I love the X. It's as much of a toy as it is a tool, a tool for life really, and you can do great things if you use it. It's got a great capacity, ability and capability to do many things and enrich one's life. Some people complain about the hobby about modifying vehicles as a waste of money and time, but there's many, many things that you can't put a price tag on. It's stuff like experience and experiences that make it all worth while. The stuff we learn, places we see, the people we meet along the way and thereafter the stories we have to tell.
For those that see them posted on the Facebook Xterra groups, Manny has been making up illustrations of members trucks in his spare time. I asked him to do mine, and he was more then willing to, admitting he wanted to before I asked him.
I think they turned out absolutely great! If anyone wants any Frontrailer paraphernalia, or from other members trucks, you can check out his shop, and probably easily contact him to get him to make you stuff of your own.
A great find thanks to my good friend Fred. A Xantrex 2000w pure sine wave inverter. I know it's been part of my plans for this trailer, but hasn't been a priority. I was thinking about the Canadian Tire 1000w model for the price (when it comes on sale) thinking that it'll be handy, but I don't want or need a large amount of AC power, nor want to include many systems that depend on it. I did want to go the pure sine wave route for it's efficiency, especially the trailer being more dependent on battery power and slower recharge capability. But $200 for a lightly used (about 6 months) Xantrex is a steal when they sell for about the C$600+ range. It's not the most robust version for cold under freezing and humidity, but I'll just be smarter on the installation. I don't see myself really needing this in the winter, and more for extra functionality in the summer, which will be why I'll be connected to the same battery as the Webasto. Besides, if I need something, I do have the 1500w modified sine wave in the Xterra that does that job just fine. To be honest, I have no clue when I will be installing it, and exactly where and how, but it's no rush, and I'll let it simmer and figure it out.
The piece I was most anxious to get was my Dexter 1000psi electric-hydraulic brake actuator. I know the trailer is illegally heavy for the truck without brakes. It does tow and brake fine, and I would just call it fine. This piece is the last of the "big 3" pieces, the more expensive parts of the trailer build. First being the awning, and the second being the Webasto. Ordered it from the USA and picked it up across the border. It cost me about half the price then buying it locally in Canada. It cost me about C$680 while everyone locally wants C$1100+, with tax puts it over C$1200. Amazon Canada they have it for C$999. Huge difference. I'll still need to get a brake controller, and I'll redo the entire brakes on the axle, including the cylinders since they've never been used in the last 3 years of my ownership, and the truck sat for a year prior to that, I'll do it some good to do a proper refresh so that it's not for nothing. I'll still need a brake controller, and that Redarc Tow-Pro Elite looks like the perfect option for use and install. I'd like winter to get the heck out of here ASAP so that I can pull the trailer into the back yard and spending some nice time outside in the sun and making up the braking system. I'd like to get this up and running for an overland meet in Quebec the weekend of 15-17 of June since it may have to do some real off-roading, depending on what they decide. I still have like 3 feet of snow in my back yard, urgh...
I also got the next big piece for getting functional brakes on the trailer, is to actually have a way to control them. I've been thinking about installing a brake controller in the Xterra almost since the start, but not only did I have no need, but I couldn't really decide on where to install it without being in the way. It's been more on my mind since I started the trailer project, knowing I had plans for brakes eventually. She toes it well, but illegally overweight for not having brakes, and the braking could be better for panic stops. Although I still hadn't figured out where to install one that my knee wouldn't hit it, or get in the way of my center cubby storage since I do find it handy, especially since I did install a deeper version from a Frontier since removing the OEM Rockford-Fosgate amp that was behind it when I upgraded the stereo.
First day of the year in shorts! While we did host a mother's day lunch for the girlfriend's family, I did get some time in the afternoon to start prepping to get some work done before truly starting the seasons. Weather is on the up and time to take advantage of it!
The reason why I went with the Dexter was the size and shape. It gave me the best mounting options for my setup, and so far, everything is going exactly as planned. It fits nicely underneath the floor for the tongue storage tray.
Test fitting the brake actuator. I was thinking that the best place to mount it was going to be here, but I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. Ironically and gladly, it fits perfectly! This is a tray I had made to mount and secure a single battery when I had first started this project. I had left it there after making a proper battery tray and moving them up towards the front, thinking there was no real reason to remove it until I had to. Well it couldn't of worked out better with only a small modification to cut away a small piece just to clear the hydraulic line fitting.
Picked up most of the braking components. Drums, pads, spring kit, cylinders and the line with a few fittings. I'm still missing the flex line and associated fittings, but should come in within the next day or two.
First time the wheels have been taken off in a few years. Time to get this started.
What was left of the original braking system. Wasn't sure how I was going to go about doing this when I had planned for this build, but left it in case. Now, it'll all going to get removed, brackets and all. Time to start anew.
I have no idea what's the state of the brakes, and they haven't been used in over 4 years. I've had it for over 3, and the truck sat for a year prior.
Brakes were about half way worn. Seems to of have no leaks, but the parking brake system (which is totally different them from the Xterra) is completely jammed. The whole system does look old like it sat, not surprised
Everything removed. Bolt from the brake cylinders snapped of course, all of them. Will be giving it a quick clean up with the wire brush. I don't want to jinx myself and spend too much time on cleaning it up and painting it until I have it all working and am happy with the system. I'll give it and the axle a whole bunch of TLC one day. Probably the day I work on the suspension and will have the axle completely unbolted at that point.
A whole new kit installed, on both sides of course. I removed the parking brake hardware, but will be keeping it in case. I'm undecided if I use the hydraulic system for the parking brake, or rebuild the cable system.
Tension adjusted and the drum installed. I'm not a fan of the color, looks more green in person. I'll have to clean those up and give it a coat of black caliper paint.
Time to work on the hard lines. Here's the original one, the shorter section runs to the passenger side
I'll be centering the brake distribution block, so each side is equal length. It makes it easier to mount and install, and I don't need as long for the flex line. I'm not sure if there's a difference and having it center will reduce any natural biasness from one side to the other, but it definitely won't hurt.
It's been about 3-4 years since I first and last touched hydraulic lines. I redid the clutch line for the Xterra those years ago. The first took me a while to figure it out. The other (drivers) side was much quicker.
And the lines connected to the distribution block, which is part of the flex line. It's an aftermarket replacement for the OEM Frontier brake flex line. I used a nut to use as a spacer to raise it to clear the top of the diff. I'm not a fan if doing that, looks half-assed, but again, I want to make sure it all works before getting into the finer details.
The original line went in back of the diff, while I decided to run it so that it's not the furthest point to avoid any rubbing, like on the spare tire. I may redo them to follow more of the curve of the diff, but again with little experience, I want to make sure it works and especially, that my flares don't leak.
I also grinded away the clearance necessary for the hydraulic output of the brake actuator, cleaned it up with a wire brush and primed and repainted it.
I finished up the hydraulics Monday like I wanted to. You may excuse the odd loop. I decided to run the main line inside the tubing with the wiring to protect it, but was worried that if I was to have a leak, that the fluid would follow the line, so I made a "drip loop" in case. There's nothing to say I can't do back and redo the line, and it may be here where I would "T" into for a hydraulic hand brake. I honestly don't know if this is possible. With the information that I can find on hydraulic parking brakes, they either have their own reservoir and people use install a second set of calipers (largely referring to drift cars), or there are versions that let the fluid pass through when not in use. The issue I have with this is the brake line I would have to run up to the tongue and back. Maybe I'll rebuild the cable parking brake setup, but I'll let this idea simmer for a while in the meantime. Fortunately all went well and I was surprised to of only had one leak where the hardline joined to the flex line. Despite trying a few tricks to fix it, I ended up having to chop off my flare and do it again from scratch. It's probably from working underneath upside down. Once that was redone and tightened down, all was good. My girlfriend ran the pump to help me bleed the system and all seems good so far. I'm actually really anxious to try this out, really see what it's like to tow the trailer that can brake. but the next step is to get the controller installed in the Xterra.
And yesterday evening I worked and completed all the wiring. Was hot but a bit windy. It's not going to be nice the next few days to decided to use this day to finish this up. Picked up the wiring I needed after work from my local trailer supply shop and got to work. The E/H actuator uses standard trailer wiring colors, which pisses me off cause I hate using black for power. It wanted power directly from the vehicle source. White is connected to ground. Blue of course went up the harness to the 7 pin trailer connector that will get feed from the brake controller. I also had another 7 pin connector on hand, so I replaced it. The old one was showing some signs of corrosion on the pins, so I figured it was a good time to swap it out to ensure a good clean connection, and I also did a much better job at sealing up the wire end and retaped up the wire loom.
Yellow is for the breakaway switch, so I ran a pair of yellows up to the tongue to the switch. From there, one was connected to the yellow on the E/H actuator dedicated to the breakaway function, and the other was connected directly to one of my batteries. Specs lists a battery of a minimum of 9Ah, so my car battery will more then suffice. I may work a system in the future to use power from both batteries as an extra redundancy, but that'll be when I do a total reorganization of the electrical system. This is all designed to be expandable and reliable, but it's not the permanent setup since I'm still making it up as I go along.
With the brakes technically done, it was time to get some work done on the truck. I was working pretty crazy (as always) for about 2 weeks trying to finish up the truck while working on a haunted maze for our gang of the haunted house for family-friendly event. I reinstalled the roof rack with the newly installed rear light bar and signal bar, installed the Red Arc Tow-Pro Elite brake controller and new connector on the truck side. The event was great exposure for us, but it took up 2 weekends of my time; one for prep, the other for the setup and the event. We were suppose to have 2 days to setup, but because the city screwed up with not finishing the road, one entrance was blocked off and the fire department forbid us from using the school gym they were setup at. They paid for a tent, but setting that up took up a day, so we only had 1 day to setup this all up. We finished around 2am, went to bed around 3am, and was up bright and early at 7 to be there to finish up and open for 9:30am. We rested up Saturday night. The event finished at 4 Sunday, but EVERYTHING has to be taken down and removed from the tent that night. We finished after midnight, so we'll say that Monday, I didn't have the energy to work on anything.
I'll just glance over it, but I had started a project to convert the truck over to an electric power steering pump back in late 2016 but ran out of time, and 2017 was a write off for any projects, and I made it my priority to get that done this year. I had a two week window to sort out the new belt and pulley to bypass the old pump (shares the belt with the water pump and radiator fan) and extend the hoses. The hose being actually the hardest part. I did get it completed and so far it's working quite well. More information on the conversion can be had here: https://www.xterranation.org/index.php?posts/461059/
From there, I managed to score a set of Pathfinder manual locking hubs for a great price. It coincided well with the upcoming overland event, and figured it would work out better then the auto hubs if I have issues getting stuck with the trailer. They didn't come with the studs, but I picked up (shorter) bolts instead. Oddly the ones designed for the Xterra are longer, and thus stick out more and tent to get damaged by rocks and such unless your running offset rims. I have no clue why they made more then one version since they're very much compatible, and plus shallower.
I drove the truck to work the next day. Leaving in two days, I wanted to make sure everything is OK and not find this out on the trail.. I took Friday off to get a bunch of last minute stuff done, including getting the skid plates from the mother-in-laws garage and install them. A last minute modification to the trailer was to install a water pump. A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine wanted to borrow my Martin hot water heater for a weekend at his new cottage. Well I'm sure you know where this is going and indeed, the pump came back broken. Apparently still somewhat functional, but broken. Well the day before we were leaving, my girlfriend asked if I was bringing the shower kit. I guess I forgot to mention it and she wasn't impressed. She hates it when we/I lend out stuff cause it never comes back in the shape it left. In the what, 3 years I've had this heater, I lent it out once. It's frustrating. She really wanted the shower for "feminine hygiene" reasons. While it was always part of the plan, I guess this would be a variant of a "forced upgrade". So part of my errands of Friday was to purchase and install a new water pump. I'll deal with cleaning it up when I replace the hot water heater with an Eccotemp L5. This will do for now.
And around 9pm, we were ready to head off. I stopped off at the gas station to fill up the Xterra, fill up the tank in the Frontrailer, and also the 20L jerry can. The water tank was full plus another 20L, and I also had a bit of wood. After a little over 3 years of work, this will be the trailer's first real test. It's the first time it'll be used in the environment for what it was designed for, and will full weight. I'm both excited to finally get back out on the trails, get out camping for the first time this year, but also nervous. I'll find out if my design and setup actually works as I had planned and hoped it would.
Fortunately it was a little over an hour away for us, so it wasn't too bad for the fact that we left late and would get a good night sleep. Oddly, in almost 10 years, this is the first time that I'm camping and that I'm not the only person using a roof top tent.
We didn't pack the warm sheets, but I didn't think we would need to for mid-June, but by 5am, I had to pee, and it was chilly and the tent was filled with condensation. While up doing my business, I figured this would be a good time to hook up the heater, considering it takes less time to setup then it was to actually pee. Would give a little warmth and especially to dry up the inside of the tent before packing up.
We were 35 vehicles in all in all different overland configurations. We all met up for a briefing of the events of the weekend and explained the two trail options. Not knowing what to expect nor the limits of the trail, I was planning on following the main group on the easy but long trail since this was essentially the inaugural overland trail run for the trailer. After chatting with a few people, they said that the hard trail wasn't bad and it was just the beginning obstacle. With that, I thought, what the hell, let’s make this fun! Trial by fire! This would especially be interesting since the trailer is in fill overland mode, meaning that the fuel tank is full as well as the water tank, minus what we used for dishes the night before, but we also had a 20L jerry of fuel and a 20L jerry can of water as well. It’ll be essentially in full weight, somewhere around 2800lbs would be my solid guess, but it could be more.
We had stopped on the road with some people going straight, and some people going on a trail to the left. I asked what was happening and this is where the group split for the different runs; left is hard and straight is easy. After chatting with a few people, they said that the hard trail wasn't bad and it was just the beginning obstacle. With that, I thought, what the hell, lets make this fun! I could of sworn in the info and briefing that we all were going to fuel up on the way out, but this wasn't the case and only as few people did. I didn't was to lose the group nor my friends and kept with the pack. At the stop I took advantage of the time to air down using the speed bleeders and added a 1/4 tank of fuel from the main tank in the trailer.
And off to start the day!
The first obstacle was the trail entrance. It was tight and we needed to turn. Most needed some help, a few trucks made it look easy (helps if you have a heavy foot) like my friend in his Tacoma, or the guy in the Tundra. The stock Tacoma and 4Runner had a particularly tough time here, but would be their story from the start to the end of the that section of the trail. It would of been a fairly easy obstable for me as well but I got caught up on my driver’s side leaf spring hanger and needed a slight tug off the rock. The trailer followed with no issues and took a line to compensate from the start. From the video, it looks like it squeezed by.
Mud was my enemy on this trip, as was most us of. I could get anywhere if I had traction, but if I had to paddle through, the trailer would be an anchor. They said when they scouted the trail a few days ago there was only one, but there was several to contend with and I needed a tug a few times throughout the day on this section.
I was starting to get frustrated since I hate having to ask for help, and took a few bypasses around some of the mud holes where I could. The stockers in the back where complaining that we were tearing up the trail by the time they got though. They weren't wrong.
The picture that follows was an interesting detour. By buddy in the red Taco was pulling people out and he was looking for a detour to get ahead and help out. He asked me to walk ahead to find him a clear path around. There was some parts that was grass/moss with mud hidden underneath so I was looking for a solid path for him. After getting him through, I thought about it for a bit and looked at the 3-4 sequential mud holes (where the Wrangler is pulling out the Cherokee in the pictures above) and wanted to avoid being a hassle for the others and decided to go for it, but was worried that I’d be on my own if I got stuck; the consequences of my own actions. I figured by now that all was going well as long as I had traction, so I’ll just follow the path I led my buddy on. It wasn’t as easy I thought out to be. It’s not easy to see the tracks of a single truck’s path. On the first start of the detour, I needed to go up a rock covered with grass, but I took it to the right where my buddy went up, but it wasn’t smooth like for him and with the running start I took (for the trailer) we jumped up and so did the trailer. That caught me off guard. From there the bypass went well, but there was a point I lost his track and went too much to the right where the truck leaned to the side from being on a slope and then girlfriend screamed. From that I totally lost track on where I wanted to go. I think it was the issue of me not going where she thought I was going to go. No choice, I had to keep going, but my girlfriend at this point wasn’t comfortable with it and for the first time ever, stepped out of the truck. She did record a bit (will be posted later) but the video doesn’t do it justice, but does it ever? I pointed the truck uphill and after a few attempts (losing a bit of traction from a rock) and repositioning, I got up and over and back down another hill and rejoined the trail. I was ecstatic, what a run, what a rush!
We all then rejoined back on the forest road.
The Cherokee did some trimming that day
From there, we took some much lighter trails. From the pictures, it looks like this is where the easy group passed by in their part of the trip. We stopped for a late lunch, waited for the easy group to join us (they took a detour and went to a lake) and eventually we headed off to the spot planned for the group to camp for the night.
We didn’t want to open the awning, so we tried to make a make shift shower under the tent with a tarp. My RTT doesn’t have an annex. I don’t remember them existing back 10 years ago, but I didn’t know all that well about them back then either. I’m always torn about getting one or not, but maybe one day I’ll add one.
And cooking up some steaks for supper. A well-deserved meal.
And a fire. I wanted to stay up late, but it’s been a rough few weeks. My body wasn’t having any of it, especially when you’re sitting and relaxing, so I and decided to shower and rest up.
The next morning people were slowly making their way out. Some having longer distances then others. I followed some Land Rovers until we split leaving the park and jumped on the highway to head home.
I left I had over a quarter of a tank left I think, and decided to stop off the highway eventually, and fuel and air back up. I wasn’t really worried, I was going to use the fuel in the tank of the trailer anyway. I’ve already paid for it and I don’t want it to get old and go to waste. I spotted a good exit to stop and just as we hit the ramp, the fuel light came on. We stopped at a gas station for the air pump to save time, and transferred the fuel while we were doing that
I forgot about thinking to time the fuel up, but we figured from the messages my girlfriend sent when we stopped, took less than 15 minutes, which is much better then the 40 minutes that I calculated with the water bottle test I did earlier this year. I need to revisit that test. What I found interesting that despite that I put in a “1/4” tank of fuel, I still managed to go from the fuel light on to touching the fuel line in what was left in the tank before the it started to sputter. I of course don’t want to burn out the fuel pump.
And a stop for ice cream before arriving back home
In the end, it was an amazing weekend. I couldn't be happier with how the truck and trailer performed. I didn't feel the trailer other then in accelerating and when I got stuck in the mud. It just did it's own thing and followed without and complaints and never hindered any obstacles. It never jostled the truck which I would like to attribute to the off-road coupler and the soft and long truck suspension absorbing the bumps. The only thing is that the truck is missing just a bit of power under 1000rpms to get going. Gearing would help and maybe even going with a smaller S/C pulley might make up the difference. I was happy that nothing broke, especially on the trailer. I was put through it's paces and took it like a champ. The weight had me worried. It's a common concern that's been pointed out since I started the build. Considering it's weight, I wasn't worse off compared to the FJ towing a lightweight military trailer, and still did much better then the stock trucks. In the end, I'm extremely pleased of the performance of the setup.
I ended up cheating and got them from work, there the mechanic's shop are supplied by Fastenal. What I ended up doing is measuring how much the bolts stuck out of the bottom of the stock auto hub and compared that to the length I needed if inserted in the manual hubs since they obviously don't run the entire length of the hub. I had brought the bolt with me to compare size and pitch.
Sorry, I've been meaning to get back to you, but they're 3cm long. Pitch and thread I haven't figured out yet, but should be easily findable. I'll look in my gear when I get a chance
From here on it, I found some time to work on a prototype jerry can holder. While I wanted to have it ready for the Rassemblement Overland, I couldn't get it done in time, but I did get it done before my trip to Mosport. It was an idea and my first attempt at building one. It's designed to hold either my Sceptre military fuel or water Jerry cans. I know there's a variety of different jerry can holders that you can buy, but I found them mostly quite expensive, and I had a few features that I wanted out of mine that I couldn't find; 1) I wanted to be able to side load it 2) I want have to lift the jerry can as little as possible to mount it. 3) I wanted it lockable, of course. 4) I want to be able to put the jerry can on it's face. Would be handy with camping with a spout for the water can. We'll consider this one a prototype and could easily be unbolted if I change my mind. I do want to build one for the drivers side eventually, but it would block my access to my actuator control box, so I may have to work on a proper electrical system before I make one for that side. With it's mounting location, I also needed to add a spot to relocate and mount the front corner light.
All loaded and latched up
Lockable latch picked up from my local trailer supply store.
The double-hinge setup was made to save my shins if it was made as a solid piece. When I was making it, I could already foresee and feel the pain
Although I need to make up a spout, in this position it would be convenient to pour out water.
And also, just to having to avoid lifting it higher then I needed to, with the lack of sides, I could easily just load it with as little lifting as possible, and I can do it from the side, so I don't have to fuss with going straight in from the front, especially with pinned to the truck.
The other part was the awning extension system. I made it in a haste in fall of last year and never properly cleaned it up nor painted it. I didn't have the time but I also wanted to make sure it actually worked before spending all that time on it for nothing. So far so good, but badly needs some TLC. The issue was with the awning, specifically installing the walls, even more specifically the inside walls. Having the awning not extended beyond the side of the vehicle would have it follow the shape of the vehicle, taking up some of the length and width of the walls, where they wouldn't line up to all properly attach together. I could of easily used some really long brackets. I had actually bought some to modify and use for this exact I but I didn't want to have the awning be the furthest point on the side of the trailer where it's widest part of the setup and increasing the potential of it to get caught up on stuff. I still wanted to be able to use just the awning without the sides and needing to extending it out. I let the idea simmer most of 2017. Eventually I got an idea and in the fall, found a set of identical scissor jacks for sale for a good price and not $100 a pair new, especially since I needed 3. I also needed them to open up flat and use a socket style for the crank handle and not the hook style. I got some cheap discount swivel sockets to use as u-joints, welded to come round bar and clips in to the proper socket to drive the jacks. I needed to weld on a joint to the end of the worm gear on two of the jacks and modify the top of the jacks to be able to attach them to the rack using my favorite 2" muffler clamps. The front most jack needed a spacer to compensate for the tubing that extends the Frontier rack forwards since it had a slightly bend inwards. Hopefully I'll take them off soon and clean them up. I'll also need to replace the pin in the swivels with proper stainless hardware. Another modification was that the top facing feet on the base of the jacks needed to be cut off and made flush to clear the RTT when it was retracted.
So, as a warning to what's coming up as an update from here on in, as I look back and read it, it's more of a generic blog that's generically about vehicles then the trailer and the truck. You guys will have to let me know if it's interesting or me just posting up long winded digital rambling, but I find them ironic and interesting. Not just to validate on why thing happen, or not, but I find when I talk to people about things that happen in my life, I get the feeling that people look at me like I'm making it up all up, or just exaggerating what happened. They also tell good stories, and lessons to learn, for myself and others.
As it always seems to be, things were just crazy and non stop. I did get a little fun in July with my yearly pilgrimage to Mosport to watch some races with some of my best friends from Ontario. This time, we managed to bring my girlfriend's best friend along and her new boyfriend. Since I wasn't planning a trip down to visit my parents this summer, I convinced them to come up. They didn't camp but spent the night at the hotel. Other them regretting not having ear plugs, they seemed to of enjoy themselves as well.
Before the trip, I swapped to the Frontiers old street tires. I wanted to see if it would improve my fuel consumption since there was zero off-roading on this trip. I wanted to get there as soon as possible to get a good site. They open up Thursday morning, so what we ended up going is booking Thursday, Friday and Monday off, but planned to leave right after work Wednesday, drive until I didn't like feeling like going anymore, and cut much of the drive to get there at a good time Thursday. We left later then we wanted to, and stopped at an On Route just inside Ontario to get some coffee and figure out the plan for the night. I did look at the iOverlander app days prior, but what I failed to see, because I didn't zoom in close enough, is that the spot I planned to spend the night was on the other side of the St-Laurence Seaway in the USA, so a no-go at this point. There was Walmart nearby, but I then got thinking about truck stops. I've heard they have services for truckers, and the girlfriend REALLY wanting to of taken a shower (the spot in the USA had them) so I looked into it. There was a Flying J really not far off, and it had pay showers, so why not?
We took a spot amongst the other tired travellers
We we're actually quite surprised with the showers. We were able to pay for one shower for the both of us. They were clean, plenty hot, and no time limit. Even came with a set of clean towels for one person. While waiting for my girlfriend to do some business, I picked up a dual 12v fan setup. The evening was hot, and it typically is in July. My old single 12v fan had been with me for many years of RTTing and has seen better days, so we connected that and went to bed. I ended up waking up around 2:30am. I was not only getting a bit chilly, turned off the fans and had to pee, but also woke up to the sound of diesel engines idling. I look outside and see flashing red lights. First thing I'm thinking is that whoever it is will be kicking us out. I stepped outside and checked out the situation. I also took some pictures as well. They were going into the building for the Denny's with their suits and masks on. They said nothing, and I went back to bed. The next morning, I talked to the girl at the cash. She was a different person from when we first arrived, and she had no clue what something had happened. I guess I'll never know what it was all about. During the drive, I bring it up in conversation with the girlfriend, but I didn't realise that SHE HAD NO IDEA of the events of the night before. Not the trucks idling feet from the tent, not me getting out of the tent or climbing back in, nothing. She thought I was making this all up...until I showed her the pictures.
For the first night, we just did the basic setup
And the full awning setup.
Weather was nice, but as with typical fashion, we did get a storm roll through Thursday afternoon. We got a warning and my friend had (as always) had left me the task to tie town the gazebos. We sat in the truck to wait out the storm as opposed to spend it in the tent, to be ready to jump out and fix anything. As we watched the lightning in the distance and the dark clouds coming near, it looked like it just missed us from the north.
While I had spotted a nice campground for the trip back, the girlfriend not only liked the convenient and services of the Flying J, but we had supper with my parents and left later then planned, it worked out better. Fortunately, nothing happened this time during the night, that we know of.
What I found odd was that normally we're usually hot camping in July, this time around, we actually used the Webasto during the night; on minimum, but still. We should of had the fans on and still complained, but cold, in July? It's been a weird summer weather wise.
One of the reasons for leaving and getting some distance in Sunday, was to arrive in time to see the Foo Fighters playing in Quebec at the F.E.Q. Monday night. Last time they were in town, I was in course in Kingston (Ontario) and my girlfriend being a HUGE Foo Fighters fan, as opposed to coming down to meet me and head off to Mosport for the same ALMS event, she stayed behind to watch their show. Unfortunately for her/them, they played a few songs before having to shut the show down for a severe thunderstorm. The evening didn't go that well, but we did make the show.
While about a half hour out of Quebec City, a hole blew out in the exhaust. While not a big deal, it was more embarrassing for me for my truck to sound like a POS driving downtown while towing the trailer. She does stand out, but we didn't want to stop at home so we could get a good spot in line. It's an outdoor show, so it's a first-come first-serve "find a spot and stay there" deal. We were too early to get the cheap parking rates for the evening, especially with the trailer, so we went to look for one in a side street. We lucked out, and while pulling into the spot, the slave cylinder on the truck goes flat. It was just replaced in October as well. With that, I put it in 2-Low and went around the block to line myself up better. And a few back and forth bumps with the starter, I was good enough.
At the show, while watching the other shows before the main event, it went from sun to a nice downpour. I HATE getting rained on, and we didn't have any of the emergency ponchos with us, but fortunately I had my Mazda cap I got from Mosport, and I rarely wear a cap. We met our friend Tommy there, and his CAA Plus was expiring very soon, so gladly volunteered to use one of his tows left that would otherwise go to waste. The show was awesome! They played an extra hour, so a full 2 and a half hours of Foo Fighters with permission from the city to make up for last time. Walking out around midnight, we called CAA to get a head start on that wait. We didn't wait too long, but we had other issues. The drover asked me if the trailer was for camping, which I thought was small talk, but he was looking for clarification for the tow. CAA Plus in Quebec includes a trailer, but not a camper. I didn't know this. Fortunately for the setup, since the RTT is removable and easily transferable, it "can turn into a utility trailer", so I was able to correct myself on that. He also wanted to count this as two tows, but it's not supposed to be. Also, the tow truck didn't have a ball for a trailer, and the driver said there was a second tow truck driver on his way for the trailer. We waited around I believe it was 40 minutes, and he then got a call that the second tow truck wasn't coming, so he was going to do it on his own and make two trips. Since we worked in the morning, I sent the girlfriend back with the tow truck driver, they dropped Tommy near his car along the way (it was a good walk and late), while I pulled a camping chair and my cell charger out of the truck and closed my eyes, waiting for the 40+ minute round trip of the tow truck, in the cool night air, while still damp.
The next while now, for the most part, is working on stuff. To begin, I had to replace the AC condenser on the Mazda2. I bought this car with the intended feature of air conditioning. You can easily find one for much cheaper without, especially in manual. When I bought it however, it was November, so testing it wasn't really possible. Mind you, up to this point, I've been driving it in the summer no problem, but I've never been bothered by it. My Mx-3 didn't have AC, and the truck didn't have it for a few years after I removed the radiators to replace the lower rad support and got it only recharged last year. This was more for my girlfriend who can't really handle the heat since she'll be driving it while I work on her car for the next bit. I was thinking 2-3 weeks, but that wasn't the case.
The girlfriend has a 2008 Dodge Avenger (2.7L SXT) and rust had been getting worse over the last few years, and my goal was to stop it, patch it up, and extend the life a few more years. I've never done major body work, but I figured if I took my time, I could handle it. I needed to pick up some mixed gas and some 0.23 wire for the welder. Here's a few pics of what I had to work with:
What I had to fix up is: Rear passenger fender (major), drivers side rocker panels (major), front fender and door (they rubbed in the winter), hood (minor aluminum corrosion from chips), roof (though minor, but rusted and pierced through in one spot), passenger rocker panel (fairly major), rear fender (reasonable compared to the driver side) and trunk (minor rust and dents). What made it much worse was that there's foam all over the vehicle. Sprayed in between the panels, but also a layer squeeze in between the sheet metal. This caused the rust to spread from the inside out. What wasn't rusted, was dry and a fire hazard when welding in the new sheet metal. It was fun.
I also had a buddy who came by, needed the welder to weld some flanges to remove the resonator
And a rear brake job on a Jetta. Friend purchased it just 3-weeks before dieselgate
We did make some time to get away and do a little camping just me and the girlfriend at a close by campground and water park. The weather was good except for one day of a good downpour, but again, for August, we used the Webasto a night just to cut the cool air.
My girlfriend also wanted to make some gardens. She wanted them for this year, but progress was slow. While I did the majority of the work, I refused to work on it unless she was. Surprisingly (not really) they never got completed. One is 95% done, the other 85%, and will be finished next year
Finally getting back to the trailer, I jumped on a deal for an annex for the RTT. I was told that my tent was made "in the same Chinese factory as the ARB", but don't they all say that? Anyways, an annex was always on the wishlist, but I could never make the leap of faith to give it a try. On one of the local Quebec Xterra Facebook groups, a guy had an RTT, awning and annex for sale. It was the first time I've seem him and his setup, but he was selling it for the reason that it wasn't practical to setup this all up and incapacitating the vehicle. That's the exact reason why I build the trailer. I got the annex for C$80+shipping (cause he was 2hrs away) and arrived Friday, the Friday we had planned to go camping. We were heading back to Mont Radar, but this time there would be no snow. We had planned to do some filming for the teaser for this years haunted house on Saturday, but decided to head up and setup on Friday, take it easy, and leave Sunday. We went up with her cousin and her friend from work. The rest of the gang would show up Saturday morning to build the sets, film, deconstruct and leave. We'll say they regretted doing it that way. We did enjoy the annex and we used it as a shower and change room. This was way better then any improvised setup that we have done to this point, and like we did back at the Rassemblement Overland in spring, pumped the Webasto into it to warm up while we shower. The days were nice, but again, using the Webasto at night. You can tell is frustrates me that it was this cold during the summer. I always look forward to summer, but I already find them short in Quebec, I don't need them shorter and less pleasant.
Actually, while on the way up to Mont Radar, just a few km from the base, we come up to a Jeep on the side of the road. At this point it was getting dark, and while anxious to arrive, we rolled up beside them to see if they were alright. At what I first thought was a look of disgust, but actually more of a look of surprise once they actually said something. They were towing a pop-up trailer and were on the way to Mont Radar themselves. There was a Jeep off-road event there on the weekend, and the trailer had came off the ball, but had no way to get it back up and on it. I had the Hi-Lift and gladly pulled over to give them a hand. They said many people drove by but no one had even stopped to ask if they were ok, which would explain the look of surprise. They had friends that did show up just as we were finishing up. They offered $20 for the help, but we refused it. We said we'd come by for a beer over the course of the weekend, but it sadly didn't pan out. We setup and took it easy Friday, and finished up the filming and helping the others pack up around midnight. They did gladly wave hello to us when the Jeep group came up to the top of the hill for their run Saturday
With no plans for the trailer for a little bit, I took the time to bring the cover to a local canvas shop and had them repair the zipper. It's been frustrating cause it doesn't zip the two halves together. He ended up just replacing the slider.
Come middle of August, this is when the weather took a huge change and we got a few weeks of an actual heat wave that lasted into the beginning of September. During this time, we got a call from the wife of the Rona that sponsors our haunted house saying that they had a bunch of material that was going to get thrown out and that we could come and get it, so we did. I took the 16ft trailer, and her friends boyfriend took his little one. It was a HEAVY load but we didn't have to go far. I wasn't concerned for the truck, but for the trailer. We actually had to load the front and the rear of the trailer at the exact same time to balance it out. Actually, just the front load on the trailer was going to completely bottom out my rear suspension, but we did stop him before getting to that point. Remember that I've done 2000lbs of cement bags in the trunk with little issue last year. With the center of the trailer loaded, the tires didn't seem to like that too much either. My truck's brakes weren't feeling too healthy at this point, so we took it easy driving it back. I kept it under 40km/h cause it felt like it wanted to sway above that anyway.
We got a call about a week later from the owner of Rona, basically accusing us of thief. Our friend told him to talk to his wife about it. In a subsequent call, not only did he never apologize, but also said he wanted it back for Monday morning and abruptly hung up. Unfortunately all the weight on the trailer, cause they never had a chance to unload it, caused it to flex and made the trailer undrivable. He and some employees ended up coming by with a forklift to get it. For what we were told, after he loaded the first batch, he said it was garbage and should of just left it with us. He did end up leaving a small batch of wood, but did never apologized. We were getting stressed by this point cause it's been several weeks since he's been pushing back the meeting to talk about the sponsoring the event again. They normally give us wood to for the major constructions, and we're usually building stuff come August and September. Come the first week of October, our friend gets fed up with the running around and goes to see him directly. He says the business hasn't been doing well since January and that we weren't a priority to him, he basically didn't care. Its one thing if you can't, it's another to lead us on and put us on a spot and in a position there it hurts our constructions and where it's deliberately too late to find someone else> Sadly it was true because we did try, but we do have Home Depot who's really serious about backing us, and told us to see them come January when their budget gets released, and said they'll give us a good spot.
At this point, the work on the girlfriend's car is going well, but overlapping with the haunted house. The drivers side took long because of all the learning and mistakes and corrections I had to do, but at least was on the side that needed the most work. I did get almost all of it done, but left with just two spots to finish up; attempt #3 on the crack on the front bumper (finally found a product that worked) and the spot on the rear passenger fender.
Over the course of the summer, I found the Martin hot water heater was having a hard time, starting to leak internally, and was getting worse and worse. I'm not sure if it was age, another break that happened with the water pump, or the new pump is putting off too much pressure for the unit. So this would be my excuse to get an Eccotemp L5 heater. As opposed to putting it in a Pelican case, but my plans would involve making some holes to give it a permanent installation, so I used a Canadian Tire knock off for the time being. I'd rather mess up a cheap knock off then a real Pelican case until I confirm how the install will be.
The hot water heater was setup just in time to be used for the (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend for the first major construction weekend for the haunted house. As we usually do, we setup the awning and the kitchen, but also setup the annex as a shower, freeing up room in the awning. We didn't setup the awning sides at Mont Radar, and what I liked going this way was the fact that having the shower separate as opposed to being a section under the awning, was we didn't have the extra humidity and condensation created from showering in the same space. We also another cool weekend, we used the Webasto to heat inside the awning space while we cooked and ate. While it didn't make it comfortable, it did make a noticeable difference.
And with typical fashion, making trips with pallets, and the front section of a Westfalia, all for the
And as well this year, I was able to get a week off for going volunteer work and spend 8 days living on site. It would of been 9, but my girlfriend had came up after work and had the Friday off, so I went back with her to come back the next day. I was kind of happy since my nice new Eccotemp L5 also decided to leak internally, so I was able to take a shower. Mind you, I did wash up boiling water on the camping stove on the second day, but I was pissed. I had a rough day of construction, spend time outside getting dirty, had jumped in the shower, powered it on, and had nothing coming out of the shower head. I was troubleshooting that in a towel outside in the cold. I had found some baby wipes in my shower kit, but still, not the day for that to happen. What may of happened, but I hope not, if that overnight, it dipped down to -3 or -4*C. Maybe the water froze, but I had followed the instructions for Eccotemps "Extreme Cold" use. Being Canadian, -4 is far from being extreme cold. During the rest of the week, I did see -6, and the Webasto heater did just fine. At these temps, I think the issue starts to become the cold floor at the bottom of the tent. While inside the tent was nice, I was both warm and had chills, which I think was the cold floor seeping through the mattress and into my body, but I was fine come morning which I would like to attribute to the heater doing it's job all night and the floor eventually warming up. I don't know if an anti-condensation mat would help, but may be something to try. They were calling for a -12 the one night, but it was ironically the night I slept at home.
The first night we opened, I had slept there the night before and with the rush of opening, I didn't bother to spend time to pack up. I had planned on it, but was asked to do some last minute work in some other scenes, so I forwent that, but closed down the front, knowing we wouldn't be sleeping there tonight. Unfortunately, the weather got bad, going to windy and rain, to windy with sleet, to windy with wet snow. We closed up early for the guests and we went back home. I figured it would be best to leave the tent open and hoping when we come back it'll be clear and dry to pack up
But the next day, the Sunday, it wasn't, so I left her as it, and my fingers crossed she's be ok for the new few days.
For those days, I spend some time at work, working on making the Neopixel prosthesis for my girlfriend's character for her scene. I was my first time working with Neopixels, and made up a quick phototype with 3.5mm and 5mm pixels on a flexible board. I'm not an Arduino or programming expert, but it was something small to start with. I wanted to do this sometime over the summer, but it got pushed back just a tad.
Speaking of no time. It was time to put the Rx-8 away for the winter. My CAA membership renewed on the 15th of November. Sadly, my Rx-8 had broken down on her first real outting of the season, and I had ZERO time to work on her. I didn't even have the time to properly diagnose the problem. The "Engine" fuse blows when I turn the key to ON. What I think/have been told/hoping is that it's a coil pack issue, but I guess I'll check it out in 2019. It sucks, it would of been a perfect summer to of driven her instead of the truck all this time, but life doesn't always go your way. I didn't really enjoy her last year either, but I'll get there, just gotta get through the tough times.
Oh, but wait, there's more! In my typical style, things aren't that simple...they never are. She gets stored less then two hours away, so we followed in the Mazda2 to help unload her and pay the storage. We dropped off the car, rolled her into her hibernation spot and all goes well there. When the tow truck pull out, he doesn't know or see the limit of the driveway, goes wide, and went off the paved driveway and into the grass. He apparently did well, until the rear tires got in and stuck.
After failed attempted to push himself out, the tow truck driver had to call for a tow.
And the week after, December decided to come early and we got dumped on, and we've constantly been getting snow and some serious cold. Temperatures we shouldn't see until January.
At this point, this is where all this starts to take it's toll on me. I knew the Xterra needed brakes soon, I could see the performance dropping, and eventually the brake light comes up, figuring I'm low on fluid from the worn pads. With that, I ordered some brakes. In the local Nissan club, someone had shared a link to a set of Max Brakes. Made in Ontario, their top of the line Elite slotted and drilled brakes and ceramic pads were C$130. Not bad, worth a try. I ordered them and they arrived the end of September. I kept driving, having no real time to take care of it. It got to the point where I was braking better towing the trailer. Come the first week of November, it was my turn to be on duty for the base HQ. This is 12 hours shift for 7 days, including the weekend, but this time I was on the night shift, from 6pm to 6am. During this time, they were franticly tearing down the haunted house since the tent was being taken down on the Monday after. I couldn't be there, not working 12 hour days, but I was only one of two trucks that could tow their trailer and move stuff. I tried to nap in the middle of the night to keep from messing up my internal clock, and to try to be more productive during the day by between the hours when the cleaners weren't coming to get and drop off keys. It worked, but as the week went by, the office chairs were getting less comfortable. I could get 2-4 hours of sleep, and it helped pass the time along much faster, but I'm losing track of the day of the week. Unfortunately by mid week I had an issue. I was leaving from my shift in the morning and went to brake at a busy intersection. The light turned yellow and my foot went the floor. I had very little brakes. I downshifted and ended up in the middle of the intersection, fortunately with good timing that traffic wasn't moving yet, but it was busy being the start of the morning commute. I called my aunt and uncle and ask for help. I needed to use their garage to do the brakes. I couldn't do this out in the cold and in the snow in a rush. They gladly offered and I drove it all so slowly and carefully with the little brakes I had left. We pulled in the truck and my uncle wanted to add in brake fluid first. I didn't see the point, but when doing this, and pumping the brake, it just kept on taking more and more fluid. This is when we realised that my rear passenger side brake slave cylinder was leaking. We pull the rear brakes apart and prepped both sides for new cylinders which would arrive at the parts shop the next morning at 8am. We also remove the front brakes, having the time to do it, and would save us time tomorrow. As you can imagine, the brakes were getting down to the metal. Also the driver side caliper bracket was badly worn; the holes oblong and the pins shot. I couldn't find any in stock, no wreckers had anything, so I would put it back together for the meantime and order a new kit from RockAuto. My uncle drops me off at work, my girlfriend picks me up before she heads into work, and my uncle wakes me up with a call at noon to pick me back up and get the truck fixed.
The weekend comes and at the haunted house, the stress is kicking in. I do what I can, cut back on sleep and go up and help both Saturday and Sunday, spending about an hour and a half, 2 hours tops, each day to make progress. I take care of the more detailed stuff like the electrical that I wanted to salvage and save. I got a friend to come by to help, which was a big help. It was the best I could do. Fortunately there wasn't any accidents on my way back home to get ready to work, otherwise I would of easily been late with how close I cut it.
Monday rolls around. I had Monday off from the Remembrance (Veterans) D, and Tuesday off as a day to compensate for the lost weekend. Monday we took the truck to make a trip of pallets to the mother-in-laws barn and unload the Xterrra (old Frontiers) street tires to her place for the winter, along with a few more things. I'm in the left lane and I get a "bang" and the rear end shook. All felt fine, but that wasn't normal and I pull over gently but immediately and take the shoulder on the first off-ramp to clear as much of the highway's main traffic. I find the truck is rolling when stopped in gear, so I have to put it in 4x4 to lock the front since my parking brake doesn't work (was on the list for this year, need a new line). I look around, no flat, I look at the driveshaft and transmission, all seems good. I end up looking again at the rear tires and this is where I noticed the problem. I see that the rear drivers side wheel had come off and the rim was rolling on the drum. The drum itself was off, holding on to what I don't know if it was on just a few millimetres of the studs left before completely dislodging. A taxi drove by and honked for what reason I don't know. The ramp's lane is a good lane and a half wide, and I was well into the shoulder. So I went to light my flare, but it snapped in half and the ignitor didn't work, but I remembered I have my directional light bar, and it would be the perfect time to use this to make sure we don't get hit or hurt. The bar is a grey area legally, depending on it's use, but it's dark and my safety at risk, I think it's completely valid and called for. With all my tools unloaded to bring stuff, I had nothing to fix this. We get in touch with the sister-in-law and she eventually comes. She picked me up, brings me home and I grab my torque wrench, breaker bar and 6 lugs from the Frontrailer. Nothing was damaged, at all, so I put the lugs on, torqued them down, and we went on our merry way, but we lost a lot of the planned time for the evening, and just ended up moving stuff from the site to the storage unit and didn't go to the mother-in-laws. I would attribute this to the lug nuts improperly torqued town and the huge shock in temperature change. I just found it odd. I've had them come lose before, but you know and feel the vibration as it loosens. Never a pop.
Tuesday wouldn't be a bad day, but a long one. My buddy Tommy wanted me to use my CAA to tow his Xterra for winter storage. He stores is at the exact the same spot at me (it's his friend's uncle actually), and my CAA expires on the 15th, and we're now the 13th, so this can't wait for the weekend. After going to bed late, I get up early. He wanted to start his day at around 10 since he finished work at midnight. I went to bed around that time as well. Before I started the day, I wanted to make a tool to attach to the winch to pull the pallets out at the site of haunted house. There's about a dozen on the ground we used for people to walk on, that are not frozen and covered in snow. I figured this would be MUCH easier then to shovel and pull them out by hand. I get up around 8, fire up the welder and make what I could with what I had. It's not fancy, but it'll work. Threw it in the snow to cool down and left.
My buddy called as I was getting into his truck and arrived at my buddy's place for 10. I called CAA upon arrival. He also had a yellow Xterra, but a 2002, but I still made the call for a 2003 yellow Xterra in case they question or record it. They showed up in around 2 hours, which was reasonable considering we got hammered with a snow storm that morning. I was planning on showing up to the site for the haunted house to help doing the final clearing of the site, so we dropped the Xterra at the nearest exit along the day and headed along ahead of the tow truck. We waited for a bit, but was easier since the truck ran (but couldn't safely do the 160km drive) and the tow truck didn't get stuck this time. We left and my buddy dropped me off at my truck around 4pm, technically late for work since he starts at 4, but didn't seemed to be stressed about it.
I head directly to the site and start pulling pallets. Not efficient as one, but was easy. The girlfriend texts to see if it's worth stopping by, and either she comes directly from work, or goes home and changes, which would add an extra 1.5 hours on top of that. I say to come, she can have the fun part to drive the truck, since she can now drive manual, while I hook her up. That goes really well as two, and her friend shows up. We work much more then planned and made 3 trips, one to unload stuff at the storage unit, and the other to put the left over pallets in the industrial section. The last load of pallets would be kept on the trailer to eventually unload them at the mother-in-laws barn. The temperature got colder as we worked, going from +2 to -8*C and the freezing rain turned into snow by the time we finished. We finish it was 1am, I hit bed at around 2, and get my alarm for work 6:30, the latest I could.
Wednesday was tough, I was done. If I ever had or was the closest to experiencing a burn-out. I turned off the alarm to skip the morning PT managed to get out of bed and to work for 9. I walk in, I'm done already. The Sgt asks if I'm ok. I pretty much break down. She's an awesome Sgt, told me that I should of called in sick and she sends me home. I hate calling in sick after a weekend or especially after a few days off; to me it always seems sketchy to do so. I passed out and slept most of the afternoon.
From there, November thought itself to be January and not only did we get constantly get dumped by snow, but temperatures dropped to January-like temps, averaging -15*C and even down to -18*C. My garage having no insulation and only one of those 4000w heaters, I had to wait it out. Eventually the temps rose back to seasonable and I went to finish the final prep of the garage and the car. The weekend coming up, they were not only calling for temps hovering around 0*C, but also overnight as well. The nights leading up it was still dropping down to -10*C. They wanted to start construction for the Christmas parade float for the haunted house. I said that Saturday that painting the car was a priority. They had a few hands for Saturday, but ended up pushing it back to Sunday, and on Sunday it got cancelled before we got to step out of the door. I slept in since I went to bed after midnight painting the car and had no intention of burning myself out again. The reason they cancelled? Because where was not only no one else going to be there for the construction, but they had no idea, and was hoping/expecting for me and my girlfriend to come up with that idea. We had a few, but nothing really inspiring and that got approved. I wasn't stressing over it to be honest. At this point, you can bet my give-a-f*ck meter was at 0 and I was slowly recovering my drive and energy.
Once the car was painted, I kept the heat on for a few nights to try to keep it around the 15*C the paint wanted to be at to cure, and the rest of the time I just used the halogen lights for heat (which made a good difference) while she sat in the garage while I slowly put her back together and get extra dry time before going back outside.
The painting went so-so, and I'm not pleased. I know it's my first time painting with a gun and compressor, I wasn't expecting to do such a bad job. Maybe it's my settings, maybe it's the cheap Rok gun, maybe it's all me and bad distance and technique. It also for what ever reason decide to throw up on the last coat on the rear drivers corner. The only way to learn is by trying, and I will be practicing my wet sanding and polishing techniques come spring I'll tell you that, but at least it'll go through winter and it'll get cleaned up after taking a beating from the sand a salt. The frustrating part is that no one will notice all the repairs and just see the less then stellar paint job, but the good part is that the repairs are done, and despite now it looks, it's repaired and protected. Worse comes to worse, I'll get more practice and it'll get a re-spray, and if all goes well, despite that it's a one stage paint and doesn't need it, I'll give it a clear coat. The car will roll debadged in the meantime.
As for the trailer, she sits in my driveway covered in snow and missing 4 lug nuts on one side. I needs to throw in a few items in the trailer before closing her up for the next little bit, but I also want to see about exchanging battery #1 since it seems to have a hard time taking a charge, and that's the battery that the actuators use. I removed some snow from her on the weekend, but that's the best I got to at the moment. I had to clear the mounds of snow from the driveway with an axe. Because of the lack of time and the early winter, I couldn't properly clear the driveway, so there was a step where the cars couldn't get in (after the city passed with their grate equipment), and the truck had a good mound that needed 4x4 to get in on her side. Winter is already being a b*tch this year. After getting the car oil sprayed and detailed by a friend, I'm back in the Mazda2. While I already miss the truck, and feel less manly, the wallet isn't complaining.