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Spotter Required
Aug 11, 2014
Atlanta, GA
My slightly modified FJ Cruiser.
Here's the most recent picture I have of the rig alongside my buddy's FZJ80.

2007 FJC 06/2006 build date
Icon stage 1 coilovers and shocks(rear), OME med springs in rear.
Total Chaos UCAs on front
Metal Tech LCAs on rear
80 Series alloy wheels
315/75/16 KM2s
All-Pro front bumper with Warn XP9ti
Demello rear bumper
Custom tube fenders
Metal Tech sliders
All-Pro front skid married to Bud Built trans skid and gas tank skid
Had a series of unfortunate episodes in 2016 that kept the truck down:
At Mardi Krawl last year, I inadvertently jumped my truck at speed doing a charity obstacle course and cracked a front diff support. Didn't realize it was cracked and wheeled all day long. At the end of the day I was flailing in a mudhole and in doing so flexed the diff enough to crack the upper oil pan and destroy a CV assembly. That's when we realized we were in deep doodoo.
In flight...

Oil pan repair in April...
FrontDiffSupport (7).JPG

Rebuilt my rear diff in June...
RearDiff-June (14).JPG

Upgraded my rear shocks to maximize rear drop (already had the Metal-Tech rear linkage in place as well as new progressive springs)...
August rolls around and I'm on my way to meet some fellow Cruiser heads on the GA/SC state line for a long weekend of camping up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm about 5 miles from the meeting point and had just hit a twisty gravel road that leads to the camp where they were waiting for me. I was in 4Hi and letting the wind blow through the windows when the whole drive train appears to lock up. I'm stuck, but within 2m range, so my buds come get me, my gear and we get my truck picked up and eventually back to Atlanta.
2016-08_OTMT (1).JPG

Diagnosis was several things and I still haven't had time to dig into every component, but pretty much rebuilt/replaced everything that rotated from stern to stem: Rear diff toasted a pinion bearing (my fault), rear caliper seized (my neglect), t-case was leaking and suspected it was toast (haven't opened yet), front diff seized (but didn't know it yet). I think a combination of the seized caliper and the starved pinion bearings locked up the rear axle, transferred the load through the tcase and killed the front diff in one horrific instant.
TCase (17).JPG

I had my fill with rebuilding diffs, so I opted for an off the shelf/core exchange with ECGS. I found a wrecked FJC at a parts yard and swiped the tcase, front diff and drive shafts from it for a really good deal. Once the rear diff was installed, I could daily drive it again. Over the next several months I rebuilt everything else on the bench until I was ready to swap. First was the t-case which was basically just a bolt on job, but I thought while I'm up in here, I need to replace the rear main seal that has been weeping, so out comes the transmission. While the transmission is out, I think why not replace the motor mounts too? Done. And I added butyl sound deadener to the trans tunnel too.
Transmission (29).JPG

Replaced a lot of rusty bolts and rubber mounts with factory goodness. Had the extra drive shafts retubed with a thicker wall (although slightly smaller OD) and saved my originals for spares.
Driveshafts (3).JPG

Rebuilt the rear brakes with remarkably affordable reman kits from Napa (which turns out are Aisin cores) and ordered new factory hard and soft lines to complete the rehab.
RearBrakes (5).JPG
After I got the trans, tcase and drive shafts back in, I took it to an exhaust shop to replace my sad muffler and cleanup the mess I made trying to unbolt the pipes from the manifolds during this tear down of the drive train. Some bolts just didn't want to budge and I ended up having to torch them out.
Exhaust (3).JPG

Exhaust (9).JPG

One thing I skipped over was the new shifter on the tcase was bent from shipping I guess, and didn't realize it until we mounted it. So this was a quick swap with the old tcase.
Tcase (27).JPG

Extended the factory breather tubes on trans and tcase all the way up to the firewall.
Tcase (28).JPG

And I replaced the front unit bearings with the kits from BluePit Bearing which is another remarkably affordable and hassle free option, since they come preassembled (no off pressing/on pressing with the old hub flange needed!).
UnitBearing (3).JPG
New factory CV assemblies and inner tie rods (Moog).
CV+FrDiff (14).JPG
TieRods (1).JPG

Test fitting replacement skid plates from All-Pro.
Skids (6).JPG

The old one was beaten up pretty badly over the last 10 years, so AP cut me a deal for a loyalty replacement.
IFS_skid (3).JPG
I'm daily driving this thing once the above drivetrain work was completed. I had no reason to suspect the front diff was toast, until we made the trek from ATL to Hot Springs, AR for the Southern Cruiser Crawl and I attempt to drive in 4Lo. So we had a nice weekend camping and catching up with friends, but no 4WD... I mentioned that I purchased a bunch of parts from a junkyard FJC, but really I didn't get the front diff from that vehicle until October, several months later and the yard still had the truck. I picked up the entire assembly for $300. One of my friends at the SCC event is now importing Harrop E-lockers to the US so I volunteered to be the first guinea pig to install a front e-locker from Harrop in an FJC here.

the donor diff assembly...
FrontDiff-new (1).JPG

The Harrop install begins...
FrontDiff-new (11).JPG


FrontDiff-new (18).JPG

FrontDiff-new (26).JPG
I'll spare you the hassle and frustration that is the clamshell design, but it does look purty all cleaned up and fitted with new innards.
FrontDiff (18).JPG

After test fitting the AP skids I decided I was going to beef them up a little more since I'm kind of hard on them. I re-appropriated some discarded 80 series tie rods and sliced them lengthwise. Then I coerced them into shape with the shop press. Voila!
APskids_2017 (6).JPG

APskids_2017 (8).JPG

APskids_2017 (10).JPG

APskids_2017 (11).JPG
Chasing down some clunks in the front end I discovered some failed top hats. Might be able to warranty, but these things have over 100K on them, so I just replaced the whole units.
FrontSuspension (7).JPG

FrontSuspension (6).JPG

Time for maintenance on the control arms too. So new upper bushings, uniballs.
FrontSuspension (10).JPG

And decided to replace the factory LCA's too. I was going to just put new ball joints on the old ones, but discovered the lower bushings were past their prime too. Easier to just replace with factory lower assemblies than to buy the replacement parts and refit.
FrontSuspension (12).JPG

Welded up some minor cracks in my Total Chaos spindle gussets.
FrontSuspension (20).JPG
Got in on a group buy for a Prinsu rack and installed it, but wasn't happy with how high it sat on the roof. Modified the spacers, added some tighter fitting washers to help with water intrusion and filled the gaps with FIPG.
Prinsu (3).JPG

Prinsu (12).JPG

There was also a pretty big gap at the front air dam. So I drilled some new holes and lowered the airdam.
Prinsu (19).JPG

Prinsu-fix (2).JPG

Prinsu-fix (8).JPG

I'm pretty happy with the end result but the spacer kit provided seems quickly thrown together without much analysis of how high it makes the rack sit.
Woah....i knew 2016 was rough in the rig, but not THAT rough!

Liking the Harrop front? I toyed with those for the BJ74, but didnt want the added hassle of swapping the rear for a fullfloater
I haven't had a free weekend to play just yet. I am tempted to find an undeveloped neighborhood (there's one down the street from my office) and lock it up for fun.
Spent a few hours working on my new skids this past weekend. My welding skills are a bit rusty...but I think it will hold. Ramped up the collars I added.
APskids_2017 (20).JPG
APskids_2017 (24).JPG
APskids_2017 (26).JPG
"a bit rusty" is right ;)

Worse is when you run a few beads that look beautiful, and then one random one turns out like bird snot...

Is the skid reinforcement on the trans side, or below the skid?
I would like to blame the auto-darkening visor, but I just couldn't draw a straight bead to save my life. On my last stretch I smartened up a lil, and ran extra long tacks every 3 inches just so I had a visual map.

There are actually two skid plates. The one that got "replaced" goes from bumper to rear of engine and mounts using factory mounting points and it received the tube reinforcement. The reinforcement bars are along the lateral sides of the front skid plate, under the lower control arms. Roughly like this...

The second skid bridges off the back of the first one and goes to the transmission cross member. It is the one that received the additional bolt head protection. I had a similar set up before, but it was a combination of BudBuilt and home-fab as the two brands did not integrate well. My bolt head protection foregoes the second bolt on each mounting point.

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