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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
Seating for two, and bumper supports

Here's what we did with the Corbeau passenger side seat bracket to modify it so it would bolt up. Just cut off the tabs for the back two bolts and rewelded them on in the right place to line up with the bolt holes.


Got Melanie's seat and harness all bolted in.


And here are the new square tube supports that Doug made to tie in the bumper below the winch mount to both the factory (plated) and the aftermarket crossmembers.


I also received a package from the guy in the brown truck today. Spare TRE's, knuckle studs, driveshaft bolts, cone washers, etc for the trail spares box. So I went through and organized all my spare parts a little. Packed them up into action packers and boxes and found a place in the rig for them to ride. Might move a lot of this stuff over to the tow rig and just keep a select group of items for the trail. Haven't decided yet. I am replacing that bulky roller fairlead with a hawse fairlead from Bulldog that's designed for use with either cable or synthetic winch line. Ordered that today, so it might arrive and go on the rig next week.

Doug fabbed up a sweet new battery tie down for Zilla. I'll try and snap some pics tomorrow. I got the bumpstops installed for the rear axle today - nothing fancy, just redrilled the rectangular tube extensions to lay flat instead of stand up on the long end. That might get reworked at some point, depending on how it all works out on the trails when it starts to get flexy.

So, what's next? I think we're going to get to work fabricating the new rear bumper and figuring out how/where all to tie it in to the frame, to the new rear crossmember, and to the exo cage in the back end.

More to come...

.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
More Pics

New battery tie down by Mr. Doug


Just some grinding in the engine bay


Primer coat


With the front suspension bolted up to the new front spring hangers.


Back on her tires


Building a multi-use tie down platform/storage compartment/camping countertop. It's a ridiculously simple idea, but should do the trick. Stay tuned...


.
 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
More Progress - Zilla Drives!

Today Doug went crazy reinstalling the radiator, buttoning back up the parts we had to remove to weld in the front crossmember, bleeding the brakes, clutch, hydro assist, leaving it with all new fluids, attaching the rear driveshaft, measuring, cutting and beginning to fabricate my new rear bumper, etc. 2 x 2-inch quarter wall square tube bumper pieces ready to be tacked together for a test fit...


I made a run to the hardware store for some 3/4-inch hardwood plywood and stainless steel strap hinges and built the new storage unit/tie down platform/camping table. Going to try to talk Mel into some camping before we leave Colorado. :D

When I pulled out the back seat on Zilla and saw the space available I knew I wanted to build some secure storage there. By keyholing the top of the storage unit with the router it makes a nice platform with tie downs for securing additional items on top with ratchet straps. The hooks fit into any of the keyholes allowing me to strap down items for a variety of angles and options.


Here is what it looks like laid out flat (it is hinged on the other side with heavy duty stainless steel strap hinges which are bolted through with nylock nuts instead of just being screwed into the wood). That curve on the top matches up to the hump on the rear floorboard while it is in use as a storage compartment, and to the wheel well's outward curve where it hangs as a table for camping.




Just a pair of compression straps hooked into the platform keyholes at the back of the counter and looped behind and over the cage rail to attach through the keyhole slots near the front. Simple as hell, but it'll do the trick. A legless table. I built a legless countertop setup for the D-cab that we have used camping in that truck a lot. It makes a great place for food prep, place to sit a lantern, camp stove, whatever. So I wanted one for Zilla too.


Here is what it looks like in the Runner as a storage compartment and tie down platform. The factory rear lap belts serve to strap and hold everything secure whether it is tucked away underneath or strapped on top. The belts attach at the factory locations behind the back seat and to the rear bolts in the floor that pass through the front seat bracket. This is the main reason for making it... secure storage. Even if it never gets used for camping as a table, my spare axle shafts, TRE's, boxes of spare nuts and bolts, etc will stay secured beneath the storage box (yes Igor, even if I roll/flop). :cool:


I said it'd be simple... just two boards on a hinge basically. More bumper fab next...
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
More Work To Do...

More Mr. Doug Fab work. Here is how the rear bumper should sit when its all mounted up. Its just sitting in position on bottle jacks here. Still need to fabricate the tube tie-ins to the frame rails on the sides and rear crossmember, tie it in to the down tubes on the exo cage, and weld on recovery points. Also, that jerry can holder is going away.


Outer corner of the rear bumper... 45 degree corners to keep it tucked in and following the body lines. The side shown here is actually the bottom edge of the passenger side outside corner. 2 x 2 -inch 1/4 wall square tube, fish plated on 3 sides, 1/4 wall fish plating all along the outside edge for strong corner joints and good rock grinding potential. That's 1/2-inch thick steel on the corners! Overkill? I seriously doubt I'll ever grind through it no matter how many rock ledges I drop off, grind over and rub across.


Box of parts to set up my AllPro pinion e-brake. Have to hold off on the installation until the transfer case crossmember is all squared away. I installed 6 of those Tantrum rock lights yesterday as well. The last 2 have to wait until the back bumper fabrication and welding is complete, or else we'd fry the wiring.


Plenty of room for strapping down some action packer boxes with recovery gear, spare fluids, etc.


Room for a cooler on the platform :cool: :xbeer3: as shown here, new spare 37x12.5 x 15 Creepy Crawler and the 60-inch HiLift jack in the bed, plus there is still more room both inside the storage compartment I built and on top of the platform. And the payload remains low for a decent low C.O.G. (Zilla could use all the help she can get due to all the tube weight up high in the exo) and the cargo does not block my view, which is important in a rig with such limited visibility out past all the tube work.


After the rear bumper fabrication work, here is the last major frame/structural integrity issue we need to deal with. As you can see, the AllPro transfer case crossmember mounting point on the inside of the factory framerail leaves something to be desired. On the passenger side (shown here) the mount connects to the slim factory frame rail alone without any plating or reinforcement and does not even attach the whole height of the rail to the corners where its strongest, but stops in the middle. :rolleyes: The result is the welds are splitting open and the frame rail is caving in at the mount from all the forces it sees. So we will be cutting all this crap off, plating in the frame rails and fabricating better mounts. Stay tuned for that, it should be a challenge. Those are fuel and brake lines running along the top of the rail.


Here is another angle showing how far in the frame rail has caved in the middle at the mounting point of the T-case crossmember. If you ever make a T-case crossmember mount for your rig... do yourself and your frame rails a favor and make it better than this. ;)


Stay tuned for more :saw: and :welder:
 

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Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
More Bumper and Winch Work

We are using .188-wall 2-inch square tube for the back bumper support bracing. Now to make 3 more...


Rear frame plating (1/4-inch plate) for the back bumper tie-ins along the sides of the frame rails. We also drilled a couple holes for rosette welds near the top of the rails. Once th back bumper is all buttoned up and tied into the exo cage, I'll snap some pics showing all these bits in their final position.


Bye bye roller fairlead (sticks out so far I kept bashing it on the rocks and hanging up), hello hawse fairlead from Bulldog Winch Co. for use with steel cable winch line.


Much better. Also had to tear into the winch and pull out the planetary gear set to unstick and free up the free spool function. There was a collar that had gotten rusted shut inside and had some sand in it. The collar slides to disengage the gears, but couldn't slide across all that rust and crud until it was cleaned up, smoothed over and polished up a bit with some wet-dry. Worked on it a little and it came together. That lithium marine grease stuff is messy! Had to get out the old and regrease with new before reassembly. That is some thick, sticky grease. No pics of the inside of the winch, as I was too messy to be grabbing my phone. But now the free spool works! Today I might open up the winch control box and just check that out to make sure it's all good.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Build Plan...

I've had a few comments inquiring as to why I am putting so much work into the rig without really increasing its potential significantly (by going to a link suspension setup or tons, for example). Looking over this build thread I see that this rig is turning out to be quite a bit of work without really adding much of what I would consider upgrades to its abilities -- without really building it UP... just rebuilding it to be just as capable but stronger and more reliable than it was...

And I've never really done that before. Pretty much every upgrade I added on my D-cab Taco was a real upgrade one way or another that gave me measurable advantages on the trails. Bigger tires, lower gearing, lockers, armor, skids, lift, more suspension travel, etc. But with the arguable exception of the new high pinion third for the front axle on Zilla (which might be a tad bit stronger and does get the front driveshaft up a little bit higher and away from the trail obstacles), none of the work we are doing really qualifies as an upgrade in that same way as my Tacoma build did.

The 4Runner is being built better, with more attention to detail and to strength, but not really any more capable. What I mean is... the tires and gears are the same, she's still locked front and rear, still has the same exo cage, and even though the Chevy 63-inch springs on the rear and the AllPro buggy springs on the front have been cut off the frame, the frame has been built up with new stronger crossmembers, plating, etc, the rear bumper is beefy as hell, and she is basically built a lot stronger with newly designed spring hangers, etc. Zilla still sits on the same exact leaf springs with basically the same amount of travel and lift, just with new shocks in the rear. Its no gain in wheel travel, just in build quality and toughness.

I had to make a run for more raw materials...


I suppose its worth noting that this rebuild of Zilla is not really geared towards making it into the ultimate biggest crawler of my dreams. Its not getting tons or link suspension, or bigger tires for example. I am not swapping out the 22re for a larger powerplant. The body panels are all staying, so the build is limited in those respects. When I bought it I wanted a mid-level wheeler more capable than my IFS Taco, that I could wheel without breaking CV axles all the time. And Zilla is that rig... she just needs some TLC for me to wheel her safely and reliably is all.

I basically liked the level it was built to when I bought it, but once I got it out and put it through its paces I started finding out how much of it needed to be rebuilt better in order to be reliable for trail use. Disuse by the previous owner who just didn't drive it much, time and a bit of ghetto fabrication all have taken their toll, so those things are being addressed. I was sort of forced to either sell it and start over or tear into it and rebuild if I wanted to wheel at the next level from where I was with the Taco.

Even though the idea was to buy a built rig and go bash it for a few years (before I decide whether I want to build a truggy/buggy and go to links, tons, V8, etc.) I sort of had to rebuild it to make it strong enough to wheel. That's what all this current rebuilding work is about right now. That is why I keep working on it but not really increasing its travel etc. I was tearing leaf spring hangers off the frame and bending in the back bumper just by slow crawling it through the rocks, so obviously that was not going to work for me.

So basically, the intention of this rebuild is to just make Zilla work properly and reliably for the type of build she already was (which is a full-bodied, 22re-powered garage-built crawler on small 37's which measure closer to 35's, and built up Yota mini axles)... to make the rig more solid, reliably functional, and basically make it able to hold together structurally to be usable for the mid-level trails. I don't intend to point this rig at the buggy lines, mash the skinny pedal and let it ping off the rev limiter for 5 minutes until it either goes up or blows up. But on a 3-4 rated trail by the AZ ratings system (6-8 up here in Colorado) I am hoping to rebuild this thing stout enough that the bumpers, springs, etc. all function to their potential and stay attached to the truck by the end of the trail. :rolleyes: If I blow up a drivetrain component here and there, that's fine... I will just have to learn its limits and to wheel within those as best I can - just like I had to with the IFS truck.

I know some of you guys are shooting me comments like, "why put so much work into just setting up the same springs with no gain in wheel travel, when you could just link it." And based on all my experience building that IFS Taco, I totally get where you are coming from. Every time I found a weak link in the Taco, I went for an upgrade that improved it somehow, not just a replacement part of the same quality. But this build is being approached a little differently than that. The idea is to make it hold together and be more reliable but keep it built to the same basic level it is already at. When we finish with this current list of to-do items, my job of learning the rig and learning to wheel it will really begin.

From my IFS D-cab Taco, there are a lot of differences moving to this rig. Lower crawl ratio, bigger tires (Taco is on 33's) much shorter wheelbase, now I have a front diff and driveshaft to worry about whereas in the IFS they all sat up protected by skids, stronger drivetrain, smaller motor, full exo from just bumpers and sliders, that solid front axle behaves a lot differently than IFS, not just because it has more articulation either, the Runner is a lot wider than the Taco, wheeling a 5-speed like Zilla requires a different approach than I used in the automatic Tacoma. The list goes on. But once we get the thing basically strong enough to hold together on the trails, then its my job to learn all these nuances of wheeling a new rig. The ten trails that I've had her on so far were a good start. But I've still got lots to learn about wheeling this thing... Let's go wheelin'! :cool:

That said, I am sure one day I'll want something built bigger and more capable. That seems to be the natural progression of this sport. When that time comes, I'll be able to either hand this one over to the little lady to wheel or sell Zilla to the next guy who is where I am at right now, knowing that Zilla is built like a tank and handing her off in good conscience and then build something else to wheel the bigger lines. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Rear Bumper is Done!

:D :xozzy: :xbeer3: :xbeer3:



Here is a look at the 1/4-inch frame plating we added to the factory frame rail at the bumper's side support braces.


Another look underneath the back of the Runner at the new fab work. All of the new rear bumper attachments tie in to beefed up framework. The frame rails where the side supports tie in have 1/4 wall rectangular tube slid down inside the rails and welded in, in addition to the 1/4 wall plating added to the outside of the frame rails at the tie in points. The back bumper supports tie into the new 1/4 wall 2x3-inch rectangular tube cross member between the frame rails. And the bumper is also welded to 6 down tubes of the exo cage, 3 at each corner.


On to the next item on the list... I cut off the old 1/4-inch T-case skid crossmember tabs/mounts that were caving in the inside of the frame rail. The two tabs on the left were for running a single case setup, the two on the right were for the current dual T-case setup, which is where the real issue is. I still have some grinding to do before the new frame plating and new mounts can go on. We can start fabricating those peices soon. But here is how it looks tonight.


Oh I also opened up the winch control box and found a wire rubbed through on one side. Fixed that and put it all back together. One of the mounting bolts on the bracket that holds the control box was missing. So I replaced it. So that was all pretty easy. I free spooled out about 50 feet of winch line by hand (nice to be able to do that now) and respooled the wire on the drum. The winch all seems to be functioning properly now.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Progress on T-case Crossmember Mount

Got the 1/4-inch inner frame plating cut out with holes for rosette welds. It's about 16 by 5 inches.


Finished grinding off the old welds as shown in the last post, bent the plate to form to the bend along the inside of the frame rail, and got 'er all welded in thanks to MrDoug.


Going to pick up Melanie at the airport pretty soon, so might not get much done today... Next up is to fabricate two new teardrop mount tabs out of more 1/4-inch plate, drill them out for the bolt to pass through, and weld them in place to the new inner frame plating.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
T-case Crossmember Mount and Recovery Points

1/4-inch mounting tabs for the AllPro dual transfer case skid crossmember are now welded to the newly 1/4-inch plated inner frame rail. No more caving-in the frame! Double low crawling is now possible with confidence that the frame rail is not going to totally collapse on the trail! :D


While I was picking up Mel at the airport, Doug welded on two D-ring recovery points (in-line with two of the bumper support braces to the frame crossmember) on the back bumper. Bumper is now totally complete!
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
AllPro Pinion E-brake Installed

So today I put the new AllPro Triple X Dual T-Case Crossmember pinion E-brake parts on the rig to replace the ones that got blown up when the driveshaft went flying down the highway. It would have been nice if AllPro actually had sent me the 6-inch piece of 3/8ths fine threaded all-thread needed to adjust the brake with the kit. Ace Hardware had what I needed to get it all together... Had to pull the drive shaft and flange off the back of the T-case to get the disk installed. So Doug broke out the shop press and after a little while I got into some RTV black and a torque wrench to button it back up. Nice to have a parking brake again, though.


I also finished installing the last couple of Tantrum rock lights on Zilla, and went over the rig looking for loose bolts, tried out all the electronics, lights, etc. to make sure everything is working properly. Screwed back on some trim pieces, now that all the wire has been strung. Still need to extend the exhaust pipe out to the back of the rig, and I think we're going to weld some .120-wall end caps on these open tube ends that the original builder never capped off.
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
B, double E, double R, U-N, BEERRUN!

So I took Zilla down to the car wash to clean her up before adding a fresh coat of flat black rattlecan to the exo cage, and ended up making her innaugural beer run (under my ownership, anyway).


Had to go with a 30-rack of Key Light, in honor of MrDoug and all the fab work he put into her lately.


:xbeer1: :xbeer1: :xbeer3:

Hahahahaha
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Electrical

So last summer on Carnage Canyon after I blew my front diff, when the winching went on and on trying to get up the exit, eventually the Optima yellowtop got drained to the point where my high output (160-amp) alternator started kicking out more juice to try and keep up with the electrical load. What happened was, it blew the main fusible link in the fuse box, not once, but twice. Since then, we did a little research on proper wiring schemes for high output alternators, traced some wires on Zilla, and discovered that the guy I hired to wire the new high output alternator had wired the hot lead with the wrong wire (8 instead of 4 gauge) and fed it through the fuse box (which can only take 80 amps before it blows the main fusible link) instead of directly to the positive terminal of the battery. So we are going to rewire the alternator the right way with some better 4 gauge wire, running through a 175-amp fuse directly to the battery, with an 80-amp tie-in to the fuse box so this won't happen again. :D There is a good write up with some wiring diagrams available here if anyone's interested... http://www.rocketcityrockcrawlers.com/memberstuff/al/85 Toyota 4Runner Alternator Upgrade Project.pdf

Aside from that, I need to bolt down the topper on the back of the runner before we take it out for a shakedown run this weekend. We were going to go topless, but the weather might be cold/wet enough that the little lady will appreciate an enclosed cab with the heater running. So a topless run might have to wait until I get the rig back to AZ.

With a fresh coat of paint on the exo cage, I'll be able to recognize any new rockrash and know that it will all be from me, and not one of the previous owners. :cool:

 

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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
Topper and Tube Ends

Well, I bolted the topper back down for the weekend shakedown run and am finally getting around to capping the 7 open tubes that the original fabricator of Zilla's exo never capped off. I did the best I could to get the dirt and gravel out of those open tubes before trying my hand at a little welding. .120-wall 1.5-inch end caps from Trail Gear. A bag of ten end caps only cost about $5 bucks... why wouldn't you cap them?


Certainly not the most professional welding work ever, but its an improvement over open tube ends.


Front bumper tube now capped off on both sides, as well as both the front and rear end of both sliders and the vertical tube by the swing-out tire carrier. Not a huge deal, but a detail I am happy to have buttoned up, and one that didn't take long or cost much to accomplish. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Spring Creek and Jenny Creek Shakedown

So this weekend we took Zilla out for some camping and a few days of light wheeling to break in the new high pinion front diff and shake down the rig to see how she does with all of her new fab work.



Aside from a sticky front hub lockout, the rig performed just great. I was really holding back and trying to take it easy as best I could. Hopefully next weekend we can go run something a bit more challenging.

I opened up that sticking passenger side hub lockout and worked it loose, bolted it back on and it seems to be working just fine now. Also drained the front diff and got some new gear oil in it, and went over the rig to re-torque lug nuts, U-bolts, knuckle studs, etc. Should be good to go for next weekend, but if the new connectors come in we might rewire that high output alternator this week. Also might extend the exhaust pipe out the back a bit further if we get time. But the rig is fully functional, and seems to be doing just fine so far on the easy to moderate stuff. :D

More challenges to come...
 

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Discussion Starter #35 (Edited)
Electrical Connectors Arrived!

Update on the Electrical issue here...

A bag full of electrical connectors, fuses, etc. came in this week. MrDoug rewired the alternator, as described above. The 175 amp Mega fuse is inside this block mounted to the firewall. No more frying the main fusible link when it comes under heavy electrical load!


The new 4 g welding wire coming in from the alternator output to the firewall-mounted 175 Amp Mega fuse block, through the front core support to the battery positive terminal.


We also extended the tailpipe out to the back of the rig, so hopefully the exhaust won't come into the cab.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Old Chinaman's Gulch, Colorado

We went out for some wheeling and camping in the Buena Vista area. Found a few obstacles to play on to test Zilla a little further. :driving:







Great Fall weather for wheeling.



Zilla did pretty well overall. I am still learning the limits and nuances of the rig with this new setup. Found my breakover angle and exceeded it just enough to belly out on a boulder and had to winch off. Turtled the rig on the T-case skid, though with all 4 tires spinning in the sand and it is just fine. So its solid enough now to take the weight of the rig at least. :kewl:

Here are a couple of vids from OCG...

http://youtu.be/5AmDmqVGkok

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMY-nS3oL7k&feature=player_detailpage
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Flex-A-Lite Electric Radiator Fan

It's been a while since I updated this thread. Zilla has been doing great. I tried her out on some optional stuff on the last couple of runs and so far no issues until today. I was scouting out a route to a trailhead in the Bumblebee, AZ area and the electric radiator fan died on me. Am replacing it with a new fan by an outfit called Flex-a-lite.

The model is the Flex-a-lite 674. Some websites showed it as the model #400-674, but its the "S-blade" version - basically a 15-inch fan but with the shroud it is supposed to measure 16 x 18 x 4.25 inches thick. I went with that one because its supposed to be a bolt-in fit for the 1984-94 Toyota 4-Runners and pickups and because the wiring connections are exactly the same as my fan that just died. So I shouldn't be able to screw up the wiring installing it. :rolleyes:

It is supposed to come with an adjustable temperature sensor and A/C relay, and the specs say it flows 3,000 cubic feet per minute at 19.5 amps of current draw.

Anyway, the fan should arrive in about a week. I'll post up after I've gotten it in the rig and tried it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Electric Radiator Fan Installed

Simple install... after removing part of the intake to access it, it was just 4 bolts, 3 wire connections and putting the heat sensor through the radiator fins so the unit can sense temp changes. Once installed, you just warm the engine up to your desired operating temp and turn the adjuster dial until the fan comes on. From that point on the fan will always kick on when the engine temp exceeds that setting. There is an override switch on the dash inside the cab I can use which completely shuts off the fan for deep water crossings. Simple and effective. So far its working great!



 

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Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
Some pics from Sledgehammer taken the weekend after the big race out at KOH 2013, thanks to Sir Marlon.













I am finally getting the chance to really enjoy wheeling in Zilla. Its not a huge build, kind of an underdog compared to a lot of the truggies and buggies that wheel out here. But it has been so reliable lately, and it's been hangin' in on some challenging trails (for me). Despite its limitations, Zilla is significantly more capable than my Taco, opening up some fun trail options!

Yeah, at this point, I'm really glad I decided to rebuild Zilla. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Zilla needed removable mud flaps that I can put on for running between trails and camp in Moab so I don't get ticketed up there this year. Always scary when I grab the welder, but here's what I did to the rig today...





While I had the welder out, I did a bit of grinding and laid some new weld down on my driver's side slider. A post-run inspection revealed that yesterday when I came down hard on that slider it cracked the welds along 2 of the short support tubes that connect the inner slider tube to the outer tube. No big deal, just ground it all out and laid down some thick ass new beads.

So, just a bit of :welder: to get things back to normal.
 
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