My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Marching towards 7,000 visits

The count said 6,471 this evening. There are some sites that log that many visits every few hours. It has taken me as many years :)

That's ok though.

I didn't get to highlight the work to get the gas cans mounted prior to the AOAA run. It involved cutting and rewelding portions of the headache rack. There were also a few "lessons learned" from the AOAA trip that I wanted to chronicle here. My hope is to get a few of them resolved before the next smaller run down to Ivy Branch, which is a network of trails that has been linked into the broader family of trails comprising the Hatfield & McCoy Trail system in West Virginia.

Here are some photos.
 This hoop section was interfering with the proposed placement of the cans. I wanted to retain some semblance of the hoop to protect the rear cab glass, but I also needed to get the gas cans up and out of the bed. In the proposed location, they are more readily accessible from the ground/outside of the truck. I was also looking to reclaim some bed space. One can was already taking up a good chunk of space. Two cans even more so. I've not yet needed to refuel on any trail ride. I do, however, desire to have the added capacity for when we are traveling on back roads for extended periods without finding an open or available gas station.
 Once the hoop was cut out. I was able to mock up where the cans would ride and how accessible they may be.
 In order to keep them from protruding too far into the bed (past the plane made by the edge of the side rail box), it was necessary for the can to extend a bit out from behind the cab. This does not help for aerodynamics, but neither has just about anything else I've done to the truck thus far. I actually kind of like being able to see the cans a bit from the front.
 At the time that I was working on all of this, I still had the in-bed toolbox removed. On the morning that I was to leave for AOAA, I bit the bullet and actually reinstalled it. I had contemplated orienting it lengthwise, parallel to the side rail box on the passenger side. That approach would have blocked the fire extinguisher or necessitated its relocation. I had clearly waited too late to try to noodle through that and just had to make due. The good thing, though, was that the exercise of trying to do away with it entirely had freed up a lot of the space inside of the box to accommodate my camping gear.

 I was worried about running out of welding wire. (I didn't even approach that possibility as it turned out). I tried to go to my local Home Depot and was very disappointed that, in general, they carry no welding supplies whatsoever. It isn't even that they ran out; they just no longer make it a point to keep anything related to welding in stock. So I had to go a bit further down the road to a Lowe's. I really like HD, the branding, the Olympic athlete support, and several of their other initiatives. But they are starting to kill me with some of these miscues. They won me back a bit after I kept lamenting their decision to not carry any metric nuts and bolts. The one near me now does. It had nothing to do with my pissing and moaning specifically. But I nonetheless felt like they were responding to the vibe that I was putting out into the universe. I'm pretty sure I bought my welder from them online. It would just be good if i could stop into their local establishments to resupply. Anyway, outside of the Lowe's I parked next to this Tacoma. Tacoma's these days stand eye-to-eye with my truck even after all of my efforts to lift Veronica. I was more familiar with the stance of the older models like this one. Not that it would make me change my mind. But it is rare that I stand this tall over a Tacoma. I catch quite a few low riding Rangers and Colorado's though.
 Some rain got to the initial welds before I had a chance to finish them off. A little bit of surface rust. On the passenger side, I had hoped that the angles might line up with the pre-drilled holes at the bottom of the cans. 2 of the 4 did line up, but I ended up needing to weld on this scrap piece of plate to catch all 4 holes. Fortunately, this scrap was appreciably smaller and therefore lighter than the one I mocked up on the driver side.
 Cutting with the band saw, I actually got these pieces to mate up pretty well. And it got ride of that stupid chunk of extra metal from where the antenna mount was relocated.
 Tack welded just to hold the assembly in place momentarily.
 And ouila! Doesn't look half bad. I didn't even bother to grind the welds. I just painted after this picture was taken and called it a day. I can always grind later if I so choose. The unfortunate thing is, despite my efforts to try to shield the rear window, occasional weld splatter and grinding showers has still pitted the rear film in a few area. The big spots are from when a dude kicked mud back there like two trips ago and I still haven't gotten it fully cleared off. I'm pretty sure that was from Mettowee. That Mettowee mud is clinging pretty strong.

We've seen this image before. Stuck in the muck at AOAA.

So I reposted this image to raise the conversation on winching again. I had, once upon a time, ordered a kit which was to be the wireless winch controller from AutoAnything. Unfortunately it was not the full kit, and Westin T-max wanted like another $200 bucks for the full setup. At which point, that was the price tag for another one of their winches (considering I was already $115 in for the components as sent). Fast forward a bit and I ordered a new Superwinch Tigershark to coincide with the fabrication of a new winch bumper and the shifting of the T-max to the rear. At that point, I had toyed around with the idea of perhaps hardwiring them to in-cab controllers. With the passage of time, my line-selection skills had improved and I wasn't winching quite as much. In fact, I was more often recovering others than myself. I did notice, up at Mettowee, that my connectors for even the new front winch could be temperamental at times. For instance, I could spool out, but I was not initially able to reel in when I first got stuck in the snow bank. It seems that, with use, and with changes in temperature, the metal connector pieces that mate up within the sockets sometimes deflect and do not return to their original shape. And overtime, at least for me, this has lead to a bit more sporadic electrical contact. I would like to still retain the external connections for operations where I need to be outside of the vehicle. It would also be helpful for re-spooling the cable to be able to stand in front of the winch and make sure that the line is stacking evenly on the drum. However, for self-recovery, it would be good to be well within the confines of the truck to be shielded from any potential recoil or severing of the line. 

I am going to attempt to get that worked out before my next run. I also may go ahead and order something to weigh down the line while winching. In the fall and winter months, I've thrown a heavy jacket. In the middle of our muddy, summer recovery, I realized in retrospect that we didn't add anything to the line to dampen any energy should we have suffered a break. I consider that a lapse on my part. Having a dedicated item in the kit will go a long way towards ensuring that this measure is not overlooked in the future.

So, that's about it for this edition. Check out our club, "Frontier Off Road Club East (F.O.R.C.E.) on Facebook for more information on upcoming trail rides.


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