FJ40 Build thread - Hell's Kitchen

Do any of you guys watch cooking shows? Well there's one guy that I really admire in the food world, Gordon Ramsay. His NO-BS attitude automatically let's you know where you stand. He will tell you like it is, or tell you to get out. In a past life I worked as a chef so I have experience with guys like him. If I still were a chef, I would love to work for him. The reason I chose Hell's Kitchen for this build is twofold; One - I was brought a mystery basket of parts and told to use them. Two - it's a budget build so asking for permission to spend more than I need to would get me the Gordon Ramsay response.

Here goes.

We started with a trailer load of parts:

- FJ40 tub and frame of unknown vintage
- LS V8 of unknown variety
- Dana axles, previously modified

The criteria behind this build was:

- 4 seat trail-only rig
- Link suspension
- 40" tires or thereabouts
- It had to appear to be a FJ40 when completed
- Budget of "under 50K"

The customer and I decided on a TH400 for the trans, a 3.8 Atlas t-case, a 4 link rear kit and 3 link front kit from RuffStuff (to keep costs down). I procured some parts and the building began. We have no visions of KOH victory, no aspirations to climb Mt Everest, but it should be a capable rig. So if you see something here in the pages that follow that raises a question, there's probably a reason behind it.

Here's the body and frame we started with.

After mounting the motor, trans and t-case, and plating the frame, I quickly got to work designing the rear suspension. I set it up with a bit less roll steer than a KOH car and there is a bit of adjustability built in. The wheelbase was stretched to 115" wheelbase.

Next up, hang the front axle.

A 3 link with a panhard was the only way to go while working inside the confines of a stock-ish frame and also trying to maintain a low ride height. So far, the bottom of the frame is 23.5" above ground so the truck is pretty low. We may raise it an inch or two if we need to.

There was simply no room to use a fully triangulated 4 link. Even using a traditional steering box was out of the question. We ordered a single ended ram system from PSC and I was able to fit it behind the tie rod and low enought to clear the panhard bar and frame.

The initial mock up was with really long lower control arms and a single piece front driveshaft. After proving that scenario to be sub-par, we ordered up a short intermediate shaft from Jesse at High Angle Driveline and shortened up the lower control arms. The upper control arm is almost the same length as the lowers to try to control the pinion angle throughout the suspension travel, the same approach as we took with the rear. One benefit to using a 2 piece front driveshaft was that I could design it so that one-length-driveshaft is used front and rear, so one trail spare will fit either end.

Mock up.

Building the front suspension at full bump is always a good idea, but here things were very tight so that's where I started. The stock frame horns would cause a lot of fitment issues, so the frame was clipped out front to make room.



Expedition Leader
Nice! I like it already. That looks like excellent separation on your 4&3 link set ups. Fairly long arm in front too. Dig that notch in the frame for the panhard clearance. Really nice work!

It was clear from the start that the rear frame section and the rear portion of the body would not be able to be used. The options were: Lengthen the body, Clip the body in a "half cab" style, Clip the body and leave it open. We decided that the cheapest option was to clip the body and built it into the roll cage. This decision leaves a lot of room for variations and we will strive to keep it looking like an FJ throughout the rest of the build.

Cut the rear frame off.

Build lower clip section. Has to clear the links.

Mock it up and start the welding.

This is how she sits right now.
Thanks everyone. I am working on this truck about every day so updates should be about once or twice a week.

I spent today getting ready to start on the roll cage. I also had to drill the High Angle short shaft for a Toyota CV. Normally drilling a flange is a piece of cake because clocking is not an issue, but since this is on the shrt part of a 2 piece shaft, proper phasing had to be retained. I got it within two tenths of a degree.
Chassis almost a roller, just need shock mounting, bumpstops and limiting straps.

Had to shift gears a bit to get ready for the rollcage. The body is going to be removable from the chassis, and the cage is going to be integral with the body, so strong mounting points are key. The rear of the cage section will support the weight of the truck via upper shock mounts tied into the cage, so the rear section has to be triangulated and stiff.

Finding a nice out of the way place to stick some tubing.

Getting crafty with a hole saw.

That's such a good idea! Not smart enough to think of doing something like that to get the hole saw in the exact spot that you want! Kudos