1993 HiAce Firetruck Build Thread

Fenderfour

New member
I recently purchased one of these strange trucks from Vanlife NW in Portland, OR.
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They add a lift kit, put 30" KO2's on, replaced a bunch of seals, hoses, and replaced the fluids.

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You have probably seen these before. They are different from Hiace vans, which are unibody. These have a section of Hiace body on a ladder frame that I think is similar to the 75 series Land Cruiser. The engine is a 2.5L diesel, power is through a 5 speed manual, hi/low transfer case and open diffs. The diffs are standard Toyota 8" (rear) and 7.5" (front). This means lockers, LSDs, ring & Pinion, etc... are readily available. It's currently geared 5.125 final, which is great for crawling, but not great for getting to places. I may re-gear it. Will keep is stock for a bit to see how it goes. I just added a tach so I can see how hard the engine is working at speed. If you are adding a tach to yours, know that a diesel tachometer works differently than a gas tach, and is more expensive.

It was tough to decode the diffs. I found a complete list of codes here: http://www.dealerquickparts.net/HPFile/AXLE CODES.pdf

I've got a multi-stage plan to get this ready for trips in North and South America. Eventually, I'd like to build a composite box with a large overcab berth. I'm a little worried about overall weight and height, so I may move to a pop-up camper instead.

The racking seems useful, but it really isn't. It's too narrow, too heavy, etc... I removed all of it. There was an awkward cutout on the left (passenger) side of the bed. I added a little toolbox that nearly fills it in. I plan to use a bit of the racking material to create a corner post to hold a DIY tailgate and fill in the last gap. The racking is sitting in the bed, waiting for the title so I can license the truck and recycle the steel.

HomeToolbox.jpg

It seems like the step bumper and the diamondplate in the back is just riveted to the existing bed. I will remove it soon, but I want to have a new bumper ready to install before I do. BTW - The bed is the same as a 75 series land cruiser. If I wanted a complete bed, it is available. My long term plan is to build a lightweight flatbed and habitation box, so I will make do with what I have.

The first build is to build an inexpensive soft cover for the rear, similar to a canopy on a boat (Bimini Top). I'm using EMT conduit for the poles and 18oz PCV for the cover. I've made a few large (24') tents using this material on my Sailrite sewing machine. It's durable and waterproof.

Truck_Biminy_Sketch.jpg

Making a tent like this takes some CAD skills to create the surfaces then flatten them to make a pattern. Luckily, I've been doing this work for around 25 years.

biminy_Flat_Pattern.JPG

Right now, I'm waiting on some fittings for the EMT and a bit more fabric.

I'll post more as I progress.
 

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Cowboy Up

Member
I don't want to be the one that will throw the rock on the lake, but a canvas wall or roof will not work on this days.
Is not safe at all..
..
 

Fenderfour

New member
Got some work done on the frame. I'm using 3/4 emt. This is a temporary solution until I get a camper designed and built, so the poles don't need to be heavy duty or last 30 years.

I hacked the brackets out of mild steel plate and angle using an angle grinder. I could have been more methodical and had perfectly matching brackets, but the holes are all the same and this is temporary...

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The poles swing forward to allow use of the bed without a cover.

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The rear has vertical supports to hold the tailgate cover.

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End fittings are from Maker Pipe.

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nyyankees588

Active member
Super cool rig - look forward to following along with your build-out. I've always wanted to see one of these imported little fire trucks built out. I also just discovered the maker pipe/EMT construction method, so looking forward to seeing how your version comes out. Such a cool/low barrier to entry method.
 

Fenderfour

New member
With the liberty that a "bad guy" has one this day, they will get in ur truck in no time if u leave the truck untended at the trail head ....

I see. Thanks for that. I'm aware that trail thefts occur and that a fabric cover isn't a deterrent. I'm not planning to leave anything in the truck unattended/unsecured. The softcover is to keep things dry while I'm around. No long-term travel will happen with this truck until a camper is added.
 

Cowboy Up

Member
I see. Thanks for that. I'm aware that trail thefts occur and that a fabric cover isn't a deterrent. I'm not planning to leave anything in the truck unattended/unsecured. The softcover is to keep things dry while I'm around. No long-term travel will happen with this truck until a camper is added.
Great, now we are on the "same page".
When I builded mine, safety was my first priority. In the end is our " house on wheel" back in the country.
Good luck!
 

Lovetheworld

Active member
Nice truck. You write about a 2.5L engine but I think you mean a 2.4 liter which is the 2L engine? With turbo or without?

I have a 4x4 Hiace unibody, but with the same drivetrain. I also have 5.125 final gear ratio as well as LSD. Please check if you have an LSD as well, so you don't put in the wrong oil.
You can check it with the rear axle code.
I have 225/75R16 on them and for me it is fine on the highway. Especially if you fit even bigger tires, the 5.125 is nice. It climbes great.
 

Fenderfour

New member
Nice truck. You write about a 2.5L engine but I think you mean a 2.4 liter which is the 2L engine? With turbo or without?

I have a 4x4 Hiace unibody, but with the same drivetrain. I also have 5.125 final gear ratio as well as LSD. Please check if you have an LSD as well, so you don't put in the wrong oil.
You can check it with the rear axle code.
I have 225/75R16 on them and for me it is fine on the highway. Especially if you fit even bigger tires, the 5.125 is nice. It climbes great.
Thanks for the reply. These are fun little trucks. Do you have any pictures of your Hiace?

It is the 2L, which is 2,446 cc, I guess that is 2.4L, sorry about the rounding error. No turbo, sadly. I'm researching some kits from Australia that add the 2LT intake and a small turbo to the 2L engine. It seems to be a popular mode on Fj landcruisers. They look reasonable, but I won't be adding one for a while.

I haven't had much chance to drive on the highway yet. Regearing isn't definite. I need to drive it on a few longer trips before spending the money, which is considerable.

I need to double-check the axle code. I'm pretty sure I have an open diff, but thanks for the tip on oil. I'll be sure to verify before adding any.
 

Fenderfour

New member
I did some sewing over the last week or two. As I said, I have a background in CAD, so I designed the frame and fabric before I got started. After having a couple of large tents, I also know improvisation is required. Fabric moves and CAD doesn't.

Each piece is laid out and cut. I wanted to print a pattern, but large scale printing was too expensive. Instead I plotted multiple points for each curve and then faired it in. It's very similar to lofting curves in boat building.

image5(3).jpeg

Each piece has a 1" seam allowance, this is to provide plenty of space for wiggly seams. All pieces are first glued together with vinyl cement. I guess you could stop here. It's a solvent based glue that will hold things together (when the surfaces are prepped and the glue is fully cured).

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Since I have experience making large tents for windy desert environments, I need some burly thread in there too.

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This isn't a "normal" sewing machine. This is a small sailmaking sewing machine from SailRite. It can make very long stitches (5/8"), and it can sew through pretty much anything you can fit under the presser foot. It also has a walking foot, which helps to pull the fabric along.

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The process was glue --> cure --> roll up the mass of fabric --> wrestle it through the machine --> repeat

You can see the small opening between the needle bar and the body. You have to get creative to fit large pieces of 18 oz pcv in there. In some cases, I had to sew a small section, move the fabric, sew a section, etc... Yes, an industrial machine with a long throat would have been better. This is what I have.

The thread is DB92 UV resistant bonded polyester, it's .012 thick, and I can't break it by hand.

There were a few iterations of test fitting.

testfit0.jpg

One big mistake was the upper corners. I used 6" dia, it should have been 12". There is some bunching, but it's not worth fixing the seam for a temporary cover.


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Lovetheworld

Active member
Thanks for the reply. These are fun little trucks. Do you have any pictures of your Hiace?

It is the 2L, which is 2,446 cc, I guess that is 2.4L, sorry about the rounding error. No turbo, sadly. I'm researching some kits from Australia that add the 2LT intake and a small turbo to the 2L engine. It seems to be a popular mode on Fj landcruisers. They look reasonable, but I won't be adding one for a while.

I haven't had much chance to drive on the highway yet. Regearing isn't definite. I need to drive it on a few longer trips before spending the money, which is considerable.

I need to double-check the axle code. I'm pretty sure I have an open diff, but thanks for the tip on oil. I'll be sure to verify before adding any.
Well it is for sale, so for pics check: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/very-rare-toyota-hiace-4x4-lhd-overland-campervan.234721/

These engines are very reliable without turbo, with turbo quite a bit less.
My plan was to turbo it but not change the diesel pump. So you don't get the max power output, but it runs a lot better and the engine head doesn't get to hot.
It should be doable with a Toyota exhaust manifold form a turbo version of this engine (2L-T)
 

Fenderfour

New member
Well it is for sale, so for pics check: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/very-rare-toyota-hiace-4x4-lhd-overland-campervan.234721/

These engines are very reliable without turbo, with turbo quite a bit less.
My plan was to turbo it but not change the diesel pump. So you don't get the max power output, but it runs a lot better and the engine head doesn't get to hot.
It should be doable with a Toyota exhaust manifold form a turbo version of this engine (2L-T)
That's a sweet rig. LHD is great for anyone wanting to do some travel in South America. I hope someone buys it to do some travel.

Thanks for the info on turbo/engine reliability. Reliability will be very important to me, so maybe there isn't a turbo in my future. Slow is fine.
 

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