First truck, first mechanical project. Halp!

Hello there! So here’s the deal. My brother kicked down his little sister his old 1980 toyota pickup. It’s a rust bucket but I love Boop. In fact, as a kid I always said I was going to get a little red truck and then drive it until the wheels fell off, and then repair it and learn how to take proper care of my cars.
Well, the wheels didn’t fall off, but the alternator appears to have given up the ghost. I was able to keep her running for a while by keeping her on a trickle charger over night and could get two-maybe three good starts out of the battery before she died on me.
Being a college student, I parked her for a couple of years (got a couple of parking tickets) and finally have the summer to devote to her. I’d like to get Boop up and running before my senior year starts this coming fall but my mechanically indeed brother moved to Tulsa and his advice has been to find a forum online to get help and look at YouTube videos.
Being a Cartalk fan, I thought I would start here.

I called my local parts dealer and he wants me to find out if it’s a 4 or 5 wire alternator. So I started yanking on things and can’t get the damned plug out. Nor can I seem to pull the battery’s connections off to make sure I don’t get a shock from the (assumidly dead as a door nail) battery.

Tldr; first one trying to work on my truck. Newbie to the niner. Advice/suggestions/encouragement on pulling out the alternator from a '80 toyota pickup?

Usually you can spread the battery posts with a screw driver, neg first, and get the battery cables off. The alternator connector will have a little tab on the side. You press on the tab while you pull the connector. Take the alternator to the parts store to make sure you get the right one.

You do realize the alternator belt is missing.

The belt can be seen in the picture…It’s the smog pump belt that is missing… These alternators can be somewhat difficult to remove…There is a top bolt which provides for belt tension adjustment and a heavier nut and bolt that goes through the bottom lug of the alternator. You can see the end of it sticking out in back of and under the alternator in the second picture…Removing the lower radiator hose makes the job easier but it can be done leaving the hose in place if you work at it…Sometimes it helps to loosen the lower mounting bracket from the block to let everything loosen up…

You will need a 3/8 drive ratchet and a 13-14-15mm deep sockets and 3 wrenches of the same size to do the job…The engine looks filthy so I would wear heavy rubber gloves or your hands will never be the same…

Thanks for the advice on the battery, it worked like a charm!
Barkydog- WHAAAT? Are you sure, there’s a belt on it here.
(See pic)

Ok. I’m going to make a run to the hardware store ASAP to grab some tools. I’ve been trying to yank that plug but the damn thing is stubborn! I’m not seeing any little tabs though.
Also yes, it is filthy and I have since moved on to gloves haha.

Oops, forgot the belt pic.

Ooookay. Got the plug out.
Quick question.
How bad is it that I just dumped a bunch of radiator fluid all over the alternator…?

The old one? Who cares, your replacing it anyways.

Good point haha.

If this truck were taken care of maintenance-wise, they tend to be nearly indestructable. I had it’s big brother, the 22R, with a 4-speed manual shift that was 15 years old and 325,000 miles on it. And, even tho it was always up on maintenance, I flogged the bejeezus out of it on the street and it never left me stranded. Unfortunately, the wife found out it was not stronger than a retaining wall, and we had to part ways due to a bent frame. Hope you get it fixed. These trucks are a diamond in the ruff.

I have a 1990 model…almost the same…I had to put a “Not For Sale” sign in the back window to keep people from stopping and bothering me…

Zeeboid, if you are still digging in there,…A hand mirror and a bright light will let you see the lower mounting bracket and the bolt that holds the alternator in position…Don’t be afraid to loosen the bolts that hold the bracket to the block…Then the mounting bolt will just slip right out…

That’s my hope busted knuckles. I want to get to the point where I can just pull out my tool box and beat the hell out of it whenever necessary and get it back on the road.
The alternator is just the tip of the iceberg. She’s got a cracked manifold, needs the air filter replaced and some wiring needs to be worked on. I figured the alternator was the best place to start in order to get her running.
Any suggestions on good reference websites, books and or personal tips?

Thanks Candyman. I’m still whacking away. Taking an IPA break and then I’m back at it. Thank god I have a multitool, I’m going to see how far my gerber will get me before I have to hit the local harbor freight.

Also, Ill have to get her to look less jankey before I start getting offers like that haha!

Here she is in all her glory, just what I wanted as a kid. She’s held together with rust, mostly.

I thought that it was all the greasy crud under the hood that was holding it together.

The very first thing you should do is a close inspection of the frame and the attachment points where the radiator support mounts, the engine mounts are located, and the body mounting points, are located on the frame.

What good are new parts if the radiator falls off going down a steep hill and you run it over.

Remember it’s just a truck…and there are plenty of them around.
I understand that it was your brothers…but yikes what a big job!!!
I’d rather see you in something a little more sturdy and road worthy and safe too.
Just like boys…there’s always another one just around the corner.

Ps. Get a Tetnus shot too, and always wear long pants around this thing…it’s got 1000 nylon snaggers just on that one side.


For a truck this simple, a Haynes manual is ideal for the DIY’er. I managed to do a lot to my truck with one. Torque specs and wiring diagrams were indispensable. They also have diagnostic charts and step-by-step instructions for many important repairs. I found mine at a parts store for $20. BTW, I also had a cracked exhaust manifold, but found a clean one at a salvage yard for about $45. That one didn’t crack, even in the accident.

Yosemite- hahaha good points and suggestions. Im up on all my shots and will try to wipe off some of the grime so I can see what I’m doing. Half the point of this little venture is just getting some experience getting around an engine so I’ll feel accomplished if I can just get her a new alternator in and down to the gas station haha.
She’s even worse underneath…

Let’s play “find the bolt!”

you tube videos were great advice. this forum and videos have been indispensable to me while working on my 1990 jeep. I can pretty much handle most of the stuff on my 75 ford on my own.

she will never be a beauty queen , but she hauls my crap and scrap just fine.

do yourself a favor tho. check the frame for rust. especially between bed and cab.

if it breaks in half it doesn t matter how good the motor is.

rusty structure is the main thing I would check before I did too much.

The head of the bolt is right there looking at you…It is about 4" long with a nut and washer on the other end. You can see that end sticking out in your first set of pictures…Forget the multitool, You need a 3/8’ drive ratchet, 13,14,15mm deep sockets, a set of combination wrenches…At Harbor Freight, the whole shebang should run you less than $25…If you want to upgrade, choose a ratchet with a long handle and a swivel head…A 2" extension is handy to have too…

The ratchet and socket will be used to grip and rotate the mounting bolt from the front side while you hold the nut with the closed end of a combination wrench…You could spray the area with a little carb or brake cleaner and use a rag to clean it up a little so you can see what you are working on…