Odds and Ends : Getting the Truck Ready…

Posted by on Saturday, July 14th, 2012

I wasn’t sure if I should include notes on repairs and regular maintenance in my travel journal, but taking care of my vehicle is certainly an important part of traveling with it, and so here’s a brief summary of the latest maintenance on the truck… and some other stuff. ;-)

I just looked it up, and the truck turned 5 on May 30th. I think she’s doing just fine for a 5 year old truck, especially for Canada… Some of the door hinges are starting to bubble (no surprise there), but aside from that, the stock components are holding up pretty well. The worst would have to be the Cibie lights – the salt spray in winter just kills them. If I was to do it again, I’d consider lights made from a different material than steel – or lights with a better powder-coat. 20120701-180415-jsmoriss-3gs-0768.jpg The Expedition One rear bumper is also starting to be an issue. The powder-coat isn’t holding up that well, especially in the corners where salt slush accumulates. I’d coated the inside of the bumper with Amsoil HDMP, which has protected it remarkably well, but the outside was bubbling and flaking is many areas. Two weeks ago a friend came over and we took some grinders to it. We did what we could. It doesn’t look too bad, but I’m not sure how long the metal spray-paint will last. Next year I’ll probably have to take the bumper off and have it re-coated professionally. The Garvin roof rack also needs regular care, but I knew that before I bought it. The paint isn’t very thick, and they’re known for rusting. Still, it was the only option available at the time. The Fox shocks are also taking a pretty good hit. I should have sprayed them with HDMP when I got them, but didn’t want to spoil the look. :-/ Of course now they don’t look as nice either. ;-)

Some small things have broken – I recently changed a lightbulb in one of the front Cibie lights. I had a spare. I always have spares. That’s one thing I’ve learned to do; when I order something, I always get service and spare parts with it. 20120703-173901-jsmoriss-3gs-0772.jpg That way, something breaks or needs maintenance, you don’t have to waste time and energy tracking down the parts you need.

The latest thing to break was the water temp gauge. I didn’t want to start diagnosing the problem before having some parts on hand, so first I ordered a new gauge. :) I left it on the kitchen table for a few days – kind of a visual reminder – and eventually decided to take a few hours and track down the problem. I figured it might be corrosion at the sensor under the hood, so started from there. I cleaned the connections, used a multimeter to test resistance on the various pins, and compared the readings to the new sensor and gauge. Everything checked out, though one circuit going to the gauge was reading a bit low. Next I went to the fuse box, mounted under the glove compartment, and checked the connections there. And finally I took the gauge off, tried the new one, and bingo! :)

20120710-202506-jsmoriss-3gs-0780.jpg This week I also decided to change the synthetic winch line. It’s been on there for 5 years and used many times (mostly on other trucks). ;-) Last time I used the winch, about a year ago I think, I could hear a lot of more of the individual strands popping. I’d been carrying a spare rope in my offroad tool box for a few years now, just in case this one broke, so the plan was to install the spare in it’s place. Taking off the old line was pretty easy – Since the AEV bumper covers a good part of the winch, I used a socket wrench through the fairlead with an extra-long extension and flexible joint at the end. The retaining bolt came off easily enough, but getting it back on was a real pain… That flexible joint makes screwing bolts on straight almost impossible – and I really didn’t want to cross-thread the mounting hole. In the end, I decided to remove the grill in order to access that bolt from the rear of the winch. Getting the grill off, with the bumper still mounted, was a bit of a challenge. The other alternative would have been to take the bumper off, but that would have taken several more hours. :-p 20120710-213515-jsmoriss-3gs-0781.jpg

Meanwhile, I’ve also been working on setting up this website. :) I’m a long time Perl guy, and have managed to stay clear of PHP for many years, but WordPress and it’s themes / plugins are written in PHP, so I had to start picking it up. It’s as bad as I thought. You basically write snippets of code within an HTML document, instead of outputting HTML from a proper source code file – it’s the wrong way around. ;-) Anyway, I ended up tweeking several things, and even wrote a plugin for WordPress. You can see it at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/nextgen-facebook/. And in case you were curious, I chose WordPress as my CMS (Content Management System) because I’m also an Adobe Lightroom user. There are a few Lightroom plugins that allow you to export / publish photos directly from Lightroom to the WordPress NextGEN Gallery. I’ve tried them all, and by far the one I would recommend is “NextGEN Gallery Export” at http://alloyphoto.com/plugins/nextgen/. I’m looking forward to using it on the road this summer. :)

I received a National Luna Portable Power Pack this past week. I’ll be using it as additional power for the freezer in the truck. There are currently two batteries in the truck – the regular starter battery under the hood, and a backup battery behind the driver’s seat. The backup battery is just that – nothing is connected to it, and it’s there only for emergencies. So when the freezer is installed in the truck, it runs off just the one starter battery – That’s only enough for about 2 days or so. This extra battery, combined with the starter battery, should allow it to run just as long as the trailer-mounted fridge, which has 2 batteries as well. I hope to connect the wiring for that portable battery pack this week-end – or at least get all the parts lined up. ;-)

Safe travels,


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