Project Troopercabra - Part II

When we left the action, I was still assessing the situation in regards to making the Troopercabra road legal and worthy. To no one’s surprise, the more I tinkered, the more issues I found. Nothing found so far has made this a deal-breaker, but the list is now longer than Santa’s.

An impact gun makes light work of torsion bar adjustments.

Ordering Parts

Speaking of Santa, it’s been like a multicultural combination of Hanukkah and Groundhog Day around here. Thanks to my new job, I’m out-of-town during most of the week. Weeknights are spent in hotel rooms, scouring the internet for delicious parts. Every Friday evening, I come home to a pile of overwrapped boxes filled with Christmas cheer automotive swag for the Trooper. I feel like a kid again... in that I have no money because I spent it all on toys.

This is a light day.

As far as recovery strategy is concerned, I’m doing things differently this time around. The reasonable me would’ve got a compressor, hi-lift jack, jerry cans, an awning, and fancy GPS. I’m taking Stevie Nicks’ advice and going my own way. I got a 10lb. Powertank for on-board air, a bag jack, and a jackable jackstand for safety. I’m planning on integrating an iPad into the dashboard for GPS and vehicle info, but we’ll see if there’s any ambition left at that point.

PowerTANK! 4-in-1 Tire inflator, and bag jack.

I did go traditional when it came to wheels and tires. 285/75R16 Goodyear Duratracs on old Tundra wheels. They suit the Trooper well.

Not pictured: Isuzu Trooper

The pangs of restoring a vehicle from a dead brand are beginning to manifest, and I’m taking it out on the rig. Until it can go on a trip, I’m calling it the Turd. I’ve ordered and returned 3 different roof racks, tried 2 sets of wheels, and numerous trim clips, finally finding ones that work. Some of this is my fault, I admit, but still. I have to search and patiently wait for OEM-only parts to be available as salvage items on eBay. More than one time, I’ve considered buying a second Trooper as a parts vehicle. God knows there’s plenty out there that can’t move under their own power. However, that idea got a hard veto from the wife.


The Work

Looking at the to-do list, I feel both proud of all that’s been accomplished and discouraged by how far I have yet to go.

This is me.

One item of priority was an exhaust leak that was happening between the left bank manifold and Y-pipe. After replacing the exhaust gasket, I warmed the beast up and checked for smelly leaks. All good. Then the turd started misfiring. Ugh. I checked the code and it was only cylinder 2. I pulled the coil and found oil inside the plug hole. I pulled the other five for good measure and found the same :/ Eventually, this thing will need valve cover gaskets and plug seals to remedy the issue. To save time, I just put a smattering of dielectric grease in each coil hole and cleaned it as best I could. All good for now. I cleared the code and then drove a couple drive cycles. Enough emissions monitors completed for me to take it in for a smog test. Now, as long as the weak battery maintains its charge, we’re made in the shade.

The previous owner had gasketed the exhaust using the wire from a bra.

After that dodgy repair, I wanted a simple win. I decided to replace the wipers. The fronts went on cake. The rear wiper can only be replaced with the door-mounted spare tire removed. In an attempt to remove the spare, I found that one lug came out easy, one lug was stripped into the thread and promptly broke upon my best effort to extract it carefully, and the third is a wheel lock for which I don’t have the key. Fortunately, I have a lock removal socket; but the thing is on there so tight, it won’t budge. I tried vice grips, I tried a hammer and chisel. I tried shouting. Anyone have ideas?

Manual hubs required due to the stubby CV axle creating an extreme angle once lift is applied.
Finally got the right roof rack from a company called Surco. Recommended by forums.


Getting an oldish, out-of-state car smogged in California is more difficult than remembering to put a cover sheet on your TPS reports... nevermind that the vehicle in question has a modified intake and exhaust, no plate, no registration, and no history of either in California.


The gentleman at the aftermarket registration place (I opted to pay extra to avoid going to the actual DMV) said it needed a Test Only smog and provided me a one-day temp registration. Slyly, he left the date portion blank so that I could fill it in when I inevitably get pulled over.

Attempt #1: Well, upon going to my smog place, the smog guy said it required a test AND inspection. Surprise! He ran the test; said it passed the test, barely; and failed the inspection due to the cone filter intake, missing PCV valve, and a bad gas cap. Oh joy. I ordered and installed the parts the next week and returned to the smog place.


Attempt #2: On the way to the smog place, which is 1 mile from my house, the check engine light came on for a misfire. Cylinder 6 this time. Well, I guess we’re not going to get it smogged this weekend either. What a turd.

I’ll get the right valve cover gasket set with plug seals and install them next weekend. Stay tuned. Here’s a sunset pic in the meantime.

Seattle in Autumn

The Tally

Rig + Parts: $3,984

Gear: $829

Total/Budget: $4,813 of $5,000

The List

  • Wheels and tires
  • Level suspension
  • Align suspension
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Shocks
  • Oil change
  • Check other fluids
  • Check plugs
  • Replace valve cover gaskets
  • Battery holder
  • PCV valve
  • Install stock airbox
  • Replace air filter
  • Replace gas cap
  • Manual hubs
  • CV Axles
  • Roof rack
  • Fix ABS wire
  • Reattach fender flares
  • Reattach interior panels
  • Clean and de-stinkify interior
  • Install shift selector
  • Refit transfer case lever boot
  • Rear sway bar links
  • Ball joint spacers
  • Check pitman and idler arm, tie rod ends
  • Replace antenna
  • Fix spare tire mount
  • Get and install license plate
  • Replace front wipers
  • Replace rear wiper
  • Center caps
  • Adjust steering gear mount
  • Smog and registration

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