ROTW ROTW - Fast Eddy's '78 FJ40

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Apr 4, 2006
My last name is Martini, and this is my Olive. I keep threatening to make shirts.

I'll thank you all for making this happen. I've bought tons of parts from many of you. Thanks. I may hate mud, but ih8mud rocks! :flipoff2:

These two pictures, including the PO are from the day I picked it up. This was April 13th, last year, so I've had it exactly 10 months. I'm happy with the progress, but I wish I'd done more wheeling.

He charged me an arm and a leg, and wasn't completely honest, especially about the brakes. OTOH, I've sold a couple $thousand worth of the parts he saved, and used many more myself.

When I got it there was a residual valve in the front disc circuit of the master cylinder and one of the pads was metal-on-metal, tearing up the rotor. I still haven't replaced the rotor. I put in some Kragen pads shortly after which will get me to a future front end rebuild.

My goals have been to continue to make it better for a fairly low budget while keeping it running as much as possible so I can enjoy it. I've gone on two wheeling trips and 3000 miles on it in a year. The longest it was down was from Thanksgiving until New Year's getting a new carb and exhaust.

It's a survivor. The paint is all original with four major areas of rust. It's not getting worse, really, despite living in the driveway. It's only rained 5" here since I got it.

The only thing that was not original is the engine. The PO hot-rodded the original engine and told me that over 6000rpm wasn't a problem. He cracked the crank. I've got it on a stand, covered up in my back yard awaiting a future rebuild. He also included a nice spare crank which is safely stored away in the garage.
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First weekend

The first weekend I spent sorting through the truckload (literally) of parts I got with it, and using the obviously-better parts like the mirrors.


I installed the jumpseats and eventually all the original seatbelts. Here's what it looked like after removing the PO's woodwork and taped roll bar padding job. You can kind of see a rust hole peeking out of the sill on the left. Unfortunately you can't see the 3/8" nail that is taped to the bottom of the left door to get it to close.

It came with the window sticker, a stack of receipts and two FSMs. I think I paid about $1000 for them. :rolleyes:

Someone likes it though.
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First big repairs

I got a spare rear end with the truck, so instead of dealing with the brakes, input shaft bearing and seals on the old one, I cleaned up the spare (<30k miles according to the PO) and had the springs rearched.

I always think I'll bring it back to the spring shop to have him massage a bit more of the cruiser lean out of it. You can see the difference between the shackle angles in the last picture. The u-bolts and plates are the only thing I've had powder coated so far. They came out nice, but not 10x nicer than rustoleum, so that's been my weapon of choice since then. You can take the boy out of the farm, but...

A year later it needs a seal on one side, so an Aussie locker is in my immediate future if they ever get any in stock.

Notice the dual exhaust. It came from a 2x3 header.
Other Suspension Fixes

At the same time as the brakes and rear end, I splurged for Bilsteins.

My steering rebuild included new:
  • shocks
  • spring bushings
  • steering stabilizer
  • rag joint
  • stock steering wheel
  • tightened up center arm and drag link

You can see the steering wheel that came on it in the picture of the new mirror above. It was a well-used leather Grant from about 1980. The PO wanted it for his garage wall, so I gave it back to him. In exchange I got him to go up into his attic for my soft half-doors and the original steering wheel. You can see the stock wheel above with the tach and radio.

With these fixes and the skinny tires in the more-current pictures below it drives great!

I didn't take as many before pictures as I should have. Maybe it's better to forget stuff like this:
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The brakes are a sore subject for me. I always have considered myself to be a :banana::banana::banana: mechanic. During the brake rebuild I made a bunch of mistakes and do-overs and got discouraged and depressed. I bought parts from the shaman and got the wrong parts twice. He actually told me I was the first person to get mis-boxed from Toyota. He told me this twice in two weeks. :eek: Being the kind of guy he is he made it right without question, and then some.

Eventually I got it sorted out, but my 'new' master cylinder now needs to be replaced to make them perfect. I cracked the front piston and it scratched the cylinder. It's good enough for the street, but I suspect it won't hold on a steep hill.

The jury's still out on DOT 5 silicone brake fluid. I've had the master apart and the seals seem normal. My last resto was a '69 Corvette 427 3x2 bbl L71 Convertible. No one ever hesitated to use DOT 5 in those, and I wasn't warned about it until it was in my Cruiser. I've heard it's very hard to get it cleaned out, so I'll be the guinea pig for it's use in a Cruiser.

I had the rear drums turned a tiny bit just to remove the rust. The shoes are original and 75%. I replaced the cylinders after this picture was taken, just so the whole system would be new.

The picture of the front rotor is the one that was damaged due to a completely worn out pad. It's still working pretty well. I replaced the soft brake hoses sometime after this picture was taken.

The booster originally worked, but went bad while I was working on the brakes. I got two used ones and ended up using the one from a '91 4 Runner. It barely fits, actually touching the hard brake lines on the right side of the picture.
calipers 019 sm.jpg
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With my truckload of parts I headed over to Stockton to George's (OrangeFJ45) swap meet. I arranged to sell the wagon wheels and tires to one guy who drove down from Sacramento, then bought these steelys from George for the same price!

This picture is before the spring work, so it's still sitting low. I love the look with the stock steelys and hub caps.
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Topless Picture

Within a couple weeks of getting my truck the rain let up, we took the top off and we headed out to the Henry Coe State Park Backcountry Weekend. The Boy Scouts do parking control, so I don't have to win the lottery they hold to keep the numbers down. It wasn't any kind of four wheeling trip, but there was some dirt and creek crossings, and this picture is nice.

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Cooling System

In August my son and I took the Cruiser on a 2 hour trek for our first visit with a newborn cousin. We had ongoing brake issues on the way there, but survived.

On the way back the lower oil cooler hose blew on the freeway. I didn't know there was a lower oil cooler hose at the time. It's way under there. I was pretty sure it was the head gasket. The engine was hot and that's where the water was boiling. I should have been more patient and looked around. We could have fixed it and driven home, but instead we took public transit home. It took almost 6 hours to make all the connections.

The next day I rented a trailer to get the Cruiser. This is the only picture I took of the whole affair. We have a nice tow rig at least. It's a '93, the first 6.5 TDi and the only year with carry-over mechanical fuel injection. It has 180k miles and besides needing glow plugs, it runs like new. Now that I think about it, it's half as old as the Cruiser.

Afterwards, I replaced every hose, the water pump, and had the radiator rodded out. Now it cools perfectly.
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Preservation, not Restoration

An early picture with the original ambulance doors. Body work isn't my top skill, so I've since put on the spare doors and deferred that part of the body work to someone more capable.

I used every original screw I could find in my copious stash. It turns out I had a full set. I sanded the rust behind the hinges and painted the spots with Rustoleum for now. Many of the holes were too stripped out to hold a screw before. You can see in the top picture, many are missing. By running a tap into them, then being careful when tightening, every hole now holds tightly.

As you can see, this isn't really a restoration, so much as preservation. I'm like an undeclared major. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.

I haven't done any body work or rust repair to the replacement doors yet. I did go around the rain gutter before I put the top back on in the fall and sand the rust, prime and paint it the wrong color. I'll make someone a fine PO one day. It's almost not noticable when you're standing there looking at it. This picture makes it look worse than it actually does.

Note the original Dunlop Sno Cruiser spare. I've got two.
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The tach cut into the dash was the one thing that almost caused me not to buy this truck. In retrospect, though, it is very functional, and pretty well done. I might take it out and repair the hole if I were to do a real resto someday.

One of the carefully saved parts that I appreciatively installed was the original AM radio and speaker. I've since aquired another better-condition speaker that I have yet to install. It's only ball games and traffic reports anyway. :crybaby: It would be pretty cool to find an AM modulator so I could use it with an IPod.
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Tow Bar and Bumper

With real seating for only four I need a way to bring my Cruiser along on getaway weekends. We've got the truck and a Suburban which can both flat tow this truck without much trouble, so I went looking for a tow bar.

I got it from member 'slickrock' from down Visalia way. Good bunch of cruiserheads from down there. It was only a bit over $100 shipping included, and it's way beefier than any I've seen for sale. sells one that is similar.

The first two pictures were from the first day I got it installed and I towed it over to Home Depot to improve the safety chain situation.

The last picture I took this morning. I got the bumper gussets from orangeFj45, cleaned and painted them. The bezel is white rustoleum primer for now. I've got this and another ready to go to the powder coater. The bolts are grade 8 sae from Home Depot. The new safety chains now cross over and connect to the tow hooks. The tow hook clips are from SOR and are supposed to be OEM blued steel. It seems to me they shouldn't have rusted?

The headlights are Euro Hella H4s that were there when I bought it. The light bar is 1" square aluminum stock. The aux lights are only wired under the hood. They come on with the high beams. That way I didn't have to make any mods to the wiring harness.
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The Bilsteins were a bit over $300. That was my biggest single splurge until the Swampers. I wanted a more aggressive look than the A/T TAs. I sold the set of five for $300 and got four 31x9.5 Super Swamper LTB Radials for about $600 installed. I've been using a Sno Cruiser for a spare.

The Swampers are about 7.5" at the tread. They have the look I was after.

Before and after:

On our first outing to Hollister we neglected to bring a camera. We were by ourselves on a hot afternoon, and not feeling very adventurous. We had a great time anyway. No pics though. I'm sorry.

We went through one of the rock gardens and generally did more obstacles than I thought we would.

Our 2nd trip was the big one. Surf & Turf '06! It was awesome!

We got stuck about 30' from where we turned onto the soft sand at the camp site. Some helpful mudders recommended 10psi and we spent the rest of the weekend unsuccessfully trying to get stuck. There were a few dunes that were too steep and tall to make it up, but we never got stuck. The little Swampers rock!

Here's my trusty copilot and son, Nick. He's digging a jeep trap.

Check out the stylish green doors. They close well and I've got an original key that works after swapping the lock cylinder.

After Pismo we did the Turf part of S&T. At the top of the Mountain we checked out both sides of Garcia Ridge, hiking up to the Condor Lookout on the west side and wheeling a good bit of Garcia Ridge Trail on the East side. Some of the rocky climbs were more than we bargained for, but we survived. The Holley carb stalled us out on the steepest, most technical climb and my poorly adjusted brakes made the tow-heel-ebrake restart pretty hairy. No pics from Garcia Ridge.
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Carb and Exhaust

It came with a Holley and dual 3-into-1 headers and dual exhaust. I suppose it was a bit more powerful, but all of it was old. The Holley caused the motor to stall exactly twice in exactly the two most precarious spots we ever got ourselves into. It threatened to stall a bunch of other times. The header flanges were a mass of embarassing, noisy leaks by the time I took them off and sold them for beer money.

All the smart money on the board is on rebuilt original Aisin carbs. Mr. PO saved mine for me nicely. I met and wheeled with Mark A. of Marks Off Road Home Page at Surf & Turf, so I gave him the nod and sent my carb down when we got home.

It wasn't free, but the result is very nice.

This is the first set of hard lines that I bent up. I made a few more sets, kept the best set and sold the rest.

In parallel, I had the rusty original Thermal Reactor exhaust manifold sand blasted. This revealed a few little cracks, which I patched with a Permatex product and otherwise ignored. Then I painted it with Aussie Nu-cast VHT Manifold Coating Paint. It's holding up ok so far.

After another bout of brake issues and finally getting them figured out, I got it to the muffler shop. They reused one of the dual pipes, and its two cherry bomb mufflers. I had them take the 2nd header flange and bolt it to the first, then weld it all up to a SOR-bought exhaust manifold flange. This way I have a 2' removable section of pipe just behind the exhaust manifold so I can get it out of the way if I need.
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More Carb, Exhaust and Fuel Lines

I'm a bit embarassed I didn't do anything to the air cleaner that's on top of all this work. I'll get to it. I even used the stale old air filter that's been stored in it for 20-odd years. Not pictured is the cold-air extension that takes the air from in front of the radiator, near the hood latch. The PO saved it all. You can't see the $60 exhaust manifold bracket either. I guess I should thank him.

You can see the final routing of the hard lines we made.

And the EGR block-off plate we made. I've got the EGR parts, but I wanted it on the road. It will need to pass smog less than four months from now.

You can see, in some of the early pictures, the ultra crappy seat covers. My kids liked them for some reason, so I kept them on until I couldn't stand looking at them any more.

The passenger side seat back is in nice original shape. The driver's back was pretty torn up, and the seat bottoms had some stylish indoor-outdoor carpet glued to them.

I shopped around for some new covers, went to a shop and got a quote, and eventually ended up buying one good used '76 passenger seat cover from member FJResto for $100.

I put it on myself and painted the frame and brackets with Rustoleum. You can see some more evidence of preservation on the floor. I wire-brushed the rust, primed and painted with rustoleum. I'm starting to think about having just the floor done in color-matched Line-X. There's a large spot under the clutch pedal where the clutch master leaked fluid and took off all the paint. I haven't done anything to it yet, and it's rusting some.

I'm still looking for a seat bottom cover for the passenger side.


The '76 seat has one additional rib instead of a stitch that's almost not noticable. There are some extra holes towards the center because this was a passenger seat originally. I added some foam on the outboard side of the bolster that looks and feels like crap. I'll probably bring it to the shop where I got a quote and have them fix the seat bottom foam, now that I know it matches well enough.

The passenger side is waiting for someone to sell me another seat bottom cover. Hint, hint...

Compared to many I've seen, my rust isn't bad, but I have some. I'll get around to patching it all this year. I promise.

You can see my little LED trailer lights above the backup lights. The red color of the '4' is fingernail polish.

  1. Right rear
  2. Left rear
  3. Windshield
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