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BigTuna117

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BigTuna117 last won the day on April 20 2018

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About BigTuna117

  • Rank
    Overlander

Basic Info

  • Rig
    "Pegasus" 1999 Jeep WJ 4.7L
  • Location
    Fort Mohave, AZ, US

My Details

  • First Name
    Michael
  • Experience Level
    Intermediate
  • Preferred Trail Rating
    Moderate

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  1. I didn't quite take any pictures of the completion, but here's the completed look: I did add the marker lights, as commonly seen on alot of modern "utility" vehicles. I quite like the clean look, aside from having to spend several hours plastic welding and resealing the back of the passenger headlight. all of the amber markers along with the new ones have the same color tone, so it looks pretty good. I was able to center the markers and got them seated on pretty straight, too. Just a fun little project in the middle of packing and all of the other shenanigans going on. Soooooo, aside from how oxidized my headlights are, and the tired plasti-bumper, looks pretty good, I think. I also re-tuned the fan system to power on at 200F, rather than 180. This way the fan only really kicks on once the rig hits temperature. At highway speeds, enough air gets through the radiator that the fan isn't really necessary, Only really need it currently for slow, stop-and-go street driving. I also installed some upgrades to my JKS trackbar, Including the IRO flex joint kit, and the Kevins Offroad large hardware kit for the lower. I was running the Hard KOR bushings before, however the bushings are so extremely firm that I managed to actually wallow out the bushings! The upper is now a flex joint, and the lower is an IRO bushing (I've head really good luck with those) but with the oversized inner sleeve to match the significantly larger bolt. ... And with that, I did a torque check on the whole suspension, given all of the modifications I've done recently. All in all, the Jeep is pretty much ready to be loaded and moved when the time comes.
  2. My family is originally from Oregon. Moving to be closer to family, and to find something more of a long term career. As far as the grille goes, I decided I really like the geometric plastic mesh alot of newer vehicles are incorporating. I wanted to make it subtle, yet stand out, much like the "Plan B" (the wire mesh mod, which always looks pretty sharp I think) I managed to cut out the sections straightly, and attach them using JB Weld Plastic epoxy. The epoxy was diffcult to get from going everywhere, however I found that letting it set for a minute or two makes it less prone to gravity than before. All in all it seems it came out sturdy... so far. Not quite done with it yet, but this is how it looks so far. The mock up- letting the epoxy bond How it looks.... Gosh, I never realized how bad the bumper looks! lol Yet, it's not quite ready to install... there's more modification to come!
  3. Well, my final days in the Arizona sun are upon me. In a number of weeks, I'll be moving to the cooler climates of Oregon, and that means I need to get off of my butt and get a few small issues fixed with the Jeep. Overall, she is running very healthy and should make the trip just fine. -(Biggest Issue) Re-seal my Spyder headlight assemblies. Though these have served me well, the Arizona sun has definitely pounded the plastic pretty well. I do plan to replace these sooner or later, but for now I need to re- seal two of the ball connectors onto the assemblies on both sides. -Rebuild the joints on my trackbar- I purchased the flex joint upgrade kit from IRO, and the larger bolt upgrade for the lower joint from Kevin's Offroad. The upper joint is just being a booger to remove, and I have to completely drop the bumpstop on that side to complete the extraction. -Fine tune fan Kick-On temp- increase temperature about 10-15 degrees. -Retire front lightbar- the position is not ideal if I get the opportunity to install a winch bumper eventually. Bar will be re-sealed and used elsewhere. I may eventually install a roof mounted lightbar, and re-use the circuit. -Tighten clamps on all coolant hoses. Trust me, if you go to silicon hoses, such as HPS, don't use a screwdriver or bit driver to tighten your hose clamps. Ratchet those suckers down as far as they'll go without the clamp breaking! I'm also working on bringing my old hitch mounted tire carrier back into service. I was never terribly happy with my wiring harness on it, so I'm working on a more professional looking (clean) solution. I also discovered that Trimax makes a style of hitch clamp I may incorporate into it to get rid of much of the noise that plagues the design. Another project I'm pulling out of storage to finish (because it would be too awkward to properly pack) is a Grille I had freshly bought, de-chromed, and had Cerakoted in the Charcoal Grey color I prefer. Alot of people go for mesh inserts to freshen the look, but I have another idea...
  4. This is absolutely true. The Kingman area stays 15-20 degrees cooler in the summer, and snows sometimes in the winter. Its a much more temperate area, so you won't get as heat blasted as we are, fortunately. My employers liked the difference so much that they actually live in Kingman and make the commute down daily. Can't say I blame them, haha
  5. Fall is easily my favorite season here in Mohave County. Not super hot, not super cold. My favorite time of the year to get stuff done outside! Nice digs! It looks like everything is coming together well!
  6. Well, I finally got the IRO A-Arm I bought LAST FREAKIN' YEAR installed. I managed to also install the flex joint upgrade on it, so the A-Arm is completely rebuildable, and rubber bushing free! On a side note, trying to remove the old A-Arm ball joint with a box end wrench and brute strength, I managed to pop my back (which has been out for the last week). Sometimes you fix the Jeep, sometimes the Jeep fixes you. The old A-Arm bushings and ball joint were completely trashed. The bushings were wallowed out to the point that it had actually developed slop when braking or accelerating. The entire axle would not only shift, but also cause the entire rear end to slightly walk all over the road. I stopped driving the Jeep for a while, I waited for the weather to cool down enough to work on. I took on the task of adding a cooling fan to my Joying android headunit. Being an older model, it is based on the Rockchip PX5 CPU, which is notorious for overheating issues. A simple mod that can be done mostly in the shade of the garage! The saving grace is Joying's custom main board design, which has a decent cooling solution built in, just needs some air on it, especially in our summer. Overall, the Jeep is driving much better with the new A-Arm in place. Now that the entire suspension has been effectively replaced, all clunks and noise has been eliminated. First time in a long time. Now I can focus on what is wrong with the A/C again...
  7. Thanks! It takes at least 15 years off of the "aged look" of the rig, I think.
  8. So today I decided to take the rig for a test spin, just to see how it would perform under sustained load on our first day in the triple-digits. One of the great things (and one of the worst things, sometimes) about living here is all of the hills and steep climbs a vehicle has to make under acceleration or in a sustained manner. That's partly why most major auto manufacturers will actually use this area as a testbench for figuring out cooling systems on early model & prototype vehicles. I decided to put the Jeep through it's paces, and test out the new cooling system. I used a route I call the "torture loop" because it includes a mixture of sustained hill climbs, stop/start points in awkward places, highway speeds, street speeds, smooth/rough roads, etc. In reality, this loop does a great job of testing cooling, suspension, brakes, and tires all at once! I actually have some metrics to compare to, and for each of the recording "points" I generated when I was testing the last cooling revamp, the Jeep actually scored around 10-15 degrees cooler than it did previously! The new gauges also provide some excellent insight into what the transmission and oil are doing during these tests. The Good: The electric fan system. It does an excellent job of ramping up and down to control the temperature of the engine, and appears to sit right around 190-195 degrees under street driving, where load is sustained (minimal stops, throttle open, minimal braking. 45-55 MPH). The cooling system only peaked at 215 for a moment during a climb which required hard acceleration, and this temperature actually dropped halfway through this. I'm thinking the radiator had to bleed some coolant or air when this happened? After this, another, steeper sustained climb only provoked a response of 210. The tires. The new Thunderer Trac Grip M/Ts I replaced the Kanati Trail Hogs with are a welcome change. The Kanatis performed excellently, however were quickly succumbing to road noise and wandering with their end-of-life. The Thunderers are quiet, and dont particularly track into the grooves of the road, so the rig is very easy to control currently. The Bad: The OEM Transmission cooler: This one gets a U for unsatisfactory from me. Now that I can actually watch the transmission temps, I can tell you this dinky little think doesn't cut it for the short, crawl-y bursts this rig is used to. It does ok-is cooling the trans when the vehicle over 65MPH, but leaves a lot to be desired if your rig lives around 50MPH. The 545RFE spec sheet shows nominal temp around 175-210, with 230 being the "caution zone." On this run, the trans cooler read out around the 200 mark, moving all the way to 220 during one of the sustained hill climbs, to promptly drop down again afterwards. The only time it really performed adequately was during a jolt at 65 MPH, where it held the temp between 180 and 200. Please note, some WJs are outfitted with a tiny aux cooler, inline with the in-radiator cooling. I'll probably replace this aux cooler with something larger, perhaps the size of the Hayden oil cooler I installed previously? I don't think that would hurt. Overloading in the rear half of the suspension. With all the weight migrated to the rear of the vehicle, it has a visible bias towards the rear. I'm thinking new, heavier-rate rear coils to balance everything out. It does get a little fiddly currently when coasting, though it is manageable. One way or another, I need to level out the rear, and add more weight to the front. All in all, not too shabby for about an hours worth of driving. This loop is great for determining how things are performing, and how things should be changed.
  9. Welcome to Mohave County! I reckon I'm not the only one here anymore. Lol
  10. I also have an upgraded IRO adjustable A-Arm waiting to go in, I just ran out of time this weekend. I've decided to stay short arm on the rear since it still suits my needs just fine.
  11. If you would have told me during my 2017 Cooling overhaul that I'd be doing it again, well, I probably wouldn't have been surprised. The thing with trying out aftermarket parts such as the 2-core radiator that I had installed at that time is that you never really know how it's going to affect the rest of the system. The increase in fin density with having a radiator that is double thick, quite literally, leads to issues with the OEM cooling solution (of course being the traditional Jeep 5-blade clutch fan, with an electric helper fan). A popular up-and-coming solution that sprang up in 2018 was to install the 11 blade fan and clutch used in the early 2000's Ford Explorers, which were an easy swap in that moves easily double the air the OEM solution did. But after 3 years with an explorer fan, and 3 explorer clutches toast (two OEM and one aftermarket), I finally threw in the towel, and said to [HECK] with it, and started researching electric fans that could be swapped in as a direct replacement for the entire two-fan system. Fortunately, I was not the only WJ owner on this quest at the time, so group consensus partnered with real world experience. Aside from this, I had some other bits & pieces I wanted to add anyways, to it was just a matter of collecting everything together and installing it all methodically. It's the first time I've really had a chance to add mods and parts without a time limit. All in all, it took about 7 days for me to do everything. I spent a lit of time planning and measuring wire runs, and I created a complete harness for everything- color coded and all! Loomed it, and snaked everything into place. All in all, I'm quite pleased with everything thus far. Summertime of course will be the true test, but so far everything is looking great! I ended up needing to replace the radiator due to seepage from around the areas where the fins mate into the main tanks. I'm considering taking the old radiator to a shop to see if I can have it repaired or re-cored. Aside from a new radiator, I also picked up a "Worley" branded fan shroud (It comes with a fan, but I was a wee bit sketched out by a super cheap fan). I opted again for an all aluminum, 2-core radiator. Many opt for a SPAL branded electric fan, however I opted for a Flex-A-Lite model(238), since I was going to use one of their adjustable fan controllers anyways (31165). Given that I already had the front end torn down, I also opted to replace my Gates (metal impeller) water pump for a FlowKooler water pump. These ones have a slightly different impeller design, which could be described as both "larger" and "more aggressive." They claim that this design change allows the system to cycle coolant faster and generate higher head pressures, however I don't really have any tools to test this. I've heard good things from others with this pump, so I figured I'd give it a shot with all of the other things I was doing anyways. Did you know silicon coolant hoses require special worm-drive clamp? Standard hose clamps will chew them up. Also seen are the Oil temp sender unit, and the Coolant sender as well. I added a cheap seal between the shroud and the radiator to dampen vibrations and also better direct airflow. I also installed a 3 gauge pod from Lo-Tek inc, with a couple of Glowshift gauges, particularly Oil and trans temp. The third pod may eventually hold something like an airbag controller, or information display. ohh, shiny! The Lo-Tek 3-gauge pod matches into the Jeep very well, but the mounting holes are not placed very logically. Some finagling will be required. The Oil temperature is pulled from a sensor inline to the oil cooler, shortly before it. The trans temp sensor is also located inline shortly before the cooler. As great as the fan does at pulling air, the real star of the show is, without a doubt, the fan controller. This Flex-A-Lite unit has some great features other than simply turning the fan on at a fixed temperature. It also: -Has a "Soft Start" feature (waits to initialize the temp monitoring until the vehicle has been in "run" for 6 seconds) -Adjustable temperature -Soft fan start (Starts the fan at 60% power and ramps it up as necessary) -"Cooldown" feature (runs the fan for 30sec after the vehicle is shut off) -A/C Bypass (Turns on fan @ 100% power when A/C is on) -Fan Bypass- Force fan ON -Fan Bypass- Force fan OFF (AKA "Water crossing" mode) I installed two switches for the FORCE settings, controlling the ON/OFF bypass modes, I also installed an LED indicator light to show when the fan is running. This is wired inline with the fan itsself. With so many connections running between the engine bay, dash, and A-pillar, I decided to make up a proper harness, color coded it, and split it into 3 separate sections. It made it easier to run so many wires at once, kept the space down, and also made it easier to document the wires. Dash cam power was also re-routed to this harness, cutting that wiring down as well. I may need to go back and re-do previous wiring jobs with this methodology in the future! I was in the final planning stages for the last section of harness here. The wires up front run to Power for the fan controller, the fan, and signal & ground for the trans temp sensor. you can B A R E L Y see the loomed harness coming in from the dash, inside of the driver side headlight support. I also took down my headlight assemblies and replaced the marker lamps with Sylvania ZEVO LED bulbs. They weren't kidding when they say "Super Bright!" With everything function tested, with no leaks, I was able to add in my final addition... fresh rubber! With the Kanati Trail Hog A/Ts on the verge of death after 5 years of abuse, it was time for an upgrade! I managed to get a deal with these Thunderer Trac Grip M/Ts at 35/12.50/R17E! So far, surprisingly quiet for an M/T tire! Monday was also my 9th year anniversary of owning this rig, so it seems like perfect timing for something that makes 'er look so fresh again!
  12. I'm sorry to say I've been a bit lax at updating what I've done. Like many, I've spent much of this year inside, but I finally got the itch to complete some projects on the Jeep. I ended up removing my Rola roof rack to replace it with a custom made Goliath Off Road flat rack. This rack is a direct bolt-in and completely replaces the factory cargo rack, for a much sturdier overall rack, with a much more sleek profile. (I forgot to take a picture, so this is the actual store picture Goliath Off Road uses) I haven't re-installed any of my accessories onto it yet, as I determine which ones I actually need. I also took the time last weekend to revisit my dual battery system, and make some improvements. all in all, it has performed admirably, with the secondary battery finally losing it's charge after five years. The volatile nature of our weather means that the primary battery doesn't last long, and the temperature-based charging of the WJ means that both batteries generally see less charging through the summer because of this. I made the decision to move the primary battery, and the isolator solenoid to the rear. While I was at it, I also replaced the mains cables with a kit from JeepCables.com, which were a wee bit long, but otherwise very good quality. I have yet to replace the starter cable because I am not sure exactly how to route it, but that cable is still in very good shape, unlike the others. I also installed a 180A Alternator. (Solenoid's goooone) I made the decision to run fresh 0GA wire all the way back, for both terminals. Sure, I could ground completely through the unibody, but I always thought more ground was better. Both batteries now have a direct ground link, also. So along with the previous ground I installed in the back The temperature sensor was also relocated, so the PCM is still rechnically reading the live battery temperature from that sensor. Pardon the wire slop. I still have to figure out what to do with the extra length. Also, I plan to re-loom the wires so they aren't just going every which direction. All in all, works great, the batteries are receiving a more consistent charge, and the lead-acid batteries were swapped with sealed AGM batteries, so hopefully we see some serious longevity of life gains!
  13. So, we've encountered several setbacks cutting the new panels for the ceiling. For one thing, the old saying "They don't build them like they used to" comes to mind. As it turns out, there aren't as many "even angles" in this thing as you'd expect. LOTS of trick cuts to get panels to fit. Fortunately, you do somehow get used to it after a while. Drilling holes into the steel "Ribcage" to fasten the panels turned out to be a chore as well, several drill bits later, I've had to upgrade to a set of bits for hardened steel. On top of that, the holes themselves actually have to be tapped, as the screws can't shape the steel on their own. This, plus an industrial strength adhesive tacking the panels to the ribcage, makes for a tight fit with pretty much no vibration or rattling. This will be a very pleasant change, as the initial panels in the rear driver side, above the bed and kitchen, were not held in by hardware (the previous owner worked on the ceiling, and neglected to reinstall the hardware at some point... as I found out when I tore down the old masonite boards). The beadboard doesn't flex very well, so we are looking at possibly "kerfing" the panels towards the front where the boards are visible. Fortunately in this storage space not much is lost. The panels are painted and will have to be cleaned, please pardon the dirt here. As you can guess, this is a mighty dirty job! Currently trying to find an appropriate trim to cover the seams. The trim screws will also be painted to match. For most of this project, the rear A/C cowl has been hanging freely. I've hit my head on it several times. Now It's fastened up and no longer an issue. The new LED light fixtures are also nice and bright. Pardon our dust! This panel above the door was our first attempt at Kerfing. The result was a panel which was still a bit too rigid, but could indeed bend further before it finally started to split.
  14. With the engine and mechanical refits successful, we finally have momentum to update a bit of the interior. Talking to several other Travco owners, we've discovered that the ceiling "carpet" is definitely not original. Aside from sagging, it's extremely difficult to keep clean. Naturally we decided to tear it down! What we uncovered was an extremely heat soaked... masonite? Paper board? Which had white "crinkle" style texture to it underneath (similar to what many modern motor homes use today). Whoever had installed the faux carpet ceiling covers had simply used a spray adhesive to hold it in place. Six panels made up the living area, kitchen, and sleeping areas. The strange thing, the first three boards I uncovered were properly fastened into place, and the the three rear-most panels weren't being held up by... anything. We had always attributed the rattles this thing put out while driving to being old, but the panels were being suspended by failing glue and gravity for all this time! Having removed the heat damaged panels, you get a good look at the rig's "ribcage" of steel supports and trusses which gives the fiberglass shell it's rigidity. Another thing this has led to is the inspection of both the 12v and house electrical. It looks to be in good shape, and in fact, appears to have been replaced at some point in the motorhome's life. This is probably for the better as I've seen a few Travcos burn in the last few months due to the original electrical becoming faulty. (The storage cabinets above the sleeping area fold down into two additional bunks. We've never used this feature, but in theory would allow this beast to house 4 people and two kids. The fold down sections are being supported since their cabling was removed in order to rip out the old ceiling) After making a few tweaks to the wiring, it's nearly ready for it's new ceiling layer! We decided to go for a wood beadboard, painted in a light offwhite (which I cannot remember the name of for the life of me) Coming up, the Kitchen area will get a new counter top, A nicer-than-plain-wood backdrop, and a majority of the bathroom will have to be disassembled to repair a busted water main. It's good to be finally making visible progress on this machine.
  15. And now for something completely different: https://youtu.be/eTPCNcuOEkw I decided to spend a little extra and get something really nice and form fitting in form of Coverking seat covers! Pretty great fit, finish and quality so far. We'll see how the hold up.
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