Project: Stratotrooper

SRN

Adventurer
I originally had this posted over at RME and Planet Isuzoo but I thought that some people here on ExPo might enjoy it.


Introduction:

When I bought my Trooper six and a half years ago, I got it for the primary purpose of getting out to explore the vast backcountry of Utah. In that time I have traveled thousands of miles of dirt with it, never doubting it would get me to my destination and back. I've done some mild modifications, lift, transfer case gears, and a few other odds and ends; but other than that it is completely stock. So when I noticed an odd noise coming from the engine a bit ago I was more sad than anything. At 234,000 miles, only around 50,000 of those being mine, I was hoping that the engine would last a bit longer. But, not knowing its maintenance history before I got it, I suppose I can't be too surprised. I diagnosed the issue as a rod bearing, so not an easy fix. I was looking at the prospect of either rebuilding the motor or getting something new to replace the Trooper as my primary exploration vehicle.


How it was when I bought it.


First trip off-road up American Fork Canyon.


Black Dragon Canyon, 2014


I spent some time thinking about it. The Trooper is nearly 25 years old; but it has been the perfect vehicle for me. It has plenty of power, capability, space, and comfort. And even looking down the barrel at spending around $3,000 to rebuild the motor; there isn't another vehicle out there that matches it for the cost. I'd dreamed of one day replacing the Trooper with a Mercedes Gelandewagen or a Nissan Y62 Patrol; but at this juncture they are a bit out of my price bracket. I could find an 80-series Land Cruiser for around what I'd be willing to spend, but in so many ways they're a downgrade from a Trooper. A 100-series is more in line with the Trooper, but people think they are gold.

At the end of the day, it really was a no brainer for me to dive in on rebuilding the engine. But by committing to that path, I'm also committing to having this vehicle for another five to ten years. That means it cannot be simply rebuilding the engine, this needs to be a comprehensive refresh of the vehicle. I will do this in the following phases:


Phase I: Engine Rebuild

The Isuzu 6V1D engine is a solid motor, particularly when mated to a manual transmission. Making 175hp and 188lb-ft of torque I've never felt that it was lacking. But, if I'm going to rebuild it may as well make some improvements. After reading through some very excellent posts discussing DOHC swaps and using the SOHC single chamber to gain a little bit better airflow and low end power I figured that'd be a pretty good upgrade to pursue. While reading about that setup, I also came across the idea of swapping the stock Multec-1 injectors with Multec-2 injectors from later model 3.2L and 3.5L Isuzu engines. This is supposed to increase efficiency and again, gain a little bit of power. With these small upgrades, I should be getting closer to 200hp and 200lb-ft of torque; not an insignificant increase! All the while, keeping the engine efficient and reliable.

While I have the engine out, I'll also be replacing the AC, power steering pump, alternator, clutch and all the associated wear components so that everything is as fresh and new as possible. I'm also going to be adding a secondary fuse block for all my add on accessories like the fridge and HAM.


Phase II: Exterior

What's the point of having a car drive like new if it doesn't look new? I don't have a lot of rust, but I will be eliminating what I have. With the rust gone, I think the Trooper would look excellent in Toyota Quicksand with black along the lower quarter. I also will be tinting the windows and replacing all the exterior lights with LED's.


Toyota Quicksand paint color

For armor, I'll be building custom front and rear bumpers and modifying some Rocky-Road Outfitter rockrails I've been sitting on for years. Since I rerouted my exhaust last year, I'm also going to be building a new skidplate to protect the tranny and t-case.

I've enjoyed the Scepter can holder I built a few years ago, but I want to make some improvements to it and maybe build one that holds two cans. That way I can carry 10 gallons of extra fuel or five of fuel and five of water. I'm also toying with the idea of getting a 35 gallon Long Range Automotive fuel tank. Group buy anyone?

Finally, new badges. I figure I'll make some new slightly more modern looking "Trooper" and "Isuzu" badges. Because I have access to a vinyl cutter and why not?


Phase III: Interior

All interior lights will be changed to LED. I have a BlueTooth stereo at the moment, but I'm not too happy with it; so I'm going to find a better one. I have a iPad Mini mounted up for GPS duty, but I'll be plugging that directly into the new stereo via a rear USB port and using it more like a full "infotainment" center. I never use my CB anymore, so that's going away and I'll be upgrading my 25-watt HAM with a 50-watt unit. I'll be adding another 12-volt power outlet in the lower part of the dash and a few USB ports in the center console for charging devices.

In the rear I already have two 12-volt outlets on the passenger side, one of which is a dedicated port for my fridge. I'm going to put another outlet and a couple USB ports on the driver's side.

Finally, I'm going to put sound deadening everywhere. Every piece of carpet and panel that can come up will get sound deadening underneath or behind it.


Conclusion:

What's in a name? Everyone calls their Trooper a "Super Trooper", so I couldn't do that. I got to thinking; there was the "Fortress", the "Superfortress" and finally the "Stratofortress" in Boeings line of large strategic bombers. Additionally, the B-52 Stratofortress is the longest serving aircraft in the USAF inventory, and over its long history has gone through many modifications and upgrades to keep it relevant. And now it looks like it will be serving well into the 2050's, 100 years after it first flew.

This project will take time, but I hope to have the vast majority of it completed by next fall. And once complete, much like its namesake, the refreshed Stratotrooper should serve me well for years to come.
 
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SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

After a few days of prep work, the engine came out of the Trooper on August 27th.





I then spent the next few days stripping it down to the long block. While that was happening, I was also in search of a set of DOHC heads. After a few failed attempts with full service yards around the country I finally accepted the old adage that if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself and headed down to a yard in Provo, UT to pull a set there. Five hours and one stripped head bolt later I had a sweet set of heads for only $100 and the engine was off to the machine shop!





The machine shop said it would take three to four weeks, so that has given me plenty of time to do things like clean the engine compartment and parts as well as rerun some wiring. Amazing how much easier all that is without the engine in the way!
 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

With the engine out I hunted down a set of Multec-2 injectors and sent them off to Mr. Injector to be rebuilt. This is a part of the project that I'm excited about. As I mentioned before, this sounds like it is a great upgrade. To make this swap work, you really just need the injectors and a set of http://www.casperselectronics.com/cart/index.php?route=product/product&path=1&product_id=883]adapter wires[/url]. Everything else swaps right over from the old Multec-1 injectors and fits right into the fuel rail and intake manifold.









 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:


It took five weeks, but I got the engine back finally.



Due to work, weather, travel and other commitments; building the engine back up was fairly slow going. That hasn't been a bad thing. It allowed me to take some extra time, double check everything. All told its been a pretty enjoyable project.









After about two weeks for the engine sitting on its stand and slowly being pieced back together, I finally got the engine back into the vehicle! With a little help from my dad and a friend it went right in. Worst part about the whole process is that the engine mount bolts are in the worst location. No easy way to get to them. But with a little contorting, a universal joint on the ratchet, and two sets of hands it all went together in about an hour.





 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

This past weekend after the engine was in I tackled getting the transmission back up. In the past on other Troopers this hasn't been too bad, other than the transmission is really awkwardly weighted to the rear on the passenger side.


Well, plans being what they are, nothing worked out the way it was supposed . First, the spindle wouldn't fit into the new pilot bearing that came with the kit (probably should have checked that before installing it). So I had to get another pilot bearing; which fit, but very tightly. So the second go around with putting the tranny up went better, but it was arduous as we wiggled and pulled to get it to go in.

We were slowly going around tightening up all the bolts on the transmission when I observed, "Oh, hey! That lower dust cover need to go in." Well… that dust cover appears to have to be installed between the flywheel and the engine. There is no way to do it otherwise! Not sure how I forgot that after disassembling everything, but here we are. So I pulled the tranny again and waited until the next day to have another go.

All was not failure though. One of my biggest gripes about pulling the transmission on a Trooper is that all the sensors use bullet connectors, which invariably pull off the wire every time you try to separate them.



So when I dove into this project I vowed to replace all those with weather pack connectors, and I did!





Find victories where you can!
________________________________

Yesterday I got offending dust plate properly installed:



Once that was in place, it was just a matter of getting the tranny back to where it had been 24 hours before. So again, with a lot of pushing, pulling, and wiggling it went in!



And I was done for the weekend at that point! Getting the transmission installed was way more frustrating than I wanted it to be, and when you're frustrated two things happen a) you make mistakes, b) you're not having fun. I didn't want to make any mistakes and the whole point of this project was for it to be enjoyable. I didn't need the car on the road to get to work on Monday morning so better to take a step back, relax, and come back at it fresh.
 
great job!!! I've got a 99 trooper with a manual transmission, I love the damn thing!! bought a new 2018 tacoma last year, trooper been sitting for a while now but every time I drive it it reminds me how much I love it, I made the same decision, when this engine goes, I'm replacing or rebuilding it.
 
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SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

Yesterday evening I got to the point of turning the key, and I just heard the starter spinning; which was annoying. Got a new starter this morning, threw it in and…


Its ALIVE!!! Just need to get all the ancillary stuff bolted back up (exhaust, drivelines, ect.) and it'll be on the road!
 

bear cub

New member
Looking forward to seeing your trooper progress! I think it’s an overlooked option here in the U.K. and those still around seem to put in 100s of 1000s of miles and not rust up too bad
 
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SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

I had an issue after replacing the slave cylinder with the clutch pedal just falling to the floor. I tried bleeding it the normal way, but just couldn't build any pressure. I resolved this by borrowing a pressure bleeder. Once that was hooked up, pedal popped right up and held no problem. Reinforcing the idea that sometimes you just need the right tool for the job!





Now that I had a functional clutch, it was time to get the Trooper on the road again for the first time since August! I needed to get 30 minutes of varied RPM's in with it full of the break in oil, so I pulled it out for some loops around the neighborhood. I didn't romp on it, but it ran great. Good power from low to medium RPM's and it felt butter smooth.

About 15 minutes into the run, I started to hear chattering. I got it back to the house, popped the hood, and yup! Bad valve train chattering on the driver side bank. I figured that this was debris from the rebuild caught in an oil channel. So I drained the break in oil, which was dirty and filled it up with some full synthetic. Started it back up… no change. Still chattering like crazy. I let it run for a bit, hoping that it'd clear up, but it didn't.

I stepped back for a bit (mainly because, ya know, I didn't want to nuke the car from space quite yet). After about an hour I pulled out the old mechanics stethoscope to try and get a better idea of what the noise was and where it was coming from. When I fired up the car; no chattering. Gone. I let it run for about half an hour and it was smooth. So, oil must have done what oil is supposed to do; get into everything. The lifters must have gotten properly lubricated and the debris has cycled out. I've run it about an hour now and the chatter has not returned. I'll run it about 100 miles, then change the oil again. But thus far I'm cautiously optimistic that everything is functioning normally!
 

SRN

Adventurer
Looking forward to seeing your trooper progress! I think it’s an overlooked option here in the U.K. and those still around seem to put in 100s of 1000s of miles and not rust up too bad
I agree that the Trooper is a sadly over looked option for the backcountry exploring crowd. Its every bit as capable (if not more so) than a contemporary Land Cruiser. Additionally here in the US they sold way more Troopers than they ever did Land Cruisers so they are pretty easy to come by. Sadly, lots of people just junk them, though.
 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

Continuing the theme of "nothing goes quite as planned", I was driving it around yesterday afternoon and started to hear an odd rotational noise. Not from the engine; but more like a driveshaft maybe. Pulled it back into the driveway, crawled underneath to take a look and what do I see? Leaking coolant. So while I was concerned about the rotational noise, suddenly that became a priority. Looks like its leaking from one of the hoses on the back of the engine. Of course. So I'll have to take the plenum off to get to it and check the connections, but I'm willing to bet money it's the one hose I chose to use the original clamp rather than replacing it. Annoying and time consuming, but not the end of the world.

I went back to check on the rotational noise, and it's weird. The output shaft from the back of the T-Case (which is part of the transmission) has a fair amount of play in it; but not so much that I'd generally be concerned. Also, I didn't do anything with the transmission and I've never noticed an issue before. I put it up on jack stands and had my dad run it through the gears. No noticeable noise in 1st, some in second, and progressively more the higher the gears. Almost a grinding noise, but not quite. Now, I did pressure wash the transmission while I had it out, so some water could have gotten in. I was already planning on replacing the oil, just hadn't gotten to it yet. So I'll do that first, but I just can't see how the slight amount of water that could have gotten in would cause this? I was pretty careful when I washed it to avoid the areas where the breathers and the shifters went in, but I guess some likely still got in. Anyone have any other thoughts? Again, no issues before I pulled the engine at the end of August, nothing changed between then and now. Just odd.
 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

The later part of Phase I should probably be titled "The Wonders of Oil!" and have a 1950's style narration.

My dad was kind enough to come over today while I was at work and replace the oil in the transmission and transfer case. The oil that came out of the tranny was fine. Amber in color and clean. The t-case though…



Yeah, that’s some water there! Again, probably got in when I pressure washed it, and likely through the holes for the shifters, despite my best effort to tape them off. Anyway, he filled the oil back up with fresh stuff and voila! No more noises! Oil… It’s a hell of a fluid!

So at this point, I need to get the very slight leak due to the hose on the back of the engine fixed. That'll be Saturday, and I'm going to start driving it daily tomorrow to break it in!
 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

The valve train chattering is not going away. I've changed the oil twice now in 100 miles; each time there was debris in the oil in the form of shiny dust particles. The chatter is not consistent, either. Some days it won't chatter at all, others as soon as it warms up it starts chattering. Once it starts chattering, it will continue to after consistent restarts. But, if it sits for a bit (20 minutes or so) sometimes the chattering will go away. Sometimes it won't.

Its either still debris clogging passages; which will REALLY annoy me that the machine shop didn't do a better job polishing the cylinders after they did their work. Or there is a faulty lifter. The inconsistency of it really makes me think it's blockage, which would be nice. But unfortunately I'm sort of at the end of my diagnosis skill's beyond beginning to tear it down again. The machine shop has a warranty on their work but when I talked to them last week they were surprised the hear that I was having an issue and kinda just said, "well, run it for a while longer and see if it goes away". Not really encouraging.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
 

SRN

Adventurer
Phase I:

After determining that the tick always seemed to begin when the engine hit 5k for a few seconds, it made it easier to go to the machine shop and tell them that I was confident that it was a lifter. I spoke with them this morning and relayed my most recent information and they said they'd get back to me. After a few hours they called me and said there was a technical bulletin regarding this engines lifters and them collapsing. So they had me bring it down and as soon as they came out and listened it was, "Yep, that’s a lifter all right. Leave it with us and we'll take care of it."

So, its with them and hopefully in the next day or so I'll get it back tick free!
 
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