Builds Saved from scrap - '97 LX450 build thread

Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
Firstly .. Hi! New to Mud. Been on the fence for a lot of years thinking about getting another project vehicle ... And then COVID-19 happened. Since I have all of this time on my hands now, I figured why not? Wife is also 100% on board with the idea. Obviously I had to strike while that iron was hot.

A friend had a '97 LX450 w/ 266k miles sitting in front of her house for about a year and a half. She was the second owner of the vehicle based in WA state for the last 12 years - SoCal previously. Thankfully that meant almost no rust and the vehicle has been a mall crawler - bone stock. Unfortunately it hasn't been looked after - mechanically or cosmetically. Three boys and three dogs with a single Mom had taken their toll on the interior, as had sitting outside in WA state for 18 months growing science projects in the carpet, seats, seat belts ... Well, everywhere. Normally this would have turned me off, but the chassis looked sound and she parted with the truck for scrap value.

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Aside from what sounds like a rod knock, the rig drove the few miles home OK. Planning to work with @torfab for a conversion once his calendar opens up, so the engine challenges aren't a huge concern.

Going to execute a solid Overlanding build - Grew up in Australia touring in Cruisers with the family when I was young and hoping to recapture some of the fun and adventure. Gone down the highly modified/ big power route before, broken every part known to man and dealt with all of the associated pain, both emotional and financial to keep a vehicle like that running. Overarching goal for this build - No matter what I do or modify the truck has to stay reliable and comfortable to drive extended distances.

Upgrades Completed:
  • Gamiviti seat gears and caps
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
Stripped the interior and found almost $12.00 in change, about 30 fossilized tater tots, a half box worth of cheerios strewn everywhere and what I'm going to guess was a half dozen half eaten chocolate bars stuffed in the rear seat middle seatbelt well "saved for later". Neighbors were super happy that I did the work in the street too. Bagged the carpet and pad and took straight to the dump ... It smelled that bad.

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
Stripped the running boards and front bumper off. Yanked the wheels and thoroughly pressure washed the front end and engine bay. Truck has had a long term engine oil leak and one of the knuckles had probably a pound of crud stuck to it from what I assume is a blown axle seal. At least now a shop can see what's going on under the vehicle and it won't be as nasty to work on.

For the record, the plastic dam thing on the driveway worked pretty well. All of the heavy grease balls and crud gathered at the back for an easy clean up. I put a Pig oil sock at the back corner that captured any oily run off and let the wash water run through.

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LINUS

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin
Joined
Mar 29, 2003
Messages
5,515
Location
PNW - WA
 
 
 
Wow, would have been a shame if it had gotten sent to a wrecking yard, nice save.

Heck, you could have quite a rig just doing new seals in the 1FZ, without the $$$ of going full Torfab / motor swap.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
7,112
 
 
Was a window left open while it sat unused for all that time? Mold like that is due to high humidity inside the cabin for prolonged periods, so either a window was left open (for months), or it could have water leaks.

Most common leaks are from the windshield (if not the original), the sunroof
drain pan if the drain tubes are plugged, and the belt molding at
the base of the rear quarter windows where they snap into holes
in the sheet metal.

Any rust in the front foot wells, the lateral floor gutters, or the rear quarter panel cavities?

Any water stains on the headliner or the pillar trim panels?
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
14,975
Location
so. oregon
 
 
Was a window left open while it sat unused for all that time? Mold like that is due to high humidity inside the cabin for prolonged periods, so either a window was left open (for months), or it could have water leaks.

Most common leaks are from the windshield (if not the original), the sunroof
drain pan if the drain tubes are plugged, and the belt molding at
the base of the rear quarter windows where they snap into holes
in the sheet metal.

Any rust in the front foot wells, the lateral floor gutters, or the rear quarter panel cavities?

Any water stains on the headliner or the pillar trim panels?
I bought a WA 80 some years ago. The window seal runners were shot, allowing a lot of moisture in as it sat for sometime. Nasty. Took a ton to clean.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
OK, makes sense, guess there's a lot of rain in the PNW.
No rust in the pans or evidence of water in the cab (plenty of evidence of spilled soda, though). Window seal runners would be my first guess, but again - no actual evidence or running water or rust. Betting these have just stayed damp from constant rain and evaporated in to the cab for over a year. Pretty common issue in the PNW.

Wow, would have been a shame if it had gotten sent to a wrecking yard, nice save.

Heck, you could have quite a rig just doing new seals in the 1FZ, without the $$$ of going full Torfab / motor swap.
I originally wanted to fix seals in the 1FZ so the vehicle was mobile while I was going through the build cycle. The knock gives me pause though - If I'm going to need to do a bottom end just to be mobile, I may as well save the cash for the conversion. I have a feeling if I start tearing in to the engine I'll find all kinds of other issues as well and I have a hard time justifying the investment.
 

LINUS

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin
Joined
Mar 29, 2003
Messages
5,515
Location
PNW - WA
 
 
 
OK, makes sense, guess there's a lot of rain in the PNW.
between just the pure pollen bloom & rain, I chase my moonroof drains every 2-3yrs.

That mix makes a fine powder slurry & add driving up/down dusty roads - it comes w/ PNW living.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
... Most common leaks are from ... the base of the rear quarter windows where they snap into holes in the sheet metal.
Good call - Toying with the idea of removing the cladding and having the pieces sprayed with line-x. Would give me a good opportunity to assess for rust, check for leaks and replace the flare gaskets. Wasn't something high on my list, but makes sense if there's a potential source of moisture in the cab hiding behind the cladding. I'd be a little annoyed if I get the new rug in, new front seats and recover the rears only to have round two of the mold factory.
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
9,357
Location
Olathe, KS, USA
 
Mine wasn't quite as bad as this when I got it.

Passenger front was a pond and ran out the door when opened.

Dog food everywhere and almost all of it was growing.

All the moisture in mine was from the sunroof leaking.

I got mine in much the same condition interior and mechanical. I cleaned it up, did about $200 of work, and drove it for 2 years and 25K miles, then dug in deep and threw about $6000 in parts at it. It's now my DD. I've put 105K on it since I've had it now.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2012
Messages
8,177
 
Moisture can't really get in from the cladding. Usually it comes from the sunroof, windshield gasket, rear quarter window gaskets, or tail light buckets.
 
Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Lynnwood, WA
Feldrian: can you post up a video (link) for the engine noise?
15 second video

Observations:
  1. Louder at start up. Quieter and sometimes disappears intermittently when the engine is warm, especially when coasting.
  2. Will sometimes go quiet for a few seconds for no apparent reason - not the metronome- like tick I'm used to with a rod knock.
  3. Checked all of the plugs - All tight - nothing has backed out
  4. Fuel in the tank is 18 months+ old
  5. Vehicle still making good oil pressure, at least according to the dash gauge
  6. Makes very little power ... but that could just be a normal 1FZ :rofl:
  7. Previous owner put oil in "when the light came on" by their admission
  8. Oil is clean on the dipstick and reading "full"
  9. Just noticed the clean air hose (after the sensor) is split in half and letting additional air into the intake. Two pieces were touching, so didn't notice initially.
Has me wondering if new plugs, taping up the clean air intake hose and a bottle of octane boost is worth testing to rule out preingnition. When I heard "only filled oil when the light came on" my mind went immediately to a rod knock.

Sorry the video is a little large - No video editing software on this end.
 
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