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Rebuilding A Chevy 350 Small Block For Our Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

Posted in How To: Engine on November 30, 2015
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There are few off-road vehicles that are as iconic as the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. It’s just one of those rigs that are eternally cool no matter where you are. It’s safe to say that I’ve always wanted one and when I had the opportunity to pick one up with my buddy Colin I didn’t let it pass me by.

The FJ we found was literally dying in a field in Janesville (near Lake Tahoe) and it hadn’t been started in years. We showed up with a can of brake cleaner, a fresh battery and got that thing to fire up first try. It was a sign, so we took that bad boy home.

There are about a million different ways you can build an FJ40 and we wanted this one to be an all around romper. We wanted to be able to cruise on the highway, drive it to some trails and drive it home all relatively comfortably.

Our rig was already outfitted with a Chevy 305 V8 swap mated to the original Toyota 4-speed transmission, while that may seem like a good thing, it wasn’t, 30’s are gutless! It became evident very quickly that an upgrade was needed and we had to source a 350 ASAP.

After sourcing a Chevy Suburban TBi 350 from eBay, we turned to our good friends at Summit Racing to help us with the rebuild. Thankfully, they had every single part we needed to completely overhaul our engine.

Once we started the disassembly of the donor engine, we discovered our 350 had been sitting a little longer than advertised.

Yikes that’s a lot of rust!!!

With the 350 completely broken down, we took it to Ali’s Automotive Machine in Long Beach, CA to make sure everything was safe and sound.

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After decking, boring, and balancing, we got the green light from the machine shop to start building this bad boy up.

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Once we got the balanced and finished rotating assembly back to our Irvine tech center, it was time to put the heart and soul back into this 350.

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we chose to go with a 30 over piston kit mated with an RV cam from Summit to make sure we had plenty of torque down low. With the increased bore and relatively mild cam in our set up, we wanted to make sure the engine had no issues flowing to the best of its abilities at any altitude so we topped off the engine with some Summit Racing Street and Strip heads. (shiny!)

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After torqueing everything down and triple checking all of our work, it was time for some engine final assembly. While we really wanted to throw on a Fuel injection system onto our build, to help deliver power with an elevation changes, we were running out of time. So we ended going with a Summit Racing Street and strip 750cfm carburetor to delivery plenty of air and fuel when needed.

Thankfully the 305 engine that was previously in the FJ40 shard the same mounting points and flywheel bolt pattern as the 350 so it was relatively easy. We had to call our good friend Pat to help us weld up some mounting brackets on the bell housing just make sure everything was extra beefy but that was about it.

It took us a full day, but we got the 350 in the rig with minimal problems.

It was time to test this bad boy out the best way we knew how, on a trail! Since we didn’t want to get into gearing mathematics and change out our final drive ratio we cheated, and threw on a set of bigger tires. General Grabber 33-inch mudders gave us that "extra gear" for highway cruising. We picked up the truck with some 31s but the extra two inches of overall diameter from the General’s should help keep the rpms down on the road. It felt great to see the Land Cruiser in its element!

Next up on the list, a suspension overhaul! It got a little scary when the tires rubbed in the back so badly on the way up the trail that we almost blew a corner and went off a cliff.

Sources

Summit Racing
Akron, OH
800-230-3030
http://www.summitracing.com

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