I have come to a time and point in life where I no longer want in my shed a restored old truck, a modified old truck (meaning a classic that is 25yrs+ old), a new truck or a truck for one specific purpose such as rock crawling. I have had them all from Sunday driver (restored classic) to extreme 6x6 (Pinzgauer) to long distance runner (04 DC Taco) to fully custom rock crawler (custom 83 Patrol). Right now I own a total of nine trucks!! Three are work trucks but still it is to many. It is time to bring it all down to one truck that can do it all.
Insert LotR phrase: One truck to rule them all, blah blah blah! One to run the Rubicon, play in Johnson Valley, hit up the dunes in Saint Anthony or whatever else here in the US of A. Local trips here where I live in the Rockies on weekends and perhaps even runs down to Moab. On top of this it needs to be and is going to be my long distance overland truck, for trips outside the USA. It will be set up to live out of for weeks if not months at a time and be fully self reliant. In the past I have had to trailer the rock crawler to the trails or the other trucks just were not capable enough to do the hard stuff. I am not so much into the rock crawling thing anymore but still want to be able to do at the least mild rock crawling trails. For overlanding I have used an 04 DC Taco. This truck while a great platform proved to be to small and light duty for me, couldn't sleep in it to well and I would have had to SAS it to do serious off-roading. It was already over GVW and to step it up with say a FWC would have been absurd weight wise as well as dangerous in my opinion. The idea and concept with the new truck is to be able to do it all and handle the weight that an overland truck is. To be able to drive the toughest trails be it here in the US or 5,000 miles from home deep in Central America. To drive there under it's own power and drive back, be as reliable as any factory built truck, if not more! It will also be built to take use and abuse and handle the weight experienced when building up an overland truck. Which in my opinion was the biggest downfall in the Tacoma, to light duty once built up and loaded with gear. Also a full sized truck is to big for me and what I want to do or where I want to go so mid-sized is what I am aiming for and I think the 60-series Cruiser fits this well! Not to mention I love the 60-series Cruiser body, style, charm and layout. To me it is one of the best available platforms we have here in the US to start with. What I am after and want really can't be bought, only built so that is what I am doing.
I am selling off all my junk, partly to fund this build. However I am keeping the following...
Nissan SD33T turbo diesel from a 1980s Patrol. Highly modified and brand spanking new. Custom Garret T3 turbo, Sprintex super charger, large front mount intercooler, top mount intercooler, shaved sump with external lubrication system, top mount oil cooler, converted to a single serpentine belt and uses one from a 90's 4L Jeep, increased pop pressure on injectors, fully rebuilt injection pump, grind on cam to match boost, and a lot more! Hate to bastardize it with a Nissan motor but this engine is to good not to use! Not to mention it is built and paid for! This is the main reason to use the engine in this build, ie I have it, it is new and ready to rock. Plus it is a solid platform that has very little electrics, a big bonus to me. Estimated MPG being in the low 20's but just an estimate at this time. Power increases over stock in the 30-40% range. Zero lag though with the super charger and or dual charged system. Saginaw P/S pump already mounted along with a GM diesel vac pump (for brakes) and an aftermarket high amp Hitachi alt. The alt we built a custom mount for so that it sits as high in the engine bay as possible to protect it from water & mud. The engine is also set up with in-cab boost controller and it has a 3" dump. A large custom built aluminum radiator is also part of the package. Front mount intercooler has duel electric fans. Engine mounts will be built by me using poly or rubber bushings, same set up I have planned for the trans and have used before on other builds.
1st start on new engine.
bit more running in after build.
Testing it here at my place in the donar truck. IE, first drive!
1988 FJ62 Cruiser body. Super clean with zero rust, just a few small dents to fix in the tailgate. Will be going with FJ60 grill and headlights. Will be painting it all myself, dark non-metallic gray. Extensive rust proofing in the plan, ie all body cavities are getting sealed up with Rust Bullet and then sprayed with a wax type rust proof product. Lot's of sound deadening is also planned.
1994 FZJ80 Cruiser chassis. Will be using some of the suspension, possibly even all of it. Chassis is being cut and shortened 6" to match the FJ62 wheelbase. Extending rear frame rails 6" to match. All new body mounts custom made by me. Sandblast (or strip by hand) entire frame, Rust Bullet the inside of it and spray the outside with some quality chassis black, probably also Rust Bullet. Custom cross members and suspension braketry as required. I have already done some measuring and it looks like the engine will fit very well with little to no dramas. There is only a 1/2" difference in the frame rails on the 80 compared to the Patrol this engine comes from. I got this clean (dirty in the pictures) frame/rolling chassis in a trade for some tires. It is a well built frame ready for the estimated final weight of the truck. I also plan to use as much of the suspension on the frame as possible. Most everything else is being cut off the frame and replaced by custom brackets, mounts, ect. I think it is a better built frame than the 60-series Cruisers which is one of the main reasons to use it.
Transmission & Transfer case: NV4500 5spd and Atlas t-case. I have an adapter to bolt the NV4500 to the SD33T diesel engine. The adapter was made by Advanced Adapters for IHonly, for a diesel Scout application. It is replaces the input shaft in the NV4500. I will buy the NV4500 new as well as the t-case. Drivelines are a snap and since I am running a 1330 on the axles I will order the same for the t-case. I am exploring the idea of using an AA Ranger OD box in front of the NV4500. I am not sure if it is possible yet due to my motor but am liking the idea of being able to split any gear in the NV4500, especially for long distance drives. I had a Ranger OD box behind a v8 and in front of the FJ60 4spd and loved it. I have not decided yet on the Atlas t-case, ie gearing. I will be running a Chevy clutch, exact setup undetermined at this time. I still need to purchase the transmission, t-case and related gear. The last big purchase in this project. Trans mounts will be custom built by me using a rubber or poly bushing.
Axles: I am going to use some Portal-Tek axles I have. These were made by the now out of business Portal-Tek. They use a SpiderTrax housing, Ford 9" center flipped upside down for high pinion (special oil slinger for this), Superior axle shafts, Ford F450 king pins and hub bearings. The portal drop box was custom made by Portal-Tek and is really the only thing in the axles that can't be bought at Napa or on the internet. The seals, bearings, axle shafts king pins and so forth is all off the shelf domestic stuff or aftermarket. The portal box and it's gears are the only unobtainium at this time. However, Torq Axle bought the Portal-Tek rights and have assured me they will back up the G3 axles I have. Not that I am worried about breaking the drop box or it's gears but I feel I do need a source for this unobtainium! Axle shafts are all 4340 chromoly. I have measured them and they are wider then 80-series axles but it is looking like they are 66" WMS to WMS compared to the 80's 63". So will fit pretty nicely. Would have to replace the front housing to use them but rear can be salvaged by cutting all brackets/tabs off it and welding on new junk. However, these are SpiderTrax housings so just takes money! The portals present some problems but they are super sweet axles, basically new, ARB locked and ready to go not to mention they have 18" of ground clearance. They even have RCV CV axles in them which were a big dollar item when these axles were purchased in 2008. Basically they are overbuilt for the truck but I should never have to worry about breaking them and they can handle the load of an 8,000lbs truck. And by my estimates I will be in the 6-8,000lbs range depending on load carried for the trip I am on. I will need to re-gear the axles since right now my gear set is a 3.0 and with the portal drop box this puts me at 6.0. I am going to aim for 4.8-5.0 and since my 3rd is a 9" this will easy and cheap. I will also need to do a few other things like fit some free wheeling hubs and tap the portal box for a breather. The truck is going to be wide, real wide for an overland truck. However by my estimates I should be able to either run a super wide flare available out of Malaysia or just incorporate flares into my side bars. I will definitely be 3-6" outside the wheel wells on both sides and will have to do something about it.
Brakes: Wilwood 4-piston discs at all four corners. Cryo treated rotors, all of it is new. Has dual calipers on the rear axle which I may keep and use for the e-brake. I don't recall rotor size but they are pretty big, 10-11" at least. I ran these brakes on a 6,000+lbs truck and they stopped it very well. I have a lot f the lines already, in braided ss form. I have a CNC cutting brake system. I may try and use this or modify it and set it up for the e-brake but it is to bulky in it's current form to mount between the front seats. I am toying with modifying it to use the stock FJ60 e-brake handle or something like a Chevy foot pedal on the LHS of the drivers footwell but be hydraulic over mechanical and as I say utilize the 2nd set of calipers on the rear axle. It is this or a t-case mounted mechanical e-brake. For master cylinder & booster I have a new set up that is from a GO Patrol, 1" 1/4" bore if I recall correctly. It has run the Wilwoods great before. Not sure yet about mounting it on the FJ62 firewall. I also have a good m/c and vac from the 88 FJ62. Or I can do a custom set up if required using Chevy or whatever. Since the FJ62 was an auto I am going to have to get some FJ60 pedal stuff. The diesel provides no vacuum for the booster which is why I have a GM 6.5L TD vac pump mounted on the engine.
Suspension: Keeping it coil sprung in the rear using a fair amount of the 80-series stuff. However, links are going to be custom using JJ's. It will remain a 4-link with a panhard in the rear, shock configuration and panhard is changing. I have purchased some coil buckets for the (rear) axle side from RuffStuff for setting up the rear suspension. The front is going to be coilovers simply because there is no room to do coils in the front. Coilovers cost more but they solve the room issue. Front is looking like it will be a 3-link with a panhard, however I have not made up my mind on this yet and may try to keep the 80-series radius arms. Will be using Currie Rockjock style sway bars front and rear. I already have all my link brackets, links, Johnny Joints and some other goodies like my front shock towers. I am looking at using a 10-12" King coilover in front and some reservoir King shocks in the rear. Suspension wise the truck isn't going to get much lift, only what is required. Most if not all of my lift comes from the portal axles which is about 5". Tires are to be 35-37", I already have some 37x12.5R17s rollers to build with. Wheels are a set of 17x8" Walker Evans beadlocks. Wheels have a ton of backspacing, 6.5" iirc to keep the brakes and portal boxes protected. This is the max backspacing I could run since I have less than 1/4" of room up front between wheel and high steer arms.
Steering: I will be using a new Saginaw p/s box. I already have a Saginaw pump but it needs a rebuild. On the axle side it will be cross-over and the axles are already set up for high steer. Likely use GM 1-ton TRE's.
Misc stuff: Will be restoring the interior to some extent, going vinyl Aussie floor, vinyl headliner but custom seats. Seats will either be junk yard/craigslist BWM or similar or some new Pro Cars. Not spending big bucks on seats but still going to have some bling, suspension frames/bases are highly likely! Likely going two seater as there will be storage and other stuff in the back including a sleeping platform and a drawer/storage system. Bumpers, bar work, sliders and skids custom, I don't like to carry much gear outside my truck so rear bumper will likely only hold the spare tire. Winch likely a Warn, will try and find a good deal on used. Lot's of LED lighting for interior and some outside too. Dual batteries and likely an Engel 45L fridge. I have a slide for the fridge already. Custom 40gal fuel tank. No RTT but definitely some racks for gear. No on-board water system or fancy stuff but will have onboard air. Lot's of sound deadening, nice stereo, CB & likely an overhead console. Tuffy console between the seats. But no fancy stuff for navigation, computers, onboard wifi or any of that bling. So pretty basic in the overland categories. Although I must admit I am highly considering a Camteq pop top or some kind of similar version I build myself. Some security will definitely be incorporated into the overland build, some that I won't be posting!
Here is a video of an LED interior light conversion I did on an FJ60. I will be doing this plus adding more LED's to the cargo area and camp lights out the back of the Cruiser. The video also shows a Hella headlight upgrade I will be doing plus some Hella driving lights. I will be using something better on the off-road/driving lights. I will also be running LED's in all my side marker lights, tail lights, turn signals, ect.
I like the layout and style of the FJ62 dash....but prefer the FJ60 grill and headlights. So that is why I will be fitting an FJ60 front end to this FJ62!
Since it is a custom truck with custom components I will be customizing the gauge cluster but keep the stock look and general layout is also in the plan. There will be a fair amount of additional gauges and switches in the dash layout but I am not a fan of a cluttered or ugly looking dash.
I guess that didn't turn out to be so short. I have named the truck Mongrel because that is what it will be. A basterd of a truck made from Toyota, Nissan, Chevy and custom parts. He isn't started yet but is under conception and 70-80% of the gear to build it is in hand. I know most people don't feel this is the best route to go in an overland truck, ie custom. However, I am of the type that doesn't think this way and disagrees! By the time this truck is finished I will know every square inch of it like the back of my hand so the whole "factory + fairly stock = the most reliable" argument is moot to me. I will be starting on this build in 1-2 months, need spring as much of the work will be done outside. ETA to completion (funds depending) 2013 and likely late 2013! Edit *2014!* However, I am tackling a lot of it this summer. FJ62 body on the FZJ80 chassis, get chassis so it is a "rolling" chassis asap be it with temp axles or the real deal. Fit motor & do suspension. Paint body and chassis. That is plenty to plan for this year.
I will update this later with some pictures and video as I make progress with the build.