View Full Version : New Mexico build

08/27/2017, 11:15 PM
Aloha all!

I actually own two - one on Oahu, and one I keep at my Moms in New Mexico. This build thread will be about THAT truck.

So - to bring you all up to speed, this was a pretty sad truck. I rescued it off the Big Island because there was SOOOO much wrong with it, it was really only a wrecking yard candidate. BUT - my brother and I love a project, and I got it cheap, so even factoring in shipping it's not a horrible deal. And since its raw, and high mileage, I don't feel bad doing my own hacking on it!!

This truck is a 2001 with 198k miles on it. Black, with the solid black interior. That said, it runs well, and does NOT seem to burn inordinate amounts of oil. Also seems to shift SURPRISINGLY well, considering the mileage...

So here's the list of known issues, as I start:
Brakes (grinding)
Gas tank leaks over 1/3 tank
HUGE power steering leak
Power steering pump whines
Radiator leak
Clanking from the front suspension
SOME surface rust - but surprisingly not bad - for the most part. Not New England AT ALL. It's salvageable. There are a very pieces that are disintegrating - but not critical elements. (Hawaii salt? Northeast transplant? I don't know...)
Shocks are STILL ORIGINALS.... (At 198k miles!!)
AC not working (does hold a vacuum charge though)
Driver window doesn't like to go up
Passenger window not working at all
Passenger door lock does not work
Check engine light is on - need to pull codes.

Here's to the fun!!!

08/27/2017, 11:23 PM
Had to do a few things before I shipped it.

Brakes. Front and rear pads, and one rear rotor. Done.
ABS light still on - but I'll come back to that.

Power steering - replaced high and low pressure lines. Leak fixed. Should have swapped the pump too - now I have to go back in there again. Sigh.
Word to the wise - PULL THE RADIATOR TO DO THIS JOB. Seriously. If you decide not to, well, I told you so...

Snagged a set of 15 inch old-school turbines with a black finish. $100 for the set - I love them. Two of the tires were trash, two looked decent. Replaced two - so I'm running 31.5x10.5 15LT. I really like the look. I'll get pix posted. The tires run out from under the wheel wells by about 3/4 of an inch. I think it's an awesome stance. I do have to carve the front fender plastic just a little - it rubs on a hard turn.
Update. Complete false economy on those two old tires. One blew up within 20 miles of running it, taking out the fender plastic (and tweaking my fender too!!). Two more brand new tires going on tomorrow. I'm chucking the other old one while I'm at it.

Turns out the radiator was fine (BONUS!). Just a bad radiator cap. But I went ahead and did a good coolant flush while I was there.

Ok - truck has been shipped, and arrived in LA last week - my brother met me there and we trailered her back to Belen, NM.
Stopped and met up with Butch (up in Wrightwood) on the way! Great guy - set me up with a pair of shocks (for the OTHER truck) to be rebuilt. Thanks Butch! I like his radiator mod - electric fan out of a Caddy.... I might do that....

08/27/2017, 11:36 PM
The clanking is coming from the left front hub. HUGE up and down play in the axle shaft. I already know what this is from my OTHER truck - the knuckle needle bearing is probably nonexistent, so the axle is bouncing up and down in the knuckle. Not good. I'll be lucky if I can get away with a bearing alone, and not have to go source a knuckle, and/or another half shaft. BTW (and I have ZERO AFFILIATION with any retailer) - this particular bearing is a tricky one to identify. It is NOT the inner wheel bearing (that's a cone style bearing). This bearing is a small cylindrical needle roller bearing that the axle slides through as it goes through the knuckle. It's pressed from the INSIDE of the knuckle. The factory service manual does a VERY poor job of describing this assembly, and the pictures of the front hub DO NOT INCLUDE THIS BEARING.
NAPA carries it - or can get it. Good luck at any of the other major parts stores - because if it doesn't show up in their computer, most of those guys don't know how (or don't want to) use a catalog. At least that has been my experience with AZ and O'R

I haven't found any one else commenting on this bearing ANYWHERE - and I've had to replace one TWICE now... What's the scoop guys? Any of you had this problem too?

08/27/2017, 11:43 PM
Great snags at the local Belen flea market this am - I picked up a Valley 2" square tube receiver for $8 (pix to follow) and a brush guard off a late model Toyota ($40). A little work with a welder and grinder to get it mounted, but that brush guard looks like it will fit the contour of the front end of this truck REALLY well!!!

Regarding the tow receiver - I recognize that welding it in leaves it as a bit of an "unknown" in terms of load rating. Frankly, I'll never tow anything bigger than a dirt bike trailer. Yes, I recognize the potential of liability risk if I should happen to sell down the road. So if that happens, I guess the bill of sale will have to include a release of liability statement.

Also - was kicking through Walmart (of all places) - and Lo and behold, but they carry the Reese safari-style roof basket!! $89 - it is Reese, so I'm HOPING the quality is decent - but that certainly is cheaper than the grand I was considering dumping on an after-market rack from Desert Rat up in Albuquerque. Well, we will see!!

08/27/2017, 11:53 PM
Just to lay it out for the future....

Picked up a sweet 5-speed out of a 2001 Trooper a few months back out of the U-Pull-It in Albuquerque - just over 100k miles on it. Yep - planning on the manual swap at some point. That was a bit of a shame - a VERY clean Trooper. Looked like a Soccer Mom car... It was a tough call not to pull the engine as well, because it was probably a VERY clean option. But I just don't need it. (I hope!!)

DEBATING a diesel swap. Very practical here in NM. A lot of dollars. I would probably go the Bighorn route, but that is a chunk of change... And I want to do some reading first to see what the transmission gearing on those Bighorns looks like, or if I decide to go that route, do I want to try and buy an ENTIRE drivetrain... If I do, I'll have a Trooper trans up for sale! Will keep you all posted on that when I make that decision.

08/28/2017, 08:59 AM
subbed. Surprised you're already looking at a 5-speed swap if the existing trans is working well.

pro tip: ALWAYS check the mfg date on tires. No matter how "good" they look. 10 year old tires aren't safe. Ever.

08/28/2017, 11:47 AM

I love rescue projects! Reading through your post it almost sounds like my build thread! LOL! I find rescue builds to be very satisfying.

08/29/2017, 07:27 AM
1997-1998 Lincoln MK Vlll is the fan you need !
And great to meet you both ! We will catch up when you get that project a little closer to being finished !

08/29/2017, 11:27 PM
Yeah, I'm a sucker for the orphan. This truck was (for most buyers) one to RUN from. But the problems meant I got it REALLY cheap - because I do enjoy the rescue. It's very satisfying to save such a unique vehicle from the wrecking yard. (I drive a 2001 Porsche Boxster S with 60k miles - that I paid $2500 for because I was willing to put the WORK into it, rather than take it to the dealership). You know - maybe if the truck ended up in a wrecking yard with someone who understands how uncommon these are - that might be ok. Maybe in LA, or Phoenix. But in Hawaii? On the Big Island? It would have just been waiting for a date with the crusher.

Lol - wasn't going to jump right into the transmission swap - but when we stumbled across that low mileage manual Trooper, it just wasn't something to leave behind. Interestingly - someone else had already done about 90% of the work - JUST to take the clutch disc, of all pieces.... You know the dollars are precious when you'd rather pull a transmission in the wrecking yard to get a 100k mile clutch disc.
Yes - for a 200k transmission, I have to say I'm pretty surprised the automatic runs as well as it does. No missed or hard shifts. The worst it does is OCCASIONALY not go into reverse well (have to shift out of reverse, and then back in to get it to engage.)

I took apart the driver front hub today. I really shouldn't have been surprised - but the ball joints and tie rod ends are shot. The axle shaft has been hanging free a LONG time. It was really worn. I think I'm just going to do both sides. It pretty much looks like this truck got driven, and not a lot of preventative maintenance. That said, it runs amazingly well. And despite the worn parts, it tracks and steers well - it just clanks like crazy as that half shaft flops around.

Does anyone know if the Trooper sreering knuckle is the same as the VX knuckle? I'm headed to the pick-a-part later this week, and I'm wondering if I should just plan to grab one...

I never even thought to look for a manufacture date on the tires - great pointer. I will not forget that in the future. That would have saved me some headache and a banged up fender!! Fortunately the rim took no harm - that would have been harder to replace, I think.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a suspension kit on Amazon that has left and right, upper and lower ball joints, and inner and outer tie rod ends for $106. My local AZ wanted twice that for the same set of parts - and still had to order them for me. So I'm going the Amazon route, and will park the truck until that job is done (probably October). The left half shaft clearly has to be replaced, so I'll do that right one as well. And plan for an alignment, too. Shocks as well.

So since the suspension is on hold, we'll be buttoning that back up temporarily, and turning attention instead to the fuel tank. I had mentioned that it leaks over 1/3 tank. I think it's the seam around the middle of the tank. That same donor Trooper coughed up its fuel tank for me, and has been sitting empty waiting to have the hole in the bottom welded back up. Yeah. A hole. GORGEOUS southwestern tank. Clean enough to eat off of. It's my pet peeve with wrecking yards - at least the U-Pull-it yards. Rather than take the 20 seconds to pull the convenient drain bolt that Isuzu kindly gave them, they punch a hole in the bottom of the tank to drain any residual fuel. Oh they'll sell you the (now damaged) tank. Oh well. It's been sitting empty in the dry New Mexico desert air for the last 5 months, and we gave it an acetone bath prior to THAT. So tomorrow we'll weld up the hole. I'm quite sure that fumes will be a non-issue with our plans to weld it up. I AM going to spend the money for a new fuel pump. I've no idea how old the current one is, and since we're going to have the tank down ANYWAY it seems like a prudent thing to do. I'd like to never have to drop the tank ever again, actually.

08/29/2017, 11:50 PM
It's not that much to just replace the entire half shaft: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DCNQWGS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

08/30/2017, 12:23 AM
It's not that much to just replace the entire half shaft: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DCNQWGS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I have gone ahead and ordered two!

Thank you!!

08/30/2017, 04:28 AM
Lol. Unless it's got some kind of vintage Volk's on it, i'd rather have a tire failure take out my rim than my fender!

04/19/2018, 02:10 PM
Update! (As of April 1, 2018!)

Yep - a week in NM on vacation so we got to do a bit more work. A trip to the Albuqueque Pick Your Part found us working on a 100K mile Trooper that had been hit in the passenger side. God bless the high desert and 10% humidity. The parts were BEAUTIFUL. Ending up pulling both steering knuckles (spindles) and the center link with the tie rods (replacing the tie rods, but wanted those nice clean adjusting bars!!), as well as a brake backing plate (those are $23 new!) and the ABS sensor (the one in the truck is absolutely WELDED to the steering knuckle - it broke

04/21/2018, 01:33 PM
Yay! I love my local Pul-a-part yard ;)

03/26/2020, 04:17 AM
Still working at this...

Living in Hawaii means I don’t get to spend tons of time working on it - but the new update is 82000 mile 4JG2T with manual trans ordered from one of the Japanese JDM importers.

Now I have to wait for this COVID-19 thing to settle down...