mith612
mith612 Reader
12/10/17 3:59 p.m.

So one week ago, this rolled into my driveway:

Of course, now I realize that its not actually in the driveway, as in the front yard, but close enough.

This'll be a long one. If you want to jump to the part where I ask questions, see the second post.

Anyways, the story started over the summer when searching for the right tires to get for my 1987 22RTE (T for TURBO) pickup in preparation for winter. The worn Bridgestones on it were barely adequate for snow last year, and I didn't want to get in trouble this year. While perusing CL, I found someone locally selling an 1985 4Runner in rough but workable shape, and fell in automotive lust. After realizing that in the last few years I barely used a truck for truck stuff, that the removable top would still allow that utility as needed. Also importantly, it's just cool. Unfortunately, that 4Runner was sold in mere days; I'd have to be quicker next time.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and I've missed another local 4Runner. The search has expanded to include most of the Northeast. One in southern Maine (4 hours away) that had a broken propshaft, to the Canadian border of Vermont (also 4 hours) that was lifted to the Moon, to one in Virginia Beach (10 hours away!) that was solid contender but had badly rotten rear fenders. It's looking like either I'm going to have to settle for something that's not exactly what I wanted or to give up, put tires on the truck and run it for the winter, possibly to renew the search in the spring.

The week after Thanksgiving, I've found one outside Baltimore (about 6.5 hours away). Again, less than perfect, as the rockers had rust damage that was poorly repaired and it's an automatic. I haven't had an automatic in over a decade. I don't want an automatic. The last time I drove an automatic on the highway I tried to downshift onto the ramp for a rest area, and my clutch foot found the wide brake pedal instead. May have slowed from highway speed really quickly that way. But the 4Runner looks like a good deal, definitely worth pursuing, so I make arrangements with work to have a long weekend to check it out. The tradeoff is having to take a shift that would have me leaving work at 2am Friday morning. Nevertheless, a rental car is secured for to pick up first thing Friday so that I'm not driving into an unfamiliar city after dark, and giving SWMBO and I more time to spend in the city. Arrangements are made with the seller to see it Sunday morning, as he's unavailable on Saturday.

Thursday arrives, and since I don't have to be in to work until the afternoon, I'm cruising the Baltimore Craig's List. Why not, right? There might be some parts I can pick up for the 4Runner or turbo Miata while I'm there that I just can't live without. That's when I stumble across an ad from 29 days prior. 1988 4Runner on 1985 frame. Immediately fire off an email, expecting that it's gone and the seller just forgot to take down the ad. Nope, half an hour later my phone pings with an email notification. It's still available, and he can show it Saturday morning. Deal! Plans are made to meet up at his house at 10.

Fortunately, I was able to get out of work before midnight, resulting in an almost full night of sleep before picking up the rental car. I had selected a compact, and pulling in the small lot of the local Hertz, there were only two compacts on the lot: a Versa and a Yaris. "Please, let it be the Yaris," I thought to myself and was redeemed to see a Toyota key produced from the attendant's hand. The drive down to Baltimore was completely uneventful, as one would expect of a car with only 20,000 miles. By about hour 5, my legs and back were starting to get tired and sore, and I had to repeatedly shift my position to feel a bit of comfort.

The hotel was only about a dozen blocks up from the Inner Harbor. After getting our stuff unpacked in the room, SWMBO and I walked down to the water and to the National Aquarium. On Fridays, they stay open a few extra hours so we were able to see the whole place relatively to ourselves, as there were very few other patrons. Also, it was half off for some reason that I will not complain about. I highly recommend visiting after dark, as the place takes on an otherworldly atmosphere and the sights of the Inner Harbor are quite lovely. We finished up around 9, got a quick dinner at a nearby Shake Shack and made our way back to the hotel.

Saturday morning, after a nice continental breakfast, we hopped in the Yaris and traversed the city to its northeastern edge to meet with the seller. I think we may have gone through a bad part of the city, but all was well except for the inexplicable travel lane on the right side of the road that was also a parking lane. The result was the occasional driver swerving into the left lane to avoid rear ending a parked car. Eventually we make it to the seller's home, part of a neighborhood of one way streets and speed humps every few hundred feet. After introductions, the seller and I do a quick once over of the 4Runner, and it's exactly as described in his ad (which was quite thorough). It'd been sitting for a few months, and he wanted it to go to a new home rather than sit disused. I hop in the driver seat for a test drive, which I imagined would just be around the block. Nope, he directs me down the main road and off onto a winding country road that would make any sportscar owner's day. We're gone for about half an hour, SWMBO patiently waiting in the Yaris, reading.

We get back, and the deal is struck. Money is exchanged for signed documents, the tools unloaded from the Yaris and subsequently loaded into the 4Runner, and we're on the road to drop off the rental car after messaging the seller of the other 4Runner to apoligize and cancel the next day's appointment. I had selected to return the car to BWI, as it seemed like the most convenient location in the area. Having not exceeded 50 on the test drive, hitting 70-75 on the highway was a bit nervewracking at first. The General AT2's smoothed out the flatspots they had acquired after a few miles, leaving only the faintest shimmy at speed. What was more noticable was the intermittent rattle that sounded like it was from the rear window. And there was no radio to drown out the noise. Pulling into the rental car facility revealed a massive garage with entrances for each rental company. Following behind me, SWMBO pulled into the Hertz entrance, and I looped around the facility to the pickup area. As I was calling her to say to meet at the desk, she appeared from the other end of the building.  We loaded up, and headed back to the hotel.

The front door of the hotel is on a little one-way side street on a steep downhill. Not having a working parking brake, I left the 4Runner edged up to the curb, turned the wheel in, and let it gently roll forward. It was still there an hour later when we left; clearly the valet wasn't particularly experienced with the subtleties of three pedal work. Grabbing lunch at Potbelly sandwiches, we walked back into town and to the American Visionary Art Museum. It's a weird and wacky place dedicated to art made by people who are not artists. They also host an annual race through Baltimore on homemade, human powered craft to travel on roads, mud and sea. It's called the Kinetic Sculpture Race, and there are a couple of the racecraft on display, along with paintings, sculpture and robotic cats. After spending a few hours at the museum, we headed back towards the hotel, and got dinner at a little pizzeria nearby called HomeSlyce. Their signature dish is a football shaped pizza cut into awkward pieces. Delicious nevertheless.

After breakfast the next morning, we packed up and called down to have the valet bring the 4Runner around. 20 minutes later, the manager comes up to us because their actual valet called out and she couldn't drive stick. "No problem at all," I let her know, and she and I walked a few blocks over to the garage to retrieve the 4Runner. She was much like everyone we encountered in Baltimore, very friendly and eager to strike up a conversation. After a short drive back to the hotel, we load up and hit the road. The first destination was to an auto parts store to replace the wipers that had perished with age and replace a burnt turn signal. Across the street was destination two, a gas station to fill up. From there, the next stop was on the New Jersey Turnpike for a rather disappointing lunch. Filling up again on the NJ/NY border hours later revealed over 22 mpg on the highway. Another few hours and we pulled into the driveway and were finally home. The cat was overjoyed. Despite stopping less often, SWMBO and I agreed that the 30 year old Toyota was many times more comfortable than the 1 year old Toyota. We were happy to be out of it though, after 7 hours of intermittent rattling we were both getting annoyed.

Since then, I've gotten the truck registered, and worked on some of the more immediate issues. All the locks used a different key, and the tailgate one was missing. Fortunately a complete lock set from eBay was included. Less fortunately was that the ignition lock was a slightly different design that required drilling a hole in the lock housing to accomodate the new unit. The front windshield washer was inoperative, but a new pump and a little air pressure to clear out the nozzles has it working like new. The rear wiper needed to be replaced, but no one sells a wiper that screws onto the arm locally, so I took the rubber out of a new blade and swapped that in instead. Other than that, it's just been driven back and forth to work over the last week, and it's done so easily.

snow day

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/10/17 4:06 p.m.

So, questions. I think I've tracked down the rattle to the rear window itself. I think the rubber channel in the top that the window slides in has shrunk with age. All the other window seals are pretty hard and shrunken too, so it makes sense. Where does one find that seal? It appears to be discontinued by Toyota. What about the seal under the top itself where it meets the cab? Or the sliding windows in the top? It'll need the door window seals but those seem readily available.

Second, the idle surges pretty consistently. Every second or so it'll drop out for a beat, and then come right back up to normal. Weirdly, putting it into 4H and it idles perfectly normally. Like I can make it surge or not as I switch back and forth from 2H to 4H. What?

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/10/17 4:48 p.m.

Alright, another first gen. No one makes a seal for the cap to cap. I might  just squeeze black caulk in there when I pop mine off. Yotatech.Com is a wealth of knowledge. There are an ass load of vacuume lines. Any crack can screw with the idle. The TPS  can burn out in spots, causing the ECM to go berserk. Try to get an OEM one. The aftermarket ones blow. Find out what others may have used the same sensor. I nabbed a few of 89-90 Camrys. 4Crawler's site has a ton of tips and tricks to help you test the TPS and clock the replacement correctly. 

Good luck.

Dirtydog
Dirtydog Reader
12/10/17 6:36 p.m.

Looks like you got a nice  ride going there.  I like the snow shot, got some here in NYC.  Sounds like a vacum line leak on the the surging.  You mentioned it's a 88 on a 85 frame.  Look for missing or pinched/cracked vacum lines, or one not attached properly.  Rust seemed to kill these rather than mechanical.  Personally, I'd rather ride in a 4Runner than a Yaris. Good luck with your new ride.

thestig99
thestig99 HalfDork
12/10/17 6:57 p.m.

Nice! Green plates - where in VT are you located?

Any plans to keep the salt at bay? My '93 4Runner has a date with Fluid Film in the next couple of weeks.

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/10/17 8:28 p.m.
Dirtydog said:

 Sounds like a vacum line leak on the the surging.  You mentioned it's a 88 on a 85 frame.  Look for missing or pinched/cracked vacum lines, or one not attached properly.

The chassis, drivetrain, etc are all from the 1985, as the 1988 body was originally a 3.0/auto. I have to believe that the surging is caused by an electric issue, as it smooths out completely when its put in 4H. Like, sitting in a parking lot with it idling, foot off the brake: in 2H it'll surge and the moment the transfer case clicks into 4H the idle smooths out, shift back to 2H and it's surging again. The only obvious thing that changes is the 4WD indicator switch is pressed when in 4H. Maybe there is something in how the auto was wired that was designed to affect the idle in 4WD

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/10/17 8:39 p.m.
thestig99 said:

Nice! Green plates - where in VT are you located?

Any plans to keep the salt at bay? My '93 4Runner has a date with Fluid Film in the next couple of weeks.

About an hour south of Bennington, I'll leave it at that ;)

As far as rust prevention goes, I'd considered making a suction system to spray used motor oil or something on the underside. Looking in to Fluid Film its actually not that expensive for a gallon which I imagine must be enough for something this size. Are you doing it yourself or having someone apply it for you?

I've seen your posts about your 4Runner and it looks great. Awesome pics too!

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/10/17 10:18 p.m.

You will find a wealth of info here:

CheapTricks

This might be the cause of the wonky idle

akylekoz
akylekoz HalfDork
12/11/17 9:22 a.m.

I still miss my 89 v6 SR5.  Nice find, I assume many were put off by the body swap.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth MegaDork
12/11/17 9:46 a.m.

I'm always impressed that these ride so much better than they look like they should. I got to ride around in one out in California a while ago and loved it. Only time I've ever been wheels off the ground that didn't end up with me on my roof. I like them. 

onemanarmy
onemanarmy New Reader
12/11/17 10:07 a.m.

Check to make sure that rattle you hear from the back door isn't the support arms for the open tailgate.  There is a plastic piece that is supposed to hold the metal arms in place when the tailgate is closed, and that little plastic piece breaks easily.  I wrapped an old bicycle inner tube around mine to keep the clunk down.

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/11/17 2:51 p.m.
Appleseed said:

You will find a wealth of info here:

CheapTricks

This might be the cause of the wonky idle

Update on the idle: in 2H, it surges only when the brake is applied. No brake, no surge makes me think it is actually a vacuum issue like you've been saying. But, in 4H, it idles normally whether or not the brake is applied. Weird.

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/11/17 2:51 p.m.
onemanarmy said:

Check to make sure that rattle you hear from the back door isn't the support arms for the open tailgate.  There is a plastic piece that is supposed to hold the metal arms in place when the tailgate is closed, and that little plastic piece breaks easily.  I wrapped an old bicycle inner tube around mine to keep the clunk down.

I will definitely make sure to check that! 

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/11/17 2:59 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

I'm always impressed that these ride so much better than they look like they should. I got to ride around in one out in California a while ago and loved it. Only time I've ever been wheels off the ground that didn't end up with me on my roof. I like them. 

It'll ride a whole bunch better once spring rolls around and I can put in the Old Man Emu springs I'm planning on. I did the same to the Samurai I had and it went from riding like a buckboard to being smooth and floaty like a landbarge. Currently the front springs have sagged so badly as to be flat at ride height.

thestig99
thestig99 HalfDork
12/12/17 8:55 a.m.
mith612 said:
thestig99 said:

Nice! Green plates - where in VT are you located?

Any plans to keep the salt at bay? My '93 4Runner has a date with Fluid Film in the next couple of weeks.

About an hour south of Bennington, I'll leave it at that ;)

As far as rust prevention goes, I'd considered making a suction system to spray used motor oil or something on the underside. Looking in to Fluid Film its actually not that expensive for a gallon which I imagine must be enough for something this size. Are you doing it yourself or having someone apply it for you?

I've seen your posts about your 4Runner and it looks great. Awesome pics too!

Oh, so you're one of THEM laugh

I'll be doing it myself - my dad has some kind of spray gun for it. A gallon should definitely cover something like this.

Thank you!

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/14/17 7:50 p.m.
mith612 said:
onemanarmy said:

Check to make sure that rattle you hear from the back door isn't the support arms for the open tailgate.  There is a plastic piece that is supposed to hold the metal arms in place when the tailgate is closed, and that little plastic piece breaks easily.  I wrapped an old bicycle inner tube around mine to keep the clunk down.

I will definitely make sure to check that! 

Dropped the tailgate today, which was hampered by the fact that the rear window was pretty well frozen in place. Thank you New England snow storms, freezing temps and blustery winds! Jiggling the window free, there is definitely some play between the seal and the top as the seal has shrunk over the years. However, it probably isn't enough to cause much noise. The plastic piece for the tailgate support arm on the left side was definitely broken, but it was hard to tell if the other side was too, so I took out both arms. Tossing them in the center console, the drive to work was rattle-free! Are the plastic pieces no longer available, and the only solution to wrap them in rubber?

onemanarmy
onemanarmy New Reader
12/15/17 10:40 a.m.

the best way to tell is to close the tailgate and then rock the truck back and forth.   You'll hear it if the arms rattle.

I highly doubt the clips are still available, but there are quite a few sites with exploded diagrams of part numbers.

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/26/17 9:12 p.m.

The last few weeks have been pretty uneventful for the 4Runner. Working in retail, the lead up to Christmas is just about the busiest we get, so that meant less time and energy for wrenching out in the cold. I did find some time to get the wipers parked correctly, as they had been set to sweep down a couple inches prior to completing their usual travel.

Another project was to pull the radio from my 1987 Turbo Truck and pop that in the 4Runner, as I knew the truck would be going away in the near future. Not that the radio is anything special, as its just a fairly basic Kenwood unit, but anything would be better than the gaping hole the 4Runner came with. The first step was to pull it from the truck, crossing my finger that it wasn't hardwired in to the factory harness as some people do. The good news was whomever installed the radio had used one of those Metra/Scosche vehicle specific kits to adapt the wiring; the bad news was the glorious use of wire nuts to put it all together.

Whatever, I'll just plug it into the 4Runner to make sure everything works before correcting these connections, I thought to myself. Bad news the second: the '87 used a 10-pin plug and the 4Runner was only 9 pins. Weird, it's an '88 body so they should be the same plug. Turns out the 9-pin is the older design from Toyota, meaning that the wiring harness (this part at least) is from the '85 chassis. Considering the engine is also from the '85, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole wiring harness was swapped into the body and not just adapted when the body was swapped.

The third bit of bad news:

For whatever reason, these two were cut. From the wiring diagram, they are the switched power and the ground. The loose ends were just electrical taped to each other, and it appeared they also go the back of the cigarette lighter. To keep it OEM, I ordered both the radio-side and vehicle-side wiring kits from Metra so I could build most of the harness in the warmth of the house.

A few days later, the parts arrive and I set to build the adapter harness. The Metra kits included a second 5-pin plug which apparently had two pairs for the rear speakers and the fifth for constant power. The vehicle only had a single pin for constant power, as it came without the rear speakers. I decided it was better to adapt the constant power to the 5-pin so in the future I could easily add rear speakers.

Anyways, the connections are soldered and shrinkwrapped. While waiting Wednesday morning for a buyer interested in my '87 truck to show up, I plug it in and flip the key to ON. And ... nothing. Breaking out the multimeter, there's no voltage at the switched power pin on the vehicle harness. Retreating from the cold, I punch into Google a search for which fuse controls the radio power. Internet says: Cigar fuse, 15A, under the dash. Makes sense given my previous observation about the cigarette lighter wiring. Check the fuse, and it's not blown. Check all the others under the dash, because why not, and they are all okay too. Hmm, time to actually check the wiring diagram.

Turns out the radio receives power from the Haz/Horn fuse, 10A, under the hood. Flipping the hazard switch results in nothing. Pop the hood, pull the fuse panel cover off, and remove and examine the fuse. Popped. Take same 10A fuse from one of the headlight circuits, pop it in, and the hazards start blinking. Setting the key to ON, and the radio springs to life. Dialling in a local rock station, everything comes in (not quite) loud and clear. The tiny 4" speakers can't do much but it works! So much frustration for something that should have been so simple.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 SuperDork
12/27/17 11:04 a.m.

Very cool!  I wish I was in the market for your truck...

 

Any pics of it?

mith612
mith612 Reader
12/27/17 7:56 p.m.
sethmeister4 said:

Very cool!  I wish I was in the market for your truck...

 

Any pics of it?

She sold last week, but I got to keep the factory alloys as part of the deal

mith612
mith612 Reader
1/2/18 4:22 p.m.

In the short month of my ownership, there has been a recurring issue with the heat in the 4Runner. From cold, the needle would climb to just below the top of the safe range on the gauge after about 10-12 minutes of driving. Very quickly, it would plummet down to about the 20% range and stay there indefinitely. With the temp so low, heat in the cabin was barely lukewarm at best.

From an article on 4Crawler.com this issue was actually well known to Toyota back in the early 80's, to the point of there being a TSB about it. The solution is a replacement thermostat, part number 90916-03070, with a two stage design which allows some flow at a lower temperature than the primary 190* valve. The previous owner had the radiator replaced and the system flushed, but didn't know about the thermostat. Presuming it had been replaced with a standard unit, I went ahead and ordered the replacement.

Sunday was the first opportunity I had to replace the thermostat. Sunday was New Year's Eve. Sunday was quite cold, with a high around 0*. Despite the cold weather, the install went fairly straightforward, mostly only being hampered by rock hard 32 year old vacuum lines that refused to move. A small ceramic heater did an ok job keeping hands and face warm, but by the end my feet were quite frosty. After buttoning everything up and topping off the radiator (I had drained about a quart prior to removing the upper rad hose), I fired up the engine to let the system burp itself of air.

After a few minutes of idling, the temp began to slowly rise. Suddenly, a geyser erupted from the opening in the radiator; the thermostat must have just opened, allowing a huge air pocket to escape. Quickly shutting off the engine halted the eruption, but not before most of the engine bay was doused in coolant. A couple gallons of hot water dumped all over cleaned most of the mess, the rest to be dealt with when ambient temps exceed the freeze point of water.

The result, so far, has been mostly positive. The temp gauge doesn't get as hot as it did before, nor does it get as cold as it did. It does seem to fluctuate more now rather than settling steadily like it did before. I think its just accurately depicting the action of the two stage thermostat; as the heater core pulls heat out of the system, it causes the primary valve to close, which raises the temp in the engine overall until the primary opens again. The secondary valve stays open throughout this process, which is why temps never hit the extremes they did before. If ambient temps were a bit warmer, I think it would fluctuate less.

The heater does work better now, though not as well as the 87 Turbo Truck that it replaced. For now it'll do, and I can wait until warmer weather to delve further into it.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
1/2/18 8:38 p.m.

That must've been a "holy berking E36 M3!" moment for you. That would've scared the hell out of me. But I can picture a giant geyser right aboot now lol

mith612
mith612 Reader
1/3/18 9:13 a.m.

In reply to Bill Mesker :

It was unexpected to say the least! I've bled the coolant system on more than a handful of cars, and typically they just burble and make a bit of a mess. Fortunately I did the work out in the driveway, and had retreated into the garage in an attempt to warm up before the eruption so I was safely clear of the hot mess.

mith612
mith612 Reader
1/9/18 3:02 p.m.

With the weather warming up from the last week (in the low 30's from highs around 0*F), today was a good day to tackle some small projects on the 4Runner.

Ever since the eruption of Mt. Radiator, the cooling system has been nagging at my mind. A little bit of research online showed some people had lots of difficulty bleeding the cooling systems on these trucks, and getting the front end up was often necessary. Some went to the extremes of backing the truck into a ditch or picking up the front with a forklift! A suggestion was to splice the tee from a heater core flush kit in to the line and bleeding it from there with the radiator cap on.

So that's what I did:

Just an idea of how much higher the heater core line is above the radiator cap:

It's important to note that cutting into the heater core hose resulted in absolutely ZERO coolant leaking out! Obviously this must have been the source of the giant air pocket that resulted in the eruption. So I topped up the system from the tee, and after letting it circulate, the heater works much better than before.

Second thing I worked on was the tailgate supports, which had been removed after determining they were the source of a very annoying rattle from the rear end. Looking closely at how the arms are assembled and installed, the issue was obvious:

The bushing at the cental pivot was almost completely worn away, allowing the two pieces to slap against each other. At the end of each arm:

The steel washer is pressed tightly against the shoulder of the mounting screw, and there was still a big gap between the screw head and the arm. Again, the arm can rattle freely here, allowing all six pivot points to cause very annoying rattles. It was recommended earlier to slip a length of hose over part of the arm, so that the contact would be abated. My solution was a bit different, as I didn't have any random bits of hose the right size to fit the arm. But I did have some rubber washers handy, and found that I could stretch them over the head of the center pivot to take up the slack. And on each mount screw, one was slipped between the arm and the steel washer, filling the gap but still allowing flex. With the arms reinstalled, I shook the 4Runner back and forth and there was no more noise. I haven't driven it yet since this fix, but I anticipate good results.

Third project was the easiest of all, and it was to fix the idle surge issue I'd been experiencing when on the brake. Initially, I thought it might be a vacuum leak, and the breather hose was cracked where it connects to the valve cover, so I replaced it with some generic fuel hose:

While that didn't fix the issue, it did make me feel better. It turns out Toyota's programming logic was designed to cause the surge! Upon applying the brakes, the ECU cuts fuel above a certain RPM because it doesn't make sense to try to drive the engine through the brakes. A problem arose if the idle was set above this RPM threshold - apply the brakes, the ECU cuts fuel, RPM's drop, ECU turns the injectors on, RPM's rise above threshold, ECU cuts fuel, rinse, repeat. Exactly what my truck was doing! With a stick holding the brake pedal down and the engine running, I turned the idle speed screw down all the way, then slowly turned it up until the surging returned, then back down a fraction until the surge went away.

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