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Letter 39

Isuzu Trek Members Infoletter #39
January 2017

Welcome to Isuzu Trek Infoletter #39.

The I-Trek infoletter mailing list is now managed in a Google Group (!forum/i-trekinfoletter). If you would like to be included in this exclusively Isuzu Trek group please request inclusion or e-mail the editor Bret Medbury for info at isuzutrek (at) or islandduo (at)


  • Propane Regulator Test and Replacement – Ken Harmon
  • Radiant Heater Installation – Ken Harmon
  • Making your Isuzu Gorgeous Again – Linda Dahle
  • Clark’s Solar System – Clark Van Galder
  • Prevent Water Tank Siphoning – Henry Fusco
  • Updated Cupholder and Trinket Tray – Henry Fusco
  • A few “Improvements” While Living the Dream – Bob and Wanda Diachuk
  • Jacknife Couch/Bed Extension – Bruce Matlack
  • Really Neat Cocktail Table et All – Bruce Matlack
  • If You Play Your Cards Right, You Might Be Able To Get One Of These – Bret Medbury/Mike Tes

Propane Regulator Test

Thanks to Ken Harmon; IsuzuTrek (at)

After attending a seminar on propane systems I decided it was time to get my 22+ year-old propane regulator tested .  This is the one that supplies propane gas to the house systems (furnace, stove, water heater and refrigerator).  I went to a propane filling facility that had the test equipment to do the work. The mechanic did a flex check and inspection of the hoses and said they were okay.  

To test the pressure, he made a connection to the gas system under the stove top, utilizing the small metal tube that takes the gas from the manifold to one of the burners.  He connected a meter that read pressure in inches of water.  When the burner valve was opened he read the pressure and then propane valve at the tank was closed to do a 3-5 minute leak-down test.

The regulated gas pressure should be 11″ of water pressure but the test  showed only 9″ and it dropped to around 8.5″ with the furnace on.  The mechanic said that if it was much lower the refrigerator and water heater may not start.  It was time to get a new regulator installed for the house system.  The Onan generator has a separate regulator but the mechanic said if it malfunctioned the generator would just not start so it became a deferred maintenance item. 

Just a note – propane valves are double-seated so they should be opened all the way until the valve is seated in the full open position.

Editor note; when replacing a propane regulator be sure to purchase one that will mount with the atmospheric vent pointed down (the book says within 45 degrees) but we should always be able to do straight down and with a regulator that is TWO stage. Other positions of the vent will allow water to collect in the regulator. I replace mine every ten years as a matter of maintenance (long story).

Radiant Heater Installation

Thanks to Ken Harmon; IsuzuTrek (at)

The unit we purchased was a re-manufactured U. S. Catalytic Wave 3,  3,000 BTU radiant heater.   For a gas connection I installed a brass “T” fitting in the gas pipe near the furnace that is located under the refrigerator.  A short pipe went forward through the wall where a quick connect gas connector was installed under the couch. I had a hose fabricated with fittings that could quick connect to this location and connect the heater at the other end.

With our longer hose it allows us to locate the heater adjacent to the stove on the counter top. We open the kitchen window to about 1.5  inches and open an overhead vent to about 2 inches to allow fresh air in and provide air for combustion.  The radiant heat warms items in the coach and takes the chill out of the air.  A feature we added later was a small 12-volt computer fan from the surplus store.  We attach it to the top of the heater with a magnet and it creates a small air circulation in the coach to help circulate the warm air (thanks to Doug and Vera for the idea).

Below are some photos of the Editor’s similar installation of a 6,000 BTU Olympian heater;


Making Your Isuzu Gorgeous Again

Thanks to Linda Dahle; Ldahle3 (at)

Hi Bret thanks for doing the newsletter.

My Isuzu is a 1994, 2840 floor plan.  28 feet with full bedroom plus magic bed. I’ve had it since 2003.  In the past 4 years I have had the lower skirting of the motorhome and the lower Green Stripe painted and I’ve recovered the trim with a roll of new RV quality detail tape. I had  the motor replaced at 108000 miles and 10000 miles later the turbo failed again. Come to find out, a new turbo cost the same price as the rebuilt they had put in when my engine was replaced, $1,000.  so a new turbo and I’m flying down the road like a dream.  last summer I had to replace the motor for the magic bed and yes it’s done just like the brochure.  Happy trekking to everybody.


Clark’s Solar System

Thanks to Clark Van Galder; clarkrvg (at)

My solar system started by bartering for (2) 185 watt 8 Amp panels.  The panels required about 36 square feet which an Isuzu 2840 Trek allowed side by side installation aft. The panels have MC4 connectors.

We used 10 ga wire down though the refrigerator vent in series. If the panels were not located side by side then we would have wired them in parallel to allow each panel to operate independently. The wires went to a 20A fuse then to a 20 Amp MPPT controller then another 20A fuse to the batteries. The controller was a real stumbling block. The online providers were persistent on a 30 amp unit and they are pricey controllers. Our panels max output was 16 amps so logically a 20 Amp unit should work plus it has the 25% safety factor.  It finally dawned on me that they don’t sell 20 Amp MPPT controllers. The big names in USA controllers start at 30 amps.

So I read reviews to select my MPPT 20 amp controller. I also bought a display unit which we installed a little low so it’s hard to read. Might be relocated.

At this point I started thinking about how many Ah (amp hours) will the system supply and how many amp hours do I need. The normal way to design a solar system is to start with your power needs, but if you do a lot of bartering then you quite often have the cart before the horse. 

I did an energy audit and realized that if our furnace ran 50% of the time it might require some generator time. My system will produce about 50Ah in 5 hours of direct sunlight( I refuse to go on the roof and tilt the panels to follow the sun). My current 12volt batteries each have about 80Ah of useable power. To protect the life of the batteries it is recommended to preserve 50% of your amp hours. If we replaced our batteries with (2) 120Ah 12v batteries we could go 5 cloudy days without charging. As far as battery selection the “experts” are still debating about 12 volt vs 6 volt batteries but to me it is about the total amp hours. It appears that the quality of the 12v batteries have improved enough to stir the debate.

Five days of battery power maybe is a little overkill unless you dry camp in the midwest. We concluded that our batteries may be our limiting factor along with our furnace.

Now things get a little fuzzy when trying to figure power requirements for the different appliances. For example, how many Ah does the water pump require? How long is the inverter on, how about if you left it on over night? Its like chasing your tail.

Even with the above questions, I did some figuring. Without running the furnace and using the generator for the AC and the microwave I estimated our consumption at about 34 Ah per 24 hours. That includes 2 hours of tv. In the past we use a percolator for coffee dry camping, but we do use the toaster. In conclusion, we are not sure how our system will actually work, but this February we should find out. I should mention in the past we carried a 2000w generator and used that instead of the house generator to save on propane and as a backup. The question I have now, should I bring the 2000w generator this February?

Editor’s note; I would leave the 2000W genny home. I think you will be very pleased with your solar and find near zero need for the genny for charging. We have only 200 watts of crude basic solar, but portable and when set angled properly to the full Arizona sun, from a 50% state of charge I can have my two 6 volt golf carts back to 100% by early afternoon.

Prevent Water Tank Siphoning

Thanks to Henry Fusco; acudoc888 (at)

Always had leaking fresh water on the road. Put in this anti siphon in. Worked great. First used some old hose I had then changed to better non crimping type.


Editor’s note: The white item on the right in the photo is a standard siphon break usually used in a dishwasher hookup in your stick house, some are chrome. Get one at most hardware stores or Home Depot.


Updated Cupholder and Trinket Tray

Thanks to Henry Fusco; acudoc888 (at)

Cup holder etc moved  closer to the window like later year Treks.

Cut out cup and rectangular area.





A Few “Improvements” While Living the Dream

Thanks to Bob and Wanda Diachuk; Bobdiachuk (at)    

Hi Bret, Hope you and Laura  are fine …we’re in Mexico , Lo De Marcos , for the winter. a little input for the infoletter I can offer is (and a little Tequila) , I lost the exhaust brake , turned out it was the connection above the accelerator pedal needed to be cleaned  ..put some gutters on the Trek , went to home depot got vinyl  J Channel ( small self tapping screws and calking.. and found a matching color!).. stopped the white streaks on the side of the trek! (P/O put wrong roofing compound on!!) always check e-bay for npr 92 parts ,,(scored a spare pc board for the tranny) just used the pc board #s on eBay search!! to defrost the fridge  just turn the temp down …put some freezer packs in it in 8 hrs  … done! ,, freezer,, hair dryer 10 min! wondering if any one has added “trucker style mirrors” ours  a bit small. but our Trek is just the right size for the roads in Mexico! wondering what do Isuzu owners put in the fuel Tank for lubricant if anything , in Mexico she runs so much stronger .. fuel here????.. the fishing here is hit and miss  .. some days epic!    going out Friday with the locals .. ( our adopted family )  should be good! Take care – Bob and Wanda

Jacknife Couch, Bed Extension and Really Neat Cocktail Table Et All

Thanks to Bruce Matlack; matlackwindsurfing (at)

Hi Islandduo!

A couple of things re: my trek that you can decide the usefulness of for the newsletter.

Since I live aboard, I am always worrying about the magic bed daily up and down operation quitting in the down position, making driving from the prone position a bit of challenge, so I am moving down to the narrower, more uncomfortable, shorter in every direction- couch bed.  I am making adjustments to the couch bed as follows:  making a length addition using a piece of rough cut redwood fence plank with two furniture legs and 3 screw metal leg fastener bases with 1/4 inch studs from Home Depot.  The legs unscrew for “quick ’n easy”  storage of the board and legs. To increase comfort of the couch mattress i am adding a cheap sleeping bag over the couch crack, over-topped by a 1/1/2 inch foam mattress topper that over-hangs the fence board extension at the foot end.  For additional head board area by the fridge, I have a beach skim board that I use as a cocktail table for the couch area, which I added inexpensively via Amazon- a base for the skim board  and a base for the floor mount with female end, and of course the metal stand pipe in between.  The skim board fits nicely against the fridge if you slide the couch, footrest board forward one half inch,allowing the skim board to slide tightly by.  

So now it is easier to stealth camp on the street as well, sleeping out of sight of potential “walkups” and other peeping Toms and miscellaneous authoritarian types.  So, in the end you now have a full length, comfortable bed with a full length head board and can cohabitate in prone position in stealth mode.  

There is one major caution to this set up: Skim board should not be used as a skim board anymore with the base mounted on its underside!.  At 72, I should be givin’ that up anyway.  Also, the skim board table swivels as a bonus, to allow people to get in and out to use the luxurious bathroom facilities if necessary. 🙂

My heater just packed up, so I am not fixing it.  In its place, I have the portable heater from my boat that works on a qt. size green, camp bottle of propane which is all I need here in Florida. I forget the name of it.  If it gets jilted in any manner, it shuts off. One side remains cold so it can be mounted on a wall.  I carry it to the shower room prior to showering to get it nice and toasty.

The addition of the skim board cocktail table is really great!  Across from the couch I have replaced the pull out cocktail table and easy chair with plastic sets of Steralite drawers with plastic file boxes in between them.  The fit is perfect to allow maximum angle of the passenger chair recline, allowing the magic bed to drop all the way, in case I want to use it when a “less than adaptable” sleeping partner arrives as a guest. 

I dumped the generator, and use two huge solar panels for all my needs. They stow right behind the two sets of plastic drawers against the wall (photo below) when I hit the road. I am having a carpenter make the generator cave into a heavy item storage compartment.  

I bought a new ladder product that works well.  You can buy it in 2-3 different maximum lengths.  It telescopes down to a small package for storage where my generator was. I can not recall the name, but google it if you are curious.  The only disadvantage is that it is on the heavy side (nice replacement for the drat generator).  Pay attention to the instructions, or you will absolutely crush your fingers!

Sorry, i am writing this remote from my rig.  I will be out of the country on my sailboat to the Bahamas and off the grid until April.  

I am curious if anyone has found a modern replacement for the Trek 2400 (24.5 ft long) that has the window glass and functionality.  I think our Isuzu Treks are getting rare.  I have only passed one other in the last year. I keep it because I have to; not necessary because i want to.  (Shush!- hope she does not hear that).  

Editor note: relative to the above; Watching this video related to a recent attempt by an RV manufacturer might help answer.  

Make me an offer I can not refuse and also find me a place to live, and I will consider selling mine. 🙂

Hurriedly done by-

Bruce Matlack

146K, ’94 -Humpback whale on the stern- lying mostly in Labelle, Fl.


Looking back; If you play your cards right you might be lucky enough to get one of these:

  • Full Page from Safari Magazine January 1992 issue. "The new TREK by Safari gives you features found in coaches costing twice as much, but that get half the mileage."


Thanks to Mike Tes for submitting the ads from the January 1992 issue of Safari Magazine.