Weak Link: Gear reduction
Models Affected: All
What happens: Land Cruisers are particularly heavy and underpowered, so proper gearing is necessary to maintain these vehicles' trail prowess when larger tires are added.
Sturdy Fix 1: Land Cruisers underwent a number of transfer-case changes over the years, including spline counts, gear ratios, and idler shaft sizes. It is generally agreed that the "split" transfer case used in '86-'87 models was best due to the larger 38mm idler shaft and 2.26:1 low-range.
Sturdy Fix 2: Longer-wheelbase Land Cruisers can benefit from the added gear reduction of Marlin Crawler's Toy Box. This gear reduction unit is based off Marlin Crawler's successful Toyota pickup dual transfer-case system. It bolts between the factory transmission and transfer case, and can be ordered to fit a variety of other transmissions such as the SM465 and 700R4.
Sturdy Fix 3: For the ultimate in strength and gearing, Advance Adapters' Orion transfer case bolts in place of the factory transfer case and offers either a 3.00:1 or 4.00:1 low-range ratio. The Orion comes as a kit that includes brand-new cast-iron cases, new gears, a larger cluster pin, and new bearings and seals.
Contact: Classic Cruisers, Marlin Crawler, Advance Adapters
Weak Link: Manual steering.
Models Affected: '60-'78 FJ-40s and 55s
What happens: Manual steering has no place on a vehicle used off-pavement. It makes it nearly impossible to turn aired-down oversized tires and can be downright dangerous to your thumbs if your tires suddenly follow ruts. The stock Toyota steering is also overly complicated and prone to excessive play due to the use of five tie-rod ends.
Sturdy Fix: Classic Cruisers' power-steering conversion replaces the stock push-pull steering with crossover steering using Toyota components. Unlike other kits using Saginaw boxes, this kit requires no cutting or welding and results in crossover steering for a longer drag link and less bumpsteer, as well as providing a tighter response due to the use of fewer rod ends.
Contact: Classic Cruisers
Weak Link: Starter
Models Affected: '68-'81 FJ-40s and FJ-55s
What happens: Traditional starters with external solenoids are very common on older vehicles. While these can work well when new, they draw a large amount of amperage through the electrical system.
Sturdy Fix: In 1982, Toyota changed to a gear-reduction starter on 2F motors. This new starter is a direct bolt-in for the earlier starters and is smaller, lighter, and offers more torque. Cool Cruisers of Texas stocks these starters, as well as a multitude of other OEM and reproduction parts.
Contact: Cool Cruisers of Texas
Weak Link: Head casting
Models Affected: '81-and-later FJ-40s and FJ-60s
What happens: The heads in the 2F motors use a thinner casting than earlier heads, which is prone to warping or cracking. Unfortunately, the fix is not as simple as just swapping on an earlier-style head, since the piston designs between the two motors are different.
Sturdy Fix: The earlier 2Fs used domed pistons and a larger combustion chamber, while the later engines used a flat-top piston and smaller combustion area. In order to restore the proper compression ratio, an early head can be shaved 0.070 inch and used with the later-model block and pistons.
Weak Link: Suspension travel
Models Affected: All
What happens: The stock suspension places the leaf springs under the axles. While this provides a low center of gravity and limits spring wrap, it does so at the expense of articulation and ground clearance.
Sturdy Fix: Spring-over-axle suspensions are much more involved than just adding new spring perches to the top of the axles. One of the biggest issues is the relationship between caster and the front pinion angle. Rotate the axle for a better pinion angle and you lose caster, and vice versa. Proffitt's Cruisers has a spring-over kit that addresses this issue by including a front axlehousing with the knuckles cut and rotated for the proper pinion angle and caster. The kit also includes spring perches, a shackle reversal, and new spring bushings; a Saginaw steering conversion is highly recommended.
Contact: Proffitt's Cruisers