Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2015/16 Winter Upgrades

November 2015-March 2016

Following the Wheeling For The Wounded event, The owners of Hired Gun Offroad offered to donate a set of used 38.5"x14.5"x15" TSL Super Swampers.  They saw first hand the state of baldness my 36" TSL's were in and absolutely made my day.  Prior to this I had bought a new Optima Redtop battery as well as a really nice battery box threw the HGO store.  This is the beginning of the winter upgrade season, and I had a jump on it.

During the event at Kansas Rocks in the summer of 2015, my battery hold down broke and threw the battery into the motor, destroying it.  Not wanting this to happen again, The owner of HGO talked me into a pretty sweet set up.   Installation of the box was a major PITA, mainly due to room issues.

I started by removing the OEM battery tray and sandblasting it.  I then painted both the tray and box with some engine enamel I had left over from painting the transfer case.  I didn't care about color, It was randomly picked by volume of what I had in stock.  The only way I could make the whole unit fit was to side mount the battery. I drilled holes into the tray, installed the tray and then bolted the box to the tray.  This was easier said than done, as there was very little room to negotiate the nuts on the bottom of the tray.  Once that fight was over, I mounted the battery.  It fits perfectly and I have full confidence that It will not ever break free.

Now that the battery situation was upgraded and complete, I switched my focus to the tires.  I had been given 4 tires.  3 were in good shape, 1 had a sidewall cut.  I really didn't want to trust a sidewall fix, so I took the HGO owners advice and bought 2 new tires.  The plan was to use the 2 new tires in the rear and the best 2 used ones in front, leaving 1 good used tire for a spare.  This plan saved me over $750 in tires alone.  Mad props to HGO for the donation.   
Since I have beadlocks, I was able to swap the old tires over and install the bigger ones myself.  When it came to the spare I used good old fashioned horse trading.  I called my friend Jason over and made him an offer.  I was willing to give him all 5 of my bald 36" tires if he would install my 38.5 on my spare rim.  (he would have to remove the 36 first).  This guy is a wheeler and a dealer, always buying and selling trucks, so he jumped on it.  It was a win for both of us.  3 months later my spare still holds air.  

Following the tire swap, I started planning a roll cage design.  I wanted it to be something that could start as a cab cage, then be added to towards the back and front when funds were available.  I knew I wanted to ditch the dash and I also knew I wanted the cage to look different from all the other cages I've seen.  Once I had a decent idea, I called the owners of Hardcore Fabrication over to hear my idea and work a quote.  While they worked the quote I started in removing the dash and anything else that I didn't need or want.

after removing the windshield I used an angle grinder to cut the dash out. I kept the cut about an inch from the lip of the windshield.  Once the dash was completely removed I used a file to knock down all the burrs, then a rubber mallet to pound it down against the firewall.  I removed all the wires and gauges that I could, and the rest were rounded up and kept in a pile away from any action.

Since I really wanted this cage to be set up for as a final build, I opted to buy some low budget racing seats.  I chose a a kit that came with 2 seats, 2 harnesses and sliders for both seats.

Once it was finished, I had it delivered to my dads shop.  I then started the process of painting it.  This was tougher than anticipated and I really didn't do such an awesome job.  It turned out ok, but I'm not so proud of my work....

Once painted I started fitting the panels into place.  I had the guys at Hardcore Fab rough cut them and I did the final fitting.  This was incredibly hard.  It was very time consuming and if not for the relaxing qualities of Jim Beam Rye I might have went crazy during this part of the job.  During this time my dad was brought in to help rewire the rig.  I bought a newer style fuse box, head light and wiper switch and removed all the old stuff.

One of the cooler ideas came from Travis, one of the owners at Hardcore fab.  He wanted to make bars that connected from the dash to the seat frame.  I told him I needed to have access to the removable cover at the transmission hump.  To solve the problem, he used some exhaust flanges on the top end and some removable couplings from a RZR cage at the bottom.  Now the two bars are removable so i can access the Transfercase area.  Also, my friend at work turned 3 identical shift knobs out of stainless steel form my new gig.  I really think the whole new look is great.

To finish it off, I added the original K5 fender badge to the passenger side dash, and my bobble arm pirate "Captain Mel" that was given to me by my good friend Zelda.  Other than that all I had to do was populate the side impact panels with some stickers to make it look like mine.  

It took a long time to complete these upgrades. I feel I bit off more than I could chew. I pissed off the guys at Hardcore Fab with my pestering and anal desire for how i wanted things done, I pissed off my dad with having a tight schedule to get it wired and having absolutely everything go wrong, but in the end I made the March 19th deadline and took her to Hot Springs Off Road Park for its first voyage as a better rig.  It felt amazing having the extra feeling of security I got from being harnessed in a cage.

Mad Props to the Following
Jason Davidson
My Dad & His Infinite Wisdom of everything Automotive

It took all of you to make this happen and I thank you

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