Friday, 28 September 2012


A short note about a short snorkel ...

So when the snorkel arrived, unpacked and admired .. yes it was a quality snorkel.
Its a real neat piece of kit and fits really well to the BJ, however its mounted on the passenger side (no problem), but that means that a long flexible air pipe has to run along the driver side and across the bulk head to the passenger side to meet the snorkel. Again no big deal, but we didnt really like the idea of a long untidy flexy pipe looking untidy under the bonnet.
So we had a better idea, get a new snorkel made to fit the driver side and lower the pipe to clear the folding wind shield. Its going to look neat and just high enough to clear the bow wave :)
But there will be an extension pipe, if ever needed.

 On the right is the snorkel that arrived and to the left is the start of the new driver side snorkel
 This is how the finished metal work looks, ready for paint.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Evolution of a dash

Like most things as noted before, there seems to be a lot of bespoke stuff going on with this BJ41. Not originally planned but that just seems to be how things go.
Its funny how the small things can change everything. The dash being a great example. The original dash layout and knobs are cool. Functional and retro. And yes the purest's out there will be very upset. But then again this isn't for them. The redesign  of the dash was as a direct result of 3 new switches that came with the ARB locker and yes they would seem insignificant till we though about where they should go. The normal route is to but a blanking panel over the radio slot and mount the switches. Ok it would work, its been done before, but then it doesn't look to good. So the opportunity was there to look at the whole dash layout and switches. No big deal, true, but never as simple as that. As were were going to redone the whole dash, we though we might as well add a couple of gauges and additional switches. My main concern was having potentially truck breaking switches easily accessible to small fingers. The temptation for kids to press buttons (especially ones with big red lights) would be too great :)
The objective was to have a logical order to the switches and keep the more important one close and centered to the drivers side and add two dials (Tacho & Clock). To keep everything same, the engine kill switch and ARB 'power on' buttons are located to the right hand side of the steering wheel out of harms way. To keep the whole thing symmetrical the original radio housing is now centred on the dash with the switches and dials aligned above. I think it looks pretty good.

This was the concept
 First attempt
Test alignment

and this is how it looks now, ready for the original radio to sit below.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

One step forward two steps …..

One step forward two steps …..

One step forward two steps ….. well you all know how that line goes and that’s how it feels sometimes. This is not the first time I’m felt this way and in fairness it’s never actually anything but progress. Don’t think they guys at the classic car center have put a foot wrong.
Suppose to explain in a bit more detail. When restoring, repairing or just fixing something, there is always two ways to do it. Either do the minimum or check whether the minimum is enough for what you want and if not improve it. And improvement seems to be high on the list of ‘thing to do’. Its these little improvements that really take time, each improvement being bespoke and unique to this project. And being unique makes it worthwhile.
The roll cage being a point in case. It arrived and looked the part, tested fitted ok. But when we all stood back and looked at it, we thought the front roll bar was a bit ‘agricultural’ and didn’t fit to well. There is no question is would have been fine, but it could be better. So it was set aside and a new front roll bar made to suit the BJ. Again like most ‘let’s improve it’ ideas, sounds simple enough, but the extent of the improvement is what makes the difference.
So let’s look at the problem, the original roll bar sat away from the dash, hampered the foot wells and didn’t align to well with the rake of the windshield. So the solution was to make a new one which was wider and aligned tight with the window corners and windshield. All simple enough, except that to align with the windshield without putting tight radius in the roll bar would mean notching each end of the dash to accommodate the uprights. So now the roll bar fits really neat, tight to the window corners, windshield and roof. Test fitted all looks well .. almost. Now it fits so good it hampers the locking nuts for the drop down windshield, the sun visor and rear view mirror. Just minor problems, but all minor problems require measuring, fitting, making stuff and refitting ….
So now the simple front roll bar has become a roll bar, anchor point for the windshield locking nuts, mount for sun visors and rear view mirror. 

So yes .. there are two ways to do things … appears we have chosen the ‘improvement’ path where ever possible :) … 

A recap on 'improvements' to date.

Chassis/Running Gear
Straighten and strengthened chassis. Oh, in case the question is asked, the chassis is being finished in paint. Many people galvanize the chassis and I had thought about it and discussed it with Alex & Steward, my initial fears of the chassis bending while galvanised were dismissed, however I was told that galvanizing the frame could make the joints at the spring mounts brittle leading to failure. That was enough for me to dismiss the galvanising route.  Powder coating was considered but ruled out on the basis that should the surface get damaged there is the possibility of water seeking under neat the powder coat finish leading to blistering etc.
So in the end we were happy soda blast the frame, repair and strengthen where required, prim coat and apply a few coats of paint.

 The rear cross member had to be split and welded to remove a bend
Front cross member plated and welded

The axles, diffs and brakes were rebuilt, ARB lockers added front and rear. Thankfully the JDM BJ’s came with disk brakes up front, so they just needed new pads and a bit of TLC. All look like they will last another 30 years.
New suspension and shocks all round, it’s a 4”lift, this will probably be changed some time in the future to a 2.5” lift. The 4” lift might look the part, but makes the whole thing a bit bouncy on the rood. Will see if it settles a bit over time.
The engine as checked out before any work started and the compression test done. It was given a clean bill of health so left as is with the exception of all new gaskets, turbo and a tidy up.  Gearbox and transmission was working fine, so as nothing was broken, we didn’t touch them.

Power steering
Electric power steering is being installed rather than hydraulic. Again we thought about this and while the hydraulic power steering is fine, it requires additional pulley wheel, pump, hydraulic lines and mounting brackets to both the frame and engine. We choose the electric steering because of its simplicity and ease of installation. The units comes supplied with a new steering column, motor , bracket and loom. The motor sits under the dash and the whole assemble mates with the existing lower steering arm. Neat and straight forward.
The body, well not much of the original left, what was kept (roof, upper rear, front section, doors and bonnet ) was all repaired, patched, primed . With the addition of the aluminium tub the whole body should be pretty good. 
Supplied by ezpowersteering
Hard Top/No Top
Always wanted to be able to take off the top, just in case, we managed to get a day of sunshine. Again sounds simple but needs a whole heap of things done to make it manageable. So taking it in sequence. First the full doors should be easily removed. So a little thought for the hinge assemble. The front door hinges were pretty easy, we just added a locking spud to the hinge pin that way the doors can be lifted without removing the whole hinge assemble and the half doors inserted. Second were the rear doors. The rear doors were not so easy as the hinge assembly is different, just meant cutting a piece out of the receiving hinge bracket, to allow the doors to he pulled rather than lifted and insert the new rear tail gate. The perimeter of the rear tub (top section) was fitted with rows of captive nuts. This should make removal of the top that bit easier

The Dash
Have decided to pretty much replace all the original switches, this was a pretty big decision, because they original pull switches are pretty unique to the Land Cruiser. But given that there are new switches and gauges to be added, we felt it was best to redone the whole look and layout of the dash. Not for everyone, but no going back now …
New switches include the three ARB lockers and air compressor, I wanted to have the ARB lockers and winch buttons to be powered from a separate power switch remote from the main cluster. This was to prevent accidental engagement of the lockers and we didn’t want that now … young kids and buttons .. never a good combination.