Monday, November 2, 2009

Update to the Trail Tracker

Truck has been sitting so long I think the battery is now dead. I have added the snorkel scoop from FTS, relocated the transfer case with Bit4Vits parts, installed the Old Man Emu struts with spacers thank again to Dave at Bits4Vits helping locate them in Germany and sending them to me in the US with all his accessories.

I have the grill gurad/winch mount modified for the body lift and have added reinforcements for recovery hooks and to keep the mount from folding over when used. It still has more work ahead, arear winch, skid plate, roll bars, frame notching and more. At the rate it's going hope to see it sometime on 2010.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New parts from

I just ordered some new parts from the UK, I have strut spacers, transfer axle relocate brackets, rear pan hard rod relocate kit and a drive shaft (propshaft) spacer.

Strut Spacers - these items will allow me to use my coil spacers on the front with my OME lifted springs, I could not get the factory struts extended to reassemble with both spacers and lifted OME springs.

Front Transfer Case Kit, with the lifted springs and hopefully spacer kit I want to keep my CV joints working, this should be the fix I need.

Rear Pan Hard Rod - I have the XL7 lifted springs, may not need the coil spacers but do need to keep the geometry in line.

Drive Shaft Spacer, I have the one inch on order, this should keep me from pulling out a shaft while doing some extreme 4x4ing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lifted Struts

I located a set of OME springs from an XL7 and was able to get them in with no trouble, actually I had both the lifted spring and the spacer in but could not get the factory strut to extended long enough allowing me to reassemble vehicle so it became a parts search.

I have found Tokico and KYB for $60-$80 online - affordable - the OME were about $150 but out of stock, add the spacers to replacements and the OME are in line. As for a rebuildable I would guess $250??Here is what I found out from Monores web site (only site I could find a comparison)

Factory 2001 Chevy Tracker (Suzuki GV 99-05, Tracker 98-03, GEO 90-97, Kick 96-98 -, part 71591)


71590 B7 12.25 8.75 15.25 6.5

71591 B7 12.25 8.75 15.25 6.5

171831 B7 13.25 10.5 18.5 8

The other alternative is a MONROE 171831 for a 88-96 Buick Regal, 90-94 Lumina, 88-97 Cutlass Supreme (does not have the brake line tab and picture shows a dust boot and two stud mounting cap)Also - Tokico said they are discontinuing the HB 3155 & HB3156 strut for this vehicle - but do have a few in stock

  • I got the struts and they were about an 80% fit compared to the stock units.

  • I had to remove the spring mount on the new longer Chevy Lumina strut, it required me to drill out the larger washer on the factory strut mount as the chrome shaft on new longer strut does not have the D style threads.

  • I used the new large bolt and allen key to start the reassembly process, I also removed the longer struts rubber boot and foam cushion and replaced the original black plastic dust boot and larger support washer, everythinh fits perfectly into the strut mount.

  • There are no brake hose mounts, rather than cut mine off and weld them back on possibly damaging the tube I am going to use double zip ties and hope for the best.

  • The spindle mount is where this modification has a few holes in it. The bolt diameter on the new struts are approx 1/2" diameter holes where the original strut mounting holes are approx 3/8" in diameter and the new longer struts hole spaceing is about 1/16" too short to match the Trackers spinlde. I bolted the top of spinlde and used a drill to ream out the lower bolt hole to allow me to insert the second bolt.

  • The new low pressurized struts clear the CV joint, clear the top of my 18 diameter rims by an inch or two and do seem to need the camber kit.

  • Once I fix the passenger side brake line that I stripped relocationg in my body lift I will be able to road test vehcile and hopefully take if offroading for the first time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rub a Dub Dub

Well I received my 18x9 rims and 285/65/18's today and had to pull off the running boards, cut the front bumper, grind, cut and beat the back of front wheel well and do a little nip tuck on the rear and still hear vrrrpppp!!!
I was able to locate a used set of XL7 Old Man Emu springs for $100 on the and will give those and the fron Master Kit 1 coils spacers a try over my stock springs with spacers.
Will update.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Breaker Breaker

"Breaker Breaker for the Bandit" - "I'm Tail Grabin Your A$$"

Heading out four wheelin' I figured I better pick up a squawk box, eBay has a bunch I like, I have my eye on the Midland 75-822 hand held unit with additional channel mods by Screw Driver, but at $140 and another $80 for a Little Will antenna I went with a Craig's List used CB. I like the Midland because everything is in the handset, and you can pop on a battery and rubber duck antenna and it becomes a hand held. This way if I have to leave the truck and go on foot, I have a way to communicate when I am far from home and possible out of a cell phone coverage area.

I grabbed up a 40 channel unit with a magnetic antenna, powered it up, popped the antenna on the roof and went look for some smokies. We called out for a radio check on channel one nine, then we headed for the interstate, called out on channel 28 for the road construction guys for a shout back, nothing. So then we scanned the channels and heard nothing but static, I realize the magnetic antennas hurts reception, but a 20 minute drive to a local Fridays restaurant and drive back picked up not chatter at all. I guess the Little Will will be purchased after I clean out my garage and sell off some old junk on eBay and raise the money needed.

Garvin Roof Rack

Not being able to find a roof rack anywhere for the Chevy Tracker / Suzuki Grand Vitara I was about to go the route of having one made. I found Garvin Wilderness Racks online and sent them a request by email. I received a quick response and fired back the answers to their questions, a few more emails back and forth and the phone rang, Chris at Garvin asked if I could send a single track to him. I obliged and asked for his last name for the UPS label, he replied Garvin, Chris Garvin, WOW the owner actually is hands on in this company. He set me up with a six inch tall rack that has track inserts you insert on each corner to attach a bracket to hold the roof rack on. My factory tracks were a bit difficult since the T15 torx heads were frozen or stripping so I drilled out the self tapping screws they used to assemble the tracks and used number 10 stainless Allen heads for a cost of $8.00 with drill bit and tap.
I picked up four light mounts, a high lift mount and the double axe and shovel mount, I have since added four more light mounts making the rack with lights, accessories and jack around $1200 dollars. I feel that is right on the money since I would have added the jack and mount later then the shovel and axe along with mount after that. I picked up a slick Jackson fiberglass shovel ($27) at Lowes and a red fiberglass handle axe $(30) at Lowes as well, Home Depot did not have anything that appealed to me.

Hella 500 Series Off Road Lights

There sure are a lot of choice's when it comes to lights, HID are too pricey and some lights look great but do they perform. I decided to go with Hella's on this build, I had PIAA's on one of my Ram's and melted may wiring harnesses back in the 80's when we ran Hella H-4's on our lowered mini trucks and exceed the wattage on the head lights and driving lights.

After looking initially at the Pilot NV-200C since they had an aggressive chrome rock guard built in. The lowest price I could find them online was an Ebay store called On Any Sunday or something similar, I only purchased one set figuring they would go on the bumper winch mount. After searching more and more I stumbled across the Hella 500's and at $40 a pair I figured why not go with the real thing. To date I have eight of the Hella 500's on my Trail Tracker and have listed the lights along with the wiring for the dual battery, multi switch and light mounts listed in the I Recommend widgets on the side of this blog.

  • WIRING - Fuse Block

I read up on the Painless Wiring harness 70217 and went with it over the others based on a few facts: for $90 bucks it had 7 fuses or each set of lights, wires (duh?), its is weather resistant, circuit breakers and just made hooking up the auxiliary battery a snap and looked clean.
MANUAL - read here
The main reason for selecting this harness is that it ties into your factory wiring and detects when the key is on, then it powers up these accessories, this way when you shut down your vehicle all the off road lights power down as well.

  • WIRING - Switches
To date I have not been able to locate smaller push button on switches to fit either the center console, dash or wiper/mirror cluster to run additional driving lights. One neat low cost idea I found at a Discount Auto parts made by Pilot was a 4 way GEL panel switch for $25 bucks. Considering that it controls four light and is high tech looking it fit the bill for me just fine. - see the I Recommend Widget to purchase these. I plan on mounting mine to the head liner above the mirror between the visors, a thin slice out of view will allow access for the ribbon cable and I figured I would glue it to a small plastic or metal backing that would be glued as well to the headliner. This would help give driver feedback when pressing the switches. Since I have four pairs of lights on the roof, this four panel switch should work just fine.
I was able to locate three mouse switches on eBay for under $10 bucks which I use to control the side and rear safari rack lights. I have attached these light to the small tray above the center AC vents with both double sided tape and small stove bolts giving them a solid feel. I still need a switch for the under bumper fog lights and Pilot lights mounted to the winch guard, those will go above the stereo with the Crutchfiled supplied install kit and two driving light switches I purchased off eBay. This entire build is based off parts bought online, from far away and locally, the power of the Internet.


For all the lights I am considering going either with an isolator or with a local alternator shop I found online and have been communicating with about beefing up my alternator, a few Google searches and it appears I have a 70 to 75 amp alternator. The local shop said it is about a buck and amp for 150 amp rebuilds. I am tempted to buy one from the junk yard or online, and then have them rebuild the worse of the two so I have one to swap out, my whole build is based on the truck being replaceable and most parts would carry over should I buy another Grand Vitara or Tracker.
I have a small stock battery up front for now, the Optima red tops is a bit pricey so I will wait until mine fails. If I do the isolator I need to have matching batteries and am thinking about building system to accommodate this over time.
The roof lights and rear winch will run off a Deep Cycle auxiliary battery I have left over from my failed canoe expedition. It will be mounted in the rear with my future rear roll bar helping provide its mount, I have also added a solar battery charger and maintainer listed on this site to keep it powered, careful some only maintain and some charge the battery. The deep cycle provides power to the Painless Wiring harness that has the fuse block for the off road lights. I decided to use a deep cycle since A. I already had it and B. I did not have to run a battery isolator and expensive battery wires to the rear thus increasing the cost of this build. The rear UTV winch has a 4,000 pound pull strength, plus the wiring harness was just long enough to reach. (see winch listed in side boxes)