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1st Rejuvenation of our LandCruiser FJ60 - 1982

in Miri/Sarawak/East Malaysia from 6/15/2006 - 8/26/2006

Was it worth to do it?

latest picture: August 31, 2007

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The deteriorating condition of our LandCruiser, model 1982, has been weighing very heavily on us since quite a while. After numerous calculations, much debate, endless arguing and some sleepless nights, we finally decide in Ranong in Southern Thailand that it doesn’t deserve to end its adventurous life somewhere on a scrap yard here, having been our loyal travel buddy for nearly 22 long years through every kind of terrain in 153 different countries of the world and didn’t let us down one single time. We will grant it a well deserved rejuvenation before it reaches its 25th vintage anniversary in a year’s time, thus enabling us to be on the road together for many more years to come and extend our world record in the Guinness Book.




Our LandCruiser in its original look
Yung Lee Auto & Painting Workshop
in Miri/Sarawak will do the body work
The LandCruiser's home for
the next couple of weeks




From right: Boss Lance Lau, office
lady and translator Lynn with daughter Sherlyn, Emil and mechanic John
The heavy roof rack
is lifted and taken town .....
..... and the de-rusting starts immediately
Automatically, the question pops up: Where? Though there is no lack of Toyota dealers and garages, mostly they don’t have the spare parts of our old car anymore on stock, and to let them fly in from Japan can take months. Then, our limited budget shouldn’t be overstressed too much, i.e. the price level should be lower than in most of the Western countries. In addition, there should be a genuine interest to do still “repairs” – we don’t want to throw away everything by doing simpler replacements. But a certain quality of work should be guaranteed too. And last, but not least: We don’t want to be hampered by a too big language barrier – we would like to be able to get along in English. To juggle all these conditions isn’t an easy task, but we think that Malaysia is matching pretty well. It isn’t anymore a third world country where not much is available, but it isn’t yet an industrial nation either, where unfortunately the throw-away mentality prevails. Thanks to the many Chinese living there, not only the readiness to work abounds, but also the necessary knowledge to do it. Unfortunately, our type of LandCruiser is very rarely found in continental West Malaysia, but through our friends living in Borneo in East Malaysia, we surprisingly learn that in that region they are circulating still in big numbers – in Sarawak as well as in Sabah.




The electrician takes care
of the incredible “wire mess“
Shocking view: The roof .....
..... and the floor




The engine is out: Emil inspects
a little bit lost, what remains
Liliana in front of the engine, our
trouble-maker after 381’800 miles
Our stripped LandCruiser
–  now a “ghost” car!
So just let’s go! We leave Thailand on May 18th, 2006, and in Malaysia we drive immediately to the first port: To Butterworth near Penang. Three days later, our “friend” is already stuffed in a container and sails to Bintulu in Sarawak, while we take the budget airline of Air Asia to Miri, where our friends live. The following month we invest in organizing: Dealing with work shops; asking for quotes; checking references; finding spare part shops and a place to stay, because “housesitting” at our friends place is only foreseen for the month of August during their holidays (but luckily, we are offered to unload and store all the content of our car already at our arrival); and finally to look for a reasonable rental car until their departure end of July.
Not much left from its old "glory"!
Body welding makes steadily progress
Now, it is the engine’s turn
Valves and pistons
don't look too bad
Emil is studying the pistons
To find new pistons for our
European model is all but easy
After days of never ending intensive work, our car is finally freed from its incredible load, and on June 21st, 2006, we drive it trustfully into ‘Yung Lee’s Auto and Painting Workshop’ in Miri. But it isn’t without emotions and worries when we hand it over to the Chinese owner, Mr. Lau, with 381’800 miles on the clock. (B.t.w.: The local Toyota dealer of the big Malaysian distributor “UMW Toyota Motor” refused to accept the considerable body repair work!). During the following weeks and months, we put our entire confidence into the hands of the “specialists” of this workshop. Nearly every day, we show up and follow attentively the different tasks – stripping, welding, soldering, cutting, beating, bending, replacing etc. Sometimes adjustments have to be applied; as a result, we often are panic-stricken and automatically, the fearful thought crosses our mind: “Will this whole ‘face lifting operation’ come once to a good end? Will this dilapidated skeleton ever be a roadworthy car again? Will we “inseparable three” ever be able to be on the road again, through more new countries of the world? Will we make it into the 154th country of Brunei at all – being only 20 miles away? There are moments where the mere thought of it puts us into despair and we don’t dare to think that our entire future lies in the success of these extensive, delicate and also relatively expensive repairs. What, if something goes awfully wrong? What, if something becomes irreparable? So very much is depending on it – the continuation of our whole adventure around the world!
Incredible that such a piston is able
to perform during 16225 hours
4 billions of movements
Slowly our LandCruiser
becomes a convertible !
Welder Ah Nam repairing a pillar
Front before the repair .....
..... after the repair
Our LandCruiser slowly looks like a
car again - Emil gives new directions
But it isn’t only the body with its rust we are concerned about, but especially also the heart of our buddy. How does it look inside? The worrying moment comes on July 5th, in the same workshop: For the first time ever, the engine is completely dismantled. The first impression is very good: The cylinder block and the crank shaft still look surprisingly well after 16'350 hours of running. Now, we need only to be able to find somewhere in the world the necessary genuine spare parts. We are confident because we don’t trust at all the “grey-market” ones, originating from China and Indonesia. We didn’t know in the slightest back then how difficult it really will be. Soon we have to realize: Pistons and piston rings for our European model gasoline engine (dome form) are nowhere available anymore, because Toyota worldwide doesn’t keep them on stock, after the production of this engine stopped after 1986.
Work is now done in the interior
Cables and wires still a mess .....
..... but getting hidden again
behind the dashboard
Small cosmetic closing rust holes
Very colorful - all the
different primer layers
Now is filling time
Intensively, we start to search everywhere – in Malaysia and in the neighboring countries, also in Switzerland, Germany, Gibraltar, Japan, Australia, Guyana, in the United Arab Emirates and USA, where we still have good contacts with the local Toyota distributors. Unfortunately, the result is always and everywhere negative. Automatically, we start dealing with the local spare parts shops in Miri with names like Tung Fang, Tung Huat and Namthong, but they aren’t able to help us either, although they are all very friendly. Therefore, we are searching for them for hours on the internet, but not anymore for the original European pistons, but for the flat ones that are used in all the other parts of the world. However, with this compromise we will have to accept a minor loss of power of the engine, but this doesn’t worry us too much.
The engine spare parts
finally arrive on August 11th
Work can start:
Grinding of the valve seats .....
..... boring of the cylinders .....
..... polishing the crank shaft .....
...... and grinding the cylinder head
The roofrack is adjusted
Finally, we discover the parts at some dealers in the USA. But just before ordering them by DHL, excellent news from Toyota Gibraltar reach us, letting us know, that – according to the European Toyota central stock – they are still available in Japan, totally in contradiction to what we were told earlier by the local Toyota dealer in Miri only a few days ago. To cut an already long story short: Quite upset and pissed off we show up immediately again at the Miri Toyota and make a huge fuss about it with an elevated voice (despite that raising one’s voice is actually taboo in Asia!). At least it helps to attract the “After Sales” manager’s attention, who is getting involved personally and takes care that the parts are ordered immediately at TMC in Japan. He gives us also the assurance that they will be delivered within two weeks time. From that very moment, we finally can sleep again without all the nightmares about pistons and piston rings!
Boss Lau and Emil discuss
the assembly of the engine
The overhauled cylinder
block from both sides
Emil is looking for "goodies"
in his spare part box
The engine is
being put back
And ..... on August 17th,
the engine runs again!!
The interior is fitted out too
And on August 11th, the promised parcel with the engine parts really arrives from Japan and work can start: Grinding of the valve seats, boring of the cylinders, polishing of the crank shaft and grinding the cylinder head. Then, the engine gets assembled, and on August 17th, it runs again. But unfortunately not as properly as it should – a knocking, metallic noise isn’t to overhear. To find out the reason isn’t easy and gives much headaches to all parties and puts our nerves onto the edge once more, because we know that we don’t want to continue our adventure with this new uncertainty.
After the preparations, the LandCruiser is getting its gray undercoat
In the spray booth .....
..... at work .....
..... slowly getting blue again
After days with many serious discussions and hectic moments, one morning the loud knocking noise is nearly gone. “What did you do?” we ask curiously Mr. Lau. “We only readjusted the valves” is his a bit shocking answer. How many worries could they have spared us by doing this job correctly in the first place! However, we are adverted to the fact that the camshaft will have to be replaced somewhen in the future, which they say is still the cause of the remaining minor noise. The engine problem being solved, the main activity is now shifted to the body work: Leveling out, priming and, of course, spraying. It is a pleasure to follow all the daily progress, and on Saturday, August 26th, at 2.30pm, the phone is ringing. It is Lynn from the ‘Yung Lee Auto and Painting Shop’ telling us happily that the work on our LandCruiser is finished. A quarter of an hour later we are there. The sense of delight to see our buddy in its newly painted blue splendor is enormous. The two of us can hardly compete now! Supervised by Mr. Lau, the Chinese boss, and us, his personnel achieved true wonders with the rusted body in the past two months. Everybody was always highly motivated and attempted to provide our car its original look again. And today, everybody is as happy as we are about the surprisingly successful work.
On August 22nd, like new-born!
Now its time for high polishing
But a strange noise from the engine
requires a serious discussion
The completion of the body:
The grills are arranged
Aug. 26: Ready to go - a heartful
to Boss Lance Lau and his
team for the beautiful job
Our LandCruiser in his new
look after the "rejuvenation"
August 29th, 2006: There were a few "after sales" jobs to do.
The departure from Miri in Sarawak is on August 30th, to country No. 154 - Brunei - and afterwards to Sabah in Northern Borneo
Besides the rear universal joint of the
drive shaft, various other small repairs
are to be done, which showed off while
driving around in Northern Borneo
Difficult decision: We leave hesitantly behind
our car’s heating device, as the connection
between the two parts is missing – what
will happen once it should get cold again?
After having finished also all the “after
sales”-repairs, Mr. Lau invites us
generously together with his mechanics
and his friend to a nice lunch
October 23rd, 2006: The trip continues to the 155th country Indonesia and 156th East-Timor.
Please check also: "Pictures of our Borneo trip"
Appendix (9/17/2007):
11 months and almost 12’000 miles later we come back to Sarawak from Indonesia. Because in the meantime, the gearbox and the transfer started to “sing” considerably, we decide to do an overhaul of the transmission at the same workshop. During three weeks, some gearwheels, bearings and other parts are replaced for a total of nearly US$ 800, which we were able to find in the local parts shops, however to some extent very arduously. We have been never sure whether we received always genuine parts, or sometimes just fakes at genuine prices.
The transfer is already disassembled
The gearbox is dismantled
and is getting checked
After the worn out gears and other parts
have been replaced, assembling can start
September 28th, 2007: The trip goes on towards the 157th country.
Today (11/30/2008): End of November 2008 in Vanuatu: 2 years and almost 25'000 miles later – we are able to say the following: The effort and investment of about US$ 5'600 for the engine and the body work was well worth it. The engine runs smoothly and fine, the oil consumption is about 1 quart in 2'000 miles, the compression measures about 130 psi (9 Bar); new rust keeps within a limit. The welded parts didn’t crack until now, probably because we didn’t face any extreme driving conditions (torsion/twisting). The transmission’s overhaul hasn’t been done (anymore) with the same quality, as just recently the first gear dropped out while descending very steeply – already after only 11'000 miles.
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