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FJ from Poland - aka Czolg (the tank)

1733 Views 22 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  sgt_raffie
So let the games begin :).
The Initial story:
I live in Europe, in Poland. FJs are rare here. As in I`ve seen one in the last 2 months of driving-rare. Fuel prices, size, practicality etc. make them pretty much non existent here. We (my partner and I) are a lot into offroading (been through Jeeps, Nissans, Land Rovers, Suzukis, You name it, we`ve had it) and into camping, travel, etc. Never owned a Toyota 4x4 thou. We`ve been on the fence concerning FJ for about 5-6 years now. Finally, after all this time, decided that the time is now. The search began.
Since these are so rare around here I kept asking friends if they knew someone with an FJ. One of them responded and said he does not know anyone in my neck of woods but has a friend in Dubai who has 2. After a 2 hour call and a good talk about technical stuff this guy mentions that in fact, he has a friend in Warsaw who returned to Poland from Dubai 3 years ago and brought his FJ with him. And he does not drive it here because he liked dune bashing and does not like technical forest trails, mud, etc (no desert in Poland :) ). 15 minutes later I get a call - "Hey, I heard You want to buy my FJ". Yep...
So, the truck found us. Long story short, after 2 weeks of waiting (the owner was away skiing) we drive to Warsaw and buy the FJ.

Picture below is from Dubai, my FJ is leading.
Sky Tire Cloud Vehicle Automotive tire

The Czolg
So, czolg in polish means tank (as in tracked military vehicle). Why such a name? Not a clue but my partner came up with it and it kind of stuck. It`s on the big part of the vehicle sizes around here and the view from the inside is quite similar (I have some military background - not as a serviceman but as a journo specialized in the subject).
Automotive parking light Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle

Anyway, Czolg is a 2009 4WD Automatic FJ build for US which somehow ended up in Dubai. It seems like a strange crossover between the 2009 and 2010 versions.
Some specs:
Stock double VVT-i engine with just some kind of sports filter and 135000 km (just short of 85000 miles)
BP51 suspension with uprated upper arms (AOR going off the invoices provided)
BMC is done
Almost NO rust anywhere
33-inch Yokohama Geolandars on beadlock wheels
Engine and drivetrain skidplate
Factory locker and A-trac
Fender flares x2 (got a spare set)
Some strange factory-looking roof rack (but it ain`t OEM)
Half-bucket seats
And a bucket-load of dodgy electrical mods, half of which do not do anything, and the other half causes issues.
Nice set of Bison Gear stuff like drawers, table, rear molle panels, rear upper shelf.
Funny enough car came with everything the guy used when wheeling in the desert. Maxtracks, compressor, deflation devices, lights, ropes, shackles, a metric ton of desert sand...You name it, it`s there.
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Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Mode of transport Automotive exterior

Automotive parking light Tire Sky Vehicle Car

The Plans:
For now - get it to my standard of maintenance. Flush everything - coolant, gearbox, engine. Change fluid in the diffs, transfer case, power steering, and brakes. Change the thermostat (more than likely it has some kind of colder thermostat installed as I`m not going over 1/3 of the stock gauge), spark plugs, and filters.
The engine bay and underside need a good cleaning as I could build a small dune with the sand that accumulated in there.
Coming Monday it goes to a specialized shop for an LPG conversion (I know, an odd thing for most of You but the gas prices around here are a bit mad and LPG cuts the fuel costs pretty much in half).
I will keep updating this as I go. Won`t be anything spectacular, the rig is pretty much built. All it needs is some love and small stuff...yeah...right...I`m fooling myself. Off the top of my head, I can think of: adding a winch, building a better roof rack, building a better set of drawers that suit my needs, adding lights, adding a camping battery setup, adding RTT, getting the BP51s setup for my kind of terrain...errmm..ok, it ain`t built but it`s a solid start.

Will be back with more info once the games really begin. Thanks for reading this far.
If You see anything out of ordinary or any problems please point stuff out. I`m new to FJs but a quick learner :).
Some bonus pictures:
Tire Car Vehicle Vehicle registration plate Automotive tire

Tire Plant Wheel Vehicle Sky

Land vehicle Tire Car Vehicle Plant
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Great looking FJ you have there! And it sounds like you have a fair bit of off-roading (and probably wrenching) experience already, so I don't think an FJ will surprise you with anything major, other than noticing how nice the ride is after owning/driving a straight front axle Jeep (and whatever else that was the same) . Are the wheels true beadlocks? 16 or 17"? Do you know what company they are from? Have you seen the Bison roof rack? Are they somewhat local to you? Any comments on their products?
Yup, some wrenching skills and experience under my belt. I`m very hands-on kind of guy. I`m already noticing how good the ride and drivability are, especially with power delivery (coming from turbo diesel, smoothness of the torque curve is very noticeable).

Wheels are true beadlocks. I will try to dig out some info on the maker (I got an unused 6th wheel in the box with the car). It`s a 16 inch wheel. Probably of Dubai origin.

I`ve seen the bison rack on a YT vid. Not in person. From what I see on the products I have in my car it`s really well made. This is all I can say for now as I`m not willing to pass judgment on practicality before I get some miles on the FJ using their stuff. By US standards they are local (200 miles), but by our standards, not so much :). I might be in their neck of the woods in a few weeks so if You want detailed info we can arrange something.

Welcome to the fold!

Be sure to cover the frame and suspension with something before it gets exposed to European road salt, or the underside will quickly develop rust.
Thanks. This was already done by the previos owner but I will keep on top of this. This is by far the most rust free 4x4 I ever owned and I want to keep it this way.
dzien' dobry. welcome from upstate New York USA. Nice Tank!

i'm really interested in the LPG setup, size and location of the tanks and all that stuff. keep us posted.
Will do. I will ask the garage to make some photos of the install. If this fails I will do a detailed write-up of what I know about it (It`s not my forte, hence having someone do it for me)
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@sgt_raffie - Just out of curiosity, how heavy are those beadlock rims? My son bought some steel beadlocks (17") for his 2000 Tacoma (with a straight front axle from an '85 Toyota pickup) and the wheels have to weigh close to 40 lbs. each! No detailed info about Bison Gear needed- I was just interested in what you knew about their products, since they are (again, I use the term loosely) local. From what I've heard and can see, it looks like they make nice stuff. And yeah, I get that you consider 200 miles a big distance- it's probably a good way across the country. Here (I'm in British Columbia, Canada) some people drive 60 miles each way for a day's work, and 200 miles is a morning's drive- I've gone that far to visit a friend for lunch. It takes 10-11 hours just to get to the next province (Alberta) and Google says it's 77-83 hours to drive the almost 4400 miles across the country to St. Johns, New Brunswick.
You are correct, these are bloody heavy - 39 lbs or 17.5kg. Most likely this will get relegated to serious offroading and get fitted with 35-inch MTs. For normal stuff, I will get some alloys and have 33 ATs on them.
Yep, I`m aware of the difference is distances. I really like Canada and the open spaces there. Too crowdy for me in this part of the world :).
Below are photos of the wheel and markings on the box. Tried to google the symbol, but nothing comes up. No company name on the paperwork, most likely cheap Chinese wheels. Sorry to be of no help :).
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Alloy wheel
Sleeve Wood Font Rectangle Pattern
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Welcome from a person of Polish descent who lives in Florida USA.
Thank You..

A great project. My advice to add to the list is to rip out all that bad wiring and start from scratch You‘ll now it’s right then and what’s what.

Probably too late to add my thoughts on LPG, I know it is popular in Eastern Europe and in Australia but I wouldn’t do it! Toyota engines don’t like it! It’ll shorten the engine life. Here there is not really any financial gain the cost of doing it, the cost of LPG here is now not so far off petrol but ou maybe have other experience.
Thanks for Your thoughts. I`m firmly set on the LPG. I`m the kind of person who does his homework to the end and I can`t agree with You. My disagreement is based both on empirical evidence and on available data. Let me start from the arse end :).

Economics - Here I will be using kilometers and liters (sorry but converting this in my head is beyond me today). It`s numbers, so You will get an idea.
Let's assume (with a lot of optimism) that I will have an average of 15 liters of unleaded per 100 km. With the current price of unleaded 95 (6.68 per liter), this gives me just over 100 for 100km so 1 per km.
With LPG, the increase in fuel use is around 15%. So let's say 17.5 liters of LPG per 100 km. With the current price of LPG (3.16 per liter), this gives me 55.3 per 100km so 0.553 per kilometer.
Costs are nearly halved.
LPG setup costs around 6000 - I should get a return on my investment after around 11.000 km. That is a year of driving. Numbers can`t be disputed.

Don`t want to go off on the wrong foot here but on what are You basing Your opinion on engine reliability? It might have been valid 10 years ago when LPG setups were really crude with just a simple evaporator and hardly any control over injectors. Nowadays these use sophisticated ECUs which constantly communicate with the car ECU and adjust the fueling, timing, etc. If You are referring to the "dryness" of the LPG compared to unleaded, modern installations have things like lubrication, control over stock injectors to avoid the problem with the valve seats, etc.
I have two bases for my opinion about the suitability of Toyota engines for LPG.
1. I know of a number of 4.0 V6 Land Cruisers, 4-Runners, and Tacomas which were imported into Poland and are in daily use with LPG setups.
2. Back in the day when I preferred speed over all terrain ability (and lived in the UK, in Lake District) I owned an interesting Toyota. It was JZS147 Toyota Aristo with the legendary 2JZ-GTE inline-six engine (the same they later used in the Supra). I did a lot of miles in this car (mainly driving between Poland and UK) and decided to do LPG as well. Had well over 100.000 miles with the LPG when the car was sold and had no issues at all. Engine later got put into RX7 and was fully inspected before the swap. There were no issues whatsoever, no "traces" of any damage caused by LPG. Fun fact - car made more power on LPG than on Unleaded as the ignition could be retarded more agressively due to different burn characteristics.

LPG is not only popular in "Eastern Europe" but also in Germany, Italy, France and a lot of other countries.
So I`m going to "risk it" with LPG.

As to wiring - hell yeah. I can`t stand dodgy wiring. Nothing worse. All those "mods" and "switches" will be going away are getting redone my way. I already have an electrical issue caused by shoddy "kill switch for driver aids" mod. Will be retracing, splicing, soldering and insulating really soon.
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So it looks like a busy weekend for me :).
Gas Plastic Box Personal protective equipment Bag

Planning on doing the following:
-oil and filter change (using engine flush) and going with Mobil 1 5W30
-Air and Cabin filters
-Spark Plugs (Denso IKH20TT) as per specs
-Oil change in diffs and transfer box
-Partial (probably 2 times) oil change in the transmission (yes, I`m aware of the correct method and have OBD scan tool to check the temps)
-Coolant flush and change
-Thermostat change

Need to drop the underbody protection first thing in the morning tommorrow and go from there
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Don't forget to also flush the brake fluid for max caliper life, and flush the power steering fluid for max steering rack life.

Additional service parts to consider giving attention to (items which should be serviced every 80k km or so):
  • gas cap o-ring
  • PCV and related hose
  • clean MAF
  • if you are getting close to 160k km, consider to replace the A/F ratio sensors and the O2 sensors on the exhaust (like spark plugs, they are wear items that don't throw codes as they decline in condition over the years).
Great info, thanks very much. MAF cleaning is on the list, just forgot to put this in the post.
Brake fluid is a job for next weekend as is the PS fluid (and I have to investigate why it was very low when I got the car).
Did not know about the PCV going bad at this millage, thanks.
Will have to look into O2 sensors and Air/Fuel sensors. Did not realise these are wear items. Will most likely check the readouts via OBD and compare with the service manual and go from there.
"Will most likely check the readouts via OBD and compare with the service manual and go from there."

One of the things discussed here over the years is the AF and O2 sensors can start to go off without throwing OBD codes. Just a lot of us have found improved mpg after replacing them after about 100k miles (160k km).

They are in the exhaust stream, so gradually wear due to the harsh environment they live in.
Yeah, I understand this and I`m not referring to error codes here but to the values read by the probe vs those expected by ECU. I do hope this can be checked in the FJ. "Expected" vs "actual" values. If there is a big difference then I will investigate.
Will defo keep an eye on both (or all 4 to be precise) now. And a problem with either should not result in any catastrophic failure, just a gradual decrease in performance and/or drivability.
By all means, see You :).
I hear what You are saying. Not as rare as in the UK for sure. In my 10-year stint in the UK I think I`ve seen 2.
Still rare in Poland, last week I`ve seen none (window reflection not included :) ) and drove through half of Poland including Warsaw and Krakow.
I know there is a lot of kit available. Already ordered the stealth winch mount :)
So the story continues.
Last week I managed to finish all the planned servicing. And glad I did as the gearbox was about 500 ml (or 0.52 quarts) short on fluid. It already shifts better. Flushed around 12 liters (or 12.7 quarts) of fluid through the system. One more flush in the next month or two and I can cross this off my list.

In the meantime FJ had an LPG install completed. I can`t give too much technical detail as this is not my forte. I`m happy with the way it is installed. Had a preliminary tune done when picking up the truck from the workshop. Now, I need to drive around 1000 km and have the tune checked. Below You can see a random collection of photos from the installation. Please excuse the quality but these were sent to me by the workshop.

Hood Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Automotive design Auto part

The intake manifold was removed for injector installation. I had my first issue with parts availability here. OEM manifold gaskets from Toyota are about 1 month wait time...eeek. Luckily managed to find good quality replacements that were available for the next day. Ordered the Toyota gaskets anyway. And, as someone above predicted, one of the PCV hoses was damaged. Also ordered from Toyota with 1 month waiting time. Fixed with tape for now. :ROFLMAO:

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Here we have two evaporators that turn liquid gas into gas gas :). Which is then injected into the intake.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive design Bumper

The gas tank. It fitted snugly between the chassis rail and the exhaust. The tank is effectively 60 liters (or 16 gallons). I say effectively as LPG tanks have room for gas expansion. The measured volume of this one would be 72 liters but it is limited to 60. This should give me a minimum of 300 km range on LPG alone. Gas outlets on the left of the tank are my only small concern. These point to the side and are not low, but I small branch or unlucky stone could damage the outlets of pipes. Will have to fabricate some kind of armor there. Gas pipes (not yet installed on the photo) are tucked above the frame so I`m not worried at all.

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Here You can see that I hardly lost clearance with the tank. Maybe 2cm (3/4 of an inch). LPG tanks are proper tough so even if I hit something it won't matter.

If You have any questions concerning the install, please let me know and I will try to answer them. This is just a brief description.

Now back to fun things. Managed to do this today:
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Finished install. I`m happy with the way it turned out. Really stealthy, especially when I move the reg downwards and hinge it somehow.
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Still need to wire it all up but this can wait until I have the second battery and charging system for it installed. Then some lights, heated mirrors (and hopefully seats), and myriad other things that are bouncing around in my head.

To be continued...
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Have you had the lpg conversion yet?
Yup. Some details in the beginning of the post above Yours.
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