Getting Started:     I started this project after a near endo at the top of a long hill at the Badlands ORV Park in Attica,IN. The and story behind it have become a wheeling legend in these parts, thanks to Spider Brian and Golden Boy. So I decided to bend my own cage since it would cost a ton of cash to have someone else fabricate it. I started by purchasing a tubing bender from JD Squared Inc.. I bought their Model 3 Bender with a degree wheel. I chose to only buy one die since I was going to keep the cage one size and to keep the cost low. The die is for 1 3/4" tubing and has a 180 deg radius. I then needed a welder, grinder, and tubing notcher. So I worked out a deal with my wheelin' buddy Roger Couch to use his garage, welder and tools, in exchange for use of the bender and assistance in building his Sami cage. Next, I figured out a general design for my cage. Since I have always had trouble smashing my windshield frame and bashing every piece of sheetmetal, I decided on an external roll cage, better know as an Exo-Skeleton. I did some research on the net to see if anyone else had done an Exo-Skeleton on a FJ40. I only found one Land Cruiser Owner that had gone to the extent I wanted to. So I scetched out a general design to my cage. I was then ready to purchase tubing. Roger and I decided to go with 1 3/4" dia. 0.120 wall DOM tubing, since most racing rules require at least that diameter and wall thickness.

Near Roll Over Experience!
Bending and Mounting the Cage:     The next thing I did was decide on a starting point for the main hoop. In my design it would be located to the front of the rear wheel well. This required mounting it to the wheel well bar. I started by bending tubing to match my existing wheel well contour, mounting to the frame and the rear bumper. I then bent the main hoop and tied it into the wheel well bar (See Figure 1). Since this area is critical to saving my hide in a rollover, I added an additional frame mounting directly below the main hoop to give it strength (See Figure 2). All the rear mounting points used a flange which was bolted to the frame with (3-4) 3/8" grade 5 bolts, and then welded to the frame and tubing. At this point I started work on the front of the roll cage. I decided that instead of running a front hoop, I went in favor of a halo. A halo is a continuous hoop that circles the top of the drivers / passengers area. The halo is then tied to the frame by the front tubes. To tie the front bars into the frame, I fabricated mounting plates that were welded into the front body mounts which had holes that the tubes slide into and the assembly was welded together. This configuration completely boxed in the mounting area making it very rigid. The next step after mounting and locating the halo and front bars was to weld in the rear kickers. To mount the seat I started with the door bars. This would give me a place to mount the front of my new Baja SS Seats from Corbeau. Once the door bars where bent and welded in I was able to run a cross bar to mount the front seats to. Once they where in place I started focusing on crossbracing the entire passenger area. I knew that I wanted two center bars in the halo to plate over so I would have a place to mount my GPS and CB. Once they where in place I had a central place to tie the upper cross bars to. I triangulated the areas above the passengers to prevent large objects from intruding the cage. Then to give the rear kickers side impact stability I ran bars in to meet with the halo center bars. The next step to make this cage really strong was to x-brace the main hoop. I did run into some difficulty due to compact passenger compartment of the FJ40. I would have liked to run a bar from the top corner to the frame, but the seat placement would not allow that. So with some creative thinking I designed a star arangement like used in stock car racing (See Figure 3). I had to bend the hortizontal bars to clear the seats, but I am happy with the final product. From the star the upper portion ties into the kickers and center halo bars, and the lower portion ties into the main hoop support, boxing in the frame (See Figure 4). At this point I was ready to bend and fabricate the rear seat mounts (see Figure 5). Once that was completed the seats were mounted to the cage. The placement of the seat mounts did not allow for the use of the factory gas tank under the rear seat, but to keep with the safety theme I decided on a fuel cell instead of making the factory tank work. Now came the fun part, installing the front of the exo-skeleton. In my opinion this is what make a good exo since if properly done it will protect the hood, fenders, engine, and radiator. I bent a hoop to match the general contour of the front nose of the Land Cruiser. Next to make the radiator and hood safe I added a small bar on top of the hoop. Then I made bars that would protect the side of the hood which tied the front halo bars and radiator hoop together. Last was to bend fenders to match the fender trimming I wanted. These bars tied also tied the halo bars and the radiator hoop together (See Figure 6).
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Wrapping Up the Final Details:     Now that the Exo-Skeleton was near completion the final detials need to be taken care of. First I had to gusset as many corners as I could to give the cage rigidity. Next step was to remount my PTO winch and make a new bumper that ties into the radiator hoop. Then I needed to fabricate a mount for the fuel cell, and complete rear storage containers. Once all the welding is complete, I can install the fuel cell, put on the exhaust, install the seats, and put on the top. After all this work I will feel safer when wheeling and my rig will take the damage from rock much better!
Exo-Skeleton Near Completion