SeldomSeen 76 FJ40 rebuild.

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So, I've had my 76 FJ40 'SeldomSeen' for 22 years as of June 4th.
I bought it stock, with a BestTop soft top.

Here it is, the day I brought it home in June 2000. This was in the days before digital cameras. This is a 35mm photo I scanned in some time ago.


76tlc2.jpg


Not soon after I bought it, did I find out that the motor needed to be rebuilt. I don't have any of the pics of the engine rebuild, so it sat in my dads garage for several months while I did that work. And yes, the bezel was corrected.



DSCF0055.JPG


Long story short, the tub is shot and really has been since before I got it, but I figured it was time to do something with the tub.

I did replace the rocker panels like 15 years ago and clearance the tub and removed the running boards.

2004_0510rocker0004.JPG




A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to do something about the tub. I know I need to replace most of the steel from the Cowl back.
I have a gas well from CCOT along with the drivers side inner and outer rockers.

rocker-1.jpg







rocker-2.jpg


I also have a bed and quarter panels that were bent up by Cruiser Outfitters about 20 years ago.

This truck will never be a Land Cruiser Heritage Museum quality restoration. I want to keep using it as an off roader that I can beat on.

I also did a spring over, but messed up a few measurements. The rear shackle hangers aren't straight so the truck leans considerably to the drivers side (no, worse than the normal Cruiser lean).

For the body, I have not ruled out the possibility of just cutting the tub off at the A-Pilar and replacing with an aluminum 3/4 tub from Aqualu. But I have also spent some time learning how to MIG and TIG weld for rebuilding the body on Seldom Seen

I have always been disappointed with the FJ Cruiser. I remember seeing the prototypes that Jonathan Ward @tlc4x4 build in the early 2000s and that is the truck I really wanted.
The dream is for me to build SeldomSeen into the FJ Cruiser that I think Toyota should have offered (within a certain level, if I could get a crate 2UZ and H55, I'd have already ordered it).

1. Disassemble the truck down to the frame.
2. Compression check and re-seal the motor (it was rebuilt 20 years ago, but has always leaked a bit, I want to correct this.
3. Sniper EFI conversion (I have a 'Hi Performance' intake manifold I am doing a port and polish on).
4. H55F conversion with 3.3:1 t-case gears. This will give me drivability and retain the offroad abilities present with the SM420.
5. R&R the wiring harness. The trucks emissions controls are LONG gone. I would like to remove the Emissions control circuits and re-loom the harness. Fixe some of my 'modifications' to bring the harness back to spec. (I have seen a few of Proffitts STOP IT's and yeah, I've done some of those things...).
6. Rebuild/replace the body.
7. Swap rear end out for a full floater. Currently have an HDJ81 full floater, but parts are scarce, so I am debating getting a 60 series FF to match the FJ60 front axle
8. I am debating on linking the truck front and rear. Not going for a full on trail buggy suspension, but I'd like to be able to at least keep up on the trail with late model Jeep Rubicon with a 5.5" lift and 37" tires.
 
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I have been putting a lot of thought into the body issue.

I'd LOVE to retain the steel body, with the stampings etc of the original.
I am not aghast at ordering the panels from CCOT and replacing them, however, time is a major consideration more than anything else.
I found the TROA site and their prices are reasonable.

Option 1. -Patch the front floor and rockers myself and get a finished 1/2 tub from <vendor>
Option 2. -Cut it all off at the firewall and go with an Aqualu 3/4 tub.

Ideally, I'd get a stainless steel 3/4 tub from Teseven, but I know that prior to their shop fire, they stopped making the SS304 tubs because the material was too hard on their stamping dies.

I've heard of a European tub manufacturer, and Teseven came to mind, but I didn't know if they were in production again
 
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I have been putting a lot of thought into the body issue.

I'd LOVE to retain the steel body, with the stampings etc of the original.
I am not aghast at ordering the panels from CCOT and replacing them, however, time is a major consideration more than anything else.
I found the TROA site and their prices are reasonable.

Option 1. -Patch the front floor and rockers myself and get a finished 1/2 tub from <vendor>
Option 2. -Cut it all off at the firewall and go with an Aqualu 3/4 tub.

Ideally, I'd get a stainless steel 3/4 tub from Teseven, but I know that prior to their shop fire, they stopped making the SS304 tubs because the material was too hard on their stamping dies.

I've heard of a European tub manufacturer, and Teseven came to mind, but I didn't know if they were in production again
Just my option- if you’re going to wheel, I like the Aqualu. I’ve set my rocker on a rocker on a a rock with only minor deflection. They have their quirks, but they aren’t insurmountable. The fit can be challenging and they’ll never look completely stock. But they’re tough.
No option on the TROA or CCOT, never used them. However, there’s a lot of threads with opinions to read up on.
 
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If I do my tub in steel, I need a new passengers side B pillar. The only place I have found these available is through Land Cruiser Heaven. I've not heard good things about these guys. Are there any other options aside from from another tub that's getting cut apart? That may seal the deal for me on getting an Aqualu 3/4 tub.
 
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If I do my tub in steel, I need a new passengers side B pillar. The only place I have found these available is through Land Cruiser Heaven. I've not heard good things about these guys. Are there any other options aside from from another tub that's getting cut apart? That may seal the deal for me on getting an Aqualu 3/4 tub.
My advice to you would be to get a stretched tub from aqualu. Longer wheel base can help with capability. Then use your welding skills to stretch the frame. Or if your frame is messed up, aqualu makes new frames as well that are significantly stronger than stock. All the aftermarket steel tubs seem to be disappointing so far from what ive seen. If you pay attention to a few details while fitting a aqualu tub you can make it appear pretty close to original. And it will never ever ever rust. Here is a fj40 with a aqualu stretched tub...
6916667.jpg

I cut off my stock steel tub in March. The cruiser was painted and drivable by September with the aqualu tub. Of course if you stretch the frame that will add some time.
 
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When I did my spring over, I flipped the front springs around and ran FJ60 rears out back, also flipped around. My wheel base is about 97"

Extending the hard top might be difficult. I don't have a top with the wing vent windows, so I am not sure where I'd get the extension pieces, other than cutting up another top. I realize these aren't insurmountable issues, but if I am going to link the suspension like I want to, I want that to be the focus of my fabrication efforts.
 
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My advice to you would be to get a stretched tub from aqualu. Longer wheel base can help with capability. Then use your welding skills to stretch the frame. Or if your frame is messed up, aqualu makes new frames as well that are significantly stronger than stock. All the aftermarket steel tubs seem to be disappointing so far from what ive seen. If you pay attention to a few details while fitting a aqualu tub you can make it appear pretty close to original. And it will never ever ever rust. Here is a fj40 with a aqualu stretched tub...
View attachment 3078359
I cut off my stock steel tub in March. The cruiser was painted and drivable by September with the aqualu tub. Of course if you stretch the frame that will add some time.
It just my opinion, but I agree with @White Stripe. I didn’t do the extra wheelbase and wish I had. Recent trips to Vernal Moab and Sand Hollow had ledges that had me second guessing the slightly extended wheelbase I currently have. Where as my buddy in his LJ went right up them.

You’re right the hardtop does add an extra amount of work and it’s not a small job. Could you get by with a bikini after the rebuild/stretch? Then you could pick away at the hard top. I have two mid year hard tops that never see the light of day. Only top I ever run is a bikini. But everyone’s situation is different.
 
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When I did my spring over, I flipped the front springs around and ran FJ60 rears out back, also flipped around. My wheel base is about 97"

Extending the hard top might be difficult. I don't have a top with the wing vent windows, so I am not sure where I'd get the extension pieces, other than cutting up another top. I realize these aren't insurmountable issues, but if I am going to link the suspension like I want to, I want that to be the focus of my fabrication efforts.
If you don't want the extended hard top fabrication you could just have a extra long factory soft top made and make it a soft top only rig.
 
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If you don't want the extended hard top fabrication you could just have a extra long factory soft top made and make it a soft top only rig.
I've been thinking REALLY hard about running a factory soft top. This truck will be garaged in the winter..
 
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To be fair, if I am going to stretch the truck, maybe I should build it into a Fake-J-45 pickup....
 
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To be fair, if I am going to stretch the truck, maybe I should build it into a Fake-J-45 pickup....
Sounds good to me. When I swapped the Aqualu tub I saved the old3/4 tub to do something like this- except I was dreaming of a trailer project. Anyway… if you could scavenge two back half’s you could make the bed. Still a bunch of work, but you know…

Sorry I’m an enabler.
 
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Sounds good to me. When I swapped the Aqualu tub I saved the old3/4 tub to do something like this- except I was dreaming of a trailer project. Anyway… if you could scavenge two back half’s you could make the bed. Still a bunch of work, but you know…

Sorry I’m an enabler.

I've got the steel to replace the quarter panels and bed for half of the tub. Aside from the holes in the rail for the BestTop TigerTop snaps, the hard top rail is in good shape. The front floor is pretty good except the drivers side floor pan, rocker (have a replacement), fuel tank well (have a replacement) and the passengers side rockers (need replacement and maybe a B Pillar). So I can replace the steel tub for about $500-600 in additional sheet metal as this point. That said, it will be a bit of work cutting the old tub out, salvaging the body mounts brackets, and I won't have the OE Stampings.
An aluminum 3/4 tub would cost more, but save me time.
 
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I've got the steel to replace the quarter panels and bed for half of the tub. Aside from the holes in the rail for the BestTop TigerTop snaps, the hard top rail is in good shape. The front floor is pretty good except the drivers side floor pan, rocker (have a replacement), fuel tank well (have a replacement) and the passengers side rockers (need replacement and maybe a B Pillar). So I can replace the steel tub for about $500-600 in additional sheet metal as this point. That said, it will be a bit of work cutting the old tub out, salvaging the body mounts brackets, and I won't have the OE Stampings.
An aluminum 3/4 tub would cost more, but save me time.
I did a similar cost breakdown and looked at me welding skill( yours may vary). I chose the easy button and it was right for me. One thing to consider is how much rust is hiding that you can’t see? I thought I had a pretty good idea on my tub, but when I finally cut it off for the Aqualu tub, I realized there was more. I’m not pushing the aluminum tub- just my observation.
 
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Did some work on the hard top side. This is off of a 73 FJ40 as the later model side got damaged when my dad tipped my truck over a decade ago. Top piece was rusted out so I figured I'd learn how to bend the metal and rebuild this piece. A grinder and paint makes the welder I aint...

20220815_101649.jpg
 
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More done. Finished out the top piece here. Not perfect but good enough.

20220816_114659.jpg
 
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Now on to the bottom. What I'm cutting out. The bottom (right in this pic) was full of bondo. And the new piece. I.may have to remake that.

20220816_114711.jpg


20220816_114723.jpg
 

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