My blogging, unfortunately, has fallen a bit to the wayside, but it means that when I do have the occasion to sit down and post, there's evidently been a good amount of things to write about which have accumulated.
My precious moments, aside from time with my son, have been squeezing in the occasional workout and picking up a wrench to make a calculated adjustment or revision.
I had one more episode (technically two episodes) on the GLX trip in Indiana that steeled my resolve to modify the bumper to get the winch up and out of harms way and hopefully improve my approach angle.
The last item in my trifecta of pain at that outing (which was actually a great ride and I won a lot of gear at the raffle along with meeting good folks) was that my CB antenna connector got brutalized. For the short term, I swapped over the coax from the Scanner radio so that the CB could run off of that antenna. That was my final motivation to get the truck to keep her juices IN and to work the bumper. But I had to tackle these things based on priority.
Since I spend countless hours on forums and talking to other people who spend countless hours doing the same, I became a trusted advisor on this potential purchase. He went to see a truck that was advertised as being a Pro-4X. He didn't really know the differences in trims, but he wanted me to look at it since he didn't see the badge in the photos. Since he was buying used, it was possible that the prior owner had opted to de-badge as is sometimes the custom in certain circles. Anyway, we get there, they open it up, and after one quick look at the dash, I turn to the salesman to advise that there's been a mistake. Nowhere on the instrument cluster was there a button to manipulate the stock e-locker of the supposed Pro-4X. The dude argues with me, but ultimately I am vindicated when he returns to us (Dave had his wife and kids with him) and says, "The manager would like to speak with you". I was there in the capacity of "Luther, anger translator" on behalf of Dave and his family. Basically, a third party service does the invoicing and labeling of the inventory, and they made a mistake. And after some negotiating, a night's sleep on it, and a return visit, my buddy walked away with a pretty good deal on the S model as a result of the whole advertising snafu (and the fact that I saved the dealership from some pretty significant false advertising liability).
I try to tell my wife that there is some benefit of my pursuit of this hobby.
I also have this kid who needs a stroller and other accessories. No problem slinging them in the back of the truck during fair weather, but throw in the chance of rain and we're trying to cram everything into the cab. It wouldn't work if we were all going somewhere as a family.
I thought if I could wait him out another week or so, maybe I could get it for $600. Then one day, the post was gone. I had tracked a couple others and was, I thought, on the cusp of the deal for one in Jersey for an agreed upon price of $500 down from his $600 asking price. On the night before I was to drive up, he texted me to say that someone had paypal'd him $660 and that if it fell through, he would call me.
I felt bamboozled. It was certainly in his right to sell to whomever he wanted. But we had already reached a deal and I had promised to drive up in advance as soon as he provided me the location with cash in hand.
We were at a function at Dave's when I heard the news. His mom was there and she gave me the advise that, "if you see something you want, you have to go get it right then and there. You wait and it's gone."So when I found another one that was still being offered in Ohio, I did just that. I had seen it previously and ruled it out as too far away. Well, that day, they had dropped the price to $375. I asked if I could come then, but it was associated with a business that would not be open until Monday. So I worked a half day and drove out through 4 different storms and a handful of states to get my cap. All told, it was 10+ hours of driving from downtown DC, to Ravenna, OH, and back home. It was worth it. Only downsides to the deal at the moment was that the locking mechanism needs to be rekeyed. I was able to troubleshoot the jamming latch on the driver side.
They are a bit higher and wonkier looking than I wanted, but as with most things that I do, I just tell myself that it adds to the charm.
I decided to semi-permanently leave the cross bars mounted. I have enough clearance at the garage at work to get in and out without worry. Plus, I can tuck the antennas underneath the lead bar and they stay there without any additional measures needed.
When I get around to ordering sand ladders, I'll leave the sand ladders stowed in the bed of the truck, and if there is threatening weather, I'll deploy them to the rack to protect the solar panel beneath (from hail and the like).
I was having the damnedest time getting the tubing to cope and join. I am not particularly proud of what I had to do to get the attachment to work. For that reason, I abandoned the notion of adding the outrigger/wing sections to the bumper. Quite frankly, my skills as a fabricator are not quite up to snuff to pull it off. I was able to add what I think is an appropriate brace to the stinger hoop. This will have to do for now. I was running out of time and needed to finish SOMETHING. I was bumperless for about 2 weeks.
There was stock stud and nut here that appear to be associated with the radiator. I undid the nut and washer, attached the bracket and refastened. It is holding there like a champ.
He's coming up on a year old. I had thought at that point, you could turn them to forward facing seats. But that was a misinterpretation of a prior disclosure. The American Academy of Pediatrics is now clarifying that it is ideal for a child to remain rearfacing up through their 2nd birthday or until they exceed the height and weight of available rear facing seats. Even if the kid seems scrunched, they say, it is still a safer position to protect their head, neck, and spine in the event of a collision. I wasn't buying it, but then they said, essentially, that kids spend the first 9 months of their development balled up in a woman's abdomen, and then the next few months of life desiring to be swaddled when sleeping. They can sit in a car with their legs flexed without issue. Point taken.
The one challenge I had when I tried this previously was that the 10mm (allen/hex key) drain plug was frozen in place. It had not occurred to me then to try to PB blaster it. So I subsequently went out and found a socket driver with an allen attachment so I could put it in my impact wrench. I also then PB blastered as prep. Well, the gun and the socket were too tall to fit under my differential (NEED MORE GROUND CLEARANCE--- ARRGGHHHH!!!). I was trying to jack up the rear bumper, but since I enclosed the bumper, I couldn't really get one side at a time. I don't like jacking from the center because the truck has tried to teeter before. Ultimately I decided to run out and get the ramp stands. I drove back on the ramp. Hit it and it immediately broke free. (I probably could have gotten it just with a straight allen after the PB set up). Anyway, it was easy after that.
I still don't know how to access the front differential fill port. Depending on how hard it is to get to, I may still pay for someone to do that. But for the rear differential, I cannot believe that I've paid anyone to do this for me. It is actually worse to me than paying for the oil changes (which I no longer do).
At some point, I'd like to learn how to repair/replace the axle seals. I imagine somewhere in the next 100,000 miles, those will go. And I would like to know how to do it myself. Time is certainly at a premium, but I am learning time and again that, for certain things, no one is going to take more care and interest in doing the job correctly than you. So if it is within a common man's means, I ought to be doing it is my take.
That's all I got. The little boy actually sat still long enough for me to pen this full thing. Good job, son.
Til next time.
I have a few more runs this year and some vacation time coming up that'll put me on the beach for some sand driving.
One will be at Southington Offroad Park. Really looking to have the skids buttoned up in time. The other is actually an Overland Challenge. I'll be using the Southington Run as a shakedown run for some of the changes I've made to the truck. Then we'll go live and actually compete with another teammate against as many as 19 other teams.