Isuzu FTS700 'Wicked Turtle'

Spanna 53

Just got rid of a few apps that chewed up battery life and data at a rapid rate besides it’s not that hard to look up at the control panel instead of the phone or turn on a light switch with your little pinkie instead sliding it across a screen just my two bobs worth


Just Bolt It On

One of my parameters in building ‘Wicked Turtle’, is its capacity to be self-reliant in the event of vehicle recovery. Getting un-bogged (I think that’s the technical term).

Waiting by some remote track for another traveller to pass-by and rendering assistance with a snatch strap, hoping to have the capacity to pop Wicked Turtle out of the situation, whilst does sound like the start of a great story, ultimately still doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me. I don’t plan on travelling in a convoy or placing heavy reliance on others (unless unavoidable)

I purchased two winches, hydraulic and electric. I had previously fitted the electric to the rear in a custom-made mount with recovery points. That was relatively simple. Now to the front. I temporarily bolted the winch to the front cross member, to see how everything fitted within the chassis rails, bar mounts and grill. This is going to be a greater challenge than the rear mount.

Just bolt it on

With it temporarily mounted to the truck, it did seem a bit low. Those tyres do look a bit out of alignment, I hope it's just the photo angle.

I fitted up the bar and began to Frankenstein the hell out of it, until it resembled something that a winch bar should look like. Needs more work.

I raised the winch up one set of mounting holes, this tucked the winch into the bar for a better fit. Using the good ole cardboard template method, set about filling in the gaps. I will tighten up the clearance tolerances of the winch to bar. I’ll have the bar sandblasted after all the welding is done.

With the bar mounts modified, I started on the recovery points. I’ll just drop into the local 4wd accessories shop and buy some off the shelf. I can see it now, the bloke behind the counter ‘You want what size recovery points?’. So, off to my other 4wd accessories shop, the local steel supplier.

Armed with masking tape, sharpie, paint lids and straight edges I set to work. I work much better with crayons.

And after a quick introduction of steel plate meet my plasma cutter and bandsaw. A few adaptions later with machined boss flanges on both sides, and then bolted together.

With the integration of the bar mounts, winch mount plate and the recovery points, everything had to be bolted together for ease of assembly/disassembly.

You’re nuts………….and bolts.

Winch in situ. With the winch now raised a little higher than originally planned, I will have to trim the front grill (plastic).

The task of converting the cardboard template to steel for the bar is next. Hello steel plate, meet my plasma cutter and welder.

That finish line is within sight.........................................


LOL, it does look big with the way the wheels look.

Nice fit within the chassis rails, but I will need to trim the bar work to tighten up the clearances around the winch.

I might paint it to blend in with the truck so it doesn't stand out like a ...............?


The Art of Deception - How to make a winch look smaller than it is.

With the winch in situ, I need the bullbar (bar came with the truck) to look something like this. Waterproofing the cardboard wasn’t going to cut it.

Waterproof cardboard?

With some 6mm steel plate, plasma cutter and template, the modifications to the bar underway.


The small holding tabs allowed the 6mm plate to fold relatively easy.

Looks like the inside of a winch bar.

I sent the bar off to the abrasive blasters to clean off all the old paint and surface rust. Money well spent I say, what would have taken a lot of time and effort to remove by hand was done in about an hour with the sandblaster. I finished a couple of welding tasks on the bar and straight to epoxy primer before any surface rust re-appeared.

Epoxy primed and ready for final coat.

Raptor coated.

The two eye bolts (not recovery points), secure the bar to the mounts, removing these allows for the bar to tilt down when tilting the cabin. New headlights to be installed and a bit of trimming of the plastic grill and I would say that ends this part of the project.

The winch doesn’t look big after all. That’s a lot of real estate to fit some rather large driving-lights.

Wicked Turtle is starting to look like a wicked turtle, almost registerable.

Another step closer to that finish line...................................woohoo!!


Crazy Person
So I see that you are going to try and save some money by registering the truck as a trailer. That's sneaky, but I don't like your chances... :p


Just Breathe.

I’m busily buttoning everything up for registration and engineer’s requirements and was ready to refit the air filter snorkel.

This is attached to the rear of the cab and nests within a spring-loaded rubber boot to allow the cab to tilt without having to disassemble a secure connection.

The plastic snorkel had seen better days and needed some repairs. Broken plastic, rusted assembly fasteners, and mesh (so it doesn’t inhale small children or wildlife).

Asthmatic snorkel. There is no chance of small children or wildlife being inhaled with that restriction.

I could spend a day repairing, cleaning and generally getting this back on the truck or I could?? Something new and shiny, without the restrictions.

I ordered some stainless tube, mandrel bends and reducers. I approached the guys at Precision Metals Queanbeyan with some crayon-like drawings of brackets. The guys interpreted these into CAD and CNC laser cut and folded 2mm stainless into respectable mounting brackets.

Just breathe.

A bit more clean up and BLING!!!

At the completion of this task, the project hits a milestone, its ready for engineer signoff and organising registration. With the inspection date booked, I just need to drive it further than the letter box.

Coming up next..............'Regulatory requirements'


New member
Exellent work , that would still be running the 6bg1 , 6speed ,, Legend running gear , Fits the Kiss critera well, i Kept our electrical system simple aswell 2x 120 agms 3 x250w panels a cheap solar controller , and another for spare , 25amp 240v 7 stage charger , fridge freezer runs full time 12v ,


Hi Dozoor, yep, still running the 6BG1and 6 speed. I did contemplate a turbo install, I may look further into that when I need to get the pump and injectors serviced. I am keeping with the 24v system for the camper, in line with the truck. The availability of multivolt led lighting and 24v accessories (pumps etc) are more readily accessible now compared to years gone by. I remember reading some where that the fridges work better with 24v, how true this is, I guess I'll find out. I've tried to keep the electrical accessories to a minimum. Given that in todays world most devices are powered/charged by USB, the power supply to these is 12/24v. I've also considered an invertor for those items that need that little bit extra.



So, while I wait for the next instalment for 'Regulatory Requirements', here's a little fill in.

When enough is not enough or is it?

Travel within Australia has a general rule of thumb with the relationship of fuel capacity and travel distance. The 1000km range seems to be that rule. I should say off-road travel/touring, as my previous daily driver, a VW Golf 2.0TDi, was capable of 1200km range with its 55 litres of diesel. This was calculated through its trip computer, so let’s say 1000km range to allow for the human factor. I can vouch for the 1000km on a tank, highway travel with fuel to spare.

Let’s now put that 55 litres into approximately a 10 tonne, 6.5 litre diesel truck, with the aerodynamics of a brick, 55 litres are not going to cut the mustard.

So ‘How much is enough?’, a bit like ‘How long is a piece of string?’

I thought, ‘as much as I can fit into the truck’ within the physical limits of the chassis and life systems i.e. existing tank location, weight distribution, balance and water storage. The subframe of the camper and the volume within the chassis and crossmembers allowed for approximately 200+ litres of water. I can carry more water within the camper and this shares the load and provides redundancy. With the water tanks up into the chassis, offers some level of impact protection and utilised an otherwise wasted space, not compromised by the fuel system and vice a versa. That’s the water taken care of. What about the fuel?

The Isuzu FTS700 comes standard with a 200-litre chassis mounted fuel tank. Is it enough? For highway travel I would say that this is enough to get a range of 800km. I’m being conservative, when I drove the truck from Adelaide, South Australia to Canberra, a trip of just over 1200km, the fuel economy was just over 20l/100km. So, when determining my fuel capacity and travel distance, I worked on 25l/100km with a fudge factor. 1000km range didn’t seem enough for what I wanted to do and places to see.

The beauty of the truck world is the aspect of interchangeable components and availability of parts across numerous models. Any truck wrecker has a yard full of spares. Thank-you commercial practicality.

A trip to the truck wreckers resulted in two additional 200 litre fuel tanks with bracketry and fuel sender units, at a cost of $250. Not bad for an increase of 400 litres, outdoes $1200 for Nissan Patrol fuel tank with an increase of 50 litres.

500 litres of fuel!! I did reduce one tank to 100 litres as planned to give a reserve capacity. Where am I going? That’s a big fudge factor.

With space and load capability, the fuel capacity is not a problem. The three tanks allow for better weight distribution with one fuel tank being reduced in capacity to offset the hydraulic PTO tank and mounting space. With the fuel economy, fudge factor and travel distance, I have a fuel capacity of 500 litres, Main and Auxiliary of 200 litres and Reserve of 100 litres. Fuel capacity spread over three tanks allows for a redundancy in the event of a tank failure/leak. I guesstimate a comfortable range of 2000km.

Having a fuel capacity spread over three tanks requires some flow management. Do I balance the tanks? A balanced system requires a fuel line installed low enough to connect the three tanks, a potential for being ripped off or impact damage and provides no redundancy in the event of a tank failure.

Fuel flow control of each tank is needed in the way of control valves. And I needed to consider the return line.

Neatly bundled spaghetti. Each tank has a pre-filter to the valves. Tucked up inside the chassis out of harms way.

Controlling these valves was a bit more complicated. And that goes against my principle mantra ‘KISS’. I did consider manual valves, but that just seemed too primitive, even for me. Time will tell if I made the right choice.

I fabricated a control panel to house the gauges and two-way switches. This neatly fitted within a storage area on the dash.

Control panel with gauges to monitor each tank and control switches.

Switches as marked activate the corresponding control valve. In the event that there is an issue, or, I just run out of fuel in the main and auxiliary tanks, switching to the reserve tank will override both tanks.

The schematic for the control valves has the fuel senders using the original truck gauge. I rewired this setup to keep the original fuel gauge, with the auxiliary and reserve tanks individually monitored. At a glance, each tank can be checked, and fuel leaks avoided.

Now I just need to fill them................I'm off to the bank for a loan!


Active member
Looks like a nice comprehensive way of handeling the multuple tanks and giving your self some redundency. Do you think you would be able to put up a schimattic and componants list seems like something i might like to duplicate but over 2 tanks .


Hi Madoxen,

I used Pollak 6 port fuel valves with return flow, DPDT (Dual Position Dual Throw) On-On switches, VDO fuel gauges, LED indicators, CAV fuel filter assemblies and the obligatory fuel hose, clamps and electrical stuff.

Dual tank schematic.

With additional valves, more tanks can be incorporated, the practical connection of more than two tanks does get a bit spaghetti looking.

The valve operates on 12v, I have an independent 12v supply circuit for other accessories within the truck, so added the fuel system to this, or you can buy the 24 to12v convertor. Installation also requires a prefilter to prevent contamination of the valve. This does put another filter in the fuel line, but are cheap to replace. Also have to consider if the fuel supply to valve is pressurised, but with the majority of diesel systems, fuel is drafted from the tank (no in-tank pump), so this should not be a problem, but check your application and see the link below for further specs.

I installed separate fuel gauges for monitoring Aux and Res tanks in addition to the main tank and gauge. Where the power take-offs to the main and aux pumps are indicated, I used this for LED indicators for which tank is operating. No LED illuminated- using main tank and main gauge.

Here's a link

Hope this helps,



Hi, it has been a while, nearly 12 months since my last update. life does that I guess.

Continuing on with the project, a lot has gone under the bridge since my last update, but here goes the 'Regulatory Requirements'.

Red Tape

With what seems to be an eternity from when I started this hairbrained project (thanks to the many ideas, and contributors of Expedition Portal), ‘the end is nigh’. I won’t say ‘here’, as it seems that these projects are never really finished, but in a constant state of flux with new mods and updates.

It seems that with a project of this magnitude, the final dealings with having the whole shooting match signed off by an engineer, RTA approved and registered, and insured seems to cause the most amount of angst among projectees.

Here is my story…………………………..

When I first floated the idea of replacing my highly modded 4wd (set up for touring) with a truck, research was and still is the key. Scouring internet sites and forum pages for that elusive ‘ahuh’ moment of what I needed. And as I have said in previous posts, before opening the wallet and spending hard earned cash, or opening the toolbox and start swinging spanners, consult with an approved RTA (insert State location here) Engineer. This may save you thousands in cash and days if not weeks of time. So, I took my own advice.

I initially consulted with a local engineer at the time and put forward a concept with some definite mods, to create my own expedition truck. From this the project commenced. I had the platform to provide a solid foundation.

At key points during the project, I reconnected with the Engineer to discuss modifications and subsequent requirements, all documented so there is no confusion at the end.

About halfway through the project, my local Engineer advised that he was no longer able to continue with the project and advised on other engineers in the area. I sourced a more local Engineer as I had relocated interstate (admittedly I relocated only a couple of hours down the road), but now have someone that deals with my resident State RTA.

I spoke in-depth with the new Engineer, providing previous documentation of completed modifications and organised an inspection. He provided a list of detailed requirements and a process to follow. Smooth sailing.

Fast forward with what seems a lifetime (insert Covid isolations, lockdowns, or life happens) a date was penned in the calendar, and we are nearing the moment of truth.

All the listed items buttoned up.

A few unregistered vehicle permits for weighbridge requirements and we are off. As part of the final signoff, I had to drive the truck to the Engineer (this is also for speedo recalibration with the new Super Singles), about 3 hours up the road. An overnighter. I will say I did take backup; I also had another vehicle follow. This was the longest drive the truck had been on since its initial purchase some years ago, and undergone some major surgery. It needed to go further than the letterbox this time.

Well, I must say it did the drive without a hiccup, albeit slow on the highway. But I didn’t build it to drive on the highway for travels.

The inspection with the Engineer went very well, a few measurements and some paperwork finalised, all that was needed was to wait for the plaque that would arrive in the mail. I received the little blue plaque that had to be securely attached to the truck body, and send a pic of its location. And that was that, all done, still smooth sailing. Pssst, remember to keep a copy of the Engineers report in the truck at all times, got it. Got it.

Next on the agenda is the RTA inspection. Now, anyone who has dealt with this scenario, has a story to tell of onerous requirements of the inspector, questionable decisions or interpretations of the serviceability of a vehicle component or just the vehicle in general. This can lead to varying levels of frustration and wasted time.

Side Note: I fully understand the ramifications of not having a roadworthy vehicle and the potential for injury or otherwise. Inspectors have a job to do with a high level of responsibility, likewise, us as the motoring public also have the same responsibility to ensure that we have a roadworthy vehicle.

With the RTA inspection carried out, passed with flying colours, only a minor oil weep to consider on the coverplate of the gearbox. The truck had near been fully rebuilt. Still smooth sailing

Next step, the dreaded RTA Office. I packed a lunch, bbq, fridge and chair, as this could take a while. I didn’t really, I just took the paperwork from the Engineer, Inspection report, insurance confirmation and receipt for the original purchase of the truck. I took a 'stand in line ticket' and waited my turn. With what seemed like hours passing by, actually all of about 10mins, and I was at the counter. The service officer went through the paperwork and my application to register, tallied up my fees and charges, I paid the amount required, and in return, handed me the registration papers and plates and the job was done.

That’s that, done. Like I said, smooth sailing.

Finished, no. Are they ever? Usable, yes

Cheers, for the support and to the knowledge of the forum. 👍

Sorry if anyone was hoping for a drama or rant about the Engineer wanting this or that, or the Inspector not knowing what they were doing, or the RTA Service Officer not accepting the paperwork because I didn’t fill in a checkbox or the receipt was faded or whatever. At the start of the project, I researched and researched, I asked questions. When I moved to another State I went into the RTA and asked questions for what they needed, I confirmed fees and charges and how these were calculated. Nothing was to be a surprise.

Stay tuned for the Next Episode........................ More cabling, crimps, split tubing and Lithium batteries

Andy Hino

New member
Nice work. Will keep an eye out for you next time I head to the ACT (son's gf is from Canberra so we head down every so often to meet up with the potential in-laws...we're from Wollongong)

Forum statistics

Latest member