My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Revisionist's History

This may not be a very visual post.

We had a wedding to attend over Memorial Day weekend. I was able to steal a bit of fab time on Monday before being beckoned to operate the grill. Last week, I pulled the trigger on ordering two (2) Smittybilt Jerry Can gas mounts. In the prior weekend's work to rectify some electrical issues, I ended up abandoning the rear cab and bed lights altogether. This opened up a spot that got me thinking about mounting the jerry cans up and out of the bed. To facilitate this, I needed to relocate both antenna mounts.

The CB was not so bad. I had a tough time gaining access to the HAM antenna mount based on where I had welded it in. That side was also complicated by the locations of the penetrations to the toolbox housing the secondary power center. Ultimately, the welded angles I used on that side to alleviate the issue/conflict with the wiring was probably the route I should have taken on the driver's side as well. The weight of the steel used on the passenger side is not nearly as much.

I'm not sure how sturdy the CB antenna mount is going to be. We will have to see if the toolbox wall holds up to the cycling loads of the flexing imparted by the antenna mount. My hope is that there is enough clearance to accommodate the can mounts when they arrive. Fingers crossed.

Below are a few pics.

The CB antenna used to be mounted just behind the cab on the upright flange of the headache rack

CB moved to the toobox

Created a platform for the gas can mount

I actually think the two angles is a better approach. Not as heavy.

The difficulty was avoiding these power feeds out of the toolbox. A little more forethought 2 years ago would have been very helpful today.

Same with this mounting location. Ultimately had to take a Sawzall to the original angle.

Still figuring out what I want to do with adding the bed box in. I've been thinking about mounting it lengthwise parallel to the passenger side rail toolbox.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Electrical Overhaul/Spring cleaning

I made some mistakes.

This is like a look at the Paleolithic era of my offroading.
I'm actually quite fortunate that things more or less worked as long as they did without incident. The further I went in to looking at re-routing things more efficiently, the more I realized that some things, quite frankly, needed to be scrapped and a Do-Over pursued.

The above photo literally showed the various layers of the different types of mud I encountered with the truck in the past 2-1/2 years. There's some UT red sand, some Virginia clay mud, a bit of PA soup, etc. 

 I took the chest box out of the bed after deciding to discard the bed mounted and headache rack lights. All of this brush and moist earth had worked its way in under the box and the mat. I was well on my way to rusting out my bed if I didn't start getting on this section. I've washed the bed numerous times, but all of this stuff was staying out of reach of the hose and accummulating.

 I got rid of the cheaper off road lights that I had on the bed. Without their covers, they housings were actually starting to visibly rust. Initially I had thought about removing them, touching up the paint and reinstalling. But the cheap mounting hardware had seized and one of the lenses had cracked. All in all, it just wasn't worth keeping them around. They weren't particularly bright anyway.

In my short time offroading, I have come to appreciate that there is value in spending a bit more to get better quality equipment. I think it was not unwise to start with more budget-friendly items. I've smashed and bashed quite a few items while determining where is and decidedly is NOT a good location to mount things.

There are a few more relocations I am contemplating. I need to shift my CB antenna, as I'm eyeing that location (with the absence of the bed lights) to mount my Jerry Can up along the bed rail.

I'm thinking of keeping the bed-mounted chest out unless I go on a very long trip. I've been able to get most offroad essentials into the driver side bed box. I cut off the sharks teeth. The hood LED bar is now working properly. I've got it fed off of the house battery now utilizing the switching and wiring that previously had been supporting the switching of the bed lights.

I've also gotten the fogs installed and will be doing a separate writeup and post regarding the sponsorship opportunity that brought these lights into my possession.

This is what she looks like a bit cleaned up (not physically; she's dirty...but without some of the other distractions).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Another week without wrenching...

I got very close to working on the truck this weekend.
The package for the truck sponsorship arrived midweek. I opened the boxes.
I passed my real estate examination, and as a treat to me and Veronica, I ordered some louvers to cut into the hood. They'll arrive middle of this week.

Between family commitments and chores, I worked on transferring my weight room back out into the garage and consolidating the 'shop' area. I parted with my longtime red toolbox and the metal 'work table', both of which I had bought second-hand on Craigslist. I later came to appreciate their inadequacies and got the most I could out of them. But when it came down to it, I was taking up a fair amount of space in the garage for a total of 4 drawers. I recycled them and got $9. Now this one kid at the recycling center came rushing out of the facility with his camera to take a picture of Veronica. He approaches her laughing saying something to the effect of, "That has to be the goofiest truck I've seen," later continuing, "It's nice but, dude, you need tires...baaaad."

I've heard the latter criticism before, and I believe it was justified; I was running the stock size tires with a total of 4"+ of lift. But we have since graduated to 33" and these are Wrangler Duratracs. So I replied that they are fantastic in the snow and have done well in most circumstances I've put them through. "Well what about mud?! They're terrible in mud." At this point, I think he's just repeating things he's read online. Granted, they are not a true M/T, but they have done fairly well in mud and perform much better in rain and snow than arguably any M/T which lacks siping ever could.

I don't take offense to the goofy part. I've got stuff on my pickup that people probably more so associate with Jeeps. And if one does not understand what the components do or why one might have them, it probably does look like someone's poorly thought out mall crawler. I think, at this point, there is probably very little that remains purely for novelty. Anything I've added is because I lacked it, and then encountered a situation where it would have been least in my mind.

So no real photos with this post, but next weekend will be pretty action packed in terms of cutting metal and wiring things up.

Re-wire in new PA speakers
Add rear bumper lights
Remove shark's teeth (hard to explain that one if you're just tuning in)
Swap out rear headache rack lights with front lights from the hi lift jack mount
Troubleshoot LED light bar
Install new sponsorship package
Cut-in Louvers for hood.

I may need to prioritize that list to make sure the more important items get done, but that's what I'm looking to tackle. I may have to start on some of that on week nights. We'll see.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Window Netting- Summit Racing probably thinks I have a grass roots race team.

I've been racking my brain for weeks and spending countless hours online trying to think of ways to convert a portion of my truck bed to accommodate my dog Maddy when we hit the road this summer. While we are driving, the intent was for her to stay inside the truck with me. There are times; however, where I'd like to do more than grab McDonalds from the drive thru and keep rolling. We've done this a little bit when I first got her out of necessity. I didn't have any experience traveling with a pet in the summer. Through the winter, I bundled her up real good and would check in every 30-45 minutes to make sure the cab of the truck was still sufficiently warm. So I thought maybe I could devise some sort of mounting for her crate to enable me to transfer her to the rear bed if I planned on stopping somewhere for dinner for an hour two. The temperatures in the cab would rise much too high too quickly to allow for such stops.

The problem is, her crate would take up the majority of the already limited bed. And she also happens to not be particularly fond of the crate. She's more than content to curl up on the back bench of the truck.

And then it occurred to me to start thinking of ways to make it possible for her to stay comfortable and secure in the cab.

I watch a lot of offroading videos and racing stuff on YouTube. I didn't even know what it was called or where to get it, but I thought if anyone had it for a reasonable price, it would be Summit Racing.

My muse...
So I started google searching to get an idea of how they mount on the inside. This was the best photo of window netting on a commercially available platform, but I didn't come across any interior shots.

The netting cost on the order of $13 per panel for the sizes I needed. One can obtain much more pricey versions, but this seemed as though it would suit our needs just fine. Along the way, I found a product marketed to pet owners to serve this same purpose. It is like a fine, expanded metal mesh with custom sized frame and velcro straps that wrap the jam/header/mullion of the window opening and secure the entire assembly in place. They wanted $200 per pair for their system. Even if I were so inclined, the mounting would not be compatible with the rain channel/wind deflectors I have on the doors presently.
 I figured out my basic concept and sizing. There are various mounting hardware kits available, but they cost more than the netting itself, and in many instances, they didn't appear to be any more than just some stock angle iron or bar sized to the dimensions of the mesh panels. There were some nifty release mechanisms if you wanted to pay a bit more, but I wasn't really looking for these to be removable. So I decided I would get some threaded rod and some miscellaneous metal strapping and/or corner bracing and go to work.
 The one drawback to my approach that I discovered is that the metal at the header for the windows is surprisingly thin. Even on my welder's lowest setting, I was blowing through some holes in the metal. I fared a bit better on the other side, and opted to add set screws to help further anchor the attachments. I'll need to come back and grind down those welds a bit more, apply some bondo to fill the holes, sand everything good and smooth and then paint.
 I was supposed to be spending the day studying for an exam and then heading to a speaking engagement. These were actually slated to arrive yesterday, and I had hoped to install them then. They did arrive 930pm.

Earlier in the day, the tracking indicated 5/3 and showed it had been loaded on the truck at 650 am. Then at around 7pm, FedEx was just like, "Umm, we don't know" and replaced the "5/3/14" with an N/A.

I thought, "Great. They lost it"

But at a few minutes after 930, Maddy got up and started barking at the wall (The steps lead up along the front wall). And I looked out to see a van pulled partially into our driveway. The delivery man explained that they had loaded two shift's worth of parcels onto his van without advising him. Then his dispatcher called towards the end of when his shift was to be ending to check in. As he told me, "Hey, I don't have a date, and I could use the money". So he was going to continue delivering for several more hours.

Either way, I was a happy camper and was appreciative of his dedication to see the shift through. And today, I got the netting mostly done.