hj60 hj 61 fj60 toyota landcruiser

Classic Toyota Show in Frosses – Donegal

I have been trying to organize the back of the 60 to accommodate one person on the trip to planned next October. The plan was to have a bed with storage under along one side. The pull out fridge and small storage on behind the passenger side and maintain seating for driver, two passengers. Here’s a photo of the rough setup

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So to test the camper idea, took the 60 up to Donegal for the weekend. The set-up will work fine, just needs to adjustment and additional. Need to get a mattress foam and sort some blinds out. They are the main problems, there are a few other bits like battery, compressor and better organization of space. but I think it could work :)

Anyways here a few photos of the weekend and the other 80’s that came along.

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Adventure Overland Show – Stratford upon Avon

Thought I might do a quick note on the Adventure Overland Show. Didn’t know what to expect other than it was held in Stratford upon Avon. We got the ferry from Dublin Port to Holyhead and drove to 200 miles, with a small detour on the way to see a very special Land Cruiser mechanic (somewhere near Shrewsbury).

After an early start and the detour we got to Stratford it was late in the evening when we arrived, pitched the tents got something to eat and got ready for the BIG show.

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Well I’m afraid the BIG show was not so big after all. There was plenty to see, but would be hard pushed to get two days out of it. Thankfully there were a few interesting people to spend the day talking to, West Coast 4×4, being one of them.

Plenty of Land Cruiser people around, and a few Land Cruisers in the camp site to poke around in.

For those that have between €250’000.00 t €500’000.00 you could pick up one of these beauts

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The real bonus to the trip was the mechanic in the secret location near Shrewsbury, when stop by his workshop on the way back, 3 hours the first time round wasn’t enough. The guy Scott was pretty relaxed when it came to giving us keys to his Land Cruisers. We got to drive 4 of the trucks and could have spent all day there but we had a ferry to catch.

Overall it was a good weekend good fun with the lads, just a pity the show wasn’t bigger. We all came to the conclusion that we’ll be going to Germany next year. It’s the only place if its serious Overland Expo’s your looking for !

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Heat Wave !!

Heat wave

Well that’s officially any warm weather of 25 degrees in Ireland.

And with that time to load up the old land cruiser and have some fun. Took the truck to the Lough Ramor, Virginia, Co. Cavan. Great lake for swimming and a bit of canoeing.

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The truck is driving great, discovered two great features for warm weather and boring motor ways. The AC (via opening vent in foot well) and Cruiser control (via Hand throttle ), two essentials for the modern travelerImage

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All Done … Well for now anyway !

Last piece of the Jigsaw …

First things first, the suspension, well it seems the uncontrolled and erratic bonce is gone. After a few e-mails, and some measurements, Bob (Tpi4x4) diagnosed the problem, there was a mismatch on the shocks and… now the erratic bounce is gone !!!. Thanks Bob.
So now to the 5 Speed. It’s one of those things, you hear people say ‘Can’t believe I ever managed to drive it with a 4 speed’. Well is true, I cannot explain the transformation in the old TLC now that the 5 speed is installed. It’s changed the TLC from a MF35 to something that could now be driven everyday with pleasure. The gear ratios are far better, no long gap between 3rd & 4th and that mythical 5th gear on good roads, the holy grail . But its more than just the gear ratios, there’s a serious reduction in overall sound in the cab. With the revs kept at a sensible level the ear deafening drown is gone. Driving the old TLC is now a pleasure.
So now with the turbo, power steering, 5 speed box and some sound insulation, It’s the first time in a while, where I felt I could actually take on a seriously long drive and look forward to it.
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Shake Down

Went for a drive over the weekend with a few Land Cruiser owners to give the old BJ41 a proper run. Covered a decent few miles over three days, some rough back roads and a couple of forest trails. Was a bit worried that the truck mightn’t be able to keep up with the group. But as it turned out the 41 had no problems. The only time the 41 fell behind the group was on good roads with speeds over 100km/p. So here’s a list of the good and the bad from the weekend


Good

Plenty of power with the turbo, no problem climbing hills and staying with the newer and bigger 80 series.

The 41 felt tight and held the road pretty good. Brakes held firm and held a straight line when braking hard. 

With very little play in the steering and disk brakes up front, they gave the 41 confidence in tight twisty roads.

Original seats are actually pretty good, well sprung and pretty comfortable over three days

Water and oil temps stayed where expected

Never have to worry about being cold in the 41, plenty of heat transmitted from the engine and great box through the firewall and directly above the gearbox :)


Bad

The suspension is all wrong, causing the 41 to bounce when hitting any kind of bump. 

Four speed gear box. The gear ratios are not well spread. Third gear is too short and fourth gear to long. 

Noise in the cab over a few hours can be a problem.

The only time the water temp moved above cool was long hill climbs with low gears and high revs. But even then nothing to worry about.

 

So .. what next

The reason for the trip was to see how the old BJ41 would feel and coupe if taken on a proper long trip. Well the answer is the 41 would coupe no problem, I’m afraid its the driver that would give in first. The gearing can be sorted with a 5 speed, hopefully this might help with the noise in the cab as the longer gear ratios could keep the revs lower and keep the drown in the cab down a bit. Have a 5 speed ready to put into the truck, hope it actually fits. 

The biggest problem (driver issue ) is the suspension setup. The way it is now it would be pretty much impossible to drive the truck for more than 3 hours without feeling your neck of back might actually disintegrate :).

The problem with the suspension is the bounce it causes when faced with any kind of dip or bump in the road. Its not just a single bounce, it more like continuous series of bounces till the truck settles again.We all had a good look at the suspension setup and figured the problem is with the rear.  There is little or no give in the front springs and there is plenty of flex in the rear springs.It feels like the back end is where the bounce is generated and given the rear is so light there is no weight to counter act the bounce. 

So first step is to replace the rear shocks and see if they can absorb and limit the rear flex, if that fails I’ll have to look to get different springs.

Let you know how it all works out.

 

 

What a difference a Year Makes …. !

Monday, 7 January 2013

What a difference a Year Makes …. !

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Toyota Land Cruiser Restoration FJ40 BJ40 BJ41 TLC

Well believe it or not it is close to one year since I started this blog. The first post was on January 30 2012. Just shows how optimistic I was back then, ordering superficial bits and pieces without actually realizing how bad the bodywork was on the old BJ.
But then again I didn’t realize what I actually wanted other than I thought it looked cool !.
Thats the problem with Toyota Land Cruisers and I suppose any other off road truck that you think you might want to change to suit your own needs. The second you start down the run of changing/upgrading the possibilities are endless. The only barrier is the amount of money you want to spend.
I my case I wanted the truck to look a certain way and wanted confidence that everything would work as it should and add a few modern upgrades. But most important I wanted it to last and hopefully not have to replace anything in the next 30 years !.
So where are we 12 months later.
Pretty much on the home straight. The body work is now complete. The running gear is all done, engine is wired and was started for the first time in 11 months !. Wiring is 90% done.

So whats left …
The last shipment of parts is now on the way. The list of items to be done now fits on one A4 page .. that’s is a milestone in its self.
* Some small wiring issues, spot lights, glow plugs, stereo and speakers.
* The seats need a bit of attention.
* Front bumper being chopped and painted
* Roof rack
* Fit top section
* Emblems

The good bits ..
The paint is prefect for the truck. The sound of the lockers engaging is the best. Full stainless steel exhaust. But probably the one thing that will make the most difference is the electric steering, it works better than we thought.

So the big question … Is it worth it ?
I’ve been thinking about it and the truth is the money can never be recouped. But I think that’s the nature of any restoration/rebuild.  The pleasure is the research, the knowledge you pick about, the decisions based on friends/forums/experts. But most of all its a one of a kind, unique, hopefully something that will last and give a few years enjoyment.

Dune Beige

Who would have thought that picking a colour could be such an ordeal  ….

Well I suppose I should clarify the above by saying it was actually never a decision because I was always going to pick dune beige. Why ?, because its the best colour I have seen on a TLC. So why the ordeal, well its because of that small bit of doubt that creeps in whenever you have to make a decision that could either make or break a project and a decision that you really dont want to regret …

Just a small bit of background. We looked at a few options
1. Dune Beige – Because its and origional colour
2. Sand Storm – A modern colour from the FJCruiser and a back-up if the Dune Beige didnt look right
3. Metalic Dark Grey – Something completely different

We did samples of all colours had a look and decided the Dark Grey was not for this project and the Sand Storm was a bit lighter than expected. The Dune Beige was the right choice. So that was that untill the first finished coat was applied

But on close inspection the paint was full of minute dirt particles. Alex was none to impressed, to be honest I would not have really noticed. But he was having none of that and having the whole paint job redone !

But here’s the thing, I had seen plenty of photos of TLC’s with Dune Beige and all had different shades, the one he had was not to bad. That is until it is compared to the new or redone done final paint. The paint this time was a different brand and the quality is far superior to the previous. So much so that it transforms the look of the TLC. The better quality paint has a much deeper tone a richer quality.
Although you can only see a small sample of the new paint in the photos below, its a far better colour when compared to the photos above.
So Dune Beige is not always Dune Beige :)

Anyways the truck is coming together .. seems like its been an age (actually it has been) … but considering it will last another 30 years, a few wont worry to much about a few extra weeks.

All the running gear is fitted, body bolted to the chassis, main plumbing installed, power steering complete. The compressor is fitted (tucked neatly inside the engine bay), with the air line nozzle connection mounted just above the rigt hand air vents for easy access from the outside.
The new dial and switch gear have been fitted, although a few tweaks still to make. But overall the new arrangement looks pretty sharp. The electrics are being done now .. not something I would like o be doing ..

More photos here
Record Photos 15-11-2012

Oh for anyone who is interested about the completion date …
When I asked when I could have the keys, the answer was …  “Anytime you like … but dont expect to have the truck”
When I asked when the truck would be finished, the answer was  … “It will be finished when its finished”

Evolution of a dash

Like most things as noted before, there seems to be a lot of bespoke stuff going on with this BJ41. Not originally planned but that just seems to be how things go.
Its funny how the small things can change everything. The dash being a great example. The original dash layout and knobs are cool. Functional and retro. And yes the purest’s out there will be very upset. But then again this isn’t for them. The redesign  of the dash was as a direct result of 3 new switches that came with the ARB locker and yes they would seem insignificant till we though about where they should go. The normal route is to but a blanking panel over the radio slot and mount the switches. Ok it would work, its been done before, but then it doesn’t look to good. So the opportunity was there to look at the whole dash layout and switches. No big deal, true, but never as simple as that. As were were going to redone the whole dash, we though we might as well add a couple of gauges and additional switches. My main concern was having potentially truck breaking switches easily accessible to small fingers. The temptation for kids to press buttons (especially ones with big red lights) would be too great :)
The objective was to have a logical order to the switches and keep the more important one close and centered to the drivers side and add two dials (Tacho & Clock). To keep everything same, the engine kill switch and ARB ‘power on’ buttons are located to the right hand side of the steering wheel out of harms way. To keep the whole thing symmetrical the original radio housing is now centred on the dash with the switches and dials aligned above. I think it looks pretty good.

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The concept

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Toyota Land Cruiser Restoration FJ40 BJ40 BJ41 TLC

 

First test alignment

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Toyota Land Cruiser Restoration FJ40 BJ40 BJ41 TLC

 

Second test alignment

Toyota Land Cruiser Restoration FJ40 BJ40 BJ41 TLC

Final set up with relocated radio recess

One Step Forward Two Steps ….

One step forward two steps …..

 

One step forward two steps ….. well you all know how that line goes and that’s how it feels sometimes. This is not the first time I’m felt this way and in fairness it’s never actually anything but progress. Don’t think they guys at the classic car centre have put a foot wrong.

Suppose to explain in a bit more detail. When restoring, repairing or just fixing something, there is always two ways to do it. Either do the minimum or check whether the minimum is enough for what you want and if not improve it. And improvement seems to be high on the list of ‘thing to do’. Its these little improvements that really take time, each improvement being bespoke and unique to this project. And being unique makes it worthwhile.

The roll cage being a point in case. It arrived and looked the part, tested fitted ok. But when we all stood back and looked at it, we thought the front roll bar was a bit ‘agricultural’ and didn’t fit to well. There is no question is would have been fine, but it could be better. So it was set aside and a new front roll bar made to suit the BJ. Again like most ‘let’s improve it’ ideas, sounds simple enough, but the extent of the improvement is what makes the difference.

So let’s look at the problem, the original roll bar sat away from the dash, hampered the foot wells and didn’t align to well with the rake of the windshield. So the solution was to make a new one which was wider and aligned tight with the window corners and windshield. All simple enough, except that to align with the windshield without putting tight radius in the roll bar would mean notching each end of the dash to accommodate the uprights. So now the roll bar fits really neat, tight to the window corners, windshield and roof. Test fitted all looks well .. almost. Now it fits so good it hampers the locking nuts for the drop down windshield, the sun visor and rear view mirror. Just minor problems, but all minor problems require measuring, fitting, making stuff and refitting ….

 

So now the simple front roll bar has become a roll bar, anchor point for the windshield locking nuts, mount for sun visors and rear view mirror. The same can be said for the rear roll cage …..

 

So yes .. there are two ways to do things … appears we have chosen the ‘improvement’ path where ever possible J …

Improvements to date.

Chassis/Running Gear

Straighten and strengthened chassis. Oh, in case the question is asked, the chassis is being finished in paint. Many people galvanise the chassis and I had thought about it and discussed it with Alex & Steward, my initial fears of the chassis bending while galvanised were dismissed, however I was told that galvanising the frame could make the joints at the spring mounts brittle leading to failure. That was enough for me to dismiss the galvanising route.  Powder coating was considered but ruled out on the basis that should the surface get damaged there is the possibility of water seeking under neat the powder coat finish leading to blistering etc.

So in the end we were happy soda blast the frame, repair and strengthen where required, prim coat and apply a few coats of paint.

 

 

 

 

The axles, diffs and brakes were rebuilt, ARB lockers added front and rear. Thankfully the JDM BJ’s came with disk brakes up front, so they just needed new pads and a bit of TLC. All look like they will last another 30 years.

New suspension and shocks all round, it’s a 4”lift, this will probably be changed some time in the future to a 2.5” lift. The 4” lift might look the part, but makes the whole thing a bit bouncy on the rood. Will see if it settles a bit over time.

The engine as checked out before any work started and the compression test done. It was given a clean bill of health so left as is with the exception of all new gaskets, turbo and a tidy up.  Gearbox and transmission was working fine, so as nothing was broken, we didn’t touch them.

 

Power steering

Electric power steering is being installed rather than hydraulic. Again we thought about this and while the hydraulic power steering is fine, it requires additional pulley wheel, pump, hydraulic lines and mounting brackets to both the frame and engine. We choose the electric steering because of its simplicity and ease of installation. The units comes supplied with a new steering column, motor , bracket and loom. The motor sits under the dash and the whole assemble mates with the existing lower steering arm. Neat and straight forward.

The Body

The body, well not much of the original left, what was kept (roof, upper rear, front section, doors and bonnet ) was all repaired, patched, primed . With the addition of the aluminium tub the whole body should be pretty good.

Hard Top/No Top

Always wanted to be able to take off the top, just in case, we managed to get a day of sunshine. Again sounds simple but needs a whole heap of things done to make it manageable. So taking it in sequence. First the full doors should be easily removed. So a little thought for the hinge assemble. The front door hinges were pretty easy, we just added a locking spud to the hinge pin that way the doors can be lifted without removing the whole hinge assemble and the half doors inserted. Second were the rear doors. The rear doors were not so easy as the hinge assembly is different, just meant cutting a piece out of the receiving hinge bracket, to allow the doors to he pulled rather than lifted and insert the new rear tail gate. The perimeter of the rear tub (top section) was fitted with rows of captive nuts. This should make removal of the top that bit easier

 

The Dash

Have decided to pretty much replace all the original switches, this was a pretty big decision, because they original pull switches are pretty unique to the Land Cruiser. But given that there are new switches and gauges to be added, we felt it was best to redone the whole look and layout of the dash. Not for everyone, but no going back now …

New switches include the three ARB lockers and air compressor, I wanted to have the ARB lockers and winch buttons to be powered from a separate power switch remote from the main cluster. This was to prevent accidental engagement of the lockers and we didn’t want that now … young kids and buttons .. never a good combination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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