Thursday, September 17, 2009

About that rear window...

When I picked up the Toy, the seller had indicated the rear window didn't like to go up or down without whapping the panel where the relay sat.

Sure enough, it was recalcitrant at best.

Seeing as I've been getting a lot of input from the Yotatech folks, I shared my solution with them. Far better write-up below.

I managed to get the window down pretty readily, but I couldn't get it to go up for the life of me.

I assumed the problem was related to the "Rear Door" light in the dash being on. That was driving me nuts, it wasn't lit the night I picked the truck up and I couldn't figure out how to make it go off.

Ok, time to pull up the wiring diagram (which you can find online by Googling for the service manual. Most of the Toyota sites have sticky links to them too).

Looking through the Factory Service Manual's wiring diagram, I figured that out right quick.


    LOCK the door (err, tailgate)... deerrrr.

I used to have a fullsize Blazer with an electric window and it didn't have a rear door lock, but the window wouldn't go up if the gate wasn't fully closed. I had assumed it was the door sensor that was acting up. And that's how past experience can get you in trouble! LOL

After that, though, it was still hit and miss - which it had been to go down.

The relay is behind the trim panel on the driver's side, and behind the driver's seat - about where a rear passenger's knee would go. Being a West-coast truck, it had zero external corrosion.

However, the [very thick] blue/black strip wire's relay-side connector was corroded, so I had to scrape that clean. The connector in the chassis-side looked fine, but a little blued from heat. Poor connections get hot.

After that, when I left the key on and twisted the relay 90 degrees each way, some of the sub-relays in it clicked on and off. The connection was still not solid.

Pulling/pushing the individual wires didn't help me narrow it down. But taking apart the relay and tracing the leads to the single relay clicking tracked down the wires I needed to pay attention to).

The ends of the connectors in the chassis side looked like they tend to connect with the spring-sides, not the broad flat sides, so I tweaked the ends of the connectors on the chassis connector to give them a slight bow at the front. Now the connection is decent and I can't make the relay click on and off.

Next time I get in there (when I do the front seatbelts), I'll add some dielectric grease to help it long-term.

It beats some of the solutions I saw with cutting open the relays, or creating your own relay array (the big relay box really contains 3-4 smaller relays).

3 weeks later and the rear window is working fine. Eeep! Did I jinx it?!?!

Let's start fixing things!

Ok, what's the first thing you do with a used car you bought?

Change the oil, the fan belts, maybe? Nope! This truck's going to get an engine first.
My thought process goes like this. If I put a new turbo on, the head gasket will leak. Or, worse, a rod will find a new home outside the block. It's a decent running motor (220K), and a head gasket will take most of a Saturday to do and I'll be much of the way into the motor... Let's just do it right!

Ok, that leaves... Wash it?

That's right!! This thing needed a bath in the worst way, inside and out. The outside was very grimy from its environment. It looked like it had been parked in an industrial yard for the past few months and the white was dingy through the accumulated grime.

We spent $10 at the local self-serve car wash hosing away the grime. The underside was pretty clean though. It's not spotless, but it's much cleaner.

The interior, as you saw from previous pics, was in a world of hurt. Cleaning was not going to help that rear carpet.

I started casting about for sources for interior parts. My local yards had little, and the ones that had stuff were pretty proud of what they did have.

So I started casting about on Yotatech, Pirates, and other sites. And Google.

And then I completely, totally lucked out. I turned out to be the 2nd poster for a guy who had a clean 89 (2 years new than mine) with the same paint scheme and interior color. Sadly, it was not power windows.

BUT! He was parting out whatever he could before he took advantage of the US Grubbimint's Cash4clunkers program. (The USG spent $3B of our money for about $380M in benefit. And a lot of new Japanese cars on the road. You decide of that was good for US citizens as a whole...).

Personally, I support people taking advantage of the program. It's a business decision, not a moral value.

This worked out to my incredible benefit as I got new seatbelts (all 5), headrests (my driver's seat looked like it had yellow dandruff), new REAR carpet (woo-hoo!!!), some rear topper trim, his radio, and some other goodies we'll be installing later.

Here's the detritus from the original headrest on the driver's side and why I really, really wanted new headrests. Not shown is that the design in the fabric is sewn in opposite of the direction of the fabric on the seat. I'll likely swap covers later. Much later.

Andrew is quite mechanical and I frequently find him swapping trucks on his skateboards when I'm pulling the motorcycle into the garage after a day at work.

Here he is pulling the driver's door apart so we could see how clean we could get the door panel. It came out pretty clean, but I didn't take a picture as it was dark by the time I put it back on after Andrew had headed off to bed since it was a school night. Dawn is amazing stuff (hey, they use it to clean oil spills).
Can you tell the new rear fender carpet from the old?

One other part I got was the rear trim for the topper. Someone had cracked both of the originals. Look at the dust/grime on it. That's all over the rest of the interior, and is much worse on the dash (the dash is clean in the original sales pics, so I'm guessing it's from the guy I bought it from).

The bed looked really good (eat your heart out, East-coasters! )
The seat-backs had a light dusting of rust, so I cleaned them off and painted them. I had some bronze I have no idea how I got, so I used that color! LOL
Rear carpet before
Rear carpet after. The new carpet was in awesome shape for being in a truck with 190K, but still benefited from a good cleaning (with the help of some Dawn, a scrub brush, and a hose!).

And, finally, here's the tail end of this relatively easy project - the tailgate!

Here's the original tailgate
Here's the new tailgate carpet. FYI, the ugly one above cleaned up pretty well with Dawn, a brush, and a hose, but the vinyl surround was still pretty hacked... and the new one was still prettier.
In the week since doing this, I've decided a carpeted tailgate isn't something I'm in love with. I expect an alternative solution to eventually find its way here. It's too hard to keep remembering not to put dirty stuff on the tailgate.
There's nothing like the satisfaction of doing something so easy, so cheap, that is so effective. I really got lucky on the carpet deal, but I'm quite pleased with the outcome, especially given it was not work I was expecting to have to do when I originally flew out to pick up the truck.
It's great to have another truck, and another insured 4-wheeler in the family. It makes it real easy to for SWMBO and I to be in different places with different #s of kids at the same time!

Next up (probably, none of this is hard and fast)- rip out the seats and front carpet, clean the rear seats (yes, more oil stains), swap seat belts, and keep doing my homework on what to do with the engine.

So there I am, waiting at the airport

I sent the seller a PM and he called me up and we talked. He provided a lot of detail, I shared  a story about my 600 mile round trip (driving) from San Diego to Visalia to pick up a 4Runner that was neither as described, nor had a clear title (How does "Do you have a clear title?" "Yes, I do." become "I have paperwork so *you* can get a title."?!?!?).

He gave a detailed description of the dents, the dings, what worked, what didn't.

I get to the airport in San Diego, and the security line is the longest I have ever seen. I haven't missed a flight in many, many years (and fly about every 2 weeks for work).

Wholly mackerel!! It's easy to tell there is no way I'm making it. I check and there are 2 more flights out. I end up with the 2nd-to-last standby seat on the next flight. I am a very frequent flier on, and a fan of, Southwest and I like to think that helped! Since the original flight was delayed anyways, I'm only about 15 minutes later than I would have been anyways. As it is, this flight lands 1 hour after the earlier flight was scheduled. Whew!

At the airport in Sacramento, I quickly recognized the 4Runner chugging up to meet me. No smoke, good. Looked like the pics from the outside. Good.

Dude (name with-held to protect the not-quite-so-innocent) looked like my kind of guy. Bald, tats, working guy. He shook my hand when I got in and we introduced ourselves.

Now I used to work on cars for a living, but I always washed my hands and arms before getting into my ride home (well, any ride, actually). This fellow had just gotten out of work and I now had elevator hydraulic oil on my hands from the handshake. As you can imagine, this kinda got around on the interior too...

Lesson 1 - "Does the interior still look like it does in the pictures you posted?" Answer: You decide

Yes, that's from his tool bag.

Lesson 2 - "What's missing that should be there?" When I got there, I found out that the driver's window/door lock switch was missing. This part is turning out to be particularly troublesome to find (it lays in the door). And it's $225 at the dealer, I found out later. Yes, I'm still looking for one, that's a lot of green! For now I'm using jumper wires to move the windows up and down. What a pain! LOL

Story? "It was broken and I was trying to fix it in my wife's car, laid it on the seat, went somewhere, came back and someone stole it." Or your buddy has it, maybe?

Lesson 3 - "Do all the key locks work?" I knew the rear window had issues going up and down, so I didn't try it. But I did ask "Can I make the window go up and down with tailgate switch?" Answer: "No"

Is that a lie? Why, you ask? Because the key I was given only worked in the driver's door and ignition. Nice.

Excluding these tidbits, though, it was as described, it ran OK, and it didn't leak. We did the deal and I was ready for my drive home!!

A known issue was that the gas gauge wasn't working as expected, so I'd have to go off mileage. Looks like a sending unit problem as it reads fine to 3/4 tank, then thinks it's empty. I can deal with this (I think!).

I gassed it up, threw Flat-Face-Gary on the windscreen and asked him to get me home the fastest way possible.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my multi-outlet cigarette lighter, so I had to alternate between the V1 (radar detector, world's best, get one!) and FlatFace when his battery tired.

After about 120 miles, I stopped for gas. At 80, I was pulling slightly better than 20mpg. Rock. On.

Turbo boost would not exceed about 30%, but that was probably due to the exhaust leak. And the 220K on the truck. :) Since a new turbo was in the plans, this really didn't bother me. And it was no surprise, obviously.

The ride was relatively uneventful. Relatively excludes:

  1. FlatFace rerouted me due to an accident in LA. At the whatever/I-10 interchange in LA, I completely launched that poor truck well into the air. The shocks are "a bit" worn, so it pogos a bit over bumps, and, with the worn shocks, it compressed fully into the dip, and then LAUNCHED. I just about hit my head on the roof, which is hard to do with a shoulder belt on. Semis must hate that junction.
  2. Right after that I got gas, and then proceeded to, like a dork, drive past 2 officers with my headlights off (at 11pm). I'm too used to my newer cars which turn on the lights FOR you! D'oh!
  3. For the finale to the detour, FlatFace routed me into what appeared to have been some gang violence. Cops everywhere, roads blocked off, body under a sheet in the road behind a car with holes in it. Garmin might want to consider an "Avoid high crime areas" feature!! =8-O Right about then, I was pretty bummed California makes it so hard to get a CCW.

A lot of the route was familar since I had just driven most of it to get to Visalia for that title-less 4Runner.

The long slog up Grapevine did stretch the truck's abilities, but I was able to pull 55ish over most of it without working the truck too hard. MPG dropped to 16.7 for that tank. We did bounce down the south side of Grapevine a bit, as a precursor the the I10 incident.

Most of the ride was done at 8-9mph over with few issues, just cruising with the flow. I got home about 3AM. Much to SWMBO's chagrin. She had wanted me to pull over and sleep. I like long drives (1000 miles on the motorcycle in a day is a good start!), and wasn't tired, so I just drove on through. Much longer though and I would have pulled off for a nap.

Ahhhhh, it was great to be home!!! Though I'd only left at 6pm the night before!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

After months of searching, I found my truck!

You know how it is. You want to find the right vehicle to start your project with.

After watching more than one Toyota climb up torturous, rocky hills with all 4 tires spinning like crazy while I was stuck at the bottom with a broken axleshaft (well, 3wd), I've wanted a Toyota. And I always wanted one with a removable top too.

So I started hunting for them several months ago. My friends were also on the lookout for me, generally sending me good hits.

While it would have been more economical to start with a fully built truck, I wanted something that the kids and I could work on together. While money is certainly tight thanks to learning the hard way about Alt-A loans and refi'ing into a fixed rate, losing our the options that come with "first money down", I'm looking at this as part of my kid's education. We're fortunate, the rest of our vehicles are in pretty good shape.

I'd been watching several trucks which were having a hard time selling, while using to keep looking for new postings.

The one at Pirate4x4 had been posted for many months, had a blown exhaust gasket, and was gradually coming down in price, but was still too much. It turned out to be like my motorhome. Watch them long enough, eventually the price becomes right. Or someone snaps it up before you do!

I'd about given up on it when my buddy Brendan re-sent this one to me. And this time, it was within striking range of my budget for a foundation. Even better, it had the cleanest interior of just about any sub-$5000  4Runner I'd seen so far.

So I called the owner up, asked the relevant questions (do you have a clear title in hand? Really? Does the rear window work?), and made arrangements to fly to Sacramento to get it.

Here are the pictures from his ad. Why is it so many people cut off parts of the truck? Is there something wrong with the front end? How about the rear end?

Sweet looking ride!

As sometimes happens when you get on a plane to buy something, I was in for a bit of a surprise. AKA, more questions I learned I need to ask.