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Discussion Starter #1
Last month I inquired with my neighbor about an abandoned pickup on the side of his house. The windows had been left down, with soggy leaves and mud in the interior. It looked like a mess, but I saw potential and asked how much. The neighbor was quick to explain that it was free if I could haul it away. Apparently it was not in running condition as the battery had failed and someone had vandalized some of the internal wiring. He did assure me that the engine and transmission were in good order. I was inclined to agree, as it has been my life experience that what GM products lack in interior design, they make up for in stubborn drivetrain reliability.

I brought it home, replaced the missing wires and installed a new battery. It fired right up! So I took the kids for a ride and they love it! I'm rather impressed as well. Like most full sized trucks, while it's rated at 3/4 tons, it seems to be able to carry twice that weight rating, based on a copy of the owners manual that I downloaded. Although, fuel efficiency does drop off dramatically at such a high load. One of my first mods was to add a reserve fuel supply to avoid being stranded and towing it back home.

Having evaluated it, my to do list includes:
  • Steering has too much play and the front wheels travel and wobble. Need to replace bushings and check for wheel bearings.
  • Appears to have oversized, +2 sized up at least, wheels with cheap Chinese tires. Looks great, but has no grip on slippery surfaces and has poor braking and acceleration on hills.
  • OEM seats are uncomfortable. Despite plenty of head room as you would expect in a large truck, the seat is hard and lumpy. Plus, I just can't get it to slide far enough back and feel cramped.
  • The rear cargo bed has too much flex. I think there may be rear frame damage as the bumper is barely attached at the rear. Too much plastic cladding. Shame on you GM.
  • Paint is faded, including the pin-up girl painted on the hood.
  • Cheap window tint has yellowed and peeled, restricting visibility. Will need to be removed.
  • Base model engine is underpowered. I'm guessing it has the turbo 4 cylinder. While I'm sure a great engine in a base model Camaro, for a large truck it lugs about when under load. Although I am impressed that it does not stall out. Ultimately, an engine swap and a beefed up rear differential are in the works to double or triple the power. I'm already looking to install a govenor to restrict the power if my daughter wants to drive it.
  • Needs a progressive throttle control. Currently, the ECU seems to be programmed like an on/off switch. I believe this is some kind of a CARB restriction to meet EPA fuel efficiency, but it makes gear engagement jerky and in traffic any fuel savings are out the window in the stop and go. I've lost count of how many jeeps just stop infront of me with no brake lights!
I've already started some of the planned work, but will post my progress up later.
Pulling the kids 2020 Mustache.jpg
Test Drive for 3.jpg
 

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Lmao. You got me. A+ on the write up.

24v conversion Soon?
 
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So, 2104 is when you expect to have all the work completed?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Lmao. You got me. A+ on the write up.

24v conversion Soon?
So I had a 24v motor that I had been saving. It was free. Well I found out why a couple nights ago while setting up my potentiometer. The motor was free because it was seized up. But that's not so bad. It gives me a blank slate. I"m thinking 500 to 1000 watts. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For the last two weeks I have been working on an off this new ride. My goal is build up so I can cruise with the kids. They have a fleet of Jeeps, which on a 12v 7ah battery is good enough to drive 1.5 miles to grandma's house. And I walk...

So in no particular order this is what I have done so far.

1. Wired up 2 12v 12ah batteries. The second one is a reserve to get me home, which has now worked several times.
2. Replaced the Plastic 14" tires with 10" harbor freight dolly wheels/tires.
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To make the wheels attach, I went to the hardware store and bought some common bits of PVC and 3" bolts. The drill press made boring 4 holes to the correct BCD a piece of cake. The real trick was notching the other end to plug into the gearbox splines. That took some measuring twice and cut once effort. I was going to glue them together, but in classic fashion the old can of adhesive was dry. So I just predrilled some 1/8" holes and screwed the pieces together. Works good and I can take it apart later to make changes if needed.

My daughter likes the new tires because it doesn't oversteer and understeer constantly for her. The loss of top speed seems minimal. The jeeps are faster on the flats, but not uphill anymore. Yes, smaller tires made it faster uphill. Oversized tires and lack of traction rob power even in toys. Also, battery lasts like 10x long when I ride it. Same for the kids. :(

3. Next I extended the wheel base. I told the wife it was for safety to prevent wheelies, but actually I just wanted more room. Initially, it added 9", but I later revised it to 6" as the best overall compromise for the final build since I wanted to keep the rear bed and make it usable for the kids.

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Discussion Starter #8
4. The rear bed was very flexy and the two plastic mounts broke off quickly. So I grabbed some scrap metal from the shop and make a sub-frame and brackets to attach it. I even added a tow hook for pulling the wagon around.

I need to take a picture, but I can now stand in the bed and it support my body weight!


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Obviously it's upside down, but after I was done... TADA!!!

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Looking good so far. Later I'll figure out how to fill the 6" gap. But I"m satisfied so far.

5. Also, I had to address the terrible steering. To say that the steering was sloppy was an understatement. So I flipped it over and addressed two major issues: Play in ALL of the pivot points and the steering lock outs.
For each pivot I added two washers (one regular and one thin brass one) for a just right fit. Then I inverted the steering rack so I can turn the wheels all the way to the maximum left or right. That made a huge difference. My truck can now make a U-turn in less space than a Focus ST.

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Discussion Starter #9
So last weekend, one of my kids and I took a tour of the neighborhood. About 1 mile total. So my son stops me to talk about 150' from the house as we are returning. When we resume my cart is dead? I pull my battery box and the wires from the battery are warm to the touch. No power to the wheels. So we got the wagon and towed it home. After some diagnostics, I had burned out the controller module. Meh....

So I spent the week looking at parts. I began to think about making a Colin Furze go cart and put the truck body over it. But, even with budget parts it starts to add up quick. I realized that I was deviating from my original concept; a power wheel truck that is robust enough that I can ride with the kids, but not too fast so they can drive it too. And my final requirement was to keep it cheap, using whatever scrap I have around the shop.

Fast forward to today. This morning while I was pulling out my e-waste to make a trip to the local yard I saw the seized up 24v motor I had mentioned earlier. So I figured, why not open it up and see why? Well for whatever unknown reason the motor had been taken apart and they couldn't get the brushes to go back in, so the just mashed it back together and tightened it down until it cracked one corner of the case. I was curious if I could fix it. The brushes had been pushed back in backwards and they needed to be held in place with a thin piece of wire until the armature settles into the case bearing. I grabbed some old single strand speaker wire (22 gauge? It was thin) and pined each one. Then pulled the wires right before the case clicked shut. Then I put the of case cover on and put the 3 good bolts back in. For the fourth, I sized a washer from the bin and it worked great. The motor now turns smooth and freely! I hooked it up to a nearby battery and it spun smooth and quiet. It's a keeper.

So I have a chain and 80 tooth rear sprocket on order. I was going to used spare bicycle parts, but I would have required some fabrication and my best ratio was 3.8:1, which would give me approx 20 mph -- too fast for the kids. And the 250 watt motor wouldn't have enough torque to move me efficient with those ratios. So for $20 the larger rear gear gives me a 7.2:1 ratio, which should give me approx 9 mph. Their Jeeps go 6 mph, so this is just fine by me.

Next I rewired the current motor without a control module. I don't really need my princess music and horn, so I grabbed some 14 gauge wire to handle the current, a 20 amp fuse, wired it up for 24v (in anticipation of installing the other motor), and added a potentiometer to dial the voltage back down to 14v. Tomorrow I'll take it for another spin and see how it stands up this time. I figure I have two weeks to see if I can burn out the original motors or it they can stand up to my weight and a bit of extra voltage.

While doing this, I am pondering my next moves.
1. I need leg room and the hood area is unused space. Time to cut up the fire wall and extend the floor pan/add front sub-framing. I have an old BBQ frame that is begging to offer up it's frame and sheet metal for this...
2. And dash board will either have to come out or be trimmed for my legs.
3. Steering wheel needs to be centered. I'll probably keep it simple, and reuse the existing parts where possible, but I really need a larger steering wheel. So I'm eying an old 10" belt driven wheel... I'll vynil wrap it like it's 1984!
4. Install a cheap multimeter so I can track voltage usage and adjust the potentiometer on the fly. I've got two that I haven't used in years that could come out of retirement.

I know it's not a real car, but right now it's filling that need to turning wrenches and fabrication. Plus some of the work is simple enough the kids are learning a bit. They enjoyed stripping wires and crimping the connectors. So this is my "other car" build.
 

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MachE Kit Car business ownership in your future? 😁
 
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