Rescuing a 1981 BJ42 from a rusty demise in New Zealand (1 Viewer)

Joined
Dec 15, 2015
Messages
67
Location
Atlanta, GA
My dad and I really enjoyed our first frame off resto of our 1973 FJ40. As of writing, it’s still in progress, but that’s how these things go, isn’t it ;) The link to that build thread is in my signature, but for now its time to kick off the build thread of the newest member of our cruiser family, a 1981 BJ42 from New Zealand!


My family lived in NZ for about three and a half years when I was in middle and high school. My dad left his job when we left Atlanta, and began looking around for a business opportunity while we were in NZ. He ended up buying a section of remote native forest on the North Island (in Taranaki) and got involved with the production of native Manuka Honey in the region. He also built a hut (cabin) on the forest block, and he and I both love spending time there hunting, hiking or just enjoying the seclusion. When I say this hut is remote I mean it’s really remote: you drive for 1 1/2 hours away from the main road until you get to the end of that road (already in the middle of nowhere), then you drive a quad bike or super rugged off road vehicle (think: Land Cruiser ;) ) up a dirt track across our neighbor Paul’s property for another 45mins until you get to the end of that track, and then you find our hut. Partway up that dirt track, there is an old derelict house that used to be the residence of Paul’s father. Here’s that house:

houseSite.jpg


We bought the land in 2010, and the hut construction was completed in 2011. In that time, we drove back and forth past this house more times than we can count, without ever giving it much more than a passing glance. The Land Rover you see in the picture was an old farm vehicle that dad bought for about $400 and used solely for transporting materials up to the build site of the hut. It has since stopped running and we haven’t had the time or motivation to save it, as our loyalties lie with Land Cruisers. But I think it is a pretty nice final resting place for the old girl.


After we moved back to Atlanta in 2012, we got our first FJ40 (a 1976 SBC) and began what will probably be a hobby of ours for many years. After selling the ’76, we bought the ’73 that is now being restored. Throughout this process, I did a ton of reading on Mud and other sites, learning about these vehicles. Then, on one of my dad and I’s return visits to NZ over my summer break in 2014, we were driving past the house on the dirt track as we always do and I did a double take on the vehicle parked in the garage. It had been there as long as we had, but we had never even walked over to see what it was. But now, after all my reading and looking at pictures, I thought I recognized the rear windows and ambulance doors of a 40. And what do you know, we find this!

P2201072.jpg


Inspection of the VIN plate and registration (last registered in 1999) reveal that it is a 1981 BJ42. What a find! We couldn’t believe we’d been driving past a cruiser for about 5 years, a few years of which we’d owned our own cruiser in the states, and never realized there was another one right under our noses! Our next move was obvious to both of us: we needed to rescue this cruiser, give it the frame off restoration it badly needs, and then return it to NZ to be given a second lease on life right on the land where it was destined to rust away before we found it. Luckily, my dad has a good business and neighborly relationship with Paul, who said we were more than happy to have it.


So that’s where it stands now. Paul told us it ran fine when he parked it in the garage 15 or so years ago, and that he just didn’t need it anymore at the time and hadn’t bothered to do anything with it since then. Obviously 17 years in an exposed shed hasn’t been kind to the metal, and this will not be the easiest of restorations. But now that we’ve got one under our belt (almost), we know just enough to get ourselves into trouble! So here’s the rough plan we’ve put together: We will use one of the trucks or loaders that my dad owns/has access to (from his business connections in the area) to get the cruiser down from the house to the road. From there, we will flatbed it into town where we have a depot where our honey business is headquartered. Here, I will use some of my time in NZ this summer to disassemble it and prep it to be shipped to us in Atlanta. Here we will use our local shops that we’re familiar with to complete the restoration, and then ship the finished product back to NZ. This is a better solution than doing the resto in NZ, since we don’t live in NZ anymore and don’t have the same access to cruiser professionals like we do now with ACC and Tony at Circle Paint. Shipping is estimated to be about $1000 each way, but seeing as we got the vehicle for free, this is considerably cheaper than the ’73 we bought off eBay.


So that’s the plan! If it all works out, we’ll have a LHD 40 in our northern hemisphere home, and a RHD 42 in our southern hemisphere home! Who knows what the timeline is on this becoming a reality. With me soon to enter my third year at university and dad continuing to be busy running and growing his business, our time to wrench on cruisers is decreasing considerably. But we both enjoy it enough that I’m sure we’ll make time. And once we bring a pile of rusty pieces home from NZ and drop it in our carport in Atlanta, I’m sure my mom will provide plenty of motivation to get it put back together and out of her driveway!


I'll record the whole story here for your entertainment and my own posterity. It should be a pretty good one by the end. Thanks for reading, and welcome along.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
8,566
What kind of restoration are you planning? Resto mod? Nut and bolt stock? Tseven in France sells stainless steel tubs for a pretty reasonable price. Would give a huge jump to such a project.
 
Joined
Dec 15, 2015
Messages
67
Location
Atlanta, GA
What kind of restoration are you planning? Resto mod? Nut and bolt stock? Tseven in France sells stainless steel tubs for a pretty reasonable price. Would give a huge jump to such a project.

We'll be keeping it all original like our '73, and yes, we'll definitely be looking to replace the tub. Only significant appearance thing we'll likely change is the paint color. Dad and I both dislike red, and after all, there are too many Freeborn Red 40's out there. Probably go for Mustard Yellow.
 
Joined
Dec 15, 2015
Messages
67
Location
Atlanta, GA
nice story mate, i was going to say look for a donor tub, but an 81 bj42 tub would be rare.
Yes, especially a RHD one. I'm going to have to figure out how much of it is comparable to a LHD FJ40 tub, since they will be much easier to source stateside. I guess I had assumed that nearly everything from the cowl back was basically the same? Besides the floorpan, because the gas tank is on the other side. I don't have a good idea of how much we can save from the current tub, but just from the detailed pictures my dad has sent recently, I'd say we'll at least need to replace the rear half tub. That's probably the best case scenario.
We'll just cross that bridge when we come to it! I'll be arriving in New Zealand in mid-May and will definitely have more updates/info/pictures around that time. Thanks for the interest everybody!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2007
Messages
974
Location
New Zealand
I got my fj40 from New Zealand too :) the firewall, dash and windshield should be the only differences in the tubs, the floor mounted park brakes are in different locations but the mounts and captive nuts are there for either side, spend a bit of time grinding out welds and spot welds and you should be able to swap bits between LHD and RHD tubs
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom