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1978 FJ40 "Rolling Restoration"

In 2008, I purchased a 1978 Toyota Landcruiser in Sonoma, one of Northern California's Wine Country towns. More or less a "barn find", the Cruiser had been stored for a while and was in pretty rough shape. It was a hot June day on my wife's birthday and she was not very excited to be along for the ride. After an agreement on the price, the cash was handed over, and we enjoyed a shared tuna salad sandwich in the back of a local market. The birthday girl followed as I stumbled off toward home in the rough-running old truck, sweating, watching the temp gauge intently (the PO had said it would overheat), the brake booster hissing leaking air whenever I tried to slow down. I still remember the beautiful  wild flowers sprouting from a nice stone wall that lined the road heading west to the 101.

Much later the same day the FJ40 arrived at it's new home south of San Francisco on the back of a big flat bed compliments of AAA (plus a substantial additional distance charge). That of course was just the beginning of many investments in parts, tools and garage time.



Various tasks over the last decade (beginning in June 2008), replacing corrosion and pulling the 1978 truck together. Many new Toyota OEM parts and hardware. We're updating the content here on a daily basis so things will change and grow as time goes on.


Timing Gear Cover - Chapter 1

Submitted by bill on

Timing gear cover mystery

July 30, 2019

When I first bought the 40 and replaced all the cooling system, I had noticed a lot of PO red RTV stuff around the timing gear cover. Later I traced a lot of the oil on the garage floor coming from the timing cover area when the engine was hot. I assumed some sort of misguided repair had taken place in the past. Finally pulling (out with the radiator again) everything to try and figure out what's going on with the leak, and a number of issues showed up.


Timing Gear Cover - Chapter 2

Submitted by bill on

timing gears

Still trying to understand what may have gone on inside the timing cover. The large countersunk flat screws in the plate are almost loose. They looked like they may have been staked at some point but no longer are and appear to have been removed at some point. That probably wouldn't have helped with the oil leak either.

Thread Repair

Submitted by bill on

Thread repair on alternator bolts.

The bolts/washers (91611-61030) are discontinued at Toyota. I split an old die, used a small vise, stepped back a few threads and recut the ends inside out.

split die



June 11, 2016

Timing Gear Cover - Chapter 3

Submitted by bill on

August 07, 2019

Got the crank gear off and pulled the end plate. All three big flat head screws were loose and not staked. The gasket on the block almost looks home made or cut from the wrong gasket anyway. Note the oil channel that goes to the little oiler post has gasket material blocking it. And should that opening (to the oil pan?) on the bottom be blocked like that? Is that a broken-off bolt in one of the longer bolt hole locations? Kind of a mess.



Timing Gear Cover - Chapter 4

Submitted by bill on

That was a broken 6mm bolt in block. Someone had a short bolt glued on the top cover with the red stuff, covering up the evidence I guess. So on the cover there was one stripped 6mm thread bolt and two missing. Again the three big flat screws on the end plate were loose too.

broken bolt



Timing Gear Cover - Chapter 5

Submitted by bill on

August 17, 2019

Finding a  lock washer (discontinued at Toyota) for the big claw nut is awkward. Marks Off Road (In LA) lists 030-03 Locktab washer but has a $100 minimum on the website. SOR (Spector OFF Road), is UPS $15 to get a $13 washer. Any other sources out there I have not found.





Submitted by bill on

Work on the "removable" Hardtop

Cleaning up the base areas on my hardtop sides where they meet the tub. Look like they're in pretty good shape. Probably prep and hit with with a little EP.


top 1


Transmission Cover and Floor - Chapter 1

Submitted by bill on

Interior Floor Repair

June 17, 2011

Another day - another patch - working my way around the truck. This is the driver’s seat front support area, window side. First found this crack when I bought the truck and did a temporary quick cleanup/POR15 of the floor. Didn't have a welder at that point. This part of the floor must get worked a bit from the movement/weight of the driver. 

It also has the standard FJ40 “rust creator” support plate that was eating the floor from underneath. I’ll try to clean up the plate and weld it back on when the patch is in place.

Rocker Panel Brackets -Chapter 1

Submitted by bill on

Rocker Panel bracket fabrication and repair

General body work leading to another trouble area at the front of the driver's quarter panel by the door. This area apparently took a minor hit when the PO had the rear fender-bender. Lots of rust around the inside rocker panel bracket support, etc.


patch area


Rocker Panel Brackets - Chapter 2

Submitted by bill on

Rocker Panel Brackets continued - Chapter 2

When I got the truck in 2008 I needed to pull the trans cover at one point to address a broken wire on the overdrive switch. With everything pulled off the floor I decided to do a quick and dirty POR15 to keep the rusted areas from growing. Cleaned everything, treated the rust (MetalReady) and covered with POR and some color-matched Ace stuff. At the same time, I examined the inside of the rocker channels through the "port" holes and only found a little surface rust in the seams.

Quarter Panels

Submitted by bill on

Quarter Panel Repair - Chapter 1

You can see rows of what look like rivets or spot welds on the hardtops of FJ40s and above the rear wheels on the quarter panels. These are factory spot welds that no doubt begin to corrode the day they are first welded. A factory thing, it's anyone's guess what type of primer was applied to protect these hidden enclosed weld areas. Lower, on the tub, my 78 had “dimples” above the rear wheels on both sides in the tub to rear wheel cover join seams.

Sill Replacement - Chapter 1

Submitted by bill on

Sill Replacement - Chapter 1

Probably one of the most common problem areas is the rear sill. A collection area for road dirt, salt and water thrown up by the rear tires and collected in body structure. Kicked around what to do about a sill replacement for a long time. Thought about after market, etc. Thought about a rough 2x2 tubing structure, etc.

Sill Replacement - Chapter 2

Submitted by bill on

October 02, 2009

Clamp Attack on the old original horns, getting ready to weld to the new channels. Got home from Colorado yesterday and found my sill channels from Kevin had arrived. Beautiful parts, great fit - cover to structure - even had to use a gentle screw driver to get them apart.

clamp attack

Rear Wheel Cover Brackets

Submitted by bill on

Rear fender support brackets

When I pulled the top and stock roll bar for the seam repair, the roll bar/tub bracket areas looked pretty good, until I looked at the driver's side front. Looked like 30 years of dirt under the mount and then I realized it was more than dirt. The 3 others look much better but I'll probably pull those tub/wheel cover brackets too just to fix whatever going on inside. Tried to fab a home-made patch from 18 ga. - a bit 1/2 donkey but it seems strong. All I have at this point is a hammer and a bench vise for sheet metal work.

Rear Floor

Submitted by bill on

April 19, 2009

Getting ready to lock down the tub to replaced sill with new body mounts before I do any more cutting around the front bed support area.

New OEM parts from Toyota - they seem to be a good match on dims but are missing the radius the original (I'm guessing) mounts had.

They look like they'll work to replace the mounts (2) at the front bed area too so more on order.


Knuckles - Chapter 1

Submitted by bill on

February 12, 2015

Noticed this oil leak, inside of the passenger-side front tire yesterday, I'm assuming the old seals (original I think) are finally giving up. Little oil spray inside the driver's side tire too.

Knuckles - Chapter 2

Submitted by bill on

Funny, my old manual (original printing, copyright 1978) which I had opened for some reason, shows the torque 43-54.3 ft-lb. Looked in my Toyota reprint (which has a 1980 copyright but is probably a combo of publications) and it shows 62-79 ft-lb? Also strange (or not considering torque), the preload is different - old manual 3.9-5.0 lb, reprint 4.0-8.4 lb)? So... I'll be increasing it to something...

Ambulance Door Repair

Submitted by bill on

Beginning to take a conservative look at my ambulance doors. Not too bad above but some holes rusting through down below. On the license plate door the PO has some Bondo work going on. Probably happened about the same time they were filling the big rusted holes in the sill with netting/Bondo. The black rubber grommets are painted over - part of the right rear spot painting that was done at some point.

Going to take my time on these, mainly because I don't really know what I'm doing (as usual).


Submitted by bill on

1978 Carburetor

I guess something always needs go wrong. Woofed up one of my main jets (see photo 3 below) with an ill chosen screwdriver. Didn't think I was going to get it out for a while. Ground down a big, nice Snapon screwdriver I've had for years because the fit was perfect - and it worked. I guess I have a special "jet" screwdriver now. 

Now wondering - can I use this jet as long as the hole is good? And where do/would I get a replacement, Toyota, SOR?

OME Suspension

Submitted by bill on

OME Suspension

June 13, 2012 - After spending a good amount of time stressing the suspension issue - I've decided to go ahead and replace everything with an OME complete kit. Ordered the "light" kit from Cruiser Outfitters and Kurt says everything should arrive on Friday.

Will be great to pull all that old PO miss-matched stuff off. I put together a high tech height gage to check out before/after. Any advice, things to watch for, etc. appreciated - never done this before.


Submitted by bill on

Steering Issues and Adjustments

I pulled the steering wheel off today, the PO had it positioned like 20 degrees off the straight track with the "T" logo upside down. So it's been messed with in the past but looks pretty original/good inside. If I remember the aftermarket tach was attached to the steering post with some kind of clamp, etc. I removed that stuff when I got the truck but I left everything aligned as it was for the time being, just to make sure something else I was ignorant to wasn't causing the offset.


Submitted by bill on

Inside the bib support . . .

inside bib


Got the bib back from blasting.


bib back


Welding up the bib.


Clutch Slave

Submitted by bill on

Clutch Slave Cylinder Replacement

Replacing the old original (note the ring - #2) hose and slave - should have done it when I replaced the master early on. 



Windshield Washer

Submitted by bill on

Windshield Washer motor replacement from Toyota

Ordered a new windshield washer motor but now wondering if it will be the right one - what I just took off doesn't look like the diagram from Toyota. The PO also had installed (also not working) what I guess is after-market, the little black guy in the photo.


washer top


Submitted by bill on

Hood Repair and Cleanup

Cleaning up the hood, pulling the driver's-side fender, etc.

other fender


Dash Pad Replacement

Submitted by bill on

Dash Pad Replacement - windshield down?

January 2009

After a search for info on dash pad replacement, and almost tearing my old pad apart trying to get it off, I thought these notes might possibly help someone out. The stock dash on a cruiser has always been one of my favorite things about these old vehicles, and I just invested in a new main top pad (OEM) and finally found the lower right pad (missing in PO action) used, on-line (it's on the UPS truck).

Center Arm

Submitted by bill on

Center Arm rebuild kit and adjustment

October 30, 2008 - I’m pulling my center arm housing apart in an attempt at a systematic approach to tighten up the steering and eliminate wandering. The PO had at some point messed with a rebuild of sorts. Had a new lock bolt on the rusty top plate, new looking grease nipple and the housing was all banged up in the lower seal area from someone trying to pry the arm off I guess. Also the 2 mounting bolts with loose nuts had the nuts assembled on the outside of the frame, the bolt heads were inside the frame?

Front Door

Submitted by bill on

January 04, 2011 - Trying to bang my driver's side door back into shape. Hoping to get close enough to not need plastic. Haven't decided if I want/need to pull the doors off the truck yet. Might want to get some lower areas blasted.

Turn Signal Brackets

Submitted by bill on

Repair of Front Turn Signal Fender Support Brackets

The spot welded (to the front fender) bracket under the front turn signal housing is another common corrosion sandwich. Welding the bracket/patch with a copper heat sink.

support bracket

Welding Notes

Submitted by bill on

I've been using 3M Weld Primer - II 05917. It's the silver stuff in the attached photo. Cost about $30 - I'm trying to find it at a better price. Everyone says you don't use much but it sure doesn't seem to last too long for me. It still splatters a bit. On a plug weld once the two pieces are joined together I wipe/acetone the paint off the hole area, and fight through the splatter on the weld until I get a good plug. Who knows how much this will help the hidden areas but I guess it's better than nothing.

Spare Tire Carrier

Submitted by bill on

Spare Tire Carrier rebuild

Two "big-bump" noise points getting fixed - new nylon bushing, etc. for hood and tire carrier. OME nylon bushing, hardware, etc. for tire carrier on order from Toyota. I used front door type bushings for hood hinges - tight fit but no more jumping around/noise on the hood.

bump 1


Valve Adjustment

Submitted by bill on

Valve adjustment:

Shot of the homemade rotational tool that locks on the crank nut to rotate the engine for valve adjustment. Same as using the old manual engine crank that came with the FJ45 pickups.


valve tool


Misc. FJ40

Submitted by bill on

Found a key in the old Warn Bumper - January 26, 2012. Pulled the hood/hardware to start cleaning up some surface rust. Pulled the old warn bumper I think the dealership must have installed when they did the Warn hubs, or maybe the PO bought a winch later. Kind of a cool bumper but I think I’ll try to order/find an OEM. Funny how little things keep popping up – found an old key in a little hide-a-key box somebody hid inside the old bumper at some point in time.