Isuzu FTS700 'Wicked Turtle'



I'm finding this to be true, there was not a lot of information on the 'hey, lets have kids' brochure.


Work smarter not harder.

The cab was placed on a dolly for ease of moving around the shed and freeing up working space. The ability to work on the underside of the cab was somewhat restricted but achievable. Nobody likes to work on the floor if it can be avoided.

With the new addition to the shed, the facility to work on the underside of the cab without laying on the floor is a welcome change.

The rise in the cab frame required pad extensions for the hoist and with the push of the ‘UP’ button, the cab was free.

The task of top coating the underside of the cab commenced. The cab was stripped back to bare metal and epoxy primed in the early stages of the project. The epoxy primer was prepped and cleaned, and continuing with the paint theme, the underside is finished in Raptor liner black. This will give many years of protection.

Work smarter not harder. Preparing underside for painting. Raptor liner BLACK.

Masking done.




The process used 3 x 1l bottles of Raptor, I saved the last bottle of the pack for coverage of the hoist lift points and an extra coating of high wear areas of the wheel guards.

The liner coating is thick to say the least, any bolt or nut thread is quickly covered, running a tap or die-nut solves this issue.

While the Raptor liner was curing, reassembly of the engine cooling system commenced. This is certainly easier with the cab off the chassis. I had the radiator serviced, and rebuilt the water pump with new bearings, seals and impellor. I am a big believer in preventative maintenance.

That light is getting brighter......................




Thanks Dave and Cuddy. I jokingly talk about our first ‘expedition’ memories, the local caravan park for a trial run.

A journey of a thousand steps.

All the time and effort to disassemble the truck to bare metal, and as the workshop manual states ‘reassemble in reverse’.

To move the chassis is not simply jump in, turn the key and drive it in the shed. With a bit of guided force the chassis is slowly moved into the shed.

It’s been along time.

Brought in the muscle.

The chassis took a bit of to and fro to line up the cab mounts, but we got there.

Looks like a truck again.

Reassembly of the cab/chassis underway, electrical, water and airlines. A journey of a thousand steps.

With the cab sitting on a dolly for so long, I had forgotten how high the truck is. Back to step ladders.

That light is building up some steam...............




So……….I’ve been on another one of those side detour tracks. The ‘old mate knows a bloke’ story, you know the one, where the sons are cleaning out their father’s shed.

New (old) addition to the shed. Colchester Triumph 7 ½.

Whenever I head off on one of these side tracks the camper sits idly by.

With the truck and camper moved from the shed, the opportunity to spring clean presented itself. The task of spring cleaning shines a light on all those tools and sundries with ‘that’s where I put that!’ and ‘now…………where, did I put that?’ answers and questions.

With the lathe in place, wiring and lighting undertaken. Cleaning and servicing to be done.


It is alive!!

With the truck and camper removed to allow for the lathe to be moved into the shed. The truck was turned around.

Once again, the so-called simple task of doing a U-turn in the truck is not a simple operation. I noticed a small amount of play in the steering column slip joint, so I removed it to rectify. The backlash is probably within specs but I can feel the backlash and like a ‘squeak’ or ‘rattle’, it is a pet hate and must be eliminated.

So, after what seemed like a million point U-turn, the truck is reversed into the shed.

I knew that hoist would came in handy.

The week leading up to the big move I sourced new starting batteries, made new cables, checked earth leads, alternator connections and everything else that should make the truck run again, including new fuel. All the fuses good, no exposed connections, gearbox in neutral. Check, Check and Check. Key in ignition, ‘ON’, all the dash-lights, warning lights, relays clicked in. Check, Check and Check.

Ready to start………………….Nothing, all the dash-lights off, no relay clicking, not even the familiar click of a starter motor. What the?

Let’s go through this again……………..Check, check, check.

Ready to start……………………Nothing??? Time for a cup of tea. Never underestimate the value of a good cup of tea.

So? What’s changed? Check wiring, no loose connections shorting, check.

Ahh! That light bulb moment. The cab locking mechanism is still on the bench waiting for paint (I have a few parts that need painting, so will do it in one job). Note to self, the warning buzzer connections ARE NOT interlocks. Result, blown fuse.

Ready to start (I must say with some apprehension)…………………….


After months of sitting idly by, looking ever so more as an abandoned vehicle ready for the scrap heap, the breath of diesel exhaust fills the shed. The sweet sound of a diesel idling.

Now, back to work…………………………………..


Moving forward…………..or is that backwards?

In our chosen means of travel, many hours of thought goes into ‘What If?’…………….…….
What if I breakdown? What if I run out of fuel? What if I get lost? What if I turn right instead of left? Or worse, What if I never go? What if, what if what if?

All of these and more, I have answered with some reason of logical thought. Carry tools and spares, extra fuel, maps and just get out there and go!!

The 5 P's springs to mind - 'Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance'

One of the many questions that has led to a great deal of thought is ‘What if I get bogged or stuck between a rock and a hard place’? A simple desert crossing can easily have the whole show down to the axles. I don’t plan on travelling in a convoy or placing heavy reliance on others (unless absolutely unavoidable).

Our chosen means of expedition is not something that is easily unstuck. Its sheer size and weight commands a need to be able to self-recover. My endeavour for self-reliance has questioned the need for a winch.

Researching such a question leads to a plethora of opinions, scenarios, hearsay and expert(?) opinions. Add to all that, the added element of a truck.

I worked through the pros, cons and possibilities, and the additional elements of recovering a truck. And, just upsized everything (do you want fries with that).

More questions than answers. Hydraulic or electric? Front or rear mount?

Moving forward…………..or is that backwards?

I already had an idea in mind, but sought justification. Once again I trolled the internet in search of the answers. And there it was.

Just install a winch on the front and back.

The ability to fit a Power Take Off (PTO) and hydraulic system to the truck is an added bonus. This does require substantially more infrastructure for the truck. The hydraulic system provides for a 100% duty cycle, whilst ever the engine is running and hydraulic oil available. A disadvantage of this system is that the ability to drive the wheels is lost when the PTO is engaged. I based the installation of the hydraulic winch to the front on the scenario of having to drag the truck through/over difficult terrain.

Installing an additional hydraulic winch to the rear seemed overkill and not justifiable. The installation of an electric winch to the rear seemed the most logical choice. Once again I looked at the duty cycle of an electric winch and envisaged the scenario of having the truck not able to go forward. Winching the truck backwards in its own wheel tracks certainly seemed the most logical. The anticipated load, both electrically and physically would not be onerous, but, to provide a level of consistency, the same load capacity winch as the front was determined.

Hydraulic to the front and electric to the rear.

The next question? Where do I find these type of winches in these capacities?

Researching the multitude of suppliers, reviews and comments trails lead me to RUNVA winches in Brisbane.

A few calls and emails to RUNVA had the procurement underway.



These are definitely not in the ATV winch category.

Now the task of suitably mounting these to the chassis......................................Oh! and don't forget the shovel.


Crazy Person
Just wondering why you chose to go with steel wire rope, opposed to synthetic rope.
What capacities are the winches?


Hi Owen,
Both winches are 20,000lb. My recovery strategy is to use a snatch block for double line pull. But, the general idea is to not get stuck in the first place. 👍

The electric has synthetic.

Hydraulic has steel. The hydraulic has a 48m cable, I plan to cut this into 32m and 16m lengths. This will allow for the 16m to be also used as an extension on the rear.

The synthetic positives of less (substantially) weight, workability, floats, less energy in the event of failure can’t be ignored. However, the longevity, abrasive resistance, robustness, not affected by UV, not affected by dirt impregnate, working heat resistance, properties of steel cable also cannot be ignored.

The hydraulic winch will be subjected to a greater amount of heat soak from the hydraulic system. Synthetic on the inner layers of the drum will not allow for heat dissipation. This heat will have a detrimental effect on the rating of the synthetic.

I believe the steel vs synthetic debate has merit for both systems.


Does the truck have power steering? ??
It is possible to tap into the system to power the front winch
Therefore eliminating the need for a power take off onthe gearbox
Just a thought .....


Despite comments to the contrary, one is not supposed to drive whilst winching, lest you drive over your winch cable or gain traction, move forward, then lose it again, thereby straining or shock loading the winch.

An appropriately sized winch should be able to recover your vehicle on its own without driving the wheels. Of course there are exceptions, i.e. helping the tires come up over a rock or log during a winch pull, etc. This is less than ideal, however.

The capacity of the winch, likely on the first layer, so ensure that all cable is spooled out for difficult recoveries, should be at least 1.5x the GVM of the loaded vehicle. Getting bogged to the axles or between the proverbial rock and a hard place, can double or even triple the amount of pulling force required for successful extraction.

GVM 15,000 pounds x 1.5 = 22,500 pounds x 3 = 67,500 pounds.

Double line pull in best case scenario, 40,000 pounds. Triple line pull, should you have the rope length and proper anchor = 60,000 pounds. Remember, as you reduce the load on the winch and increase its capacity with snatch blocks, that increased load is transferred onto your anchor point and some other equipment (straps, hooks, clevis, etc.)


Hi Fugly,
Truck has gearbox with PTO option. Going the PTO option will enable the pump to be matched with the winch hydraulic specs.

Hi Dzltoy,
Agreed. Winching is a high risk operation, a quick search of the internet highlights stories of winching gone horribly wrong. An understanding of the risks and a systematic approach to the recovery process is warranted. All possible avenues to reduce the load on the system holistically should be attempted, starting with a cup of tea (unless the tide is coming in, then all bets are off and time is critical), 'Do I need (want?) to go there?' and 'Where's the shovel'.



And, around we go.........................

Where does the time go? It has been awhile since my last post, so, an update.

The camper unit is sitting on the chassis, and I’m busily making mounts. The opportunity to purchase a new set shoes couldn’t be passed.

Not much room left in the trailer.

Who said size doesn’t matter?

The wheels maketh the truck

Now back to making the camper mounts.

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