It all started when we drove our bombed out Nissan Terrano wagon to North Queensland for a working stint in a remote town called 'Normaton'. The turbo was leaking like a sieve, it was seriously on its last legs but she got us there and back. While we were working away i knew i wanted to get a land cruiser troopy, knowing very little about cruisers other than the fact that i loved the look of the older ones and thought. I’ve had plenty of old cars before, so the hunt was on to find one! I found big blue on gumtree, as stock as it gets. No modification beside the 2 way and strange bench seat in the back. The old girl was sitting in Dalby out the back of Brisbane… i was in Normanton in north Queensland, so i managed to talk my brothers who live in Northern NSW to organise a permit and go grab it for me they had an 8hr round trip to get it home… but she did it no dramas.
As soon as i got home i organised rego and drove it around home for a week or two….. Jess and i had just been offered jobs in South Australia around 3000kms away. Not really knowing the car at all we just took off and hoped for the best! I think it was Port Augusta when the fuel tank started leaking pretty bad hahahaha! Anyway we got there, after a epic road trip... the jobs were nothing as described so we basically turned around and headed home. I filled the holes with some chemi-weld was a temporary fix until i could find a good second hand unit. The old girl drove back home sitting on 90km/h with no problem besides our asses and backs were pretty sore from the lack of padding in the seats!
When i got home the modifying begun… on the near 6000km round trip to South Aus i noticed the breaks were fairly bad and that i would really love to be able to turn the car in car park. I decided to hunt down the parts required to convert it from drum break front to disk and also to do a 60series power steering conversion. Knowing that i wanted to be able to run 33” tyres these conversions were a must!
I ended up getting a wrecked 60series for $500 and used some parts from it. 60 series power steering box, swivel hubs, cv joints, locking hubs, rotors and callipers. I also had to use 75 series steering rods and 75series intermediate shaft for the steering column. It was pretty difficult getting the 60 series swivel hubs to bolt on. I had to modify the inside of my diff, where the cv joint sits to allow for the bigger diameter 60 series cv joint (I used a lot of info off the 4wdaction forum and also ih8mud forum). The 2h engine came out in many cruises so the power steering pump was easy to bolt onto the engine, only hiccup there is you have to change the pulleys on the harmonic balancer to allow for your power steering belt to go onto. Also the radiator fan will need to be trimmed down on the back so as not to foul out on your thicker set of pulleys… and the radiators bottom outlet needs to be modified so as not to hit the power steering pump….. there was a lot of work in getting this right and plenty of learning curves! Also all bearings, break pads, rotors cvs and wearing parts were replaced with brand new parts .
It sure is nice being able to hit the breaks and know your going to stop as well as drive into a car park and not break out into a sweat because the steering is so heavy... now you simply drive in like your in a little toy hatch back!
One would think after all that stuffing around id be done with messing with the old girl……Wrong! Well a few months went by but i had the itch do do more to it! Now sitting on a brand new set of 305-70-r16 Toyo open country MTs, I decided that a 5th gear in that old 4speed gearbox would be really great for cruising speeds on the highway… I pulled the 5speed out of that 60 series i had in the back yard at my dads place, got the box and transfer rebuilt with a modified output gea. So as to stop a common fault that the h55f gearbox has. While you have the gearbox out, you might as well change your clutch. I put a safari tuff clutch in hasn’t slipped on me yet. I hunted down some already lengthened and shortened tail shafts, the front has to be lengthened and rear shortened i can’t remember by exactly how much. I used the original bell housing it bolted straight up to the h55f… if your doing stuff like this to your cruiser or 4x4 join those forums i mentioned above there are worlds of knowledge on them. The transmission tunnel cover where the gear sticks poke threw had to be modified so at the gear stick holes are about 100mm towards the rear, i just cut and welded the cover once i had the gearbox in place, the original gearbox mount also worked for me. The hand break was on the rear of the original gearbox so i had to put the hand break onto to rear wheels…. once again that old wreck came in handy. I grabbed the backing plates off the rear diff and bolted them onto mine while i was there i rebuilt the whole rear break assembly. Used a 79series hand break cable...its pretty cool being able to use all Toyota parts while doing conversions like this !
Now the five speed was in and did it make a difference or what! It feels like a different car, better speeds in 2nd and 3rd while on similar revs and on the high way it will sit on 110km/h not the best fuel economy at 110km/h, ill usually sit on 100km/h and get about 12 - 13 litres to 100km not bad for and old 4x4 with huge mud tyres.
Now I have the car pretty much where i want it, mechanical wise i would love a turbo and some crispy cold aircon….. maybe in time but for now its pretty good.
I have had about 3 different touring/camping set ups in the back of big blue the first was basically a massive bed in the back it wasn’t very practical… I decided to start again after about a year with it like that… I built a fold down bed on roller bearings that converted into a lounge chair in the day with storage underneath and a timber set of draws that faced inwards that contained all out gear as well as a 65ltr fridge freezer…. it was like a mini camper…. then on our first attempt at road tripping around Australia, Jess broke her back and i had been having thoughts of how it could be better. I hated climbing into the back doors every time i wanted something…. I wished i had a ute and contemplated selling up to get one but had done so much work to the drive line i couldn’t do it. I was brain storming ideas of changing the windows to gull wing windows that open up like ones you see in canopies on ute’s…. but then i thought how good would it be if the side was one big door like a canopy door you see on single cab ute’s…. it didn’t take me long once i had this idea to start ripping the mini camper set up out. While i was doing that i realised how much weight i had put into the camper set up, the new set up would have to be made simple and light weight. While i was taking measurements of how i was actually going to perform this type of car surgery! I noticed a fair bit of rust coming threw i started fixing that as i went along.
The doors (ill call them) - were a simple idea one big door hinged from the top, giving the ability to access your stuff from outside, as if it was a ute. I basically made a frame out of 50mmx50mm 3mm SHS that runs along the inside of the outer skin of the body, i welded the frame to the inside of the body and then cut the part out where the door would go…. it just so happened that it followed the same line as the top of where the windows were. I used the corners out of the windows to get the standard looking radius. I had to rebuild the gutter in the roof as it was full of rust and needed to be wider. My car was fitted with a fibre glass roof before i got it so i re-made to gutter using 90mm c channel 2mm thick it had to be wider so the roof could be bolted down i ran some 25x25mm 2mm thick right angle along the insides of both the doors to allow the gutter to be bolted to the car.
The frames where really quite rewarding to see all finished with the roof bolted back on… now i had two huge holes in my car haha! So I was contemplating building the doors out of steel mesh and getting it wrapped with canvas … but i decided to build them out of aluminium. I had never welded alloy before and was introduced to an absolute legend named Rob! Big Rob let me use his work shop and his knowledgeable brain to nut out how we were going to build these doors !
We decided it would be nice to follow the body line of the car, we didn't have access to a steel sheet bender so we made up a template and had a metal shop bend the doors up for us! It meant that we then had to brace the back of the doors with some c section steel to stop the doors from warping while opened up. The hinges are actually hj47 front door hinges just modified and welded to the top of the door frame. I wanted too use similar door handles to the barn door handle on the back to make it look as original as possible. A few late nights at robs and a few of his old mans home brews and the doors where on the car… they look mental! Exactly as i had thought it would look like…… a plan had come together!!! Now the car was in 3 different colours! The blue it is today, undercoat grey, this old bright blue that it was resprayed before i got it and the colour of aluminium, so time to get the spray gun and sand paper out and give it a lick of paint…. my old boy has been painting cars for a heap of years so this part wasn’t so hard…. I went with the original blue that it came from the factory with but a dull finish with a flattening agent in it. the old girl had never looked so good and I’m not sure it will look that good again !….
Now time for the fit out (ding, ding, ding, round 4) I used aluminium tubing for the frame as its super light weight and strong enough for what I’m going to throw at it. We use the passenger side for the fridge and camping box that holds all of our plates, pots, cutlery, cooking essentials, tea and coffee the box has as much stuff crammed in it as possible! Leaving the other side with enough space for a small bed for taking a nap on big drives or at the beach while on the move! Under that there is storage for our clothes, camping stove, dry food goods, a third jerry of water for showering, some tools and our auxiliary battery that runs our fridge, camp lighting, power outlets for charging phones or running the shower and also a projecta pure sine-wave inverter for charging the lap top or what ever other device that needs charging. its as simple as it gets but it works for us. I’ve also forgotten about the front n rear bars and also the airbag on the roof!!!! Ok so the bull bar came off a jeep but was the exact style i was after so i took a few measurements an grabbed it, made up some brackets to fit it to the car and also made a winch cradle to fit between the chassis… I’m running a kings 12000lb winch its still going strong fingers crossed it works when i truly need it! The rear bar was a custom job done after work in my shed. I used to put a tinnie on the roof (until i just fixed all that rust in the gutters) i originally built the rear bar to house my outboard and a spare wheel, then it was an outboard and 2 jerry cans… now its 2 jerry cans and a push bike rack, but i think ill probably change it around again at some stage. When the swing away rear bar opens up, attached is an old bit of ply wood i had laying around, it turns into a fold down table to put our cooker on while set up. It works great and means you have always got a table or small work bench when moving around. The water bottles on the rear bar come in real handy when cooking and also for keeping your hands clean and feet after the beach or dropping the boat in.
The roof mounted airbox. I copied Roothy on this one! (for you guys an gals that don’t know who Roothy is look him up he is a hj47 nut like myself, he’s a proper 4x4 guru ) the snorkel just makes sense to be up there as far away from dirt and water as possible… no brainer! Eventually i would like to re-build the tubing out of steel that attaches the airbag to the engine.
Well thats all i can remember off the top of my head about the story of the old girl.There are plenty of other little things I’ve done over the years... there will be updates to this section, so keep posted and thanks for reading the right up on big ol blue!
If you would like any more information in detail, shoot me a email :)