IT SEEMS my quest to get my old Middy back on the tracks in 2018 has opened a giant can of worms. Every time the mechanics at Terrain Tamer pulled a component apart they found it worn beyond repair or something else that required attention. More than 400,000km of use will do that to a vehicle, and even things I thought ‘felt okay’ showed signs of wear and tear.
Sometime in the life of this 1985 BJ73 Cruiser, a previous owner has swapped out the standard naturally aspirated 3B diesel engine for a factory turbocharged 13B-t as was fitted to the BJ74 Cruiser.
While the odometer shows more than 400,000km on the clock, it is unknown how many kays are on the engine or if the gearbox was also swapped out at some point.
Aside from its characteristic rattling noise and vibration, the direct injection 13B-t engine goes well and the oil leaks from the rear main seemed to be the only major problem with it. Terrain Tamer’s Shadin King pulled the gearbox out to access the rear of the engine and replace the seal, which revealed the seal had been leaking extensively and the heavy-duty clutch fitted by a previous owner was shot because the clutch plate was oil-soaked. The clutch joined the growing pile of parts that were headed for the trash, and a new replacement was sourced from Terrain Tamer’s extensive warehouse.
Allan Gray took a look at the gearbox and transfer case as there were oil leaks there too, and he was impressed to find one of Terrain Tamer’s modified gears had already been fitted. This part is indicative of what Terrain Tamer does:
1985 TOYOTA LAND CRUISER BJ73 4X4 SHED DATE ACQUIRED: 2008 PRICE: N/A KM THIS MONTH: 0KM AV FUEL: N/A 4 2 0 0 0 0 9 KM
it looked at the OE part (and where they are known to fail) and then had a re-engineered part made to solve the problem and built to OE or better quality. For these gears and many other parts, they are made in Japan in factories that make the OE parts.
Inspection of the gearbox’s input shaft also showed wear there, so the job was passed over to ‘Gearbox Dave’ to give it a full overhaul. Dave does these fulltime, stripping them down, diagnosing the faults and reassembling them with new and improved components. It’s not just old Cruiser boxes, either, as there are always V8 70 Series boxes in the shop and those from other 4x4 makes and models.
Even though I thought the old fivespeed shifted fine, Dave found a number of components that showed wear and replaced them with Terrain Tamer parts as needed. With new seals throughout, the leaks will be gone and, combined with the new Terrain Tamer clutch, it should now shift better than a new one.
The steering box was another source of oil that had the Cruiser leaking like an old Land Rover – I was always topping it up whenever the power steering pump started screeching, so it needed a fix. Shadin stripped the pump and revealed that the surface on which the offending oil seal ran was badly worn and pitted, rendering the box unserviceable. There are no new replacements for these available, so a second-hand box in better condition than mine was found and reconditioned before being fitted to the chassis.
With new clutch master and slave cylinders, the new Terrain Tamer clutch, and the rebuilt gearbox, the driveline should be top notch now. The reconditioned steering box, along with freshened-up swivel hubs including new wheel bearings and stub axles, will have the front end feeling schmick, too.