a LHD 70 series wagon tow/ expedition truck :D
The 80 series may have more power and more features and all, it still has a lot of unnecessary body width IMO, its not that roomy inside.
The light duty gearing works well offroad and somhow compensates for the small engines :) What gear ratio do those have in the axles ?
 

crushers

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4.875 gears in the diffs and with the 2.295 t/case it makes for a very capable power range. i am thinking a set of 33s would work good with this setup...
cheers
 

crushers

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This is where i have my dilemma. I like 35” boots, I have run that size for years BUT I also like low and stable. I love to side hill my trucks and I want stability. To fit that size tire on the LJ78 I think you will need quite a lift, at least 2 ½” or maybe even a bit more.
The 33” skinny boots will fit on the LJ78 with no lift so I can stay low. You know as well as I that tire size is the only real clearance gain and that lift is to fit bigger tires to the body be it a spring lift or a body lift. Now that being said a lift will improve the break over angle and the departure angle but not ground clearance under the axles, only larger tires can do this.
Maybe I will try a set of skinny 33s… or maybe I will bit the bullet and try a lift and 33s wide….
 

denis

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crushers said:
Maybe I will try a set of skinny 33s… or maybe I will bit the bullet and try a lift and 33s wide….
I say lift it, put a set of wide 35"s, swap a mech pump in or find a way to trick the electronic one to add some fuel, put the elocker you have on the bench in front, make a couple scratches on the paint and you'll have a GREAT on/off-road, daily duties, expedition truck :grinpimp:
 
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Now I REALLY can't wait to get my truck...one more week, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise...

Thanks for the fantastic report and pictures!

Robin
 

Greg_B

 
 
 
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lowenbrau said:
I'm starting to warm up to that 78 series.
For all my warnings about the L series engines, I do like the platform they sit in. I think they do have a place as a fuel effiecient runabout (EDIT} as long as any owner understands and has been made aware of the issues the heads in these engines appear to have with thermal issues, and drive/work/maintain them accordingly {END EDIT}. If I was road tripping through Mtns all the time my personal preference would be any HD LC engine, but to each their own.

Looks like a great day!

gb
 
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nice looking rig, roomy, factory equip, diesel, what more could you want.

I like the look of her alot Wayne. Can't wait to see some more pics

cheers
 

crushers

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Greg_B said:
For all my slagging of the L series engines, I do like the platform they sit in. I think they do have a place as a fuel effiecient runabout (EDIT} as long as any owner understands and has been made aware of the issues the heads in these engines appear to have with thermal issues, and drive/work/maintain them accordingly {END EDIT}. If I was road tripping through Mtns all the time my personal preference would be any HD LC engine, but to each their own.

Looks like a great day!

gb
for me, i if lived and drove long mountain passes all the time i would look at the PZJ77 or the HZJ77. for the rest of Canada i feel the little LJ will do fine. i was able to run 120 with no problem at all and had power to spare.
i have to agree, if you want long life out of the L series engines then install a pyro, a temp gauge and make sure your cooling system stays up to par. that coupled with proper driving habits and the 2.4 will last you a long time.
cheers
 
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any chance you will ever run into another mine truck? I have a friend in fernie that wants a LC, and currently owns a f250 with a turbo powersmoke, I showed him your restoration and needless to say he was very impressed. He doesn't like wheelin the big rig, and wants to find a cheap diesel LC.

Of cousre everyone is interested, but I was just curious, if there were gonna be anymore, doesn't nessarly need to be road legal
 

crushers

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hummm, "cheap" wheeling rig...
if i find another i will post it up and if it doesn't need to be street legal then that makes it much easier...
cheers
 
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