Putting the Roll in Rolling Turd

The latest and greatest project that I’ve purchased is my 1981 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60. After having an FJ80, I realized that what I really wanted was a square bodied, manual transmission Toyota, rather than the kind of rounded look with the auto that the FJ80 had. Fortunately, Toyota made just such a vehicle: the FJ60. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly the only one who has the same desires, and that meant that finding one I could afford was difficult, to say the least.

After several months of searching, and getting the money together for one, I found what seemed to be the perfect one for me. With fairly low mileage, at 172000 miles, and in decent running and driving condition, it was a steal at $1800. I jumped on it, and got it shipped out here posthaste.

Rachel and Emily checking out the new rig

Visually, she’s in rough condition, with some decent rust spots and holes in the body. The important parts, being the frame, axles, and drivetrain are all in good condition, though, which is what I’m worried about. The idea was for this to become an expedition rig, so the fact that it’s already got bumps and bruises makes it easier for me to not feel bad about beating it up off road. I named it the “Rolling Turd” because of its color and general rough condition. Don’t be mistaken, though, the name comes from a place of great love for the rig.

The very first thing that needed to happen after getting it registered was getting new tires. The ones it had on were so bad that moving it onto the Uhaul trailer to take it to get a VIN inspection was enough to make one go flat. Never one to waste an opportunity, I figured I’d get some good tires, so I went with a set of 33×10.50r15 BFG KM3 mud terrains. In anticipation of getting said tires, I ordered an Old Man Emu lift for it, just to make sure everything would clear properly without rubbing.

New shoes on the turd

The new tires completely changed the look of the Land Cruiser. It went from being an old, tired station wagon to a rough, but capable off road vehicle. Just seeing that change made me want to get her out on the trails as soon as possible. But alas, it was not to be. The day after I got the new tires on, she wouldn’t start any more. A few tests with starting fluid showed that the fuel system was the problem.

Over the course of the next four months, I went through the entire fuel system. I replaced fuel lines, the fuel pump, and the fuel filters. Finally, I went to the carburetor. The stock carburetor is good, but pretty complicated, and to top it off, very few people rebuild them. So, I went with a non-stock option in the Weber 38/38 carb. The Weber is apparently a point of controversy among the Land Cruiser world, I found out, as some people love it, others hate it. I was able to determine that the majority of those who hated it were Toyota purists at best, and fanatics at worst, so I figured I’d give it a shot, at least it was a simpler set up than the Aisin that came stock, so I might be able to rebuild it myself in the future. Below are some videos detailing that progress.

I installed the carburetor first, wanting to verify that it was indeed the cause of my troubles, and once it was installed (and after rectifying my daughter losing my keys) I started it up to test it out. Thankfully, it ran! Unfortunately, getting the throttle connected was another issue entirely. I didn’t have the tools necessary to make the needed modifications to the factory throttle linkage, so I thought that I would try a cable set up. That didn’t end up panning out, so I used a hand saw and drill to make the modifications.

My approach was not necessarily the best one, I’ll admit

I finally got it all together, and the gas pedal was actually functioning, but there was a problem. Somewhere in the disassembly process, I had lost a crucial hitch pin that keeps the throttle from coming apart, which put a very big damper on progress. While it wouldn’t work for a long term drive, it being missing didn’t put too much of a damper on my spirits, and I took the Rolling Turd for a spin around the block anyway, where it performed very well.

Here, it starts, runs, and the throttle works!

The final step came today, when I got the replacement hitch pin in the mail. Now, it’s all together, it runs, it drives, and I have it tuned properly. There is very obviously still work that needs done. It runs pretty hot, at least according to the gauge on the dash, which may or may not be accurate. Because of that, I’ll need to make sure that the cooling system is functioning properly. The Weber carb kit that I got came with an HEI mechanical advance distributor, which I still need to install and set up properly.

The fun stuff is ready to install, too. I told myself that I wouldn’t work of the unnecessary things until I got her running, but now she is. The OME lift will go on first, but then I have a front bumper from 4PlusProducts as well as a 12000 pound rated Smittybilt winch to install. Those will be going on shortly, I hope, and I’ll update you here when that happens.

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