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Alan Rench discusses installing an H55F into an early FJ60

Toyota H55F, and October 1984 or Older FJ-60 Land Cruisers

By Alan S. Rench; Aurora, Colorado; March 10th 2002

After seeing ads in the catalogs of Specter Off-Road and Cool Cruisers of Texas, and knowing that the high and low transmission gear ratios were inappropriate for my FJ-60 Land Cruiser built in October of 1984, I decided to undertake conversion to an H55F Toyota five speed transmission. Cool Cruisers of Texas listed their kit as fitting my vehicle; so, I ordered the transmission from them, and then printed their posted instructions regarding making a successful conversion.

I amassed the parts for the conversion using Cool Cruisers of Texas and Specter Off-Road as the venders for the transmission and clutch components respectively. However, because of the holiday season, I was only able to check the boxes to make sure the parts arrived without being damaged. It was not until February of 2002 that I was able to undertake the conversion. Nonetheless, because of my experience as a mechanic and due to the explicit production references made by Cool Cruisers of Texas, I was very confident that everything would be a great success.

Dismantling the stock transmission and transfer case from the vehicle is the first step in the whole process. A mechanic must be fully prepared to deal with dirt, rusty parts, and a very physically taxing work environment. Contrary to some instructions, it is very unwise to split the transfer case while it is still under the vehicle. Once the primary case is removed, the internals of the transfer case tend to shift around, and visibility is not particularly good beneath the truck. Additionally, splitting the transfer case ought to have a fairly clean work environment in order to keep dirt out of the gears and other mechanical parts.

There is no doubt that a ‘cherry picker’ engine hoist is far better suited to the task of making this conversion than a transmission jack (or worse, a floor jack). To facilitate its use, remove the tunnel access panel from the floorboard. Next, remove the top cover of the transmission. Then connect the hoist chain to the rearmost bolt-holes for the top cover. This provides a great point of balance; thus, making the removal and replacement of the transmission much easier than would otherwise be the case. However, do not underestimate the amount of labor and strength that is required. This is not an easy job.

Once the transmission and transfer case are removed as a single unit, place it on a sturdy bench that has a hole bored to accept the nose-shaft of the transmission. Use 2x4s to stabilize the mass. This allows the mechanic to service the transfer case with minimal problems and heartburn. When dismantling the transfer case, it is crucial that the proper order of parts and various relationships be carefully observed. Doing so will greatly speed the process of reassembly.

Separate the intermediate transfer case cover from the transmission. Clean up every part; so, no dirt ends up inside the transfer case. In this application, some startling differences will be apparent from stock - - and from what might be anticipated. The H55F is 3 ½ inches longer than the stock transmission. The bolts required to attach the new transmission to the intermediate plate of the transfer case will be too short; therefore, the mechanic is left with two options: (a) purchase the longer bolts from Cool Cruisers of Texas; or, (b) make your own bolts using 12mm x 1.25 pitch all-thread and nuts to fit - - which is what was done in this case.

While the transfer case is apart, replace the seal where the transmission tail shaft enters the transfer case. All other paper gaskets and the front and rear output seals should also be replaced. It is not a bad ideal to also use Ultra Copper silicone sealant in conjunction with the paper gaskets.

It will soon be obvious that three other aspects of the conversion are also rather complicated. First the front drive shaft is 3 ½ inches too short, and the rear drive shaft is too long by the same amount. The transmission has moved the transfer case backward 3 ½ inches. Send the shafts out to a good shop for lengthening and shortening respectively. Secondly, the spacer (about ½ inch wide) on the transmission tail shaft will not work when mating the H55F and the transfer case. The rear bearing of the H55F will prevent its use. Lastly, when the transfer case is reassembled, the shift linkage will not fit. This is primarily due to the fact that the large pivot bolt for the transfer case shift lever is now outboard of its original position by about 1 ¼ inches.

To fix the linkage problem requires the eye of an artist tempered by the analytical mindset of an engineer. The lower arm of the shift lever must be sawed-off and realigned. Tack-weld the lever insitu (make sure the nylon bushings are removed first). Remove it and weld the lever and its arm permanently together in the proper location. The transfer case shift lever travel-limiter must also be modified to fit the new lever position (add an inch of 1/8" steel to its top bolt-hole). The mechanic will also have to add an inch of 1/8" steel to the top low-neutral-high selector lever. The other option is to make new linkage for the low-neutral-high selector lever.

Remount the transfer case and transmission as a single unit in reverse order of what was stated above. Now comes another shock! The transfer case shifter travel-limiter will have zero clearance in the tunnel hump. The mechanic will have to cut the tunnel to allow freedom of movement for the shifter - - without unwanted vibrations transmitted into the truck body. It is simply easier to fabricate an entirely new access panel for the tunnel. This can be made of aluminum. Use the original access panel for some dimensions and general construction ideas. If metalwork is not a practical choice of the mechanic, a fiberglass access panel can be made. A last bit of advice is to heat the transfer case shift lever and bend it toward the driver somewhat. It will then roughly match the angle of the H55F shift lever.

The above descriptions suggest that owners of older FJ-60 Land Cruisers should think carefully before jumping into such a conversion process. The H55F conversion may well be a ‘bolt-up’ or ‘drop-in’ affair on Land Cruisers that were made from late 1985 onward; nonetheless, older iron requires much more thought, energy, and ingenuity than what might be expected. If the finished product is a hotch-potch of garbage, then money and other resources have been wasted.

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