What to expect when you're expecting....to do a frame off restoration yourself

Discussion in '40- & 55-Series Tech' started by joey93turbo, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. joey93turbo

    joey93turbo

    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    I searched and searched and read just about every thread I could find. I'm sure there's probably some excellent websites out there documenting steps on restoring FJ40's, but I haven't been able to find them.

    I don't have a cruiser yet but I've decided that when I do get one, I want to restore it, as I plan on keeping it for a very long time.

    I'm not sure exactly what upgrades I want to include while I'm doing the resto but I know I want to paint it bright yellow, install power steering, front disc brakes, and possibly an engine swap (I was thinking of an LT1). I plan on lifting it on 35's and daily driving it, with maybe the occasional light offroad excursion. I'm not worried about keeping it all original, that doesn't matter to me.

    My reason for wanting to restore it is because in order to build the cruiser I want it's going to take money, and I don't want to throw money at something that's going to have problems with rust and/or other problems. If I go through it and tackle them head-on then I'll feel much more comfortable upgrading it.

    At my disposal I have a full shop with lots of neat toys. The plasma cutter and sand blasting cabinet are my favorites, and I'm sure they'll both come in handy for this project. We have just about every tool you could think of unless it's specific for this type of job, or body work.

    What I don't have is experience. I do have an excellent father who knows more than anyone I've ever met when it comes to auto's. He's currently doing a frame off resto on his '77 CJ7 and he's done many many Chevelle's and Nova's. He isn't familiar with FJ40's but I'm positive he's going to be an invaluable resource for this. Between us two we'll have no problem following directions and getting the job done, all we need is the information.

    Lets talk about time and money. I want to plan this well so I don't get too in over my head and I might need some help being realistic since I've never done this before. It'd be real nice to have it done by next summer. As for money, I have no clue what this is going to cost. I'm hoping by doing most of the work ourselves we can keep the final cost around $10k-$12k including the price of the vehicle. Maybe I'm naive, but that's why I'm posting this. Maybe someone could create a small rough itemized list of the costs so I can get a better idea? If I bought the cruiser for $4k is it unrealistic to imagine I could restore it for $6k-$8k? It doesn't seem like it to me. I'm hoping to find one without much body rust.

    I can't afford to go all out, but I definately don't want to cut corners. I plan on using good paint, grade 8 bolts, ect.

    I apologize for writing this book, I just wanted you guys to have an good idea of my situation so I can get a good feel of what I'm getting into.

    Thanks in advance! :D
     
  2. 3_puppies

    3_puppies SILVER Star

    Messages:
    10,613
    Likes Received:
    1,229
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2002
    Location:
    Helena MT
    first off you wouldn't be using grade 8 bolts as they are SAE and Landcruisers are metric.

    acctually I'm no help, at all. but I have seen a few rigs all torn apart and the owner loses interest or to much $$'s and gives up, then a year later tries to sell it for every penny he has into it.
    There is a 1970 40 series for sale where I live right now, half way thru a v8 swap and 4 speed. wires hanging all over, interior all dis assembled, no thought to driveshafts, throttle linkage, on and on. he's asking $3500 for it. also has rust on the rear sill. it's been sitting for over a year. had big plans that fizzled.
     
  3. dingdong

    dingdong

    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Location:
    bc.ca
    Buy the cheapest later model (79+) you can find. Hopefully it will have a trashed engine (so you get it cheaper).
    If you are not worried about original resto and not really going to wheel it then I wouldn't worry about the body either. The frame has to be good.
    You just want it to be complete (all the glass and guages and knobs, seats and wiper motor,etc - you know what I am getting at). For 35inch tires you have to decide between a spring over or a 4 inch lift. For a street rig I would be tempted to go with the lift.
    Get yourself a Gozzard (fiberglass) or Aqualu (aluminium) tub.
    Tear down the rig. Clean it up. Put it together around the new tub. Toss in your LTI with an adapter
    to the LC 4 speed. Do a rebuild on the axles. New rad. A few finishing touches and you're good to go.
    I have no idea what an LTI would cost, but with you doing all the work yourself with the tools and knowledge you have access to, I would hazard a guess that it would be well under ten grand (not including the engine).
    The later model will get you the disk brakes, the higher gearset in the diffs (lower numerically) for easier highway cruising, and a few other things.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2005
  4. denis

    denis (O) toyota nut (O) SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Location:
    buried in a pile of yota projects
    sounds good :)

    for the timeframes, plan to spend at least 3 times as much as you would have expected. Make sure you have lots of room, take a lot of notes, pictures, and label and box everything when you're taking it apart, including bolts, nuts and all the small crap.

    good luck :beer:
     
  5. Ultima RB

    Ultima RB

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    NSW, Australia
    I just started ripping apart my FJ40. I'm 19 and learning as I go. Check out the progress here. I was surprised at how easy it was to remove the tub. Putting it back on may be a different ball game.
    http://www.bhshangout.com/pete/FJ40Buildup
     
  6. pappy

    pappy photosynthesizing Moderator

    Messages:
    9,231
    Media:
    67
    Albums:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1,252
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    Location:
    Too far north. Too far east.
    I'm in the process of fixing up a 1969 FJ40. First, what you are doing is techinically not a restoration, but a renovation. A restoration would be taking the truck back to the way it looked when it rolled off the showroom floor. Your 35" tires and LT1 took care of that.

    Expect it to take significantly more time and money than you think. Look at the various LC vendor websites, make a budget, then double, or even triple it. I'm not kidding. You will find things that need fixing as you tear into the project. I've been working on mine for over a year and a half. Yes, I'm close, but still about several thousand dollars away (paint, possible motor rebuild, little stuff, etc). It's the little stuff that will kill you. Plus, as you dig into the project you start thinking, thinking way too hard. Ummm,

    - disk brakes front and rear would be nice
    - maybe use V6 calipers for extra stopping power
    - gonna need a larger master cylinder with those calipers, think I'll use the FZJ80 cylinder
    - and a brake booster
    - how about a nice new H55F instead of that three speed
    - now that I have the 5-speed and the used split case, how about rebuilding that old t-case
    - shoot, since I'm rebuilding the t-case might as well install those Mark's gears

    and on and on and on. Get the point.

    Realistically, doing the job for $10-12K is tight. It can probably be done, depending on how carried away you get, how much you spend on the truck, what condition it's in to begin with, and what major tools you already have (I had to buy a welder). I won't tell you how much I've spent on mine, except I paid $800 for the corpse, and I've gone well over your $12K so far.

    Consider using stainless steel bolts as non-load bearing fasteners (holding the body together). You can buy them bulk way cheaper than one at a time at Lowe's. McMaster-Carr is a great place to shop for metric fasteners, stainless or class 10.

    In conclusion, I've had fun with mine. But realistically, I wasn't prepared for the journey. The project did get me through some hard times at home, but now I just want to drive the silly thing.

    Before picture: http://ratstew.home.comcast.net/1969fj40.jpg
    Pic after I tore it down: http://ratstew.home.comcast.net/14june04.jpg
    Pic with motor and wheels, body still up: http://ratstew.home.comcast.net/21Aug04.jpg

    Note these pic are old.
     
  7. cruiserjunktion

    cruiserjunktion Cruiserjunktion@gmail.com Supporting Vendor GOLD Star

    Messages:
    5,267
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    2,647
    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    Location:
    North Florida
    Look to spend cubic dollars on a complete resto....
    If you plan on 6months to complete...... figure it will take at least a year.
     
  8. ken_79-fj40

    ken_79-fj40

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    40
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Your budget is actually fairly realistic as long as you don't go too nuts with the drivetrain. I would suggest finding a later model truck with front disks and a 4 speed. Front disks are a must, especially with a V8, and the 4 speeds are way nicer to drive than the old 3 speeds. If your dad can rebuild a jeep, he can do a cruiser. I bought my cruiser from a guy who got it 80 percent done, ran out of money, and lost his place to work on it. So at the time I thought I got a smoking deal. He had put well over 10 grand into it and I got it for 5. But, he didn't properly prep the frame or body, and he didn't touch the drivetrain.But it only had 80k on it when I bought it. So I got it together and on the road, drove it for 2 years, then tore it right down to the frame and started over. I basically had to strip everything to bare metal , fix some rot on the frame,and paint everything and put it all back together. Came out real nice, and it took about a year of weekends and a very understanding fiance to get it done. I also added saginaw steering while I was at it. I spent about 3 grand doing this, and I did everything in my garage at home. But I started with a truck that ran and drove fine. If you have to rebuild every drivetrain component, you are obviously going to spend a lot more. basically what i'm saying is the time and money you spend is going to be directly related to what you start with.
     
  9. trekker

    trekker

    Messages:
    950
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2004
    Location:
    coastal empire
    You'll gain experiance by doing! Restoring my 68 ha

    Read this!

    http://www.birfield.com/~ramullen/FAQ/TEXT/00-01.html

    Then spend a sometime cruising this board and others that are out there.

    Attend a gathering of the cruisers. Join a local club!

    Get to know your local Toyota parts dealer. Buy him coffee, perhaps treat the entire parts dept to some pizza for lunch. There are some people who frequet this board that I've bought stuff from at great prices as well.

    Get your excel spreadsheet laid out. There are a BUNCH of parts that you'll need. Don't be afraid to hop on a bargin either from this board in the "Parts for Sale" section, local junk yard or your dusty NAPA parts store. Get in the habit of checking out eBay everyday for parts. If you see a bargin on a part that you'll need or even you "think" you need, get it! You may end up getting some stuff you don't need but there is always someone out there that could use what you got! You could sell/trade stuff at a later date.

    DON"T COMPROMISE ON SAFETY! Get ya a decent roll bar, use OEM bolts for your drive train, ect.

    Tag everything that comes off! That includes clips, trim, rubber, anything! You will learn that some of this stuff is not to be had any longer. This will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

    As mentioned before, there is a differance in restoration (what I'm attempting to do with my '68) and renovation. And there are big differances in the systems you purchase. In an attempt to save a little cash and when I was first starting my resto, I purchased some cheap assed suspension system. I should have spent a few hundred more and went with a better system. Now I'm paying the price. Funny thing is that I did research this but did I listen... NOOOOO. What an idiot.

    $10-12K you say... hmmmm. This is sooooo subjective! For that money you could buy a really decent rust free cruiser and drive it right away. There may be a little rust (very little at that price), have a decent engine/drive train interior etc... Over the next few years you could add other things that you and pappy mentioned. A little at a time...

    But if you like pain :) there is nothing wrong in getting a heap and bringing it back to life. This is very rewarding (I'm still waiting for the rewarding part :) ). 10k-12k is workable if you PLAN, and do your research first!

    THe upgrades you mentioned are pretty much covered by vendors who sell that stuff. It is all doable but you'll need to do your reasearch, make a comprehensive list get real be real specific with your goals especially if you have a budget! and ask questions... Good luck and welcome.
     
  10. dgangle

    dgangle total rice

    Messages:
    4,002
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Location:
    Heart of Dixie
    Check the classified of Toyota Trails magazine. You might be able to buy someone else's $20K investment for considerable less and be able to drive it way. Depends what you're looking for and you may not like that particular person's mods. Good luck.
     
  11. joey93turbo

    joey93turbo

    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    Thanks for all the great info guys! keep it comin please.

    I believe you can find LT1's for around $2500 with about 50k miles. They came out of Camaro's, Firebirds, Impala's, and a couple other GM cars I believe. They're a fuel injected 350 with 275hp and 325ft lbs.

    You know, I thought about maybe buying one already done for $10k but I'm not sure someone else would pay attention to detail the same as I would knowing that I was going to keep it.

    I looked on Toyota Trails classifieds but it doesn't look like they have anything in the FJ40 section.
     
  12. lowenbrau

    lowenbrau

    Messages:
    3,671
    Likes Received:
    109
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Location:
    near Calgary AB
    These projects have a way of getting away on you. Your budget is not unreasonable but could easily get blown if you are not carefull. I'm a bit worried that color and new bolts are your first concerns. Hang out here and see what the rigs you like are made of. Personally I'd go with a 75-78 rather than the newer rigs due to the 4:11 gears and a body that's easier to renovate. I'd further recomend that you fund a good runner and consentrate on the body, steering and suspension mods first. That will take up a lot of time and money alone. Then, once you've driven it for a bit, you'll have a better idea of whare you want to go next. Finally, look around to make sure the truck you are building isn't out there for sale by somewhere. You'll often save a whack of cash buying someone elses project if it's built the way you want it to be.
     
  13. ken_79-fj40

    ken_79-fj40

    Messages:
    1,424
    Likes Received:
    40
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    $2500 is a lot of cash for an lt1. A buddy of mine recently got an LS1 with the six speed, disk brakes all around, and a steering rack from I believe an 01 camaro with like 10k miles on it for his 68 camaro for like 3 grand. Heck, I bought a good healthy (but 140k) tbi 350 last year for 200 bucks.
     
  14. dustin

    dustin

    Messages:
    701
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    If you dont have any life at all, and immediate funds, you may be able to get it on the road in 6 months. But I suspect that is rare.
    I just did a spring over and engine swap in 3 months. It broke my back. I completely rewired my rig a couple years ago, with soldered wires, GM weatherpack connectors, etc. That took a month. I would spend your time taking the rig apart and send the tub and frame out to get blasted, then pay someone to do the body work. Bodywork and paint takes experience and time to do it right. There are so many little things that eat up time and money on a project, that its hard to really comprehend until you've been there. Everything you do requires a decision, no matter how small. And some of the most little things can take a ton of time to get done.
    If it were me, I would start by stripping the frame and tub and get them painted. Maybe locate the drivetrain and suspension first if youre doing a conversion before painting. But atleast then everything is a bolt on process. And do lots of research and ask lots of questions. Make sure youre making the right decision before executing, or you'll be doing things twice or more.

    -Dustin
     
  15. PHAT MAX

    PHAT MAX

    Messages:
    434
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2002
    Plan on it taking 3 times longer than you plan. i planned 6mos and it took 1.5 years! if you have any questions that werent ansewered, pm me. pm me anyways, i will send you some details later when im not too lazy to type.
    -Max
     
  16. Archengine

    Archengine SILVER Star

    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Location:
    Frankfort Ky
    I wound up quitting my job so I could "hurry" up and restore my cruiser, I didn't really like the job anyway. I did every single thing myself, from blasting to painting. It cost me too much money, took me 6 months working 6 days a week, from the moment I woke up until 10 or 11 pm everyday. But then again, I was new to everything, though not anymore! I damn near lost my girlfriend along the way, spending 70 hours a week in the shop. I absolutely loved those 6 months, and wish I could do it again, just with some better tools, like a BIG compressor, and a quility blaster. I say DO IT and ENJOY.
     
  17. honk

    honk

    Messages:
    3,413
    Media:
    10
    Likes Received:
    370
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2004
    Location:
    PNW
    Look at LOTS of pictures of other cruisers and from them develop a mental image of how yours will be. When yours is a mess - all torn apart with a dozen bits of bad news, a million things to do and seeming hopeless you need to have a very clear picture in your mind of your cruiser when it's all finished.
    Without that it'll be tough to keep going.
     
  18. Dietoy

    Dietoy

    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    time

    My resto became an afterwork and weekends and not every day and not every weekend. I could not tell you how much money went into it but it was much. It took 15 years. And I can't wait to start tearing it apart again to modify it.
     
  19. mallred

    mallred

    Messages:
    616
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004

    That is really not a good motivator and really kinda sick.


    I work only 6-7 months a year and am hoping for august 06 for a realistic on the road goal. Days like today I should make that 07.
     
  20. Lusedekache

    Lusedekache

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Like everyone else has said, budget AT LEAST three times the amount of time you think it will take. Ditto for costs. The mechanical aspects of a restoration are not where the difficulty lies, it is in the commitment of time and $$$. Searching for parts, compiling lists, comparing prices/sources, and doing general research will eat up more time than you can possibly imagine. Develop a familiarity with your Cruiser that will enable you to visualize all of its parts and subsections in order for you to fret over them as you try to fall asleep each night for the next three years.

    That being said, I'm pretty uptight and want an "off-the-showroom floor" quality rig. You, however, may be more well-adjusted. It is important to keep in your final goal in mind and imagine how much fun it will be to drive when you are done. But be warned, to finish takes an honest assesment of one's priorites and a major commitment.

    I'm two years and tens of thousands of dollars into my resto with a ways to go yet. Nevertheless, I know all my toils will be rewarded when I can cruise my rig with the windows down and the stock AM radio kicking out some happy tunes (or crappy talk radio as is usually the case with AM.)
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.