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theksmith last won the day on September 28

theksmith had the most liked content!

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About theksmith

  • Rank
    Expedition Expert

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  • Rig
    2016 JKUR
  • Location
    Phoenix, AZ

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  1. Join us for a short trail ride and big time fun with your Offroad Passport friends at our annual Holiday Party! We bring the burgers & dogs for a potluck lunch, plus there's the infamous cut-throat white elephant gift game, and the delicious cookie contest! Note that we have a new location (near Lake Pleasant) and that the trail is rated moderate this year. The short route is doable by a stock high-clearance 4wd rig such as a Wrangler or Tacoma. Save the date! Sign-up link & full details coming soon.
  2. a while back i changed one end of my trackbar from a Synergy DDB that kept wearing out too fast, to a custom Johnny Joint end. i needed a 12* offset stud on the joint which no-one seemed to sell, so i had to make one by cutting, bending and re-welding a joint with a straight stud. @ob1jeeper saw my post and let me know that welding on that forged joint wasn't ideal because it would likely cause the forged steel to become brittle and then this rather important joint could fail completely. the correct weld-ready Johnny Joint to fit a track bar bracket was readily available. and after a little searching, i found a stud with the correct 7/8-14 LH threads in regular mild steel. i've had those 2 parts sitting on my workbench for months... today i finally got around to die grinding the end of the new stud to mate to the joint at the required 12* angle and welding it up: here's the final part with the Johny Joint assembled: thankfully my previous custom end based on the forged part had not yet failed. regardless, i'm much more confident in this one knowing everything is made of mild steel that was intended to be welded. thanks for looking out for me Steve!
  3. @WILL E - looks like a great solution with the the heim! when you get a chance to flex test, you might want to make sure the Apex's shaft doesn't end up hitting the u-bolt plate on full droop.
  4. another little change with the SwayLoc... after the heims on the links loosened up a bit, then when the links would twist the heim bodies would smack the end of their travel and make a "TONK!" sound. it wasn't horrible, but still annoyed me. i found that JKS Part #2035 works well as complete replacement links to get rid of the heims and did eliminate that particular noise. there's still a small clunk that i think is coming from the latch mechanism itself - but i have an idea for how to fix that as well, so stay tuned! the new JKS links:
  5. i swapped my 1st gen Synergy front trackbar & sector-shaft brace for their new version. the new one can work with my PSC big-bore steering box (with the additional purchase of a $40 nut and a $100 bearing block!). this one also mounts the sector-shaft brace portion differently so it doesn't stick out away from the frame as much - which means i can better center the SwayLoc without it hitting this bracket. new one on left: i was also able to trim a little metal from it to give the SwayLoc arm even more clearance. this almost turned into an all-day project as i cross-threaded one of the steering box bolts while trying to put everything back together! there's no way to get a tap in there to fix it without completely removing the steering box, which would have been a giant PITA. fortunately i found a workaround to not remove the box. i was able to use a die to clean up the bolt threads, start it correctly, tighten just a little bit at a time, then remove and clean up with the die and insert a little further over and over again till it had fixed the box's threads. these giant tap & die sets from Harbor Freight have saved the day for me several times! here's the new brace installed. i don't have the sector-shaft part in yet because i'm still waiting for Synergy to send me that additional nut and bearing block. you can see i also swapped the lowest bolt for an allen head and flipped it so only the head sticks out - again for clearance with the SwayLoc arm. after all this i was only able to slide the SwayLoc towards the passenger side just over 3/8". however, it appears that was enough to stop the driver side tire from rubbing the arm at full lock - which was the goal!
  6. we've rented travel trailers several times now from RVshare to tow with Freya. fortunately they all included a Curt Echo bluetooth inline brake controller. however, i decided it was time to go ahead and permanently mount our own controller. i selected the Redarc Tow-Pro Liberty because everything is hidden except a small control knob. it also has excellent reviews and Redarc has a great reputation. besides the controller itself, i really just needed the TPH-004 harness for plug-n-play wiring since our WK2 came with the tow package. the plastic "brain" box can be oriented in any direction, which makes that part easier than traditional controllers. i zip-tied it to a metal bracket that the OEM OBD-II port is attached to. the factory female plug that the control harness mates with is well hidden in the dash above the parking brake. some nice person on the internet made the photo below, otherwise i'd still be looking for it! i elected to also purchase the universal bezel because i thought it would make the install look more factory than having just a knob. Redarc also offers dedicated bezels to match 2 different Toyota OEM switch panels. i had to take apart the knee-panel trim area to install the control knob. mainly just to ensure that i wasn't going to drill into anything important. note that if you have the airbag behind that panel, DO NOT PRY on the trim directly in front of it or you will damage the panel. i found the PDF instructions below which show how to remove the whole knee panel correctly. i also found this thread on JeepGarage forum with some helpful photos. WK2_Knee_blocker_airbag_removal.pdf the universal bezel comes with a template for marking where to drill 2 holes. be sure you drill the upper one before you do the large one. next was the nerve-wracking point of no-return, drilling the main 1" hole. this had to go through the trim panel as well as a plastic support structure behind it. after you fish the Tow-Pro RJ-45 cable out through the hole and plug it into the control knob, the bezel/module just snaps in place. i'm happy with how it came out. it's easy to reach but not intrusive looking. there's a RGB LED behind the knob that provides status and error info via various colors and blinking patterns. it doesn't light up unless a trailer is attached - unless you press it and then it just gives one blue pulse if everything is hooked up correctly. when a trailer is attached, pressing the knob manually actives the trailer brakes. the only setting is turning the knob to dial in the braking force from 0 to 10. i noticed the well-known Tekonsha company is also now making a hidden-except-for-the-knob controller too. theirs has a bluetooth connection that lets you store multiple profiles in case you frequently switch between different size/weight trailers. it competes more with the Redarc Tow Pro Elite as it offers proportional and timed braking modes. i went with the Redarc Liberty because their knob is less chunky looking than Tekonsha's and i didn't see the need for any extra complexity with our scenario.
  7. i don't think that little 14-incher would make a ton of difference, not enough to warrant changing to it. you really want to get at least some of the antenna above the metal body. something like the Midland 32" 6DB antenna should make a noticeable difference, more so with reception than transmission, though both would likely improve. it's certainly not as stealth as your current ghost antenna, but it does at least have a spring to help it survive tree limbs.
  8. are you already using your phone or a tablet as you primary nav/gps device and this would be a backup? or are you wanting to stay old-school and do everything with a dedicated unit?
  9. Had an awesome time as always - the weather was perfect and it was great to see everyone. Thank you all for coming out! A huge thanks to everyone for participating in the salsa/dip contest, the brand new valve-cap relay race, and the 50/50 raffle (as well as buying shirts & hats). Even with the small group this year, we had a ton of entries in the dip contest, making it really hard to pick a winner! Also thanks for bringing firewood and for picking up after yourselves. The campground looked great when we left (as usual with this group). And finally, a big shout out to @4x4tographer for leading the trail ride, another great logo design for this year's Gala shirts, and for just kicking ass in general! Can't wait for next year!!! The tentative plan is to have the 15th annual Dirt Gala back at The Cinders so watch for the calendar entry!
  10. thanks to @SonoranWanderer for the shot of Gadget on Terminator this weekend...
  11. everyone please bring FIREWOOD along with any extra TABLES and EZ-UP TYPE SHELTERS that we can use in the common area (there's only one tiny ramada at the site). don't forget your SALSA or DIP and some CASH for the raffle or schwag! can't wait to see you all this Friday!
  12. good run! it was just myself and @SonoranWanderer. we completed both Terminators without any issues or recoveries and then continued on to Black Canyon city. finished up around midnight. i didn't get any photos, but Woody might have some video and/or pics...
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