My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

My Girl: Gettin' After It!!
My truck on her maiden voyage in Moab 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Grand Canyon

Look out Grand Canyon; here we come!

The Mrs. and I are looking to head that way very soon. For the past few months, it was probably looking like this blog was more of a glorified build thread than an actual travel blog.

I'm going to try to get the swing out carrier completed in time such that we have spare fuel and a way to carry a second spare tire in the back. I learned from the Moab trip that there are some long stretches of highway in places like Kansas and South Dakota that one can go quite a ways on the main road and not find a service station for miles on end. Now, there's maybe traveling off the beaten path some, but I wasn't feeling quite that adventurous last time.

Hopefully we can get a couple more sponsors on board to help out. I'm thinking about adding a solar panel to the dual battery system as an additional charging source in addition to the alternator. If one were to fall into my lap, certainly. But I won't break the already fragile bank to do it. We'll see.

Getting excited though.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Not too much to add visually to the truck. The effort was actually on cleaning up the look of the truck. Although it was a long weekend, a portion of it was spent traveling up to Philly to visit the wife and attend a wedding. Prior to leaving, I did start mocking up the 2nd attempt at a swing out tire carrier. I cut off the stock bumper from the frame and re-installed the shroud to the frame rails. Now I just have four bolts to remove to get back to the frame and continue mocking up the new bumper.

When I got back home from Philly, I took the time to clean up the running of wiring for the camp lights. I relocated the rear set of camp lights down to a lower point on the headache rack. All of the wiring for the lights now runs down below the chassis and is run along the frame rails. This greatly cleaned up the roof line of the truck as I was able to get rid of all the unistrut I was using to create channels to protect the wiring from getting crimped/pinched against the roof rack while transporting ladders.

Speaking of the rack, I'm now moving away from it being full-time installed. I'll look to deploy it on an as-needed basis. My next little mini-project will be to create a small little storage compartment beneath one of the tool boxes for me to store the rails and brackets there until I need to re-install the rack. If memory serves, it doesn't take an inordinate amount of time to install. The trickiest part initially was figuring out the spacing. Now that I've installed it and it has proven reliable (**recall that I fabbed up a rooftop cargo basket weighing about 70 lbs and used it to carry my spare when wheeling in Utah**) the biggest obstacle of figuring out the positioning has already been overcome. I marked the positions on the inner part of the door jambs. I have a ladder that I need to transport back home from the jobsite. Once that's done, I'll take down the rack and hopefully have my little storage pocket created at that point.

On a final note; is anyone that reads this a participant in rally car racing?

I might start taking road trips to take part in this in 2013.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BMG metals after work...

I don't have any photos associated with this post. I drove down to BMG metals in Manassas after work today to pick up the carrier arm for the rear tire carrier that I plan on building. This was my second time going there. The first occasion was to pick up the two bent plates that I used to affix the bandlands winch mount C-channel to the stock bumper location. My first failed swing out carrier was owing to my effort to use some free scrap steel in lieu of buying what I thought to be expensive rectangular steel tubing based on an online quote I saw from a metal distributor. Not willing to have another hackneyed project under my belt, I decided I would just bite the bullet and get the right parts for the job. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my 6-foot length of 2"x4" tube steel ran me less than 25 bucks.

The other part I wanted to remark on is the ease of use and service at BMG metals. You would think that an outfit that services machine shops, general contractors, and other professional sorts would have no time or interest in satisfying the one-off purchases of hobbyist and other low volume consumers. However, in my two instances there, I've been treated cordially and been given prompt, same day fulfillment of my one phone order and was invited today to just come see what they had in stock as the size I was looking for is a stock item, but the typical unit length is 24 feet.

This is not a paid advertisement. I just think sometimes when you have a positive experience you ought to share it. Might just help counteract some of the negativity in the world. So thanks again BMG.

I guess I ought to get to the actual fabrication part now that I've got some food in my belly and the day off tomorrow.

If I have something to show, I'll post up some pics.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bad Case of Jeep Envy

So I'm back in school these days working on a master's certificate. One of the areas that I park on campus, I've noticed this really tricked out black jeep. It's pretty well built up, but at the same time, looks as though it has never seen an unpaved road. I'm not knocking it, because save for three days out in Utah, my truck is overwhelmingly a street queen as well just with some offroad potential. Anyway, of the things I noted about this Jeep was that he had the hood-mounted high lift jack. And it looks bad @ss.

Now, I already had a high lift jack. The only time I used it was while performing the body lift for my truck. Specifically, I used it to lift the bed off of the frame (one side at a time), by placing a piece of plywood to bridge across the arch of the rear wheel well with the jack centered along the midspan. Other than that, I don't really have any suitable jacking points on the truck as it lacks sliders or a heavy duty bumper. I could probably jack from either of the receiver hitches if the need really arose.

Well, I decided to take on the mod this past weekend. The primary motivation was really to find a place to relocate my 'camp lights' down from the roof rack to a lower point to aid me in parking in commercial garages. The idea of the jack mount was just an added bonus.

I had read that the hood is structurally a poor place to mount a jack. The metal is just not very stout in this area. I thought I had a design approach which overcame this. The first night it performed well on a test run to Home Depot to pick up a little more split loom to conceal the balance of the wiring running from the hood back up to a junction point at the roof. Today, however, on the drive back from the stadium (a loss for my beloved 'Skins) there was a lot more flexing of the hood metal. I'm thinking of filling the hood with the expanding foam stuff that I filled the nerf bars and bull bar with. It is a bit of a messy operation; so, I'll probably wait to tackle it during daylight hours when I've got a bit more energy.

I'll do a build page for it. It'll start with a word of caution to NOT try this unless you've got a better plan of attack then I did.

If form sometimes can win over function, then I'm happy with it as it looks pretty bad @ss on my truck now too. And given that I'll probably only ever take this truck on Green Level trails or accessing up to camp sites, the work should hold up pretty well.

There's also a bit of a segue/segway here:

A couple of weeks back I made the drive down to Iron Pig Offroad and picked up a rear carrier pivot assembly. I'm going to build a swing-out tire carrier to carry a spare and two jerry cans (one fuel, one water). Most folks will also include a mount for the high lift jack. I thought I was clever and was finding a way to minimize the load on the hinge already imparted by the wheel and two, 5-gallon cans. It wasn't a bad idea, just not the best idea either. Check out the page for the Hood-mounted Jack for the Frontier for a few more pics and synopsis.