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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/1/22 1:35 p.m.

Like a kid on Christmas, I ran outside early this morning to try and install that trim. And did you think that would be easy? OF COURSE NOT! 

So, the clips were still on the truck the entire time I've had it. 

They clip onto rivets in the side of the bed, and then the trim clips ino the two little wings on the clips. If you look here, the little wing on the top is gone. Yeah, most of them are like that. That means the trim just hangs on there loose and falls off. This is likely what happened to the old trim some time ago. 

So, just run down to the parts store and get more you say? Or maybe the dealer? 

Well, you'll need to take this thing, as the clips have been discontinued since the 90's. 

Apparently this is a big issue with the Tin Grille people, and has been for a while. I asked on a FB group and it caused quite the stir on there with all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork to comment. There are clips that are close, but nothing is exact. There's one seller on Ebay who sells something kinda close, but he's "on vacation" for the next month and others say his clips don't work anyway. So you either need to go to a junkyard and find a truck that has the trim and clips (not happening around here), hop in the Delorean to go back to 1985, or you have to mount them in another way. 

Since some of the clips are intact, I picked up some 3M Mounting Tape to try. 

I've used this stuff in the past, and it works well. 

As a teaser, here's what it will look like: 

The little bit of trim on the other side above the tail light still had its clips fully intact, so I was able to get that one on there. 

I know it's dumb to go stupid over trim pieces, but details like this really complete the truck.

Tackling the steering wheel later on. That's a whole other mess... 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/2/22 9:20 a.m.

So, about that steering wheel...

As I said earlier, I ended up going with the Tuff Wheel knockoff Grant 860. The replacement wheel showed up yesterday and didn't look like that guy in Robocop that took a bath in toxic waste, so I got started with the installation. I had the wheel, the Grant install kit, and an Allstar Performance 2" spacer ready to go, as you see here. 

First problem: the spacer. 

Grant wants you to use this one: 

I would have ordered one, but they seem to be out of stock everywhere. I saw the Allstar Performance one, which shared the same bolt pattern as the wheel, and figured it would work. Well, it doesn't. First, the supplied bolts are too large in diameter for the install kit. I went to the hardware store to get new bolts, but the difference in diameter meant that the steering wheel would flop around when turning. Also, the bolts that come with the install kit have collars for the horn mechanism to ride on, and the replacements did not. 

So, I decided to bolt on the wheel directly to the install kit. 

Looks decent, and it is a bit smaller, so getting in and out is easier. But there are two more problems: the closeness of the shifter and turn signal stalk, and the horn. 

This is real close. When you are in drive, it's not so bad, but I can see myself bumping this thing and driving me nuts. 

And the horn... it's a total PITA to get right! 

This piece here is the horn contact. It sandwiches between the bolts under the horn cap, and those dimples in theory ground it out and make the horn sound. There are little pieces of foil on the inside of the wheel that act as the contact points, which all fell off during installation. I added some foil tape I had instead. Then, there's the spring. The spring rides on the center bolt for the wheel, and you have to tape it on to stay when installing the horn button, which locks onto the horn contact collar on those three little indents on the outside (you can see one on the bottom of the pic). I had the horn button installed in all the pics I took, and then later when I went to move the truck, the horn was going off all the time. So, I'll have to pull it all apart for the 15th time, make sure it's only making contact where it should be, and put it back together. I got so frustrated with it yesterday that I almost put the stock wheel back on. I still might. 

In other news, I also picked up a bed mat made for the 1972-80 trucks with the trim I bought, so in that went. 

Also, I ended up mounting that missing side trim with a mix of the remaining intact trim clips and that 3M mounting tape.

It seems like it's on there pretty good now. I've used that tape alone to mount moldings and spoilers in the past, and it holds up well. We'll see how it does here over time. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/5/22 10:45 a.m.

I ended up attending that car show yesterday. I even dolled up the truck a bit with some rubbing compound with my buffer, and gave what's left of the paint a bit of shine! I got there a little late, so they put me all the way at the end of the place, but I set up shop and people were digging the truck. Some pics:

Truck drove great there, and I began to get used to the seats and smaller steering wheel. While I'd still like a spacer, I can live with it for now. 

Upon leaving the show, trouble started. First, the JVC radio I put in the truck a couple years back dropped its Bluetooth functionality and flashed a "H/W FAILURE" message on the screen. Hot and frustrated, I pointed the truck out of the parking lot and it stalled. When it stalled, I heard a loud CLANK CLANK CLANK and immediately smelled coolant. I hopped out, popped the hood, and this is what I saw:

The fan had backed off the water pump, despite tightening it to ALL the ft lbs and using threadlocker. 

On its way out, it chopped up my radiator, lower radiator hose, and ripped the trans cooler fitting out of the radiator with the threads! Ouch. 

So, it got a Ride of Shame on the flatbed home. 

So yeah, going to need another expensive, hard-to-find radiator. Yay. While I'm in there, I've decided that it's time to convert to electric fans. The Atomic 2 EFI is set up to fully control fans, so all I need to do is find a fan setup that will work with the radiator, add the necessary relays, and wire it to the EFI harness. That way, this scenario won't have a chance to happen again. I may also replace the trans cooler lines with hard lines while I'm in there as well. Lucky that the engine is OK and I didn't damage anything else. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/5/22 12:16 p.m.

berkeley you, mechanical fan!

chandler UltimaDork
9/5/22 1:24 p.m.

I recognize the ride of shame, mine didn't like that ride at all

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/8/22 11:35 a.m.

I've been shopping for a new radiator this week, and to my surprise, Champion now makes the CORRECT radiator for my truck. Last year when I bought the now-punctured radiator that's in the truck, they didn't. So I ordered one. 

This one is the correct height and width, and it will bolt all the way in, as opposed to only having the two bolts I previously had. It's also a 3-row, and the previous 3-row in the truck was great at keeping things nice and cool. In addition, I'll be able to use a normal lower hose rather than the universal hose I have on there now. Nice. 

Now... I need to figure out what to do about electric fans. I've never added electric fans to a vehicle that didn't already have them. All I know is that the Atomic 2 EFI has the ability to control when they turn on right in the software and it has wires for it on the harness already. I've been told to avoid the cheap fan kits you can find online and get something OEM from a junkyard instead. Not sure how to wire up a relay or any of that yet. Goal here is to never have issues with the cooling system again. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/22 12:55 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Relay wiring is easy peasy. A relay is just a low-current switch that controls a high-current load. Relays have a "control" (aka switch) circuit, and a load circuit.

Load circuit is cake. From B+ to a big-ass fuse, to one of the load contacts on the relay. Then from the other load contact to the actual load (ie the fan + wire), then from the fan - wire to ground.

Control circuit is not much different. You will need to know whether the ECU provides control + or control ground. Whichever it is, you supply the other.

Heres a typical automotive relay. There's a circuit diagram on the case.

  • 30 Load Fused B+
  • 85 Control +
  • 86 Control -
  • 87 to Load

In operation, when 85 gets B+ and 86 is grounded, the relay pulls in and completes the connection between 30 and 87. 

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/8/22 1:07 p.m.

Man, my water pump seized and threw my mechanical fan through my radiator (champion as well) on my 240z. That's one big drawback of them but when they work, they work.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
9/8/22 1:24 p.m.

Angry has spelled things out well.  The only thing I would add is that I would also fuse the + side of the control wiring to the relay as well just to be safe.  I like the idea of a good junkyard OEM fan though I think Spal fans are pretty well respected.

pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

The only thing I would add is that I would also fuse the + side of the control wiring to the relay as well just to be safe.

Indeed. I should have called that out.

also remember that the fuse is to protect the wiring, not the device. Well, that's what my wiring harness engineer buddy tells me, anyway.

DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/10/22 4:51 p.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

also remember that the fuse is to protect the wiring, not the device. Well, that's what my wiring harness engineer buddy tells me, anyway.

My electrical engineer boss says the same thing.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/10/22 6:27 p.m.

Aftermarket fans aren't necessarily the devil. I have a lot of positive experience with SPAL brand fans. All of our fire trucks used them. I suspect SPAL sells more fans to industrial markets than they do through the car aftermarket channels. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/10/22 7:52 p.m.

So, after all the electric fan talk, am I nuts for wanting to give the clutch fan another try? I know, I know....

Here's the thing: remembering back to when I installed it, I am not sure if I ever really got it on there tight enough. I thought it was tight, and I thought that I used threadlocker, but looking at the nut and water pump snout, there's no evidence of that. And since it fell off in spectacular fashion, it was obviously not tight enough. Also, I installed it on the engine stand without a belt and without the proper tool. You need a 36MM fan clutch wrench and an air chisel, and I used some vice grips. So yeah, all of this is likely my own damn fault. You live and you learn.

I still want to switch to electric fans, but I need to do some Truck Stuff real soon (like next weekend). A new radiator and lower hose gets me back in business, and that's on the way already. This time, I will make sure to follow the service manual and it should be fine. There were millions of engines built with this setup, and fans aren't flying off left and right, so this must have been user error. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
9/10/22 7:58 p.m.

Mount electric fans. Wire temporarily to constant got via a toggle switch. Do truck stuff. Wire properly next weekend. 

Why do it twice?

DarkMonohue HalfDork
9/10/22 8:36 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

So, after all the electric fan talk, am I nuts for wanting to give the clutch fan another try? <snip> There were millions of engines built with this setup, and fans aren't flying off left and right, so this must have been user error. 

You said it.  No, you are not nuts at all.  People in the FSJ community get all excited about electric fans, too, and maybe they are "better" (in theory), but for an old truck doing old truck stuff, there's not a darn thing wrong with a clutch fan in good working order.

You do you, of course, but to me, that particular wheel is already round enough. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/10/22 9:24 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

If I install electric fans, I want to do it right. No switches, no temporary stuff, it needs to work like it's supposed to. After doing some research, to make it work with the EFI, it also requires modifying the tune a bit as well. Also, I don't have any electric fans at the moment, so I need to do some junkyard shopping for the right ones.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/10/22 10:14 p.m.
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Aftermarket fans aren't necessarily the devil. I have a lot of positive experience with SPAL brand fans. All of our fire trucks used them. I suspect SPAL sells more fans to industrial markets than they do through the car aftermarket channels. 

SPAL fans are factory on Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

No Time
No Time UltraDork
9/10/22 10:58 p.m.

If you plan to continue truck stuff,  it's hard to beat the mechanical fan for airflow. 

If you are nervous about it, drill and tap the fan nut  for a set screw to be "suspenders" to go with the "belt" of the proper install procedure including thread locker. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/12/22 11:37 a.m.

So, yup, I am an idiot. What else is new? frown

Apparently, to PROPERLY install or remove the fan clutch, you need one of these tool sets:

This is a fan clutch removal/installation tool set. That long rod is for an air hammer. You insert that end in the air hammer, and either loosen or tighten the nut. Hand-tight with an adjustable or vice grips (like I did) is NOT ok, or else the fan clutch gets loose and flies off the engine into the radiator and/or your transmission oil cooler lines (like what happened to me). Threadlocker is not necessary. A couple zaps of the air hammer does the job and it will stay on there until you remove it. 

So yeah, I learned a very expensive lesson. Follow service procedures, kids! I have a kit on the way; it was relatively cheap and I can use it on other vehicles, so I'll add it to the collection of specialty tools. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/15/22 1:59 p.m.

And we're back. 

New radiator showed up yesterday, so I got to work. Check out the carnage: 

The fan slapped the lower outlet hard enough to dent it, and the trans cooler fitting completely ripped itself out! The fitting itself was somehow OK. 

There were lots of impact points in the fins, but this is the winner. Coolant was coming out of this small hole. 

Ended up going with a Champion radiator again since the old one worked so well. This time, it's actually meant to fit the truck. They didn't make this a year ago, which is a testament to how popular these things are getting since the GM and Ford trucks are going for big bucks now. 

A side-by-side comparison shows that the core is generally the same, but the end tanks and mounting tabs are different and mostly correct for this application. 

Bolting it in the truck led to a similar situation I faced with the old one. The lower bolt holes were slightly off, so I would need to drill out the radiator or the core support. Like the old one, the top bolts more than hold it in place, so I mounted it that way for now. 

And we're back in business. This time, I used some red threadlocker and the air hammer wrench set with a couple of extra BFH love taps to secure that fan clutch nut. It's on there as much as it can go. I thought the stock fan shroud might fit, but the Magnum fan hits it on the edges, since it is shorter than the LA fan and it doesn't project into the shroud far enough. I let it idle to check for leaks, topped off both the transmission fluid and coolant, and let it run for a good 10 minutes. No leaks, and solid temps sitting right at 194 degrees in park. A quick drive around the neighborhood proved that it's good to go. 

I'll keep an eye on that clutch nut, but otherwise, we're back in the business of doing Truck Stuff. 

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/16/22 5:38 a.m.

Why did you not go ahead and drill the two other holes and bolt it in with all four bolts ? I've never known an OEM to put more bolts in than needed when they designed anything so leaving half of them out seems like you're asking to tempt fate.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/16/22 9:14 a.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) :

I plan on doing that this weekend. I needed to get the truck moving around, but no long drives until it's fully secure. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/16/22 8:49 p.m.

And the radiator is FULLY bolted in now. I pulled the grill, drilled a couple of holes in the mounting plate, and bolted it in. With that done, I took it for a shakedown run to pick up some takeout. Truck runs great, and the radiator works just as well as the old one. Fan clutch nut hasn't moved, either. 

And after all the steering wheel nonsense, I think this one will be coming off for now. Without a spacer, it's really annoying and my hands hit the shifter and turn signal way too much. And apparently Grant stopped producing the spacer I need, so I'm kinda screwed there. Either I'll swap a different wheel on, or I'll luck into the right spacer. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
9/25/22 8:00 p.m.

Last night, I was at Walmart, and I impulse purchased some Kicker 6x9's for the truck. The JVC 6x9's I installed a few years ago were dirt cheap, but I've never been that happy with them. With the truck mostly sorted, I've been driving it more and more, and the lack of sound out of the rears has been driving me insane. So, let's check these things out. 

On the left, are the Kickers, and on the right are the JVC's that were in the truck.

The JVC's say they are "3-way" speakers and handle "400 Watts Peak" (not sure on RMS). These things are pretty cheaply made, kind of like those "stock replacement" ones you see at Autozone in blister packs. Paper surrounds, plastic cones, and as far as I can tell, they are actually 2-way. The stock head unit pushes them beyond their limits, and they sound muffled no matter what.

The Kickers are the ES series, which are apparently are Walmart-exclusive. On paper, they pretty much match the DS series, which are about $5 more everywhere else. I figured if they were terrible, I can just return them. They have a foam rubber surround, much beefier construction, and are actually 3-way. 

The Kickers require a bit more depth, but that's not much of an issue with my 6x9 enclosures. 

The Kickers are built like tanks. The magnets are much larger, and the baskets are much thicker. 

The JVC magnets...

And the Kicker magnets. As you can see, the Kickers are much larger. 

But none of that matters if they sound like hot garbage. And typical of every Kicker speaker I've ever owned, they sound great! After some head unit tuning, it sounds like I now have subwoofers in the truck, which I was not expecting. It feels like they have way more headroom than the JVC's, as they don't break up at all, even when cranked. 

Next up to address: The gas pedal. The old "gas rod" is really wearing on my nerves, so it's gotta go. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
10/10/22 8:13 p.m.

Over the past few days, I had to do a few truck-related things, and found myself getting really frustrated with two aspects of the truck: the Grant steering wheel and the gas pedal situation. 

First, let's start with the wheel. I've gotten used to the smaller wheel, especially since it helps with ingress/egress, but the biggest issue with it is the horn button. The Grant "Challenger Series" wheels have a terrible design when it comes to this. A metal and plastic horn contact ring locks onto the horn button with little push tabs, and a spring sits on the steering wheel nut to keep the contact ring away from the wheel. The problem is, the spring kept moving around and randomly making contact with the horn ground, which led to the horn going off at random. Tons of fun when you are cruising around and your horn randomly gets stuck on. So, after messing with it a bit, now the horn doesn't work at all! Well, the horn itself works, but the horn button/contact ring sandwich doesn't do anything, even when it's making contact with the metal of the wheel. I got really frustrated with it, but then it got worse: the Grant adapter kit stripped out and I had to re-tap the threads. I wanted to just pull the whole thing off, but then I realized that I don't have long enough bolts for my wheel puller kit to pull the adapter off. So it stays for now, with a non-working horn. Ugh...

The other thing I mentioned is the gas pedal. This is what these trucks came with:

You have a rod that sticks off the firewall, and a plastic pedal that sits on top of two ball studs which are bolted to the floor. In practice, your feet will sometimes catch the plastic pedal and fling it off the studs, and you have to use the gas "rod" until you can pull over and pop it back on. I have never liked this setup, as it removes all of the pedal feel out of the accelerator. And with the EFI, this vagueness can lead to weird behavior that can induce a lean or rich condition. The solution? Get a pedal assembly from a 1981-93 truck. 

It's basically the Gas Rod, but with a spring-loaded pedal attached to it. And it hangs off the firewall without having anything to do with the floor. You know, like a modern vehicle! 

The big difference is how it bolts on. This one uses two bolts while the Gas Rod uses three. To install it, you have to drill one hole. That's it. 

I used one of the Gas Rod mounting holes to route the throttle cable through. Yes, that's tape over the firewall holes that were left by removing the old assembly. I'll weld those up when I do the floors. Speaking of which...

When removing the ball studs, I forgot that yeah, there's nothing under there but daylight. Someone attached a plate to the other side of the carpet and that's what was holding it on. Really gotta get those floors done. 

So, how does it drive? SO MUCH BETTER. I have actual, direct control over the throttle for the first time since I bought the truck. And it's so much easier to modulate. I wasn't able to get 100% throttle out of the pedal until now; the TPS reading would only go to about 90%. I can now get 101% TPS on the handheld screen. 

What's next? The floors. This is a big project, and I'm not sure when I'll have time to tear into it. And since I will have the seats out again, I am going to find a way to mount them better. They really need to get lowered down 2-3 inches to fit properly, so I'll have to get creative. But for now, the truck is driveable and it's running fantastic. 

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