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Canuck In Denver


My BOV (Bug Out Vehicle)

My BOV is a 1978 Ford Bronco, the first of the fullsize. It is the Custom model with square headlights and a few other upgrades. Originally it was my girl friend's, she bought it a few years ago for about $2200 delivered. We did a bunch of work on it, including replacing the tailgate glass motor, alternator, starter, heater core, battery, carburettor, fuel pumps (several times in a year culminating with an electric fuel pump), brakes (front, back, master cylinder), ignition coil, plugs, wires, all hoses, rebuilt heavy duty transmission and a few other minor things. The truck has very little rust and is currently running rough, the carb needs to be rejetted for the altitude and the "power valve" needs to be replaced and a fuel pressure regulator installed. Altogether we've put about $3000 worth of repairs into it. The jets, "power valve" and fuel pressure regulator are on order and should be here in a few days. Aside from that it needs new tires and a power steering gear box ($750 for the gear box), plus the usual upgrades and a paint job.

As of February 2007 the truck is running, it didn't need the power steering gear box replaced but there was some other front end work that needed to be done. The cost for those repairs and five new tires was about $1800. Scroll down for the work that has been done to the truck to date.

Basic Specs on the Bronco:
          - 351M V8 (400 cubic inches)
          - C6 Heavy Duty Automatic Transmission
          - NP205 Transfer Case
          - 4x4
          - Holley 670 CFM 4 barrel Truck Avenger carburettor
          - Holley High Performance air filter
          - 3 inch lift kit
          - Diamond plate running boards
          - Weiland manifold
          - Water temp / oil temp / oil pressure / vacuum / amp guage cluster
          - Metal whip CB antenna
          - Factory AC
          - electric fuel pump (the mechanical fuel pump is working - electric still there for emergencies)
          - factory alloy rims

Future Repairs & Mods
As I said earlier the power steering gear box needs to be replaced and it needs new tires. Aside from that about the only mechanical work is that the AC needs to be recharged.

I plan on building a custom platform in the back with drawers to keep gear in and to attach a couple of dog crates in for the dog and the cats. I have a couple of designs for this which include a metal "angle iron" frame with plywood design if I can afford to get someone to weld the metal frame. Most likely I will build the first version completely out of wood and then have the metal frame built in the future. After that comes a storage area above the dash to put the CB, switches, accessory fuse box, etc in. Ideally I want to put in a Radio Shack digital scanner and a Uniden highway information scanner. I have an older version of the highway information scanner and find it really useful, normally it is set to receive weather alerts but when on long distance trips I use it to give me a heads up of any police in the area. There is a CB in the Bronco now, but I'm thinking of putting in a new one, and the radio/cd player was put in our daily driver.

After that is done it will be time to add some skid plates, custom bumpers with 2 inch receivers on front and back, brush guard, a winch of two (maybe one mounted on a 2 inch tongue so I can move it to the front or the back as needed), lights and a second gas tank if I can fit it in. My BOV does not need to be an extreme 4x4, but it does have to be able to get through most terrain with a minimum of hate and discontent.

I hate the tail gate on the Bronco and much prefer the barn door design of the older Suburbans. My preferred BOV would be an older 73-91 4x4 Suburban with barn doors (two side by side on the back) in diesel. I'd replace the 2nd row bench with a third row bench seat so there is more room for the little monsters and am thinking about turning the third row seat so it faces the rear. I'd also build a storage platform and mount the dog crates in the back.

February 7, 2007 Update
I've had some work done to the BOV, okay, a fair amount of work:
- carb rebuilt and it is finally running, still some minor adjusting to be done after some driving
- track bar bushings replaced
- drag link replaced
- new mechanical fuel pump

My mechanic says that Holley finally got the Power Valve issue fixed and now guarantees them for 100,000 miles. If it has problems I will pitch a fit with Holley since it took them damn near three years to return many phone calls and emails.

I picked it up yesterday after finally finding a good mechanic. Today it went in for some new rubber, Dunlop Mud Rovers. Since the stock 235 75R 15 tires look real small I decided to go up in size to 32 11 15s. I hear they looked real nice (had my girlfriend take it in to have the tires put on while I was at work) but the truck had some issues going up hill, so back it went via tow truck to the mechanic. The mechanic figures there is crap in the gas tank so he is going to drop it and clean it or whatnot. This would explain quite a bit of the problems the truck has had, crap in the gas tank could have caused the mechanical fuel pumps to die... I went through enough of them. The electric fuel pump and regulator are still mounted in the truck just in case the mechanical one goes... I can hook the electric up and limp it home or something. I really ought to move it closer to the gas tank but that can wait until I can get an old ammo can mounted back there. I picked up the truck after putting in $1021.58 at the mechanics yesterday and I paid for my tires yesterday to the tune of $735 for 5 tires.

My girlfriend says there is the slightest rub on really sharp corners, not something the Bronco is good at anyway. I was planning on getting new rims anyway, the stock aluminum alloys are worth a small fortune so I don't want to mess them up. I was planning on getting steel rims, will have to get some wider rims with more of an offset. Those will come later.

Here is the Bronco with the stock tire size of 235 75R 15 on it. As soon as I get it back I will post pictures of it with the new Dunlops on it. As you can see the stock tire size look real small. The closeup of the tire is with the ugly white spare. The bumper on the back is a custom job, it was designed as an air tank but I don't use it for that. As far as Class ratings go, the bumper would safely tow far more than the truck can actually pull.

The Dunlop Mud Rover tires that are on the truck now, nice aggressive tread pattern. They are not the best tires out there but they are not the worst either. I'll have to see how they perform in use. Since I got them at Sam's Club I can get them rotated and balanced every 7500 miles at no charge.

Having tunes in the truck is always a good thing. To that end I bought a Sony CDX-GT31W (aka CDX-GT310) from Wal-Mart. It has four channels with 52 watts on each channel. Of course it does AM/FM and plays CDs. It will play regular audio CDs, CD-R and CD-RW, it will play MP3, WMA and ATRAC3plus files on the CD-R and CD-RWs. It has a detachable faceplate and an auxillary input on the front to connect an MP3 player or other audio source via a standard 1/8 inch (3.5mm) audio cable. It also has a remote control which is nice, I can keep the remote handy and not have to mess with the control son the radio... I may mount it to the steering wheel or some place within easy reach so I don't have to take my hands off the wheel when driving. I really like the AUX in, it will allow me to hook up my MP3 player so I can seamlessly listen to the songs and radio shows with nothing more than a pause to unlug the AUX cable and plug in my headphones. This also means that I can plug in a scanner or other radio to hear it over the truck's sound system... although I will need a mono to stereo cable or adapter for a scanner. I'm not a real audiophile so I'm not all that concerned with the sound being great. I have some decent box speakers in the back I got for cheap a few years ago. I'll end up picking up an amp and a subwoofer to even the sound out and make sure that I can hear it over the road noise. For now the box speakers in the back will have to do, I will add some speakers up front once I get the shelf unit above the windshield built and installed.

February 15, 2006 Update
Talked to the mechanic yesterday, he had dropped the tank and flushed it twice as there was a lot of sand in the tank which was causing a blockage inside the tank. He was going to flush the tank again as he didn't see any rust and call back today. Given that the Bronco was used by a rural mail guy in the Sand Hills of Nebraska it makes a lot of sense. It also explains all the fuel issues we've had. With any luck this will correct the problem long enough for us to get get moved and give me some time to buy a new tank, which runs about $130 from NAPA for a 33 gallon tank or $120 from LMC Truck... I'll just replace the gas tank and not have to worry about it again.

With the new tires on the truck I have to figure out what the difference is with the speedometer, I'll be going faster than what it reads. Doing some searching on the internet I found two really good sites to use: allows you to convert between metric and inches
Scott Galaba's calculator allows you input the old and new tire size to find out the difference

What I really like about Scott Galaba's site is that it does not use drop down menus with pre-assigned values, since 32x11x15 is an inch size I can convert it to metric at the first site which would be 279x77x15... values the other calculators I saw did not have as options (279 and 77) ...and then input the exact values on Scott's site. You also input a desired speed, I use 100 mph so that I have a percentage difference, in my case about 10 percent. This is close enough, if my speedometer says 50 I'm going 55 and if it says 70 I'm going 77, good enough for highway driving and within the overage that most cops will give you. I've been thinking about replacing the speedometer since it only goes to 95 mph or so, at that time I can get the new speedometer calibrated to work properly with the tires... but that is down the road some, I have other things that need to be done before that point.

February 17, 2007 Update
Got the truck home yesterday. The mechanic drained and filled the tank several times to filter any sand that was in it out, yep it was sand. We drove it around quite a bit today. Put a new battery in, the old one was at least 3 years old. Now it has a new battery with 795 cold cranking amps. There are new wiper blades as well. I picked up a 48 inch HiLift jack, the curved bumper adapter and a handle holder/isolater so I can actually jack the truck up, also picked up a tire cover for the spare. I put a lock on the spare, I will end up getting a weather proof lock for it though.

We retraced the route where the truck had problems last week to see if we would haev any problems and make sure that all the sand was out of the gas tank. We had one small hiccup in all the hills we took, it could have been from the tank being at 1/4 full or some vaccuum because of the slight cracks in the rubber part of the filler hose. We filled the tank to 3/4 full and went back to where we had the hiccup and had no problems. Chances are there won't be any further problems but I will be putting money aside once we get back to get a new gas tank, NAPA has them for about $130 for a 33 gallon tank... better to be safe than sorry. I'm going to pick up a couple of fuel filters becore we head out as well as one or two 5 gallon gas tanks so we don't have to go below a half tank.

Here are pictures of the truck with the new 32x11x15 Dunlop Mud Rover tires on it, and one of the back of the truck with the spare and the tire cover.

Those new tires sure do look better on the truck than the stock size!

February 18, 2007 Update
Today the agenda was to get a trailer wire hooked up and get the Hella 550 amber fog lights installed, and maybe the stereo too.

The trailer wire should only have taken 30 minutes or so. Instead it took damn near all day. I can't count the number of splices in the rear lights, what a mess. I had to hack the trailer wire in, but it works. At some point in the future I am going to have to pick up new light sockets for all the lights and a couple of connectors to patch into the wiring harness, then I'll have to rewire the entire back end. At least there is left and right wiring, small mercy, but it will make the wiring job easier. Someone really made a mess of the back end. For ease in replacing the light sockets in the future I will end up using bullet connectors so all that is required at some future point is to crimp bullet connectors to the light socket and plug in into the custom harness. Not a perfect solution, but a hell of a lot better than the monkey job in there now.

Possibly the worst thing is that I couldn't get the trailer wires to work using the wire harness connectors, so half of the wires are spliced in close to the light socket. When I do up the custom wire harness I will splice off wires close to the wire harness connectors to splice into the trailer wire harness... can we say more bullet connectors? If you're going to do a job do it right.

It is a good thing I kind of enjoy doing these sorts of things. It is something that can be done on a lazy weekend in a couple of hours... and that includes wrapping the wires for each bulb with electrical tape or shrink tubing for a more professional looking job. I'll even enclose everything in plastic wiring conduit to just before the light sockets.

I thought the truck had an amplifier in it, but that must have got yanked for my girlfriend's other car so we'll have 52 watts per channel for a while. I did get the stereo put in and the power and ground wires hooked up. My girlfriend can wire the speakers since it isn't much of a job. I'll have to pick up an amp in the not too distant future and wire it in. I'm thinking of using one amp for the back speakers and subwoofer and one amp for the front and mid speakers.

February 20, 2007 Update
Got the fog lights installed today... Hella 550 amber with clear rock shields so I don't have to hop out to take the white plastic covers off when I want to use them. I also put the left headlight trim ring back on and duct taped it in place. You can see the relatively minor damage that was done about 3 or 4 years ago when some fool in a mid 80's GMC Silverado side swiped me. Sure it may cost me about $400 for the new grill and trim (plus the new bumper I had to put on), but his truck was seriously messed up from the front bumper back to the bed.

February 21, 2007 Update
Picked up a pigtail/socket for the left rear light. It has tail and brake lights but no running lights. Looks like I'm going to have to do something to get the tail light working, probably a hack and patch job from the right side until I have more time to do a proper job. I did pick up a bunch of bullet connectors and several spools of wire (different colors to make my life easier). The pigtail that is on there now has one wire that is almost too short to make much of connection, I did get it working but it is a real hack job. There are no backup lights, but that can wait since I can always make sure that I don't have to backup for the next few days. It may be a lot quicker to pick up some accessory backup lights, wire them up and have someone weld some tabs on the sides of the step on the back bumper, sure I have to use a switch but it won't be the first time I've had to do it this way. If I have time once everything is packed and loaded I'll see if I can get the backup lights working before we move. At least I have everything I need should the lights stop working during the move, and a temporary patch job won't take too long to do. I also replaced the gas cap to see if that fixes the hesitation issue, which could be caused by a vaccuum problem.

The stereo is working so there is now sound in the truck. An amp and a subwoofer would be nice but they can wait for a bit until more pressing issues are resolved, like the lighting.

March 6, 2007 Update
The move has been completed and the truck seems to be running fine at the lower altitude. I've picked up a recovery/tow strap and some hooks, some shackles for the bumper to attach chain to and a 4 ton manual come-a-long. I'll have to get a block heater installed before next winter as the truck has been hard to start the last few days, it isn't a huge deal right now as temperatures are starting to warm up.

All in all the truck is doing great mechanically and I can concentrate on some of the minor things (tail lights) and the improvements I want to make to it. The sheer power of the truck at this lower altitude is almost frightening, and that is without it being 100% properly tuned for the lower altitude. It may not do 100 mph but it will pull just about anything.

The valve cover gaskets will need to be replaced. Our mechanic in Denver said they may need to be replaced, but that there wasn't much of a leak and it may clear up as the gaskets may just be a bit dry. It has been a couple of weeks and there is still a very slow leak so the valve cover gaskets will get replaced soon.

One of the things I want to add is a new front bumper. I will probably go with the one below, which runs about $950. I'd add some tabs or holes for fog and driving lights and maybe fill in the bars with some heavy mesh for added protection of the front end. The bumper will have to wait until I replace the window seals and some other minor cosmetic problems.

Once spring gets here I will have to sand down the few rust spots and get them taken care of. A fairly good color match is Ford Tractor Blue, not an exact match but close enough. I also want to look into the cost of getting the entire exterior Rhino clad. I've seen a few trucks done this way and when done properly they look good, plus I don't have to worry about rock chips on the paint.

There's a shop down the road that does welding and fabbing, I want to check into adding to the rear bumper. I'd like to move the tire mount from the rear body to a swing arm mounted to the right side of the bumper. I'd also like to see about having a swing arm mounted to the left side of the bumper that would hold two or three jerry cans for extra gas. I've also got an idea for a custom roof rack that would come off the sides of the bumpers and go up the back then over the topper and tie into (or include custom) roof racks mounted over the passenger area. Even though I plan on getting a trailer for the majority of the gear there is still some gear that I would like to keep on the truck, a roof rack will allow that gear to stay with the truck at all times and not take up any cargo space inside. My girlfriend's uncle is a welder, so I may be able to get him to do some welding for me even though he doesn't like to do that sort of thing outside work any more... or maybe the neighbor's friend will do it for some extra money on the side.

March 15, 2007 Update
I was just out looking at the truck and the rear is a little lower than the front. The shocks seem fine but I'll have to get them checked out since I have no idea when they were originally put on the truck. Maybe some Rancho shocks all the way around. Technically the truck is a 1/2 ton so I may look into having the rear springs replaced with 3/4 ton shocks, this will fix the sag in the rear end which may be caused by the rear bumper which is real heavy duty and will help with added weight from cargo, full jerry cans of gas and a trailer. I'll also look into some load leveling air bags as well. New shocks and/or springs will come after window seals but before a new front bumper, with air bags coming after a new front bumper.

All in all the BOV is coming along nicely, although I wish I had the money to get everything done at once. It is going to be a nice BOV or daily driver once I'm done.

June 10, 2007 Update
I finally got around to rewiring the tail/brake/turn signal light on the left side. Time and weather conditions have played a big part in the delay, it has either been raining or really windy. I did go out a few weeks ago but it turns out that the socket I got was the wrong one. I picked up a socket from a GM that will fit, not perfect but I'm more concerned with it working than anything else.

I had to cut off the connector on the end of the wiring harness in order to get the wiring done. I cut it off with enough on the connector end that it could be put back on, but I'm not going to worry about it... but I did put it in my electrical box. I put female bullet connectors on the end of the wiring harness, two wires going into each just as on the original connector. There are a total of three femal bullet connectors and six wires. There is one connector that isn't on the wiring harness that isn't connected, but I'm not going to worry about that now since it probably went to the side marker light, I can hook that up later... it is hot and the flys around here bite, I'd had enough for one day.

The only things left now are the side marker light and to hook the trailer harness in, but both will take only a few minutes. With the new wiring harness I made and installed hooking things up will be fast and simple. Plus I can always splice in the trailer harness since there is more than enough wire on the new harness to the tail/brake/turn signal. There are three wires left on the harness I made so I have plenty of lines for the marker and the backup light if needed

I found two old recovery straps in the garage that were left by a previous tenant or the owner. They are shot but the hooks are fine so I will be taking the hooks off the straps and putting them in with my recovery gear, you can never have too much recovery gear.

There are still upgrades to be done, but none that affect road worthiness, so they can wait for another day.

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