Shed Project – Concrete

So with the shed basically installed it was time to call in the concrete contractors and let them do their thing.   I was thankful to find a local concrete company that gave me a fair price, turned up on time every time and was a pleasure to work with.

You know things are getting serious when your concrete truck is willing to drive overland to get to your job site fully laden, I’m glad he had a seriously low range box and diff lockers.

Meanwhile the boys were getting the interior of the shed prepared, you can see the first three feet of concrete is being wheelbarrow’d into place.

And by the end of the day it was flat and smooth.

Now the more observant reader might have spotted the steel work by the front door, I’ll explain a bit more about that in another post.  But for now I’ve got to wait for the concrete to harden and then start filling my new space with my stuff !  and finish the door and locks.

Rear Diff Repair

Well after a few months of driving the Hilux it was apparent that all was not well with the rear diff pinion bearing.  It was howling and making terrible noises at highway speeds, it was so loud that you couldn’t talk to people in the back seat.   One afternoon after a run out to Chris VK5CP’s shack at Younghusband I noticed oil coming out of the rear drivers side wheel, so it was now time to fix it.

Upon undoing the nuts on the rear drivers side wheel oil began weeping from the threads, this was not going to be good. Yep just as I feared the inner oil seal had gone and diff oil had run throughout the drum brakes, bugger that’s got to be fixed now.  So once I’d removed all of the brake gizzards the drums were sent off to be machined, over sized brake pads radius-ed and new master cylinders obtained from the local brake repair shop.

The tricky part of this diff rebuild was getting the axles out.  They are quite different from my old Land Cruisers and I again phoned a friend Gary VK5FGRY to help me get it apart.  After removing  the brake lines (oh yay!) and four nuts the axles, backing plate and wheel bearings simply slide out as one assembly.  The wheel bearings were also very growly, so off to the local mechanic with these since you need a press to do the job properly.  Don’t forget to do both sides.  Car stands and a trolley jack are mandatory to do this safely.

Then the fun bit of getting the diff centre out.  That is simply undo 12 nuts and then prepare your self for the heaviest close quarters bench press of your life.  I still cannot believe how heavy the diff centre of the old Hilux actually is.  Anyway once out the initial inspection suggested just bearings would be required, but alas no.   As with all diff rebuilds they tend to be like an onion, once you start peeling the layers back your eyes water more and more.  Anyway for the precision diff stuff I sent it to a local diff re-builder to be looked at.

So a day later I get the dreaded call that tells me the surface hardening on the crown wheel and pinion was completely gone (worn away completely) and the spider gears were wearing on two faces instead of one.  That meant a complete diff rebuild, new crown wheel, pinion, bearings, spider gears etc.  Basically I’d given then a nice diff housing and carrier and well the rest was buggered.  I guess after 410000kms it had simply had enough.

“In for a penny in for a pound” was my Grandfathers favourite saying at times like this, I can still hear him saying it.

So after an eye watering $2300 in materials I was ready to rebuild the diff once and for all.

So the first job in rebuilding this diff was cleaning out the insides of the diff and to remove any previous traces of metal.   So armed with tins of degreaser, white rags and a broom handle we mopped and cleaned the inside of the diff housing until it was as clean as a whistle.

Then the fun job of wrestling the diff centre back into it’s position was tackled.  All nice and black and shiny this time.   I’ll admit installing cleaned parts that aren’t oily is always a nice change and a real turning point in any project.

The new pinion that was installed in the new diff came with a larger input shaft, it’s now 41mm instead of 39mm.  So that should be able to take the additional torque that the new motor puts out, so this diff rebuild is good in that respect.

Once the diff centre is in the axles can be reinstalled and the brakes put back together.  I really like the way in which Toyota prevent you from damaging the inner oil seals, hard to explain but the axles can’t hit the seal while your sliding the axle back in, it’s very ingenious and you’ll find out what I mean if you try it.

I spent a fair amount of effort cleaning up all of the brake components and they won’t look like this the next time I service the brakes.  However the proof that I’d done a good job of the cleaning was when we simply used the handbrake to adjust the drum clearance.  The winders when the handbrake is pulled will slowly wind the shoes out until they meet the drum.  The tension between the winder and springs keep things tight and the clearances small, meaning when you step on the brake pedal they actually work.

So from here it was get the other side done, reinstall the tail shaft and wheels, put oil in it and take it for a drive.  Don’t forget the oil, bad things happen.  Again I’d have been lost without the assistance of Gary VK5FGRY, there is no limit to the things that I learn each time we repair this Hilux in some way.  There’s not much of the insides of this old girl that I’ve not seen yet.

I still remember the first time we drove it out and onto the street.  About 100m down the road I say to Gary “do you hear anything” and the answer was “No”.  Cool job done.

So then the real fun of breaking in a new diff starts, being Mr Goody two shoes for the first 500kms, keep the speed down, don’t flog it up hills, no wide open throttle etc were obeyed.  After 1200kms the diff oil was then changed (yes I was 200kms late).  So far so good, there have been no subsequent leaks and the whole car has changed, it drives just like a new one.

Shed Project – The Main Event

With the retaining wall out of the way I could get the shed builders in.   This is the first time I’ve not assembled my own shed, I wanted this shed done fast, in total it took 4 days for the shed to be assembled including material delays and supplier issues.

The ground where I live is basically heavy clay that includes limestone balls.  You can hit this stuff when dry and it’s hard like concrete, when wet your tools bounce like they are on a trampoline.  It’s really tough to dig.  There were 8 holes required dug to a depth of 450mm, the poor builders are on a fixed price contract and required a full day just to dig the holes.

The back wall went up on the beginning of the second day.

It was about now that I realised a 3m high shed (at the eve’s) was large.  It doesn’t sound very big off the drawings, but when you stand in front of that wall of steel it hits you.  By the end of the second day we had two walls up.

Most of the second day, all of the morning in fact, was lost due to the shed manufacturer supplying the wrong columns, they were too short.  I’m glad it wasn’t me that had to unravel that mess.

So there’s all of the walls up just leaving the roof to complete maybe half a days work. The PA door can’t be fitted until the concrete is done, I’m changing the door to swing inwards which will require a bit of skull duggery to get right.

The shed dimensions are 7.2m long, 5.4m wide and 3m at the eve’s, can’t wait to have 39m^2 of additional storage space.

Anyway now on to the concrete

Shed Project – Retaining Wall

In late October last year I finally decided to pull the trigger on a new shed, every man needs a good shed.

So down to the local shed builders and select one off the plan, then send the plans to council and wait, and wait, and wait.  That has to be the worst part.  Thankfully the Council got the job done inside two months and approval granted.  Being close to Christmas meant the silly season festivities also put much on hold.  Oh well that gives me time to perhaps build a new retaining wall.

So grab a few mates, throw on a barbie, find the sledge hammers and lets get busy getting that wall down.

One thing we did learn is that 65 year old hand mixed concrete is rather hard.  This required a much larger hammer.  A big thanks to Peter VK5KX for bringing the beast !

 

At the end of two full weekends we had finally finished the demolition and it was time to start building.  Yaaay !

Concrete retaining walls are easy to build, just cement in steel posts to the right depth and spacing, then load with concrete blocks.   This wall was simply adjusted in height to slope with the existing land profile.  Make sure you don’t hurt yourself loading the blocks, they are heavy !   Then it’s just a matter of getting in the bobcat to clean up the site remove any vegetation and rubbish ready for installation.

I’m kind of glad that the shed was delayed over Christmas a bit since the site prep took a little over 6 weeks to complete.  A big thanks to all of my fellow Radio Club members and friends that came to assist.

Ok now for the shed.

The alternator strikes back !

bxd1312n-02I don’t know why but Hilux Alternators don’t seem to last long.  I’ve now had four Asian made OEM aftermarket alternators fitted to my Hilux over the past 7-8 years.  They last just longer than the statutory warranty period and then fail.

I replaced the last alternator in Jan 2015 and here we are 18 months later (~36,000km) and the OEM alternator I used has blown an internal seal within the vaccum pump which has allowed engine oil to penetrate the housing.  Not to mention drop oil on the dump pipe and ground, I’ve spent way too much to have this engine leaking oil.

I did in fact notice last week that the vaccum assisted power brakes were a little “weak” in the mornings, made a mental note to investigate on the weekend.  Friday night after a longer than usual drive to St Kilda in Adeliade, well I could smell burnt oil and a new “awful” whining sound emanating from under the bonnet.  Damn there goes another one.

Anyway after a serious amount of google foo looking for any replacement alternator that wasn’t from an Asian OEM supplier I settled on a a Bosch replacement.  Turns out that they are infact made in Asia, but I trust that German quality control will give me a better outcome.

I purchased the bosch unit from a local auto supplier that was having a 20% off sale on the day, which in fact pushed the price below trade.   For the later model Hilux’s in the LN106 series where the vac pump is on the front of the alternator and not the rear, it’s hard to find the part number of the unit with the pump on the front.  So if your looking for one it’s the BXD1312, it took the young assistant that served me two goes to get the right unit we resorted to looking on the physical shelf when the computer system was leading us a stray.

There She Goes !

Well there she goes the old Hilux has finally rolled over 400000 km’s. I’m not sure why but I’ve been collecting these images since I first purchased her with 43,000 kms on the clock.  It seems that these memorable moments always occur either during or just before I go on a major trip i.e.

  • 100,000 kms On the way back from Beachport/Robe (~800 km round trip)
  • 200,000 kms Adelaide to Sydney via Townsville Trip (~12,200 km trip)
  • 300,000 kms Horus 25/26 Balloon Hunt Mildura (1100 km trip)
  • 400,000 kms Portrush road day before Warraweena Trip (1400 kms)

As usual the T-Belt light came up and was quickly reset since the timing belt was changed during the recent engine rebuild.  It will be interesting to see where we roll over 500,000 km’s in a few years time.

Cruise Control

Just after I’d finished replacing the engine my windscreen wipers decided to call it day.  Driving along a flat piece of road just before dark the wipers and washers decided to come on of their own accord with the switch in the OFF position.

It seems that my intermittent wiper control function had failed short circuit there somewhere, wasn’t hard to yank the connectors off the washer and wipers and carry on back home.  Searching for a new windscreen wiper control module saw my parents standing in a wrecker close to their home fetching me some parts (thanks Mum & Dad!).  Unbeknown to them the wiper and headlight stalk was being pulled out of a petrol automatic 4Runner, which is very close but not quite the same as a Hilux.

Anyway my parents dropped off the newly acquired part and I got my first look at it.  There was one very obvious difference and that was the clock work spring and indicator cancelling mechanisms were different.

Looking closely it took me all of 10 seconds to realise that the clock work spring in this wiper mechanism had switches in the steering wheel, the question was what type; cruise control or radio?

Well that saw my parents back at the Wrecker the following morning to retrieve the attached steering wheel.   I got an excited telephone call to tell me it was the cruise control switches.   Yippee !!!  Had we waited 10 minutes longer we’d have missed out, the second customer through the door of the wrecker that day was after the same steering wheel; Mine, all mine, Shooo !!!

The steering wheel on closer inspection had a loose grip which is unfortunately defect-able (but common) here in South Australia.  So a visit to a local motor trimmer saw the steering wheel repaired.  The best part is the cost of paying someone to repair the wheel was the same as buying a kit to do it myself off eBay; the difference is that I paid someone who knew what they were doing to effect the repair !

The steering wheel and wiper assemblies on 4Runner’s and Hilux’s are readily interchangeable so with a bit of disassembly, un-plugging, re-plugging and re-assembly my Hilux now sports cruise control switches in the steering wheel.  You wouldn’t know it didn’t come without them,.

Searching the net I’ve found a number of after market cruise control systems that are easy to retro-fit to many different vehicles.  All that is required is a speed sensor, clutch switch, tap the brake circuit, plug things together and mount some switches close to the steering wheel.

I’ve got I’ve got a feeling that I can pull a brake switch assembly out of another Hilux and mount this to the clutch pedal for not many $$$.   That would just leave me with mounting a vacuum actuator (some are servo based) and wiring the thing together.   I can see another project in the wind..  At least I have the “factory” steering wheel switches already sorted.

New Switches

With the lights upgraded it was about time I found a decent switch to sit on the dash board and activate the spotties.

I’d noticed recently that Narva offered a series of “Carling” styled switches that came with blue indicators that looked about the right size.  I hate blue lights in cars, it hurts the eyes and causes fatigue.

There are three switch positions in the car that measured up close to a standard 32mm x 26mm DIN cutout.

A bit of google foo and I find online suppliers that can offer the same switch with various printing with a range of indicator colours.  I ordered Green to match the rest of the console.

They fit perfectly.

There was only just a tiny amount of filing required to squeeze the switch into the cutout, perhaps a millimetre or two.   Anyway the effect is great.

The switch has two indicators, the lower that comes on when the lights are activated and a second under the symbol when you activate the switch.   This required a bit of thinking as to how to wire it properly and an additional diode to get it to work with the relay kit.   I should at some stage draw up the circuit diagram.

My only complaint is the LED’s are far brighter than the equivalent incandescent bulb which means even when dimmed by the rheostat they are still too bright.  I’ll be pulling the switch out and wiring a separate resistor in series to lower the brightness further.  Hmm… that might require a transistor and zener, time to get that piece of paper out.

Oh and while I was ordering one “spot lights” switch I grabbed a few others that I thought I might want so there is now a small collection ready and waiting for further improvements.

Let there be Light !

Since rebuilding the engine and putting a Turbo on it one thing was abundantly clear, I could now go much faster than I could see.

After some 20 years the original 7″ x 5″ sealed beams (yes sealed beams!) were not cutting the mustard anymore.  They were dim to say the very least and only 20 years behind headlight development.  After driving a more modern car with good headlights when I jumped back into the Hilux the difference was clear to see.

Now modifications to car headlights have to be done carefully with the right parts or you can see your car defected and taken off the road here in South Australia.  Not to mention the driver also gets fined.   Getting these defect stickers taken off your car means a “roadworthy” and is a costly exercise.  So make sure you know your local regulatory requirements before embarking on your own head light upgrade.

After a bit of google foo I found some replacement headlight kits that were ADR-46/00   approved.   This approval essentially means that the headlights when installed and aligned correctly will not cause glare to oncoming drivers.   The headlights I chose were from Narva and were part of their “Freeform Headlamp Series” (click) specifically the Narva 72024 Headlight Kit.

These Narva headlights accept a standard H4 insert, so that meant I was also free to choose a lamp of my liking.

After even more google foo I settled on the Narva Plus 120 lamps since they claim 120% more light than standard bulbs for the same power (55/60W), but more importantly they are ADR 51/00 approved.  This means not only are the headlamp assemblies approved but so are the lamps.  No chance now of a defect notice !

Fitting these lamps was not difficult.  All that was required was to release the front grill to allow the stainless steel surrounds that hold the globes to be undone, slip the old ones out and slip the new ones in.  The rubber dust seal requires a little attention to detail, but is not difficult to seat.   I didn’t need the integral parking bulbs so these were swapped for the rubber plugs.  Then just plug in and put it all back together.

  

Now I have also been very fortunate to have been given a set of spot lights when one of our club members was cleaning out his Shed recently.  So it was also time to install these on the bull bar to round out the upgrade.

So a pair of Lightforce Striker 170’s were installed on the bull bar.  At 100W a piece these should throw some serious light down the road.  The wiring harness that came with the kit was actually not too bad, a couple of minor modifications and it was dropped into the engine bay.   Wiring up a carling swtich on the other hand will be a subject of a subsequent post.  I’m glad I’m an engineer and know a thing or two about electricity, lets just say a diode was required to make the lamps in the switch work correctly.  Watch this space.

So the end result ?  You can see for yourself below.

Now it is very important that your lights are aligned properly.  I simply used a blank wall, mark the centre of the beams and drive backwards 7.5m and then align them as per the operators handbook.   Thankfully I found some flat ground in a local supermarket car park, I’m certain the security guards were a little confused for a bit what I was doing.  Anyway the headlights were aligned enough for me to drive it to somewhere that can do it properly.

The proof however they say is in the pudding.

Having driven it tonight some 200 kms along the South Eastern Freeway to Tailem Bend and back, I can only say that I’m seriously impressed with the new headlights.   The beam and patterns are quite simply great, the additional lumens from the lamps (some 120% greater than standard) throws the low beams out there an additional 40m.   On high beam the light shifts forward well past 150m and throws additional light to the sides.  The light back from road signs is not offensive and cat’s eyes on the road illuminate well.  Yes this is a great “legal” upgrade just on it’s own.

I’ve not gone for any of the blue rich white light lamps since I find that fatiguing when driving long distances at night.  I’d guess the colour temp of the current lamps is around 3000-3200K, it’s well above your typical 2500-2700K “yellow” sealed beams and below the w**ker with the “white” lights at 3700K and beyond.

I also got the chance to arc up the driving lights when no other cars were around, those will definitely burn the ears off any bunnies or roos that are sitting by the side of the road.  On long straights I’m seeing reflectors and signs lighting up some 650-800m down the road.  Man they are bright.  Now to work out how to get a photo.

So at the very begging of this blog post I wrote;

“Let there be light” – and there was …!!!

Autotecnica Gauge Disappointment

Well what a disappointment.  After three weeks of wrestling with the Autotecnica Gauges that I bought, I’ve called it a day.  They just don’t work as one would expect and will be ripped out of the car and returned for a refund.  There dummy has been spat !

These gauges certainly looked the part and were of a reasonable price, however their operation, reliability and accuracy were their ultimate failure.

The installation instructions were poor to say the least, just a single piece of paper with rough as guts chicken scratching’s as a guide how to wire them.  This was not a great start. There was no information (or clues) regarding wire gauge, so after measuring less than 100mA per gauge plus sender I decided it was safe to use 28 gauge (0.25mm^2) wire.

Looms were made that connected the oil pressure sender (electronic), boost pressure sender (electronic), coolant sender (resistive) and EGT probe (thermocouple).  Where the wires came close to the engine block they were sleeved in fibreglass everywhere else heat shrink.  In all the job looked nice.

However the Boost pressure gauge measured 3 psi low at full boost (~10psi) which was at least 30% in error.  Results were confirmed using a trusted mechanical pressure gauge. The EGT gauge would every once in a while stop reading anything and sit there and sulk.  The probe was tested by my Agilent multimeter that could read K-type thermocouples.  The water gauge worked perfectly, the oil pressure gauge well that was possessed and did its own thing.  If you watch the next video you’ll see what I mean.

So that left me with a working water gauge (nice to have), under reading boost gauge (should have), faulty EGT display (shall have) and weird oil pressure gauge (nice to have).   A total score of 1 out of 4 with all critical systems in the red.

Oh well that will learn me for being cheap.  With luck I’ll get that refund, these gauges certainly did not work as advertised and were not fit for purpose.

I am also very glad that I yanked them when I did.  I borrowed my local car mechanics four post hoist to get at the oil pressure sender when it fell out in my hand. It turns out the brass fitting I’d bought for the oil pressure sender had gone brittle and fractured where it came out of the block.  Nothing an easy out couldn’t rectify, but I’m now very glad this came out in my hand rather than at 100kph on the freeway spraying hot oil over the wheels, engine bay and brakes.  A major disaster averted.

So for now I’ve have settled on a pair of trusty ol’ VDO mechanical gauges, shouldn’t look too bad in the pod.  The pod came with 52 -> 60mm adaptors.  These gauges are a little plain when compared to my previous gauges, but functional is what I’m after at this point.

That at least means I can monitor EGT and Boost properly and make sure that this new engine is looked after.  With these gauges being partially mechanical it will be interesting to bring pipe and heavy wires in from the engine bay.

I also laugh when you have to marry imperial with metric.  The DTS turbo kit dump pipe has a metric O2 sensor port into which I  screw the EGT probe.  My previous Chinese EGT sensors were thin-ish and came with a 1/8 NPT 27 tpi thread, so I was lucky enough to be given a steel pipe reducer that fitted nicely.  Of course VDO don’t like the small probes and have supplied a much larger unit with a 1/4 NPT 14 tpi thread.  So after a lot of searching I found that DTS sell the adaptor (fancy that, on the left) and their HQ was here in Adelaide.

I’m certainly glad I found this little doodad it saved me from having to buy/beg/borrow or steal a 1/4 NPT 14 tpi tap !