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Mike's 78FJ40 Build Thread

17161 Views 73 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Bang Bang
This thread is more of a way for me to keep track of what I have done to the 40 and what I want to do to the 40.

So, without further adieu.......

How she sits today 4/18/13:

Her name is Hachi. This is how she looked the day I got her from Brian, a fellow BSLCA member.

First ride I took her on was at The Devil's Backbone in Crossroads, Ms. Damn, those springs are tight!! That was a rough ride.

Brian and the PO's had already done many of the upgrades I would have wanted to do.

From one of Brian's For Sale threads on what was previously done:

The PO was a TLCA member and a friend of some BSLCA members, who also helped build it around 99 - 2000. They did a frame off resto and added the crate 350 from Summit at that time.

- 350SBC conversion using the AA bellhousing
- AA Twin stick kit
- custom covered yellow/black 40 seats
- stock front disc brakes and rear disc conversion from a Monte Carlo (I think)
- saginaw power steering
- 33" BFG MTs (5) with 80% tread
- custom rear swingout bumper w/ tire carrier
- h**p bench seat in back w/ shoulder belts from a Montero
- 2 1/2" lift springs
- 1 1/2" body lift
- stock 4 speed tranny w/ 3 spd transfer case
- Tuffy center console
- STOUT pipe bumper and rock sliders (more like rock crushers)
- custom aluminum dash cluster
- Inside of tub is completely rhino lined
- Aussie locker installed in the rear
- Installed rebuilt Quadrajet carb, new plugs and wires
- Installed new shocks front / Rancho and rear / Edlebrock

But, as I had told Brian when I bought her, I planned to take her to the next level. So, since this is really going to be a trail-only rig and ride-around-town-on-sunny-days rig, there was no need for the hard doors. I was able to find a set of RedLine tube doors from another MUD member who had them sitting around in his garage. I sanded, primed and painted them satin black. Now I am getting to more of the look I want.

No pictures but then I added a Uniden CB with a Firestick antenna for on the trails. Around the same time I also added an Alpine CD / MP3 stereo with a USB jack in the face so I can just load MP3's on a jump drive and play them through the Alpine. This way I don't have to bring my iPod on the trails. Works GREAT! The Alpine is mounted in the Tuffy center console and the CB is mounted in the dash where the OEM stereo went. I mounted some old surround sound speakers I had laying around to the roll bar. I plan to add a switch so that I can use the stereo speakers as external speakers for the CB.

Next, the springs were too stiff for my liking. So, when Larry offered up his 4" Skyjacker springs, I bought them. The BSLCA guys on the eastern side of the state got together one night to help me swap the springs.

Old springs:

New springs:

Not much of a difference in height but what a difference in the ride. Here's all the cruisers we had in the shop at Deryl's that night.

Had to test them out on the trails. This was at Paradise for the Hero Hustle ride.

I was having some overheating issues so I bought and installed a 3 core aluminum radiator from Champion Radiators. I also changed out the thermostat at that time. Good thing as someone had installed the wrong one for a Chevy 350. No more heat problems.

Next up, I had to test things out again and what better place to do that than Superlift for the SCC '10.

Had lots of fun there but just to be sure, I had to test things out again at Sicily Island.....



Flexing the other side......
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Next on the list:
  • change tie rod ends and steering stabilizer (DONE)
  • have the rear bumper swing out re-workedinto a double swing out so it doesn't sag and add a jerry can basket. Also, going to incorporate the hitch into the bumper. (DONE)
  • bend the hitch back in place and reinforce the rear cross member (DONE)
  • build a storage box out of angle iron and mesh steel for under the rear bench (got the material)
  • install 4 point harnesses front and rear (fronts are done)
  • install new 3 core aluminum radiator (DONE)
  • cut piece of 1/4" plate to fit over holes in the tranny tunnel cover (DONE)
  • replace fiberglass front end with steel parts (DONE)
  • re-paint the rig (DONE)
  • install a family roll cage (DONE)
  • upgrade to 35" MT's (DONE)
....and not in that particular order.
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Finally got the 40 to the welder a few days ago. He sent me this pic about 2 hours later.....

Takes him a while to get you in there (he is super busy) but when he gets you in, he doesn't play around. It's just tacked up in the front right now. He was a bit concerned about the bends in the original hoop behind the driver / passenger seats and the hoop I picked up from Larry. They did not match and JD is a perfectionist (maybe that's why it takes soooooo long to get in his shop) so he said he is going to "fix it". I can't wait to see what he comes up with. He is also re-designing my rear bumper with a swing-out and integrated hitch along with some other work. :D
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Well, JD, my master welding guru, didn't like the way it looked in the previous picture due to the different radius bends in the two hoops.

You can see what the two hoops looked like together. I wound up with the rear-most hoop from this rig.

So, this is what JD came up with.....

It's a little different but I like it. I am going to see it in person tomorrow morning and we will work out the final details.
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As for the construction, JD is a master and a perfectionist. I went by his house yesterday and it's coming along nicely. The cage is complete, just have to drill a few more holes in the floor to be able to bolt it in. The welds look great to me. He did not use a wire fed weld.....I don't know what he called it but it looks better than anything I have ever soldered. :lol:

He took the rear bumper apart, moved the spare over to the driver's side along with moving the pivot to the driver's side and will be building the jerry can basket tonight and in the morning. He says he should have it back to me by Friday. Also, I did not know this until today, but he also builds auxillary fuel tanks. He builds them out of aluminum. That is something that is on my list of must haves.

Here is what I found when I went by his shop today......

I am getting more anxious by the day to get this thing back from him. He just needs to finish off the lock / latch for the tire carrier, mount the winch plate on the front and he is making me a mount for my camera on the dash bar. Should have it back in a day or so.
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Thanks guys. It is certainly a labor of love. After I get it back from my welder, I've got to start looking for where I am leaking fluids. I have an IPOR skid plate that I want to install but if I install it now, it is just going to be a bowl to collect all the leaking fluid. :(
Well, he added some "A" to "B" supports to the cage and finished up the last few small things. I will be going to pick it up tomorrow and then start the process of sanding and painting the truck and the cage.

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Last night a buddy and I yanked the cage out. The OEM roll bar had some kind of bedliner material on it and I was told by JD that it didn't grind off very well and made a hell of a mess.....he wasn't kidding. We tried melting it off and that made a huge mess. So, I got after it with a bad a$$ grinder that was doing the job but it was slow going and the dust in the air was incredible. After about a half hour of that I noticed that the material was beginning to peel off one of the feet of the cage. So, I took a box cutter and cut the material from the top of the bar to the bottom. Then, using a scraping tool, began to "peel" the material off the bar. This is a small pile of what came off......

Once I got it all cleaned up, I wiped the whole cage down to get rid of the oil residue on the Metal Tech bars and wiped the rest down for good measure.

All primered up......

I was too tired to take pictures of the finished product. I will get some of those today. Looks GREAT I do have to say. :bigthumb:
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Thanks for the kind words. More pics to come as soon as this weather clears. Hope to have the sheet metal parts for the front end painted this weekend and installed soon afterwards.
Well, got some stuff done today, nothing major but just one more step closer to getting this rig looking like I want it. Got the newly painted hood, bib, aprons and fenders mounted up today. The color is not an exact match but it's close. The new yellow is "brighter" than the old so the entire truck will be getting new paint soon after the Superlift trip. I am sooooo glad to finally get rid of the fiberglass front end......well, at least got it off the rig. It's sitting in the yard. Also got the cage all bolted in.

Tomorrow I hope to get the lights, bezel and marker lights mounted up.
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Got most of my last minute list done today. Got the headlight buckets and headlights in (found out the long way that the buckets that fit the fiberglass do NOT fit the metal bib :mad: ), got the turn signals mounted on the fenders and the new thermostat for the fan mounted, wired and adjusted. :rocker:

Tomorrow I will be wiring up the headlights and turn signal, fixing the rear tailgate panel so it doesn't rattle and get that skid plate installed. :bigthumb:
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Thank you very much. I was able to get the headlights, turn signals and license plate lights wired up today.....what a PITA going behind someone else's wiring. I also got the tailgate secured and the fire extinguisher installed (this one I may really need :lol:)
Well, after a great trip to Hot Springs, it's time to move forward. I started taking her apart again to prep her for her new paint job. We should have her done next weekend. Will post more pics after she gets her new paint. For now, here's one from Hot Springs.

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Thanks guys. It is a lot of fun especially with so many LC guys in this area. We are kind of a hidden breed but they are starting to come out of the shadows. We have a great time wrenching on them, then wheeling them and then wrenching some more. We usually do a couple rigs at a time. :D
Thanks Stan. And, yeah, I'm on MUD all the time. I think I spend more time there now than I do here.

I have been waiting to see what you are going to do with your 40. I understand too many projects. I just tinker with mine a bit at a time as I came to the realization a long time ago: It won't EVER be FINISHED, just ready to wheel until my next mod. :D
So, we had a small wrenching session where we didn't turn many wrenches. My buddy, Deryl, and I got together at his shop and we gave Hachi a new coat of yellow. She feels much better now.

First, we sanded her and taped her up:

Next, Deryl handed the gun to me and said, "Good luck!" He went and did some work on his doors and spare tire carrier while I painted. Not bad for the first time spraying a vehicle. Only a couple runs in some inconspicuous areas (I am sure I will find more tomorrow in the light :( ).

Then I helped him with his stuff for a bit and then we set Hachi free of her bonds......

All in all, a very productive afternoon and we had some fun working on our cruisers.........gotta love it. :bigthumb:
I'll get some more pictures of her after putting her back together.
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No. I am doing what I can to make it to the GSMTR in Tn in late May. I want to try out this park since I have never been there.
I appreciate the kind words but mine is far from "nice". It is definitely a trail rig. The only reason for painting it was because the front end sheet metal parts were red. I just wanted the truck to be one color (well, 2 colors.....yellow and black). :D It is solid and a very capable rig. It has it's leaks and quirks but hasn't let me down yet. Next major task.....get the used ARB air locker installed in the front so I can conquer some more of these hills. :bigthumb:
So, here's another update. Since we got everything painted and put back together I have put stickers all over her, got some in-cab lighting put in (more to come so I can see what's going on next time Lance decides we need to make a Night Mud-Doggin' run :lol: ), upgraded her shoes to 35's on non-fake-beadlocked Pro Comp rims, replaced the alternator and got the winch mounted up. The universal channel from HF worked out fine. It was my ignorance that was stopping me from mounting the winch on it before.

For the wiring of the winch, I put the control box under the hood for a couple reasons.

  1. Because of the over heating issues in the past, I wanted nothing blocking the radiator.
  2. I wanted to do in-cab controls.
  3. I wanted to protect it as much as I could from damage.

So, as you can see in this last picture, I mounted the box to the inner passenger fender and then ran the controller cable through the firewall. The controller is in the glove box and the cable is long enough that I can still use it outside the truck and reach the front of the truck or (like I did a few times at GSMTR) I can use it in the cab. I put some rubber electrical tape around the plug on the box to make sure it doesn't go anywhere and is kind of water tight. I also put a ground "kill switch" on the dash so the winch cannot be accidentally activated without the switch pulled "on".

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35's are nice; I can't remember, do you have a 4" lift? Looking better all the time.
Yes sir......Skyjacker 4" lift. I did mash the rear passenger tire into the fender well at GSMTR a couple weeks ago. Not too bad but noticeable, so that just gives me more incentive to trim the fenders so I can install the pair of rear flares that are hanging on the wall. :bigthumb:

Lookin' good!! :cheers:

I like your idea of putting the winch control box under the hood. Kinda streamlines the looks of the front end. :bigthumb:
Thank you Steve. Just didn't want to block up the radiator any more than I had to. One day I'll come up with these ideas on my some of you guys do. :wave:

Coming right along Mike, looks good.

Putting the control box under the hood also forces you to leave the hood up while winching which is a good safety feature if someone is sitting in the cab controlling the RPMs. If God forgive a cable lets go it will not go through the windshield.
Thanks Stan. I would agree with you but in my case I actually ran the controller cable through the firewall and have the controller in the glove box. I just make sure I have something heavy hung over the cable in the event it does snap (heaven forbid). :D

I love threads like this...I would have never thought of putting the control box under the hood :bigthumb:

Doc, I can't take credit for it. I had seen other rigs do this but in my research on how to wire it up, I saw several similar builds. There are a few guys who make some pretty cool in-cab control switch set-ups but I couldn't justify spending the money on my trail rig. So that's why I just went with the controller through the firewall. If something happens to it, then I guess I will just have to weigh my options at that time, following your logic.......don't fix it until it's broke. ;)
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