1998 Isuzu Amigo: Let's Try This Again

utherjorge

Observer
Hello! Some time ago, I was attempting a build of a very small 4x4...and after two head gaskets and associated other worries, that little oddball has retired to the boneyard in the sky. Or is now razor blades.

About the time I punted that thing to the boneyard, I looked for the heck of it at Copart, and one near me. I enjoy having something around to putter with...though I would be happier if it were working. So, before, when I chose my Daihatsu, I had narrowed down my search to two vehicles: the Daihatsu (because they were supposedly robust) and an Isuzu (due to stronger running gear). I chose Daihatsu first...but now I thought I would look for an Amigo.

Lo and behold, the closest copart to me had a donated one that was almost out of time...for $250. So, sure...why not, right? The auction went past my $500 max, and I went to bed, sleeping just fine. I woke up a day or two later to see an e-mail for an offer to buy it for less...and ultimately able to buy it for my $500 max bid amount.

It has sat in my driveway for a couple months (I still don't have the title paperwork...which is exceptionally convenient for me) but there's been no rush; I've been very busy. However, I just bought the first parts for it...so it's time to get this thing going. Here's to hoping that with less to do (famous last words) next summer will be filled with shenangians.

The 2" body lift kit is officially on the way. Let the build begin.
 

taythegibs

Resident Pirate
I had a red Amigo about 14 years ago. Loved that thing, but managed to blow the head gasket somehow. Never had it legally on the road as I didnt yet have a license, but it was fun at stock height on trails. I now regret selling it, sold it to a guy for the wheels and new a/t tires it had, but other than that gasket it was in great shape. Anyway, good luck on the build!
 

utherjorge

Observer
Next three planning points are as follows:

1. First, install body lift kit that is on the way.

2. Gotta do a whole-body check for inspection to see what ain't working so good. Already I know I have serious rust around the gas tank, but I believe it's just the holder for the tank...the thing looks like it was in the ocean, but I don't know if I'll get another tank or do something else yet. Pump and tank currently work fine.

3. Gotta adapt the old bumper I have from my Rocky for the Amigo, front to start. It's about the same width though I believe the angles are wrong and I know the mounting will need to be adjusted. I also want to add front recovery points aside from the winch mount that I already have. I start welding classes in a week or so once my daughters' fall sports are finished. playoffs will dictate whether it's a week or more.

This is the bumper on the old rig:
 

utherjorge

Observer
Ok, so being home and having more time to do things has allowed me to begin doing "stuff."

One thing I didn't take great pictures of was the new hard top. This rig came stock with a soft top, so there are some minor shenanigans involved with transferring it over. I'm largely done with that, and getting it on, but I don't have it completely secured as I need to disassemble some of the interior to do some of the updates and upgrades I have in mind. In fact, I have started that, which I will include here.

The "new to me" hard top had been painted in some poopy bed liner crap, which had to be sanded off. I then painted it in Rust-Oleum Hammered Black, which actually has a great charcoal color when done. That's on and essentially secure. I also scored the back glass for it, too, at the same time, and that's "basically" on and secure.

So, on to the larger things. The body lift is first. To begin the process, I had to take off the front and rear bumpers and disconnect some wiring. No big deal, but I like doing this stuff, as it forces me to get up close and personal with the rig. I knocked a lot of rust scale off, and have a lot of cleaning up to do, which I can do once the body lift is in and I have some more space. More about that later. I have also found (so far) a couple of small holes in the frame due to rust, too...or, at least, I think they are. Obviously, that will need to be patched, but one thing at a time.

Here she sits after having the front and rear bumpers taken off: these need to be removed to get access to the body bolts for the body lift, and I don't plan on keeping them anyway. I also removed what I believe to be stock running boards...which would certainly get hung up on stuff. Great news is that the rig has 200k miles and the underside of the body looks excellent. I have been in contact with the rig's original owner (I am just the second owner in the truck's life!) and the guy really did care for it. More to come this month as I attempt to get all of this stuff done:



 

utherjorge

Observer
I'm going to be posting stuff in a couple of different places, because I have lots of questions, and will be looking for lots of advice.

So, the body lift is slow going for a couple of reasons. Reason 1 is that there are supposed to be harnesses and what not in specific locations...and there are not. So, tracking down where the buggers have been moved to is a challenge.

Additionally, while I'm not seeing structural worries, there's a lot of rust to work around and knock off, which I'm doing as I go. You can see that in this first picture:


The end of the frame gives you a good idea of what I'm talking about.

Additionally, while I have it disassembled, I can attempt other things. High power cables were run for a large amp in the rear door. I can see where wires were run, and since the rear carpet and mat are still soaked after three months inside the garage, and I was removing the rug anyway, I'm debating about changing out the single 12v cigarette lighter plug in the rear for a newer own, perhaps with an Anderson plug, run from higher-grade wires. Stock looks weak.



I didn't run a meter off of those two wires to see the draw, but I have no faith in them delivering power I might need to the rear for "stuff."
 

utherjorge

Observer
Ok, so the body lift is done. I do have a likely issue where the shifter boot is wadded up in the housing...so I don't have 2nd, 4th, or reverse...so I just push it out of the garage!

Actually, since the carpet continues to stay wet, I am taking the interior out to clean it, and then I can fix the shifter boot along with the wiring I'm trying to get help on. Looking to run that Blueseas panel and trying to get advice, so stay tuned to that, too.



 

utherjorge

Observer
So, I did the first "real" overlanding sort of addition today. I got help from both a member here and from BlueSeas themselves, but I wired a new panel to be able to run items from the rear of the Meego.

So, first, here's the panel out of the vehicle. Driver's side, rear.


Closer look at the back of this flimsy accessory outlet? ENHANCE!


Let's look at the stock wires and see how they look!


They were live, but wouldn't run much. I should mention that I took the interior apart to put in a body lift and to find out the source of the water in the carpet. Both of those beign accomplished, it was time to tackle this.

So, I got 18 feet of 10/2 marine wire to run from the back to the battery. As per Blueseas, they preferred going negative to battery as opposed to ground. I did check and it worked on a spare battery, so here's to hoping. So, I ran the wire front, behind panels, and through an existing firewall hole and to the battery.




Now, I also shielded the cable under the hood and will be running it above the A/C lines to the battery location. I will have a picture of that later.

Here's the finished panel...I just need to blank out the previous hole!
 

utherjorge

Observer
OK, so I'm really excited for this update, even though it's not done yet. I got the seats and carpet cleaned, cleared the sunroof drains, all that stuff, but that's no fun. However, I'm installing L-track and decking shaved to fit as a storage solution in the rear. Let's get into it!

I don't have any good pictures of the rear carpet, but it was left out to the elements for years, so it wasn't so good. I took it out, removed the D-rings that come stock, and was keft with this. Note the cut boards to the left.


I should now do a shout out to my local Lowes: I look for things I need, and since stuff was damaged, I paid a fraction of what the regular retail price. You can see one of the above boards looked funny: someone got a bit sporty with a forklift and damaged the decking where you'd biscuit it in to secure it, so the board was unsellable. Except to me!

I took these gray composite (i.e. plastic) deck boards and shaved them so they were about the same height as the L-track I used. It was one 12-foot section, cut in two-foot lengths, as you see above, then shaved. First, let's see what it looks like when you do six of these with a table saw:


Also, if anyone ever does this, mask up. You'll thank me.

In that pic, you can see the scrap to the left of my table saw. Here's what it looks like after you shave it: I basically used the groove that would take the biscuits and cut about there, both ways, as you can see with how the guard is aligned above. Here's what it looks like. The "keepy" side is at right.


I should pause for a second: I was going to use wood, but then I'd have to stain it and treat it for the elements with spar urethane, and then redo that every now and then, and even the oak I can find around here would still sliver, chip, and dent. I went with this because it stills looks "woody" but isn't, and is pretty durable stuff.

Now let's introduce the Core Trax I'll be using. There are a bunch of places that sell L-track, but as I'm a pain like this, I wanted black rails. Even more than that, though, was that regarding US Cargo's stuff, the fasteners aren't included and are on the short side. I wasn't convinced I would have enough depth to bolt on through the floor. The price and color combo was enough for me. Here's the depth of a cut/shaved board compared to the Core Trax thickness. This board is bent...but they're pretty close to even if not actually even:


Note also that the rings are in there to show what they look like, though I will have more on that later.

So, I cut all the boards to length, and then shaved them, and here's what they look like in the bed:


I will have to adjust the edge to they butt up to the rear trim piece ( and yes, I have to clean up the surface frame rust, I know, I know), but you get the idea. Then, I cut the core trax to two-foot lengths and laid them out, too. To be truthful, they were slightly wider than I thought, so on either side of the center piece, I needed to trim the deck board a bit. Here's the way it looks, before finishing:


Obviously, not done, and not even bolted in yet. I will use black construction screws through the decking (two on each side, to prevent curling) and Core Trax hardware for that. I need to trim both ends: by the rear door, to fit the curve of the trim piece, and at the front, to sidestep the rear seat and floor mounts for that, too. I need to level them, too. But I'm pretty happy with how this looks thus far.
 

llamalander

Active member
Composite board will expand when it gets hot--in every direction, not just the width like wood. It is strong enough to buckle itself at butt joints, so you may want to get an idea of what it can do before attaching everything. Looks like your pieces might be small enough to fit in an oven, you might give it a measure then toss it in at 150º and see how much it grows...
 

utherjorge

Observer
That's a super good point for me that I did not consider. I'll have to check with the manufacturer to see if there's some numbers on what happens and at what temps. I did plan on two screws across to prevent cupping, but I'll check for expansion.
 
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