FJ40 Rebuild

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


chassis - frame, suspension, axles, & brakes

After the disassembly went so quickly, I began to falsely believe this was going to be a fast project. Funny though, it seems to take much longer to but things back together again once you have them apart. Add to that taking a few months off from working on the Landcruiser at all, and not much progress gets made. However, I am happy to report that the Landcruiser is back to being a (mostly) rolling chassis again, which i think makes it officially a vehicle again instead of just a pile of parts. Starting to look like a real vehicle again
Once the frame was entirely stripped of all other parts, I had it sandblasted at a local shop. It was amazing how the frame looked when it came back. Just two days before, the frame rails had literally been filled completely solid with decades of hardened mud. After priming and several coats of high-temperature engine enamel paint, the frame looked like it was brand new. I hope the rest of the vehicle turns out as nice as the frame did. Looking sharp
I apologize for the crappy picture, but underneath that dusty plastic is my new Chevy small block 350 engine (painted Chevy Orange, of course). Only about a million more things to do before I can start to get it installed. Motor under wraps
My chassis went from 4-wheel drum brakes to 4-wheel disc brakes. The rear disk brake conversion was super duper easy (the hardest part was removing the old drum backing plates). Once the old drums were off, the new disc brakes were installed in probably an hour. I completed the conversion with some nice stainless steel braided brake lines. The front conversion was only slightly harder, mostly just because there were more parts to disassemble. Again, the hardest part was the removal of the old drums. The conversion kit was a straight-forward kit, using the same calipers and rotors as the rear conversion. Before the rebuild, the drum brakes I had were almost completely incapable of stopping the vehicle. Now with my new disc brakes all the way around, I shouldn't have any trouble stopping at all. (The bad news is that when installing the front disc brakes, it became abundantly clear that I am in desperate need of a complete knuckle rebuild. To get the Landcruiser back into a rolling chassis form, I am putting that job off for now, but I will have to tackle it sooner or later.) Nice new disc brakes
It isn't quite as obvious in this picture, but the ride height of the vehicle is quite a bit higher than before. The new leaf springs add 4" of lift, while the extended shackles probably add about 1.5" more. The 35" BFG Mud T/A tires add effectively 2" of height as well over the 31" tires that were on there before. Installing the new springs was pretty easy with a little help from Michaleen, and in the process I replaced all of the bushings, u-bolts, and spring pins as well. Without weight from the motor, drivetrain, or body, the suspension is incredibly stiff right now. Hopefully it will be a little smoother once everything is finished. Riding high