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Amphibious HEMTT


Well-known member
May 20, 2020
Member Number
North Florida
Ok guys, everybody hates me on Pirate, but they don't hate my build. (Well maybe they don't) Anyways I figured I bring it over here. I think mine is the longest active build thread ever. This first post is from 2011.

Well I’m finally starting my build thread. Of course, the name is indicative of the speed of my work. In any case I started over a year ago, so it thread will move a little faster until I catch up. After that, no guarantees. I expect this to take me at least two years to finish. When I was younger, I had lots of time and no money. Now money is not the problem, but finding time is.

This is going to be a major build with one ton SAS and a diesel engine. Not even sure what the final truck will look like, but it started out like this. I got this 92’ for $1100. I had been looking for a Bronco all over and this one turned up less then two miles from my house. It has the same driveline as my DD. It runs great and is fairly rust free.



This is the same truck stripped to the frame after a lot of work with a high speed wire wheel and a few cans of rustolium. I also removed the body mounts because if I install the stock body it will be moved back. I have several ideas concerning the body, but for now I concentrating on the driveline.


The obglatory photo. I wish this was from my DD. (Maybe later)


I got a some axles from a 2007’ F250 Superduty. At least, that’s what the yard told me. I started with the front axle. I told the yard to get the radius arm mounts off the SD without ruining them. They torched the frame about 3” in front and back of the mounts. So I had to drill out the rivets. One thing I noticed was the SD frame is .270” thick. This Bronco frame is .210” thick.

I started by measuring several times and then drilling one ¼” hole. Bolted that and then measured again. LOL


Note the angle on top of the frame. I didnt weld this on. The rest of the truck was stock except exhaust. I dont know why this is there. I couldnt see any damage anywhere.

With the back bolted solid (1/2” grade 8’s) you can see that the frame seems to be a little narrower. Some other guys put spacers in here. I decided to just bolt it to the frame and let the rubber bushing take the misalignment. If it gives me problems, I can space it out later.


I lowered it down to the bump stops and nothing hits the crossmember.



These are the stock springs. The perches are off the TTB. It’s funny the stock bolts were not long enough to hold the perch. But the TTB axle pivot bolts were exactly the right size. In any case, I might be changing the sprigs/perches in the future. (maybe even the buckets) But for now, it’s OK.



I had to modify the frame side trac bar mount. (off the superduty)


The ear on the left was just hitting a frame rivet. The hole next to it lined up with another frame rivet. (drilled it out and bolted with a grade 8) After that I had to elongate the right hole to make room for a bolt inside the frame rail.


Here it is installed. Note access hole in frame rail. I know it looks like I didnt have to cut off the other two bolt holes. I've seen it done, but then you have to cut the crossmember alot. The mount is alot stronger then the crossmember, so I cut it.


Another angle.


I made this dolly to roll the frame around. Even though the wheels are rated for the weight, It's hard as h*ll to roll it around. I may have to buy some 8 lug take off's just to make it eazy to work on the frame.

Note the grade 8's in the rad-arm mounts.


This is what I ended up doing to the stock (one piece) trac bar to make it adjustable. I did some searching and found that the superduty has some problems with the axle not being centered on stock springs. They sell bars like this, but they want too much.

The bar is fordged and not eazy to work with. But I was able to drill and tap for 7/8". I chose that thred because they make rodends in that size. So I might be able to use the tools for my three link in the back. Also, I might put a rodend in that end.


The stock trac bar goes to a balljoint on the axle. The ball joint is installed down with the bar on the bottom. This creates quite an angle which is not paralell to the draglink. Even the simpleminded people on this site understand that the tracbar and steering draglink shopuld be paralell and close to the same length. I wish someone would tell the Ford engineers.

I'm probubly going "full hydro" on the steering, so paralell doesnt matter. But also it is advisable to make the tracbar as horizontal as possible. So I installed the ball joint up. Of course this ment I had to buy a reamer to ream the trac bar. It also gives me the dreaded "hourglass" hole. I have the same thing in my DD tierod ends. It hasnt caused a problem yet. (Of course the reamer for the tierods was not big enough for the tracbar)



On the rear I got a 10.5 Sterling. My plan is to go three link eventually. But I would like to get this thing rolling as fast as possible, so I figured i would bolt it in with the stock leaf springs.


The spring plates are from the Superduty. The U-bolts and nuts are from the Bronco. The axle is a little bigger in diameter so I had to spread the u-bolts.

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Back to the build.

I wanted 20 by 14 wheels. I got these double beadlock wheels from Starzworks. The wheels are two halves that bolt together. The beadlocks are two plastic hoops that snap together. It’s all of very good quality, but are somewhat difficult to assemble.


First you have to put the beadlocks inside the tire. This was the hard part. The tire sidewalls have to be spread. To do this I hung the tire by the sidewall. The weight of the tire only spread it about a ½”. I needed about 5” more. So I hooked ratchet straps on the bottom sidewall and secured it to my tractor. I had a scale on the chain. It took about 500 lbs. to spread it far enough. Then I had to stand on the bucket and push the two halves of the beadlock in. Since they are bigger then the opening, I had to egg shape them to get them in. They are about 3/4'” thick plastic and don’t bend easy.


Then you have to maneuver them together inside the tire. Once I got them close, I released the pressure spreading the sidewalls. They snapped together fairly easy then. Here you can see the beadlock inside the tire as I lower it on the wheel. I put some dish soap on the beads.


I don’t have any pics of bolting it together. But it required four long allthred bolts to bring the wheel halves close enough to get the regular bolts in.


Now that’s what I’m talking about. LOL. I only got two done. So I’ll have to wait a couple weeks (at work) to put them on the frame.


Back to the build, again. LOL

I made this disc to convert the Bronco driveshaft to the Sterling flange. It is just a couple bolt patterns with a spicket on one side (for the flange on the Sterling) and a flange on the other. (to go in the driveshaft)

This would be fairly elementry for some of the guys on here, but I'm proud of it. I started with a piece of 5/8" plate about a foot square. Did it all on my lathe and mill. It fits so tight that I had to pop it off with a rubber hammer to paint it.


I did alot of research on driveshafts and u-joints. The Bronco uses 1330 u-joints. But you can have a 1350 u-joint shaft made that will fit and uses the same bolt patterns and spickets. I'm probubly going that route later. If that is not strong enough, I will use the 1410 u-joint. Then I throw this disc away and make another for the front.

Right now I'm cutting the Bronco driveshaft down. I would like to move the engine/trans/transfer back as far as possible. As it turns out, that is only about 5" at the trans mount. I'm using a C-6 and a Cummins 4BT, so they will be shorter then the stock 351/e40d. It should put the front of the engine about at the rear of the crossmember.


I wanted to move the engine/trans/t-case back as far as possible for better weight distribution. That meant shorten the driveshaft. I decided to try my hand at it. If it doesn’t work out, I will get a new shaft made professionally. If I go that route, it will be a 1350 or 1410 based shaft.

I started by dissembling the shaft. Then I cut it off with the lathe at the weld. That was a b*tch because weld doesn’t cut very well. In any case, after I got it apart, there was about ¾” stub sticking out. That was good because after cutting off most of the rest of the tube, I could push the tube back on the stub. It fit real tight.

I chucked the splines in the lathe and checked the carden stub with a dial indicator. With a few taps of a hammer, I got it to spin within a .001”. Then I took it out of the lathe and put four tack welds around it. I thought I would check it again in the lathe. Much to my dismay, it was now .080” out of round. I don’t know how much is aloud, but that seemed like too much. I cut three of the tacks and began tapping again. I got it back to about .002” and re-tack in three places.

Again I checked it in the lathe and now it was out about .015”. I didn’t like it, but I figured it was as good as I could get it. I welded it up all the way around and checked it in the lathe one more time. This time it got a little better to .008”. That would mean that it is bent .004”. I don’t know if the driveshaft places get it better than that. I certainly think it’s good enough to try. I put it back together with new u-joints. Here it is next to a standard Bronco shaft. It looks longer than it is because the stock shaft is colapsed. It's about 9" shorter.


I have to make the front shaft longer. Does any one know if there’s a truck with a longer front driveshaft that I could shorten?

Heres a shot with the tires. It looks more impressive in person. 16" under the diff. Got some more pics to upload when I get a chance.


I got this Cummins 4BT from a bread truck. It has close to 70,000 miles on it. I’m told that’s low miles. In any case, it’s all mechanical. The only electric power needed after it’s started is for a fuel valve solenoid. (That’s how you shut it down)


After reading the forums, I found the Achilles heel on this engine is KDP or “Killer Dowel Pin” There’s an easy fix. The pic is not real good, but I put a little tab off the bolt to keep the dowel pin. (Between the flange and the bolt)


All cleaned up and painted. This work was done awhile ago. Just catching you guys up.




I made these mounts to accept Chevy Lumina mounts. I was told they are a good match for this motor. I’m sorry for the pictures. About a month ago the viewing window quit, but I still could take pictures. Now it seems like everything is out of focus. Time to shop for a new camera.





After mounting the engine and tranny on the stock tranny mount, I had some problems. As Shadowfox predicted, The rear shaft had a fairly extreme angle. I had a more serious problem on the front. This Bronco originally had a 351/E40D and I’m putting a C6 in. The aluminum adapter that goes between the tranny and the t-case both use the same mount, but they are not the same. The E40D is off center and is short. The C6 is centered on the rear output and is longer which pushes the front yoke back behind the cross brace. This puts the front shaft close to that brace.

If I had seen the tranny mount thread, I would have copied Shadowfox’s. It would have solved the problem better than what I did. I ended up lowering the cross brace 1 ½” and putting a ½” spacer under the tranny mount. I know it’s hard to see, but there’s a solid block at the top of the brace inside the frame rail. The only good point about my design is it maintains the frame bracing holding the rails straight up and down. Shadowfox has not had any problem for many years, so I was worried about nothing.



Even after all my work, the shaft is kind of close. I lifted the front tires off the ground by the frame rails and the slip joint rubber hits the front bolt. That works out to 5” down travel. The actual shaft won’t hit until about 11” of travel. I ground that bolt lower and smoothed the corners to save the rubber boot. I may still change this brace later.


I had to make the front driveshaft longer, so combined a shaft from a F350. This also solved the problem of the front diff yoke taking a 1350 u-joint. I didn’t take nearly as much care to make it straight as the rear shaft. I expect to have both shafts professionally remade. But they should hold for some initial testing.

I wanted to pull it out for some pictures, but my tractor will not lift the front any more. (the hook on my bucket bent straight when I tried). It’s hard to control with nothing hooked to the drag link. So this will have to do until I get a new camera and work something out on the steering.


It's been a long time since I updated this. I ashamed to say, I havent got much done. I didnt want to cut the crossmember just to prove it could be done. (at stock height) Actually, you dont have to if you run standard steering. But I couldnt work out a mount for the full hydro ram without cutting it. If I drop it on the bump stops, this cut is right below the tracbar. Gives me access to the axle tube for the hydro mount.

This is my first stick welding in fifteen years. Not great, but I intend to build some additional bracing for the frame anyways. So I think it will hold.

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Here is the mount I made for the steering cylinder. It's just a plate with a 1" block welded on. The saddles came with the cylinder. They are made of aluminum, Doesnt seem right, but I guess they work. If not, I may just copy them in steel. The hole is just for mock up. It will be bored out to 3/4".


This is what I made for the axle side. The bushing will be welded to the plate after it is bored out to size.


Here is another pic after welding and gussets. The bushing is just snug in it. It looks like it is crooked, but it is not. (opitical illusion) I welded both sides. I'm not thrilled with my stick welding. (I'm a pretty good TIG welder) But I was able to jack the truck up by that mount and it didnt bend or crack.


Here are some pics of how it will look. I just got a 1/2" bolt in it now to make sure nothing binds. I have a 3/4" drill, but the bolt I got is about .010" small. I dont want that much play. I have a mill, but I dont have a small boring bar. so I might have to farm this job out.




Here is a pic of my wife saying quit working on the truck. LOL


I did a reclock of the T-case adapter. I welded some extra metal in and machined it flat. I hope I didnt weaken it. Here are some pics.


I wished I had welded some metal for the dowel pin. Looks kind of funny. But it's tight.


I really liked this mod. Anybody that is considering this should look in the tech write-ups. A guy did a nice write up there and some others joined in with their ideas. I gained alot of clearence at the crossmember. If you look back in my build, I shaved the head of a bolt because I thought it was too close to my front slip joint. Now I have no worries.


Look at these before and after side shot. Before.


After. It might not look like much. I took the second picture a little lower than the first giving an optical illusion of not much change. But notice that you cant even see the front u-joint now. Also, the T-case is higher than the bottom of the crossmember. Should be eazy to make a guard now.


While I was doing the T-case reclock, I decide to install the torque converter. (I didnt install it while making the motor mounts) The first problem is the oil pan. It is very close to the opening for the T/C bolts.


The Cummins oil pan can be installed front or back. So I spun it around. I found a guy to trade the oil pick-up. (it's differnt)


That was better. But I didnt like that thin slot to try to get the stud show. (it's not eazy to spin this engine) So I cut the adapter. This was a little scary because this is an expensive piece.



I also didnt like the opening that can catch dirt and stuff coming off the wheels. So I made a piece of stainless to cover it. It bolts right to the tranny. It looked better before I welded some spacers on the back, but it turned out OK.



I got a three link kit from Ruffstuff for the rear axle. So thats my next project. But it's back to work now. I hate the way making a living gets in the way of my toys. LOL

Well, after spending almost every spare minute in the last six months building this,


I began working on the project. I decided to three link the rear axle. The stock leafs would probubly work fine, but I wanted to make this air ride.

I bought a three link kit from Ruff Stuff. The frame mounts they supply are u-shaped and designed to weld on the frame. I decided to bolt them on, but I felt that there needed to be more bolts than I could fit. So I welded a side plate on. Of course, right before I mounted them, I found and ran the 3 link calculater on Pirate. Did alot of reading and decided that the mounts needed to be lower. So i welded some 2x2 steel tube spacers on. Here you can see the final mount.


I had to mill some access holes for the bolts.


They fit on the frame good. I'm not so happy with the tube spacers. If I think they are colapsing, I will drill and bush them. But I couldnt crush them with the 1/2" grade eights.



The links are not done yet. But I had to go back to work. Hope to get on it in two weeks.

Ok finnaly an update. I'm going to call this one "two steps forward, one step back".

I'm still working on rear suspension. I had origenally mounted the Sterling on the Bronco leafs. But I want to have the option to chop off the rear of the frame. Also, Ive heard you get a much better ride with coils or air bags. I like the simplicity of radius arms and decided to go that route in the rear. I did extensive searching on the subject here and on Pirate and couldnt find much info on radius arms in the rear.

I really liked TDmayfield's (build section) radius arms for his front and decided to make something similar. I ordered a three link kit from Rough stuff which gave me most everything I needed. It's funny, what they call a three link has four links. (two lowers, one upper and a panhard) The way I see it, a radius arm setup is a three link. (two radius arms and a panhard)

In any case, here is what I built. By the time I got this far, I had decided to go airbags. I like the idea to vari ride height. Theres a guy on Pirate that says they are way better ride than coils.





So it looks pretty good right? Wrong. Total Fail! Even though I dont care about major flex, I decided to do a flex test. Heres the proof.


This picture might need some translating. First I lifted tire on the left 20". That didnt seem like much and the tire on the right was solid on the ground. But I noticed that the frame was doing all the flexing. It was twisted so bad that I was scared to raise it any more. I couldnt understand why frame was twisting instead of the axle. I thought maybe the frame was doing that because of no weight on it. (I dont know why) Anyways, I decided to jack up the frame on the right side to keep the frame from twisting any more. Well, when I did that, the right tire came off the ground. (its off about 2" in this pic) This really blew me away. I couldnt see what was holding up that 250 lb. tire. The airbag is not bolted on the bottom. So I put it back in the garage and did some thinking.

This is what I came up with. A solid axle radius arm suspension appsolutly needs a flexible joint at the AXLE end. I know what your thinking. A 78-79 Bronco doesnt have any flex there. Not true. The rubber "C's" are the flex. Ive always wondered why they had those C's. I never liked that design. When I asked on this forum and Pirate, the response was they are needed for caster adjustment and to isolate the road vibrations. Obviously, thats not the case. Of course the front D60 on Superdutys dont have C's, but they have two rubber bushings on the axle end. Obviouslly my axle in the pic can go up and down, but it must stay paralel to the frame.

As I said, I dont care about major flex, but it has to flex some or the frame is going to crack. Back to the drawing board. I figured I could make it a standard 3 link pretty eazy. I replaced the arms with straight pipe. I installed the third link here. I wasnt sure if this cross member is strong enough, but it is good enough for some tests.


Here is before and after pics of the same 20" lift. Notice the frame on the 3 lnk is not paralell to the axle.



Then I raised the tire 30". The right tire is still firmly on the ground. I could have raised it more because there was no binding. I didnt raise it more because this is as high as the air bag will allow. Its not bolted in the pic, but it will extend to this height.I have to say that this was more impressive in person. These pictures dont really show the size of the tires.



This is not the end of this story. More to come in a couple days.
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As Paul Harvey would "here's the rest of the story". Well at least the rear suspension story. LOL

In any case, I was fairly happy with the setup in my last post. Untill I did some more testing. The flex was fine and will get better when I install bags in front. But there is another issue. Since I will be able to raise the truck 8-10" at will, I thought I would test a straight lift. A problem developed on the driveshaft. This is raised just 7".(it is bound tight)


I did some math and moved the front link mount forward like this for testing. It improved some. I was able to raise 8" and not bind. But obviously, it would not like turning like that.


Finnaly, I removed the third link and installed one radius arm. Here it is raised 8". I retested the flex and its the same as the 3 link setup. So this is where I'm at now with bags installed. Unless someone points out a problem I didnt see, it's going to stay this way. I think it looks alittle strange asimetrical, but it works in theroy.


I'm not sure if I will cut off the axle end of the third link. It is not welded on good. (but it wont fall off either) I was playing with the shock mount in this pic to get some measurments.


A little more work. I made some spacers to mount the air bags up front. The holes on the side are for access to the bolts/nuts.



Not much work done, Got a shifter I like. Very heavy Duty.


I had to make a cable mount for the transsmission out of stainless and a steel bushing.


Bolts on to some exsisting threaded holes on the bell housing. The cable can be ordered in differnt lengths. Dont know what I need yet. But it actually works with the 4 foot one I got with it.


Got some tranny additions.



OK, I got a little further.

First, anybody that followed this from the beginning knows that I had the wrong lug nuts. I finally found the ones I like. Besides fully covering the studs and having the proper flat bottom, they are massive. I like. Here is a comparison from the ones that I got at first. (anyone interested in some brand new lugs with the taper bottoms?)


Second, its been so long since I ran this engine on the bench, I was afraid it might be getting dry inside. I’ve never ran it very long because I didn’t have proper cooling. Also, I never ran it in the frame on the mounts I made. Since I knew It was going to be a long time till it is driving, I set my goal at getting it running. I don’t have a fuel tank yet, so a five gallon jug will have to do. I mounted the Bronco radiator in the back and plumbed it with some swimming pool railing I had, I had an old e-fan on it if needed. The rad is not going to be there. It was just an easy place to mount it. Basicly I just mounted it,battery and the fuel jug so I didn’t have to drill any new holes in the frame. (can be moved)

Note: there will be no wood in my finished truck. (just for testing purposes)


I wired up a simple control panel. It's just power on the fuel solenoid with the key and push button start.


Since I still don’t have brakes or steering, obviously I'm not going to be driving it. But I wanted to test the tranny. So I lifted the rear axle.

In any case, it started right up with a couple seconds cranking and a puff of smoke and ran nice. Oil pressure was good and I shifted through all the gears. About the only thing I didn’t like is the vibration at idle. (its smooth when revving) The guys on the Cummins forum said that’s the way they are. I'm hopping that when I get the seats in a proper rubber mounted cab, it will be better. The engine never got hot and I never turned on the e-fan. I don’t know if you can see. But the tires are spinning here.


You guys might be wondering what I have planed for a body. I still haven’t decided what the final body will look like. But it will be a custom body of my own design out of aluminum. I have several ideas. The one I'm leaning to is a HEMTT replica cab with a short bed in back. If you don’t know what that is, you can Google it. The guys in our photoshop thread did this for me to give you an idea. (D@m fine job, I might add)


A little more progress. Although I havent frozen the body design, I really like the "forward cab" idea. Since I wont have room for a master cylinder and Hydro-boost in front, I designed a cable opperated pedal Quadrent. This looks simple, but took me a long time to make. The actual pedal faces are from the Bronco. I had some cables custom made for this. The throttle cable is light duty. But I figured the brake cable needed to be strong. I probably went overkill here. I ordered the biggest cable and when I got it, I thought should have went one size smaller. But it wasnt cheap, so I made it work. The cables will be behind a console when finished. The whole quadrent can be moved depending on my final body design. Of course I might have to have new cables made.



At the rear I made this throttle bracket out of a 2x2 square aluminum tube. It was eazy and works great. IT also has provision for another cable to make a manual shut off. I prefur this to the selinoid shut off that comes on the engine. I dont like it because it fails in the "off" position. So if you loose electrical power, the engine quits, nullifying one of the good points on this engine.


Also I made this mount for the hydro-boost/Master out of a airbag mount I didnt use. Its all 1/4" steel. I had to weld some plate on, but it still saved alot of time. The arm is the top of the Bronco brake pedal.


If you look close, you can see the "wedge washers" I had to make to angle the cable down. Of course I measured for the cable many times and it is way too long. Actually, I had planed to route it differnt, But it's not very flexible. The place that made it can shorten it for a price. (better then a whole new one.)

I got most of the stuff to plumb the brakes. Thats the next job when I get back off work in a couple weeks.

A little more progress.

I got a resivoir/filter from Howe for my powersteering. I made a simple mount out of a piece of angle iron.


I thought I had all the brake parts, but of course I needed some more. I started making brake lines. I'm using all stainless. (hoses and hard lines) some people said that you cant flare stainless without a fancy tool. I tried with a simple flare tool and made a beautiful brakeline from the master to the rear Tee. I thought "this ant so hard". Then I tried one of front lines and promply broke the tool. (a die) I called the place that sold it to me (Inline tube) about warrentee and they said the part I broke is not covered. When I asked why, they told me "because that's the part that always brakes" . Cant argue with that logic. I ordered a couple more dies and will continue later.
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I built a sub frame under the floor because I needed something to bolt a support for the steering box. Although the wood is temporary, the iron will be perminnant if I go with this body. I dont know if the arm holding the steering box is heavy enough for the final truck. But it should be enough for some testing.


I ordered most of the hydrolic fittings and hose for the steering and hydro boost. When i get back from work next week, I might actually get to drive this around the yard! Woohoo!


Well I did alot of work, but not much done. I did make and install all stainless brake lines. I didnt take much for pics. This was the most complicated part. (Tee for the front brakes)


I bled them and got the brakes to work somewhat. ( I pushed the truck and my wife stoped it.) Its hard to push the pedal. That may because I dont have the hydroboost hooked up yet. I ordered a bunch of fittings from Fastenal and they missed a couple. So Im waiting for them. I didnt have a good spot for the powersteering cooler, so mounted it behind the seats. The wood will all come out, so this is just temporary.


I did fab up a new pax side radius arm link. Its not really a radius arm as it is only a single link. I made it differnt than most people.

First I split the tube and slid a 1/4" plate in and welded it up.


I had to buy a metric drill for the custom missalianment bushings. I think the one plate is strong enough, but I wanted to capture the bushing.



I think this design will be stronger that alot of others. But the single link may be a mistake. Testing will tell. I'm back at work, so it will be another two weeks till I get back on it.

Well I finily got the fittings I needed to finish the steering/brakes. I had to move my steering resivor to the rear of the engine because the main return hose is so hard to bend. Here is some pics of the final plumbing. (What a maze.)


Here, you can just see the cooler at the front. (mounted on the wood) Its a nicely made unit. Basicly a finned aluminum tube. Of course they dont recumend mounting it horizontal. More about this later.


With all that done, on to filling and bleading the system. Thats code for spilling tons of power steering fluid all over the place. The instructions were to fill it and then "saw" the wheels lock to lock. I guess they failed to mention putting the cap on the resivor during this process.

After making a big mess......

Wait for it............

First drive!!

I just drove it around the yard for some early testing.

Here its parked dyagnal on a ditch. It doesnt look like much of a ditch in the pic, but its actually about foot and a half deep. I'm not building a crawler, but I want a little flex. I will have to dig the ditch deeper to really test.



Then i had my wife take a couple shots of me on my shooting range back stop.


I have gone over this hill several times with my tractor, golfcart and even my DD Bronco. But I always go perpindicular to this way. I started to do it that way, but it is too narrow for this truck. Although this pic looks neat, it doesnt give you the feeling I got. Its fine while your going up, but when it gets to the top, it feels like your going in to orbit. LOL.


The truck would have easily went over the hill, but I stopped just a little higher because the other side is almost a shear drop.

I have to go right now, But I will post soon on driving impressions.

Alternator trials

So I was hearing a cherping sound when running the engine. I removed the belt and the sound is gone. Since the alternator doesnt work, I figured I would start there. I wanted a 3G and began researching them. My mounts were 8.25" apart. I took the whole alt to the parts store and we opened up a bunch of boxes and couldnt find one that matched the mounts. I went to the junk yard and looked at lots of Fords. But all the 3Gs were either 7" mounts or side mounts. Finnally I found a thread that said that a 92' Turus had a 130 amp 3G with the 8.25" mounts. They didnt have one in stock, but I got one ordered in.

It had a 6 groove pulley and I need 8. I traded the pulleys. My pulley just scraped the housing, so I took a skim on my lathe. It worked good and lined up perfect. Of note, the 8 groove pulley had a taper sleeve to clamp sercurly on the shaft. Also the 3G has a inturnal fan, so I didnt install that.


Got it mounted and went to the junk yard and found a harness with all the proper plugs and ring mounts. There were many to choose from. I just got the eaziest one. I'm not sure if it has a big enough charging cable, but it is only temporary untill I rewire with aircraft cable. The only thing it runs is one e-fan and charging the battery after startup. After installation, it tested out good. But I still had some cherping. I was woried about the waterpump, but someone on the Cummins forum said I should check the alt allainment. It looked straight, but when I put a straight edge on the pulley, it was cocked. When I loosened the mounts, I found that the pivot hole on the alternator was 7/16" and the pivot bolt was 3/8". So I ended up drilling out and tapping for 7/16. That solved the problem. Runs straight and No cherp.

(pic before harness and bolt fix)

I promised some driving impressions, so let me start with brakes.

Now if you have been following this, you should know that the entire brake system is 2007 Superduty. That includes the rotors/calipers/pads and the master cylinder/hydroboost. I made all the brake lines. I did not however put any anti-lock system or front/rear proportion valve. I just hooked the master direct to the calipers. I dont even know if a Superduty has a proportional valve, but Im sure it has anti-lock brakes.

In any case, I have driven the "frame" about two hours now testing it at low and high speeds.(up to 45 MPH) Ive done numeris panic stops testing the brakes on dirt and paved roads. At this point I will say that the brakes are adiquite. When i say adiquite, I mean they are about as good as my DD Bronco. While they are safe, I was hoping for better. These are one ton brakes on a vehical that is at least 1000 lbs lighter than my Bronco. (right now,at least)

There are a couple issues that may effect these brakes. First, the front brakes are all origenal to the axle as I got it from the junkyard. (calipers, rotors and pads) The rotors were grooved. (and still are) In addition, the rear brake rotors are also origenal and were quite rusty. The calipers and pads are new back there and I hoped they would clean off the rotors. All the rotors are cleaner looking, but I cant say they are smooth. I dont know how much nice clean (and flat) rotors makes a differnce. My DD has grooved rotors also right now. So I may replace them first to see how much differnce they make. I may be able to turn them on my lathe. (might be too far gone)

Next up date, Ill talk about steering.


Ok, full hydro steering.

Let me start by saying that the only "full hydro" steering vehicals that I have ever driven were forklifts, tractors and some heavy equiptment. The fastest I ever drove one was maybe 15 MPH. So I didnt know what to expect. I did some searching of the web. Thats kind of like asking about lockers. You get some people saying dont even think about lockers on a road vehical and others that say you wont even notice them on your truck. (I have lockers and the truth is somewhere in the middle) Full hydro is even worse because very few people actually have experince with it. (but that doesnt stop them from telling you their opinion)

I will try to give you the most honest opinion I can. I have only driven the frame about two hours and only about 30 minutes above speeds of 20 mph. The highest speed I attained was about 45. I held it above 40 for about five minutes. The problem I had with the speed was my wheels/tires were out of balance. At speeds above 40, they really started to get rough. (even on smooth pavement)

I have a steering box (they call them orbitals) that has "return to center" feature. So when you make a turn, it helps you go back to straight just like a regular steering box. This part worked very good. Also, I got a box with about the same turns "Lock to Lock" as a stock Bronco. (I think about 4) While many wont like the "slow" reaction for rock crawling, it makes it nice for driving on road.

At slow speeds the steering is FANTASTIC. Stopped dead, idling on concrete, I can hold the steering wheel with my thumb and forefinger (like a wine glass) and turn it with ease. Its strange to move it and see those big ole tires turn with almost no effort. Obviouslly, driving around at slow speed, it is easy to manuver. In fact, it is so easy that when you go over a bump off road, you can imput a little turn when you dont want to. My steering box is mounted kind of flimsy right now and this may be some of the problem.

One of the really nice things I noticed was that there was almost no pull on the wheel when driving over uneven pavement or dirt. At one point, I was driving down a dirt road about 20 MPH. A car came from the other way and I pulled two tires in to one foot deep ditch. There was no yanking on the steering wheel going in or out of that ditch. I could have done the same manuvier in my Bronco, but I would have to grip the wheel with both hands and tires are a foot shorter and less "scrub radious".

I know you all are sitting on pins and needles wondering how the high speed is. Well, differnt! LOL. First let me say, there is appsolutly no play and it is not touchy. Perfect right? Well almost. Everything is nice but one little issue. Lets say you are driving down a mile long, straight, smooth road with your car. You can put your hand on the top of the steering wheel and just "rock" it alittle bit right and left to keep it center. At the end of the straight stretch, your hand is still at the top of the steering wheel. With Full hydro, you go down that same road rocking the wheel the same way. But at the end of the stretch, your hand is at the 5 O-clock position. Its a very odd feeling. There is no center position on the steering wheel.

Now I will say that my hydro system may not be completly bled. I noticed that the leval goes down alittle every time I drive it. (it doesnt leak a drop) So it may improve some of the driving as time goes on. It may be that the center position will be a minor issue after I get use to it. I do need to test it at 60 MPH. I plan to balance the tires with a helicopter balancer. (Ive done it before with some success.) For the time being, I will say that I have guarded enthuisism for the steering.

OH, one other thing I will mention. The steering box also has a feature where if you lose hydro pressure, it will still steer. Kind of like losing your belt on a typical steering box. In my case te pump is gear driven, so loss of the belt wont kill the pressure. But I want to test the feature anyways. So I drove down a slight hill and shifted in to newtral and shut off the engine. I was able to turn right and left without much effort. It does require more turning of the steering wheel to get a change of direction. When I am completly stopped, I cant turn the tires no matter how much I turn the steering wheel. This may also be a result of incomplete bleading.

I'm at work now, so all testing will have to wait for a few weeks. Cheers.


I guess its time for another up date.

I worked alot and didnt get much done. I got the helicopter balancer and went to work on my wheels/tires. I use to balance helicopters for a living, so I understand this process. The balancer works the same as a dynamic balancer at your tire shop. Basiclly, you do a trail run and a sensor measures the vibration and another sensor gives you a clock angle. You install a trial weight at that clock angle and make another test run. Sounds simple right? It is, but its not completly cut and dry. Sometimes the machine is fooled by harmonics and doesnt give you a perfect clock angle. Still, its way better than nothing.

I started by hoisting one rear tire off the ground and blocking the other tires. Since the truck has open diffs right now, just the one tire spins. Hooked up the sensors and made a trial run. Since I didnt have a speedometer, I just reved the engine until I got the tire up to 350 RPM. The balancer gives you a tach reading. I figure that speed was aprox. 43 MPH which is where I found alot of vibration when I was driving the truck on the road. (it also vibrated the frame quite abit.)


After finding the best place to install weight, you keep adding weight till you get the best reading. (least vibration) I bolted scrap iron on to the wheel. My first trial wheel weight looked like this.


I had planed to use stick on weights after deturmining the amount. This is how much I needed to equal.


I didnt really want that much weight that could fly off, so I decided to make iron weights to bolt on the inside of the wheel. It really seemed like alot of weight. But the other rear tire was even more! A whopping 40 OZ. If that was a helicopter, I wouldnt fly it. LOL. But it smoothed out the vibs. Fortunently, the front tires didnt require as much. I did have a little setback on one of the front tires because the weight hit my brake caliper. It just scraped alittle. I thought my universal was going out. LOL.

The end result was the tires/wheels were ten to twenty times smoother. (actual numbers) I cant wait to drive it again and see if I can get it to 60 mph. I was having a problem getting the bubbes out of the full hydro steering no matter how much I tried. Theres a rather involved method of jacking the truck up and sawing the wheels lock to lock and letting it sit. (Over and over) After about two days I found a molecule sized leak in the brand new pump encloser. It wasnt leakin fluid out, it was leaking air in. I dont know how much that hurts the steering, but foam right from the pump cant be good. I called PCS and they sent me a new one right out. I got it the day before I left for work. To much to do then, so it will have to wait till I get back in two weeks.
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Small update,

I had a problem with small micro bubbles in my steering resivoir. I followed the bleading instructions till I was blue in the face. I finnily figured out it was leaking air in a small hole in the pump housing. The housing is brand new. I called PSC and they sent a new one no questions asked. They didnt even ask for the old one back. (I did spend alot of money with them) The leak is right at the end of the weld.


The other thing I did was to swap the oil pan back to the rear. If you have been following this, you know that I swaped it awhile ago. I didnt like it that way because the engine is tilted back in the frame and on a steep up slop, it really gets slanted. I thought it might lose oil pressure if the oil uncovers the pickup. This turned out to be an expensive goof because I traded my rear pickup tube for the front style. I couldnt find anyone to trade me. So I had to buy one for about $80.


I was able to find a Stainless fuel tank on CL for $80. The guy said he had it custom made for $600. I think it was for a boat. Its very well made and he said it was 50 gallons. I dont know if I can use it, but I couldnt pass it up.



I got some more updates I will get to in a couple days as Im back at work now.

Driving update,

So after I got the wheels/tires balanced, I wanted to try another high speed test. Before the vibration was so bad that I thought a tire was going to hop off the ground above 45 MPH. I want this truck to be capable of highway speeds. I wasnt entirely happy with the steering on my last attempt at speed. Also, I forgot to mention that my single radius arm was good for flex, but caused the pax side of the truck dive under hard braking. It wasnt terrible, but I dont want to deal with it right now. So I installed the origenal Superduty arm for my test. I had my new power steering housing installed, so I was hoping for improvment there.

On the first test, I followed my son in his pickup. I did it this way so he could tell me the speed (I had no guage) and to make it a little safer trafficwise. Maybe it would keep me from getting a ticket having an escourt if I happen to run across a cop. (this is a rarely traveled back road) In any case, this time I wanted a better speed indication. So I wired a cigerette lighter socket and taped my GPS to the steering support. The GPS has a screen called Dashboard that is perfect for my test. I still had my brother drive my truck for an escourt.



So right out of the gate, (litterely my gate) I could feel the truck was better on the dirt road on the way to pavement. I had it up to about 35 on the dirt road. It seemed to track better. After I got it out on the road I stabbed the brakes at about 40. No brake dive or any pulling. Then I excellerated to a little over 60. Vibration was way better. In fact, I cant say I even noticed. I did notice the wind. (been awhile since I rode a motorcycle) The steering was better, but I still must really concentrate on keeping it on the road. I posed the question on another forum and I believe my hydro ram is leaking across the piston. It is brand new, but I had it disassembled to machine differnt threads in the end. Maybe the shop damaged the seals and didnt tell me. (or didnt know) So I will order new seals and try again. I will report again later.



This update is pretty much a total fail. Anyways, here goes.

I suspected the hydro ram was leaking across the piston. So I ordered new seals. The ram is assembled with gland nuts that require a special tool. PSC didnt sell such a tool, but said I could buy it at local auto parts stores. They must have differnt auto parts stores then me. Cuzz none of them ever seen or heard of such a wrench, let alone sell it. I was serfing the craigslist and here is the only high point of this update. My new toy. (Plasma cutter)


The guy that sold it to me was a really cool guy and had a whole shop full of projects. We became friends, so all and all, it was a good deal. It was almost new and he liked it so much, he bought a bigger and better one. Most people would love to have a shop like mine. But this guy's shop rivals the "overhaulin" shop.

Anyways, the first job for the plasma was make the spanner for the gland nut. Not very pretty, but it didnt take long.



I thought that it would be eazy to work on the truck because the ram is hard to hold. I turned the wheels all the way to the right to make room. Removed the hoses and unthreaded the nut.


Now I removed the mounts and was ready to pull the cylinder. I thought I would wipe the dirt off the short stub before I pulled it through the seal. I though that if I pushed the stub out just a little, I could wipe it off better. If you note where the outlet is pointing in this pic, you might guess what happened next. I moved that cylinder about two inches and got squirted directly in my right eye. Plenty went in my hair, on my arm, all over my chest and all over the right tire. I imediatly jumped up and went to the sink to wash my eye. The hydro fluid turned to white gunk that wouldnd wash off my hands, arms and face. I wanted to rub my eyes, but my fingers were just coated. IT SUCKED!!


Finnily, I just grabbed a towel and wiped myself off and then washed my hands with GOJO. Now I could rub my eyes. Note to self- dont do that. In this pic, I got the cylinder off and even though it still had alot in it, you can see how much fluid I got in my catch bucket. Im batting a thousand here.


The seals looked and felt fine. I replaced them anyways. Re-assembully went much better the next day. I got it all bled and tested the steering. It may have been minorly better. (probably just my immagenation) so I guess the problem is in the orbital. My inlaws showed up and that is as far as I got this whole break. (back at work now) Till next time, cheers.

Insanity revealed,

Ok, I have to tell you guys Ive been keeping secrets. When I started this thread, I didnt want to be one of those guys that listed all this stuff I was going to do and then drop the project long before I did most of it. Also, I knew I would be changing my mind as the build progressed. But Im at a point that Im going to at least test the possibility of making this thing amphibious. Yes, you read correctly. I always thouht it would be nice to have a truck that could float. Maybe because I have sunk two trucks, My 74' Scout got stuck in a river and was flooded before I could get it towed out. I also got my 88' Bronco stuck in about 4' of water and another foot of mud. Both of those incedents cost me plenty in terms of money and headakes.

In any case, lets take a look at my madness so far.

First, I dont want it just to float, I want it to go in the water. I know it wont go fast, but Im hoping to move with alittle more authority than just relying the tires spinning. So I figured I would put a prop on it. If you take a look back at post #32, youll see a conversion disc to fit a smaller u-joint to the Sterling axle. No one asked why I made it so big. I was really surprized nobody asked what the extra six bolts were in the first pic on post #97.

Well I was looking ahead to when I cut out this 1/4" plate. Here I'm twisting each blade. The process went like this. Clamp the blade in the mill vise, heat it with the torch and twist by hand. I had a guide so I would get the blades the same pitch. I could do only three blades at a time and let it cool down.


After all blades twisted, a coat of Rustolium. If this experiment actually works, I will probably get this powder coated.


Here mounted on the pinion. This blade was on the truck during the highspeed runs and during my tire balancing. Seemed to run smooth and i could feel the breeze during the balance runs. Im not sure about it's effectiveness because it will be thrusting the water right at the diff. Also, the top of the prop maybe too close to the surface of the water causing cavatation. But it's the best I could come up with right now. I think its got to be better than tires trying to paddle


Next update, float construction.
Aircraft aluminum or "How to build a porcupine"

So we need this thing to float. Figuring out the floatation is a tough nut to crack. The basic saying is "If the weight of an object displacing water is less than the water it displaces, It will float". While this is true, its alot harder to calculate what this truck will displace, in say 30" of water, than a square box. Also some other things come into play. If you take a 10 lb. piece of steel and hang it from a fish scale, lower it into a five gallon bucket of water, it now weighs 8 lbs. (Ive done this) So for items like an axle that will be sumerged, it is very hard to say what it will weigh. If it was all steel and water could get to every side of it, it would require enough floatation to support about 80% of its weight. But the water cant get to all sides of it and there is material in a axle that is not steel. (Oil, air, brake pads, etc.) So it will effectively weigh less.

In any case, I did some rough calculations and deturmined that the tires will not be enough to float this truck. I have quite a bit of experince with aircraft sheet metal. Float construction begins, aircraft style. Building with aluminum is not real expensive and fun!

I'm using .032" thick 6061-T6 aluminum. Aircraft use this and 2024-T3. For reasons I wont go into, I would recumend the 6061 alloy for most projects. First deturmin the "rib" shape. Cut it out of 3/4" plywood. Trace the plywood on the sheet.


Now draw a line about 3/4" bigger around your tracing.


Now cut out on that line. You dont have to be perfect. The edge wont show on the finished product.


Drill a hole at the corners. This is basicly a stop drill hole to prevent cracking.


Cut out to the hole perpendicular to the edge.


Clamp your aluminum on a table with you plywood form. (edge sticking out)


Bend the edge with a rubber hammer. Try to bend it evenly along the edge so you dont stretch it to much.


Repeat this on all the other edges. Now you have one "rib". You can repeat this for however many ribs you need. Some people would say they need a brake for this. But you can make alot of Identical ribs this way without measuring. Also you can make a reverse rib to cap the other end of you profile shape.


The one problem making them this way is the edge tends to stretch and cause the piece to warp. I dont know if you can see, but the rib is concave here and doesnt line up with this straight edge.


There is an easy fix for this.Its called a fluting pliers. Here you see a straight piece of sheet bent in an angle.


Here you see the same piece with a bend created by the fluting pliers. If you put more or deeper flutes, the bend will increase. If you go to far, you can just hammer the flutes out alittle.


Now you can see the rib fluted from the inside to straighten out the warp.


Heres the same view as before with the rib lined up to the straight edge.


Now I just drill some 1/8" holes with the help of a rivit spacer. Its held on the sheet with a temporary rivit called a cleco. (the copper thing with the chrome tip) If you never worked with clecos, your in for a treat. You can build large assembles (think wings) and take them apart to work on details before final assembly. They have all differnt sizes that are color coded (Chrome=3/32", Copper=1/8" etc.) I like working with 1/8 rivits, so I pretty much stick with them.


So after a little work, I have a porcupine all ready for riviting.


Next update, I'll finish the float.

Before I rivet the floats, I need do some reinforcing so I can mount this thing. I built this side bar that mounts to the frame. (Please dont zoom in on the welds) You can see I installed some heavy aluminum angle in the upper edge of the float.


Even if this thing is successfull, I would like these floats remove quickly with a few bolts. I could thread the thicker aluminum. But its not that thick and you really need helicoils in AL for things that will be removed. I chose to go with another aircraft staple, the nut plate.

Installing them is easy. Start by drilling a 1/8" hole where you want it. Then use your cleco to hold it while you drill the mount holes. In this case, Im using 3/32" holes to mount #24 floating nuts. (a floating nut can move alittle on it's base)


Then remove the nut and drill out the center hole. (The size is not critical, just so its bigger than your screw/bolt) With the same drill you can countersink te other two holes. If you were working on an aircraft, you would use a special tool to do this accurate. But for this build, I just winged it.


Then rivit the nutplate in. I'm using 3/32" soft aluminum countersunk rivits. Again, on an aircraft, you might use a rivit squeezer. But a regular pliers works fine.


In areas you cant reach, a tap of a hammer will do. Remember, these rivets hold the nut from turning. So you dont need alot of strength.


Here you see the finished nutplates. These nuts will hold a cover over this access hole with some stainless screws.


In this picture, you can see some heavier nutplates that will use 1/4" stainless bolts. I will mount the floats to the side bars with these. These nutplates used 1/8" rivits to mount to the heavy AL angle. This is another case where I was able to mount the angles in the float with the clecos. Then remove the angle to install the nutplate. Later I rivit the angle into the float.


Here the float is final riveted with 1/8" "round head" rivits. You could use countersink rivets here also. Then you could hide them completly with paint. But I like the look of rivets. You can see the top in the backround. The access hole will allow me to "buck" the rivets that hold the top on. These rivets are soft, but you really need a rivet gun for these.


I put another rib in the center for alittle more rigidity.


Here you get the idea of how it looks on the truck. You can see the unfinished front float here also. I have to make the other side also. The truck is higher in the back in this pic. I noticed after I put it back in the garage. Just have a little more air in the back bags. The floats should be level.


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Update time.

Here is a little closer look at the front float. You can see on each corner I had to make a little box. Im going to fill the floats with foam and I couldnt have it go in the corner because there are some bolts on the frame that stick in there.


Here is the front is completed with a round access hole. For filling with the foam. I could just seal up the aluminum, but I dont want any chance of a leak sinking the truck.


I got this two part foam for the floats. It is normally used for docks and boats.


This stuff is alittle tricky to work with. You are suppose mix it 1 to 1 therally before using. But it will start expanding in about 40 seconds. If its hot out, even quicker. I made a paddle that fits in my cordless drill so I could mix it quick. I mixed two Quarts at a time. Here you can see one mix poured in one end of the float. (its still growing here) While its expanding, its really hot! You cant hold your hand on the side of the aluminum.


You can repoar as often as you want. It sticks to the last pour. When you get close to filling it, you got to be carefull because it can expand withe great force. Also you dont want to mix too much. Even with a open hole, I had to put weight on the top so it wouldnt bulge. Im glad I put that extra rib in the center or the float would have deformed.


After about 15 minutes, it stops expanding and is somewhat hard. (it gets very hard in an hour) I was able to cut off the mushroom cloud. The float weighed about 15 lbs. before foam and about 35 after. The float became very solid after also. I could easily stand on it without bending the thin aluminum.



OK, so the floats are on. Now I have some ideas about how to add some more flotation, but I also have to add some more metal/glass/instruments and other stuff. So I want to do a test to see if Im in the ballpark as far as floating goes. I dont have any deep water right close. I was slowly digging a pond for this day, but the emphasess is on slowly.

So I decided to tow/trailer it to a local boat ramp. I started looking at my trailer, but there are some issues putting this thing on the trailer. I bought a tow bar awhile back for another car and I wondered if I could make it work. The front of the truck has two 2 1/2" square tubes that are bolted right on the frame rails. I did this on purpose so I could put accesseries on it using a standard 2 by 2 recievers to plug in to it. (what do you call the tube that plugs into a reciever) Anyways, I figured I could modified the towbar to hook on two recievers as my first accessery. First thing to do was cut off a couple 2" square tubes. I allready had some with a 1/4" wall,so that was quick. But when I stuck them in the 2 1/2" tubes, well NOT. The 2 1/2" tubes have a 1/4" wall, so the ID should be 2". I didnt notice there was a weld bead inside the tube that was just big enough to stop me from getting the smaller tube in it. Cleaning that bead off was a PITA! I guess they make recievers from seemless tubing. I used a die grinder with a metal bur. It was slow work,especially once I got in a few inches. Do you guys know of a better way to do something like that? No dont tell me. I'll just get mad there was some easy way.

Anyways, drill couple holes and the tubes pin to the frame securly. Next, remove the bumper clamps off the tow bar, bolt it to the reciever tubes. Its a fairly nice towbar and went on without much trouble. The bar has a multi hole spreader bar and I had to file one hole just a hair to get the right width.



The tow bar can pivot up and down at the front of the truck to accomadate differnnt height hitches. Normally, my Bronco hitch is too tall for most things I haul. But this truck is a bit higher than my Bronco. I have a drop hitch I use for my trailer. So I turned it upside down to even it out. (kind of) In this pic you can really see the differnce in tire size. Looking at this, you wouldnt think my Bronco wares 38's.


I tried towing it around in my yard and the wheels would not trac like they should. I think my caster is not correct. So Im building new radius arms that will have adjustable caster. Their almost done, but I had to go back to work. On my next break, they should be done. Even if they dont fix the problem, I will get someone to steer while I tow. Its going in the water soon.

Ok lots to updates now that I'm back at work. Of course lots to type. I'll start with the radius arms.

These turned out nice and solved some problems and cause others. I just about got all the issues licked. First we'll take a look at the drivers side. If you have been following this, you saw me make a single arm for the pax side to test flex. I took that arm and welded some plates on to mount second arm. Most of the parts for these arms were bought from Ruffstuff. I recomend them. You'll notice that I can adjust the caster by threading the middle rodend in or out. I had lost some caster in the way I mounted the stock arms. This way I could get it back. (plus some if nesessary)


I didnt need the misalianment bushings because this arm will not move in relation to the lower arm. (once installed) I didnt care to mount it with a 1 1/4" bolt, so I made a bushing to reduce it to 3/4".


These arms have the added benifit of more clearence to the tires at full lock.


I could have fashioned a simalar arm for the pax side, but I wanted to have the abillity to make it flex like the single arm and the swaybar effect of the stock system. I started by making a twin to the drivers side. Instead of welding the fixed plates on, I made two bushings to weld in the side. The stock arm is in the backround. (Reguardless of how it looks, It is exactly the same length)


Then I made the top arm simalar to the drivers side. The only differnce is I used a smaller rodend. This was for clearence purposes. I thought this was nesessary, but apon completion, I found I could have used the same size. It's going to stay now. The next step was to make a pivoting mount that could be "pinned" to lock when needed.



When the pivot was free the two arms needed to pivot at the axle also. I could have let the rubber bushings on the axle absorb this movement, but they are not really designed for rotational movement. So I made some stepped washers with a few thoussands clearence to hold the arms, but still allow them to swivel.


In this pic you can see the washers bolted to a bushing simalar to the ones in the axle. You can see how the arms will be captured, but free to swivel.


I used a "quick release" pin so I can pull it when needed. I sappose I can pull this pin when I lock the hubs. (unless I choose not to)


The pivot plates and pin are also clear of the tire at full lock.


Testing the arms next update.

Now for testing of my new radius arms. After pulling the pin, I drove up a hill about two feet on the driver's side. If you look close, you can see that the mount has pivoted about the width of the hole. (5/8")


Here I drove up the same hill on the pax side.


I could have driven up further and no doubt the mount would swivel further. I didnt do this because untill I beef up my frame, I dont want to put to much stress on it. I do beleive that this system reduces stress on the frame, which is the main reason I did it. A stock tire hanging in air doesnt put on too much stress. But a 300 LB. tire/wheel on one ton axle really tries to twist the frame.

I set the caster back to what a Superduty has stock. Then I hooked up the towbar and MAGIC, the wheels follow when I turn the tow vehical. I cant wait to drive it at high speed again. Maybe the on road handling has improved.
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All sounds great, right. Well, not quite.

First problem I ran into was binding of the trac bar as I cycle the suspension. If you think about it, I rolled the axle back to correct the caster. That put the tracbar closer to the front crossmember. I only rolled it about 3 degrees. Anyways a grinder fixed that.

Next Problem, the airbags would rub the shocks at full bump.


I never liked the spring/shock tower and I wished I had cut it off and made my own.

For now I removed the lower bag mounts and cut them apart and rewelded them on at a differnt angle. I'm not very proud of my welding, but everytime I have to cut something I welded, it turns out to be the best job I ever did. LOL.


The last problem was on the pax side top radius arm mount bolt. The stock arms were 1/8" thick and had a big bolt go through right behind the shock. My arms are 1/4" thick and then I have the 1/4" step washer. On top of that, I had to get a longer bolt to go through all that. The length didnt matter because it stuck out on the inside, but for some reason the head was a bigger hex then the stock bolts. The end result of all this is when I cycled suspension to the bump stop, I gouged the side of my brand new shock. (of course i was looking at the other problems and wondering what that noise was)


The shock is not leaking, but doesnt look good. I ordered some new allen head bolts I plan on countersinking them into the step washer. That should solve it.

Next update, water trials.

Ok, its sink or swim time. Actually, its just wade a little bit time. LOL.

First, I needed to scope out the locale. There is a small river less than 5 miles from me and I know it has two boat ramps. I drove over to the closest one to check it out. It is not really a boat ramp. Its more like a dirt road that ends in the river. Its very secluded and I thought it would be perfect for testing out of the public eye. The water didnt look too deep, so I drove my Bronco in. I got about 20 yards out before the water was up on my doors. Thats not so good. I planed to back the project in with the tow bar. I would have to back a long ways to get deep enough to float the project and it was such a gradual slant that my Bronco would be flooded. Plus when I went to drive out, my Bronco started to dig down. I got out with out much trouble, but towing 4000 lbs. might not be so easy.

The second ramp was a proper boat ramp with cement that had a steeper angle. I drove the Bronco in and very quickly got up to doors and still was on the cement. Its a little more public, but it was 70 outside and who would go out on the river when it was only 70? So this is the spot.


Now I know that I dont have enough floatation to float stable, but I wanted to get an idea how close I am. I figure that the nose is extra heavy, so I strapped the stainless fuel tank on the back and filled it with water. I thought it would weigh about 300 lbs. and hoped it would make the truck float somewhat level. I went around the truck and put rubber caps on all the vents. (diffs, T-case and tranny) I hooked up the towbar without starting the project. If fate struck, I didnt want any chance of a hot motor/turbo going in cold water. LOL.

So down the ramp till I see the rear tires bob.


Here I ran into problem. As I backed further in, the rear tires went back up on solid ground. My son was wareing hip waders and confirmed the end of the boat ramp dropped off deeper for about two foot. Then it got shallow again. He walked out further and it did get deeper, but my Bronco would hve been off the ramp by then. I learned some stuff here and decided to take it home to evailuate it. I didnt like how low in the water the rear was floating. Based on that, I thought at the time that the front wouldnt float at all. Here the the rear is floating, the front is not.


I was kind of bummed out and considered dropping the amphibious idea. So me and my son got drunk.

The next day I got to looking at the project and I noticed a couple things.

First, I weighed the fuel tank full of water. Much to my surprize, it was over 500 lbs. Also, I took some measurements. The "center of mass" of the fuel tank was 64" from the center of the truck. The "COM" of the engine is about 32" from the center of the truck. I dont know if my thinking is right, but it would seem that twice the length would be twice the leverage. So 500 would balance 1000. The engine is only about 700. The front axle weighs a bit more also, but then theres the front float. So it maybe that im not so far off. Anyways, Im not giving up yet. I do have some ways to add some more floatation and Im doing it. Anyways thats all till I get back from work.

New up date

While working on the floats, I was jacking up the frame by the air bags. I noticed the front axle seemed to move sideways quite a bit. This is because of the trac bar. I all ready modified the trac bar early in this thread to make it adjustable length wise. The rule of thumb on trac bars is You want them to be parallel and the same length as the draglink. Also, as long as possible and horizontal at ride height. In my case, there is no draglink (hydro steer) and it's already as long as practical. I flipped the lower ball joint to make the bar horizontal as I could. It wasn't horizontal at ride height, but it was at full bump. (as good as I could get)

The problem is, It's not the bar that should be horizontal, it's the imagenary line through the bar pivot points that should be horizontal. Most times the bar is on that line because the pivots are on the ends of the bar. But in this case, the lower pivot is offset by the balljoint. I flipped the balljoint thinking I improved the angle considerably. But in fact, I barely changed the angle.

So in keeping with my standard policy of doing everything at least twice, I designed a new lower mount. This bolts in the mount where the balljoint was pressed in. The bottom, while not a press fit, is very tight and I had to pound it in. A 3/4" bolt assures it doesn't come out. Another 3/4" bolt will attach the lower rodend.


Installing a rodend in the end of the bar proved to be tricky. I would have liked to make a whole new bar out of DOM, but I needed the slight bend at the lower end. I didn't like the idea of bending DOM. (I think forged is stronger) I cut off the end easy enough with my band saw. Trying to drill a forged bar straight with a hand drill didn't sound like fun to me. So I devised a way to clamp the curved bar on my tool post of my lathe. Then I chucked the drill bit in the lathe chuck and fed the bar to it with the carrage. It worked good. I started with a small bit and slowly worked up to 13/16". Then I used the lathe to hold the tap straight. It would have been nice to "power tap" it, but I don't have that much confidance in my machinist skills. So I just used a wrench.


Although the bar is in the same place as before, now the pivot point is raised about 2 1/2". So the bar and the imagenary line is now horizontal at full bump. I did some measurements before and after at full bump and full droop. The left to right movement is about a 1/4" less. I was hopping for less than that. I guess I should have done the math first. In any case, it moves very little in the main opperating range. (3" up and down from ride height)


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After the less than stellar performance in the water, I'm going to give it another shot. While I do believe I should have tested it a bit more without the tow bar, it is obvious that it will need more floatation. I have limited area to install flotation without losing the look I want to achieve. I'm not interested in the "pragnant" fourwheeler look. LOL. I also dont want to lose off road capability just to float. Im deturmined to keep min. 16" ground clearance. Also I don't want the approach/deparcher angle to be any less than 45 degrees. So the best place for some more floatation is the belly. Its going to take some fancy sheet metal work to fit some in. Here goes.

The start



More work



And more



Still more


Access holes for filling with foam



The large bulge fits right under the engine. The angles on the sides bolt to the side floats. I had to make the weird sides because of the suspension arms. This was a time consuming project. It would have takin longer if it was showing. I didnt really have to worry about fit and finish.

I started filling it with foam, but ran out. I checked with a local boat shop, but they wanted three times as much for the stuff as online. I don't mind supporting local stores, but really, three times online retail? Anyways, I couldn't finish before leaving for work. I have to work through Christmas and New Years. I have limited time in January because of a business trip to Dallas. So I might not get to the next water test till Feb. That sucks.


I got to work a little in January before my trip. I finished the foamfill and bolted the center float on. I had test bolted it on at least five times while building it. It fit perfect then. Of course after filling it with foam, it changed somehow. The bolt holes had to be enlarged just to get them in. After getting it on, some of the clearences got alot tighter. First thing I noticed was the front u-joint was just about touching the float. This was hard to understand because I built it with at least 3/4" of clearance. After studying it a bit I realized that I built it when the truck suspension was at full droop. (I had it jacked up with the bags) When I let it down, the axle shifted over some and this is what I got.


There are some useless bumps on the pinion yoke that I ground down and made about 1/8" of clearance. Good enough for water testing.


The next area of tightness is the oil pan. You cant see in this pic, but there is about a 1/4" here. But when I built it, it was at least 3/4". I guess the foamed swelled it a little. Im guessing the engine will move on the mounts and hit it sometimes.


I maybe able to adjust the float with a BFH tool, but for now Im going to leave it. Heres a pic from the front.


Another from the back. (sorry about the focus)


During my short time off I got the float mounted quick and I was keen to get it back in the water. But another problem came up. I had been topping off the power steering resivore every so often. It was working good and I couldnt see a leak anywhere, so I figured it was slowly bleeding all the air out. But it kept going down. I therally checked every connection. Not a drop. So after a bit of deep thought (OK, a couple drinks) I realized the only place it could go is through the pump shaft into the engine. (remember its gear driven) I checked the dip stick not really sure if I could tell. LOL. It was at least a gallon over full and very clear. I only put a half a cup each time. I guess It really adds up.

Anyways, I didnt have enough time to get that all straightened out, so I worked on another area. Earlier in the thread I had reclocked the T-case adapter and welded some blocks on it. Well it looks like there are some cracks in the top. They may be just scratches. In any case, I started looking for a new adapter to keep as a back up. I found out that they make cast iron ones also. I never really liked the T-case held up by that aluminum adapter. So I got a iron one and reclocked it.

Even with a digital mill, this is a tricky job. Ford in its infinit wisdom made the six bolt pattern unsimetrical. Of course they didnt make it obvious. In fact, it would appear like they made it purposely complicated. If you imagine six holes and six spaces between, they made five of the spaces identical and the last about .200" differnt. You might think they did this so you dont install it wrong, but there is a dowel pin! Anyways I got it figured out. On this adapter, I didnt have to weld any blocks on. There is one location the there is a web behind and I might cut it off. (still pondering)



I got the adapter finished. The web that was in the way was thin. (there were three others very thick) I think it was only for a shifter mount. I ended up machining the web so I could use all six mount bolts. It turned out the aluminum one was not cracked. (just scratched) I like the iron one better anyways. All painted and installed.


If you have been keeping up with this, you know I made my own driveshafts. I really didnt trust them, especially the rear. So I got a custom driveshaft made by Tom Woods. It uses 1350 U-joints. If you look close, you can see bigger end caps. As a added benifit, it has more misalianment angle.


New splash,

Ok, so I got the new steering pump in, changed the oil in the engine, refilled and bled the steering resivore. The truck is running again. Bolted the center float back on. (had to remove it to drain the oil) Now I'm ready for another try at the river. My brother and a friend from Canada were in town and I hoped to enlist their help in this test. But the steering pump turned out to be a PITA because I had to make custom tools to press off and on the gear drive. This took several days and they had to leave. Then I hoped to get my son their again with his hip waders. He said he would, but he ended up partying to hard the nite before. (to be young again) Anyways, I was on my own. I towed it down to the river, got it turned around. Backing it down the ramp took a few tries because the caster doesn't help you going backwards.

First I backed it down just till I saw the back tires bob. We had alot of rain the day before, so the river was alittle deeper. That and the extra floatation ment I didn't have to go down the ramp very far. If you look at my earlier post, you'll see I had to back untill my Bronco rear wheel was under water. Here you can see I wasn't in near as far.


Now if you look at the rear of the project, you notice the frame rails are out of the water. This was promising, so back I went till I saw the front tires bobbed. Here the entire project is floating. Again notice the rear frame rails. I walked all around on the project to check how much stability and extra floatation I had. (not much, LOL)


Completely floating!


When standing on the rear 2 x 6 that spans the frame rails, both rear tires went under and the frame rails sank till the water was about 1" below the top of the rail. (the wood didn't get wet) If I stood on one side float, the machine tipped untill one of the front tires hit the ramp. Not sure what would happen if the water was deeper. I did practise my log rolling technique on the back tire and it never hit the bottom. Standing in the center on the front, the wood never gets wet and it is still floating the tires. but obviouslly, theres not much extra floatation. Something else I did was measure the distance from the rear axle to the frame with a tape. It would appear that the tires are barely floating the axle and not helping the total much. (they are hanging off the frame,) If your wondering why the rear frame floats so high, I think its because the front axle is pulling down so hard and floats in the middle.

Anyways the next test was the prop. I started the engine and put it in gear. There was alot of water churning up behind the project.It might have been just from the tires. But I was affraid to walk back to the rear while it was running because I could envision one of those U-tube videos of the project running over my Bronco while I swim to shore. LOL. Next time I have help, I will drive it out in the river with a rope so it can be pulled back if trouble ensues.

I'm pretty happy with the test and I think I might be able to pull this off. In any case, I'm ready to start working on the body. I leave you with this alternant view. Note exhaust bubbling off the Bronco.

I turned my attention to the back. I like a short compact rear end. So I cut about a foot off the frame.


I had a reciever hitch I got with the donor truck. I mounted it as forward as I could.


It looks pretty good. But I still thought It stuck out too much.


So I shortened it. This might look eazy, but it was alot of work. I had to grind off the reinforcement lip and the chain rings and weld them back on 3" back. Then redrill the hole. I like the outcome though. I ordered some iron for the bumpers. Next break.



I played with some cardboard and 2 by 4s. My first attempt.




Then I thought I need to finish off the back alittle. I like the lines of the fenders. I like the real HEMTT, but there are a few things I dont like. A real one is 8' wide and 8' tall and has 53" tires. Then the mirrors stick out to make it 10' wide. That is alittle large to wheel in. (or even drive around on the street) I have a mortorhome that big and Ive hit the mirrors several times. The front overhang swings wide on turns also. I decided that I want the mirrors no wider than the tires. (8') This body is 6 1/2' wide. Also, I was deturmined to be no taller than 7'. The HEMTT body doesnt scale perfectly, but I like it.



Here is some pics for scale. My Bronco sits on 38's


I drove it around like this in my yard. It wasnt too bad except for backing up. The seat is back abit from the edge of the window and of course I didnt have mirrors. When i back up, I like to stick my head out the side. The window being forward and so far out from my set made this hard to do. So I tried cutting down the width 1/2' . (3" on each side.) I wouldnt have thought 3" makes that much differnce, but it was much better. I still may make the door/window come back about 2 more inches. You can see the fenders stick out more in this version.





One of the features of a real HEMTT is a little window on the lower front to help see up close. Well I intend to make two big windows down there. I really like it. (did I mention that Im a helicopter pilot)

So I did alittle more work out back. I got a 3x6 steel tube with a 3/16" wall for a back bumper. I made some mounts out of the cut off frame and welded them on. I welded some 1/4" ends on. Then I ground the welds down so It looked like a solid chunk of steel. I really liked it, but I wanted this bumper to double as a air tank. I threaded a fitting in and put a 150 PSI in. It had little leaks several places along the weld. I rewelded with TIG and reground it back to smooth. It still had some real fine leaks. So I ran a small bead with the TIG around and left it. It doesnt leak and still looks pretty good. I still have to install a drain and some other fittings, but Im not set on the locations yet. So I just poured some oil in the hole and plugged it.




Small Up date

This is my "pretend Im a machinist" update.

Start with chunk of steel. Clamp it in the mill and start cutting.


Although I have been around real machinists working with mills and I understand the basics, things like knowing what speed to run the mill and how fast you feed the part to it, are not in my knollage base. So everything goes slow for me.

Turn it on its side, cut some more.


Flip it around, cut some more.


One more flip and cut.


In the bandsaw and make two.


Back in the mill to cut some corners.


Drill some holes and here we are.


If you havent guessed yet, Next post they will be installed.

Can't get nothin past you guys. They turned out nice. I probably got 10 hours in em. I'm sure they could be made faster. I only took a hundred thou a cut. I don't know how much the end mill can take. The steel is 2" thick.


Alittle cleaning with a flap wheel. (I wish I had a tumbler.) Paint and some grade 8s. Sorry about the pics. I really need to take it outside, but I got the front tour apart to work on the bumper.



Update time!

This update was going to include all kinds of pics of my fabracation of the front bumper. It was quite a project for me. After I finished, I wanted to take the truck for another float test in the river. Things didnt go well that day (more about this later) I had a number of problems, not the least of which I dropped my camera in the river. I didnt care about the cheap camera, but it had the SD card with most of my pics of the bumper build. GRRRRR My son swam around looking for it to no avail. (Did I mention there are gators in this river)

In any case, I have a few pics I copied to my computer before the mishap. The rest are just finished pics I took after.

I decided to make the bumper out of square tubing as you dont see any round tubing on a HEMTT. The actual HEMTT bumper is made or angle iron and plate steel. I have some other ideas. First I needed to stiffin up the mounts of my twin recievers. They didnt fit good in the frame horns, so I welded some chunks of steel on the ends and they fit tight.


Then I needed a cross bar to mount the bumper on. Chewed out some angle and welded it to the twin tubes.



Notching square tubing is eazy if you have a mill. Here is a sample I did to test. I did most all the bumper like this. It helped to have tight fits for my welding. I know alot of guys on here like the "stacked dimes" style of welding. I like it too, but most of my welding is of the "stacked chickenshit" style.



I wanted the bumper to bolt on because building/painting the cab later will be eazier without the bumper in the way. Also I may send it out later for powder coating. The main cross tube is bolted to the cross angle bar.


The ends wrap around and bolt to some "outriggers I built". They have some 1/4" welded in the ends. They fit very tight which is nice looking, but a bitch to put the bumper on. It must be perfectly straight to slide in the notched ends. Of course the finished bumper weighs abit too.



Because the front is up high and I wasnt so confident in my welding, I felt the top needed some bracing. The two bars have bushins welded in the ends to bolt to the frame and the bumper. They will covered by a console later.


Of course I had to have some schackles up front. It was alot easier making these then the rear.


Ill have some complete pics next post.

All in all, it turned out pretty good.



Hey Pepe', how's that for the covered wagon look? You should have seen it before I put the top bar on. LOL

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Flex test.

Awhile back I made some "pinable" radious arms that could perform as stock when pinned. But when the pin is pulled, allows alot more flex. The only problem was when I was testing the flex, the weak frame seemed to flex more than the suspension. I didnt want to really twist it up for fear of hurting the frame. Since I finished the bumpers, they have added alot of strength to the frame. So I figured I would take it out and see how it does. This is not a rock crawler, so its not going to break my heart if it doesnt flex great, but I am courious.

I pulled it up a hill and took some pics. This is with the pin out.




While the front doesnt flex as much as the rear, It certainly flexes good enough for me. I dont really care all that much or even think it real important, but I am happy that the frame is not twisting. I also like the pinable feature. The other thing I learned from this is I'm either going to need limit straps or need alot of fender clearnce.

Water test

OK, so the bumpers are done. at this point I wanted to do a number of tests. Here are my goals for this day of testing.

1. I am getting close to ordering gears and lockers for the project. I need to decide on ratio I want. I found the best gear calculator. (Grimjeeper) I used it to figure out that if I change to 4.88, that current second gear/low range would equal first gear/high range. Also,current second gear/high range would be just slightly lower than third after the change. So I wanted to get a feel in those gears to see what to expect.

2. I had modified the radious arms so I could adjust caster. The stock arms were 0 caster because of lift. Now that I have it adjusted, I was hoping for better handling at high speed. If I run the second gear redline test above, I will get to check this aspect also.

3. Since the bumpers are the last "heavy" parts to install, I wanted to see how it floats. The rear bumper weighs about 90 lbs. and the front about 170. I still have alot of body to build, but I have experince in building aircraft. So I think I can keep it light. I do have some more floatation to install, but I was hoping that it still floats reasonable.

4. Lastly I wanted to test the propeller. Every other time I put it in the water, it was hooked to the tow bar to my Bronco. This time it would be free to move, if the prop is effective.

The plan was for me to drive the project behind my son in his truck. He would carry the tow bar if it was needed and he could run his four ways to warn trafic. The drive to the river is about four miles of seldom traviled back roads. The first mile is dirt road.

All I can say is I didnt have a very good day. Most of my tests were inconclusive.

To begin with, the truck didnt seem to have the power it had in previeous tests. I couldnt put my finger on it, but it was not as peppy. Then when got out on the dirt road, right away I noticed it was pulling right. I had to constantly turn left to keep it going straight. When I got to the first stop sign at the paved road and stabbed the brakes, it pulled left. Out on the paved road, I put it in second gear and floored it. It topped out at 52 mph. It didnt even have enough power to get to the rev limit in second.

Once at the boat ramp, I tied a rope on the bumper and to my sons truck and backed in. My first hint of trouble was when the front rotors hit the water. The left entered with a sizzle, but the right boiled water for about fifteen seconds. You wouldnt believe all the steam that came up. I figured the right brake was locked on the whole trip causing the right pull. It was probably so faded that the left was the only one working, hence the left pull on braking. So much for good handling.

OK, into the water. Right away the front floor was underwater about 3". It never touched the wood before. When I walked around the truck, it was more tippy. It was here when I dropped my camera in the river.The water is normally very clear in this spring fed river, but I churned up the mud when I backed in. (no chance of finding it.) I didnt really care about the cheap camera, But I wanted the SD card.

I didnt like how low it was floating, but I still wanted to test the prop. So I shifted in gear and gunned it. That was a mistake. I dont know if the prop worked or not, but I can tell you with athority that those tires can kick up some water. It rained down like a water fall. I was really mad and scared the cold water might hurt the hot turbo. I had enough fun. So I idled it forward with my son pulling the rope untill the tire rolled up the ramp.

I drove it home with smoke pouring from the right brake. I had to go to work (out of state), so the tests will have to wait untill I get back. I can see that I will need new calipers and fenders before the next test. Maybe some more flotation. I'll leave you with the only pic of the day my son took with his phone. Here the tire Im standing on is touching the ground. If I step on the side, the tire comes up, but the truck tips some and if I step on the front, the wood goes under alittle. But it floats.



I didnt get much done this month. I changed the steering mount. i know its kind of hard to see in these pics, but it is bolted to the wood.It is T shaped and is completly seperate from the pedals and bumper braces. I did this way so I can move it in the future if nesessary. It is pretty solid. In fact most of the movement is from the wood which is not mounted very good. When I get aluminum in there, I hope to make it very solid.



Each time I put the truck in the water, I have problems with the starter. It is low on the engine and gets submerged. The main problem is the brushes get stuck in the guides. When I took it apart last time, I worked them free. I thought that maybe they were tight right from the factory. This time when I took it apart, They were even tighter. All the brushes were stuck, but this one required a hammer and a punch to break free.


In addition to the brush problem, the selinoid was not making contact this time. It would snap, but not spin the motor. I greased the brushes and spun the selinoid to scrape off corossion. The starting problems are not present right away, but after a few days. I heard froma few people that "Mean Green" makes the best starters. So I called them and asked about how good they are sealed. They told me that their starters are top quality, but not for waterproof reasons. Then they told me they could make me a military spec starter that would be garenteed waterproof to one meter. My starter is not even completly under. So I figure the MG starter will solve my issues. The only drag is the price. ($1500) My plan is to cintinue testing with the current starter and if all goes well, I will buy the MG.

Driving update

I had alot of problems the last test drive because of locked up brake calipers. I was really wanting to see how it drove because I had given it more caster. So I got new front calipers. One nice feature running 20" wheels is I can change the calipers and pads without removing the wheels. Im not sure if all Superdutys can do this because my wheels only have 4" backspace. I think the stock wheels are about 7", so maybe you cant access them so eazy. In any case, all is well with my brakes now.

I needed to test out on the paved road. Every other time I took it out on the road, I had an escourt. I did this incase I had trouble or ran into a cop. This time I was going for a shorter test, so I just headed out. I have about a mile of dirt road to get to the paved road and I drove about a mile on it and return. Not only did I not see a cop, I didnt have any traffic what so ever. (its a back road)

My goals for this test were the same as last time. Check how the additional caster effected the handling and to test full throttle speed and vibration in second gear. The reason for the last part is it will simulate third gear after I change the diff gears to 4.88

Right out of my shop, I could feel the power was back with no dragging brake. On the dirt road it was eazy to keep it on track even over bumps and wash outs. On the paved road, I floored it to the rev limiter. It excellerated quickly to about 50 and slowly after that to 62 mph. The handling was much improved. In fact, this was the first time I drove the truck at 60+ comfortably with on hand on the wheel . The vibration and sound was fine, although its hard to judge with no wind shield. I was a little disapointed with the power above 50, but I found out since that the govenor starts "defueling" around this RPM. This makes sense because if I shift to third, it has lots of power at 60. I have a new governor spring to muve the rpm up. But I havent installed it yet. Anyways, I considered the test successful and Im going to order the new gears and lockers.

Ill leave you with a pic I took driving down the dirt road. (look mom, one hand) This road is alot rougher than it looks in the pic.


UPS came!


OK, it didnt look axactly like that. But it did look like this.


and like this.


Update coming.
Sterling regear,

Time has come to rebuild the rear diff. Now I often poke fun at myself for "less than brillent" actions. But In this case, it wasnt funny. (at least to me) I invented a few new cuss words. But I shouldnt jump ahead.

First, I have changed gears and added limited slips and lockers to 6 Trucks prior to this. They were all half tons, but its pretty much the same thing. The last time I did one was my DD Bronco over ten years ago. I started by removing the diff cover and axles. One nice thing about full float axles is you dont have to jack up the truck or remove the wheels/tires. Just unbolt the axles and pull them out a few inches and they are free of the carrier. Here was my first issue. The bolts that held the axles in looked like the threads were stripped on the nose. It really freaked me out at first. All were axactly the same and I found out later, thats the way they are.


Next I removed the carrier. I didnt know it was a Trac-loc limited slip. (it didnt work at all) Not that it would make any differnce. Ive had nothing but bad luck with Trac-locs. I got a Tru-Trac to put in here and Im hoping thats not a mistake. I swore off L/S's a long time ago, so Im really going against my own beliefs here. But alot of people say the Tru-trac is a differnt animal. We'll see. A "Detroit" is going in front.


Now in all the previous gear swaps, I made "set up" bearings with the ones I pulled from the diff. For those not fermillier with this term, its just the old bearing sanded/ground out so you can slip fit it on the pinion and carrier. The reason for doing it this way is you can get the shims right before you press the new bearings on. Here you can see me sanding the pinion. (didnt work)


Grinding did.


I had some real trouble trying to remove the carrier bearings. The puller just wouldnt work. It started bending the seperator studs. I couldnt fit it in my press safely.


Never let it be said that Im not a deturmined man. I chucked the carrier in the lathe and bored it out till the bearings came off. Of course this distroyied a good rebuildable Trac-Loc.


After all that, I found out that the carrier bearings are shimed from the outside. (no need for set up bearings) Did I mention I got mad?

OK, so I go about installing the pinion. I had this bar for working on my Bronco pinion. It bolts to the pinion flange. I had to drill some new holes to make it work on this (bigger) flange. It worked good.


Again, for those unfermillier, you install it with your setup bearins and the shims on the origenal pinion and measure the distance from the head to the centerline of the housing. As you can amagine, this is hard to be accurate without special tools. (I dont have) Fortunetly, you dont have to be perfect because you have to reshim it several times anyways. The problem is I couldnt even get it close to the "given" measurment. so I decided to try the carrier with it as close as I could. So I assembled the ring gear on the Tru-Trac carrier. This part actually worked good. I hung the gear off some bolts so it was lined up. Then I heated it with a propane torch. The key here is not to leave the torch in one place. Gears like these can be safely heated to about 400 degrees. I only heated it to about 250.


Then Its just a matter of fliping it over so it just slides over the press fit. I let it cool before locktite and torque.


Then I used the same flange bar to torque the ring bolts.


More insanity next update

Anyways, at least things started going better after that last discovery.

It was a few more test trys till I got an exceptable pattern. Finally It looked like this.


And then like this. I got a diff cover from "Solid". It is very stout cast iron and is powered coated with silver spider web paint that looks cool. (cant see it in the pic)


While working on the diff, I jacked up the airbags and I found the left shock had been hitting the frame. It was about 3/4" away at ride hieght. It doesnt hit going straight up or down. But I guess when the truck is flexed out, it hits. The right side looked as though it just touched. Probably the trac bar has something to do with why it only hits on the left.


Apon further inspection, I found I welded the mounts further out bound then the Sterling had them stock. I wasnt sure why I did that. In any case, I cut them off and welded them back on where the stock ones went. I have to say the welds were my worst quality welds. I was pleased that they were still hard to cut off. The welds on the new location look alot better, but I still need to work on my welding.

I took the project out for a test drive with the new gears. First thing I did was flex the rear to make sure the shock didnt hit. (win) That shock still works good, but my OCD will not allow me to keep it. Nothing that more money wont fix.

I also drove it up to 60 mph for a total of about 4 miles. The diff was pretty hot. Of course it was kind of hard to judge because it was 95 degrees in the shade. So I took the same drive with my Bronco. I felt the diff and it was probably about 20 degrees cooler. Specificaly, I could just hold my hand on the Sterling. Ive heard that you can hold 140 degrees. I dont know if thats hot for a short trip. My final pinion bearing preload was about 27 in lbs. I really didnt want it that high, But I didnt want to back off the crush sleeve. My carrier bearings were pretty tight also, but I think its OK.

Update, Dana 60

So I need to match the rear gears. I start by jacking it up and putting on jackstands. Pulled the wheels and brake calibers. Removed the locking hub covers and I have this.



The inside of the locking hub was sapposed to come off with the cover. It was stiff as hell to pull out. I had to work it out gradually with a hook tool. The "cage" that holds it all together is made of plastic, so you cant pull too hard or youll break it. Eventually, I got both out. Here you can see the hubs apart and together. They just snap together, so they wernt damaged.


Next, I removed the super snap ring. I was warned about this snap ring and it was not an egageration. It was the toughest snap ring I have ever encountered. I did heed the warnings and bought a very stout snap ring pliars. Even with the super pliars, its a bitch. The snap ring is about twice as thick as a normal one. Anyways, after that you remove the unit bearing. Actually, it would be more correct to say you try to remove the bearing. After removing the four nuts, it should just pull off. I pounded on the studs and pounded a cold chissel in the split to no avail. Someone on the Pirate gave me the secret. Use a large pry bar on the axle and force it, the seal (more on this) and the unit bearing out the knuckle.


Here you can see the D60 axle next to a D44 I had laying around. (Note the spindle stuck on the 44.)


The rest of the disassembolly is pretty straight forward. I made a short steel arm to hold the pinion yoke. it would stop against the radius arm. (worked good)


Of course, I did run into a few issues. The pinion bearing race has a thin washer behind it. You have to hit it with a punch to get the race out. This is what I did to it.


The only purpose I could think of for this washer is it would keep more oil in the pinion bearings, so I installed the washer like this.


The next problem was pounding out the inner carrier seals. Well for all the problems that can come up in a job like this, sometimes you get lucky. I was looking around my shop for some long shaft to pound the seal out and found this titanium alloy helicopter driveshaft. I had kept two of these "scrap" shafts from my old job. They had a step ring machined close to one end. It was perfect to tap the seal out on the short side. It wasnt long enough to reanch on the pax side, so I looked for something to extend it. I had a short piece of Dom with a threaded bung welded in for a link. Would you believe the threads are the same as the threads on the end of the helicopter shaft. It extended it perfect and added a little needed weight. (The "Ti" shaft is decievingly light)


The really nice thing about it is the shaft was also great for installing the new seals. I will say its probably the most expensive seal tool ever. (I think these shafts were about $800 before machineing.)


Anyways, Ill finish this up date soon.
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Finishing up the front.

The setting of the gears went pretty good. On the D60, I did have to make and use the "setup" bearings. (if you dont know, go to my post on the Sterling rebuild) After getting an exceptable pattern, I had to assemble the diff with the new bearings pressed on. Since the pinion yoke was hitting the float sometimes, I chucked it in the lathe and smoothed it up some.


The first problem came when I tried to draw on the pinion bearing with the pinion nut. The pinion threads only stuck out about a 1/4". Normally the bearing is not very tight untill you get to the crush sleeve. So I cranked on the wrench. Fortunently, that was the old nut.


After taking it back out, I see the problem. The new pinion is designed for shimed preload, not a crush sleeve. So the bearing went against the crush sleeve almost right away. I dont know why they give you a crush sleeve in the kit. I also dont know why I didnt notice te differnce in the pinions.


I had never shimed preload on a pinion before, but its pretty easy. After a couple trys, I got 20 inch pounds of preload. Then came the carrier. I had the carrier set up good with the "set up" bearings, but it wasnt as tight as when I pulled the stock one out. So when I put it together with the new bearings, I added .003" shim to each side. Well after pressing it together and installing the carrier, it seemed to have no preload at all. So I removed it and pressed off the bearing oppisite the ring gear and inserted .015" shim. I put the "set up" bearing on and installed the carrier. It was tight as hell. So I removed it again and pressed the new bearing on and installed the carrier. It appeared to be looser then with the "set up" bearing. I miked them both and they were the same. Go figure. In any case, the preload was reasonable, so I left it.

The next issue is installing the axles. These axles have special seals that have to be pressed on the axle AND the knuckle. Tricky job for sure. They make a special press tool for the job. I was tempted to make one, but I didnt want to take the time, so I got this one on the bay. It is one beefy chunk of metal.


Anyways the directions say to press the seal on the axle first and then install the axle/seal in the knuckle at the same time with the press tool. I didnt like that idea because the axle has to line up with splines in the carrier. It would be very hard to hold the axle up from the u-joint while pounding on this tool that weighs 10 lbs. by itself. So i installed the axle first in the carrier. Then I pulled it out just a little and put a steel flat bar behind the edge of the u-joint yolk. This way the when I pounded the seal with the press tool, it bottomed on the axle first.


Then I removed the flatbar and finished pounding in the seal. The rest of the hubs assemble the reverse of the tear down.

On to the cover. I bought a "G2" aluminum cover. I wanted a strong cover, but figured I couldnt afford the weight of steel. I have to say the stock diff cover is pretty stout on the Superduty. Way stronger than the cover on the Sterling. Anyways the G2 cover is pretty good made, but when I test fit it on the diff, the tierod hit it at full lock.


I counter sunk the bolt and filed the front till I could slide a piece of paper between them. It was amazing how much I had to file off of a cover that was for this diff. It had "Made in USA" cast in. But I had to file off the "Made in" completly off. I ended up ripping off the G2 sticker. I dont feel like advertizing for them. I want to make clear that everything that would effect the tierod hitting the diff was completly stock.


Got it all back together and took it for a ten minute test drive. All seems well and Im back at work.

So I want to do some upgrades on the motor. Now I have never really been a engine guy. And deisel is all new to me. I was under advisment to make changes one at a time so I can go back if something doesnt work out. I dont have access to a dino, so I devised a plan to do 0 to 60 mph test between each mod. I figured timing with a stopwatch would give me some idea how I was doing.

Before I begin, I wanted to have a couple guages to get an idea how the engine was doing during the tests. Specificlly, a boost guage and a pirometer. (EGT) I also thought it might be nice to have a tach to help choose my shift points. I have allready bought a whole slew of guages, but I dont need all of them for the tests. I dont want to build a dash for all of them untill I got the cab done. So I fabbed a tempory dash to hold just the three gauges. I came out like this.




I installed the pirometer in the exhaust manifold right before the Turbo.


I made a little sheet metal bracket to hold the MAP for the boost guage.


I was running out of time before going back to work and I couldnt get the tach to work. I have a Decoda Digital conversion box that supposed to work off the altenator. But I wasnt getting a signal. I really wanted to get some testing done and figured I could use the GPS speed to deturmin where to shift.

The first thing I did is make a run with my DD Bronco to get an idea of the time 0 to 60. I know sports cars can do it in 5 seconds, but Im sure a 4x4 is pretty slow. My Bronco has a pretty good running 351 in it, but it weighs in about 6000 lbs. and it did the 0 to 60 in 19 seconds. LOL. That time would be bad for a car doing a 1/4 mile. Anyways Ive been driving it for years, so I guess it gives me an idea of an acceptable street machine.

The plan was to drive to the paved (back) road, make a timed run. Turn around and make a second timed run on the way back. First run with the project came in at a astonishing 52 seconds. I couldnt believe it was that bad. It doesnt seem that slow. I guess because the wind is in my face. Also, it seems to pick up very fast from about 5 to 35 mph. Just after that it really loses its get up and go. On the return trip, it did slightly better at 49 seconds. The only reason I can give for the differnce is this back road has some rolling hills. If I get to 50 mph on a up hill section, it just doesnt excellerate. It would have been nice to do the test on flat ground. Just my luck, in the whole flat state of Florida, the nearest paved road to me has hills.

Anyways, back at the shop I went about the first mod which was to install a 3200 governor spring. (The stock one is 2800) This mod doesnt really boost power, just gives you a little more range. The governor doesnt cut the fuel at 2800, it slowly cuts the fuel to a point that the engine will not likly get that high. Obviously, the 3200 should come in a little later. Ive read some peoples accounts where they say this mod really opens up proformance.

Changing the spring is a PITA. You have to take apart the injection pump. It wouldnt be that big of a deal except for some bad engineering. Theres a idle screw that you have to move in or remove to get at one of the case screws. If thats not bad enough, the lock nut is vertually impossible to get at unless you remove the fuel line. Of course after I got it out of the way, it was neerly impossible to get that case screw loose. I ended up stripping out the allen head. Nothing that a drill wouldnt cure. I dont have any pictures of this mod, but theres lots of videos on utube. I recumend watching them before attempting this.

So back together and back on the track. (Uh, road) Hit the stop watch and pedal to the metal. Got to 60 at 41 seconds. Very promising, but when we turned around for the return trip it took 50 seconds to get to 60. What gives? The best my son and I could figure is the most important thing is whether we were on a up hill or down hill when we got to about 45 mph. The truck excellerates irreguardless before that. But if you hit a hill at 45-50, it just doesnt want to go faster till the hill has passed. In these tests, we started in a differnt place each time. (it wasnt on purpass, it just worked out that way)

On all these runs I had the front wheels locked and the T-case in 4x4. I did this because I thought it would make more drag and help break in the front gears. The only thing is, the truck is kind of squerely at 60 and the locked front wasnt helping. So I unlocked the hubs and we did the two runs again. This time it was 41 on the first run. Exactly the same as before, but when I did the return run it went down to 37 seconds.

Oh, I almost forgot, the highest temp on the piro was 1000 and the highest boost was 15 psi. Both of those readings were right about 60 mph before I let off. The boost was at about 5-8 psi most of the run.

So the only thing I can say conclusively is this test was not very conclusive. I guess its a little faster. I hope the next mod is more desisvive.
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OK, engine mod number two.

The turbo on my engine is a stock Holset H1C. I believe this turbo has a 16 CM exhaust housing. After some research I ordered a 12 CM exhaust housing. For those that dont know, the smaller housing should increase the pressure on the turbine and make it spin faster. Also, it should make it spool earlier making more power quicker. Here is my current turbo.


I was able to remove the exhaust housing without touching the rest of the turbo. I was surprized to see the soot on the turbine. My engine doesnt smoke at all. To anyone that knows, is this normal?


Here you can see the two housings. Not much differnce to see.



Back on the engine can hardly tell a differnce.


On to the test. Playing with it in the yard, it seemed to spool a little quicker. So out to the road. First run, 47 seconds. On the way back, 41. For those that dont care to scrool back, not really any improvement. Im really disappointed. Both of these mods didnt seem to do anything. Im beginning to wonder if you have to make adjustments to the injection pump to realize a proformance gain with a new/modified turbo. My impression is when I reach around 50 mph, theres just enough fuel to go alittle faster. Ive never seen any smoke from my engine. I dont want to "roll coal", but if theres no smoke, maybe theres no extra fuel. It doesnt really matter if I add more air if all the fuel gets burned. I dont really know what Im talking about, but it sounds good.

In any case, Im getting my new (to me) turbo together for the next test.

Oh also of interest, I tested some more caster. All I had to do was lower the air bags 2" and I figured that added about 4 degrees of caster. I think it does handle better. I can adjust it there at ride height or just plan on lowering the truck for high speed. Here is a pic of it at the low setting. Looks kind of cool, but only 3-4" of up travil.


While I get ready for the next engine mod and test I'll update you on another area I've been working on. I'm very embarrised to admit how long it has takin me to design and build this and I'm not even done. But I got pics to show. (That usally makes everyone happy)

This truck is high. The floor is a minimum of 36", so its difficult to climb in. On my DD Bronco, the side steps are 20" and they seem to get taller every year. In addition, my wife is 5 foot tall and if I ever hope to get her in to this, I need some steps. If you check out a real HEMTT, they got a neat folding step. I considered copying it, but it doesnt completly fold up out of the way. So I decided to make a folding step of my own design.

First I built a "A-frame" two step metal pivot. It had to clear everything when folded up and down. Although I planned to have it up while driving, I didnt want it to get hit by the tire if I happen to leave it down. This is built from light steel tubing because I dont want to add weight to the front of the truck.


The rear end of the pivot was a pain to design/build. I still dont like it that much. Its the best I could come up with.


Folded up, it is barely noticable. Right now this is held up with a clamp. My plan is to hold it up with a gas strut.


I needed a way to hold it out. I made this slot in a 1/4" bar with the mill.


When folded up, the slot is not quite long enough to "catch" the bolt.


Hanging straight down, you can see the slot.


Pulled further out the bar falls into the "catch". Now the step can be used.


I didnt like the thin tubes for standing on, so I made some templates out of cardboard.


Then cut them out of aluminum diamond plate.



I have yet to attach them. Also I still have to duplicate the whole thing on the drivers side. I know the pic makes it look like the step is on the floor, but it is an optical illusion. It is 12" off the floor here. (It will be slightly higher because te truck is not at ride hight)

Engine updates

I have been agonizing over adjusting the fuel pin or the power screw before I change the turbo. I decided to do the power screw because it is easy to do and put back.

First I wanted to check smoke. I have never really noticed any smoke, but because the engine is behind me, I wasn't sure. So I took the truck in the yard and floored it from a stand still. I was looking right at the stack and it got a slight tint for about a second. I can't really say it was smoke. It was clear after a second and even when I hit second gear, it stayed clear.

I pulled in the shop and turned the power screw one full turn. I removed the air cleaner and got a two by four to block in case of run away. Started the truck and revved it a few times. All seem well, so I took it out in the yard. Floored it from a standing start. It smoked just a bit and then cleared. I wouldn't call it rolling coal, but it was smoke. Still nothing when I hit second. The other thing I noticed was a pernounced werring sound when I let off the gas.

I thought maybe the sound was because I didn't have a air cleaner. I installed it and tried again. Same smoke and sound. Also, I happened to notice the boost gage showing 20 psi. (It only went to 15 before) I figured it was worth a timed run on the pavement.

Drove out to my back road and give it my best. 31 seconds to 60 mph. On the way back, 27 seconds. The time might have been better than that because it was hard to get to my watch while driving. I could tell obviously it was better. For one thing, it was still excellerating when I let off.

So the next mod is the one Ive been waiting for. Mounting the HX30W turbo. Everyone says it's the cats ass.

Mounting it required welding a flange on my cross over tube. Not sure if this is going to seal because the flange is for exhaust tubes. I doubt exhaust gets very high pressure. The oil feed line and drain were te same as the old turbo as was the exhaust manifold mount. This turbo has a pressure opperated waste gate. As the boost pressure goes up, a diaframe pushes open a valve to reduce the exhaust pressure. the turbo slows down which reduces the boost. I have heard of people not hooking up the waste gate diafram. since that was eazest to do, I left it unhooked. Looks nice on the truck.



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Next thing to do is roll outside and do some testing. Started up and ran fine. I pulled up to one end of my yard and stump the throttle. In the length of my yard (700'), I saw 25 PSI on the boost gage. When I turned around and went back to make another run, guess what? Two twenty foot tracks in my grass. It appears that after about four feet, the tires started spinning, tearing up the yard. (not sure what to tell the wife) It didnt do that before, so it must be better. LOL.

Out to the paved road. Started at the regular place and hit the gas. First thing I noticed was the tires spun a little during the takeoff. Pretty hard to believe 46" tall, 14" wide tires would spin on dry pavement. Anyways the excelleration was brisk. At the end I checked my watch, 27 seconds. Turned around and timed it back, 25 seconds! Both of these runs felt quicker. More so than the times would indecate.

At this time, I realized that I forgot to look at the boost gage and EGT. So I made one more run. The highest boost was 25 PSI. Right before I got to 60 mph the boost was 22 and the highest temp was 1300 degrees. Right then I passed a cop going the other way. I figured I was caught, so I slowed down and turned in a drive way to wait for him to come back. This was a long narrow country driveway, so I thought I will go down a bit and find a place to turn around. I had to go down 1/4 mile to a spot where it was wide enough and came back to the road. No cop. I didnt know if he came back and passed the driveway because it had tall trees and maybe didnt see me. So I decided to drive back to my house. Once there, I pulled in the gate and right into my shop. I closed the gate. (electric) I figured the cop was busy and never bothered with me. About ten minutes later my dog was barking down by the gate. I peaked out of the shop and there was the cop outside the gate. (He never saw me) I guess my dog (140 lb Pit bull) and the beware of dog signs convinced the cop not to come in the smaller man gate right next to the main gate. I dont know how he knew where to look as you cant see in my shop from outside. But I figured I was done with my "on road" testing for now.

As for my opinion on the turbo, it appears that it spools almost imediatly and really gives good power off the line. Excelleration is great all the way till about 55 mph. Then it seems to fall off again. Im not sure it would go any faster than 65 mph no matter how long you keep it floored. I dont understand why the old turbo was still pulling at 60 when the boost was 2 lbs less and the EGT was 100 degrees lower. I may have to look in to some more tuning or a intercooler. (or both)

One other thing, the turbo makes a really cool sound all the time, especially when I let off the gas. When I shut down the engine, I can hear the turbo spinning for about twenty seconds. OOH RAH!!

Another round with the engine.

I suspected a leak in my turbo to intake tube. So I hooked compressed air to a fitting on the intake and put 30 lbs. to it. As I though, lots of air leaking at the clamp. I couldnt really get it to stay centered while tightening the clamp. I should have made a proper fitting to clamp in there. Even though I have a lathe and the talent to make one, I took a short cut. I made a short tube that slide in both pieces and kept the pipe centered. I slid a o-ring on it so that it was clamped between the flanges for extra sealing. when finished, I retested with the compressed air. I cant say it doesnt leak at all because there was some leakage other places making noise. But there was nothing I could feel around the clamp.

I drove it around the yard (ten acres) and I could tell any differnce. Before I took it out on the road, I decided to grow a pair and adjust the fuel to "run away" and back it off 1/2 a turn. For those not firmiller, this means turning the fuel screw in 1/4 turn and reving the engine. If all is fine, do it again. Repeat this until the engine "hangs up" during the reving. This is scary because if you happen to go to far, it could really run away. Then you have to put a board over the turbo intake to shut it down. All went well the result was just a little more smoke when you blip the throttle.

Out on the road, Start the clock and nail the throttle. It was a good run and the lowest time yet. (21 seconds) The power still fell off after 55 MPH. But I was pretty stoked.

So back at home I was doing some research. At this point, Im very happy with the excelleration. I just want a little more speed on the top end. I saw a post on 4BT swaps where a guy got some more RPMs by rotating the fuel pin to a steeper section. I figured I would give it a try. Its a pretty simple adjustment. Just 4 screws and pull the AFC cap. then you just rotate the fuel pin/diafram 270 degrees and reassemble. Drove it around the yard. No differnce.

Went out to the usaul place on the road without much optamisim. Start the clock and away I go. Everything seems about the same except there was no hesitation above 55. In fact, it blew by 60 to around 65 before I let off. When I turned around, I checked the watch and It showed 19 seconds! I didnt time on the way back as I was cruising about 45. I forgot to look at the EGT, so I hit the gas and held to the floor. The EGT topped out at 1300. (about the same as before) The exciting thing was I was up to 69 MPH before I let up to turn on my road. It was starting to slack off, but obviously the top speed is where I want it. In fact, the only complaint I have now is the 1300 EGT. Im not sure if it would stay there if I backed off to cruise at 60.

That will have to wait as Im back at work now. The one other thing I tested on this run was more caster. I lowered the air bags to nearly the stops and it drove fantastic. Obviously, Im going to have to do some adjusting to get this caster at ride height.

When I started, there was no real consensus of the best all around turbo. So I took the stock H1C and got the exhaust housing ceramic coated ($200). But the guys on 4BT swaps said a smaller exhaust housing is an easy way to get quicker boost. So I bought a brand new one ($200) and got it ceramic coated ($200) Then everybody said the HX30W was the answer. So I bought one of them used ($400) and got the housing coated ($200) Now everybody says get the "super" HX30W. I didn't even know the difference when I got mine. (The intake side is bigger) Right now, lm done buying turbos.

By the time I get the truck done they'll have a "super sonic HX30W XL". LOL. Seriously, I'm pretty happy with the power now. Maybe that will change after I add the weight of a body. But I don't plan on the body weighing to much. If I'm disappointed then, I may just get the "super". Then I could bolt my ceramic coated housing on it since it's the same.
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I guess its long past time for an update. in all this time I havent got much done, but I got some pics.

Long ago I was working on the fold down steps. So lets continue on them. I had a mechanisom to hold them out. I wanted a way to positivly retract them. I decided to use a gas spring. You know the fancy springs that hold hatch backs open. I went on a expensive learning juerney concerning these. First I didnt want to hold the steps out, so I needed a spring that pulled instead of push. These are not as common, but they are available to buy. (just not in the yards cheap)

I didnt know what kind of pull in lbs. I needed, so I figured I needed to attach the step plates to get the proper weight at the right leverage point. I used some nice looking countersunk stainless bolts. Since the square tube was not all that thick, I welded some bushings in the tube. I didnt have any material handy, so I used a 5/8" bolt to make the bushings. This didnt really go so well. It was not a grade eight, but it sure was hard to tap. I had to buy some tungston taps to get it done.



After finishing the plates, I made a bracket and tacked it on the step. I hooked a rope on the bracket and guessed 30 lbs. pull would do the trick. I ordered gas spring I thought would work online. (about $80)


At this point, I learned something. I wanted to release the catch and have the step to raise positivly with a hisssss, I also wanted them held against the frame with enough force that there was no rattling. Well, when I released the catch, the step swung up like a sling shot and slamed the frame so hard I thought it would damage something.



Thats when I realized there was no slow hiss as this spring closed. I called the factory. I found out that the springs with the slow hiss are oil filled. The one I got was not. So back online I found the correct ones. Of course they are longer than what I wanted, but Ill make it work. Placed an order. (did I mention they cost $80.)


When I got the new one, I bolted it on with great anticapation. It did go up slower and with the hiss, but it didnt have any strength at the end of the stroke. so it wasnt held tight against the frame. I knew it would rattle driving down the road, so I decided to get one with more pull. I found one with the same dimentions that had a 50 lb. pull. (did I mention the $80)


With the stronger pull, it was much better, but still wasnt tight enough against the frame. I didnt really want to go any stronger on the pull because I got to pull the step out.

It doesnt take 50 lbs to pull it out because of leverage, but it was enough. The real problem is the most leverage on the spring is when its up. As you pull it out, it gets harder to pull. So back to the drawing board. I came up with a additional spring mounted on the mechanism that is a "past center" setup. This way it pulls alittle harder when the step up so it doesnt rattle. Also it helps you pull the step out when you get past center on the down side. The other benifit is when pulling the step down the spring has a slight pull on the slotted plate that makes it click positivly in the lock position. (before it was just gravity that moved it)



Now when the step is out, I only need to lightly pull up on this tab and the step retracts tightly against the frame. It does move alittle faster with new spring but I glued a piece of rubber there, so its not too bad. Its working pretty good, but Im still not completly sold on this design. The "past center" part has me thinking of some other ideas.

Even if I keep this as is I have to design a way to put the step down from in the cab.


Anyways, I like the step itself, so I made a mirror copy for the drivers side. Im sick of working on the steps. The whole reason Im doing this is so I can make some more flotation and I needed to know how much room it was going to take up under the floor. Ill be moving on to floor mounts and fenders next.

Well in testing I've run into a few issues with the front suspension. First, I set the caster up to be stock "Superduty" when the truck is at my design ride hieght. This was accomplished by making adjustable radius arms. (You can go back if you want to see em)

Anyways I found that it drove better with more than stock caster. The answer is just adjust some more in, right. Wrong. The problem is, as I increase the caster, it brings the front axle back ever so slightly. There's a couple problems with this. First, at full lock, I only have a 1/4" between the tire and the float. Second, as the tire drops out, it even gets closer.

The answer to that is unthread the rodends on the radious arms to locate the axle forward. But my rodends are allready threaded out as far as I feel comfortable. Now I could make new arms. (To much work) So I just made new bungs to go in these arms.

Pretty straight forward for most, but some of you might find it interesting. (And at least you know I'm doing something.)

Start with a chunk of 4140.


Cut two pieces.


Next center drill it. (This is a short fat bit to precisely spot the center)


Then drill with a small bit to depth.


Then drill with a 1/2" drill.


I don't have a pic of drilling with a 1 and 5/32" bit. After that I ran the tap. This was kind of scary. I had the lathe clutch barely engaged.


Now I had two threaded pieces.


Back in the lathe, turned down to size.


And finally, in the end of the arm.


This bung is only about 3/4" longer than what I had. It was a lot of work for that. It's welded up and in the truck now. I'll give a report shortly.

So after the radious arm mods I was able to adjust the caster to 6 degrees. (From 3) I also moved the axle forward about 1/4".

I cycled the suspension to check for clearance. At full stuff, the only issue was the driver's air bag hitting the shock. I had this issue before and had to modify both lower bag mounts. This time I only modded the driver's.

At full drop out and turned lock, the tire hit the driver's float a hair. I did allot of measuring and determined I have the driver's float mounted forward about 1/4" of the pax side. Irritating! It's also hard to fix. I left it for now.

I took it out for a test drive at ride hieght. It handled great! This thing makes me grin. It's really hard to believe how sharp it turns. Definitely, sharper than my DD Bronco.

Since I don't have any pics of all this, I'll put a few fender teasers in.


So quick up date on the step. I was looking at how to do my floor mounts and I noticed something on the step mechanism. Did some measuring and decided to move this hole. (Welded up the old one)


The hole was only moved a 1/4", of course it's a pain drilling weld. But that little mod allows the same "lock slot" that holds it out to lock it up too. I put a piece of foam between the frame and the step. This locks it up solid. (No rattles) Now I don't really have to have a strong spring to hold it up. I still haven't decided this is the final design.


Update, my wife was recovering from surgery, so I stayed home for two solid weeks and took care of her, and worked on the project. Not much done for two weeks, but allot more than I've done in along time. To be fair, I also rebuilt my tractor and built a heavy duty deisel tank storage rack.

Anyways, I got these body mounts along time ago. I think they are from a older Bronco. (Like 1969) I made the metal mount pictured, but decided to go with a different design.


I welded four of them in a trapezoid shape. I did this to better support the steering/pedal quadrient. Not sure if still think it's right, LOL.


Here finished welded and paint with the rubber.



Next I cut the floor out of 1/8" aluminum. (6061-T6) I needed some extra rigidity, so I riveted a piece of AL angle on the back side.


At the front edge, I needed a 45 degree angle. I was surprised to find out they are not available. Can't say I ever saw one, but it would seem like someone would make them. Anyways, I was going to put .065" skin up front. So I thought it would be nice to just bend that to a 45. It's a six foot piece and my brake is only four foot. I was buying a tank of argon when I saw a big home made brake in the back yard of the welding shop. It wasn't fancy, but it did a pretty nice job.


Even though I've only got the floor assembled with clecos, it's fairly rigid.


Stay tuned. I got some to write up in next few days.

I guess I need to finish my update.

I got my bead roller and modified it for some heavy duty flange. Here is a piece of .065" 6061-T6.


It seems to fit pretty good.


I flanged the top edge of the previous lower skin. I got another piece of .065" bent on the welding shop brake in two places and drilled for rivets. This will skin it up to the windshield.



I made some bolt on mounts for the second level floor.


These were kind of a pain because I used the shock holes. I had to make some flanged disc spacers because the holes were too big.


Cut another piece of 1/8". This piece will be trimmed smaller at the wheels and front of the engine. I finally got rid of the wood. IMHO wood only belongs on the dash or the console. (I hate those old woody station wagons)




This is far as I got. The seat is just sitting there for some measuring. I'm back at work now, so I'll get back on it in a couple weeks.

Got a boring update.

I was waiting for an order of some metal. So in the mean time, I started making an AC compressor mount.

I have a lot of parts from a F250 "Superduty", so I figured I would use a AC compressor from that truck. I ordered one from the bay to use for mockup. The pump does not mount to a flat surface, so I made some spacers to weld on my mount plate.


Here you can see the pump sitting on the spacers.


Of course I forgot that the pump must be high enough to clear the bolt heads that mount the plate to the engine.


Never time to do it right, always time to do it again.


All finished and painted. Note that the pump is mounted on the spacers and the plate is mounted to the engine with three bolts. Now some might wonder why there are more than three holes in the plate. To the "untrained eye" it might appear that I miss-drilled the holes. (More than once) At the end of the post I will fully explain the holes.


Here you can see the plate mounted to the engine.


And finally the AC pump mounted.


Next post, the alternator mount.

Oh, and the explaination.

Don't worry about the dam holes, look at the pretty blue paint!

Altenator mount,

After getting the AC pump mounted, I needed to reroute the serpent belt and I wanted a spring tensioner. Also, I bought some "side outlet" radiator castings for the engine. These require that I change the altenator mount.

Here is the lower rad outlets. (Side and front outlets) The side one had a AC mount for a Dodge on it, but I cut it off. If anyone knows what the "roll pin" is for, let me know. Maybe it only applies to the Cummins 6BT.


Anyways I also bought a Cummins triangle part to mount a tensioner. It would work, but I decided to use it for a guide and extend the one end out for a alternator mount. Here is a cardboard template. The triangle piece I'm refuring to would be from the two countersunk bolts to the right.


After duplicating it in 4130 steel, I tried it on the engine. You can see the stock location of the tensioner.


I didn't really like the tensioner location because it makes the belt "rap" around the fan drive. I'm not going to use the fandrive, so it doesn't need more rap. On the other hand, I didn't feel like I had enough rap on the alt.

So I made a second location on the same part to mount the tensioner. I welded a ear on the back side to make it a little more rigid.


Here you can see it mounted on the rad outlet and engine block.


Here the alt mount from my origenal rad outlet bolted on the new mount.


Here the altenator and the tensioner in the new location. You can see the old holes. The end can be cut off to save weight. The only reason I didn't do it yet is I haven't tested it. I need to make some new rad connections to my new outlets. If you look close you can see I'm using the origenal slotted adjuster on the bottom of the alt. It doesn't really fit good and the arc is the wrong way. (I'll be making a new one soon.)


You can see I got some more rap on the altenator. Anyways I'm back at work, so it waits till I get back.

I got some more work done on the project. I will be doing several up dates in the next few days. (Now that I'm back at work.)

The first thing that was kind of cool, I got to looking at the AC belt and figured I could have a "bypass" belt. A couple trips to the parts store and sure enough. This way if I ever have a problem with the AC, I can just go without. I don't have to make any adjustment to the alt. Kind of hard to see in this pic, but if you compare with a few posts back, you can see the belt doesn't go to the AC. The "bypass" belt is much shorter. I might remove the AC for my next float test because I don't expect to have any AC lines on the compressor yet and I don't want any water getting in it.


The next thing I did was make a template of the front lower Windows. I took this to a local glass place to see about fitting "windshield" glass in.


They had some scrap from another job and mounted the glass. The first template I had the corners to small of a radius. The rubber wouldn't lay flat. So I made another with a bit bigger. It turned out nice. (They will cut the rubber to fit tight on the truck.)


Here you can see aproximently where this will go.

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Shit, dude, that had to be a lot of work just to move that thread Over. Glad you did-I’ve always liked this thing.
I'm still putting together a proper update. In the mean time I have a little fun project i never thought would work.

I wanted to bend a piece of angle aluminum for a grill surround. I have bent angle with a stretcher before, but if you stretch it too much it splits. So I thought I would try the bead roller. Put a piece of 6063 in and rolled a bit.


So far so good. Tighten it a bit and roll some more.


Keep going till I match my template.


It was a little hard to get it to line up at the end. I still have to cut and weld, but I'm pretty happy. Still haven't figured out what screen to "fill" it with. Maybe some "expanded" metal.


Ok, so I actually did do some work on this my last break.

My first issue was one of the other members posted a link to a pic of a real HEMTT with the door open. In it, I saw where they had the pedal quadrient was up off the floor. What this does is move the driver forward about 7". It doesn't sound like much, but it solves some other puzzles. I have an issue where the seat seems to be too far back for the door. So I figured I would modify. This turned out to be more work and expense then I originally emagined.

First I made a shelf to put my foot on to check for comfort.


Seemed OK, but I got to thinking that if I had a hydro booist failure and had to slam on the brakes, I might bend the front aluminum. Even if I build the shelf stout, it might flex the front bodywork and bust my lower window. So I put a piece of angle to spread the load by the window. Here you can see I have a line drawn on the front aproximently where the window is. I was thinking I might build another brace like this on the pax side so they have something to push on. (Instead of my window, LOL) I don't plan on scaring anybody, but you never know.


I don't have much for pix of the shelf build. Here is a little step that supports the cable braces.







I needed to mount the pedal quadrient securely. I was sure about nuts and washers, so I threaded a 1/4" plate to spread out the load.


On the inside, I put an access hole so I can remove the pedals in the future. I also need this to buck the rivets on final installation. I can just get my hand in here.


End of part one. I'll finish this post soon.

Driver position, part two.

I needed to mount the seat more securely, so I did some work on the second level floor. First the foot well back. You wouldn't believe how strong the floor got after this back was in. I could stand anywhere without flexing.


Then the top.



At this point, the second level was located good in a "front to back" way, but it sagged with the seats on. (Not to mention a person) it will be allot stronger when the cab is built, but I plan to drive it some more for testing before that. So I had to add some angle for bracing. The seatbelts will be bolted through this angle also. The front seat bolts will pass through theses large washers.


The pedal quadrient itself was designed to mount anywhere, but in this case I had to narrow it about two inches so the cable arms fit in the console. I don't have any pix of this, but it was more of a PITA than you would think. Mainly because I have OCD about it having no slop and swivel freely. That ment taking it apart, trimming a spacer ring about ten thou, reassemboly and test, repeat.

After this was complete, I went to install the cables that I had removed to work on it. The throttle cable was no problem as I had enough slack to move it, but the brake cable was another thing. This cable is so stiff that you really have to have it exactly right. No choice but to order another. ($$$) I hope to use the old one for a T-case shifter although it is way overkill in strength. These cables don't look as big in the pic. The threaded end is 3/8"-24.


The next issue was the steering wheel. When I first built the rig, I had a short coulum. I didn't like the hydrolics so so close to me, so I got a longer one. I'm starting a collection now. The middle one is the one I'm using. (Currently)


The next issue was the tranny shifter. It came with its own cable that was stretched to the limit before. They don't make that kind of cable any longer. Of course it has a custom end. I ordered a new standard end. I was able to butcher a working end on it.


So after all that, I have this veiw from the seat. I think the window will be visible.



I still don't have my radiator hooked up yet. I would advise not doing business with "Classic Tube". After checking to make sure it was in stock, I ordered some stainless a month ago. They charged my credit card right away. I called to see what the holdup was and they said it was out of stock. Like WTF. They claim on their site they have the worlds largest stock and make their own bends. I only ordered a few 90s and some straight tube. (Rant over)

At least I can sit in the seat and make noises.


Quick update.

Someone mentioned that the fan hub was very heavy. If your running E-fans, you don't really need the beef. You do need an idler. So I thought I would investigate a change. First I weighed the fan hub. This is not a good scale, but it says 10 lbs.


I happened to have a grooved tensioner (ordered by mistake) that bolted right on my motor. It worked like this, but I don't need two tensioners. (And the tensioner was heavy, also)


So I bought a idler from a F250. (I have a lot of parts from that truck on my project) And mounted it on a chunk of aluminum.


All painted and mounted on the motor. Works good and makes more room. Oh, and it weighs about two lbs.


Another small update.

I wanted the lower rad outlet on the engine to be 1 3/4" to match the radiator outlets. That way all tubes and hoses will be the same. (I don't like reducer hoses and I don't understand why they do it) I want all the final plumbing to be stainless tube with short hose connections. This will require a tool for "beading" the tube. You can buy a purpose built machine. They seem to be overpriced for what they are. I decided to make a die for my bead roller.

Cutting on the lathe


My first sample piece. This is just a piece of swimming pool railing. Wasn't too bad.


I found it hard to keep it straight. I lined it up with some masking tape on a good piece of tube.


Worked much better. It is a fair amount of work because you have to squeeze it hard and roll it multiple times.


Then I welded it on the cast iron. Welding on the cast was a pain.

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Another small update.

I wanted to start on the wheel floats. I had a aluminum tube for the center. I needed a flange to bolt a cover on. I started with my bead roller.


This angle was thicker and wider. No matter how much rolling I did, I couldn't get it to curve enough. So I went to the stretcher.


It fit amazingly good. There are a few cracks because I had to stretch it so much. I don't care because I've decided to do the flange differnt.


So on to the next test. The floatation foam expands with great force, but I wasn't sure if that force stayed after it was done expanding. So I covered the inside of the tube with wax paper and poured some foam in.


After it was dry, I could push it out. It was tight, but it still can be pushed back in.



That is as far as I got, but I'm pleased with the results. This is the last update for two weeks. (Back to work) I'll leave with some out door pics with the all metal floor. It was fun to drive around again.



Well I finally got to some interesting work (on the fenders) and I have seem to have lost a lot of my detail pictures. You guys are probably sick of them anyways. I do have two building pics and some semi finished pics to get an idea of how they look. First I did a mockup in cardboard.


I like the look and decided to go right to aluminum. I have no way to "brake" the edge like the cardboard, but I plan to have the outer edge riveted on. It's going to take allot of work, but I can get to that later. I just needed to get fenders on it for the next floatation test. My first AL fender here was ok, but I ended up cutting it up because I wanted the ends longer. This was 1/4 of a 4' by 12' sheet of AL.


The final versions here are 1/2 of a 4' by 8' sheet. (2 sheets) I still have allot of work to do on the front inner fender. I kind of like the look of the truck without the floats on.



This angle is interesting because the front looks as wide as the fenders. (The fenders stick out a foot on each side.)


I couldn't resist driving over my "shooting" backstop. I've pulled up on this hill many times, but never drove over it because I thought I would get "high centered" on the float. This is coming down after going over. It doesn't look like much, but it was quite "thrilling" coming down. I'm curious to do it with the lower Windows installed. It was easy to get on and off like this.



Hopefully, when I get home in a couple weeks, I can recover the rest of my pictures.


Dont know if this will work.

This might work better.

Quick update,

I'm plan to make a small "sleeper cab" on the back that will be over the engine. I want as much room as possible without making the roof any taller. So the lower I can make the engine, the more room I will have. Obviously, I can't do much to the engine, but there is a intake tube that goes over the engine making it taller than nessessary.


I've seen a number of people that reroute it for clearance of a low hood. So I ordered some stainless tubing from McMaster. I also got some stainless plate that was pre made for the intake.


Got to use the bead roller again.


I could have made this plate on my mill, but time is so hard to come by right now. I did have to modify one plate for a 45 degree entry.


Anyways after some poor TIG welding, grinding and smoothing, I have a new "charge air" tube.



I built this with a possibility of installing a intercoler on the back of the engine. That's why I have the two silicone joints facing back. I also incorporated a "grid heater" for cold starting. (That's the box with the studs between the tube and the intake plate.) It has electric coils that heat up the incoming air.


This mod gave me about 3" lower engine.


Got a little update on the brakes. I was not real happy with them. They stopped the truck in short order, but being form a F250 that probably weighs 7,000 lbs. empty and a GVW of something like 24,000 lbs. I would expect they should stop this "under 5,000 lbs." chassis like nothing. These brakes are stiff to push even though it has hydro boost. I can stand on them and I can't lock the tires. (Not even the rear tires)

For those of you that don't remember, I have a heavy duty "push pull" cable that connects my pedal to the hydro boost. I decided to reevaluate the whole system.

First I unhooked the hydro and just worked the pedal to feel the drag of the system. There was some unnessesary drag due to the design of my rear cable pivot. I changed it to a rod end which was smoother, but didn't really help much in the brake department.

I've mentioned my brake displeasure on several forums and a couple people brought up "leverage". I decided to investigate. I measured the distance from my steering wheel to my brake pedal on my DD Bronco. Then I started the truck (for vacuum assist) and stood on the brakes hard. It measured 4" of travil. Then I did the same test on the project and it measured 2". Not sure if that's scientific, but seemed like I need more leverage.

After looking it over, I moved the front cable, both mount and attachment about one inch closer to the pivot point. Hear you can see the new location. The old holes are still visable.


Then I repeated the measurement test. Now I got 3" of travel. That's a 50 percent increase of leverage and I took the truck out for test spin. I drove on a dirt road at about 40mph and hit the brakes. The first time ever I locked up those 46's. It's amazing that the one inch made! The truck did vear to one side. I got off and checked out the skid marks. Both back tires and the driver's side front obviously we're locked. But the pax side front appears not to have been completely locked. I repeated the test a couple times. (Same results) Not sure of the issue. Maybe just needs blead, but will investigate later. For now, I'm happy for the small victory.
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Wheel float update,

I started back on the wheel floats. First I needed to trim the center tube square. This was a pain because the Chuck really couldn't hold the tube solid. (Too thin wall) If I tried to trim it with a tool, it would kick out. So I just chucked it center and used the tool to scratch a line. (Spun the Chuck by hand) Then I just used the flap wheel to "grind" the edge to the line.



I had bent a piece of angle earlier in the thread to fit this tube. I was going to use it for an outer cap bolt flange, but I decided it was not fit for that. However, I think it will be good for the inner flange.


I cut a piece of .032 for the inside of the float.



I had to cut inside piece for the valve stem. I bent a small box to house it from the foam.



I cut a piece of 1/8" for the outer flange and drilled a hole pattern in it.



I needed to weld this to the tube end. It's been awhile since I welded aluminum. I knew you use "AC" for al, but I couldn't remember if I use "low AC" or "high AC". I started with low AC and after 20 minutes, I still had not got anything welded. I was going to give up and take it to a pro when I tried the "high AC". I had it welded in a minute. Maybe some of the "welding pros" can tell me what the "low AC" is for.



I tapped the holes for 1/2"-13 and cut an outer "hub cap" to enclose the foam. I got these aluminum 1/2" bolts to hold the cap on. They look heavy duty and don't weigh anything.


This is how the float will fit.



It sticks out about an inch from the wheel. (The tire is still wider) I will make a curved angle to close this gap. The plan is to line the inside of the wheel with wax paper and fill it with foam. I still have a few things to work out like securing the foam insert in the lock out access. Also, securing the whole float in the wheel. It should fit tight, but I need to make sure it can't "work out" while driving.

Wheel floats, part two

Well, I needed a lip to bridge the gap from the "hub cap" to the wheel. I started by bending an piece of .032" al into an angle. Then on to my shrinker.


Basically, the shrinker "squeezes" the metal. When you do it to one side of an angle, it causes it to curve.


After a bit, I Had a complete circle.


All riveted up, it fit in the wheel good.


The next issue was I needed a way to hold the float in the wheel. I still haven't worked out how I plan to do it, but I know I need a "hard point" (or two) to do it. Since I don't have any way to connect it on the outside, it will have to be from the backside. My only access is through the deckretive holes. So I put two stainless studs that I could get at through the holes. I was kind of worried about the aluminum bending if the studs pull to hard, so I extended the studs in to the foam body with some penny washers. I figure the studs won't pull through a couple inches of foam.



The outside "cap" can unbolt, but I need it to locate the expanding foam. So, I needed some holes to pour the foam in. I put four large holes in that ought to do the trick.



They look kind of cool now, but probably not when full of foam. When it's done, I'm not sure how I will dress this up. I was thinking of making some new covers with some fancy bead rolling like this guy. (If you haven't seen this thread, it's worth jumping around)

Metal working tools - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum

Of course, I'm not as talented as him. If I can't make something cool, I might just hire him to do it.

Next on the plan was a way to pull the float out. I'm not sure how tight the float will fit, so I need a stout handle. Also, I would like it to double as a "keeper" for the small float that fills the center tube. First I threaded some al tube.


Then I installed some stainless bolts in the end.


Now I turned the heads down to a 1/4" stub.


Two short pieces like this and another stainless rod plus a spring.


Altogether, it snaps into the center and is very strong.


My OCD is killing me. How about this.


More on the floats later.

More floats

With the wheel floats ready to pour foam, I needed to work on another float. After I changed my floor to aluminum, I had some extra room under the front floor. Since I need as much flotation as I can get up front, I started on that.


After getting the general shape, I worked out how it would attach and how to fill it with foam.


I decided to fill most of the float with the end removed, then cut a access hole to finish riveting. The hole will be covered by bolting the the float against the other float. (Previously made) Here you can see how it attaches to the old float.


Here it is on the truck.


Pouring the foam next.

Pouring foam

Since construction was done, I needed to get ready for pouring foam. I really wanted this to go well. I remember a friend of mine telling me, "If you really want to piss someone off, don't key their car, put spray foam on it". There is no solvent that takes it off, so you will wreck the finish of what ever you "scrape" it off. I didn't want to be scraping on my new custom made wheels, so I was careful. More on this later.

I lined the wheel with wax paper and pushed the tube in. Then I taped the inside aluminum to the wax paper.


I lined the outside cover with wax paper and bolted it on. The holes were cut out with a razor to pour through.


I filled it in three pours. It went like this. I would pour a little in the bottom and let it expand. Then I would tilt the wheel at a angle and pour a small amount. Then tilt the other way and repeat. Each time I would pour the leftover in the big front box float. The foam is sappose to stick to it self just as if it were one pour.


It didn't go too bad and I was pleased that I pulled it right out after it was dry.


I had planed to remove the cover and use it again on the second wheel, but some of the foam must have leaked and it was stuck good. If I was to force it, the aluminum would have bent. So I made a new one for the other side. I still have plans to make a new cover for esthetic reasons. But the float fit good back in the wheel after trimming all the masking away.


I cut a small aluminum disc out of the center "box" float. This allowed me to finish riveting the float and a spot to fill the rest of it. I love these curved snips. I got these in Austrailia years ago. (Don't know if you can get them here) Any of you that worked with left and right aviation snips know they don't seem to work the greatest for this kind of thing.


I was able to use the disc by glueing it to my first "experiment" with the foam in the tube. I drilled two "finger holes" so I had something to pull the foam out. (To access the lockout)


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After finishing the floats I rolled it outside to take some pics. These are the first pics I got with the fenders and floats.


Note, I only made front wheel floats. I just put the pax side float in the rear wheel to get an idea how it looks. The float won't go in all the way on the back because of the axle hub. I will have to make slightly differnt floats for the rear, but I don't really need any extra floatation back there for my next water test.


Anyways, I'm ready for another water test. I figure the wheel floats and the new center float will add about 400 lbs. of extra lift to the front. That might sound like allot, but I still have some weight to add to the front and I have to figure on two adults. I'm really hoping for a good test. Not just in floatation, but with the fenders, I can finally spin the propeller.

Well I missed my chance to get my son to help with the water test. He's back at work for another month.

I welded up a sub frame that bolts to the frame behind the seats. This will be what my roll bar will attach to. It also gives me something to attach the "sleeper" part of my cab. And last but not least, it will have some sort of structure to support the fender. I want to be able to get out the door and walk on the fender to get to the rear of the truck without getting down. (Handy if floating or stuck in mud, LOL) The sub frame is made of some leftover tubing from the bumper and is very heavy duty. Not so good for the flotation thing, but I want the roll bar to be functional.


Here you can see where it bolts to the frame. Four 1/2" grade eights on each side.


I thought I was waiting for my son to get back to test the floatation, but I wasn't ready. I forgot about securing the wheel floats.

I made this stainless hook to latch on to the hard points I had made on the back of the float.


It's just a hook/screw, locknut and a large washer.


Here you can see it on the back side of the wheel. It seems pretty secure.


Now I'm ready, but a month is a long time to wait. So I decided to dig a hole with my tractor. This way I can test it pretty easy without driving on the road. I told my wife I'm digging a pond.


It's about 40' long and 10' wide. It's ramped at both ends and about 5' deep when full. (It rained more since this pic.) Two of my three dogs almost drown in it. They love water, but never were in over their head. They both just jumped in. LOL. I thought I was going to have to get in, but I got ahold of their collars and yanked them out.


Next update: watertest!

On to the water!


Well, we got a lot of rain and it filled the pond. So I backed the project up to the edge. Parked my tractor to the side for emergency. Got the wife on the camera and proceeded to back her in. (The project, not the wife)


The ramp is a bit steeper then a boat ramp.


And she floats.


The first thing I noticed was the belt was throwing water on my back. Hadn't noticed that on other water tests. After shutting down the engine, I got off the truck and walked around checking some stuff. First I confirmed that it was truly floating. I could reach from the land and move the whole truck with no resistance.


The truck was lower in the water than ever before and it has me wondering if it was actually floating before. It might have been just dragging the tires slightest bit. It was obvious it was completely floating now. It would "drift" by itself. It floated relitivly level when I was off the truck, but when I got in the seat, the front floor would slowly sink to about an inch of water. Previously, the temporary floor was made of wood. I thought the aluminum floor weighed less. But I guess the addition of fenders and rollbar support more than make up for the differnce.


The next test was on the propeller. Previously, I couldn't spin it more than idle because the tires threw too much water. With fenders, I could spin as fast as I want. The prop turned out to be a "WIN". The minute I gave it some gas, it would start moving. The deep part only allowed me to "motor" about six feet before hitting the ramp. I had the T-case in 2 high, so the front wheels weren't turning. I gave it gas and it pushed the truck up the ramp a little. The back tires were obviously spinning helplessly, so the prop was doing it alll. When I put it in reverse and gave it gas, it threw quit a bit of water on the tranny/engine. I was really surprised how effective it was. It would be neat to take it in some big water and see how fast it would go.


All and all, I'm not very happy with the test. I figure I've got at least 300 lbs to add to the front of this truck. (Sheet metal, glass and rollbar) I still have almost 500 lbs. of water in the rear tank. It seems like the only practical way to make it work is to flip the axles and put the engine in the rear. But that is a whole lot of work that I don't feel like doing right now. For now, I think I'm going to concentrate on the cab sheet metal. It's more fun for me, so easier to get movated.

Actually, my wife took a video of some of the prop testing. But she had it on for a long time while I was getting to the T-case lever shooting at the ground and such. When I finally got ready to do a good display of the prop and my triumphant climb out of the pond, I told her to start again. Of course, something got messed up and that video did not record anything.

I'll see if I can post the stupid video.

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Need some opinions.

Take a look at this HEMMT. If you zoom in on the corner of the cab by the windshield, you'll see it is just a right angle.


It kind of looks unfinished or primitive. Although I want to make this look like a HEMMT, I'm thinking of making the corner with a double bend. The pics aren't so good.



Anyways, if you can see what I mean, should I do it this way or hold true to the original?

Thanks for the input. I have a few updates to type up. I'll start with this.


I had made this grill surround awhile ago. But it was too narrow for my liking. I ended up cutting it and welding two 2 1/2" pieces in. You can see the original size on the cardboard. Made kind of a mess of the weld, but ground it off and it looks half decent.


The next thing I wanted to work on was the roll bar. I figured it would be helpfull if I had some solid uprights to do some of the mockup on the cab.

First I welded some 1/2" nuts on the 1/4" end plates. These will give me some "hard points" to mount some reinforcements to the front fenders.


Next I welded the plates on the roll bar ends.


Put the two roll bar sides in the mill to drill some accurate holes.


I was alittle worried about crushing the tube when mounting the bar, so I made some bushings for the holes.


I welded the bushings in. For fun I welded one set with TIG and the other with stick. I really couldn't tell the difference after it was all done. Kind of courious what the welding gods would say is better.


Went back and mounted the two sides in the previous made frame support. The holes lined up almost perfect. (I love digital mills)


The tops are left alittle long. I'm not going to finish the bar til the cab is done. (I'm contouring the bar to match the cab.)

Back to the sheet metal.

This piece of the windshield frame had to be bent on the welding shop brake. (Too long for mine) I need to take pic of theirs. It's a primitively home made thing. It sucks to use, but it's the only game in town if I want to bend over four feet.


I did bend the ends shown here. This piece had me puzzled for an hour. I cut a 45 slice and bent it down 45 degrees and it didn't line up. Hard to explain, but my brain was not working. LOL.


Anyways, I got it figured and clecoed in place.


I think the windshield frame really starts to give it a truck look. It looks pretty simple, but I can tell you it was a pita to get this all square and measure the same corner to corner.


I got some more done, I will be updating this again in the next couple days.


The main reason I bought my bead roller was this issue.


I like to flange the edge to be flat, if possible. I took the piece and ran it in the roller. The only problem was I couldn't roll right to the bend.


So I moved the step roller to the outside and ran it again. This allowed me to go right to the bend. Doesn't work quite as good as a full roller on the bottom. But I'm happy with the results.



On the truck it lays much flatter.


I also bent up a large piece of .063" for the roof. 6061-T6 is really tough to bend in this thickness. For the roof piece I needed a full 4' wide bend. I had to reinforce my brake and make new handle toget enough leverage to bend it. I also had to clamp 80 lbs of steel to the bottom of the brake to keep it from lifting off the floor.


The roof is just sitting on here, but you get the idea. You can also see the radius on the windshield corners. I had to do this because my "glass guy" said the rubber will not make a sharp corner. (Unless you have it custom made)



Thanks guys,

I have little tech to share. I had to move one of the body panels about a 1/4" for better fit after I allready drilled the rivet holes. Normally, not a big deal. Just pull the Clecos, move the panel and use the holes as drill guides. The problem is the panel that "showed" was behind the bumper, so I couldn't use the holes as drilll guides. Removing the bumper is a very big job. Using the inn panel for the drill guide would leave a whole row of double holes showing outside.

In the aircraft industry, they use this.


It Basicly has a nipple on one side that goes in the hole and a drill guide on the other. But I couldn't use this because the piece I was moving was an angle that didn't allow this tool to slide over. So I made my own tool. It's the same idea, but it has a hole on both sides. (I cut the hole out on one side to see the scratch easier)


I just put the panel in place, marked the holes with a pic. (Scratched) Then I slid the tool on and lined the hole on the scratch and drill from the other side.

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So I made the "sleeper" for the rear of the cab. It's 6' x 2'. Not really much for comfort but it would be nice in a pinch. I've always liked the ability to sleep in the back of the Bronco. I might be able to make a fold out piece to make it 3' wide.


This will be my access to the front of the motor. Not great, but should be able the install a belt or change the alternator.


I will also have removable panels in the back to get to the motor.


In other news, I decided to see if Oshkosh has lawyers. Got this emblem on the bay.


I know the pic sucks. It's from a real Hemtt. I think it will look good. I'm hoping someone will see it in a gas station and google it. Then they'll be like, "where's the small one"?


OK, I need to type a update because I'm getting some work done. I don't want to get too far ahead and never get cought up. LOL. Anyways, first thing I made this mechanism.


If your not sure what this is, here's another pic.


If you still are lost, you haven't followed the thread long enough. Way back, I was designing a way to extend and retract the steps. I had made a system on the pax side that locked up and down, but there was no way to operate it from the inside of the truck. I was so sick of looking at it, I just moved on to something else. Now that I'm working on the body, I found it's nice to have the step on the pax side. I wasn't going to duplicate it on the driver's side because I knew it had to be changed. So the aluminum worked somewhat and I transferred it to 1/4" steel. Here you can see it retracted.


And extended.


I didn't build the second lever yet because I have tear the cab apart to make it. This design locks down and is spring loaded up. (Gas charged spring) It worked pretty good, but after analyzing it, I decided to change it slightly. This is the final design. (I think) Up.




I don't know if you can see it here, but there is a slotted strap under the bell crank that has a "hook" machined in it to lock. I know the links and such look very "hack". They are not the final pieces. I plan to make new ones that will be filed smooth. I will have a rod or solinoid to pop the lock when I want to retract. The whole thing had to be very thin because the fender comes so close.


At least now I can get in both sides with out a stool.


Sitting around waiting for the rain to quit, might as well give an update.

I started working on the door frames. I got some 1/8" aluminum channel. It's very strong and light.




After a lot of measuring, some hack welding and sanding, I have some pretty strong frames.




I needed some interior pieces to rivet the sides on. They were little complicated because of the intrusion of the fenders. They turned out nice and strong.





Update time,

I started on the sides of the cab. These panels look simple, but I had a heck of a time keeping everything square. In fact, I made both sides twice. (That doesn't count the cardboard template.) At least I can use the scrap on other parts.


The other issue was virtually all the bends could not be accomplished with the break. So it was just clamp steel and pound.


I was running out of Clecos, so I decided to rivet some of the pieces. I still need to disassemble the cab later, so I Can only do so much. At the same time I "nut plated" the door frame for piano hinges. No "rivet squeezer"? No problem.


The hinges screw on with countersunk screws. Turned out nice. It kind of gives it that "big rig" look. Wish I had some doors to attach. Haven't designed them yet.


So now with some fresh Clecos, I got back on the sides. I needed some "hard points" to attach the shoulder belts. The door frames did not seem substantial enough and they were alittle too far forward. I used some 1/4" aluminum channel from floor to ceiling. It turned out very strong with just four bolts. (Two at each end.



Then I made some sheet metal to tie it into the side. This serves two purposes. In the event of an accedent, it would be very difficult to tear the channel from the cab. Also, this made the side and roof much more ridged.


Going with my standard build profile, (I jump all over the place) I did some work on the roll bar. I had previously cut the pieces at the right angles, but a little long to fit to the cab. After cutting the uprights off, measured the out side to out side while they were bolted up. I laid the top arch out on the floor and measured the same way. It was 7/8" to long. I was scared to cut exactly with a chop saw, so I cut only 3/4". (I figured I would grind it to size) After cutting, I laid it out on the floor and it measured a 1/4" short. WTF.

I tacked one angle on because it fit perfect. Then I tacked the other with a slight gap to make it spread. I set it on the two uprights and it was 1/4" long. WTF.

So I cut the tacks on the "spread" side. Re-tacked it without the spread and it fit perfect. I don't understand what happened, but I'm not asking questions. I welded it up. The pics look kind of funny without the rear part of the roof, but I like it.




The arch is still not welded to the up rights. I need to do some more work on the cab without the bar in the way.
So I finally got the rear roof mounted to the sides. I didn't run the rain gutters on this section. I only really need them over the doors. So I may cut them off some on the front section. Right now they kind of disappear behind the rollbar. Not sure if I like that.

Anyways, now I was able to make the rear of the cab. Since cab enclosure (minus windows and doors) is complete, it must be time for outside pics. This was harder than I thought because my starter was all gummed up from my last water test. I've got to find a cure for this problem. At least I'm getting good at rebuilding it.


For the pics, I set the rollbar arch on it. (It's still not welded)



This shot is from the driver's seat looking back.


Here's my veiw out the side. Of course the door will restrict it more. I still need to cut out the chin Windows.


Here's one from the back looking forward. You have to duck your head alittle, but it's really not bad sitting back there. It's not for seating, but it will do in a pinch.


Had to take a shot next to my lawn ornament.


Driving it around with a cab for the first time, I noticed a few things. It was quieter. I didn't think it was perticularly loud before, (for open exhaust) but now that exhaust is outside. I figured the sheetmetal would be rattling and drumming, but it wasn't real bad. I think after a muffler and 100 yards of dyna mat, it's going to be great. The othe big issue is backing it up. I had to get out four times to back it in the garage. Definitely need some good mirrors or a camera. (Or both)


So I nut plated the whole back panel so it can be removed later.


I also have the rear sleeper floor removable. The rest of the cab will be riveted. But I wanted access to the engine. It will be a hell of a lot of screws to remove to get back and bottom off. I hope never to remove it. I'm sure I can do most mantaince from the sides, But in the event of major engine work it will be worth it to gain access.


Boring update,

The inside of the front fenders were completely open. If I were to turn the wheels in water, it would soak the engine. Spent two whole days making this.


Don't really know what was so hard about it, but a lot cardboard sacrificed its life to make templates for it. The second mirror image went much faster.


Here it is attached to the fender.


Here you can see it on the truck.


From the top, you can see it doesn't intrude on the engine much.


It was a lot of work for not much satisfaction. I haven't finished riveted it yet because I'm not sure if I want it to be nut plate and screws or rivets.

So I started working on the console. First cardboard, then aluminum.


Even though I committed to aluminum, I'm not sure if I might change the shape some.


Before completing the console, I thought I would work on the glare shield. But before I could do that, I needed to check some stuff. The first was the wipers. I thought I would just bolt the Bronco wipers in. This was not as easy as I thought. First the posts stick out at an angle. Can't really do that on this truck.


So I looked on the bay and found the whole system for a stepvan. In the pics, it looked like the posts were straight. But when I got it, they were slanted also.


I could make some kind of wedge mount, but if I'm going to do that, I might as well use the Broncos system. I was able to make some mounts that would work. So the stepvan system was a good way to blow $70.


While I had it testing here, I measured the angle of the sweep. It was just a little too much. So I had to remove the arm on the motor and shorten the "stroke" some. It should work now. While I was running it on the bench, the motor sounded kind of rough. So I took it apart to lube it up some. Well during the disassembly, i distroyed the motor. The next issue was the two posts were further apart on this truck which ment I needed to lengthen one of the links. So I made a trip to the junkyard and got a whole other system. This gave me a new(er) motor and some link material to weld on the other link.


After all that, I a test fit in the project. Then the issue was the motor was close to my foot when driving.


It probably would not really be a big deal, but I sure wouldn't want it to stop me from hitting the brake. LOL. Anyways, I was able to spin the motor around in the mount and make some room.


So I think it all works. Here's a veiw from the pax side.


I need to test it with the wipers, but I needed the glass. I just had an idea about putting a piece of cardboard in there to test. I'll try that soon. Hard to believe, but the work in this post took me four full days to accomplish.
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