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Enemigo's 2nd Gen Trooper

13110 Views 55 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Enemigo
It's time I make my own thread. I'll update more later, and especially as I go.

Here is how it looked when I bought it in Feb of 2020. The bumper was torn off, the hood pushed in, the radiator support kinked, and the front window was stuck partially down and the harness was cut. It also didn't run.

The guy I bought it from changed the starter, then couldn't get it started again, so I watched the price drop from $1,500 down to $500. He pulled the ignition coil fuse, then didn't put it back in the correct spot. I did the timing belt and changed all of the suspension with the exception of the sway bar bushings. I even got a new steering link.

Here is the mod list as of May 2021.

-All Moog parts in the front with Skyjacker Nitrocharger shocks. About a 1.5-2" torsion bar crank. ... 5#p5499805
-1.5" diff drop.
-Lokka locker in front diff.
-Aisin Manual hubs.
-1.5" wheel spacers.

-Changed to BDS 034211 springs from OME 919 springs.
-Skyjacker M95 rear shocks.
-1.5" bump stops.
-1.5" wheel spacers.

Wheels and tires:
-17" Axiom wheels with 285/70R-17 Falken Wildpeak M101 tires.
-Custom tire cover using the factory back plate.
-Flipped tire carrier.

-Terralow 3:1 low gears: ... 2&t=147475
-Excedy clutch
-1" body lift
-Custom Rock sliders, re-located vacuum accumulator.
-2.5" stainless exhaust after the collector. 2.5" CARB legal CAT, Magnaflow 5"x8" straight through muffler.

Added an inside door handle to the rear door: ... 3#p5498383
High-lift mounting brackets in front of rear seat.

That's all I can think of right now. It feels like I've done more to it.

Here's how it looks today with some recent pictures of my latest improvements.

Painted up the hubs so you could read them. I got into the mud the same day and the yellow washed off with the pressure sprayer. I'll get them touched up again.

Bump Stops

The mounts I made to keep the hi-lift from killing me if I survive a roll over.

Here is the Trooper in action in Moab.

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Very nice. You've done a lot of work. Going to be in your neck of the woods first part of June. My bro lives in Parker.
Yeah that's not too far from me. 40ish minutes.
Did you want me to take more slider pics?
All your posts and I'm just now seeing your rig. Like the color combination. You've done an impressive amount of work and appears to be good quality. Dennis
Thanks guys.
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Enemigo said:
Yeah that's not too far from me. 40ish minutes.
Did you want me to take more slider pics?
They look cool. Assume they are more for function though so I am so far from needing those at this point! :shock:

Is your Troop a 5 spd?
giusedtobe said:
Enemigo said:
Yeah that's not too far from me. 40ish minutes.
Did you want me to take more slider pics?
They look cool. Assume they are more for function though so I am so far from needing those at this point! :shock:

Is your Troop a 5 spd?
Yep, functional for sure. Yes it's a 5-speed. I had no idea how rare they were until after I bought it.

Sliders are 2"x2" x 3/16" wall square tube on the main leg, and then DOM 1.75" .120 wall tube on the kickouts. I painted everything with truck bed liner, then did the kickouts with some paint I bought from Napa that is the correct color code off the vehicle.

I took the plastic rock guards off to build the sliders, and didn't really think about them when I decided where to cut the kickouts so they would angle up like I wanted. To say it is a tight fit would be an understatement. They are touching and I mared up the paint trying to get them back into place. I don't know that I"ll ever be able to remove them again.

I used 3/16" plates welded to the frame. The original idea was that I would put gussets on the top as well, but I was having such a difficult time with the tight welding, and I was getting impatient so I didn't do the gussets after all.

The only thing I really had to move was the vacuum accumulator that was on the driver side of the frame right under the driver door.

This gives you a better idea of where it was overall.

I moved the accumulator back under the passenger seat, and on the inboard side of the frame. I just tacked it on since I can't imagine needing to remove it often, if ever.

You can see how much higher I mounted it here. I also gained at least 5" of clearance with the smaller than stock muffler that I also was able to tuck up a bit higher as well.

I did a 1" body lift to allow room for the sliders and you can also see that I ended up notching the seam weld to clearance the slider legs. I didn't want to do either of those things (or run spacers) originally, but in the end I did both.

I've never bent tube, or even notched tube before, so that was all stuff I had to learn. I've watched countless videos on both, but when things go hands on, sometimes things don't settle into your brain like you'd hope. I had to mess around with some scrap pipe just practicing a 90 and 45 degree cut to get the process pounded into my thick skull. You can see here though, this is a very shallow angle and the standard methods weren't working well for me; especially since the kickout portion was on a curve.

I ended up remembering this technique and made up a notching template tool out of BBQ skewers to help me get my cut even close. Basically you slide this over a section of pipe and hold it up to where you want it to meet the other pipe, adjust all the sticks to be touching the other pipe, tape them all into place, gently slide down your pipe and trace the pattern around the sticks for your cut. Even with this I still cut the throat too deep on both sides because of that curve.

This was actually the wrong line, but it's the only one I took a picture of.

In the end, they hold the weight of the vehicle without flexing at all. If I had to do it again, I probably wouldn't use 3/16"; I'd go lighter.
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The body lift caused the shift boot to bunch up against the body and it would kick out of 2nd and 4th gear. I could have just cut the body back I'm sure, but I elected to cut the shifter and reweld it. I don't have a picture of it welded, but basically I cut out the section on the very right of the picture with the collar around it. I cut as much of this out as I could and still weld the two pieces together and keep the same angle. I want to say it a 1.5-2" section. I have plans to build a short shifter, but that will be later down the road.

In the process, I broke all of the plastic parts.

The big one wasn't a problem because it is fully supported in the cradle, so it just takes a bit of extra care when installing.

However, the little ball on the end broke and that was a big problem. This kind is designed in such a way that it flexes a bit, allowing you to remove and replace it easily. However, I took it on and off probably 3-4 times and fatigued the plastic and it broke. You can see here where it broke. I tried to epoxy it back together, then tried super glue, but all that was in vein. I actually drove a couple hundred miles without the ball, but the shifter was so loose, that in gear, the stick had as much play as it would have in neutral. I went to downshift from 5th to 4th on the highway, and then couldn't find any gears. When I did find a gear, it was THIRD and my buddy almost rear ended me. I had to do something.

I ran to the pull n pay and found the older style of 2nd gen with a manual and pulled that shaft. The shifter itself is the same, but the plastic ball on the end couldn't be removed easily like the other style. I heated up a razor blade with a torch and sliced down one side. This allowed the plastic to be removed, and retain it's shape. I super glued it together and held it in my vise over night. This picture is blurry (you can see where I cut the bushing), but I'm using it because you can see where I welded the shifter.

This only lasted about 100 miles before the plastic heated up and slipped off the end of the ball. I was very worried it would end up in the transmission, but the sleeve was still retained by the ring on the transmission end. It was just sliding around under the ball. I didn't even notice it happened at first, until I realized that when in 5th gear, the shifter could touch the hi-lo shifter. Whoops.

I was getting desperate and started a thread on another board asking if anyone could 3D print me a part. One of my buddies asked which trans and after a quick Google search, found me the part I needed from a Jeep AX15 transmission. I ordered it in, and the outside diameter was perfect, but the inside was too large and it wouldn't stay on the ball.

If you remember that I broke a gear doing my low gear install, and had to go get a second transfer case to cannibalize. I had that hi-lo shifter laying around and noticed that it had a plastic sleeve on it that looked like would fit the new bushing I got from Core Shifters. I used the hot knife trick again and cut this off the old shifter. Even after cutting it was a bear to get off and back onto the other shifter. Since this very clearly didn't have to slide around or move at all, I just super glued the whole thing together and held it in the vise again.

It was a tight fit, but I got the new bushing over the top and now everything is back to normal. Finally!
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Size comparison between factory and new muffler.

You can see that the factory muffler had seen better days. It already rusted enough to have a leak, then on the first shake down run after I did all the suspension and tires I smashed it on a rock. Since I had the exhaust off to do the clutch and low gears, I decided to just replace the exhaust while I was at it.

Even though the muffler is offset, you can still see right through it. I didn't realize that's what I was buying, but that's okay. I was trying to keep things quiet. My neighbor redid his exhaust as well since he just swapped a 3.4 4Runner motor into his first gen 4Runner. We bought pretty much the same CAT, and I used his left over pipe, but he bought the largest Maganaflow he could get because we are in the same mind of quieter is better. His sounds like a factory vehicle and is touch too quiet for him. While mine is a touch too loud. It's nothing I'm embarrassed about or anything, but I think the next size up in muffler, or even one with baffles would have been perfect. This has a touch of drone, but nothing that bothers me.

I used V-bands for the connections. As a new welder, I was a bit nervous about them since they have a reputation for leaking. My neighbor's leaked when he did his, so just welded them together, haha. I have two and they both leak a little, evidenced by a small water drip, but not enough to hear, and both are after the CAT so I don't really care. One is worse than the other, but I think that's just an alignment issue since it didn't leak the first time, but I had to take the exhaust off to pull the transfer case again and had a heck of a time getting the exhaust all lined up again. There is certainly something to be said for building something in a way that makes it easy to remove, especially when it's something like exhaust that's going to be removed every now and again as you mod your vehicle.

Oh yeah, I had to replace the flex pipe section as well. There were exhaust leaks all over. I ordered two and used the larger one.

All welded together. The collector section was large enough that I could just weld the 2.5" CAT right on without much trouble. So it's basically now a full stainless 2.5" from the collector back. I can't tell you if it performs any better because it's so gutless without being able to change the rear end gears to compensate for the larger tires. Oh well. haha.
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At this point I was just doing stuff to stall instead of doing my taxes. Maybe it's a bit much, but fresh paint makes everything look better. Maybe it just makes it feel a little less like it has 214,000 miles.

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Nice, might have to steal that idea. Did you just brush it on very carefully?
I used a BBQ skewer, same with the hubs. On the shifter, first, get a strong pick and dig all the crud out. Those groves are actually about a 1/16" deep, but you'd never know cause there is years of dirt packed in there. Give a good cleaning and drying. What I found works best is to kind of slop it on heavy and let your paint fill up the void, then pretty quickly wipe the top of the shifter off to clear the excess paint away. The BBQ skewer tip is wider than the trough so dabbing it on like you would on the hubs didn't work as well. Here is the trick, Don't crumple up your wet paper towel or rag or whatever, try to keep it as flat as possible. When you crumple it up, it reaches down and scoops your paint out instead of just cleaning off the top. If you use a water soluble paint, clean up is easier.
Just got back from the Trooper's first Moab trip. Drove it there and it drove me home. I broke the driver's CV messing around on this optional obstacle on Metal Masher. I bit off a bit more than I could chew here. I didn't break the axle under wheel speed or hopping like I would have expected. I was trying to turn the front wheels and things were very tight. I think I bound it up and it just broke under pressure. We couldn't pull me up over the top, so you can see the chain at the back we had to dig out the hitch and pull me off backward. I was 3 miles into the trail when I broke, but not even to a named obstacle yet when I broke. I continued to do the trail in 3wd and being pulled up stuff it wouldn't climb for the next two miles until we got to the top. From there I was able to do another mile in 2wd as it was all downhill. Fortunately there was a cut off road halfway through Metal Masher so we didn't have to try and limp through another 6 miles of trail!

Very clean break on the CV. We zip tied it to the sway bar linkage and continued up the trail. Of course the zip tie broke right off and it bounced around a bit and made some gouges in the lower control arm. Nothing serious though.

On the last day we were just messing around on the flat parts of Kane Creek and I drove through a line that flexed the rear enough to snap the sway bar and dump a coil completely out of the truck. It was trapped in the suspension and when I touched it, it fell out onto the ground and rolled away. I wasn't messing around or trying to be cool or anything. In fact, I didn't even know it happened. I had stopped to wait for our friends in a Subaru Legacy (that's another, more fun story), and they actually heard the spring noise and alerted me.
This is what I had driven through to break the sway bar. The position in the photo is where I backed it up to get enough flex out of the suspension so I could pop the spring back in. There is zero spring retention on the Trooper, so it just slid right in. I tied the spring to the top and bottom perch with para cord just to get me off the trail. I drove home the 300+ miles without a sway bar. I'm probably going to park the Trooper for a while and deal with it later.

Overall, the road trip alone was over 700 miles so glad I was able to drive the entire way. I've got video footage, but it will take a while before I get any of it up.
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Looks like cheapy grommets rust after a few heavy rains. Bummer. Anyone have any ideas of what else I could use?

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Damn that's impressive. I think I'd cry if I busted mine up like that even though its all repairable.
There are scrapes on every single low point of the vehicle now. :lol:

I'm not worried about the bumpers because I plan to build my own at some point.

Next up will be a sleeping platform with drawers, roof rack with solar, and a 270 awning, then bumpers at some point. I want the sleeping platform, roof rack, and awning to be aluminum. I don't think I'll get any of them done before hunting this fall unfortunately.
Really enjoyed the videos, not hardly a wheel slippage. I was in the area with the Isuzu Vehcross group just before that. We mainly stayed in the Green River area but did wander into the north end of Arches National Park.
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