Archive for May, 2008

Chrome, Oh Noes!

May 31st, 2008

Willem, a Volvo firefighter owner from the Netherlands, sent me the following as a warning against the stainless grab bars:

Date sent:        Mon, 02 Jun 1997 08:06:37 -0500
From:             "Andrew H. Litkowiak"
Subject:          Re: hood kits, a teaching tale about chrome

Brian Skalla wrote:
> Help!
>         I cannot find any kind of chrome hood kits for my 75 FJ40.  If anyone
> knows a company that sells them please e-mail me and tell me who.

Brother Brian,

Poor, misguided Brother Brian. Listen, as the story of chrome is related.

Once upon a time, in a city not too far from you, a young man named Burford bought a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, the roughest, toughest, most rompin, stompin 4×4 available in the known world. Burford was very happy with his Cruiser, but, being from the city, he felt that something was missing. Something cool, something to help him pick up chicks.

He gazed at his Cruiser, glorious with its hard lines and earth tones. “Ahhh” he said, “if only it were a little brighter, flashier. Then I could get all the babes I want.” Burford pondered and puzzled and thought until smoke curled from his ears. But nothing came to him.

Suddenly, there in the grocery store parking lot, he saw a low rider. It had high gloss paint, a very noisy stereo, chrome trim everywhere and beautiful bikini clad bimbos laying all over the car (turns out it was a photo layout for Low Rider Magazine, but of course, blinded by the high gloss chrome and bimbos, Burford failed to see the cameras).

“That’s it” he shouted, “Chrome!”

Burford hurried home and pulled out all his Cruiser related catalogs. He pored over them, but could find no Chrome accessories. “How odd” he thought. “Well, no matter. I’ll just send some stuff out to the local plating shop.”

Burford took the parts to the nearest plating shop. When the owner saw that they were Land Cruiser parts, he refused to chrome them. “Look son. I’ll powder coat them, I’ll black anodize them, but I won’t chrome those parts. It’s a sin, plain and simple”.

Burford went to many plating shops, but the result was the same. Metal platers everywhere refused to deal with him, the more superstitious even warding him off with hex signs and prayers. Finally, in a run down, scary part of town, he saw a sign for plating services on a dilapidated old garage. The owner was a gnarled little man, with a rheumy eye and a hunch back. “So, ya wants chrome, does ya? I’ll do it, but it will cost big.” All Burford could think of were the bikini clad bimbos. He ignored all the warnings and rumors and handed over his money to the odd little man.

While the parts were out being chromed, Burford buffed out his Cruiser until it shone like the sun itself. He also installed a wicked 250 amp 27 channel ear busting stereo system.

Well, the big day arrived. The parts were done! Burford hurried to the plating shop and collected his parts. And what parts they were. Bumpers and rims and hood hardware and tool box and bezel and tow hooks and Warn hubs and lug nuts and roll bar and wiper arms, all in glorious, gleaming chrome. He rushed home and began working on re-installing all his wonderful chrome parts.

The work was all done and nothing was left but to go for a ride. Burford climbed into his gleaming, chrome covered cruiser and headed for the mall. “This is it” he thought, “babe city, here I come.”

As Burford headed towards the mall, he came upon a small tree, just a sapling really, down, blocking the road. Cars ahead were detouring around it. He looked, and decided, “hey, it’s a Cruiser. I’ll just crawl right over.”

Burford pulled forward and touched the sapling with his tire. As we all know, when the front tire of any Cruiser touches dirt, sand, rock, grass, wood or any material other than asphalt or concrete, the Land Cruiser Gods look down upon the Cruiser, ready to admire their creation and watch with pride as it conquers the environment it was designed to conquer.

So the Land Cruiser Gods looked down on Berford’s Cruiser, and they were confused. “Where is our creation, and what is all that damned noise?” The Land Cruiser Gods looked closer and realized that it was indeed a Cruiser. They saw the well buffed paint and smiled, happy that Burford was caring for their creation. They listened to the offensive loud music and were a bit miffed, but, they let it pass, hey, who can judge taste in music, one man’s treasure is a Land Cruiser God’s trash, but, whatever.

The Land Cruiser Gods then saw past the blinding reflection of the sun and realized that the source was….chrome. “It looks like a low rider” said one God. “Look at all those greasy fingerprints” said another. “Look” said a third, “he’s even done the hood latches in…(sob)…chrome.”

So the Land Cruiser Gods conferred and debated and raged and wept, all the while trying to decide a proper punishment for Burford. At last, they found a suitable penance for the ultimate sin. They assembled in all their glory and power and carried out their decision.

As Burford’s front tire touched the sapling, he felt a shiver run through his body. His Cruiser suddenly felt….different. He stepped on the gas and……was stuck. Burford gassed it a bit more, and then a bit more, until it was floored, and the motor was screaming, but he moved not an inch. “How odd” Burford thought. He engaged the 4 wheel drive and tried again. Nothing. The engine screamed in agony, the clutch billowed noxious gasses, but the truck would not move.

Burford shut off the motor and climbed out to find out what tremendous obstacle was holding him in place. He looked around, but all looked normal. A tiny sapling lay in the road, but nothing more.

Burford bent down to look under the truck to see if he was missing something. As he gazed to the front, he noticed that his springs were….tiny. In fact, everything in the drive line was….small. Axles, pumpkins, transfer, suspension all looked as if they had shrunk. He pulled his head back and stood up.

Burford looked closely at his truck. It still gleamed and shined, but it was riding lower to the ground. He walked around it, examining. “The grill looks different” he thought. “And what are those stupid little flares doing on the front fenders?” The sheet metal looked thin and the doors were kind of odd.

As he rounded the back, a horrible thought occurred to him. Yes, the tire carrier was gone. Burford looked closer and then let out a shriek “oh, what have I done, what have I done?” he sobbed. There on the back were four terrible letters, burned into the flimsy sheet metal. J**P

And that, children, is how the Land Cruiser Gods created the J**P.

So you see, Brian. You really should consider just why you can’t find chrome parts. This story is one of the teaching parables used by the Curia. It’s origins are lost in antiquity, but Truth is a constant. I suggest you heed its message or you could face dire consequences.

Firefighters have a long history of shiny metal on their exterior, so I don’t think I’m offending any Volvo Gods.


Grab Bars

May 24th, 2008

I picked up some marine stainless fittings to add a grab bar above the rear door. This makes entry and exit much much easier. On first install, the back of the truck flexed more than I wanted when putting weight on the bar. With goopy 3M 4200 sealant getting on everything, I dissembled it all and added some steel backing plates to spread the load. I’m going to do the same thing on the 4 front doors. Just waiting for the fittings to arrive.



May 24th, 2008

It turns out there’s a lot of space for batteries in Trog — the volume to easily place them, relatively mid-ships, below the bed, has approx 20″ of height available. That means I can use bigger, taller batteries. In past marine use, I’ve used the ubiquitous Trojan T105, which are the best deal Ahr wise, but since I have extra space, I can use taller batteries. I picked up “used” some Trojan L16G from Allied Battery today, for the great price of $100 each. They are “used”, but the sales guy assured me that they were returns from Genie where they dumped a pallet of them and returned all unused. I’m going to charge them and run them down at a 20hr rate to see what condition they are. At 370Ahr, that’s about 18 Amps. Luckily, the old heater element I removed from the back of Trög, at the bottom of the pic, is 0.55Ohms, or about 21 Amps at 12V so that’ll work nicely as a test load.

Update — looks like the batteries are in pretty good condition. They bottomed out after ~16 hours. I’m not exactly sure how much current the heater element actually drew b/c it’s more than my meters can read. I need a shunt to measure the current.


Sound Dampening

May 21st, 2008

Trog is loud! A lot of the noise is from the tires, engine, fan and transmission. All create a racket that at highway speeds will certainly cause hearing damage without hearing protection. I got some Damplifier, butyl rubber sound dampening material from Second Skin Audio that I’ll use to cover the inside of the body.


Damplifier is good stuff, all butyl rubber vs competitors dampeners made of asphalt that can delaminate and smell like hot tar on hot days. I’m also using Spectrum liquid sound dampening as an undercoating when I redo the back cabin.

Sidewalls and roof will get some sort of insulative sound dampening in addition to the Damplifier. I think the Second Skin product in this category is a little expensive for what you get, so I’m still looking for the right stuff.

Today I applied the Damplifier to the front cabin. Applying the stuff is pretty fun — you don’ thave to be that exact with the cuts and it smooshes down easily with a wooden roller. I applied double layeres of the stuff to the bigger panels which seemed to have more “boom” when thunked. It took about 50 sq ft to do the main cabin:

It’ll take another 160 sq ft or so for the rear cabin. Maybe more.


A C306 made of less rust

May 8th, 2008

Finally back to work. Quentin gave me the day off from diaper changes so I got to work on Trög. The bottom pan of the back box is pretty rusted, especially under the (removed) tank and above the rear wheels. Here’s Trög with the worst parts cut out.

and the bits removed

There were quite a few old patches and holes cut in these panels.   The old patches weren’t done with the greatest of care, so they tended to be the rustiest areas.

brb — diaper change break (not my best work, I’ve been informed, by both Quentin and Laura. 🙂 ).

The old panels had channels  pressed or bead rolled in for strength. I don’t have a bead roller so I’ll I’ll fab new panels out of 14 gauge steel with 1″x.065 square tube or 2″x1″x.065 rectangular tube reinforcements.


Quentin Pascal Cherry

May 5th, 2008

No posts recently, because I’ve been busy!   Laura, my wife gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy last Thursday.    I’ve been spending the days around the house helping out and occasionally purchasing Trög things from the internet.

Growing up with Trög, I like fact that he’ll find it perfectly normal for his family to own a red firetruck.