Lots done in the last week, thanks to S&M Auto and Randy Worth of Trailcrews 4x4 TLCA club.


This week, I had S&M Auto in Camarillo do some maintenance work that I don’t have the tools or time or space (or knowledge) to do myself. This included replacing the timing belt (which we saw was starting to crack), the water pump, various pulleys and tensioners, and a thermostat of some sort. The fluids in the transfer case and rear differential were changed; the old fluid looked good.

While the rig was up on the lift, I got a chance to walk under it and see how little rust there was underneath. Sandy, the mechanic, showed me that some grease was leaking from the front CV joints. Only a little. It’s something to keep my eye on. He also pointed out that the gasket on the oil pan showed signs of cracking, and it might be a source of a leak. He could fix that on another visit. (Simply a matter of dropping the pan and replacing the gasket.)

Sandy also replaced the shocks, which were original to the rig. I suggested he go with OEM, but wanting to get the work done sooner rather than later, I agreed to his recommendation of Kyb EXCEED-G shocks. They were cheaper and would come with a warantee with him installing. I might regret this later, but it won’t be a big regret.

When I picked the rig up on Wednesday morning, and after Sandy showed me the parts they’d pulled and filled me in about other things, I asked him about helping to put in an auxilliary battery. He thought that was a bit foolish, and he suggested an external battery system. I played along and let it go. He’s not an overland driver. (He drives a sequoia and owns a boat.)


On Saturday, I drove out to Santa Clarita to meet Randy Worth, a guy who co-leads a local TLCA chapter, the TrailCrew 4x4s. The club is going up to the Western Sierras at the end of the month. Through Facebook, I expressed some interest in going. Randy messaged immediately with safety requirements, and he invited me to come out to his place on the weekend while he’d be wrenching with some other members of the club.

I drove out on Saturday, arriving shortly after noon. Randy and his friend Tom were in the driveway, wrestling some battery wiring into submission in Randy’s 62. They quickly moved to Tom’s 80 for a compressor install. I mostly stood back or fetched tools, whichever made their work easier at the time. It was fun to watch them work.

Randy was able to take a look at my rig. Declared it good. Found that a plastic shield underneat the engine had a missing bolt. “I’ll have one that fits,” he said right away. He also expressed chagrin that I didn’t yet have a bracket securing the battery in place. (Good thing I’d ordered that a day or two before from McGeorge.) Both Randy and Tom encouraged me to remove my running boards. “Or the trail will do it for you.” Point taken.

While Randy and Tom were drilling too many holes in brackets, I dropped my spare for the first time and verified that it’s the same as the tires I’m running and that it’s sound.

Randy also lent me tools that helped identify the reason my Homeline rewire wasn’t working: one of my crimps failed. With a crimp from Randy, it was a quick fix.

When I rolled out of Randy’s driveway at 1600, my rig was two fixes richer, there was pizza in my belly, and I’d made some good connections to the local cruiser community.


On a neighborhood stroll on Sunday, I saw a late model LC in the sports park parking lot. It looks a lot like mine except it didn’t have a rear air deflector, and it did not have running boards. I liked the look, and when I went home, I removed my air deflector.

Removing that reveals some paint discoloration on the rear roof of the rig, it revealed a point in the middle of the roof where the paint and undercoat had been rubbed away, and it left four bolt holes (two on each side) exposed.

Wound in the paint

Exposed bolt holes

The bolt holes with their silver necks stick out like four sore thumbs. I’ve ordered some black hex drive M6 10 x 1.0 bolts to go into the holes (with some silicon sealer), but that will leave a 1–2mm silver collar exposed. I need to figure out a way to tame that visual discontinuity. Maybe it shouldn’t be a priority, but if I’m going to get something to touch up that rub-wound, I could also use it on the bolt collars.

The tasks on my list (not in any particular order):

  1. address some upholstery problems (holes and small rips) to stop them from becoming a bigger problem,

  2. looking for salvage yards that might have compatible rigs with some plastic parts I need to replace (e.g., lid to fusebox under the hood, cover for compartment on passenger side of the 3rd row seating, tie-down ‘wingnut’ piece that covers a screw in the cargo area)

  3. adding a simple aux battery to the rig; running some outlets for USB chargers

  4. tires are getting worn, so need to consider replacing them with something that balances smooth road ride, fuel efficiency, and effectiveness for overland camping (which isn’t the same as rock crawling)

  5. remove the airfoil and

    consider removing the roof rack

  6. remove the running boards and, perhaps, replace with sliders; without running boards and sliders, it sounds like people recommend mud flaps (here’s a link to the part numbers on ih8mud: [OEM Front Mudflaps][10])

  7. have headlights aimed, perhaps replacing the bulbs (instructions for aiming are [here][11])

  8. mount mobile 2m/70cm radio in dash or up front; large antenna mounted on rear bumper (?)

  9. add bolts to engine cover (two are missing, two are present) - requires a bracket that’s missing

  10. add gooseneck rail mount system for handheld transceiver in cockpit

  11. single sleeping platform in rear


  1. find some folks in my local area (Ventura County) who are interested in some day trips to trails in the Los Padres Wilderness or surrounding areas. I want to meet some people and strengthen some trail driving skills so I can overland camp with confidence with my rig

  2. converting some interior lights to LEDs (Update: kit ordered from [pfran][9])

  3. DONE: working up the courage (and saving the money) for stereo upgrade - CarPlay compatibility, AUX in, BT for music; not sure if I want GPS, but it would save battery life on phone Update: used @SerialHobbyist’s approach to ‘upgrading’ the stereo

  4. post-purchase shop maintenance: replaced the timing belt and transfer case looked at (someday, have from at [RPM Garage][8] in Monrovia take a look at the rig)

  5. replace shocks (current shocks look original to truck) - Kyb EXCEED-D recommended by S&M Auto

  6. customize wiring to the homelink system in the top console so it only activiates as an accessory as opposed to being ‘always on’

  7. NOT BROKEN, just anemic: fix antenna mast, perhaps replacing it with a manual mast (?)

  8. removed air deflector