A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build (BellyDoc) - Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum
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post #1 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build (BellyDoc)

My plan had been to wait quite a while, storing up photos as I went... then start a thread about this and meter in the pictures over several days ... making it look like I was really fast at fabrication.

That's a stupid idea.

There are a couple of reasons why.

First of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to several of the good friends I've made here on these FJ Cruiser Forums just to have gotten this far and learned this much already. Failure to acknowledge this, and to pretend that I was able to quickly whip together a crawler based on my own merits as a garage fabricator would represent the extreme of selfishness and false pretense.

Second, there are many people who are as curious as I am, who are as enthusiastic as I am, but who either lack means or drive to launch into an ill-conceived plan such as this one... and to those I can offer the most valuable service of reporting the unedited and painful (and often expensive) truths that I learn along the way. For some it will be useful information that will help them avoid pitfalls that I find... the hard way. For others it might be the vicarious thrill of watching someone else suffer needlessly for their entertainment. After all, people love a good reality-TV show. This may be no different.

Lastly, and this may (or may not) come as a shock to some on here who have read my posts... I have a habit of typing, and typing a LOT. Therefore, I can think of nothing better than to keep a running narrative of my project, both physical and mental aspects... even if there are NO forum members that choose to read it.

If I *don't* type it here, I'll likely try to explain these thoughts to my wife, my daughters, my dog, my residents, my professional colleagues or anyone else who happens to get unfortunately cornered by me when my mind is locked into project mode.

In order to avoid that potential social suicide, I choose instead to start this thread now, rather than to wait.

-Jon-
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post #2 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 12:43 AM
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

Very cool Jon. Let's get started!

btw, shouldn't this be in member build up area?


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post #3 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

Some of you may have been aware that I crashed my FJ Cruiser on the freeway.

Totally my fault.

EARLY in the morning (even for me).

I changed lanes to the left because of a wide load on my right.

The lane that I changed INTO came to a screetching halt.

I did not.

Nobody was hurt, but I managed to CRUSH the rear end of a Kia minivan, plow it out of the way and STILL ram a small gray car in front of it.

When it came to rest, the FJC had stalled, been pushed into neutral, and started right up to drive to the side of the road.

No airbags deployed. I barely felt it.

The Kia was DESTROYED!!!!

Kia vs. FJC = FJC wins BIG TIME.

(note to self: ARB bumpers ROCK!)

I was mildly miffed that the brakes seemed so wimpy when I tried to stomp on them. They seemed so touchy in traffic when I was going slower, before. Why were they different?

My conclusion is that had just obtained my introduction to "antilock brakes".

I parked my FJC at a body shop for almost a month while they tapped it back into shape. I basically needed fenders and a bumper.

In the mean time, I started thinking... why not start a new 4x4 project? I have been thinking about building a dedicated crawler for YEARS. Of course the mechanical wherewithall to do this is COMPLETELY beyond my current skills or experience, but I'm clever and resourceful. I'm doggedly persistant, and now that I'm done with my surgical training, I actually have an income that would support such a project.

This is *why* I stayed in school... right?

I had been looking for a pre 84 Toyota mini truck so that I wouldn't have to solid axle swap it. I was basically thinking: crawl box, birfield upgrades, big tires, tube cage... and I'm good to go.

That's when I put "Toyota" into the search mechanism on craigslist.com.

I realized that I had one of two choices. Either I buy something for cheap that is unbelievable crap and drag it home where I could work on it, or else I could pay a bit more for something that would limp home under it's own power, but then in working on it, I'd basically destroy what value it had left... so all I'd be getting extra for the additional money would have been not begging some buddy to help me tow it.

That's when I came across an ad for a 69 FJ40 that had been languishing on the list through 3 price reductions. It was down to the same price as mini trucks that would have required being lifted onto a flat trailer with a forklift.

It had the magic word "runs".

I switched my plans.

Time to build an FJ40 - based rock crawler.

How do you do that?

Simple.

Start by buying the FJ40.

Figure the rest out as you go along.

-Jon-
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post #4 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

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Fjamming previously said: View Post
Very cool Jon. Let's get started!

btw, shouldn't this be in member build up area?
I decided to keep it here since it's not my FJC... less confusion to cloud the waters

-Jon-
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post #5 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:04 AM
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

It's too bad you could not make Pismo last weekend. There would be plenty of inspirations to a FJ40 build. I think they would be great crawlers. Nice foundation to start. So exciting. This is in the plans in the future for me as well. I too wondered about getting a early solid axle Toyota pickup or 4Runner. Have thought about Suzukis too. Strengthen it, gear it up, and the rest is fairly straight forward. Subscribed to this thread. Please post pics as soon as you can .


Click for the "Genie" build up
Sandoo Blue FJ
Walker Evans 2.5 dia. front shocks, adj. rear reservoir shocks, Pro Links. AP F&R bumpers, AP 1.25" UCA, Demello skid, TMax 9000 Competition winch. Viking Trail Line. Hankook MT RE03. Trail Gear Sliders, Aeroflow, Lightforce Blitz 240 50W HID, All Pro Swing Out. Bajarack custom low-pro rack. Ricochet LCA armor.
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post #6 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:07 AM
 
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

I don't believe ya' Got pictures???
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post #7 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:09 AM
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

subscribing to this.....

this aggression will not stand, man.
BD, 4wd AT, Gobi stealth/ladder, Trail Gear sliders pilot lights, 3" Toytec/Bilstein adj coilovers, Light Racing UCA, diff drop, swaybar relocate, Expedition One WyoOtto, Superwinch/synthetic, Piaa fogs, remote control lighting, LED dome lighting, 18" Procomp alloys, nitto mt 33/12.5/18, 6 Denso Platinums, K&N, Fourtrex tool mounts, Skull AT shift knob, truckergirl t-case knob, all scuba mods, Nuvi w/ FJmods, Sirius, gunvault, blackout signals, rims, grill.
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post #8 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:11 AM
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

I still think this should be in "build up". It's not a FJC, but it is a FJ!


Click for the "Genie" build up
Sandoo Blue FJ
Walker Evans 2.5 dia. front shocks, adj. rear reservoir shocks, Pro Links. AP F&R bumpers, AP 1.25" UCA, Demello skid, TMax 9000 Competition winch. Viking Trail Line. Hankook MT RE03. Trail Gear Sliders, Aeroflow, Lightforce Blitz 240 50W HID, All Pro Swing Out. Bajarack custom low-pro rack. Ricochet LCA armor.
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post #9 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

So... I went ahead and did the deal. I was able to get the thing rolling and drive it home. I had friends follow me just in case.

The only thing I really cared about was the frame. The frame was STRAIGHT and was impressively rust free. The body was a little beaten, but wait till I get through with it!

Here's a picture of what I had when it got to my driveway:



This is already after the first modification.

There had been a horrifying hard top on it. The meth-head that owned it previous to the guy I bought it from, decided that it would be cool to try to make it into a hard top bikini style... almost like the FJ45 pickup truck. He chopped the hard top in the middle and glued the ends back together with a strip of fiberglass. I tossed that thing immediately. It was worthless.

Then I got underneath and took a serious look at the engine.

Major parts were missing.

No cover on the bottom of the bellhousing.

The e-brake cable was dangling.

There appeared to be less than the total number of connections intended to end at the transfer case.

An MGD beer cap sealed the clutch master cylinder.

JB Weld closed off the end of some piece of tubing I couldn't even identify.

The transmission was not the original 3 speed on the column... it had been replaced with a 3-on-the-floor which had necessitated a cut-through in the tranny hump.

My first goal was already going out the window.

I had thought it would be kinda fun to base the project off of near original parts... put a crawl box in between the existing transmission and transfer case... use the F engine...

No go.

I started talking to Sean (Sean K. - who recently decided no longer to participate in forum chatter... it's ok, I still call him at work at least twice a day with ideas or questions...)

Sean suggested several things.

First off, the transfer case is weak. If I wanted to stay with that FJ40 configuration, I should upgrade to the Orion which is a stronger iron case that won't break in half under crawl conditions.

Next, the axles would be maxed by crawler sized tires... also strongly consider upgrades.

Things rapidly mushroomed from there.

The FJ40 has an oddball arrangement of parts relative to many things we see nowadays. In most 4x4 vehicles we see now, the engine crankshaft is in the middle of the vehicle, followed by a transmission, in the middle of the vehicle, followed by a transfer case also in the middle of the vehicle. The transfer case splits the output from the powerplant into a rear drive shaft and a front driveshaft. The rear driveshaft continues down the midline of the vehicle. The front driveshaft is either on the right or the left side of center. The rear differential housing is on center. The front differential housing is off center.

In the FJC, you can't really see that so much because the clamshell housing for the differential is hidden up on top of a crossmember and behind some skid plates, but it's there, on the left side (driver's side). On any solid axle setup, it's readily apparent.

The original FJ40 plan was completely different.

Instead of having a midline driveshaft to the rear axle, the transfer case offsets BOTH the front and rear driveshafts to the passenger's side. Both of the differential housings are offset.

This meant that if I were to retain the original transfer case or a stronger clone, I'd be forced to use either FJ40 axles or some other type of axle that also had offset front AND rear differentials... perhaps from a larger Land Cruiser like an FJ80.

At the same time, I was looking at the engine and transmission issues.

I wanted a GREAT crawl ratio. This meant a dual case crawl box as far as I knew, but inside a vehicle with a stock 90 inch wheelbase, that could be a problem! There could literally be not enough room to bolt these parts together.

That's ok. Everyone seems to agree that 90" is WAY too short a wheelbase for AZ rock crawling. I only improve things if I start to splay apart the axles... so I shouldn't let that stop me from putting together the transmission system that I dream of.

...but what to drive it??

The problem with the original F series engine - although it is a marvel of longevity (this one should have been dead long ago), is that it's a carburated engine. This poses two problems for a crawler, according to my homework.

First off, carburated engines idle with low fuel and low air intake, and then increrase both proportionally with throttle opening. They have very low power at low throttle, and high power at high throttle. A crawler needs to have good power even at low RPM.

Secondly, a problem with carburated engines is that they were naively designed to run UPRIGHT and they don't necessarily fare very well when tipped on their sides or steeply stood on end. This can be a problem when the plan is for the engine to be put in some pretty awkward positions and the absolutely COUNT on its performance, once there.

The solution to both these problems is fuel injection. Fuel injected engines perform better at low speed, AND they do better in off-camber positions.

The problem is that I don't know THING ONE about working on engines, let alone fuel injected ones.

I found it only mildly reassuring that many people swap fuel injected Chevy engines into FJ40's, however, the party line is that it's do-able even if you don't know how to deal with the fine points of fuel injection, because the little computer thingie does most of that for you... as long as you wire it in correctly.

So... since I decided to go with ginormous tires, I decided to upgrade to 1-ton axles which are compatible with a standard centered rear driveshaft design and an offset front axle. I was then able to use more readily available parts like the Atlas transfer case which packs more gear reduction into less distance, anyhow... improving the control I have on the length of the powertrain from engine to driveshaft.

-Jon-
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post #10 of 1403 (permalink) Old 11-07-2007, 01:46 AM
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Re: A Fool and his Money: my FJ40 build

All the deficiencies aside, the body looks really good. So are you leaning towards a Chevy engine? This isn't a restoration so it really opens up the possibilities.


Click for the "Genie" build up
Sandoo Blue FJ
Walker Evans 2.5 dia. front shocks, adj. rear reservoir shocks, Pro Links. AP F&R bumpers, AP 1.25" UCA, Demello skid, TMax 9000 Competition winch. Viking Trail Line. Hankook MT RE03. Trail Gear Sliders, Aeroflow, Lightforce Blitz 240 50W HID, All Pro Swing Out. Bajarack custom low-pro rack. Ricochet LCA armor.
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