Charlie, 96 F250 Service Bed

#21
Amazing. I have been looking for a front bumper for Old Blue for a couple of years now. I had envisioned it would look exactly like that. Now I know why all fab bumpers that arent steel pipe cost so much. Great work. You ready to get rid of that one?
 
#23
Amazing. I have been looking for a front bumper for Old Blue for a couple of years now. I had envisioned it would look exactly like that. Now I know why all fab bumpers that arent steel pipe cost so much. Great work. You ready to get rid of that one?
The shipping would be cost prohibitive I suspect. :) I would seriously try and do this yourself with a foam core model. I find this to be very enjoyable work because I don't turn it into a job. I am sure you can find someone to cut out the parts.
 
#24
Wow. I am a little bit in awe of the skills involved in putting that together.
This is where I say some philosophical and witty remark about developing skills by doing.

I am flattered, perhaps because I am lucky to call a few truly talented fabricators friend. I don't mean to exaggerate the ease of doing this type of work yourself, but the worse that can happen is that you throw away the part you are trying to create. The Universal Kayak Rack Mount had a few pieces end up in the trash.
If you can imagine it, you can build it. I find this type of work relaxing and rewarding. It is one of the reasons I sold my decked out Jeep in favor of building this ugly duckling.

Plus, you have to buy tools, I love tools.
 
#25
Not much fun to report on Charlie, except It, got new ball joints and an alignment today.

I think the old shocks have six figures of miles on them so I called up my old friend Wayne from Altech to get his opinion on some new dampers.
He asked when I was planning to link the truck and put bypasses on it? Seems my old friends have little faith I am slowing down. We agreed that he would come pick up some of the stashes of racing shocks I have in a crate and prepare them for the inevitable winter weekend when I get bored and decide to build a new front suspension. Best to have these things prepared he said.

In the meantime, he suggested I buy either Bilstein 5100 or Fox 2.0 smooth bodies without reservoirs. Whichever brand my wallet was more attracted to. That is code for how cool do you want people to think you are? For a moment I was thinking Fox until I found out they are $130 each as opposed to the euro stuff at $70 from the local 4 wheel parts. Bilstein it is. Truth be told I have raced on Bilsteins in the past and had not only great performance but great service.

The ride and sounds the truck makes has greatly improved in the last months. Fixed an age-old exhaust manifold leak, insulated the cab, new rubber floor, new tires and now the alignment. This afternoon driving home I was curious why we seem to toss aside old vehicles in favor of new shiny vehicles every couple years? Marketing Voodoo I guess?
 

bob91yj

Adventurist
Founding Member
#26
You should see how good I look behind the wheel of a 2018 Dmax!

Then I remember that I'm a service advisor at a GMC dealership. I'll keep my '06 with the minimal emissions and gadgets, thank you very much.

I've been running Bilstein 5100's on my Dmax since I got it. I've been happy with them, although I do want to go to a "tunable" shock, especially for the rears, I want more rebound dialed in to control the bounce from my air bags.

GM 2500 front suspension...well...not a lot I can do with that...the triple shock kits kill me (factory location shock and then the fly shock hoops with dual, reservoir, Fox shocks)...maybe 5" of travel per side no matter what you do short of jumping it. If you REALLY need all of that damping, you need a different truck.

What I know about suspension compared to what Wayne knows...my knowledge is about this wide ><. Curious why Wayne doesn't recommend reservoirs.
 
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#27
YCurious why Wayne doesn't recommend reservoirs.
I think we both know that I need the shocks to fade well before I try something stupid in a service bed sled. The added cost is not worth what I can get out of the stock leaf sprung suspension. The springs are going to be a limiting factor. Not a lot of choice for off the shelf leaf springs for a TTB. All kidding aside, at some point, I will link the front end in the name of more control over ride quality, not whoop pounding performance. I am sure Deaver would love to take my money, but since I have the expensive components in a box (coil over shocks, bypasses and hyd bumps) it will be a better route to fabricate a new suspension. Plus I will enjoy the process. That is down the road, I have other items that are more important right now.
 
#28
The shipping would be cost prohibitive I suspect. :) I would seriously try and do this yourself with a foam core model. I find this to be very enjoyable work because I don't turn it into a job. I am sure you can find someone to cut out the parts.
I was hoping for a little more front end protection than foam core will provide. o_O Actually with the files, I may be able to find someone to cut and weld for me. I live in a racecar mecca. Just need to find someone hungry enough to stoop to the level of making a boring bumper. Thanks!
 
#29
I have been pretty busy the last few weeks with my #ThisDamnHouse remodel, but I did take a couple weekends off including a Memorial weekend trip to the Eastern Sierra for a shakedown run of Charlie. I will add some photos below, but here is the latest on the build.

My team at the shop built a new rear deck lid to surprise me since the old one was damaged beyond repair. I will share the video when it is released sometime later this month. We produce a TV-style YouTube series for the fabrication world and the Kayak rack was the topic, they added the deck lid to the program. It is like Fort Knox now, no-one will be breaking into the back.

I added plywood to the top of my roof rack and painted it with a textured deck paint. It turned out much better than expected and allows me to walk up there now.

My Tepui Ruggedized Altuna tent finally showed up after a 6-week backorder. Fabbed up a removable mount to drop the tent onto. I also offset the tent to the driver's side and found a happy byproduct of setting it to one side in making set-up and tear-down much easier. The first couple times it took some time, but I can set up now pretty quick.

Our first night using the tent we had a long hail storm and freezing temps, the tent stayed between 40-50 degrees inside all night, but the ice build up was so thick the next morning the tent was covered in about a 1/2" of solid ice. We bought a little buddy tent heater and it elevates the temps to 80 degrees in about 5 minutes if we set it up in the annex.

I built a poop pipe solar shower up on the roof rack. It did not get warm enough for the wife to wash her hair, but it was perfect for me. The downside is the extra 100 pounds on the roof. You can feel it pushing the car when you drive curvy roads. I will have to add a propane heater for the wife.

On the trip, Charlie only got about 10MPG and hills were an issue as the 4.10 gear ratio and 37" tires only allowed us a top speed of about 40 MPH up the climbs. The long haul from the Yosemite Valley to the Tioga pass found us experiencing an engine miss and we started second guessing our decision to build a 20-year-old truck. It turned out to be a loose spark plug wire and was a quick fix to find and fix. I suspect it has been loose since the engine went back in, and I hope to see a little increase in fuel mileage.

The wife and I considered abandoning the build and searching out a 06 Dodge 4 door diesel, but @ an average cost of around $25K we decided to stick with Charlie for a while. We can buy a lot of fuel for $20K and if it has a major break down, we can rent a Uhaul and take all the good parts off, leave it at a junkyard, or just do the repairs on the side of the road. An extra cab would be really nice, but the short wheelbase of the single cab allows the truck to perform pretty well on mild trails. My son was surprised how fast I was able to run on a tight twisty dirt road in the Owens Valley.

Next up is prep for our 2-week vacation to Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon to fish and look for retirement property locations. We plan to add a partner stove slide out for one of the bins. A sliding bed tray for the back would be helpful, so I may try and build one. The model I found was $2K and I think I can build my own for much less. Gears obviously are on the shortlist. I believe a 4.88 would get us back to stock. While it may have to wait until after the Montana trip we are going to add a few performance mods to the 5.8. Intake and exhaust seem to be the best way to get more power. Heads and a Cam also seem to be popular. Good thing Summit Racing is 5 miles from my house.
 
#31
The last thing I should add When in the Yosemite Valley we hiked the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. I have to say, that is the KOH of hiking trails. I did it in 5 hours round trip, but the elevation change over teh7 mile round trip was a challenge. The trail if you have not done it, is awesome, but if not for trekking poles, I would not have been able to complete it without getting hurt. Coming down was a bitch on my knees and ankles.

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bob91yj

Adventurist
Founding Member
#32
The truck is looking great Jeff. Seems well thought out for what you want it to do.

What are you guys using for "el bano" when in close quarters to other campers?
 
#33
The truck is looking great Jeff. Seems well thought out for what you want it to do.

What are you guys using for "el bano" when in close quarters to other campers?
I have a 5 gal bucket, with a snap on toilet seat and WAG bags. We also have a pop-up outhouse structure, but we have not used it yet.

Decided this week, that we are going to drive the wife's Grand Cherokee on out July vacation as the gas mileage and top speed of Charlie will bring the suck. I am racing the weather God on my house remodel so I won't have time to put into the truck like it needs in advance of the trip. The last thing I want is to start next spring still working on #ThisDamnHouse
 
#35
I can't get over on a major challenge with this build. It's funny because when I was younger I never seem to care about fuel consumption. We decided after our Yosemite trip to abandon plans to take Charlie on our grand tour of the western states that starts this week. It is killing us to pack up today as we pull gear out of the truck. The truck only gets about 8 MPG which means it costs about $0.42 a mile to operate. In contrast, the wife's Jeep Grand Cherokee will get better than 22 MPG if I drive it nice. That lowers that cost per mile to $0.15. The costs are not the only challenge with this build. Cruising range is also a limiting factor. The truck needs to stop and refuel which extends the travel time. Lastly, the truck is just not very comfortable.

I can fix most of these issues, but I am struggling with an age-old question. Do I abandon this build and find a more suitable foundation? We would like to have an extra cab, so we can have some in-cab storage. Currently, everything ends up stuffed between us on the bench seat, or on the floor. Power is terrible on climbs. I am down to about 40MPH on any significant climb. We would like to be able to tow, that is not going to happen with this truck.

I looked at a 1st gen Dodge this week that I could purchase for a great donor vehicle, but I think we decided that an engine swap, was not going to be a good choice as local smog rules would not allow us to register the truck. While we could register the truck in Montana, we simply don't think that is a good alternative.
Charlie is a great truck for trips to the hardware store or lumber yard, but as a long distance adventure vehicle, it is just not proving a good platform. The updates and maintenance items I have done the last few months have not been a waste of time, as the truck will continue to be used for my construction projects. At some point, the truck will likely move to Montana and serve out its life as a tool.

In the short term, we plan to continue using the truck for the local trips while hunting for a new foundation. I am not sure what the next platform will be, but 94-99 Dodge 12 valve trucks seem promising. The running gear seems a perfect fit with a Cummings and NV4500. If I can find an extra cab with a short bed that is not beat to death. The 05 models are also attractive, but Angie and I agree, we don't want a 4 door. These trucks (all of the Cummings models)are not cheap, the resale market puts them in the $15K-$25K or above dependent on year and miles. I have found a few roached out trucks around $10K, but they are mostly trashed.

The 7.3 Ford is also a potential platform. If I can find a late 90's F350 I may pull all my upgrades off Charlie and build a Charlie 2 with an extra cab. The 6.0 Ford is out as I owned one of those already and don't want another one. We have tossed around going with a gasser, but towing capacity is on the short list of must-haves.

I would not discourage anyone from building what they have and modifying a vehicle to meet their needs, but I think we are at the tipping point with our build. Things like the dash rattling and interior comfort are starting to get more important. All that being said, this truck will do exactly what we ask of it, we are just thankfully in a position we can pivot to something else.
 
#36
Jeff, been there for sure, as I moved away from jeeps to: reliability I needed, comfort I wanted, effective air conditioning, quiet cab, ability to tote a camper. FWIW, I have not had a single regret. For us it was about boiling down how we really wanted to spend our limited time and resources. The jeeps I have had were great for rocks, not so great for camping, not so great for the highway, not so great for commuting and fun to work on after the rocks... until it was not fun fixing what I broke (time after time), if you get my meaning.
Don't feel bad if your sweet build is showing it's limits and move on if needed.
 
#37
Jeff, been there for sure, as I moved away from jeeps to: reliability I needed, comfort I wanted, effective air conditioning, quiet cab, ability to tote a camper. FWIW, I have not had a single regret. For us it was about boiling down how we really wanted to spend our limited time and resources. The jeeps I have had were great for rocks, not so great for camping, not so great for the highway, not so great for commuting and fun to work on after the rocks... until it was not fun fixing what I broke (time after time), if you get my meaning.
Don't feel bad if your sweet build is showing it's limited and move on if needed.

I totally understand what you are saying. This year I sold my Jeep because it was too nice for the rocks and sucked for long distance camping trips. My tastes have changed significantly over the years, from rock buggy to race car, back to Jeeps and now I am looking for something that can tackle a decent trail, has the range and can haul the comforts required for multiple days off the grid. There is no perfect rig that is for sure. A donor 7.3 extra cab may be the right choice, but the Dodge running gear is attractive. Its only money, I can make more.
 

java230

Adventurist
#38
Im surprised it gets that crappy of mileage!

I guess I am looking forward to seeing your next build, glad Charlie will be sticking around, its a cool truck.
 

bob91yj

Adventurist
Founding Member
#39
Jeff, you really need to post a picture of your "Jeep Liberty", I think the folks here would be surprised at how capable those vehicles were!:rolleyes:
 
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#40
Jeff, you really need to post a picture of your "Jeep Liberty", I think te folks here would be surprised at how capable those vehicles were!:rolleyes:
It did alright for a Liberty. This car was so fun to drive. It was extremely well balanced. I sold it to fund KOH expansion. It lives in France last I heard.

The car was registered and insured, but obviously street legal was dependent on where I was. One of my most epic trips with this rig was a 10 day run from Ensenada to LaPaz with two other go fast crawlers. This car was the inspiration to develop the King of the Hammers. Before this car was built no one ever considered a dual sport crawler. This one broke the mold and I really wish I still had it. My daughter pictured below learned how to drive in this car and was the terror of the desert at 13 years old.


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