Letter 7

Isuzu Trek Owners Infoletter #7

August, 2001

Interesting electrical failure

A Trek owner stopped by for a chat today and reported that recently he had a total electrical failure of the 12 v. system. The engine continued to run, though, so he drove home. He found his chassis batteries were dead, although nearly new (I’m still running on the original chassis batteries in my ’94, by the way…unusual!).  Turns out the battery isolator failed so the engine driven alternator was only able to charge the house batteries. There is the symptom and the fix, in case you ever need it.  I’m not sure, but I suspect that, if that happened, one could continue by using the generator to charge the batteries as (I believe) that charging is done through a different isolator.

 EMB Safety Stops

If you are still operating using the old, two-pin system to safety your EMB in the up position for travel, BEWARE! There is a reason the factory went to the new, four pin system!  The old pins are very soft metal and only work for the front side of the bed. Not good!  Contact the factory. They will send you the newer 4 pin set for free. You will need to drill two holes in the rear racks for the back two pins. Then, and only then will you be safe(er) from an EMB descent!

Onan Propane Genset-hard starting

Hugh McCusker describes his balky genset symptoms and probable fix: Have to repeat pressing start button after maybe as many as 15 times or never when trying with inside switch.  If you try with start button on the unit outside maybe 5 or 6 times while moving the arm that adjusts for load changes it will start then.  New plug-new air filter-oil changed.  Unit has 100 hrs on it.  Runs ok after it gets started.  I lost all operation with the start buttons and took it to an

authorized onan repair shop in Ukiah Ca.  Found hot wire at the house battery connection was bad -that fixed that problem and while there the service guy adjusted propane needle valve for proper voltage under load conditions. He admitted that the unit is a  little hard to start but should be ok.  NOT when I got home , wouldn’t start at all.  Had to adjust  the same needle valve imperically to get it to start.  Kept adjusting until it seemed to start better now then before he adjusted it.  Might be ok now but won’t know for sure untill I get out on the road.

Another trek owner (same year) said he had good luck by pressing the inside start switch about 4 or 5 times for about 2 seconds at a time and would always start after that by holding the switch for a few seconds longer on

the 5th or 6th time.   Seems to work better that way.

(Dale’s comment: that is good to know for when mine starts acting up.  It has always started ok, but who knows! That’s why it so important for us to learn of other owner’s experiences with our Treks.

Check your exhaust manifold bolts/nuts

Ken Harman reports:  While returning to our home base last fall I noticed a change in the sound coming from the engine compartment of our Trek.  I would describe it as a muffled clicking sound.  A quick inspection did not disclose a problem.  We drove in the last 100 mi. and the next day I did a closer inspection.  Black soot in the area of the exhaust manifold led me to discover a missing bolt and a bolt with the head popped off at the forward end of the exhaust manifold.  Further inspection showed a loose bolt at the aft end of the manifold.

  I elected to have the local Isuzu truck dealer make the repairs on the engine.  I found that the exhaust manifolds were originally installed with studs and nuts in the center of the manifold  but they used two bolts in the forward end of the manifold (upper & lower) and two bolts in the aft attachments. The dealer told me they always replace the bolts with studs when they remove the exhaust manifold to do repairs.

I recall talking to a cross country truck driver who said he was approaching 200,000 mi. on his Isuzu NPR and the only re-occurring engine problem he had was with warped and cracked exhaust manifolds.  Based on that information and my experience I plan to inspect and check the torque on the exhaust manifold on a regular basis.

Dale: Thanks, Ken.  Al Readdy reported a similar experience last year. Guess we better put this on our “regular things to check list”!

Firewall Bolts Again!

Earlier Isuzu  Trek Infoletters have discussed this problem and some fixes.  Ken Harmon writes:

One other item:  I just completed the third repair of the left side chassis to side wall attachments (outboard of the brake master cylinder in the forward compartment).  The first repair was tightening the self tapping screws.  This did not last any time at all.  The second repair was made at the Safari factory and it involved installing oversized self drilling metal screws.  This repair lasted about 1.5 years and resulted in oversized holes.  With my latest attempt at a repair I think I found a much better fastener at the local automotive supply store.  I purchased and installed 5/16″ “auto body” bolts.  This bolt has a cone shaped end with fine threads all the way to the point on the tip.  When threaded into an under size hole it expands the hole to match the bolt and threads.  When installed the bolts seem to be very snug and tight in the holes.  Time will tell if this is a good fix but it sure looks better than the other fixes.

Dale: Those auto body bolts sound good, Ken.  I used standard 5/16 bolts with washers and lockwashers, installed with GOOP, a flexible adhesive available in any hardware store, and have had pretty good results, but I’m going to go check ‘em again as the instrument panel is starting to move and squeek again. When I installed the missing bolts, I was amazed at how quiet and solid the instrument panel had become.

EMB Safety Stops

If you are still using the two original EMB safety pins, run-don’t walk to your telephone and call the factory!  Those old pins are soft and just don’t provide the protection needed. The factory will send you a set of four pin/brackets. You will need to drill two holes per the factory’s instructions in the two rear racks.  You really need to do this!

The EMB Motor Revisited

Several owners have reported their stories of grief with their bed motors. Here is mine, with some advise: Yep, it happened to me.  600 miles into Mexico!  The bed had been acting strangely, struggling to get all the way down, lurching the last couple of inches. One night it dropped about 3 inches from the down position, resting on the chair tops, and wouldn’t go up. I removed the mattress, carpet over the motor on the front side of the bed and drilled out the pop rivets to remove the sheet metal cover and expose the motor.  I found the motor bracket had worn, allowing it to torque free, rotating the motor and pulling the wires loose. I re-routed the wires, re-connected them and was able to get the bed to motor up to within about 6” of the up position. I readjusted the “up” limit switch and got the bed to motor up all the way. And there it stayed until we got to Carrier & Sons in Eugene, OR.

Amazingly, sleeping on the couch wasn’t so bad. We did so for nearly 3 weeks while traveling north. I am 6’1” and 240 pounds. Trish isn’t a small woman but we found it was ok, with the driver’s seat all the way forward so my feet could hang over the end of the couch.

Carrier & Sons is just 15 miles south of the factory and many of their technicians are factory trained. They quoted me four hours labor and stuck to that. I found I could buy the new EMB motor from the factory MUCH cheaper than Carrier & Sons could supply it so they recommended  I drive up to the factory and get the motor which I did.  So the bill was much less than the $1200 some owners are reporting.  Some owners have reported doing their own installations, but I didn’t want to tackle it.  The motor can be installed without removing the bed or side window, though, but it involves nearly removing the drive shaft that the motor goes into. The new motor seems strong and smooth….hope it lasts a long time!

Some EMB operating precautions:  There should never be any load on the bed. Grandkids sitting on the bed while it is operated up and down is a definite NO-NO!  Also, there is a definite duty time on the motor, so don’t run it down and back up again without a cool off time between cycles.

Isuzu Diesel Air Cleaners

FMI in Portland, OR is an Isuzu truck dealer that is very familiar with our Treks.  They give a discount on filters and parts if you mention you are a Trek owner  One new thing I learned from them the last time I stopped there is that our air filter housings need to be inspected periodically for evidence of water retained in the bottom.  If the bottom of the filter is wet, its not working. Also, rust forms in the bottom of the chamber and when it flakes off it goes through the turbocharger which may cause blade damage and if a blade chunk goes through the engine, it gets to be a big bill ! Check your air filter and chamber periodically!

Skirting braces

Tom Griep contributes: Have you had any bottom braces/brackets loosen with age on your rig? These skirting braces can be found if you look in the wheel well behind the tire. There you will see a bracket with a sort of metal mud flap on it. I have found several where the vibration has caused the rivet holes to elongate, I have taken those apart and cleaned the surfaces and applied JB weld epoxy and put the aluminum plate back on with a couple of bolts in the old holes and then drilled new holes and put new rivets in and this has given a good solid fix.

Happy Trekkin’ everyone!