97 K1500 DD/Overlander

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mdnky

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04.04.23
Spent all of yesterday helping my little brother with an XJ (97 2dr I6/5mt) he found locally and purchased. Should make a nice little trail rig for him. Also reminds me why I hate vynil. Previous owner had wrapped the entire XJ in orange vynil his son liked and raptor lined the roof and rockers. He didn't do the doors, as he never had them on it. He had excess material he left with the XJ, so we wrapped the doors and did a few minor repairs. I still think we should have pulled the vynil and raptor lined the entire thing. Oh well, time to get back to my project.

When I spoke with the exhaust shop about the flange studs, I also asked what type of wire they use (thinking I'd have them weld the pipe as well). Since they use regular steel, I figured I might as well try it myself.

Drilled the upper mount hole (forgot) and reinstalled the hanger. Cleaned the ends of the pipes with a 220grit sponge. Used the grinder to remove the barb left from cutting it with the sawzall. Mounted exhaust pipe, then used some magnets to hold everything while I tacked the pipes.

Set the welder (120v) to 82 (~240in/min) and the voltage offset to 0. Actually welded somewhat presentable and easier than I thought, so left the setting and raced the rain. Had to almost blindly weld the underside, which isn't as pretty but its together and strong (so-far). I was planning on covering the welded area with some hi-temp BBQ grill paint, but that rain arrived and I had to get the tools in. Covered the weld in a plastic bag and duct-tape in a possibly feeble attemp to keep the rain off.

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OutlawDrifter

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The high temp paint works well. I hit all of my weld joints and any exposed aluminized steel with it. You'll generally have to recoat it a time or two through the year, but it pays dividends in the longevity of the exhaust.
 

mdnky

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04.04.23 (cont...)

Rain let up for a bit, so quickly hit the weld with the paint.
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mdnky

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04.05.23
At some point one of the previous owners installed a cheap generic trailer brake controller and a 7+4 connector on the step bumper. The location of the connection wasn't thought out well, nor was the installation properly done. Decided to take some time and fix everything. I'll leave the current controller in place for now, but in the near future a Tekonsha P3 will be replacing it.

Ordered some supplies...rubber grommets, braided poly loom, ring terminals, Tesa tape, 3M Super33, and some Blue-Sea Systems 12ga weather-proof fuse holders from Amazon [$59.74].

The Issues (Rant):
  • They passed two 16ga THWN (12ga req) wires though a hole drilled in the firewall (1/4" hole) with no grommet...didn't even debur the hole.
  • The few butt connections utilized were not properly crimped...looks like they used vice grips.
  • Some of the connections were made with wire nuts, both under the dash and under the bed.
  • None of the wires are properly secured. The ones up front had too much slack and were dangerously close to the steering shaft.
  • No fuses or breakers on the power lines.
  • They used a 4-pin no-cut t-harness in the back, but left a ridiculous amount of excess just hanging loose.
  • They grounded the controller to a very thin bracket under the dash that's mounted with nylon spacers. This particular controller requires a direct ground to the battery.
  • The ground for the 7-pin was very loose at the ring terminal and made to a painted surface.
  • The ground for the 4-way portion wasn't connected.
  • Placement of the 7+4 connector is less than ideal. The controller (blue) and power (black/orange) wires had sheathing damage from rubbing on the bumper edge.

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RUNNING TOTAL: $4688.04
 
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mdnky

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04.06.23
Removed the 7+4 connector from the bumper and got rid of the mounting bracket. Decided to relocate it to the drivers side of the hitch. Headed over to the scrap deck with the drill and a 51mm hole saw. The poor Ryobi cordless was not happy, but it made it though.

Dropped in the connecter and traced the outline with an awl, leaving an extra 1/4" or so on the right side. I marked/drilled the mounting holes, then cut it out with the grinder and a cutoff wheel. Beveled the mounting edge with a grin find wheel, then swapped to an 80g flap disk and gave the entire piece an once-over to clean it up.

Welded it to the hitch front and back. The 9ga material in is about 3x the thickness of the stock backet. Moves the entire truck when you push on it with no deflection...so it'll definitely do. After all...over-kill is under-rated.

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mdnky

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04.06.23 (cont...)
Ate lunch and ordered some 12ga wire from O'Reillys [$16.04]. 3' of black, 3' of blue, and 11' of white. Cheaper ($0.89/ft) than buying the 12' rolls ($11.99) off the shelf.

Hit the front weld with the 80g flap disc...mainly because I was too lazy/tired to swap it. Applied a few coats of the flat black I used on the hitch earlier. Let that dry a but, then installed the connector with some "new" slotted machine screws and nuts found in the junk bin. For those with OCD, the slotted screw are all vertical...

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Used the flap disc to get bear metal 7-pin wire ground wire. Crimped and soldered a nickel ring terminal to it, then put some string tubing over the connector. Covered the remaining visible portion of that white ground wire with black shrink tube as well. Raided the shrink tubing stash I found in the basement to repair the damaged blue and purple wires on the 7-pin connector. Used a short piece over the damage, then put a larger piece over that. Hit the bare are by the ground with some flat black.

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I never received an order-ready email from O'Reillys. Since I couldn't do much in the front of the truck without that order, I started to reattach the wires out back. Crimped and soldered the ground wire for the 4-pin connector, then sanded and drilled the hole for the attachment point. Left it disconnected for extra slack on the remains work.

I initially planned on using soldered splices and shrink tubing, but quickly remembered that's not my favorite thing to do, nor necessarily needed. I successfully spliced a 10" piece of scrap 10ga black wire to the 7-pin black wire (12ga) and shrink wrapped it. That went well, but I had easy access. It fell apart while attempting to solder the 10ga orange to that 10ga black.

The tight and awkward location inside the rail and lack of excess wire were problematic. The cold (and rapidly getting colder by the minute) weather didn't make it any easier. To be fair, it also didn't help that the soldering iron was a cordless one with a fine tip point. I just couldn't get enough heat into the wires to get a good joint.

So I had two options as I saw it:
  1. Borrow the big iron (American Beauty), run a cord, and hope for the best.
  2. Run to O'Reilly's to grab some handy dandy butt connectors, not to mention hope they forgot to call/email about the order.

The rapidly declining temperature easily dictated the latter, so I hit O'Reilly's and grabbed a multi-pack of butt connectors [$4.76]. Sadly, they didn't have the earlier order, nor did the two employees (Store MGR and some kid) see too helpful or competent. {begin RANT} This particular location, as well as the "hub" location across town have been unimpressive. I've dealt with quite a few of their locations for years. Both personally, as well as professionally at multiple shops (a national Tire/Auto Center, a few Dealership Service Departments, and a 4wd Speciality Retailer). These locations in NKY have some serious issues that seem to start at the top and need addressing. {end RANT}

It was dark by the time I got back. I tired to install the 4-pin ground so I could paint the bare metal's but the bolt broke as I was tightening it down. I then broke two drill bits trying to clear it. Decided it was too darn cold and quit for the evening.


RUNNING TOTAL: $4708.84
 
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Erik the Awful

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The rapidly declining temperature easily dictated the latter, so I hit O'Reilly's and grabbed a multi-pack of butt connectors [$4.76]. Sadly, they didn't have the earlier order, nor did the two employees (Store MGR and some kid) see too helpful or competent.
A week or so ago I used their "Order Online" because my wife was in town and I didn't want to make the 14 mile round-trip. They gave her the wrong parts. You should get an email asking for a review of their "Online Order" service, so be honest with them. I admitted up front that my order was on short notice, but my wife was willing to wait patiently for the right parts. Instead I had to waste 45 minutes driving to the store, exchanging parts, and driving home. I didn't get a response, but hopefully it puts some mid-level manager on notice that they can't just half-@$$ an online order service.
 

mdnky

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You should get an email asking for a review of their "Online Order" service, so be honest with them...hopefully it puts some mid-level manager on notice that they can't just half-@$$ an online order service.
I may do that. If yesterday was the only issue in the past few weeks, I'd probably be a bit less bothered. However, it seems like every time I've been in one of their NKY area stores since January, there's an issue of some kind. I get the feeling that it may be a management issue at the district level, which is trickling down to the store level.

While trying to find that 5/8" hose for the vent line on the fuel tank, I visited three stores with each one saying the other "definitely had it". The last store was their local 'hub'. Every store was just disorganized, with people behind the counters whom were not very interested in being helpful, or in some cases knowledgeable. The 'hub' store looked like a tornado had recently made its way through the interior. At one of the stores, an employee was adamant that heater hose is perfectly ok to use as fuel line in a high pressure fuel injection system. Guess it's just really hard to find decent workers anymore.

I called this afternoon and their commercial accounts rep took the call (on the normal line). He actually tracked the order down quickly and apologized about the error. Seems it arrived yesterday, but was misplaced. When I got to the store, he had it sitting at his computer waiting for me. Needless to say I'll be trying to deal with him from now on, if possible.
 

mdnky

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04.07.23
Finished the rewire on the rear connector. I had previously zip-tied the slack on the t-adapter, but after a bit of pondering I decided to just cut and splice it (removing a few feet of wire). Reconnected everything with butt connectors and shrink tubing, then taped it together and put some 1/2" braided-poly split sleeve to clean it all up. Still need to secure it to the hitch and frame, but I'm out of cable clamps.

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I was going to rewire the front part, but decided to wait. The weather was less than ideal, and frankly I just didn't feel like working outside today. I disconnected the power lines at the distribution terminal.

The current 16ga (house wire) controller line will get replaced with some black 12ga wire and I'll add a 20amp fuse to that. The hole in firewall will be enlarged and fitted with a proper grommet. I'll run a new controller wire though the firewall to the stock blue control wire. I'll also run a new ground wire from the controller to the negative battery post.

Also decided the rear bumper is probably not worth saving. It'll do for now, but eventually it'll be replaced. Just need to decide on another stock-like one, aftermarket custom, or possibly even attempting to fab something. Another problem for another month.
 
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