Expedition TrailBlazer Project

JamesDowning

Explorer
We get a decent discount at work from Fastenal. The only other place I've found it in long bars was on Mcmaster for a somewhat decent price. I purchased a 1m segment and just cut out 7.5" sections with my bandsaw and ground down the edges.
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
Thanks java!

Here's another minor suspension update...

For two months now I've been running Bilstein 5125 (P/N 33-185552) rear shocks with 255/70 valving. The valving in these are digressive, which I was hoping would match the front Radflo coilovers better than the old hydraulic BDS white-body shocks I had.



Based on my experiences, they perform wonderfully off road. The digressive valving really keeps it smooth while traveling over bumpy terrain at speed. However, in my opinion, they need more damping for road driving. Its not severe, but I do notice a bit of a bob in the rear over certain bumps. Its not bad enough that I will go out and replace these prematurely, but next time I buy shocks, I will be looking for something with valving above the 255/70 range. I see that Bilstein has a few higher options available, possibly the 5165 series with remote reservoirs P/Ns 25-177503 (24.4") or 25-187724 (27.4") with 360/80 valving (this is the only reason to get into the 5160 series, because the 5125 series does not have valving in the desired higher range).
 
Last edited:

AA1PR

Disabled Explorer
neat idea

is that threaded rod grade 5 or 8 ?

I think that would have a big impact on its durability
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
It was technically class B7, its a CrMo 4140 steel, I think the spec was around 125ksi min tensile strength. I think grade 8 is closer to 150ksi tensile and grade 5 is around 100ksi. So B7 is just about somewhere in the middle.
 

chilliwak

Expedition Leader
I run 5150s on the back end with a huge canopy. They are set up for 6 inch lift and the hardest valving that Bilstein can give me. They work great. You also have to remember that I wore out a brand new set of Ranchos in 3 years and I only drive in the summer. That gives you an idea how severe my body roll and shock needs are with my huge canopy...:ylsmoke:



Here they are installed....:wings:
 

flylow4500

Observer
Thanks java!

Here's another minor suspension update...

For two months now I've been running Bilstein 5125 (P/N 33-185552) rear shocks with 255/70 valving. The valving in these are digressive, which I was hoping would match the front Radflo coilovers better than the old hydraulic BDS white-body shocks I had.



Based on my experiences, they perform wonderfully off road. The digressive valving really keeps it smooth while traveling over bumpy terrain at speed. However, in my opinion, they need more damping for road driving. Its not severe, but I do notice a bit of a bob in the rear over certain bumps. Its not bad enough that I will go out and replace these prematurely, but next time I buy shocks, I will be looking for something with valving above the 255/70 range. I see that Bilstein has a few higher options available, possibly the 5165 series with remote reservoirs P/Ns 25-177503 (24.4") or 25-187724 (27.4") with 360/80 valving (this is the only reason to get into the 5160 series, because the 5125 series does not have valving in the desired higher range).
How can a non position sensitive shock be progressive or digressive?
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
James, perhaps I missed it someplace in this thread. What pump are you using for the water container?

Thanks.
I used a submersible pump made by Rule. Not sure if I'd do it again, but it worked well for 3 years. I'm toying with other ideas now, since it seems the pump died. I'm looking into pressurizing a tank with air pressure for the next version, but for short trips, I've been happy with water bottles.
http://www.grainger.com/product/RULE-Pump-3TNJ2

How can a non position sensitive shock be progressive or digressive?
I don't think it has to be position sensitive at all. It just has to have a deflecting portion of the valve that changes its geometry based on oil pressure.

Here's a relevant discussion on Pirate where the mechanics are discussed some:
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/desert-racing/640363-i-need-little-input-digressive-pistons-2.html

This isn't a Bilstein picture, but it does a good job of showing one such method of digressing a shock valve:

 
Last edited:

JamesDowning

Explorer
As an update, I recently made and installed a new frontal "half rack" that is lower profile than my old cut-down Baja Rack. Its low profile not only for gas purposes, but also so that I can fit into my garage and not have to take the rack off and on every time I want to carry my bikes or kayak (which will help push me to use them more). It's also got a pair of 72W 13" LED light bars mounted up front. I probably don't NEED the extra light, because the 4000s really do a great job, but then again, why not.









I haven't had much of a chance to use the new LED lights in the dark yet, but so far they seem very bright compared to what I've experienced with my past versions of roof lights. Should be helpful on those late night back road drives.
 
Last edited:

JamesDowning

Explorer
I realized a few more things that I had forgotten to post up before.

Ever since our trip out west, I've been on the look out for an even better navigation method. The laptop, while effective, takes up a lot of passenger space. It works well for just a driver, but when you add my wife, she's not super thrilled about having a permanent laptop hovering over her lap. I was also concerned about what would happen in the rare possibility of an airbag deployment.

So, I got a Surface Pro, it runs PC applications, just like a laptop, but it's touch screen, and small - plus I run it off of a cig lighter plug, so - no more AC adapter needed to run nav (and no more wiring mess!).

I mounted it over the central A/C vents, because it blocked nothing else being mounted there, plus I talked myself into the fact that it will allow the Surface to keep cool while in use (at least in the summer). I used a mount from https://www.proclipusa.com/ that fits the Surface Pro like a glove. All I needed was a little USB GPS unit, and I was golden (could have been better if the Surface had a GPS built in).

Tablet NAV.JPG

Still running Topo USA 7.0, but have been looking around for a better piece of PC software that doesn't require internet access for maps (which seems pretty rare nowadays). If anyone has some input, I'm all ears.

The tablet is easily accessed by either the driver or the passenger, and is mounted on a rotate/swivel mount so I could technically mount it vertical if I wanted to.

Tablet NAV Bracket.JPG
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
Also, the biggest project I've been working on for a few months was regearing the diffs (from 3.42 ratio to 4.56), and getting a new rear locker. I went with a US Standard rear gear and a Powertrax N-Slip in the rear, and Yukon gears in the front. It was a long learning experience. Needed a whole new rear axle, because the 8.0 stock rear carrier doesn't fit the Powertrax. Also had to do the front regearing twice due to a really stupid mistake.

However, the front gears have been in for a month or so now, the fronts for about 2, and the highway power is now much improved. I'm hoping to get it out onto some trails in the next month or so to really test it out.

Anyways, here's the obligatory proof pictures.

Rear of the truck, during the swap:

Rear Axle.jpg

Front diff pattern:



 
Last edited:

JamesDowning

Explorer
Did the "big brake upgrade", taking the brakes from the extended version of the Trailblazer. This should prove to be helpful especially if I get bigger tires (thinking maybe 34s).

big brake upgrade.jpg

Also, here's an excessively dramatized video that I finally edited up from an outing with me and my buddies back in April (if I recall correctly)...

 

HARDTRAILZ

Certified
I did not notice a huge braking performance upgrade, but worth doing if you need brakes. Simple enough and cost is minimal.

The video came out great!
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
A relatively small change, but a big change for camp lighting, I re-purposed my LED strip light that was inside my RTT, and relocated it under my rear tailgate. The lighting is sweet now back there. Why didn't I do this earlier?





Since I moved, my new garage door is a bit lower than my last place. I can no longer fit into the garage with the roof top tent on top of the vehicle. I am still storing the behemoth in the ceiling of the garage with the same hoist as before though, because its too big to store anywhere else. Roof hoist pictured below (sorry, blurry)...



So instead of driving under the hoist, lowering it down on the truck, and driving away, I had been requiring a second (or sometimes a third) hand to manually carry the tent out of the garage, and then lift the tent into place on top of the truck. It sucked.

So in my search to ever improve my efficiency, I made a crane that mounts into the rear hitch. It has two modes, first is a 'flat stick' mode, where it can pick up the tent off of a set of saw horses after being dropped from the ceiling and then 'caddy' it out of the garage. This mode is seen below:





Then, the tent is set down on top of saw horses again, and the crane is configured into the higher angle "install" mode. The angled gusset under the boom is pinned into the higher position, and the tent is then hoisted off of the saw horses. A pin is pulled at the base of the crane that prevents it from rotating on its hinges, and the tent can then be pushed 180 degrees around over the truck roof.



The tent is then lowered down onto the studs in the roof rack and fastened down. Its not the fastest process or most efficient, but it can be done entirely by one man, so that in-itself is worth it for the self-sufficiency.
 
Top