My 1992 Chevrolet/Isuzu Trooper Build in Chile S.A.

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
To start things off, I'd like to state 2 things. 1st) I'm originally from the states, and have now lived in chile for 6+ years. 2)This is a recap of the build process already done to my Trooper up too this moment. However, with all that being said, there is still much to do. So, if you want even more of the details of what's going on with the Trooper, then I encourage you to check out my other 2 sites, www.ericmcgrew.tv, and www.beginnersfab.com.

Ok, so now that that is out of the way, I'll start my build post off with how the Trooper was when I found it.

First off, here in Chile, the Isuzu Trooper is badged as a Chevrolet Trooper, and even though it is well respected, it isn't very common to find. As I understand it these vehicles where only imported thru the dealer, and only upon Customer request. I've heard a few stories about how there were a couple Troopers imported by Isuzu/Chevrolet, and that these "show Troopers" would be sent from dealership to dealership so that the locals could see the product in person. However, during the early 90's, the economy in Chile was just then recouping and the mass population could not afford a trooper. Therefore, Troopers are not super common, and parts can be difficult to find. Also, as I understand it, the Troopers from 2nd gen onwards where not offered in the Diesel option for sale in Chile.

Here in Chile though, there have been various vehicles that have had the Isuzu 4jb1-ti or 4jb1-t motors in them. So, when I finally started to look at buying a Trooper, I knew that I wanted to do a motor swap from the beginning. Due to the high cost of gasoline (over $7 U.S.), and diesel (over $6 U.S.). Not to mention that we drive quite a bit down here living in the country.

Originally, I was looking for a Trooper that had the original 3.2l v6 in it and that was in good shape. My plan was to pull the original motor and sale it. However, somewhat close by, I found my current trooper for sale, and it had the 4jb1-ti motor already installed. Or, at least them motor was in place, and connected. Installed... Ummm... Not so much!

Even with some obvious problems, I decided to buy the Trooper. Four wheel drive vehicles are expensive in Chile, and even with the problems that the trooper had, I knew that it would be cheaper to do the repairs, and motor re-install, over starting from scratch. This trooper cost me $6400.00 U.S., and this is a good price. It was 22 years old when I bought it, and had a long list of issues to fix.

This how the Trooper looked when I purchased it.
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Even though the Trooper didn't look like it was in terrible shape, it definately had some issues going on with it. But I'll get into that in the next post.
 

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
Yeah, they're difficult to come by in the States. I've got to say though, these direct injection, mechanical fuel pump 2.8 turbo diesels by Isuzu are great little motors. I wish they had stuck with the direct injection on the 3.1 diesels. If they had, I'd probably be looking at another transplant. Oh well... better to have a diesel that's small, over not have that option at all, like in the states.

At least the new Colorado has a diesel option for it. I'm curious as to how much it will cost though. The Diesel Colorados here in Chile seem to be really good.
 

InterFJ

Explorer
Those look good. I like 'em. Gives it a bit of an updated look. Do you have any pics with the lights on at night and are you thinking of the doing the same with your's?
 

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
Is that the 2.8 in the Trooper? Powerful enough?
Isuzu's 2.8l turbo intercooled modle was a factory option for a while. While it is a bit more underpowered than say the 3.2 gasoline V6 or the 3.1 turbo diesel, the 2.8 does just fine. I have the Fuel pump tweaked for a few more hp, and I have the turbo boost adjusted for around 3lbs of boost more.

With the 2.8 motor in it, I'm I can get between 22-26 mpg with Cooper ST Maxx 265/75/r16's on it. I'm running the aluminum factory wheels. They are conciderablly lighter, even though, not too showy.

I could swap the motor over to the 3.1, but I don't think I will. Onc reason is, that the 3.1's are getting harder to find with a mechanical fuel pump, and mechanical setup in general. Most now, run on an ECU, and I don't like living so far out in the country, and there being so much water with an ECU run system. There are also quite a few areas where there is no cell signal here, so it makes it harder to get help if something goes wrong. Another reason I'm not a fan of the 3.1 is that they don't last as long since they have a idi setup. It's much smoother while running, but the heads (I've heard), have a problem cracking due to the idi setup. So, for now, I'll stick with the 2.8.

One things for sure though, I do have to relay on my clutch more, and I can't imagine that I'll ever overpower my axles. So, I guess I have a built in fuse. LOL.
 

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
Those look good. I like 'em. Gives it a bit of an updated look. Do you have any pics with the lights on at night and are you thinking of the doing the same with your's?

I'm looking at doing them for myself too. That will be a project for the future though. Right now I'm working on a couple other projects for the Trooper that I'll explain later, and I've got a much more complex off-road project that I'm working on, on the side. I don't know if it would really fit on this forum, so I haven't put it up on here.

As for the pics, I don't have any at night. I tried to take some one day. His windshield was too dirty, and you couldn't see very well. I'll see if I can't get some soon. An odd thing about these lights, is that they don't have 2 philaments. There is a lid that covers the bulb on dim, and the lid lifts up and allows all the light to shine forward on bright, but the light always shines at the same brightness. They are pretty cool!
 

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
When I was looking over the trooper to buy it, I noticed a few things that needed repairing instantly. Plus, here in Chile, we have a technical revision/inspection that each vehicle has to go thru before it can be considered road worthy.

A few of the most pressing issues for my Trooper were the problamtic play in the steering colum/steering box, and the exhaust. Plus, I need to replace a few bushings. I had also been told that the sway bar link on the front passenger side (right hand side), was just missing the nut. So, off I went to find my parts that I needed. Oh, I also needed to get new tires.

After I had talked the guy down from $8400 U.S. to $6800, I had some cash left over to start the repairs.

My first repair was a simple one. Or so I though... All I wanted was to get the new exhaust put in. Many things here in Chile are make-shift, and the exhaust on the Trooper was one such thing. Whoever had done the motor swap, or attempted to (we'll get into that later), had used portions of the original 2" exhaust from the 3.2 V6 exhaust. They had also decided to add on some galvanized pipe that was 1.5" in dia. and tried to cold bend it over the rear axle flattening out the bend and leaving about a .5" pass thru for the exhaust. Other problems where that the muffler looked like swiss cheese, and the flex was so bad, most of the exhaust came out thru it. So, there was no doubt as to the need for a new exhaust. After talking to a few local that have nice rigs, I found out that there was a guy in the near by city that did some decent, not great, but decent exhaust work. Realizing I wouldn't get much better than that, I went to see him.
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Unfortunately I have the muffler turned over, the bottom is the worst, but if you look closely, you can see the holes on the end of the muffler too.

While the shop seemed to do decent work, I found out very quickly, that they didn't want to do things the smart way, but rather the fast and easy way. Since my trooper has the 2.8 motor swapped in, the required exhaust is a 2.5" exhaust. Talking to the guy, he just wanted to run the exhaust thru the factory route, and get it done. I told him that instead of running the 2.5" exhaust under the tranny, in the factory route, I would pay the extra to have the exhaust bent around the back of the t-case. Understand that the difference was, if he had run the exhaust thru the factory route, the 2.5" exhaust tube would hang below the tranny cross member, and be very exposed to all the rocks, stumps, and high points on the dirt hills that I cross with frequency. All it would take is a simple rock that I hadn't seen to clamp off my exhaust tube, and... bye bye motor... So, that wasn't what I wanted done.

After debating back and forth. Still offering him 1.5x the original cost, and even in the end, offering twice as much for him to do the job correctly, he told me no. So, I had to leave and find another option.

My only other option was to check out the others. Which after a few days of checking out other shops, most of which couldn't bend 2.5" tube, I final decided to do the job myself. In a last ditch effort, I found a guy who could bend 2.5". He's dies were worn, and his prices were a little high, but it would get my trooper going. So, I ended up buying some 45* and 90* bends, as well as some straight tube, and did the job myself. Using a arc/stick welder (it's all I have), here's what I came up with in the end.
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My welds aren't very pretty (I had only learned to stick weld 2 months earlier), and I know that the exhaust isn't perfect, but my trooper is no race car, or trial buggy. So, for me, this worked great! It also made a world of difference in the performance of the motor.
 
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InterFJ

Explorer
From my standpoint, for a DIY job I think the welding looks good. I wish I had the eye and skills to be able to do jobs like this. It would save me a ton of money!

Your last two posts have been very timely and coincidental with my build. I've been seriously looking at replacing the exhaust for the same reasons as you described above and recently ordered a pair of KC HiLites 7" LED Replacement Head Lamps. Seems we're moving forward on the same beat.

I also saw a really Trooper yesterday. The rear cargo seat area was cut off and made to serve as a pick-up. I wasn't driving so couldn't stop. I'll see if it's parked in the same place this morning and take a pic for you! I think it even had staggered wheels (not a fan).
 

EricMcGrew

Adventurer
Cool man! Yeah, I'd like to see the trooper if you can get a photo.

As for welding... I had a few formal classes on mig welding when I was working as a purchaser for a corporate manufacturing plant in the states. THat though was more on diagnosing a quality weld, and quality products. Not so much on technique. So, most of what I know about welding, I picked up on my own. You just have to start simple (which by the way IS NOT what I did). THen you progress from there. Believe me, anyone can mig. All you need is to get the settings right, and get the rhythm. THen you'll be on your way. While I claim no expertise in this area, I have learned a bit. If you haven't, you may like to check out my fab show for beginners. It's called Beginners Fab (www.beginnersfab.com) of course, and instead of teaching as a teacher, you learn thru my success and mistakes. Believe me I've made plenty. Also, I suggest that you chek out the following 2 youtube channels. They've been great for me. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqq70AnPkj4-UApS_m_6mPw and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJAFY2kKKb5sg79yld7T3hA. Don't be afraid man! I'm sure you can do it. Just don't expect the perfect bead, or the prettiest product the first few times. I've honestly had to make the same thing over a few times, before it gets to my liking. That's why I've recently cut the suspension off my Daihatsu project for the 3rd time now.
 

tin

Observer
I'm really enjoying your build so far. The practicality is really nice, everything you'll be using on an everyday basis. Also its always interesting to see someone trying to make things themselves as opposed to buying bolt on upgrades. I'm looking forward to more updates!

I live in Canada and we've been able to import 15 year old vehicle from Japan. In fact my father owns a RHD Trooper with that 3.1 TD. While it's a great engine in many respects, the fuel economy definitely suffers from the IDI fuel system. I would prefer the 2.8 DI myself.

Could you elaborate what you did with fuel pump and boost up? Boost controller and boost compensation adjustment on the pump? Are you measuring EGT? I have a Mitsubishi Pajero with the 2.8 TD an manual fuel pump and I've been waiting to install a better intercooler before tricking the waste gate signal and adding more fuel.
 

BigSwede

The Credible Hulk
Are you aware the steering box is adjustable? Loosen the 17mm lock nut on top and turn the center "screw" clockwise to tighten play in the steering box. Only go a quarter turn or so at a time, don't want to overdo it.
 

InterFJ

Explorer
Ah, Trooper was not there in the morning or on my way home from work. Will keep an eye out for it, though. Xela is a small town. It couldn't have gone that far!
 
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