2002 Isuzu Trooper | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

2002 Isuzu Trooper

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MA_Trooper

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Chris
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Hello fellow Bounders. I thought I had written a quick build thread on my Trooper but it appears I haven't. I don't have much in the way of modifications yet, and things are slowing on the "money I can spend" front as we are expecting in the not too distant future. But I will continue to do things here and there.

We bought the Trooper last November and immediately had to have the transmission rebuilt. The dealer worked with us on that even though we bought it "as-is". Nice place to work with. They extended their wholesale discount to us through a local transmission shop and then paid half the bill for the rebuild. Apart from that, not much is needed in these Troopers. This thing has never left me wanting for traction.

What I have done so far:
  • Transmission rebuilt (have the automatic which is kind of weak when not taken care of properly). Also have plans to convert to the manual trans.
  • Added auxiliary transmission cooler
  • upgraded tires to 265/70/R16 BFG KO2 (love those tires)
  • 1.25 inch lift with OME coils and shocks (huge difference in ride quality when loaded with all our crap)
  • QuickFists on rear door to hold axe
  • Built temporary platform to sleep on in the back (was testing out space to see how a drawer system would fit)
Some pics of the old shocks and new shocks (front)
Before:


After:


Truck post lift:


Axe Mount on inside of barn door (used the old handle holes and screws so no mods necessary):


Temporary Platform. Will build drawer system later. I just wanted to see how much space I would lose/gain And yes, We can fit a full size mattress back there. Quite comfy:
 

MA_Trooper

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My next step in the build is communications. I am going to install a CB. Not sure yet if it will be handheld with an antenna or a dash unit. Suggestions are welcomed here.

I also need to do the brakes very soon. Ol' Troopy isn't stopping so great.

I purchased some more quick fists to use for my shovel on the roof rack (just the cross bars) but I am second guessing that decision. I know they will hold. But I just get a queezy feeling about going 80 mph down the highway with a shovel up there; only being held in by a piece of rubber with a strap and a notch cut in it... I may need to find another way. I have the Hi-Lift up there using the factory rack attachments but not sure that would work for a shovel.
 

roamingtimber

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Nice start to your build. I am looking for a new rig and considering the trooper. What is your overall impression of it? How is the sleeping room in the back? Have you towed anything with it?
 

MA_Trooper

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Thanks @roamingtimber!

To be honest, at first I was definitely settling. I had my heart set on a Land Cruiser. But to get one with Waaaaaay to many miles (250K miles) on the odo, I would have had to shell out 8-10 grand. Just wasn't worth it to me. Found a 2002 Trooper that some old lady was driving. Bought in Austin Texas brand new. Single owner. Never left Austin, with 95k on the odo selling for 5 grand. That is a hard bargain to pass up, even with an automatic transmission that would probably need work. So I bought it. A week later the trans started slipping and I had it rebuilt for 1800 bucks. Was pretty upset about my decision to buy. Until I took it on our first weekend adventure. Bone stock. Hadn't even put bigger tires on yet. I walked all over my friends modified Jeep. A lot of people who have never driven the auto Trooper say the TOD is junk. I have never once lost traction enough to get stuck with TOD on. Nor have I heard anyone who drives the TOD trooper complain about that system. 4lo crawls pretty well. Suspension is very soft though so loading it up with gear makes it a bit spongy. Tires and stiffer shocks/springs are a must if you are going to tow or load it up with a lot of stuff.

As for towing, I am afraid to tow with the auto trans. My mechanic told me I should be all set. He added shift kit and all that and said the trans should be pretty bullet proof now. Still makes me nervous though. I think the limit is 5000 lb. I have heard of people towing with it with no issues. As long as you take good care of the transmission, regular fluid changes, add a trans cooler, etc... you should be fine.

Personally, I plan to solve my transmission fears by swapping in a MUA5 manual transmission when the warranty on my current auto runs out.

We can put a full size air mattress in the back and sleep two comfortably.

I may have settled at first. But I have fallen in love with this Trooper and am very glad I bought it. If you lived a little (a lot) closer to Texas I would suggest we take a weekend trip so you can drive it and see how you like it off road and on. But Washington is a few states to far. lol. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
 
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Robert OB 33/48

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Hello,

I have an Opel Frontera, which is a Isuzu Amigo. And I like it much.

So I guess you will have loads of fun with it.

Greetings from Robert
 

roamingtimber

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@cjones sounds like a great rig. The trooper is slowly moving its way up my list. It's not as glamorous as a land cruiser or a Land Rover but it has a lot of nice features and the price can't be beat. The only downside seems to be the auto transmission. I really like how cheap they are to lift and fit 33" tires. I read a how to on planetisuzu.com about how to use the 4wd switch from a rodeo to wire the tod system to be a standard 2hi, 4hi, 4lo setup. That combined with the optional led seems pretty ideal. If you add in the cargo room and the spacious back seat it's hard to compete with. If I can't find a discovery I like I will most likely pick up a trooper. Congrats on expecting. Is it your first? If so you will be grateful for all that back seat space and cargo room. It's shocking how much space such a little person will take up.
 

MA_Trooper

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Thanks. Yeah, it is our first. Can't wait to add an adventurer to our crew.

The one other downside to the 98+ Troopers is the aftermarket support. I can find plenty of repair parts but things like bumpers and roof racks that just bolt on with no effort don't really exist. For me that isn't a big deal because I don't rock crawl and like my Trooper to look pretty stock. The upgrades I do to it are mostly function, and are based on things I discover as being needs while wheeling.
 

roamingtimber

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From what I have seen in my limited research, ARB makes a bunch of stuff for them, but they don't sell it here in the states. Rocky Road seems to be a good source for trooper bolt on stuff. They have front bumpers, rock rails, roof racks and snorkels. If I end up buying one I will most likely do suspension, tires, rock rails and maybe some auxiliary lighting. Im not too hard core either.
 

MA_Trooper

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Well, Communications are on hold. Had to replace the starter. The trooper got me and a few friends to a sports bar to watch some soccer. When we tried to leave it would only click. Had to pull it back to the house. If ever have to replace the starter in a late model Trooper, may God have mercy on you. Not a quick job, by any means.
 

Lifestyle Overland

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Great build! Sorry to hear about the starter.

As to the communications, I've used both the handheld units and the full sized units in my rigs. I started with the Midland handheld unit and put a cheap magnet base auxiliary antenna on the roof when we were on a excursion. The handhelds are useless without the external antenna since the metal frame kills the output. (You can expect a range of about 30 yards.) The cheap auxiliary antenna will bump this considerably to 1/2 to 1 mile. This worked well for us until we ran into low hanging trees... the magnet base would only take so much and it wasn't long before I was getting annoyed looks from the wife when she would have to jump out and put it back on.

We eventually upgraded to a Uniden Bearcat 680 full sized unit which we mounted in the center console for concealment. This was paired with a Larsen whip antenna, mounted on a spring base, strapped down with Diamond roof rack clamp. The functionality was greatly improved with this setup since I didn't have cables routed through the door and a big handheld unit laying in my lap or stashed on the console somewhere. The reception also jumped up with a proper antenna and mount location. Now she glides through the trees and (most importantly) I don't get any more looks from the wife!
The rack mount is pretty sweet since I can loosen it and lay the antenna flat on the roof rack for car washes. (We also found that it WILL survive a wash cycle with it up! Totally unintentional...)

You might also consider the Cobra handheld unit. It's a bit smaller and has a very small base mount that you can hide under the dash. Just plug it in when you need comms, or hide it away when you don't. Several of my friends have used these with moderate success. (One of them just recently died though so not sure on the quality.)

To sum it up; there are many affordable CB options out there. Just consider your needs, budget, and required range before jumping in. In my opinion, buy the best a cry once. I cheaped out on the first go-around and ended up spending twice as much to make it right. The key to effective CB comms is a quality antenna, located properly on the vehicle (see youtube or google), and having it properly tuned by a CB shop or getting your own SWR meter.

Check out http://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/ for antennas and mounts. Amazon has some of the best deals on CB units.

Hope this helps point you in the right direction. (BTW, I've embedded links to most of my gear in the text, just mouse over to click.)
 
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MA_Trooper

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Lifestyle Overland

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Tuning the antenna is relatively easy. SWR meters run between $15 and $50 from what I've seen. Some CB's have them built in.
To be honest with you, I haven't tuned mine since it has a longer range than anyone in my club straight out of the box. I may tweak on it at some point.
Here's a couple of videos:



Here's one of the better explainations on ground plane and antenna placement I've found on the interwebs:

http://www.wearecb.com/cb-antenna-ground-plane.html

Glad to help! Keep us updated!
 

MA_Trooper

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I got all the gear needed for the CB install. I'm going to do a quick and dirty hookup tonight for use during this weekends trip. Then I will install it more permanently later.
 

MA_Trooper

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Well, I installed the antenna bracket on the rear door. It's all nice and tidy. My goal was to make it look factory installed. It took awhile but I was able to run it inside the rear door, through some conduit into the rear passenger side and behind the interior paneling all the way to the front. Now I just need to figure out where I want to mount the radio.







 

MA_Trooper

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Thanks. It took a little longer because I have to disassemble a lot of trim but it was worth it. I don't like clutter in my vehicles and when I temporarily put under the dash it felt cluttered. There was a factory cd changer under the radio/tape deck which I didn't use so I removed that and the CB fit nicely in its place.




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