Builds GoTroopy - A Dubai Troopy Build

Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
So here we have it. A completely stock 2018MY (registered 6th March 2019) 1VD Toyota Land Cruiser 78 Series. The vehicle is 'Rest of the World' spec, Euro3 engine and pretty much as basic as they come.

  • No electric windows
  • No central locking
  • No DPF
  • Manual aerial
  • AM stereo with one speaker, not even a cassette
  • Vinyl floor coverings
  • 9 Seats
  • Has amazing AC

... and it's perfect!

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This thing has been in the planning for a few years now. Registering diesels in the UAE is often difficult, with the fuel type specifically associated with commercial vehicles, which Expats haven't been allowed to register, unless they have business licenses. Luckily for me, a few other people I know have registered them over the past year, making my route to owning one a little easier.

Some background.

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It all kind of started almost three years ago to the day. We had some epic storms which resulted in my Golf getting flooded out. The water was up to the bottom of the windscreen and there was no chance it was ever to recover.

Roll on a couple of months and my Dad was planning his Dubai exit strategy. With a 2010 Prado he was looking to offload, and a fist full of insurance cash from the Golf, a deal was struck. I'd been driving the Prado since I moved out here in 2011, so knew it well, and had explored quite a bit of the UAE in it, so it made sense to keep it in the family.

The Prado has served us well since new. I got rear ended it in back in 2012 (not long after I arrived in Dubai) and the dealer decided to change the chassis (I still don't know why the old man dandy push back for a replacement/write-off), so the car is essentially worthless to sell, but been ultra reliable. During 2017, the touring upgrades started, with some KO2's, then a drawer system in the back, and eventually a roof rack and ARB Simpson III tent.

Introducing the wife to the tent (she hated the idea of ground camping, as she worried about scorpions) was a revelation. I've probably spent over 50 nights in it since summer 2017, and she's spent probably 30, happy to go away for single nights, or multi-night trips to the Oman mountains. This then got the discussions and ideas going for something a little more built for purpose as the cover over the RTT was becoming more frustrating, and the 2.4m vehicle height of the Prado and tent was difficult with all car parks in the UAE being underground/covered.

So, this lead to the Troopy, with the Hercules conversion. There is a local company here who've ripped off the Hercules design, but unfortunately (or more likely fortunately) they've proven unreliable with manufacture. I'm of the opinion, if it's difficult to give someone money to buy something, what are they going to be like when they have the money.

Over the coming year(s), the vehicle will be slowly built to take on tours of the UAE and Oman, plus hopefully Saudi one day if Visa requirements relax a little more to allow self-drive without a guild, then eventually taken back to the UK.

First things first, to address some of the creature comforts. It's currently having dealer fit central locking and electric windows fitted. As this will eventually become my daily, as I will have to sell my Prado J150 to fund part of the build, I'd like some things to make life with it easier.

Over the past year I've been collecting some bits and pieces to kick start the build. I'v already fitted some standard 16x7 Toyota alloys with 285/75R16 KM3s, and will kick off the build properly with installation of a PDP secondary diesel filter, diff breathers and cruise control, plus factory rear locker then ARB BP-51 suspension, house power system based around the CTEK 140 Off-Road kit, and fitting of the Hercules should all happen at once.

Final piece of the puzzle, which selling the Prado will have to fund, will be the interior fit out. Luckily, this gives me enough time to use the vehicle and better understand what I want built, and how it should be build, keeping weight as a high priority.

Anyway, I'll share some more photos soon once it's back from the accessories shop.

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Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
487
Location
Milano - Italy
super nice car .
especially with the 8 cil. diesel motor .
good choice :
rims , diff rear locker , cruise control.second diesel filter , diff breather .

iffy choice :
electric windows , they will jam in 4-5 years , and making them work properly is a pitta , and €€€

what is Hercules fitting ??


bye Renago
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
super nice car .
especially with the 8 cil. diesel motor .
good choice :
rims , diff rear locker , cruise control.second diesel filter , diff breather .

iffy choice :
electric windows , they will jam in 4-5 years , and making them work properly is a pitta , and €€€

what is Hercules fitting ??


bye Renago
I’ve not had a problem with the electric windows in my Prado over the past 9 years and 230k km here in the desert, so hoping the LC78 will be equally as reliable. I have the winders still, should I decide to go back.

The Hercules is the Alucab pop top roof from South Africa.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
487
Location
Milano - Italy
pls consider that Prado and 78 are same brand , but 2 very different cars .
78 , is down to the bare minimum , but over engineered and fully tested in the most severe condition since 30-40 years .
but some features or details are sub standard , such as seats ,suspensions are crap , but never fail .
window rails are iffy , if you blow them and keep them clean , they might last .
you will be a happy owner , especially in your area-

bye Renago
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
1,000KM under it's belt in little over a week and it's been so much fun to drive. Yes, it's not particularly fast (especially while running it in), and yes, it's noisy, but there's just something that makes all of it's faults (compared to much more modern cars) forgivable.

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Modifications so far have been purely aesthetic. Some standard Toyota alloys to replace the steelies, and some 285/75R16 KM3s for a bit more traction up in the mountains and down in the wadi's. Road noise is no different to the standard pizza cutters.

Capped off with some arch extensions to cover the additional width the new tyres provide.

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Finally got some time in the workshop booked to install the on-board compressor, upgraded stereo (bored of AM static now), OEM rear diff lock (front will come later, when budget allows), about 30kg of sound deadening ready for the interior fit out, plus remove the rattling rear seats. Then I'll focus on the vehicles house power needs and build.

The Hercules roof has been paid for finally, and production should start imminently. Delivery scheduled around end of April, ready for May installation and a jaunt down to Salalah, Oman, for the Khareef.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
Sub'd.
BTW, Saudi has started to issue visitor visas.
The caveat to this rule is that you have to be part of a guided tour and they organise your entry, hotels etc. It doesn't work for someone driving across the border in their own vehicle, who makes to make their own way around - same as Iran for UK passport holders.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
A few weeks holiday and a lot of work means there have been very few updates to the thread. That doesn’t mean that nothing had been happening on the rig, however.

While I was away, I handed the Troopy over to my local mechanic for a few choice mods before the bigger updates start.

They fitted an ARB Dual Compressor in the rear side cavity to enable easier and quicker air up after desert and wadi driving. It’s also a god send as I can now blow all the sand out of my car.

I’ve installed the ever so important pre-filter system from PDP to protect against dirty diesel that can plague the region. Here in the UAE, we’re pretty safe with the quality of diesel, however once we cross in to Oman, and hopefully (eventually) Saudi, the diesel quality can deteriorate, especially out of the main cities.

I also went for the PDP diff breathers and their cruise control module at the same time. Now to try and find some water to drive through to make the diff breathers worthwhile 😂.

I’ve updated their front grill to the Toyota word logo and mesh, rather than the chrome grill with bullhorns logo. I’ve also painted the surround black, but this needs redoing properly.

Inside the grill, I’ve cut a couple of holes and mounted two Baja Designs Squadron R Pro spot/driving combo, plus an additional two of these lights in the fog light hole in the bumper.

Finally, and probably the biggest update so far, I’ve had a set of Dobinsons Monotube’s fitted, together with a 40mm front lift and extended rear shackles.

I’ve held off swapping out the rear leafs yet until I get further in to my build and have a better idea of what constant load I’ll be running.

I went around and around with suspension. Thought I’d settled on BP-51’s until the local dealer put the price up on me over 30%, two days after receiving their quote, I decided to look around. I ended up with the Dobinsons as they’re half the price, still have the monotube design with bypass, plus no additional adjustment - the likelihood of playing around with adjustments is small and I’d probably end up screwing them up.

Just coming up to the 5,000KM service in little over 6 weeks of ownership (two of these I was out of the country) and it’s still an absolute hoot to drive.

Happy enough to be getting 12.0l/100km.

Next up, sound deadening, power installation and possibly a respray in to something a little more interesting than white before the roof arrives end of May.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
Wow, I totally underestimated the patience and time required to do a build thread.

After just reading @Thebedouin60's 62 Series thread,I thought it about time I update mine.

A little teaser... a lot will have changed next time I get to drive it. For now, it's been off the road for little over a week, having covered 13,500km in the three months I've owned it.

I'll get a full write up sorted over the next couple of nights along with tome photos.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
So where are we with the build now, and how did we get there.

Current status. The car is roofless and in the paintshop for a full respray. But the car has gone through some development to get to this stage.

Last update was the initial phase of work. Stereo, lights, electric windows etc. Since that work was done, I’ve covered 13,500km of fun miles around the UAE and Oman.

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I’ve realised Renago was right about electric windows and removed them.

I’ve also realised that the cruise control, no matter how nice, reduced fuel economy too much (even with Arab oil).

Even with only 13k on the clock, this thing still brings a smile to my face every time I drive it. Even the dog likes it.
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Getting my old 150 together with the new 78 for one last camping trip before the weather turns.

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Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
2010651


40c in the evening, 80-90% humidity. What better to do than join friends on the beach to break fast during Ramadan and enjoy Iftar.

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The last job to do before the strip down and respray begins. Cutting out the wing for the larger snorkel air feed, and modifying the airbox.


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And one final night. Around 1400m in the mountains of the Musandam, the spit of Oman that sits in the Straight of Hormuz. Temps dropped down to 28c here at night, which was very pleasant considering it was 46c at sea level. Spent the night in the hammock, mount from McLean Metal Works.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
Now we get to what's been happening over the past 10 days.

I'm working with a local fabrication shop in Dubai called Rad Expeditions for most of this phase. They've already cut the roof, tested the Hercules fitting, and removed it, ready for the paint.

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Guide holes. Still time to bottle it...

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Getting difficult to back out now...

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And done!

A little tidying up, ready for transporting to the bodyshop. I was tempted to drive it down, being only 5km away, but didn't want to risk something flexing or warping.

Now, this is where I need to have a bit of a moan. Alu Cab have been challenging, to say the least. Their shipping agent in South Africa took over a month to ship the roofs. When they arrived, they were packed upside down (even though they had big arrows saying 'This way up' pointing at the floor. We were also missing some paperwork and had to pay an extra $250 for customs clearances.

Not Alu Cab's fault for the above, but when my roof arrived it didn't have brackets for securing it to the car. Why they don't double and triple check these things is beyond me. Instead they cost themselves more money and had to send brackets out quick by airmail.

I wanted some stronger gas struts for the roof. They were omitted from the original order and when the roof was due to ship, I was asked to pay more (plus ridiculous fee's for international money transfers). Anyway, I just don't know why they can't share a list of extra's (like roof bars, struts etc) when ordering a roof, and instead insist on doing it by piecemeal.

Rant over.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2018
Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
And so the strip down and prep begins. I'm always happy to pay the professionals to do the job properly, and I've been impressed so far by the quality of the work from the paint shop.

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I've decided to replace the arches. They were poorly fitted by a backstreet garage, recommended by the Toyota dealers in Oman, of all people, who turned in to a bunch of cowboys!
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These are the ridiculous brackets they "fabricated" and then attached using self tapers. They couldn't even drill holes properly! Rest assured, the bodyshop have welded up all the holes and rustproofed before prepping for new topcoat.

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I've also managed to get all the bits to hang a jerry can off the back. These have all come new from the local Toyota dealer, with the exception of the can, which can FOC from a friend who took it off his 76.

Again, they've filled all the holes that are no longer needed.

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And the new arches fitted up. These are again OEM, from the GRJ71.

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Obviously just a test fit. There's still the rubber beading to sit between the arch and the body once painted.
 
Joined
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Messages
158
Location
Dubai, UAE
And so this brings us to where we sit today.

It should be going in to the booth for paint on Tuesday, then back to Rad Expeditions on Saturday for the roof to be fitted. Rad are also helping with the power installation (AGM, CTEK BMS and solar on the Hercules), plus CAD designing the rear bench. Current plan is to fabricate these out of water jet cut aluminium, folded and riveted, mainly for strength, but hopefully lighter than most.

I've also managed to get some new wheels. I don't want to show them off just yet, but they should work nicely with the new paint and new roof.
 
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