Cars Of A Lifetime: 1982 Toyota 4×4 Pickup – How The Japanese Do Four Wheel Drive

(Pictures not mine)

After we got our Land Rover Discovery (because our Ford van was too big for our shrinking family), I traded the van for a pickup. I was looking for an economical four-wheel-drive ride that would be dependable and cheap. I found a good one on Craigslist, but my van was not selling. So I called the guy and asked if he wanted a diesel van. To my surprise he said yes!

The truck was a 1984 regular cab, short bed. 1980-1985 is important to some of us: solid front axle! It had the older 20R engine (which is a little more sturdy than the 22R in my opinion) with a Weber carb, header, axle brace, front and rear limited slip differentials (geared low),  four speed transmission, mild lift, new mud terrain tires, and various performance doodads, plus a canopy. The thing about it was, the guy who owned it didn’t have a clue what any of this meant. It was running pretty poorly as well because he had tried to “tune it up”, but lacked mechanical aptitude. The paint was a nice older respray in dark green. From a distance it looked good, but up close one could see myriad rust bubbles under the finish.

I showed him the van, which I had removed the wheelchair lift from. We drove around in it and he loved it. I took the truck for a spin and was able to determine that it just needed adjusting. So we swapped titles and called it good. The drive home was about sixty miles and the truck was struggling. I could tell that the timing was all wrong and that the carburetor was setup up wrong as well. I wanted to jump out and fix it right there, but I had not brought any tools. I pulled the choke out about a quarter of the way and that enriched the fuel mixture enough to make it drivable.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to put on some grubby clothes and go grubbing around under the hood.  What I found was alot of mistakes. Hoses on the wrong connections, missing hoses, disconnected wires, and to top it all off, a broken carburetor base-plate stud. When I checked the timing, it was way off and would not get even close to right. Hmm, I took the valve cover off and confirmed TDC on number one cylinder using the rockers. When I checked the  plug wires against the manual, I found that the distributor was 180 degrees off! But the previous owner had turned it far enough to run. I fixed all that and adjusted the valves as well.

Next came the carburetor; I got it off and got the Weber base-plate adapter off as well; the broken stud was in an aluminum manifold.  I have never had any luck with EZ-Outs, but I do have a method now. This truck is the last one I ever tried an EZ-Out on and I’ll tell you why.

So my old method went like this: file flat and center punch the broken stud, drill it out with the proper sized drill, break off EZ-out or drill in the hole, find a way to live without the bolt being there. But this time when I got to the step where I had broken the drill in the hole, I realized there was no way to live without that bolt.  And then it dawned on me, carbide; carbide is my friend!

I went out and bought a small carbide burr for my Dremel tool. Now I just bored out the old drill bit and the old bolt with ease. After that I drilled it out one size larger and tapped it for a new stud.  The method I use today is a little better.  Now I start with the carbide bit, get it bored out, use a reverse drill bit just smaller than the stud ( it usually comes out with that), then if it wont come out, just drill it out all the way, and extract the shell of the old bolt, then clean up the threads.

Once I got the carburetor rebuilt and the base-plate all worked out, I put her back together, timed it right, set the fuel mixture, and it drove much better. But it was still not right; it ran too lean. When the previous owners had retrofitted it with the Weber carburetor, they had blocked off the mechanical fuel pump and put in a cheap electric unit. Well, my experiences had shown that those cheap electric ones have wildly varying pressures, pulsating flow rates, and cause all sorts of problems for Webers. Luckily I had a nice Carter rotary vane pump on another project. So with the better pump and a pressure regulator it purred like a kitten.

The first thing I did of course was to head over to a friend’s rural property and get muddy. With the limited slip differentials and low gearing, it was amazing. This is the same piece of land I used to test my CJ2a, and the Toyota was right behind it in performance. But that was the only time I really got to get it off-road while I had it.

Mainly it was a commuter car for me and it served well in that purpose, except when I wanted to take a few kids or friends along. The interior of a regular cab mini-truck of that era is indeed mini. It had a bench seat from a latter truck but two adults and a small child were really pushing the confines of it. Being that it had a manual gearbox, shifting with someone sitting in the middle could be viewed as either an awkward social situation, or an added bonus, depending on who it was. And being a short bed meant that one of my size could not sleep in the back when camping.

But all of that aside, it was a good rig, living up to Toyota’s reputation for dependability and trouble free operation. That’s why this Sunday’s post is so short! It was geared a bit low for the highway, but I could have put a five speed transmission in it. I was planning on doing just that when my friend Reginald came over and told me about a rig that I would really want……