This is a sometimes updated build log of my 1969 FJ40.
I bought this FJ40 in the summer of 2022. I had been looking for one for ages and had driven hundreds of miles trying to find the perfect one before I found this green beast literally 5 miles from my house. The most recent owner had purchased it with a plan to do a frame off in 2019 but it sat and never got any love, so I gave him a cheque and hauled it home 3 years later. It already had a junkyard 350 swap done, a front Wilwood disc brake conversion, shackle reversal, 4 inch lift and was mostly rust free. The rear brakes leaked, the carb was shot, the electrical system liked to start fires and the entire thing was clearly put together by a half dozen backyard mechanics.
I gave it it’s first wash and started crawling around to see what I had to work with.
The engine seems to be from 87-93 GM with center bolt valve covers, a split bore intake and a busted rochester carb from a 77 olds. It has the factory, non synchronized 3 speed transmission and vacuum actuated transfer case but someone removed all the linkage to engage 4lo. The suspension is the stiffest rancho 4 inch I’ve ever encountered, the seats are from a 95 Saturn SL2 and the steering column came from a 90 Chevy blazer. Mickey Thompson wheels and rims all around and a whole heap of homegrown bodging from previous owners.
The first couple of fixes were small things. Replacing broken clips for the underseat toolbox,
tearing down the doors and cleaning up the window regulators, little things like that. The first expensive fix came in the form of an Edelbrock AVS2 1916 offroad carb. The install went pretty smoothly, though my carb arrived with some damaged parts and misconfigured floats. After taking it apart and getting replacement parts sent to me from edelbrock, it fires up faster than my fuel injected 4runner.
New Old Stock (NOS) dashmounted ignition switch and a dashbox were the next easy fixes and upgrades while I waited for more interesting parts to arrive. The dashbox is good, but has some fit and finish issues, still though, totally worth it for all the extra storage it creates.
The last easy fix was getting rid of the old diamond plate. I was afraid I would find a ton of rust underneath there, but overall it’s in pretty good shape. There is a mass of bondo that I’ll have to address, but I’ve got a welder and lots of time. The original color looks to be white and at some point a red primer was sprayed on before the wild green.
Now it gets expensive
Initially, I tried to just repair the rear drum brakes but found that, by the time I got parts, I was only a hundred dollars away from going to discs. I pulled off the drums, pulled and inspected the axles and bolted on brackets from JT outfitters along with calipers from an 85 montecarlo and discs from an 88 chevy that have been machined to fit the center hub .
The 69 had single hydraulic loop manual brakes with 9mm fittings everywhere. Going to discs meant needing a dual loop which meant 10mm fittings and, while I’m there, might as well add a brake booster. I sourced a booster from a newer FJ80 as well as a non ABS master cylinder and a bunch of fittings. I also grabbed some NiCop brake line and proceeded to fit it all together. The booster required an adapter that spaced it nearly 3 inches away from the firewall, so I had to make up an M10-1.25 extension rod to the brake pedal. I’m probably going to replace that soon with a shift handle extension off a Nissan. In the end, I replaced every single brake line, hard or braided, with new 3/16 with M10 fittings.
In order to run everything the way I want, I went ahead and pulled off the frontend body panels. It will help when it comes time to paint too. That gets us to today which is late October of 2022.
October 23 2022: Lug nuts and brake booster rods
Today was a less successful day. I bought all new wheel lugs and nuts, thinking since I was doing work at the hubs I might as well replace the 50+ year old hardware . I managed to break 4 of the new ones before I gave up. These are supposed to be Toyota lugs, but they are longer, the nuts are smaller and the shoulders don’t fit very well. I couldn’t end on a L though so I went ahead and modified the Nissan Sentra shifter extension that I ordered to act as my brake booster extension. It should be plenty strong for the boosted brakes though I’m not sure I would trust it for manual ones.
December 14 2022: Brakes are finished
The 40 now has 4 wheel disc brakes. I had to get a flex line made in order to be DOT compliant (while you can make your own, if they aren’t DOT they aren’t supposed to pass inspection) and that took a few tries to get the correct one shipped, but there it is!
The hard lines I built as single runs, so there is no place for them to leak with the exception of the junction/splitter to go to each wheel. It was a massive pain in the rear, but is going to be so much easier to keep air tight
I also managed to score a synchronized 4 speed transmission from a 72, which is SUPER exciting because it will bolt right up to my transfer case and then I won’t have to double clutch anymore. I’ve started to rebuild it, but it’s in pretty great condition with just a little bit of surface rust. I’m swapping out bearings and all of the gaskets of course just in case, but it’s otherwise ready to go.
Next up is the electrical system.
January 2 2023 : Electrical and then some
There isn’t a single wire on this entire rig that isn’t burnt or missing insulation, so I decided to just rip it out and start fresh. These are very easy trucks to work on and electrical is where I’m strongest, but this was just an impressive amount of jank. There are two amp meters wired in and both interrupted the main charging circuit. Both also where burned out.
I ran some 00 gauge main wire, upgraded the battery terminals and took the opportunity to sand and prime a small section of the firewall while I was in there.
It seemed like a good time to take off the transmission cover too, so off that went. The steering column was removed at the same time as an ididit one is on the way. A 16 fuse box is going to go into the glove box so all the electrical is high up and safe from water.
January 18 2023: Steering column
I’d like to say that this didn’t take as much effort as it did. I’ve never done a steering column before, or even a steering wheel, so figuring out how to take the darn thing off, what kind of coupling I needed, the wiring, the mounting, etc was all new. Thankfully, Ididit has a column that is practically a drop in (yes I know it’s upside down in this picture) and I was able to order the right adapters for the grant steering wheel I already have. I’m still waiting on the floor mount to arrive and then I’ll need to weld that all in, but it’s good enough for now.
The coupling was a nightmare to get installed until I realized I needed to sand off the surface rust from the dd shaft, it slid right on after that (doh). I’ll drill the set screws once I’ve welded the floor mounts in place.
Wiring it is not difficult, but again is new. So I decided to mount all of the components that will go into the truck onto a board , RattyMuscleCar style.
I’m going to end up with 10 relays in total for all of the electrics but the overall power draw is very low. With the headlights, brights, DRLs, blinkers and brake lights all on I’m only drawing around 50w which is mind blowing to me. LEDs are kinda amazing. I don’t have to use relays at all with this kind of power draw, but if it’s worth doing it’s worth over doing.
After you add in the ignition coil , radiator fan, HVAC and horn I’m calculating a worse case power draw of 45 amps (starter not included) so I have a 50amp circuit breaker sitting at the head of the fuse panel.
January 22 2023: Prep work
I had a friend come over today, so instead of doing electrical we spent some time working on the stuff that takes two people. First was taking apart the hard top. It’s too big for me to store in one piece, but taking it apart I’m able to stash it all over the garage out of the way. Then we took out the seats and got the interior basically stripped. I think I’m going to need a new back tub but we’ll see when the grinder comes out. While he was here we also dropped the rear driveshaft and took apart the parking brake so I could replace the transfer case output shaft with a new one that is double sealed. I found the speedometer short cable is broken and the parking brake cable is frozen, so I’ll need to replace those.
January 29 2023: Small boring stuff
Lots of little work today, but nothing super exciting. I’ve taken apart the front bib and I’m giving it a really solid renew. It’s such an iconic piece of the FJ40, it’s important that this is right. The first thing I’m going after are the headlight buckets. The previous owner had installed these goofy rock guards over the headlights and then painted everything in place, so the screws and bezels were all a big mess. None of the screws survived, but that’s fine. I spent today just working on the buckets themselves, stripping all of the paint (none of it had a good mechanical attachment to the metal, so I couldn’t just scuff it and paint over) and getting them primed for whatever color I eventually pick.