Rusty Champagne 1988 FJ62 Resurrection build thread

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Aug 16, 2018
Mass/NH Border
EDITED FOR QUICK(er) READING:Quite a few of you have probably seen my random questions and a few issues here and there for the last couple years on this great site. Like most of you, this is my go to web site for info and entertainment as well as dreaming.
A little background on me. I like old things and anything with an engine. I have a job at a family owned limo Manufacturing company. I have access to lots of auto parts accessories and anything needed to build or work on autos.
Anyways, I am on my 3rd FJ62. My first has been my daily driver for the last two years. It runs well, looks good and I maintain it. I try not to mess with it too much and I repair/replace things as needed. Don't mess with a good thing, right?
Bought fixed up/painted and sold an 88FJ62 recently...
That was supposed to be the wife's cruiser, but life got in the way and I sold it for a nice little profit. Fast forward about 20 hours, yes hours, and I was the proud new owner of another very similar 88 FJ62 also in champagne. This one though has a sweet pinstripe. The whole thing is super faded and has some rust to contend with. It is literally growing moss on it from sitting so long. Other than that, it didn't run, had a flat tire, chip in windshield, suspension is shot, exhaust is swiss cheese, Power steering was not working, Horn not working, A/C obviously not working, heat works, bumpers are fair, Left rear brake line not attached and capped, lots of the lights did not work or were totally broken and it was literally full of sand from being a beach wagon for the PO the last 13 years. But for a beach truck it has a very good frame, albeit with surface rust everywhere and some body rot.
So I got it for $1,400 bucks.. Some may say cheap, some may say fair price and others would have walked away. But... I got the disease, so I got it towed home.
I have done quite a few things already to the truck, but in order to keep track of my progress and contribute some entertainment value to this site, I am starting its own build thread. You will probably laugh at some of my repairs which is always fun and other repairs will be done right.
Here we go.
I picked up the truck about a moth ago from the previous owner in Kingston, Massachusetts. It now lives in Haverhill, Ma. Both Left side doors are pretty rusty beyond saving. I found 4 FJ62 doors on craigslist for pretty cheap, but they were on block island. So i convinced the seller to send them over on the ferry for me to pick up. Made an offer of $100 a door because they wanted far more and I picked them up from the ferry. When I found them waiting at the cargo dock they were in a large bin full of water on a rainy day... YAY! They still have glass, mirrors regulators, etc but no door cards or switches. No worries, I got that stuff already, I just need the doors. I will need the rear lift and tail gate at some point too, but will need to wait on those. Mine got some rust holes for sure!
Once I got it home, I charged the battery in it, turned the key and she wanted to start. the gas gauge was at empty, so I put some gas in. Turned the key, pumped the gas and she roared to life and all gauges worked. She didn't want to stay running and it was running pretty rough after probably 3 or 4 years of sitting. Got it to idle and went under the hood to have a peak. Immediately I noticed there was a soft fuel line squirting gas. I shut the truck down and started making a list in my head.
1. repair fuel line.
2. clean out the sand.
3. remove that mahogany deck furniture from the roof
4. see if it drives
5. fix power steering.
Once I repaired the rubber fuel line, I was able to start it and see if it moves... even with a flat front right tire. It moved and I parked it in a normal spot as the tow truck driver just dumped it in the middle of the driveway. I recalled I still have some old OEM wheels with tires on them. So I went and checked and a couple still held air. So I rolled it over and put it on. It now has 4 tires that hold air!
Next was to see how it dove down the road. As expected it was very bouncy due to very saggy leaf springs and tired shocks.
Then I found a new fuel filter in the box in the back of the truck and wrestled that in there.

EDIT: Half assed power steering fix below.. read on if you's like

I wanted to then see if I could get the power steering working again. The PO had to bypass the return hose under the rad due to a leak a while back, but that was fine. I put some Dexron type IV ATF in and it started to squeal until it got the right amount of fluid in there. It was swirling all around so I knew it was working or trying to. Hop in, popped it in drive and turned the wheel and it worked. Looked back under the hood and noticed the feed or high pressure side was leaking just before the steering box. Not wanting to shell out for new line and tear the whole front end apart to replace both high and low sides, I cut that hose out and replaced the line with an ATF fluid line to the steering box. I tried to attach the new high pressure line to where it connects at the line coming out from under the rad, but it has no barb. So... when I tried to turn the wheel without the vehicle in motion, the hose popped off and fluid went literally everywhere!!! So, I realized that wasn't going to work. Had to bypass under the rad. I then cut the high pressure soft line after the fitting coming out of the PS pump. Realized there was metal hard line in the soft line, so I would be able to put a barbed fitting in there. Took the 90 degree fitting out of the PS pump, lopped off the hose and flared the end of the fitting. Then screwed that back into the PS pump and used more ATF soft line over to the spot where I tried to tie in under the rad with another barbed fitting. Put like 3 hose clamps on each connection, refilled and it worked. Then I made the mistake of turning the wheel at a stop again and then showered everything is fluid again. More hose clamps once I connected it again. Has been holding for now until I get to the root of that someday.
So now I had a running driving 62. So I drove it around to the detail shop and vacuumed probably 50 lbs of sand out of it, no joke. I could now see the floor.
Then, I changed the oil and spark plugs because it needed it. Slightly better, but still idles a little high and wanted to stall in reverse. Checked out the cooling system once it was running, because now it needs to stay cool if it runs. It was nearly dry. Added some green 50/50 prestone all makes coolant and got the system purged of air after much burping and massaging... but never had to remove any hoses luckily.
I next decided I could not stand listening to this thing because it was so loud that when it was running I could not diagnose anything over the sound of the terrible exhaust. So I had someone remove the cats and re install the O2 sensors.. you probably saw my thread on this.... Also then realized that it was almost no quieter because the muffler was toast. So I bought a throaty sounding $30 Thrush muffler to pop in there for now(it was the cheapest option).
Then, the check engine light came on. Did the whole jumper wire thing and counted the blinking of the CEL and got codes 28 and 51. 28 indicated the #2 sensor. So with the help of some fine folks(you know who you are) I checked the wiring and such for the sensors. All looked good so decided to just replace them in hope this would solve the issue. Fast forward a week and the sensors arrived. 30 minute job with a lift, got the old ones out and popped in the new ones. Then removed the EFI fuses for a few minutes, put it back in and fired it up. Check engine light went out at start up just like it should.. Good feeling! But, I still know its probably throwing code 51. Light is out though, good enough for now. Shes starting to run smoother now.
I still wanted to figure out why it was running a little rough and wanted to stall in reverse. I will change all the vac lines soon, but more importantly, in poking around I found my intake hose was cracked in the little accordion ridges that allow it to bend a little. I dont have an extra and they are not super cheap, so I just taped over it like everyone does at first. Immediately ran far better and was not stumbling or trying to stall. Still idles a little high from time to time. Cold start it will idle right at about 650 RPMs but has trouble settling back down sometimes after having hit the gas or driving it. I'll explore more on that later. Going after the big and easy stuff for now.
Next was some easy stuff because I'm not rich... I had a bunch of LED bulbs left over from trying to figure out what bulbs actually work and didn't work in my DD. Put in some nice LED's in the dash and shifter, cig light, HVAC and lower switches. All worked. Still need to replace domes with PFran's kit like in my DD. Its a nice little kit. Also the tach light is out and need to swap the rest of the gauge lights because I didn't dive in that far yet. But I have them should i decide to
With all interior lights working minus the domes because PFran kit needed, I started on the exterior lights. Luckily, I have access to a ton of different old bulbs and stuff, I was able to avoid the parts store. Headlights work, but not the high beams(high beam indicator works). More on that later. The front side marker lights(orange) did not work... the bulb socket and light housings were full on melted. Clipped those off and made Molex 2 pin connectors and new sockets. The lights worked but had no housing to mount them in because they were fully melted. Ordered new marker lights that when came in the bulb socket could not be removed like the OEM. So I took out my home made connectors and plugged in the new lights because I had left the OEM plug. Now those work. The rear side markers just needed bulbs and they cam right back on. Then at some point somehow I popped a fuse and almost all the exterior and interior lights went dead. I scratched my head for a while until I found the fuse. I had checked them all but must have missed one because when I checked again I found the popped fuse. All the lights came back.
Then started diving into the license plate light. EDIT: Turned out to be a bad ground... no ground through tailgate to body.. ran an external wire inside body.. light works now.

Bought transmission pan and filter gasket(have not had a chance to change these yet)
I plan on using Dex/Merc or Schaffer's AllTrans to refill. Hope that goes well and I do not cause any issues. I want to do this step as I have never done it before and I would think the wagon is in need. Shifting is fine as is and it doesn't have a clunk going into F or R. But I want this task checked off. I also have allen style magnetic plugs to put back in that I purchased a while back and never used.
Replaced tail lamp lens covers
That's about where I'm at currently but still need a lot of things done...
Soon will be
1. All brakes repaired/replaced
2. Transfer case and diff oil replaced
3. knuckle and axle seals (this will be my right of passage) this job makes me nervous as it will be time consuming and lots of parts coming off. I'm easily confused and forgetful
4. Purchase Tough Dog lift kit on sale!!
5. wheels and tires. Already picked out
Here are some photos for you to enjoy. Because whats a build thread without the pictures of the piles of crap we drag home and transform into desirable rigs? These first photos are of the day I sealed the deal on this beauty queen. Just as she sat.
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some more photos to go with the repairs

The mahogany deck furniture strapped to the roof


Side market pigtails I made before buying new assemblies and realizing the socket was not twist out like OEM


The license plate lamp wire before it goes back in through the tailgate. Reused old plugs, duh


The old bypassed PS hose. The disconnected one was low pressure but now routes over the engine. The Hose clamps on the hose at the high pressure side where I barbed the fitting off the PS pump. This also routes over the engine now! haha, not ideal

Another splice in the high pressure PS line. Just before it goes into the steering box. Holding strong like a champ


Shiny new side marker assemblies. put them on the wrong sides at first and commented on how dumb the design was to have a drain hole on the top of the lens. D'oh


Duct Tape over intake. We've probly all been here. No?


Bonus brand new fuel I had filter found in the trunk in a pile of 60 parts...The parts are for sale in the classifieds, please buy them! Thanks


Plotted the cut to get at my fuel pump from topside. *note the very rusty screws in fuel sending unit. This will be a battle. Soaked with PB blaster, but this may not happen for a while.

Showing off my rust spots. Dont be jealous.

This boy and I went and scored those replacement doors, don't forget.


The O2 sensors that I replaced. I have a feeling they went belly up because the dummy who re installed them after removing the cats used that orange goo on there. No bueno.

Anyways, that is about it for now. I try to make a little progress every day. Sorry if I wrote too much for those non readers out there. Hope you enjoy as this progresses. Also do not hesitate to make fun of me, tell me I'm dumb, tell me what I'm doing wrong or what they notice IS wrong with the truck from pictures. Other than the obvious stuff, like the rust. Make some recommendations. All input is welcome. Thanks for reading.

This is my Daily Driver. 1988 approaching 250K.

This is the 89 I recently sold
89 Cruiser3.jpg
89 Cruiser 7.jpg
89 Cruiser 8.jpg

Interior of current build


Brake line for left rear bake plugged
Last pic for the day.
This is how the new owner of the Sold 1989 that I painted it has it looking. He added the front ARB and painted everything black
OK, Not sure how open you are to some constructive criticism. Most of us ARE non-readers. Maybe a paragraph and some pics. Then invite people to respond (or not) , then add more posts. "Gone with the wind" isn't gonna cut it here. Maybe that can be the name of your new project. Honestly I got about a 3rd of the way into your "book" and lost interest. Lots of rust under there. Most would be hesitant about starting all the work ahead of you with that going on. I feel your enthusiasm and don't want to be a dream crusher...just keep the rambling down and keep showing more pics and progress.
I put on replacement (rust free-ish doors). One spot of rust on bottom corner of drivers door. The wiring harness was a pain to get back through the hole in the body. Next is to get all the windows and door locks to work. I will be doing both window and door lock mods once my new master switch from switch doctor arrives. All the locks and windows work, but the rears need a new switch and the mod badly.
Got the license plate lamp working. I needed to run a ground wire through the harness back into the cargo area to get a good grounding point which allowed the lamp to light again.
Installed shiny new battery tray.
Ordered all new brake components and lift kit that was on sale yesterday. Tough Dog 2 inch
I had a strange thing happen this morning. Turned on the headlights and the dash lights came on for like a half second then immediately went out. All the dash lights, shifter light, etc.
All of my exterior lights still working, but dash lights just wont come on. Checked all fuses and they are good. Replaced a few thinking they could be bad but despite looking okay. Dash lights still only flash real quick when turned on but go and stay out.
Checked relays but kind of stumped right now. Last time this happened I had a blown fuse and that took care of the problem.
I did just replace all my lights with LED, but this also happened with incandescent bulbs before. So I'm not really thinking it was due to the bulb changes.
Any thoughts? Thanks
Check the ground junction in the harness that comes in the drivers side firewall. It is above the relays. You may have to take the relay panel loose (one 10mm screw at the forward section then it hinges down). then cut into the harness. The ground junction looks about the size of a match box and has several white w/black stripe ground wires running to it. If you see any burned wires or if the junction looks burned you know there was an issue. Also I believe the dash lights are on the "taillight" circuit so double check that fuse and make sure your tail lights work.
I tried to think of a good lie to type in here about why my dash lights were not working, but I'm no liar, so I'll tell it straight.
Went back out to solve the issue. Thinking it was a ground issue, but had been through this same issue with a quick fix before, it had to be something stupidly easy. Checked the ground bolt on the fender to be sure it was tight, since it was the last thing I worked on when changing the battery tray.. It had the slightest play so I tightened it up and put battery connection/corrosion spray on it. Went and turned on the lights, still nothing but a flicker. Immediately then reached for the rheostat and it was all the way down. How dumb did I feel then? Well, really dumb. I must have recently turned the knob all the way down for some reason and never turned it back up. Problem solved, but not really because you cant fix stupid.
Thanks for your input G-man. That would have been where I dove in next.
I'm trying to cut this novel down to the abridged version for ya
You're a patient man doing what you're doing in that climate. I lived near the Mass/NH border and repaired an '81 locally-rusted $200 Dodge Omni 024 (sport coupe, as it were) in 1989. It had Flintstone floors repaired with a roof shingle under the carpet. Sold it to a woman in NH, as it wouldn't likely have passed Mass. inspection again.

Good work on saving what you can, in that brutal climate.
Today 5/24/19 I received my SPDT relays from Waytek wire. Went right ahead and started in on the permanent fix for the Door Lock and Power Windows. Took about 2 hours and I was able to eliminate some lengths of wires by jumping terminals and connecting some wires closer to the relay rather than down the chain. Used a brand new out of the box aftermarket master switch from switch doctor.
Went out and plugged them in and they worked great! The locks and windows all go up and down with authority.
Window and Door lock Mod... DONE
Thank you @slcfj62 good work on this one
Window Mod.JPG
Started in on paint/body repairs today. I’m trying to get as much of the process documented without boring too many folks. I set my body crew/amigos loose on the Cruiser and they are really going for it. Cracked the windshield coming out... that might be a problem. Found plenty of rust to fix under the windshield. Chopping out sections of rockers and wheel wells for repair. Some minor issues at roof line to content with etc. Pictures soon. Planning on TAN 464 for color. Wife wants to go Tan but I wanted Root Beer brown. I never win.
(Lots of rust has been cut out and or ground out. New metal stitched in many spots. I definitely didnt even get pictures of every patch. Should be ready for primer today)
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Well, It was lots of work, but after being kicked out of my families shop for occupying "too much space" we got all the body, prime and paint work done. Went with Dune Beige 464. Looks really good. Will need some wet sanding and buff still. I have started to reassemble and it's looking pretty good. Still lots of work to do mechanically, but cosemtics are coming together. All the weather strips were removed and cleaned with soapy water, which they needed desperately. New T slips to secure all rubbers, New on the body door seals with bulb for extra sealing(someone posted that info recently, so I copied it because I have that rubber) All the chrome body trims have gone back on the doors and drip edge. Those door belt mldgs are a real PIA to take off, but After slightly bending one(I had a replacement) I figured out a great trick it to use a window stick to fling/pry off the white clips with the window down so they fall into the bottom of the door rather than actually try to unclip them.
New upper tailgate from Deo @cruiserjunktion once Greyhound finally got it to my area..
Still need new wipers all around, new bumpers or some alternative, new wheels and tires, lift kit needs install, undercoat frame and wheel wells and a bunch of other stuff. Been fun so far though. Learning a bunch and getting more confident everyday
Progress continues, but slowly right now. Got the vehicle all cleaned out from the body shop dust and mostly all reassembled on the interior and exterior. Just need some new wiper blades and then eventually a new windshield if I cannot get someone to pass it with a crack. Still needs tail pipe replaced behind exhaust, wheels/tires(I like aftermarket wheels, but do not dislike the originals) sorry @onemanarmy install the lift kit I bought, brakes front axle service, wheel bearings, brakes/rotors and bumpers.

One little thing I do really appreciate is removing small items and freshening up the paint. Things like the exterior vents, wiper arms and caps, side view mirror bases, speaker grills, center console, engine components, etc. So satisfying to change the look of something cheap and quick.

I was just nosing around in the engine compartment yesterday and found my first ever disconnected vacuum hose. I knew it had been off for some time as it had managed to partially suck up a super old dry pine needle. Clipped off the end, made sure it still sucked and reattached. It was the vac hose with one of those tiny filters on it that plugs into the smog system on the drivers side fender. Vacuum leaks really do have a great effect on the engine performance and how they run which is always stressed on this forum. Never had a chance to verify this until now. I connected the line and the trucks seems to run and idle night and day smoother. It was insane.
Looks great - thanks for posting the 'after' pix. It's been a long road for you.

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