Destination Unknown - a 1997 F350 build

Buddha.

Lurker
Chorky- give these guys a look. I saw them advertise on Craig's List. They are eureka campers. I think they are out of Tennessee. They are welded aluminum frames and not subject to rot. I also believe they will be very durable. They are fairly simple in design and layout. I have seen several different configurations on CL, some used and some new. And they are considerably cheaper than a FWC. Im seeing pickup truck bed versions in the 6k range. If nothing else it's definitely worth 15 minutes out of your day to check out the website at https://www.eurekacamper.com/camper-models/slideinn-truck-camper/ I'm considering talking to them myself about building a camper to go on my 460 powered flatbed F-350. My job is horrible 10 months a year. On call 24/7, and out crazy weird hours. So I'm thinking taking a home with me would let me catch some rest whenever I can find it without having to go home, or squish up in the cab of the truck (I'm a big guy) Good luck with things! Please keep us posted.
Unfortunately they’re out of business.
 

Chorky

Observer
Well out with the new back in with the....old???

Yep. Alternator from Mean Green was consistently spiking upwards of 16v on acceleration, and bombing to 13v or lower on deceleration to a stop over the last several days - but would hold steady at 14.3 during cruising. Upon replacement with the old factory unit, voltage was perfect and steady. As of now anyway. Road tests will verify, but likely, the new alternator is already bad. Hopefully they have a reputable warranty/replacement policy. Quite irritating.

In the process, also found out that the charging signal circuit is spliced somewhere in with the factory alternator-to-solenoid wire. So, when disconnecting that wire to utilize an aftermarket 4 ga wire from alternator directly to battery, well, all sorts of angry lights came on. So, I guess redundancy will be the game to allow for 200a flow the factory harness will continue to be engaged, but a secondary aftermarket 4ga wire will still go from the alternator to the battery, since it's already in place. Unless this would cause any sort of problem. But I dont' quite see how.
 

VroomSIX

Member
I would definitely contact the manufacturer about the anomaly in the unit. They might walk you through a fix, or if not I would expect a replacement.
 

Chorky

Observer
Finally got a response from Mean Green - via email. Very basic of - 'its quiet here, give us a call'. Monday should make for an interesting phone call.

In other news. Moving day was nice and dry, with a few showers.

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But the next morning I woke up to...

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Chorky

Observer
But, back to reality.

I have another bit of clunking going on. Again :rolleyes:(n):mad::mad: After last September, going back home, I found out the shackle brackets from SKY off road were not secured to the frame (about 1/4 inch gap between bracket and frame), causing a very ambiguous clunking noise even though they were not visibly moving around. After further inspection, it was found the bolts had loosened just enough to allow the shackle mounts to move enough and hit the frame on certain bumps to make the clunk. So, the bolts were re-tightened very tight, enough to bend the brackets and force them to touch the frame - as they should have been from the start. I'm thinking the brackets from SKY were not manufactured correctly. I question this because the brackets had to bend to meet the frame itself, which doesn't seem right. Additionally, since the kit was for the SD springs, and when SD springs were installed, there was a significant gap between the spring ends and the brackets (I think pics are a few pages back). After calling SKY, their response was to use washers to fill the gap, as they 'cannot manufacturer brackets for every application'. Doesn't sound right to me considering the parts are supposed to be specifically for SD springs. Anywhoo, so, now I have the grommet for the springs coming out (on the rear of the springs, both sides, by a lot - about 1/2 to an inch). Either it's due to bad manufacturing of the spring itself, or the excess gap between the spring and the brackets.

So what is specifically causing the clunk, I really don't know but am suspecting the brackets (or bolts) have come loose ever so slightly - again.....even though they have red locktite on them and were rattled hard with a 1/2". Additionally, on certain types of bumps/dips (but not always), the front end now feels super loose, as if the gearbox, or ball joints are about to fall apart. This makes the truck feel unstable especially around corners on said certain types of bumps/dips. This also makes things feel uneasy and unreliable since my TJ is back at good ol' Dad's house.

Since almost every component up front is now new, the only issues I can think of causing a clunk are a broken frame (unlikely - hopefully), or loosening of the shackle bolts causing the shackle and frame to make a gap, then make contact (likely). And for the sloppiness, possibly the excess gap between the springs and shackles causing the springs to physically move, essentially causing the steering angle to change, which would account for the sloppiness. Or maybe something else I'm not considering or are unaware of.

So, this morning will include a full 100% detailed inspection of the frame, and suspension components to see if anything is cracked, broken, loose, or indicating something loose.

Sadly this is horrible timing as work starts in a week, and I have no abilities to do any major repairs - which means I may have to find (hopefully) a quality and reputable shop - which are few and far between.

Any thoughts or suggestions is greatly appreciated of course. Quite upsetting considering the amount of time and money invested in the truck specifically to make it highly dependable. Considering this has been chased for over a year now, I am beginning to consider parting with the truck and building a smaller less capable rig that would be easier to do remote repairs on. But on the bright side, I live in a pretty amazing place now.
 
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Seabass

Idiot
Chorky.....I’m having a hard time imagining that you have a frame issue (cracked). I guess anything is possible. But that’s not likely. I’ve heard good things about the sky stuff being very good. I’m sorry to hear that your components aren’t up to snuff. For the moment I don’t know how you could approach things differently. I can’t explain the poor driving. It makes sense that some bolts have backed off and that something is moving. Have you replaced the panhard bar bushings (track bar) ? I had a set that were bad- they didn’t look bad, I couldn’t even determine that they were in any way visually. But out of frustration and because I was out of ideas I replaced them. Eureka! The truck drove 100% better and made no more noises. Another point that you could consider checking out are the cab mounts. They are getting old. I’ve had to replace them on one truck- and need to do them on the other. But.....on certain bumps on certain roads the cab can shift a bit and there can be separation of cab and frame- Making a clunk. There’s two out at the radiator, two at the floorboard, and two at the rear of the cab. Those out front could be moving some. Maybe not- but it’s an easy look see. It helped my truck to replace them. Another point of noise can be sway bar links, and the bushings where the bar attaches to the axel. I’ve also been in those as well. If anything else comes to my mind I’ll be sure to post. Good luck!
 

Chorky

Observer
Chorky.....I’m having a hard time imagining that you have a frame issue (cracked). I guess anything is possible. But that’s not likely. I’ve heard good things about the sky stuff being very good. I’m sorry to hear that your components aren’t up to snuff. For the moment I don’t know how you could approach things differently. I can’t explain the poor driving. It makes sense that some bolts have backed off and that something is moving. Have you replaced the panhard bar bushings (track bar) ? I had a set that were bad- they didn’t look bad, I couldn’t even determine that they were in any way visually. But out of frustration and because I was out of ideas I replaced them. Eureka! The truck drove 100% better and made no more noises. Another point that you could consider checking out are the cab mounts. They are getting old. I’ve had to replace them on one truck- and need to do them on the other. But.....on certain bumps on certain roads the cab can shift a bit and there can be separation of cab and frame- Making a clunk. There’s two out at the radiator, two at the floorboard, and two at the rear of the cab. Those out front could be moving some. Maybe not- but it’s an easy look see. It helped my truck to replace them. Another point of noise can be sway bar links, and the bushings where the bar attaches to the axel. I’ve also been in those as well. If anything else comes to my mind I’ll be sure to post. Good luck!
Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions seabass! I would agree. I don't think a frame issue is likely. I don't beat up the truck that hard... But it is something I'm always weary of. The sky suff does seem to be built well, and the welds are super strong, thick steel. But the whole talk about how 'it is what it is' just doesn't sit well for me when supposedly things are designed and built for a specific purpose - but I'm also OCD and anal about that sort of stuff and have high expectations. But I'm not an engineer either. Regardless...something is loose, and it should not be. As for the other components. Basically everything up there is new: shackles, axle/wheel bearings, steering shaft/components, ball joints, steering gear, leaf springs, shocks, track bar, pan hard bracket, engine mounts, and a bunch more stuff truck-wide, etc... Sway's were removed. I do think that the excess gap between the springs and shackles are allowing things to move more than they should and contributing to the bolts loosening up, and causing the sloppy tracking feeling. But what to do about that I don't think there's really a good answer.

I'm willing to bet its just the bolts coming loose again, but that's very annoying - I will be checking them this weekend sometime. To have to tighten them up every thousand miles is not going to work for me long term - and especially now being without a shop or place to re-tighten frequently myself.

I do think you are right in that the body mounts (all) should be replaced. I see no visible/obvious signs of movement, but that doesn't mean they aren't bad. I'm leery of doing that due to the front left (rad) is corroded from a bad battery at some point. And fearful that trying to remove would break something. Its one of 3 rust spots on the truck, and the worst one - but not that bad.
 

Chorky

Observer
In other news….

Since good ol' dad is visiting during my 'move' and since I had a few more weeks before work starts, we took his truck to explore yesterday. I must say, this little 'vacation' has been nice, and it will be tough being a working man again haha! I must admit it is nice being in/driving a new truck. 2018 3500 cummins. But, aside from the unaffordability, having so many electronics, and the complications they can bring aside from the plushness they provide still bothers me being so far out of cell range.... So one last exploration before he goes back to WA to solve some problems of his own (not truck related).



Oh Montana...


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pappawheely

Autonomous4X4
What bolts did you use? Are they coming loose, or stretching? I did a disc brake conversion and 2 of the 3 bolts holding the caliper bracket to the rear end housing broke. How do I know they broke, and did not just come loose? The through holes were not hogged out. If the bolts were just loose, the holes would be elongated. Since they are not, the bolts had to have broken. If they came loose with red loctite, they could be stretching. The more you tighten them, the looser they will get. If you are bending the brackets by tightening the bolts, it's probable that the bolts are getting stretched.
 

Chorky

Observer
What bolts did you use? Are they coming loose, or stretching? I did a disc brake conversion and 2 of the 3 bolts holding the caliper bracket to the rear end housing broke. How do I know they broke, and did not just come loose? The through holes were not hogged out. If the bolts were just loose, the holes would be elongated. Since they are not, the bolts had to have broken. If they came loose with red loctite, they could be stretching. The more you tighten them, the looser they will get.
Hmm...that would be very concerning if they were stretching! :oops:🧐 They're from the kit.

So over the last year the bolts have been retightened twice. THe first time thye were just loose as normal with a new part. the second time they were quite loose, and I had a shop with high power air tighten. Note that when the shackle brackets were originally installed, there was a 1/8" gap between the bracket and the frame (on the lower lip, not the side). According to SKY that was 'normal'. I didn't believe it. When the shop tightened the bolts, they sucked the frame and bracket together to a near 0 gap, which is how it should be. The clunking then (last fall) went away. THis is why I am so suspect of the parts themselves - since the fit just doesn't seem right from the start. Note also that last fall when I 'fixed' this clunk from the summer, that there was no visible sign of movement of the shackle mounts on the frame, or the bolts in the holes. Ie. it did not look like there were rub marks on the frame, or on the sides of the washers where they contact the brackets indicating movement - this is why locating the source of the clunk last fall was such a problem in the first place. Nothing obvious.

I would not think such large bolts would stretch so easily. THat's very concerning to be honest.... If theyre grade 8, how would one even go about fixing that?
 
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