My Latest Obsession

Well, as both of you may have noticed, this blog has gone pretty silent lately. As a chronicle of my tech trials, travails, and triumphs, this makes some sense: things are pretty quiet at work, and the problems have been mundane and not particularly blog-worthy. We’re still mighty busy, but there haven’t been any big projects, or problems.

The other reason, though, for my silence—and, no, this won’t be a “sorry for not blogging lately” post, because I’m not sorry—is my latest obsession.

Back in ’94 and ’95, on a dig in Yemen, I fell in love with the old Land Cruisers that we’d drive around. Not the Jeep looking like FJ40s, but the early SUV style FJ60s and FJ62s. Roomy, capacious, functional, bulletproof, and absolutely brilliant off-road, they quickly shot onto my list of all time favorite cars alongside 1958 and 1959 Chevys, and 1970 1/2 Firebird Formulas. So, in return for finally finishing my dissertation, my wife figured out that she’d let me get one if we could find it cheap. Which she did…on craigslist…and only 40 minutes from my house. A beige 1985 FJ60, with under 150k miles; stock, with a clean interior and rusty undercarriage, for under $1000.

That was the end of September. Though I fired it up before buying it, a broken fuel line—rusted out, natch—kept me from driving it. Instead, I borrowed my brother-in-law’s SUV, rented a trailer, and hauled the thing home. (It was the most harrowing drive of my life.) The following week, I was away in L.A. for a festschrift honoring my undergraduate advisor, so I couldn’t start working on it until October. Since then, I’ve been getting an hour or two each weekend to dink around with the new rig, trying to rehabilitate it.

Slowly, slowly, I chipped and hacked away at the rust, dropped the gas tank, replaced the rusted out fuel lines, and got the whole thing bolted back together again. Two weeks ago, I fired the engine up again, and last weekend I took the Mrs. for a joy ride all the way to the end of the block. (It’s not registered, and doesn’t have plates, so I didn’t want to risk running into the police.) As excited as I am about the toy and the process of working on it, there hasn’t really been much to blog about it. It’s actually pretty mundane mechanical work. But, boy does it feel good to skin my knuckles and get grease under my fingernails again. I haven’t done that in years.

As yet unnamed, my new obsession is being referred to as “The Truck” or “My Truck”—so that may be its true name. I’ll let you know when it (she? he? it’s also currently un-gendered) tells me what to call it.

1985 FJ60

One little computer-related comment on the whole process: it turns out that Land Cruiser obsessives are a particularly chatty bunch, and apparently are online during all waking hours that they’re not working on or playing with their trucks. On Sunday I found a loose wire hanging in my engine compartment, so I took a picture of it and posted it to the forum on (a site for devotees of these vehicles). Within minutes, literally, I had a positive identification and an explanation of why it was hanging there with no apparent purpose. Man, this internet thing is useful. If word gets out, it could really take off!

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