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Old 07-06-2011, 10:52 PM   #251
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Back on the horse... Tonight I managed to finish trimming the driver and passenger door wells:

Here's what I started with:


I used a combo of the original trim and some new trim...


I dig the end result, but it bums me out that things have stretched out for so long that all the underlayers are dirty and worn by the time I add the next "stuff"..



I did a number of other little things like messing with the old headliner and installing fog lamps... The lamps are just stuck on the front of the bumper right now, not exactly "right"...



Now that I'm getting things rolling again, maybe I can dig in and read up on a few threads around here... There are some van builds I bet have progressed since I last checked in!
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Old 07-20-2011, 01:33 AM   #252
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Re: Polar Bear 1

I typed up this post... hit submit... and the forums had logged me out so the post was lost... Here's a second try.

I've been busy since my last post. First, I had to finish up that flooring trim. The last section was the back door. I started off by cutting my flooring to a nice straight edge. The contoured edge looked nice and was efficient, but it was going to be really hard to trim out. I'm much happier with this approach:



The next order of business was installing the second battery. I've had a sweet spot above the passenger side wheel in mind for a while. I built a custom tray that bolts into the existing holes in the wheel well. I cut the tray out of some shop scrap with the plasma cutter, bent the edges with the table clamp, and welded the corners together.



After a test fit, I felt like I wanted a little extra support so I extended an arm down to another existing hole in the wheel well. That finished off my fabrication so I ground it down with a wire brush a bit and painted it yellow.



Once dry, I installed the tray. I laid down a piece of flooring scrap as a pad. The flooring is battery acid resistant. I used a bungee strap to keep the battery in place.



I started to build out wheel well covers (pics below) but stopped working to go on a camping trip. Driving home from that trip, my rear fuel tank stopped delivering gas to the engine. I've long suspected the rear fuel pump was bad so I just went and got a new one.

I asked a friend to help. First we had to drain and drop the tank:



Once down, I found that the terminal leads were filthy. This may have been the problem. I replaced the pump regardless. We also spent some time carefully cleaning everything up. We managed to get rid of a lot of crud without knocking anything into the tank.



Once that annoying fuel pump task was out of the way, I started back to work on the interior. The first pic below was work completed before the fuel pump installation. I used scrap from around the shop to make wheel well covers. The pieces were cut on a table saw and assembled with finishing nails and wood glue. I did a fair bit of pilot hole drilling in the process.



After some trimming and sanding, I used 3M spray adhesive to attach a carpet cover to the wood. I'll use simple L brackets to keep them in place. They will ultimately be covered up by the build, but I sure like the carpet.



Yesterday, I spent a few hours with a girlfriend taping out a floor plan inside the van. I'm really excited about some of the ideas we've had and can't wait to get something built. I still have a lot of technical challenges. Today I was working, again, on the rear doors. They don't seal right and the latch isn't working right. It must be a pleasure to be building on a new van!

Anyway... I'm making a little progress and it feels real good!
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:44 AM   #253
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Re: Polar Bear 1

I finally pushed through a big blocker last night. For the first time last night, Polar Bear's alternator charged her house battery. I installed the second battery kit. While it works as advertised, the kit was a little funky and some parts just weren't well thought out.

Here's the kit I used:
http://www.nationalluna.com/DIY.htm

And here's my "intelligent solenoid" mounted in the van near the second battery:



There were two parts of the kit that disturbed me. There is a ground that comes from the solenoid that is meant to be connected directly to the negative post of the main battery. I suspected it could just be grounded, but followed the diagram just in case. After all, it works by reading the charging level of the main battery. The problem was that, unlike every other wire, the ground wire was short and already had a terminal attached. All of the other wiring had to be cut and terminals added. The wire was so short it would require that the solenoid be installed extremely close to the main battery. This was absolutely impossible with my configuration. Furthermore, I only had "red" wire of the proper gauge to run an extension... so now i have a red wire to my negative terminal lead. I'm sure I'll hear about that later.

The other thing was the monitor cable. The kit comes with a cool little monitor that gives you batter levels and lets you override the solenoid. Both ends of the cable have bulky terminals (as you can see in the photo, the cable is spooled up there). This makes it extremely difficult to run into the cabin. I have to drill a pretty significant hole and find a rubber grommet thingy to plug the hole. It's also pretty difficult to plug the cable into the solenoid itself. It's an awkward angle to slip in around the parts of the solenoid.

Now that I have this intimidating project out of the way, I can move on to wiring in the ARB freezer, propex heater, and additional lighting. =D
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:06 PM   #254
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Nice work! Your wheel well covers turned out great - the carpet will not only be nice for the time being, but should also add another layer of sound deadening to that area.

Fantastic breakthrough on the battery and big amperage wiring. I don't know how long I agonized over that as well. Wiring up lights and accessories will be enjoyable in comparison!

FWIW, I think that you could have totally chassis grounded the solenoid controller safely - I think they are trying to prevent people from weakly grounding the house battery.

We'll be eagerly awaiting a for more now that the momentum is going again!
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:22 PM   #255
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockbender
FWIW, I think that you could have totally chassis grounded the solenoid controller safely - I think they are trying to prevent people from weakly grounding the house battery.
I thought *exactly* that and agonized over the decision... I even debated a couple of folks who knew as little as me about it... The only reason I went ahead and did it by the diagram was the fear that it might need to be directly connected to the terminal to determine voltage level changes. Still, I just didn't think 12v DC systems worked that way. It would have made for a cleaner install just grounded to the frame, for sure. How did you wire yours?
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:15 PM   #256
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Re: Polar Bear 1

I have a Surepower 1315, but I assume that it works on the same principle. The ground wire is simply for completing the circuit to operate the 'brain' and to complete the circuit to run the solenoid. On mine, it draws roughly 1a to run to connect the solenoid if I remember correctly (and on a sidenote would have gone with the Bluesea unit in retrospect as it is a magnetic latching relay and draws no current in open vs. closed mode... just a little while getting there).

I did all my major wiring in one area, and ran a negative bus to ground everything used in that area... i.e. a common terminal block that I grounded all my accessories to that runs one bigger wire (#4 I think) to ground on the frame. I grounded the battery separator through this terminal block with a toggle switch in line so that I can disconnect the unit manually if I don't want it to operate. The primary reason for the switch is that if I am charging off of solar I don't want to waste 1a out of my possible 5 or 6 to run a solenoid when all I want to do is charge the house batteries anyway. If I had bought the 1314 (single direction separator) I wouldn't have had this issue to deal with but didn't realize how much draw the unit pulls on its own until after I had purchased and installed it.
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:58 PM   #257
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Re: Polar Bear 1

I am having tie rod issues. The outter tie rods were missing boots when I got the van. My regular mechanic told me, about a year ago, that they were going to need attention eventually. Now every mechanic that sees them recommends getting them replaced quickly. I'm sure I'm needlessly wearing rubber away.

I considered replacing them on my own, but had trouble identifying parts. Then, I took the rig to my regular mechanic. After two days, he gave me the van back saying he could not find all of the parts. He apparently identified some parts as matching an f150. Apparently the drag link used was bent to dodge the leaf springs. This means a new component would also need to be bent.

So I bit the bullet and admitted to myself that my regular mechanic might not be so good after all. I have had to have them re-fix a number of things already. So, on verbal recommendation, I took Polar Bear to a local 4x4 shop. I learned more about my rig in the hour I hung out there than the entire year+ I've been going to the other shop. These guys were talking to me about topics, like drive shaft angles, that the other mechanic didn't like to talk about at all.

They were immediately confident that they were looking at f250 parts from a particular vintage, I forget exactly when. They also lifted my front axle and showed me play in my ball joints. I could see a lot of play, and they said there should be none?!

They quoted me around $1500 for the full job. They said the bulk of the labor was for the ball joints as the tie rods are relatively easy. It was a bit shocking as I was originally quoted in the $500 range for just the tie rods. They seemed very knowledgeable and they also seemed willing to admit what they didn't know. My regular shop would almost always give me a confident answer, even the times they proved to be entirely wrong.

Still, it's a lot of cash and I'm not collecting a whole lot of cash these days. Anyone had work like this done before?
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:24 PM   #258
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Here's my thread on replacing tie rod ends. There is at least one link to a previous, related thread as well. FWIW, the price you were quoted for the tie rods ends, and ball joints seems pretty decent.

For reference, my SMB is an '06 SMB 4x4 conversion with the DynaTrac front axle.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2230&hilit=+moog


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Old 08-16-2011, 10:11 AM   #259
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Re: Polar Bear 1

From reading this entire thread I am surprised that you wouldn't attempt these repairs yourself. Nothing at all super complicated . I would replace the balljoints and tie rods myself and then take it to a shop for a quality alignment.
I have repeatedly been impressed with your abilitys building this van and feel you would be capable to handle this job.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:18 PM   #260
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by partsflyin
From reading this entire thread I am surprised that you wouldn't attempt these repairs yourself. Nothing at all super complicated . I would replace the balljoints and tie rods myself and then take it to a shop for a quality alignment.
I have repeatedly been impressed with your abilitys building this van and feel you would be capable to handle this job.
I thought about researching the ball joints, but I'm already hitting a solid wall on the tie rods because I simply can not figure out what parts to buy. Since my last post, the shop has had me bring the van back in for measurements. I'm starting to worry that this new shop will also be unable to identify the correct parts. I found notes scratched on the old old paperwork I received with the van and it looks a lot to me like the previous owner went through this same process and gave up.
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