October 2008


The second set of gas struts were installed today. The first 12″ of
bed lift is a bit easier, and that helps my back. But above 12″ the
bed lifts itself without my help very quickly. I used a 150 psi and a
130 psi strut on each side. With that much pressure on each side the
bracket had to be mounted a bit better. I also made new 1/4″ thick
brackets that moved the struts in right next to the frame for maximum
tire clearance.

The drivers side guide pin is no longer mounted. The weld nut that it
was screwed into got punched out as I let the bed drop the last 12″
too fast. I’m not sure if I’ll try and rework it since the bed feels
like it will hold itself down fairly easily with just it’s own weight.
I still like the guide pin idea as it keeps the bed more stable. I
will revisit this task after I get other stuff done first..

Lower strut is the additional 130psi unit.

Lower strut is the additional 130psi unit.

A longer bracket had to be machined to keep the struts away from the tires.

A longer bracket had to be machined to keep the struts away from the tires.

Strut mounts on Frame. Frame was tapped and nyloc nuts added..

Strut mounts on Frame. Frame was tapped and nyloc nuts added.

The video chips have arrived. The LCD is handling the info just fine.

So far the Lithium and the Nicads are staying within 2 degrees C of
each other under driving conditions. The lithium might be a couple of
degrees higher during charging.

The bench test with only one cells shows everything is ok. I need to
connect up two more cells on the bench to see that it works as if it
were in the truck. Once bench proven, I’ll install everything into the
truck.

Take a look at the charger board. It has a 13 pin connector on it with
a harness that leads to the connector at the back-center of the main
board. Notice the pattern of the wires in the charger connector.
(1)–(4)–(7)(8)-(10)(11)(12)(13). The dashes are empty. Start
counting from the position that is closest to the front of the truck.
Add 1 amp, 250vac fuses to positions 1, 4. Then add 1/4 amp (any
voltage)fuses to positions 7, 8. One and four is the AC voltage going
to the main board. Seven and eight is the pwm that goes from the main
board to the charger.

The last 1 amp fuse goes to terminal #19 in the junction box. If you
look at the schematic you can see which side to add the fuses to. Some
say the side with the tiny gauge wire. But when I do mine I will be
adding it to the side with the pair of large gauge wires. One wire of
the pair comes from the 12v aux battery, the other wire goes off to
the Magnecharger.

The only part I’m waiting for is the video output chip. It should be
here in the next week. Then it will be time to bench test everything,
then install it in the truck.

So far the Thundersky’s are still doing fine. I’ll know more when I
get the BMS installed and can monitor the voltage of the cells under load.

There are now two temp sensors in the pack. One on the center
Thundersky cell and one on the nicads. This will allow for a thermal
comparison while under load.

A couple of mornings ago, it was 50F outside. The #2 truck has been
outside all night and everything about it was cold soaked. So I fired
up the Hotstart heater. The air temp through the vents or the
defroster went from 50F to 100F in about 2 minutes. I only had the
radio clock to judge by. From 100F and higher it warmed up more
slowly. I’ll use a timer and wait for colder weather for another test.
This time the Hotstart did not open the circuit due to hitting the
over temp threshold.

A 50 degree delta in 2 minutes is a great improvement in heater
performance versus stock. At least it feels that way. I will also get
the data from the #1 truck’s heater so they can be compared side by side.

Finally! Got the 150 psi gas struts installed.

Here are the pics.

Now the bed is finally hinged!! Also found the last two bed bolts
holding the thing down. I’m slowly working the bed upwards so I can
get the gas struts installed. I’ve got it up about 12″ now. That
toolbox seems a bit heavy.

Here are the new hinges pics for the #2 truck.

This Heim joint system not only tilts the bed, it moves the bed rearward away from the cab to keep the bed from hitting the cab.

This Heim joint system not only tilts the bed, it moves the bed rearward away from the cab to keep the bed from hitting the cab.

Here is my #1 trucks hinge system.

Here is my #1 truck's hinge system.

It’s also important that the brown lead coming directly off of the
heater pump motor be the one that is grounded. This pump won’t work spinning
backwards. The wiring that goes to the pump are different colors.

Here are 3 full res pics of the converted heater box using the Kim
Hotstart heater. I’ve added Molex connectors to each item in the box
as it makes checking them vastly easier. The first pic is a bit
deceiving as the original red Rusco heater is quite a bit smaller in
diameter.

Don’t ever forget to verify that the pump is primed and actually
moving water!!!!

Red can is the original style Rusco heater.

Red can is the original style Rusco heater.

Pump and Hostart closeup. Note simple bracket to hold Hotstart in place.

Pump and Hostart closeup. Note simple bracket to hold Hotstart in place.

Complete view of heater box with Hotstart heater and pump.

Complete view of heater box with Hotstart heater and pump.

Hotstart label.

Hotstart label.

So now the Hotstart heater is mounted in the heater box and the whole
assembly is back in the truck. Nice and clean.

As for operation, the ground fault issue appears to be gone. But I did
find what might be a factory defect. When the selector knob is set to
Heat, then by taking the temperature knob and rotating it clockwise
for warmer air, at about 2:30 o’clock the heater element comes on,
then at 5 o’clock the pump comes on. Say what?? The heater element
comes on without the pump coming on. This could be the very reason
that the heater never worked for the first owner. Someone toasted it!
It would overheat itself since there was no water flow. I have a
diagram that shows some changes to that very circuitry. I’ll look into
it.

The Hotstart heater draws 8 amps at 321 vdc compared to 5.7 amps with
the stock heater. It rose the defrost vent temperature from 75F to
135F in just a couple of minutes. Then the built in temp sensor on the
Hotstart tripped and shut off the heater element, but the pump keeps
running. After the defrost air went down to about 94F, the heater
element kicked back in. We’ll see on a cold night if this repeats
itself. 75F ambient is a very hot place to start a heater test. The
great news is I have an original heater in one truck and an improved
heater in another, so performance can be compared.

Again priming the pump was a pain!! The fastest way was to pull a
vacuum on the output hose that comes off of the firewall until I got a
mouthful of coolant. Then it was primed. Yuk. I could see this heater
smoking instantly without the system primed. It might almost be worth
using clear tubing just to see if there is flow.

The bed hinge hardware arrived today. Too bad I’m so tired. I’d love
to get that done so I can get at those batteries. I suspect they are
dried out as the pack voltage is fine, just hardly any amp hours. If I
could get 5 miles out of this pack it would help testing and even
allow a trip to the car wash.

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