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Comments Off on 1973 FJ40 LS Swap- part 1/3

1973 FJ40 LS Swap- part 1/3

“Progress always involves risks.
You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”

Frederick B. Wilcox

Acquiring a classic

Soon after acquiring a well-restored FJ40, my son Aden and I continued to give the colossal classic the TLC it deserves. With the amount of care and attention to detail that went into restoring it, we wanted to extend that legacy for as long as it was ours to enjoy.

The first few upgrades on our list were:
Old Air Products complete aftermarket A/C kit
Killimat & Noico Sound deadening products
BedRug waterproof, UV resistant floor lining
Rear jump seat sourcing, restoration and upholstering
Replace all lights with LED bulbs
Custom 6×9 stereo speaker enclosures
Custom leather steering wheel wrap w/color-matched stitching

Vehicle details

September of ’73 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 Hardtop
3.9L inline 6-cylinder gasoline engine, 125 hp
3 spd. manual transmission w/stock transfer case
Toyo 31×10.5R15LT tires, Open Country M/T
Classic Warn 8274 winch

As the work progressed, miscellaneous repair scenarios kept raising the inevitable burning question… whether to keep the vehicle all original – or to consider “the swap”. We weighed the pros & cons for months, with the most common reason to NOT do a swap was how it would affect (resale) value.

Knowing this truck would remain in our family for at least another generation, we decided to do the swap – specifically an LS swap. A few reasons that fueled our decision were:
The swap is so common, there’s a wealth of content available
Proven reliability and power:size ratio
TONS of aftermarket support/specialty parts/adapters, etc.
Parts are easier to source, not as expensive, more options
Drivetrain gets a 30 year facelift
3X Horsepower/mpg improved
There’s wealth of mechanics that know the platform

Getting started

Once the decision was made to pursue the swap, we moved-on to the next logical decision… who to hire. I started contacting local mechanics, some who have done this exact swap before, others who have performed portions of it, and others that were confused when asked about it. What became clear early in the process, was that you definitely want to hire someone who’s done this same swap before – or as close a build as possible.

What also became apparent was that this would be quite an undertaking from a time, effort – and more importantly – cost perspective. Mechanics skilled in this exact swap have provided time estimates of 40-50 hours minimum, with bare-bones cost estimates starting at ~$16 – $18k. Faced with a double dose of sticker shock, our ambitious LS swap project was just about over before it started… or was it.

After all, we live in the information age. And with the power of Google, YouTube, niche communities of crowdsourced content, and the generous support of those who have been in your shoes and shared their experiences,there just may be another way. And after our initial projects were successful, we were starting to believe – maybe, just maybe we could do this… ourselves.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear,
not absence of fear.”

Mark Twain

Thinking of a master plan

Now before we get too drunk on our own Kool-Aid, we need to acknowledge one very important detail – WE HAVE NO MECHANICAL TRAINING WHATSOEVER. I can hear the commentary already… we’re crazy, or naive, or stupid, or all of the above, right? Well that’s a matter of perspective, and confidence in one’s ability to improvise, adapt & overcome.

As I stated, there’s no shortage of information available online for those who search hard enough, and no shortage of kind, experienced people willing to share their experience out of sheer benevolence for those who take the time to engage them. And while we acknowledge that this is a bold endeavor, with the right preparation and guidance, anything’s possible.

One person that I can’t express enough praise for is Matt orver at CruiserMatt’s Off-Road & Performance in Winter Park, FL. (@cruisermatt on Instagram). Matt has been wrenching on all makes & models of Land Cruisers for years including repair/maintenance, engine conversions, fabrication and custom off-road builds. Without Matt’s deep subject matter expertise and innovative approach to problem-solving, I’d still be scratching my head wondering if I’d ever save-up enough lunch money to make my swap a reality.

We spent nine months researching what would be involved, leaving no stone unturned, triple- and quadruple-checking our findings before committing them to a master plan. Along the way, we collected a list of the parts, processes, vendors, gurus, reputable sources and niche communities that were necessary to get this done, and done well.

Within the overall swap project, some of our jobs to be done were:
Remove old engine assembly, transmission and transfer case
Remove existing cooling system
Remove existing fuel lines
Spec and source parts to convert fuel system to electronic fuel injection
Spec and source parts to upgrade cooling system
Spec and source replacement engine
Spec and source parts for engine/fuel management system
Spec and source replacement transmission and transfer case
Spec and source specialty/adapter-type parts
Spec and source parts to replace suspension system

Next came the process of removing the original engine, and hunting down the new parts we needed. Since budget was a huge factor, this part took the longest. But in the end… it couldn’t have worked out better.

>> continue to part 2

Comments Off on The Backyard Makeover

The Backyard Makeover

As I’ve added more and more trees to my Bonsai collection of the years, the backyard has become a bit if a dumping ground. The plan has always been to get things organized, but life has a way of putting higher priority things in front of you.

So I finally bit the bullet, rolled up my sleeves and get busy. Here are a few pics of the before state. I installed pedestals a few years ago along the back fence, but the grass growing around them made them a real pain in the butt. On the side yard, there was a makeshift bench made of a few planks laid across cinder block stacks. Once that space was filled-up, I started putting other trees-in-training on the ground along the fence. It’s my own fault. Every now & then I get the urge to go hunting for new material.

Anyway, here’s the project.


Yeah, you can see how the artistic aesthetic of such a zen hobby and artform could be lessened by an untidy, cluttered area. The first thing I did was prepare the ground for a little simplification. We removed grassy areas and leveled the dirt in preparation for landscaping fabric which would be the lining for the stepping stones and river rocks to go on top of.

Having help from crew NextGen is always a huge plus. Ruben and Marcos Masters helped Aden and & I make steady progress throughout the day. The 98 degree day!

I built a new bench to accommodate all my trees, with a little extra room so I could add to the collection over time. The new bench will span the full side yard length of fence, 53 feet!

Poor planning caused the fence boards behind it to rot from constant moisture. I replaced some of the fence boards that were rotted away, but later decided that it was best to replace the whole length of them. Afterwards, staining and Sealing them (which I should have done from the beginning) will ensure they have a longer shelf life.


The end result came out pretty decent. The auto-watering system line runs across the back of the bench, with dedicated microdrip lines for each tree.  The continuous bench enables adequate spacing for each tree, and makes for a nice backdrop for Instagram shots…

Once the rocks were delivered, the finish line was in sight. And though it took a good 6 hours to get them all shoveled into place, the end result was well worth it.


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Protected: Dos hermanos, un camino

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Comments Off on FDA’s Anti-Tobacco Campaign

FDA’s Anti-Tobacco Campaign

The FDA just launched it’s new anti-tobacco “The Real Cost” campaign, targeting at-risk teens. 8,000 young people will be monitored over the next two years to see if the campaign has any effect. It’s expected to cost $400 million, which will come from fees paid to the US by Big Tobacco.

The tables are turning on tobacco, and there’s emphasis being placed on teens who are in the industry’s crosshairs. They are being sought after as the replacement customers for those that die every day from tobacco-related illnesses. Here are the spots from the FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign.



The Center for Disease Control and Prevention relaunched their “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign and anti-smoking group Legacy will also debut a media campaign this summer in an attempt to combat the $8 billion marketing efforts by the tobacco industry each year.

In addition to that, CVS made a game-changing move by announcing it will no longer sell tobacco products in its thousands of retail stores. Things should get interesting…

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Comments Off on 2013 Doodles

2013 Doodles

Meetings – it seems we can never have enough of them. And what gets any Attention Deficit-riddled creative through even the most boring meeting that’s gone an hour longer than anyone can stand? Doodling!

Here are a few meeting doodles from 2013 meetings I’ve endured that give me a chuckle when I look at them.





Comments Off on The Precision of Lexus

The Precision of Lexus

In an effort to connect hyper-precision and innovation to their brand, Lexus released this spot entitled “Amazing in Motion” featuring the harmoniously synchronized flight sequence of a swarm of micro-drones. They curiously explore a range of indoor environments before finally navigating their way to freedom above the city’s towering skyline.

The spot was made possible through a collaboration with the great minds at KMel Robotics. They developed a suite of tools to program and control the swarm of quadcopters, including the adaptation of an infrared motion capture system—typically used for computer animation. This system allowed them to track each drone in mid-flight, and individually direct them to where they need to be.

The net result is a visually stunning and memorable association with the brand. And if you’ve ever tried to pilot a quadcopter yourself, only to send it face-first into a wall, you’ll have an added level of appreciation for what they’ve done. Here’s the behind-the-scenes video showing what went into the project.


Comments Off on Chipotle Launches Assault on Big Food

Chipotle Launches Assault on Big Food

“The Scarecrow” is a 3-1/2-minute film that Chipotle Mexican Grill released online that depicts what the brand calls “a dystopian fantasy world” in which “all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system.”

Read the full article here



Comments Off on Is There Real Worth in Social Currency?

Is There Real Worth in Social Currency?

What exactly is a “Like” worth these days? While brands navigate the tides of “like-currency,” it turns out that the gesture doesn’t translate into anything significant for social causes. UNICEF Sweden is restating the obvious – donate money and supplies—not just virtual support. The sort of it all, “Likes don’t save lives. Money does.”

Check out the full story here.