Almost home and time to start working out next steps. Definitely tires. I am frustrated that BFG doesn't sell ko2's in 255/85/16. The cooper maxx st seems to be the closest thing to an all terrain i can find.
Not much happened with the troopy in 2020. I started the year off in Australia playing around with a rented 2020 Troopy with a pop top. Getting ideas of what I did and didn't like about camper builds, checking out the kangaroos, visiting some folks, and having a great time. When a rain storm flooded the creeks and rivers near Byron National Park, I learned how deep of a water crossing you can make in a late model 70 series. It was pretty impressive to see a bow wake off the front of the hood. I also spent 3 days camped unexpectedly at the last crossing, which was completely impassable until the river went down.
Australia, where you can actually rent a proper 4x4 camper
And then the pandemic hit. The airlines threatened to strand us. Regretfully, we cut the trip short and went home.
This was one of the busiest times in my working life. There was almost no time for the troopy. The west coast was on fire all summer. I didn't do much traveling in the states and I didn't get much work done on the troopy project. I think I managed to install the underhood light kit I got from Odd Iron Offroad (thanks @Gun Runner 5), but that was about it.
After skipping our annual Baja trip last year, we decided to head back down for a couple weeks. We planned to just run down to Loreto and back. To get ready, I decided to dig into the electrical/charging system and shore a few things up. Here's what I was dealing with:
Messy terminals on an old Group 27 NAPA battery.
Messy terminals on a less old Group 65 battery. This one originally came out of my 60. Check out the awesome home-made battery tray.
The solenoid used to link and isolate the batteries.
The previous owner had a solenoid with some very undersized cable to isolate the battery. The solenoid was triggered by a +12v signal tapped from the windshield wiper motor. None of this gave me much confidence, so I decided to quickly tackle a few things before hitting the road.
Replaced the solenoid with a solid state battery isolator from Perfect Switch. This is another carryover from my 60. It acts like a diode but is a solid state device with essentially no voltage drop.
Ran a heavier gauge line from the alternator so the source side of the isolator.
Made a fusible links with a metripack connector since it had no protection - just wires terminated on the batteries.
Replaced the remaining NAPA battery with a Group 27M X2Power AGM battery.
And then we set off. This turned out to be the best Baja trip I'd taken since my very first visit to the Peninsula in 2012. We ended up driving all the way down to Los Cabos and back - spending more time and covering way more ground than originally planned. We drove along so many long desolate stretches of coastline on both the Gulf of California and the Pacific. We crossed over the Sierras. We barely touched Highway 1, instead spending most of our time on the dirt. It was awesome.
I like to joke that it's not a real Baja trip unless something breaks down. Usually I have to tackle one repair per trip. This time was a little more than I expected.
In San Ignacio the heater hose near the firewall started leaking. Easy fix with a chunk of 5/8" rubber hose from my box of misc stuff.
In Loreto the radiator started pissing coolant from several pinholes. I had the radiator soldered locally. I supplied the coolant but rather than dilute it he put 2 gallons of concentrate in the radiator. This led to me draining the radiator from the lower hose into a bucket on the side of the road to dilute as I couldn't drive up even a slight grade without overheating.
In La Ventana, I picked up a screw in one tire. I patched it without having to use the spare. It was around this time I noticed the tires were starting to get noisy and I was getting a lot of back-and-forth feedback in the steering wheel.
In an arroyo near Evangelisto, way out in the middle of nowhere, I woke up to find I couldn't get the starter to turn. I quickly figured out my auxiliary battery had failed. This made no sense however as all the stock systems were on the main battery. Or so I thought. I jumped the batteries together and quickly got moving. I found that while the starter was on the main battery, the main engine harness was on the aux battery. When it failed, there wasn't enough power for the starter solenoid.
While pulling out of a gas station in Cabo San Lucas, I felt the clutch starting to fade. It got progressively worse until I decided to bail from the group and make a beeline for La Paz where I found a brake shop that was able to jury-rig a repair to the master cylinder using a seal meant for a freaking Cherokee. It got me home though.
Despite the mechanical "fun", we still had an epic adventure. But I now had an even bigger list of stuff I needed to fix.
Coco's Corner - just before he moved to his new location on the now-paved Highway 5.
Two Land Cruisers on the Pacific. What a great way to spend the day.
After I got home, I had to tackle a few projects. I also first learned about PartSouq and became a bit of an addict. Suddenly it became a lot easier to source OEM 70 series parts. The Troopy got:
New battery terminals crimped to the existing cables. I plan to redo all of the battery cables so this was a quick 'n' dirty fix.
Replaced the failed group 65 auxiliary battery (under warranty). I also discovered the homemade battery tray's lower fender mount had cracked the fender and come loose so the battery tray could bounce around on rough roads. No bueno.
Bought and installed new clutch master (31410-60432) and release cylinders (31470-60161). I also got rebuild kits (04311-60100 and 04313-60081 respectively) to carry as spares.
Replaced all radiator (16571-17020, 16572-17020) and heater hoses (87245-60160, 87245-60290, and 87245-60171) with a new OEM set
Had the tires checked for any separation at a tire shop. Nope, they are just unevenly worn. My suspension is pretty much shot and I suspect that's the culprit.
Most importantly, I replaced the hood rod support clamp (96112-10250) so the dang thing isn't flopping around.
That took care of the most urgent issues, but I decided I needed to get serious about base-lining the vehicle more thoroughly and finding all its gremlins.
I looked for a radiator or a shop that could re-core the current radiator. Toyota wouldn't sell me one locally, I called most of the vendors I know in the community, but no one had any good ideas for a steel radiator. I was a bit skeptical of having it re-cored since the previous owner had already done that once and the tanks were pretty beat up. It wasn't leaking at the time so this went on the back-burner.
I ordered an OEM fusible link (82627-60020) but found I didn't have the vehicle harness-side connector to attach it to. Does anyone have any ideas on where I could source that piece or ideas on how to replicate it? I could splice it into my harness and then use OEM fusible links. Until then I am still running my homemade links.
Get to it! Baja is great in all seasons. I usually go in the winter and time it for the whale migration. But I've taken trips in the spring and summer as well. Some day I want to go down in November for race season.