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Old 01-18-2008, 11:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A Fool and his Money

This build-up is a little bold given the fact that I have no history of modifying offroad vehicles past bolting aftermarket parts onto a couple of daily drivers:





... but one has to start somewhere.

A daily-driver 4x4 is not enough offroad vehicle to take advantage of the huge resource of rocky trails here in Arizona. I needed something more.

My original plan was to dig up some almost dead Toyota mini truck, upsize the tires and upgrade the springs, shocks and birfields. Then get a tube bender and figure out how to make a cage.

I have no experience bending tube, but I can do some welding.

While looking for the right mini truck, I bumbled across a mostly-dead FJ40 and it appealed to me... so I snatched it up for $2700. It's a '69, and it appears to have been in AZ for the vast majority of it's life. The frame was almost perfectly rust free and there weren't any major body flaws other than some rust in the floor on the driver's side foot well. However, it wasn't well cared for and otherwise looked like a beater.

The engine was running, and when I bought it, I drove it home:



The initial plan was to go spring-over and upsize the tires. I planned to tear down the F engine and rebuild it. I was going to cage it and then be done.

Then I started reading about engine swapping.

Then I started learning about 1-ton axles.

Then I started finding out about the limitations of the stock transfer case...

The project mushroomed rapidly.

I'm grateful for the resource of Pirate4x4, because theres a wealth of raw information here as well as some GREAT jump-off points for further investigation. I've learned a few things that are directly being used in my own project, but more importantly, I've seen how so many peoples' projects evolve through multiple re-designs and re-builds. I realized that there's only so much homework I can do before I have to just build something and tweak it till it works.

I began to tear it down in November.
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Old 01-18-2008, 11:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Here are some of the parts I started to acquire.

Chevy LS1:



Dodge NV4500 with GM input shaft:



Atlas 4-speed, 5.44:1

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Old 01-18-2008, 11:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Tear down:







Check how good the steel is, under the primer!!!!

You gotta love the low humidity. In Arizona, "rust" is a color.

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Old 01-18-2008, 11:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The NV4500 is LONG.

The LS1 is comparatively LIGHT.

I located the engine as far forward as I could go with clearance for a radiator and fan kit with hoses.





I stitched the riveted frame with some welds (a PITA... the primer and paint in the grooves didn't clear with wire wheeling and some of the welds were crackling and popping... plus my toxic exposure was way more than necessary!). Then I inset some 3/16" plate on the inner walls of the frame to take the engine mounts.





I built some mounts:



... and bolted the engine down:





The rest of the measurements started to get pulled off of that.
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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orsm start to a no doubt orsm build!

good luck
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Please keep the wheel tire combo.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Nice project. Keeps the pics coming.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, you sure didn't screw around when it comes to sourcing components. Looking forward to the build.
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:58 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Once you're done, will you flip the bezel right side up?





Cool build-up, keep us posted.
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Old 01-19-2008, 07:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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nice... keep us posted.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:28 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I am going to add this to the project build thread up top. Looks like a bad ass Cruiser in the making!


http://pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=385362
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Once you're done, will you flip the bezel right side up?

Cool build-up, keep us posted.
The bezel's upside down?? That's funny! That *HAS* to be some sort of Land Cruiser faux pas. It's disassembled now and you have my assurance that it will be reassmbled according to spec.

The guy who used to have it before me was some kind of meth tweaker and did some interesting "improvements" like cutting the hard top in half and scootching the rear part forward before fiberglassing it back together. I think he wanted it to look like a 45 with an open pick-up bed. It just looked like ass. The hard top was ruined. I was just lucky that the monthly large item trash pick up came only a few days after I got the thing home.
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Old 01-19-2008, 09:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Drivetrain components came next.

Centerforce clutch, with Advance Adapters flywheel, pilot bushing, and NV4500-to-SBC bellhousing:















After I got everything lined up and stabbed the input shaft in to the pilot bearing, I looked at the line-up of the transmission bolt holes with the bellhousing...

$#|+ !!!!!!!

... wrong bellhousing. The bottom bolt holes didn't line up.

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Old 01-19-2008, 09:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Once the transmission was located (and the bellhousing was replaced), I picked a spot for some crossmembers. My goal is to have a flat belly. I'm perfectly willing to heavily modify the tub in order to accomodate a misshapen tranny hump and clear the driveshafts.

The crossmembers are to locate the NV4500 support bracket bushings and a half inch thick skid plate under the transfer case.

Additionally, I'm doing a 4 link rear suspension and I'm lengthening the wheelbase to 108". For this reason, I need clearance under the rear frame that isn't accomodated by the stock frame curves. Rather than trying to do something subtle back there, I just decided to hack that part off and replace it with 2x3 .188 wall in a shape that I can work with:





"CUT HERE":













Then the crossmembers:



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Old 01-19-2008, 09:33 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I had to re-do the aft crossmember because it was 3/16" off angled, but the second one is dead on... plus the welds are nicer.

Here's with the test fit of the skid plate and transfer case:





The engine mounting tabs got a re-do while the frame was bare, too. They were too wimpy. I also gussetted the mounts:

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Old 01-19-2008, 09:44 AM   #16 (permalink)
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You are doing some really clean work there. The only thing I would do different is the tranny. For about 10 years I was a die hard stick guy, but with my new rig, I tried an Auto and my god... It really made me a better driver. With that said there are a lot of guys that make um work.

You have not said which axles yet, unless I missed it? Assuming Ford Highpinion 60 with the Tcase drop there.
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Old 01-19-2008, 10:20 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Awsome build up. I am guessing you're not gonna have a tub by the looks of you're new rear frame? And also because you're engine and tranny are so high above the frame?
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Old 01-19-2008, 11:29 AM   #18 (permalink)
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ditto; great work, sweet parts but i'm concerned about how high in the frame your powertrain is mounted.

keep it up!
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Old 01-19-2008, 12:02 PM   #19 (permalink)
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looks damn nice for a guy that has never done this before! Great work!
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:29 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Is your skid/crossmember welded in? If so how do you plan to get the xfer/trans out? Through the top? I think we are all confused
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:06 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Is your skid/crossmember welded in? If so how do you plan to get the xfer/trans out? Through the top? I think we are all confused
I was wondering that too. Out the top of undo the rear links and pull it out the back but that would be a major PITA!
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:07 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik D_lux View Post
Is your skid/crossmember welded in? If so how do you plan to get the xfer/trans out? Through the top? I think we are all confused
x2.

sick ass build though. subscribed...
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:40 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Cool deal, glad you started a build thread.

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Old 01-19-2008, 07:59 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RustyNailJustin View Post
You are doing some really clean work there. The only thing I would do different is the tranny. For about 10 years I was a die hard stick guy, but with my new rig, I tried an Auto and my god... It really made me a better driver. With that said there are a lot of guys that make um work.

You have not said which axles yet, unless I missed it? Assuming Ford Highpinion 60 with the Tcase drop there.
I thought about the auto tranny when I decided that I was going to do a fuel injected engine swap, which meant I was venturing DEEP into unknown territory anyhow. I opted out for completely unscientific reasons. I just felt like doing a stick and I couldn't convince myself to do otherwise.

Good observation on the axles, by the way. I'm doing a D70U in the back and a high pinion 60 in the front. I've got both. I'll be posting up pictures about the axles over this weekend. I made tabs for the rear axle truss today which mate to the diff armor, and I cut out a big stack of 3/8" tabs to take the links.

Quote:
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Awsome build up. I am guessing you're not gonna have a tub by the looks of you're new rear frame? And also because you're engine and tranny are so high above the frame?
The tub is going to get cut up quite a bit to fit. I'm going to taper in the sides and probably take out the floor. My frame addition is measured to be below tub height. It doesn't actually go any higher than the highest point on th stock frame, but it angles up sharply instead of gradually, and then stays up.

At the least, I'll be chopping body mounts from the back of the tub and penetrating the floor to take the corners of the frame. Once I've got something close to a rolling chassis with drivetrain... I'll figure out what of the body metal I can make use of and what I have to cut off, modify or otherwise fake.

As far as tranny access, my plan is to build a totally removable tranny hump that fits this monstrosity and allows me full access from above. The skid plate drops for *some* access from below, but I may yet cross-cut the front crossmember at the ends of the gussets, add plates, and then through-bolt it back together so that it can be removable. That was my original plan for how to make a removable flat-belly crossmember.

I aborted the recutting of the crossmember because the frame had gone a bit out of alignment when I chopped it, and I had to physically clamp down one part of the frame and jack open another in order to restore it to nominal dimensions! Now, if I cut that member again, I may very well cause other parts of the frame to move. For now, I'm leaving well enough alone.

Here's a picture of the frame in clamps while I was trying to crank it back to normal, before welding in that front crossmember:



Quote:
Originally Posted by orangefj45 View Post
ditto; great work, sweet parts but i'm concerned about how high in the frame your powertrain is mounted.

keep it up!
Yeah. I'm concerned too. My original thought was that I wanted to maximize clearance under the engine for pumpkin and link up-travel while still achieving a flat belly. I probably could have slung a lower belly, raised the frame and achieved the same result. As it is, I'm going to have to make a tough decision later on about going with a ride height that I like or front suspension up-travel that I like. I have 16" travel coil-overs that I'm going to use, front and back, and I want them to give me their full value.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik D_lux View Post
Is your skid/crossmember welded in? If so how do you plan to get the xfer/trans out? Through the top? I think we are all confused
You're not confused. I damn near painted myself into a corner!

As mentioned above, the front crossmember may yet get made into a removable element, but I plan to make a (relatively) easy access tranny hump.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mean man michael View Post
Cool deal, glad you started a build thread.

mike
I'm glad I took your advice.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:16 PM   #25 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=BellyDoc;7759479]





As far as tranny access, my plan is to build a totally removable tranny hump that fits this monstrosity and allows me full access from above. The skid plate drops for *some* access from below, but I may yet cross-cut the front crossmember at the ends of the gussets, add plates, and then through-bolt it back together so that it can be removable. That was my original plan for how to make a removable flat-belly crossmember.






You're not confused. I damn near painted myself into a corner!

As mentioned above, the front crossmember may yet get made into a removable element, but I plan to make a (relatively) easy access tranny hump.



QUOTE]


Speaking from experience here, that sounds good in theory, but most likley you will have seat bars in your cage which makes it a real pain in the ass to pull tranny or Tcase out the top. Not trying to second guess what you got going, by us looking at pictures. That would just be my thought. Looks like you do real clean work, there will be hangup, it's no big deal. After all it just metal
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