ICON Shocks / TJM 4" Spring Combination - First Off-Road Impression

I finally got to give the rig a great test run as I was apart of the Heavy Metal Concepts Media Team for the 2012 King Of The Hammers.

I was transporting myself and a couple of other videographers and all of our gear so the rig was loaded as with as much stuff or more than I would normally haul for a family outting. We were positioned at the outter corner of the course so some good cross desert travel gave the suspension a workout. This made for a great opportunity to traverse the deserts terrain, ie: lots of whoops and all those never ending small six inch ripple bumps. We have had numerous conversations about these whoops as Johnson Valley is riddled with whoops. I even have a nickname for Johnson Valley... WHOOP CITY!

So, on with the impression.
Pulling off the paved road and onto the dirt road that leads onto Means Dry Lake I instantly felt the plushness! I knew I was going to be stoked. But, I knew this was just a basic road and needed more diverse conditions for a full evaluation. Meeting up with my buddies, we loaded my rig with all the camera gear and supplies and made way across the desert to the far corner of the course where no other media teams wanted to go much less had access to go.

With cargo of the precious and fragile nature such as our camera and video gear, we did not want to achieve any great speed over deep whoops. We did notice that we could get the rear of the vehicle to “buck” or bounce out the backside of the whoops meaning that the rear shocks are going to need some re-valving now that the longer stiffer springs are in place. This is part of the fine-tuning process we will be doing with ICON. We want a controlled rebound, so this will be something we will work on later and we want to do this with/at speed. The awesome thing was watching six inch size bumps not move the vehicle six inches while traversing at a 20-30 mph clip. My buddy was going on about how this "washboard" was like the 20+ miles of washboard he encountered while in Death Valley. he was very pleased with the ICON/TJM combination! With traditional linier stiff springs, this is practically impossible, so this is where we where very impressed with the TJM springs soaking up the small bumps. The front shocks are near perfect for both six inch bumps and the larger whoops, but we will be doing some more testing at higher speeds to fine tune the shocks and springs working together in concert - once we can change the payload to a more rugged payload to test with - NOT CAMERA GEAR!

So for now, I'm very happy and I know its only going to get better. These TJM springs pass the test and make for a geat base to work from. The ICON's are simply sweet and smooth and TUNEABLE so these shocks will get us to our desired effect!

Tactical Rock Manuvering - WITH THE GOOD COMES THE BAD!

Let me set the scene.
We were out previewing the section of course that we were asigned to film for King Of Hammers. We where assigned the section between race marker 20 and 21 on Martell Mountain. We got a good look of the section going from 20 to 21, up the hill, but according to the topo we saw the drop off over the top. We wanted to drive around to the other side and see if we would have something more to shoot, so we were traversing our way around the base of Martell in a clockwise direction and where about halfway around and could see another dry lake on our left where race market 24 was. Working our way around, we got into a section that dropped us down this ravine and had a step but small drop off at the bottom and we needed to go left in the drop as well. We see the rock in which we also need to maneuver around.

This is one of those moments when you wished you took the time to shoot a few more images aside from one. Luckily my buddy ScottG shot this image amist the mayhem.

I'm in the hat working the hand-winch. Will is the one digging out the underside of the rock [blue droors] and Scott just stepped back to access the situation and snapped this one image from our episode.

What you do not see is to the left of the rock in the front is my truck and we came down the hill and was turning left and around this rock. On the outside was a small rock that I needed bump up and over. For some reason the little rock made my front driveshaft release a loud SNAP and then a "grrrrrrrrrr" sound and no motion forward. We threw it in neutral as quick as possible. Try reverse and "grrrrrrrrrrr" with no action and quickly toss it into natural. ScottG is outside the rig already as he was guiding me through the tight section that buy my previous experiences was a very simple maneuver and should have NOT BEEN AN ISSUE I thought. [I learn later that reverse is when the gearbox is the weakest and should be avoided especially in loaded binds.]

ScottG being a Jeep guy saw this as the end. Its late in the day and the sun is going down. We saw our chances slipping away to be maneuverable for the race the following day. I saw an expensive tow bill. But, he knows my truck well and asked me to push the Center Diff Lock switch and try it again. We spin the outside back wheel and it is close to being completely unweighted so it spins in the gravel. We know we can add two guys on the outside rail to get weight on the tire, but we asses the situation and instead of trying to drive forward in 2WD or better yet, 1WD; we decide we should try to move the rock we are going around a foot or two and we can go forward without driving/bumping up the rock on the outside. We first start with the shovel and the rocky surface underneath calls for a pickaxe of which I do not have [note for future tool additions].

Luckily I carry a couple of tow straps and a come-along hand-winch. I do not have a front mount bumper winch at this time. But I did grow up pulling the family wood cutting truck out of ditches with a come-along hand-winch, so I know this tool pretty well. It has came in handy a few times with the Land Cruiser.

So, we strap the rock we want to move up to a larger rock up the hill and hope this size does matter and the rock higher up the hill is truly heavier. While Scott and I are hooking up the rock our buddy Will is digging the area out in front of the rock we want to move.

We click the hand-winch and the rock comes-on-along in the direction that we hoped for - OUT OF OUR WAY!

In the name of winching-safety-technique, I have my Carhartt jacket and rubber floor mat draped over the winch line.

So with that accomplished, they get on the outside rail and we back the rig up few feet to cut the corner around the rock we just moved. Now we can progress forward without the seamingly simple bump-up that broke us; once we get all the gear loaded back into the rig.

Then the next worry. How are we going to get this heavy rig back up and over the big sandy hill we came down at race mile 52?

Needless to say, we made it back to camp. But only after a couple of failed attempts to driving around the moutain only to get either into steeper hills or through the untracked desert that is so soft and the 80-series super-tanker sinks in the soft stuff. We opted for a "Long Way Around" and even aired down the inclide was too much and not worth risking as we were attempting to go further away from camp to drive around the mountain ridge to get back to camp. The Long Way Around was not to be in the cards.

It's now completly dark! We met up with some others who where also limping back to camp and we made it back over the same original way we came down - GO FIGURE!!!

We made the decission to go for it again the following day for the race, since it was so easy the night before. We had a job to do!
All went as planned - drove home - currently driving to work each day in 2WD mode.


Broke Broke Broke

Upon getting home I get after seeing just what broke.

I sprayed shot of white paint on the front prop shaft just to keep things aligned when putting things back together.

I do the same for the rear section of the front prop shaft:

And the section where the shaft splits in two pieces. I don't know how critical this all is, but I don't want to change anything either.

The rear section of the shaft was not trying to let go!

So I gave it a dose of Liquid Wrench.

Finally out!

Now for the test:

I grab the ring and pinion shaft...

Turns left:


What to see that again and hear the glick-glick-glick?!


ADV80: Rear Hatch Strut UpGrade

So the ADV80 is now in 2WD, more like 1WD mode for a little while and it is carrying me to/from work every day. In the mean time, I am waiting for the money tree to grow in the backyard, to afford to get the all fixed and processing what it will take to make upgrades at the same time.

In the mean time, it's those little items that can keep us going during the long upgrade waits.
So, here is a little inexpensive fun project to do in the time of big project waits.

THANK YOU to my Gabe Pari who came up with a great fix and upgrade at the same time! On top of that - at a very economical price too! Like him, I am unwilling to pay $137.50 - EACH!!! for hatch struts from the local Toyota dealer. Gabe sorted out a mod on some struts that are easily obtainable, and priced very reasonable...

Total price is $31 for the pair from McMaster-Carr: http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/118/1204/=izyhtj
Part #4138T579 - Gas Spring with Ball-Joint End Fitting 90 lb Force, 19.72" Extended Length, 7.87" Stroke

The culprit, factory gas-juice has left the tube! Dust traces the escapage path.

So I made the McMasterCarr order for both the struts and the thin 5/16 nuts. Package arrived and my mission begins. This is going to be the shadetree-parking lot installation version.

I start by getting a stick and proping up the rear hatch.

A good place to place the stick up top in is in the rear-hatch handle slot to keep it from popping out and dropping the hatch on your head.

I get the right side strut removed. I don't have a vice and my workbench is working overtime holding too much crap to even work on it, so I figure out a way to just work on the tailgate. I am from Alabama originally - BAMA-GETTER-DONE-TECH!!!

I toss the gas strut-tab into the vice-grips so I can hacksaw off the press-in post.

Now onto the other side's mount and this time I figure out how to get a little more heigth out of the vice-grips by placing the mount in at a angle.

Now to drill out the pressed in shaft-pins:

The pins have a natural drill point.

Vice-Grips to hold the mount and drilling begins!

Mounts drilled and toss on some paint to prevent rust.

Mount up the new strut to the mounts. Note bolt/post is rather long with the thin-nut on.

So I rig up my vice...

Vice-Grips that is!

We are going to cut the excess bolt off.

I replace the stock grease with some Bel Ray waterproof grease. Yea, I ride motorcycles too.

LocTite for the vibration sensation at woop city. I heard that Death Valley has a 27-mile road with 6" square ruts that will vibrate your teeth loose.

Re-install the top mount.

This shows you how much lift we are going to have! At this point I will need to remove the left factory strut so I can push the door up to.

The stick goes straight up and I need a little booster block to get it up enough to get the new longer strut in place. SWEEEET!

I add a couple of washers to the mounting bolts for a little clearance for the strut bolt and nut to clear the side of the body.
Duplicate process for the other side and now you are FINISHED!

New and improved!


Interior Work - Sound Dampening

While I'm waiting on working on the real issues of my rig, may as well work on some fun stuff!
Removed the middle row seats, center console and carpet.

I got some Cascade Audio Engineering VB-1X & TG-1 Thermaguard material to use for sound dampening and heat shielding. But before we get into that, there is the rear heater that sits under the front passengers seat that needs to be removed and cleaned out as the previous owner seemed to have left me some crumbs, money, trash and dried soda.

What you do not see from the top side is that the heater has two hoses from underneath that will need to be disconnected. You will need to get a bucket to catch the antifreeze if you are not looking to make a mess all over your driveway.

Back on the topside, you can see the mess I have discovered under the heater unit:

The floor gets a thorough cleaning!

Now for the fun stuff!!!

Cascade Audio Engineering VB-1X & TG-1 Thermaguard

Cascade Audio Engineering VB-1X Liquid Vibration Damping Compound
Red more about it here: VB-1X Liquid Damping Compound For Boats

The Cascade Audio Engineering VB-1X is the first layer and goes on in a blue purple color and dries to black. This is for sound damping.

What I am really on about is the Cascade Audio Engineering TG-1 Thermaguard for HEAT!!! I recorded heat temperatures of 138 degrees coming off the transmission housing on the drivers side! So my thought is to give my A/C all the advantage I can by blocking as much of this heat as possible. Read more about it here: TG-1 keeps your vehicle cool and comfortable!

So I get after it!

While the first coat of TG-1 is drying, I take the heater fan apart as every time I turned it on, I got a couple of rattles from something loose inside.

The culprit and tell-tell sign that this rig has had a broken window as my little rattle is a couple of pieces of broken glass.

I give the pan a good cleaning:

Scrub the fan while I am at it too! When will be the next time I'm ever going to be back in here? But you never know...

For instance, does anyone know if this sensor looks correct? When I opened it up, it had some crust on it and I do not know if there was some type of coating that is suppose to be on here, or if it was truly just some random crust as it had an almost ceramic type feel to it????

It's all back together and going back in:

Cascade Audio Engineering sound and thermal coat - round one is complete. I will be doing another coat later once I get the shift plate gasket replaced and the chance to coat that area under neither there as well. I will also take a temp test with one coat and see what that does.
At least it looks like you found enough loose change to pay for the thermal coating. ;) I don't want to know what's down there in my 80, especially thanks to my daughter... Nice work.


Temp Gun Readings

Prior to installing the Cascade Audio Engineering sound and thermal coatings I recorded 138F degrees coming off the transmission housing. This is the temp recorded with the interior carpet removed. The transmission is so large and puts off all this heat, I wanted to see if I could make it cooler inside just by keeping the heat generated from the motor & transmission at bay.

I conducted the test a couple of days in a row to see if there was any variance. Our weather has been consistent, but I would have to do this test over several different times during the day at various temperatures to get thorough data collection. But we all have jobs here... So this simple sample will suffice.

After the coatings:
The 116F temp was recorded while driving to work.
The 119F temp was recorded while sitting at the light right before I pull into work.

Before the coatings:
The previous 138F temp was recorded while driving to work and I did not think to test while sitting at the light at that time. With that, if you take this 138F temp and subtract the 119F temp, you still have a 19 degree reduction in heat.
Not bad! I am going to do another coat of the Cascade Audio Engineering's TG-1 Thermalcoat around the transmission housing once I replace the shifter gasket, so we will see if by just adding more material, will it result lower temperatures?

I'm happy with it so far!


Lower Shifter Boot

I finally got around to ordering the boot!
And I got another package!!

I got a used lower shifter boot Specter P#: 065-045B-U $25 used or $51.70 new. I went for the used one.

Here is the page I ordered it from:
Specter Off-Road Land Cruiser Parts - Search On pagetitle2...

Here is the exploded view diagram page / part #045 in the FJ80 section:
Specter Off-Road Land Cruiser Parts - Page 065 Land Cruiser Automatic Transmissions

Now I am in business to get on with my floor project and get the gapping hole closed up!



Coolstream A/C Parts

Getting a little time to work on the A/C. Kinda' late as summer practically over, but it is still blistering in Southern California right now! I have made it a few years without it, same time I'm missing another outting with my family & adventure partner as he is taking off tomorrow on a trip with his family to the Sierra's! I have to get this A/C going!!!

What I got from Coolstream A/C:

What I paid and when you do your homework you will see that will not even buy the one part from Toyota.

New expansion valve on top:

Bought the correct R12 Lubricant to start putting things back together - yes, I read instructions when I am doing things I do not know how or what I am doing. I had no idea there is special lubricants for A/C stuff:

Pep Boys did not have it, I had to go to Hub Auto on Harbor blvd, local old school parts supplier, so you might want to call around for it before you get started.

I juice up the o-rings.

I juice up the area where the o-rings will be fitted onto.

O-rings in place and slide the expansion valve in place.

The cross pipes are next to be installed.

The expansion valve has two bolts that holds the cross pipes in place. Now its ready to go back into the housing.

I drop the mini-rad into one side of the housing.

Slide the other half of the A/C housing into place.

Don't forget to put this sensor back into place as it goes through a small cut-outs between the two housings, before it gets snapped and screwed together... yes, like I forgot to do...

Detail of the small cut-outs:

Then its time to install the rubber gasket.

This is the gasket that goes through the firewall.

The "garage part" is buttoned up and ready to go back inside, but the truck is outside and it's hot out there...:princess: So much-much more to do!


A hole in my boot and fixing it!

Finally going to addess this hole in my shifter boot! It's letting a lot of heat into the cabin of the truck from from all the heat coming off the motor & transmission.
This shot [above] is when the shifter is in Park.

This shot is of when it is in Drive:

Here is a shot so you can see the boot location in the center console.

I start pulling out the center plate.

You can see the arm for the 4H/L shifter, this is where the big tear is.

Here is the torn boot area and this was letting in a lot of heat from the transmission into the cabin. I think I said that already...

Shifter plate is out!

Underside of the shift plate and you can see the rubber boot.

Start pulling the shifter assembly apart.

The through shaft is looking a bit rough and parched for grease.

From my dirtbiking, the Baja racers like to have nice smooth detailed axles for quick changes. I do the same for my dirtbikes and so I figured it wouldn't hurt to do that here as well.

Center console area without the shifter plate in place. You can see my white Thermalcoat materal. Time to add a few layers and fill in the missing area too!



I add another layer of Soundcoating [black material goes on blue].

While that is drying, its time to takle the shifter boot.

Old crusty boot on left, newer and or better condition boot on the right.

Fresh boot going back in!

When you remove the rubber, there are these metal guide sleeves you will want to pull out and save.

I dabbed a little grease on them going back in.

Shifter assembly going back in. Notice the main shifter is not installed yet to make the process go easier as you want to hook up the 4H/L shift arm to the shaft first.

Then install the main shifter.

Once the main shifter is in place then I installed the shaft bolt that holds it into place. Makes the installation much easier...
How do I know? Yea, I had it all assembled and tried to put it back only to get frustrated! hehehe

Shifter Bulb & Cover is left out to remind me that it needs replacing. Anyone know of a LED replacement?

If not, I will need to order - Part Diagram:
Part #110 in FJ80 diagram

Drop the secondary boot back in and bolt down and we are almost finished!

OK, now we are finished... with just this little portion of fixin' the ol' ADV80!

Final coat of Thermalcoat heat shield for good measure.


More Thermal Protection

Went to Home Depot to pick up some ADV80 items.
1-roll of Nashua Extreme Cold Weather Foil Tape $21.
1-roll of Enerflex Radiant Barrier foil $16.

I was thinking about that super-dope F1 gold heat protection foil and thought I would do the budget version test.

Previous temp gun readings from my first test yielded some good numbers, but we are human, we want MORE! So if I can drop from 138F to an average 117.5F, then how much more can I drop? When I did this initial test it was June and still cool weather compared to what we are seeing right now. So I figured my original test could be a little higher with the higher outside ambient temps.

So I rigged up this little test panel so I can take temp readings on various spots before I just wrap the whole transmission tunnel.

While driving on the freeway I performed the same type of test readings I did previously; I am taking a couple of readings from the Thermalcoated section without the Radiant Barrier.

Here is my temp test reading from the Radiant Barrier patch. I think I am getting somewhere with this!!!
Sorry for the blurred images; its hard to drive, shot photos and opporate the laser gun all at the same time.