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Diet Taco... trying to keep things light

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Builds (2005-2015)' started by DVexile, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Jan 26, 2016 at 10:31 PM
    #141
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Fog Lights Anytime
    January 2016

    I noticed on two different trips in the Death Valley region that I'd really like to have the high beams and fog lights on at the same time when driving off road at night.

    The utility of the high beams is obvious. You can see road turns and other hazards further into the distance. When crossing washes or other places in which the road is ill defined for a short stretch the high beams let you pick out the route further ahead. The problem with high beams, or the regular low beam headlights for that matter, is that they are close enough in height to the driver's eyes that for even seemingly close to moderate distances the effective illumination angle and viewing angle are nearly identical. This produces extremely flat, on axis light on the road surface which makes it extremely difficult to see washboard or ruts because there are no visible shadows. Driving at night like this means gentle but still very significant dips can sneak up on you resulting in nasty bumps at high speeds. Similarly you can't see the abrupt onset of bad washboard until you feel your fillings shake out. In some cases you can't even see rather large dust covered rocks very well!

    The fog lights provide a much better view of the road surface since they are well below the driver's eyes and so road textures, washboard and ruts cast visible and obvious shadows in the 50 feet or so in front of the truck. This gives valuable reaction time to the various road hazards described above. In addition the fog lights throw a lot of light to the sides which provides better lighting when making tight turns. Driving down Grapevine Canyon into Saline Valley more than once I found I wanted the fogs on while negotiating tight turns in the canyon bottom but at the same time because of the slope and vehicle stance I'd rather have the high beams on too.

    This is fortunately a solved problem here on TW.

    There is a great post by @nd4spdbh that covers a nice reversible mod in which no OEM components are bent, cut or otherwise damaged. In the end I decided I was happy to cut some things, but that thread was important in that it made me aware of wiring changes in the 2012+ trucks as well as the importance of selecting an appropriate ignition switched 12V source for the mod. Some folks grabbed what they thought was ignition switched 12V but turned out to actually be controlled by the emissions system. So it acted a lot like ignition switched 12V but would also turn on by itself about 45 minutes after the ignition was turned off!

    There is another great post by @o0oSHADOWo0o in which he describes a terminal swapping mod in which two terminals in the relay box are extracted and an unused ignition switched 12V terminal where a seat heater relay would be is swapped with the headlight switched 12V on the fog light relay. This looked really slick, but unfortunately the relay position for heated seats is not populated with any terminals in my truck and this seems to be the case for many later year Tacomas. Nonetheless, this gave me the idea that I could hide my wiring changes in the back of the relay box rather than bending relay legs or having various jumpers present and visible at the top of the relay box.

    From here the mod was pretty simple. I got to the back of the relay box and probed the various terminals to verify they were in fact the ones described in the above posts. I would be tapping the ignition switched 12V for the AC inverter. It is important to probe that terminal both with the inverter on and off since because of how the relay circuitry works you might mistake the "low" side of the coil for the 12V source when the relay is not activated.

    Given the positions of the terminals and how the cable harness was dressed it was going to be dicey to cut the fog light relay wire and have it reach a crimp tap at the AC inverter relay. So I cut the wire further down the harness where the individual wires were exposed and could then pull plenty of slack into the housing to make the connection. Obviously be careful which wire you cut, I tugged on the wire at the terminal side to verify the correct wire moved further down the harness. This photo shows the fog relay wire cut in the harness outside the relay box and the slack pulled to the relay box. It also shows the crimp tap around the AC inverter 12V source. Please forgive the poor quality phone photo, I wanted to get the mod done rather than take pretty pictures.

    [​IMG]
    Cut fog light wire and tap on inverter wire
    After that the red wire from the fog light relay was put into the tap on the green inverter relay and the crimp made. I added more electrical tape to the cable harness to cover the exposed end of the red wire. The final result is clean, the cable harness outside the relay box looks factory new and of course the crimp tap is hidden once the rear cover of the relay housing is installed. The top of the relay box where the relays live of course looks unchanged.

    [​IMG]
    Crimp completed and wire harness dressed
    A quick test verified that the fogs come on regardless of headlight setting and that importantly they also turn off with the ignition. I consider it critical that the fogs turn off with the ignition because there is no indication in the cab that the fogs are on unless you notice the fog switch depressed by an eighth of an inch. That means there is a significant risk of leaving the fogs on during the day and I'd hate to come back to a drained battery.

    I consider this a great mod as it costs no money, weighs nothing and to my mind actually corrects an illumination problem that even a bumper mounted light bar wouldn't help with.

    (3YR UPDATE: This is one of the very best lighting mods you can do for off-road travel at night and costs next to nothing. Vastly improved lighting pattern putting the fogs on at the same time as the brights. I eventually got fancy high powered lights but I consider just doing the fog light mod to be 80% of the performance for like 1% of the cost).

    [​IMG]
    Fog lights on and nothing else
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  2. Jan 27, 2016 at 8:04 AM
    #142
    nd4spdbh

    nd4spdbh Well-Known Member

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    NICE!!! I like it, clean n simple!
     
  3. Jan 27, 2016 at 3:15 PM
    #143
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    VLEDS Platinum 921 Backup Lights
    January 2016
    [​IMG]
    Continuing on the theme of improving stock lighting rather than adding more lights to the truck there is the matter of the weak backup lights. I had just purchased, but not opened, some Philips 921 LEDs to try out when I saw a great post in @scocar's "build" thread on the VLEDS 921 LEDs. He took some nice before and after photos that made it pretty clear there was a significant improvement over the stock LEDs. Looking at reviews for the Philips version it wasn't clear how much real improvement there was with those.

    I sent the Philips LEDs back to Amazon and ordered the VLEDS version instead. Install is simple, just look at the instructions in the owners manual. The end result is quite good. I took photos both out the rear of the vehicle and of the backup camera with both stock lights, one stock light plus one VLED and finally with both VLEDs. Exposure and white balance is identical on all the shots. For easy comparison I've made these into animated GIFs.


    Wide angle rear view from above tailgate

    The above shots are taken with a wide angle lens shot about two feet above the top of the tailgate. Note that the VLED is not only much brighter but that it is throwing a lot more light to the sides. This should make turning and backing up a lot easier. The red bag is about thirty feet away for reference. Since this was shot with a wide angle lens and there is some ambient light it is hard to notice that there is more useful illumination at significant distance as well. Note in the transition from both VLEDs back to both stock lamps how much darker the crossroad surface and curbs become.


    View through backup camera
    In order to avoid LCD backlight flicker exposure problems I took these shots with a relatively long exposure. The backup camera does not seem to apply much if any auto exposure difference with the VLEDs (note the lights in the background look nearly the same in all three exposures). It is obvious the view through the camera becomes much brighter with the VLEDs. Because of the low resolution of the camera and its very wide angle view light thrown at a distance isn't of that much importance. The foreground is much more brightly lit making it easier to identify hazards.

    This was an easy mod, I probably spent four times as much time taking pictures than I did actually swapping the bulbs. Highly recommended at zero pounds and less than $50.

    (3YR UPDATE: These still work great and I'm happy with them, but for an even cheaper and brighter solution look here.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  4. Jan 27, 2016 at 3:41 PM
    #144
    PaulK

    PaulK Life is hard. It's harder if you're stupid.

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    Are these the 5K or 6K versions?
     
  5. Jan 27, 2016 at 6:48 PM
    #145
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    I did the 5K versions and personally I don't think I'd want them any bluer than they already are. But that's personal preference, I don't know whether the 6K would really make any functional difference with either the naked eye or the backup camera.
     
  6. Jan 30, 2016 at 4:43 PM
    #146
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Exhaust Crossover Reroute
    January 2016

    As most everyone knows the lowest point on the truck up front on a V6 is the exhaust pipe crossing from the drivers side under the transmission and transfer case. I have a set of RCI aluminum skids coming which are designed to require that crossover to be moved. You can purchase skids that drop down below the OEM crossover but then that leaves something sticking down waiting to be caught on a rock.

    There are a bunch of ways to do the reroute, some prettier than others. I wanted to get it done as cleanly as possible. I thought maybe the best way to get what I wanted to was to go to a shop that does a lot of custom exhausts for things like hot rods. So I checked around on Yelp and found a shop in the LA area that had lots of good reviews from people who would likely be fussy with their cars.

    The shop was Joe's Mufflers Brakes & Shocks on La Brea. I showed up around 10AM to the shop which is a modest two bay workshop. We put the truck up on the lift and Joe and his crew let me describe what I wanted. They got the idea quickly and made some suggestions.

    The plan was to modify the OEM Y-pipe which connects to the two cats with flanges, joins the two pipes and then connects to a single pipe headed back to the muffler with another flange. We wanted to keep all the OEM flanges and the OEM Y-junction. In order to have space to route behind the transfer the overall length of the Y-pipe would need to be longer and so the flange connecting to the muffler pipe needed to be moved back.

    With the plan worked out I left them to it, they expected about 90 minutes to do the job. I grabbed something to eat and waited for them to call when it was done. They did great work and I really like how it came out. First pictures of the OEM configuration:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Inexplicably stupid OEM configuration

    The reconfigured Y-pipe is longer and the Y-junction has been moved further back and also rotated a bit. The pipe bends in the rerouted section are as smooth or smoother than the OEM configuration as well. The redesigned pipe still uses the OEM hangers as well.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Redesigned Y-pipe

    I'm quite happy how this turned out. It was $240 which is a bit higher than I've seen some other peoples jobs here on TW but in this case I think the quality work and design was worth the cost.

    The one remaining issue is that if you look at the pictures you can see all the heat shielding Toyota applies around the exhaust pipes. The rerouted pipe passes by a number of things that aren't shielded and that should be fixed. The drive shaft can't have a shield attached of course and the shapes of other things nearby are awkward to cover. The solution is to apply the shielding to the new pipe itself instead.

    One option is to heat wrap the pipe, the problem with that is I don't think it is a good idea to do for long sections. Wrapping the pipe means the temperature of the metal in the wrapped section would become much higher than normal. Instead I applied a type of insulator and reflector that is held off of the pipe and only covers half the pipe. This prevents radiative heating of nearby components but does not result in a significant increase in the temperature of the exhaust pipe itself.

    I got two one foot long shields from Amazon and applying them to the pipe took just a few minutes. This should keep the transfer actuator and various cables and lines in the area from getting too hot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Heat Shielding


    I'm quite happy how all this turned out. Really no addition in weight and gained some clearance under the front and center of the truck. More importantly my transfer skid will actually be a "skid" now, meaning something scraping the bottom can actually "skid" or scrape along the bottom of the smooth transfer skid.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
    xsf18cdf, txtaco17, Toynado and 8 others like this.
  7. Jan 30, 2016 at 6:05 PM
    #147
    Bman4X5

    Bman4X5 There is no substitute for square inches.

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    I'm ordering some of those shields right now. Thanks for the tip!
     
  8. Jan 30, 2016 at 9:24 PM
    #148
    scocar

    scocar Going Full Vanilla!

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    Kudos for far superior photojournalism of results.
     
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  9. Jan 31, 2016 at 11:59 AM
    #149
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Yes I still really like it. Very spacious when open, really fast setup/takedown and of course it is a lot lighter than pop-up campers. My raised floor has been working out really well. Originally I thought the raised floor might just be something to use until I figured out a more complicated custom build, but now I'm so happy with the simplicity and flexibility of the raised floor I think I'll just keep that for the long term.

    At this moment though I'd recommend anyone interested in a Flip-Pac not in a rush wait a few months to see what Adventure Trailers comes out with soon. They are doing their own design of something very similar to a Flip-Pac and I think their first prototype is just done or coming together soon. From what I've heard the AT product will be aluminum instead of fiberglass, will flip over the back of the truck instead of the front and won't use the problematic torsion bar for lift assist. It will also have a water proof tent that doesn't require a fly. AT's other products are really nice and they have excellent customer service so it might be worth waiting a little bit to see what they have on offer.

    Glad you are enjoying the build!
     
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  10. Jan 31, 2016 at 12:49 PM
    #150
    BuffaloScout

    BuffaloScout Well-Known Member

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    Loving your build thread, kudos.
     
  11. Jan 31, 2016 at 1:09 PM
    #151
    EdinCincinnati

    EdinCincinnati Old Enough To Know Better

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    I know you already did your lighting mod in a few post previous but here's another solution: The Brite Box - it runs your low beams concurrent with high beams and fogs.

    http://www.thebritebox.com/bb.main.html

    I've used for 70,000 miles...no issues.

    I'll add that the plug in the kit for the fog lights was incorrect, but I called and the manufacturer overnighted to me the correct plug to splice and no expense.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
    DVexile [OP] likes this.
  12. Jan 31, 2016 at 5:39 PM
    #152
    Bman4X5

    Bman4X5 There is no substitute for square inches.

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    x2 on Britebox. Lows/highs/fogs is plenty of light when you drive as slowly as I do.
     
  13. Jan 31, 2016 at 8:01 PM
    #153
    scocar

    scocar Going Full Vanilla!

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    This mod has been on my list since a few days after I bought the truck, looked under it, and said, WITAF? Thanks for the thorough accounting.

    I don't see a really good view of the new custom Y. Do you have any shots of it? It would be very nice to be able to take these images to a shop and say "do this."
     
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  14. Jan 31, 2016 at 8:02 PM
    #154
    yzmxer608

    yzmxer608 Active Member

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    Can you selectively use each still, or is it all or nothing?
     
  15. Jan 31, 2016 at 8:20 PM
    #155
    EdinCincinnati

    EdinCincinnati Old Enough To Know Better

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    I think so but I don't remember...I did the fog light mod also so I can run them via the switch and they never turn off, but the low beams are always on when the highs are.
     
  16. Jan 31, 2016 at 8:31 PM
    #156
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Here is a closeup of the relocated and rotated factory Y and the shortened pipe to the muffler with its flange rotated to match the Y flange:

    [​IMG]
    In this shot you can see in the background the connection to the passenger side cat. In the foreground is the factory hanger attached to the new section of pipe.

    [​IMG]

    I don't have a good photo of the connection to the driver's side cat. I'll need to get that later, but unfortunately I'm out of town this week and not near the truck. I'll try to remember to get one next weekend, but it might not be as nice as these since I won't have the truck up on a lift!

    Let me know if anything else is unclear or there are any other detail photos you'd like.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  17. Jan 31, 2016 at 9:07 PM
    #157
    scocar

    scocar Going Full Vanilla!

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    Nice, thanks. This is all good. I think I missed the "reused Y" which makes great sense, because that would be harder to fab from scratch. But having that pic handy will be...handy.
     
  18. Feb 1, 2016 at 8:39 PM
    #158
    scocar

    scocar Going Full Vanilla!

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    Agreed. I wish the were a bit warmer as it is.
     
  19. Feb 1, 2016 at 9:29 PM
    #159
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Coming soon...

    [​IMG]

    Front
    Rear
    All the suspension parts except the leaf springs have been in for a couple of weeks, but I called All Pro today and the leaf springs are back in stock. So I should have those end of the week or start of next week and finally be ready for the big install!

    I'm planning on about 2.5" lift in the front (minimize rubbing CV boots) and about 2.5" to 3.0" in the rear (depends on load of course, I have about 450lbs minimum in the back at all times so that gives about 3.0" expected lift height with the All Pro Expos). I don't have or plan for a front plate bumper or winch (though might do an aluminum bumper of some sort), only have a single 27F battery and have aluminum skids so doing the standard 650lb ICON springs in the front. Those rear ICON shocks are apparently a custom build part number that Wheelers has for 2.5" to 3.5" rear lift which would match the All Pro Expos.

    I usually live far away from my truck (only used for camping) so I don't want to dick with it later since doing work will be a big hassle after this summer when we move back to Maryland - hence adding the ECGS bushing right away. Similarly no one ever seems to have vibes if they put in a 3 deg shim at this lift height though you might get away with out it. Real pain to add in later (I don't like the slip in types) so putting in the shim from the start as being best odds at not having vibes. Carrier bearing drop easy to remove or add as needed, will just order and install for now. If I have vibes I will measure all angles and decide what might need to change, but again seems best starting point is to put the 3 degree shim in from the start.

    I'm going with the JBA ball joint UCAs as that design seems to have matured and I'd prefer to avoid the maintenance and potential squeaking of the uniball options. This truck is very low mileage and will probably be running with less than 100k miles twenty years from now so having user replaceable ball joints with an easily available part is a plus for me. The JBAs provide as much articulation as the uniballs as well.

    I've been reading up on suspension components for many months now and by this point I have small seizures every time I try to distinguish between Fox/ICON/King. In the end I went with ICON mostly because a few people who have nearly the same truck with the same load and drive on the same roads as me have been very happy with how the ICON default valving rides. Any of the three can of course be valved however you like but it seemed like I'd have decent odds being happy with the default ICON valving. It was also easy to find and order ICON shocks that I know will work with the rest of the suspension components as far as travel goes - again could order the right thing to be made by any of the three. Another option of course would be to go with someone like DSM that probably has the knowledge to put together a functional package from any of the three. In the end though, it seemed like there was little to distinguish between the three. One choice that would have been different would be the upcoming OME BP-51 but at this point I really can't wait any longer.

    Long term I may go with extended travel CV boots from SDHQ but for now I will wait and see. This will already be a lot of work and while doing the ECGS bearing would disconnect one end of one CV that would leave three other ends to disconnect and the apparently rather annoying and time consuming replacement and repacking of new extended travel CV boots. While my ride height may not provoke continuous fin rubbing the extended travel shocks are going to allow for more droop and even more extreme rubbing in some cases, so that may mean I do eventually go with the SDHQ boots. If so I'll get that done a few months from now, I'm sure the OEM boots will survive at least a few months.

    I'd love to get this all installed next week, but I suspect it will have to wait a bit longer. I've got some work commitments next week and I hope to head out to Death Valley with the family the following weekend. Don't think I can realistically cram the install into that schedule and would hate to "break" the truck right before a planned camping trip!

    Welcome any input anyone has on installation tips or anything they think I'm missing or may have screwed up.
     
    nikkerton, RogueTRD, madsand and 6 others like this.
  20. Feb 1, 2016 at 11:55 PM
    #160
    ArtyBlaydes

    ArtyBlaydes Well-Known Member

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    Sub'd for lift Pics :popcorn:
     
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