To repair, restore and upgrade our 25 year old 80 Series Landcruiser into the ultimate low budget family touring 4WD with a total budget of around $20,000 . . . including the value of the car.
I've called this project . . . Project80
What happened this week:
Front Suspension Update
This week I finally managed to get out to Terry’s (Mr Mods) with new suspension bushes in hand so that we could get to work on the front suspension.
Ultimately I’ll replace all of the bushes that need replacing front and back but the front was the most urgent because I needed to get them all done before getting the new wheels and tyres fitted and a wheel alignment done.
Terry also had the new Old Man Emu Nitro Charger shockers that he’d ordered in for me so we could install them as well.
The first job was taking off the radius arms which hold the front diff housing in place.
Surprisingly the front bushes which attach to the diff housing were still in great condition and didn’t need replacing (see below).
These are the offset bushes that were installed by ARB when we first bought the car in 1998 and upgraded the suspension. That was 283,000 kilometres ago so they've done well.
The rear bushes that attach to the chassis however were a different story.
These are the original rubber bushes which have travelled every one of the cars 373,000 km and they have had enough.
You can see in the photo below that this one is completely knackered.
With the help of Terry’s 12 tonne hydraulic press, we punched out the old bushes, cleaned up the channels with a sanding wheel and installed the new bushes.
Next job was the shockers.
I’d already discovered the lower bush missing from the front left shock during my crawl around under the car a few weeks ago looking for things that might need replacing or fixing.
What I couldn’t see then was that the left shocker had been banging around in its mounting hole for quite some time and the lower mounting hole was seriously elongated.
There were a couple of rattles and clunks coming from the front end when I hit bumps but I hadn’t managed to find the source . . . until today!
Fortunately the fix was fairly straight forward.
Terry refilled the hole with the MIG welder then used a small grinding wheel to reshape it to something like the original size and finished with the angle grinder to make sure the top surface was smooth and wouldn’t damage the new bushes.
It turns out that the bush on the right side was also gone but the hole was still it’s original shape.
These shockers have done about 170,000km and while not leaking, they’ve done a lot of hard work on some of Australia’s toughest roads and tracks so it’s hardly surprising they are ready for retirement.
Terry being the good bloke he is, volunteered to crawl under the car and do the dirty work getting the radius arms back on.
With the new shockers installed and the radius arms back on it was time to look at the steering box and the source of the significant free play in the steering and potential source for some of the front ends wobbles and vibration.
Before Christmas I topped up the power steering fluid with a ‘stop leak’ fluid which seems to have rejuvenated the seals in the steering box as the leaking has stopped.
With both front wheels off the ground we tried turning the steering wheel back and forth and soon discovered that the tie rods were badly worn - more so on the left side of the car than the right, which may be related to the looseness of the bottom left shock absorber mount (or maybe not?!)
At this stage it was a no brainer that the tie rods needed replacing so we jumped in Terry’s Landcruiser and headed for Repco to grab a new set then back to his workshop to get them installed.
I’m glad we discovered this because I was focussed on the steering box as being the likely source of the slack in the steering but if it’s the tie rods then it’s a much cheaper and easier fix.
I actually replaced the steering box about 120,000km ago so it shouldn’t have worn out by now but where I park my car in our communal garage I need to manoeuvre it in to fit with a few full lock turns of the wheel. This happens at least 4 times a day for the past 2 years so I was thinking that it may be prematurely wearing the gears in the steering.
So with new bushes, shockers and tie rods fitted I left Terry’s and ventured into the traffic.
The difference in the ride was apparent immediately as the new shockers soaked up the small bumps significantly better than the old ones.
The steering too was much tighter and more responsive, although not perfect due to our rough . . . ‘looks about right’ . . . wheel alignment we did after installing the new tie rods.
Next job . . . new wheels and tyres.
New Wheel & Tyres
I’d already bought and paid for a new set of wheels and tyres from Bob Jane T-Marts in Preston, back in January and took advantage of their ‘buy 3 get one free’ deal on a set of Nitto Trail Grapplers - 285/75R16 mud terrain tyres.
I’ve also gone for a new set of black steel rims to replace the ROH Monsoon alloys I’ve been running since our Big Lap trip.
There was nothing wrong with the ROH alloys but I wanted black wheels for a change and the deal I got from Bob Jane’s convinced me that buying new ones was better (easier) than painting the alloys black.
Plus I plan to sell the alloys soon which will put some dollars back into the budget (I have 8 of them in total, 4 on the car, 2 on the camper trailer and 2 spares - let me know if you are interested in buying them - pickup in Adelaide)
Arriving at Bob Jane’s at 9:00am on Thursday I left the car with them for about 90 minutes and came back to this . . .
The new wheels look awesome and are noticeably bigger than the 265/75R16 Cooper ST Maxx they replaced.
The guys at Bob Jane’s did a proper wheel alignment and managed to re-center the steering wheel after the last mob had it about 20 degrees off centre and couldn’t seem to get it straight despite several attempts!
It now feels like I’m driving a new car, well almost anyway.
Smooth and straight and quiet - no more front end rattles and knocks.
For mud tyres, the Nitto Trail Grapplers are surprisingly quiet and smooth - I can’t hear them at all around town below 60kmph and beyond that there is only a feint whine that I’m quickly getting used to.
There is a small amount of ‘squirm’ from the big blocky tread but overall the steering is now virtually like new.
I’ve driven down to Geelong from Melbourne today and I’m sitting here writing this blog beside the Barwon river watching my daughter compete in the rowing.
The trip down here was the first highway speed test and it went well.
Very straight and positive at 100kmph and no wobbles or vibrations at all from the front end.
My speedo is now out of sync due to the larger rolling diameter of the 285 tyres so when it says I’m doing 95 kmph I’m actually doing 100. No big deal but something I’ll need to get used to so I don’t get any tickets!
I still need to install the new rear shockers and the mounting bushes for the front and back sway bars which I’ll get done next week.
Plus I’ll need Terry’s help with his trusty hydraulic press to replace the rear trailing arm bushes (if they need it) but no urgency on that.
I’m heading over to Adelaide tomorrow and will be there for a while so it will be a good opportunity to get started on the body work as I’ll have easy access to my garage at my Mums place.
I’m not sure I’ll get the car painted completely but will aim to at least get all of the body prep done.
I’m also still looking at water tank options. Some great suggestions from you guys following last weeks blog - thanks.
I’ve installed the cargo barrier which is currently sitting between the rear drawers and the back seats and as it is now there is no room to fit a bladder tank there.
To get a bladder tank in that space I’d need to cut and modify the cargo barrier and mount it on the top of the drawers, which is one option.
Another option is to fit a poly tank of around 50 to 60 ltrs somewhere in the back that doesn’t steal too much space.
I’ll keep working on this one.
I’m also concerned that our CF80 fridge is now too big.
It takes a big chunk of the rear space and I’m starting to think something smaller & lighter might be the way to go.
The CF80 also needs a new lid as the original one is buckled from about 2 years in the sun in the back of the car. The thermostat has also given up. The compressor works fine and the fridge gets cold but it is basically on or off and for the past couple of years I’ve just managed it manually which was easy enough but something I really should fix or replace.
I’ll keep working on this one also.
Jen and I went to the Caravan show at the Melbourne showgrounds last weekend and of course we saw plenty of interesting things.
We managed to get up close to a Darche Intrepidor 2 rooftop tent which is the one I have in mind for #Project80 and Jen agreed that it looked like the business - always good to get your wife’s stamp of approval before spending $1000+ on a rooftop tent that she’ll also be sleeping in ?
While Terry and I were working on the front end last week he noticed the significant amount of oil leaking around the seals on the intake on the top of the engine. This is caused by oily gas being fed into the inlet from inside the engine to burn off the oil rather then it going into the atmosphere.
The problem is that all that oil running back into the intake and through the turbo isn’t good for the turbo and also results in leaks like mine is doing.
The solution is a catch can which basically filters the oil out before that gas is fed back into the engine.
These range from around $200 to $400 and from my research it looks like the cheap ones aren’t very effective.
So I’ve added one of these into the budget and will get my hands on one on the next month or so.
Also while at the caravan show last week we bought a set of plates, cups, bowls etc for the kitchen plus a collapsible silicon bucket which will be great as a dish washing bowl or anything else we might need a bucket for (oil changes maybe? ? )
I’l spend some time over the next week or two getting together all of the kitchen bits and pieces and making it all fit in the kitchen drawer in the back.
So that’s it for now, the updated budget is below.
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|Steering & suspension||Suspension 2 degree offset Bush Kit - Front & Rear||$415||$375|
|New shock absorbers - OME||$800||$750|
|Tie rods x 4||$-||$210.00|
|Cracks around radiator mounts||Weld it up||$-|
|Fuel filter mount broken||Weld mount||$-|
|Steering box leaking||Fixed with stop leak fluid||$-||$-|
|Oil seals||Rear tailshaft and speedo cable leaks||$200|
|Rocker cover leaking||replace gasket - actual leak is from inlet manifold > catch can||$-||$-|
|Rear windscreen leaking||Remove and reseal||$15|
|New Tyres & wheels x 5||Nitto Trail Grappler LT285/75R16 x 5 + rims - Fitted||$1,875||$1,875|
|Body work||Fix rust around drivers windscreen pillar||$50|
|Paint work||Prep body for new paint job||$100|
|Spray gun buy/rent - Borrowed Terry's (Mr Mods)||$-||$-|
|Flare seals||New rubber seals around flares||$150|
|Wipers||Paint front wipers matt black||$15||$8|
|Door locks||New barrels & keys||$100|
|Spotlights||Service & replace globes & covers, paint housings||$50|
|Drivers seatbelt||Replace due to fraying||$50|
|New front seats||Good second hand eg. XR8||$400|
|Front seat mounting bracket||Huracan Fabrication||$100|
|Rear door skin||Rear left door inside panel needs replacing||$50|
|Tailgate||Doesn't stay shut tight||$-|
IMPROVEMENTS & ADDITIONS
|Rooftop tent||Darche Rooftop Tent||$1,100|
|Roofrack modification||Remove side rail for tent & paint||$-|
|High Flow Exhaust||$800|
|Rear Drawers||Ordered 23/1/2017 - Installed 12/2/2017||$500||$465|
|Front LED light bar||Mount on bullbar||$150|
|Side & rear LED flood lights & switches||$100|
|New radio aerial||$20|
|New UHF aerial||$60|
|Brake & indicator light housings||Replace with new LED||$200|
|Modify rear cage||Cut, weld & paint to fit with rear drawers||$-|
|Rear roof storage shelf||Build from steel mesh & mount on rear cage mounting points||$20|
|USB charge points||Double USB charge sockets for back seat pasengers||$40|
|LED Lights in rear||LED lights on back tailgate to light rear work & kitchen area||$35|
|Battery link cable||Built in jumper cable from battery 1 to 2||$40|
|Dyneema rope in winch||Replace wire rope to save weight||$189|
|Plastic storage boxes||For the rear drawers||$38|
|PLUS Original Value of Car||$12,000||$12,000|
|TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET||$21,419||$15,795|