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Automotive

Hack your floor jack to go offroading

Give Your Ordinary Floor Jack Some Off-roading Capabilities

By | Automotive | No Comments

A floor jack can come in handy when you need to change, rotate, or inspect your wheels. Unfortunately, they’re not made with portability in mind.

So, what do you when you’re off-roading with your buggy and need to replace a wheel? According to Pirate 4×4 forum user Andrew, you take a standard floor jack, tear it apart, and make it bigger and stronger.

To start with, Andrew purchased a basic floor jack. The main issue is the wheels. Like most, it had a small 1.5-inch roller as a front wheel. Obviously, this won’t roll through the dirt very easily so some mods were in order.

Andrew picked up some 8-inch solid rubber tires for $6 each for the front of the floor jack and made a new front axle from a 5/8″ solid rod. He welded a washer to one end of the rod and tapped the other to accept a 3/8″ bolt. The original axle holes were drilled out to a bigger diameter to fit the new axle. A few spacers on either side of each wheel prevent it from rubbing the sides of the floor jack.

Modifying your floor jack

Photo: am4x4 | Pirate4x4.com

When all is done, the front of the jack sits 3-inches higher. This presented the next problem. The rear castors needed to be upgraded to make up for the height difference. Andrew simply removed the old castors and replaced them with larger ones he took from another dead floor.

The front end still sat a little higher, but it seems to work just fine. If you want to take the time, you could make new brackets to use as spacers for the rear castors to level it out a bit more.

Upgrading Floor Jack Casters

Photo: am4x4 | Pirate4x4.com

The finished project results in a jack that looks kind of like a buggy itself. The large front wheels and bigger castors help lift your buggy 3-inches higher, while also providing more stability.

The rear axle is wide and capped with 8-inch wheels, allowing you to easily roll over the grass, dirt, or mud, to get your buggy high enough to replace the wheels.

For a detailed look at this DIY off-road floor jack project, make sure you check out the full details at Pirate 4×4.

Camp Anywhere with a Custom Sprinter Van RV Conversion

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Have you always wanted the comfort of camping in an RV without having to stay at an RV park or large campsite? Instructables user “Making it There” details the steps taken to convert a Sprinter van into a mobile RV. A major process, but the end result is amazing.

For this DIY custom Sprinter van RV conversion project, a 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van was used. Other models may work for this same project, but the user chose the 2006 model for the 140-inch wheelbase. This is large enough for the project and small enough to still fit in a standard parking space.

The entire project took about 6 months and cost about $6,000. The cost of a used 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van can vary between $5k and $15k, depending on the condition and mileage.

The first step involved designing the layout of the interior. CAD design software was used for this process. This gives you the ability to plan your cabinets and seating in 3-dimensions and receive exact measurements.

Interior CAD design

Making It There | Instructables

Once the layout was completed, you can divide the plans into individual parts. The user that created this DIY project sourced the cutting of the plywood pieces. But, if you have the tools and knowledge, you could cut these pieces out yourself.

Before any of these pieces can go into the Sprinter van, insulation needs to be installed. First, painter’s plastic was used to cover the floor and cab area. Spray foam installation was used and the entire job took about 15 minutes.

Insulating the van with plastic and foam

Making It There | Instructables

1/8-inch Baltic birch plywood was used for paneling. A flexible wood was chosen in order to bend around the gradual curves of the interior.

Lining interior with wood

Making It There | Instructables

Next, you can start putting together the cabinetry. Using the pieces that you cut from your CAD template, you can assemble your cabinets and install them in the van.

Install cabinetry

Making It There | Instructables

The woodworking part of the project is complete. But, the RV van still needs a kitchen. This means adding an oven, range, hood, and sink.

Of course, this also meant adding propane and water tanks. The propane and water tanks were added inside the van, as opposed to mounting beneath the van. This makes sense, as you don’t want to worry about a propane tank below your vehicle when driving over rough terrain. This also made sense of the water cans, so that they will not freeze or get too hot.

Space was created below the oven to fit a 20-pound propane tank. Four 5-gallon Jerry cans were added below the sink for water. Three are used for fresh water, one for solar showers, and one for dirty water. A hand pump combined with an electric pump and foot pedal are used to run the water.

Building the kitchen

Making It There | Instructables

While those steps would seem to be enough to satisfy the needs of most DIY enthusiasts, this builder decided to add large 100W solar panels in order to power the items in the kitchen.

They also wanted space for storing a collapsible picnic table, camp chairs, and extra blankets. So, where do these items go? On the roof.

Two custom form-fit roof pods were created to house all of these items while still providing a flat surface for the solar panels. A lightweight, UV-resistant plastic called Choroplast was chosen for the roof pods.

Building the roof pods

Making It There | Instructables

Again, CAD design software was used to design the pods. They were designed to open from either side of the van. This way, the solar panels could be pointed in different directions and adjusted as the sun sets.

Hopefully, this summary did not make this seem like a simple project. You are going to have to put in some hard work to complete your own custom vehicle. But, if you feel up to the challenge, take a look at the full custom Sprinter van RV conversion DIY project.

Explore the Outdoors in Comfort with this De-mountable Pickup Truck Camper

By | Automotive, Outdoor | No Comments

Owning a pickup truck is one of the great pleasures in life. Having a truck gives you freedom. You have the freedom to drive through rough terrain for no reason whatsoever. You also have the freedom to fill up your truck bed with anything you choose. This includes everything from lumber to a full-sized camper van constructed from said lumber.

Expert DIY handyman at Handmade Matt has provided the world with a unique project. He has outlined the steps needed to construct your very own demountable camper van for a 4×4 pickup truck. Shock and amaze your friends or fellow campers as you invite them into your rustic redneck getaway only to watch their expressions as they view the inside. Your completed camper will include a full kitchen with running water, a fridge, a grill, and even a heater. It is a major undertaking, but well worth the effort.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Interior

Handmade Matt

Matt wanted to create a demountable camper that features a rustic exterior with a completely modern interior. Well, he completely succeeded and if you follow his steps, you too could have your own luxurious camper hidden away inside a DIY camper.

Demountable Pickup Truck Camper - Measurements Diagram

Handmade Matt

Before you can get started, you need to take measurements of your truck. For Matt’s project, he used a 1999 Mitsubishi L200 with a 2.5TD engine and four-wheel drive. You do not need to use the same vehicle unless you want to follow his specific measurements. Matt provides a rough sketch of his camper design, but this can easily be adjusted to fit your truck bed.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Fabricating the jacking points

Handmade Matt

Once you have the measurements, you can get started on the design and construction of the camper. The first construction project is the jacking points for the legs, as this is a demountable camper. Matt used 50mm box sections to accept 50mm timber. The steel jacking points are fitted with lumber and form the base of the camper. The hollow box section faces outward, in order to accept the jacking leg.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Building the frame and roof

Handmade Matt

After completing the base, you can begin the floor plan. You are essentially building a standard 4-wall room with a curved roof. It is important that you start with the frame of the camper. Matt constructed the frame for the walls followed by the roof. The roof is fitted with corrugated tin. Completing this step before finishing the walls and interior helps protect the rest of your project from rain or snow.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Adding insulation

Handmade Matt

With a frame in place, you can begin adding insulation. Matt recommends using loose rock wool insulation in horizontal spaces, such as the cavity under the bed, as it is cheaper. For vertical insulation, he uses solid insulation boards.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Exterior insulation

Handmade Matt

The exterior of the walls is wrapped in recycled PVC plastic sheeting. This is then covered in the cladding. For this, Matt used treated feather edge board.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Interior trim

Handmade Matt

At this point in the project, it is time to move inside and complete the interior. The bottom of the roof is skinned with foil lined air bubble sheeting. You can then start taking care of the interior trim and boarding.

Demountable Camper Pickup Truck - Securing the camper to the pickup truck

Handmade Matt

Steel brackets are needed to secure the camper to your truck. You don’t want the camper tipping off or sliding off while on the highway. 12mm steel coach bolts are used throughout the lower frame of the camper to secure it to the existing mounting rails of the truck.

That covers the basics of constructing the camper. But, Matt took this project much further. With the camper constructed, he then added a solar panel electric system for powering appliances. He also added a full kitchen, with a grill and a sink.

This is not an entry level DIY project. You will need experience in several different areas. You will need to be knowledgeable about construction and electrical work. This is especially true when you start adding the solar panels and appliances – as Handmade Matt only provides a basic overview of these steps. Luckily, Matt is always quick to respond to inquiries. The last thing you want to happen is to have a partially completed wood cabin stuck to the back of your pickup truck.

For detailed instructions and more information to build your own, visit Handmade Matt’s full demountable camper project page.

DIY Boost Leak Tester

Make Your Own Boost Leak Tester With Spare Parts

By | Automotive | No Comments

Boost is a precious commodity and you don’t want to lose any of that horsepower-generating pressurized air to leaks in the system. Even if you’re fairly confident that you’re pretty air tight, it’s still a good idea to double check before getting a tune. With a few parts you may have lying around the garage, find those sneaky boost leaks and make all the power you’re supposed to with this El Cheapo DIY boost leak tester!

In order to build the right size leak tester, start by measuring the diameter of your turbo inlet. You can identify the inlet side if you see the compressor wheel. You’d test at this point because everything after the turbo’s inlet normally gets pressurized.

Get a rubber coupling that will fit your turbo inlet based on your measurements as well as PVC cap to plug one end of the coupling. Drill a hole just big enough to fit a tire valve stem through your PVC cap and use some epoxy glue around the edges of the hole to be sure it’s air tight. Just don’t get any glue in the valve stem!

Tighten a hose clamp around your rubber coupling to grip the PVC cap as tightly as possible. This end could fly off when you pressurize your system so use two hose clamps side-by-side if you can. If you have an extra boost gauge, hook it up so you can monitor the test pressure in the system. Otherwise you’ll need a friend to watch your interior gauge for you.

With your boost leak tester complete, it’s time to stop those leaks! Use a hose clamp to attach your tester to the inlet of your turbo and use either a tire pump or air compressor to pressurize the system through the tire valve stem. You don’t need much PSI to test! Start with 6 psi and work up from there but never exceed the boost your car runs normally. A good safety measure is to regulate your air compressor down so you don’t accidentally blow out any seals.

A leak will be pretty obvious and make a loud hissing noise. If your system is not holding any pressure then you have a major leak somewhere. If all is silent then you’re ready for your tune and then some pavement thrashing fun!

For more examples, check out the DIY Boost Leak Test thread on VWvortex, boost leak test and leaking turbo symptoms – how to fix thread on MyTurboDiesel, or DIY boost leak tester thread on BenzWorld.

Photo: Subby_

Make Your Own Car Upholstery Cleaner

Simple DIY Car Upholstery Cleaner That Works

By | Automotive, Life Hacks | No Comments

As we become a lot more conscious of the ingredients in household products many of us are looking for more ways to keep toxins out of our lives. You can find a variety of recipes for homemade cleaning solutions online and while some are more effective than others they’re easy to whip up and frequently cost less than store-bought cleaners.

From harsh winters to outdoorsy summers, my floor mats take a beating so I was happy to stumble upon this “tough on stains” recipe where most if not all the ingredients are already in your supply closet. And if you have messy passengers, it works great on cloth upholstery too.

DIY Car Upholstery Cleaner

  • 3-6 Tbsp soap flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Borax
  • 2 cups boiling water

Use a cheese grater to make 3-6 tablespoons of flakes from a bar of soap. Then add Borax which typically runs $7-$12 at the store depending on size. But with all the uses you’ll get you’re only really spending a few cents on this concoction, which is a steal compared to store-bought cleaners!

In a large bowl, slowly add boiling water to the soap flake and Borax mixture and stir until it’s dissolved. Let it cool a bit and then whip it to a foamy consistency. Use a bristle brush to scrub down mats and upholstery and then wipe off the mixture with a wet rag that you can keep rinsing in a bucket of water.

Before and after cleaning upholstery

Photo: Creative Savings

Kalyn Brooke, who came up with the recipe at Creative Savings says she couldn’t be more happy with the results, and the savings!

Organize keys in a swiss army key ring.

Swiss Army Key Ring

By | Automotive, Workshop | No Comments

Most of today’s car keys are fobs but there are still a lot of regular keys we need to keep track of from house and office to garage, storage and locks. Key rings can get pretty bulky and impractical to carry in your pocket but this Swiss Army-style key ring idea keeps them neatly tucked inside the handle so you can quickly find and rotate out just the one you need.

DIY Hacks and How Tos at Instructables made this one with materials you probably already have in your garage. Paint stirring sticks are a good size for the handle and they’re usually free at hardware stores. For the inner sheet metal reinforcement plate, he used a baking sheet from the local dollar store. To organize your keys and hold the handle together, you’ll need 2 machine screws, nuts and a few washers depending on the number of keys you’ll be storing.

Cut out the popsicle sticks.

DIY Hacks and How Tos | Instructables

Start by cutting the wooden pieces with a saw or dremel and round off the ends. Use them as a template to cut out slightly smaller versions from the sheet metal with tin snips. Sandwich the sheet metal pieces in between the wooden pieces and use a binder clamp to hold the assembly together while you drill a hole through all four layers at once on each end. Separate out just the wooden pieces and enlarge the holes enough so the bolt head can sink inside and the tops sit flush with the wooden surface when fully assembled.

Load the keys.

DIY Hacks and How Tos | Instructables

Insert the machine screws through the holes of one of the metal plates and lay it flat so you can add keys. DIY Hacks and How Tos recommends adding a washer between each key or they tend to stick to each other and bind together when you’re trying to pull out just one. When you’ve added all your keys, lay the remaining piece of sheet metal on top and tighten the assembly down with two lock nuts.

Glue the wooden handle to the metal base.

DIY Hacks and How Tos | Instructables

Glue the wooden handle pieces to the outside of each sheet metal surface and use a binder clip to hold everything in place while the glue dries. Since you drilled bigger holes in the wooden pieces they should slip right over the bolt heads and locking nuts for that counter-sunk look.

Finish off the look by applying a wood stain and then seal it with polyurethane. Now you have a sleek key holder that slips right into your pocket and since the keys are always in the same order, you can quickly flip out the one you need without having to search a jingling unorganized ball.

For detailed steps and more photos: DIY Hacks and How Tos | Swiss Army Key Ring | Instructables

Organize your keys with an old seat belt.

Seat Belt Key Holder

By | Automotive, Home | No Comments

Keys love starting a game of hide and seek just when you’re trying to rush out the door. But this clever wall organizer allows you to buckle them up safely within sight. Seat belt saves lives but now they can save your sanity.

You can buy these online or make one yourself for a fraction of the cost. Old seat belts are easy to find online, an auto upholstery shop or the local junkyard. Cut the latch off leaving an inch or so of material at the end. Use a hot glue gun to seal the cut end so it doesn’t fray over time. Remove the latch plate and drill a hole where you can attach a key ring.

Your keys just buckle up for storage.

In this example the seat belt buckles are screwed in to the bottom of a decorative wall shelf but you can hang yours in all sorts of creative ways from painted or stained wooden boards to ornate picture frames.

Screwdriver Key Hack

“Drive It Like You Stole It” Screwdriver Key Hack

By | Automotive | No Comments

Um, hi officer. This is my car …for real. Wait, is that a taser?

If you’re looking to boost your Grand Theft Auto cred but don’t look good in an orange jumpsuit all you need is an old screwdriver – one with some character and looks like it has a seedy story to tell – and a key you’re willing to hack.

Just for kicks, Nathan of Haha Bird wanted to see if he could replicate the look of a stolen car with the familiar screwdriver jammed into the ignition tactic. He sawed off the shaft of the screwdriver to about an inch long and cut a slit at the end. From there he rounded the sharp edges and tapered the end with a grinder so he’d have a smooth transition from the screwdriver shaft to the key.

The only part of the key he needed was the blade so he cut off the head (after carefully measuring how much of the key needed to go into the ignition and adding in the depth of the slit). Oh yeah, and if you’re thinking of doing this you’d be using a spare, right? The portion of the key blade going into the slit didn’t fit so it was thinned on a grinding wheel until it could be tapped into place but still had a tight fit.

Screwdriver Key Hack

Nathan | Haha Bird

To permanently join the two pieces together he put some flux on the end of the key blade going into the slit and used a torch and silver solder to make it official.

Screwdriver Key Hack

Nathan | Haha Bird

Be warned, though, having a large screwdriver handle hanging off your ignition adds weight and leverage that could damage the tumblers inside, especially with bumps in the road – which would then allow you to use a real screwdriver, I suppose. Look for a stubby screwdriver to limit weight. And if your key uses a chip, some of the comments in the thread point out that you could put the chip under the dash or embed it in the handle.

Head over to Nathan’s post on Haha Bird for more photos and detailed instructions.

Use Your Gaming Console's Joystick as a Gear Shifter for Your Car

Swap your Gear Shifter with a Gaming Joystick

By | Automotive, Geek | No Comments

If you consider your car your significant other, then chances are, video gaming is your mistress. These two fight relentlessly for your attention so why not enjoy both at the same time by flashing a little geek pride in your ride?

If you devoted a lot of your young adulthood to old flight sim games like X-wing vs. Tie Fighter then hopefully you haven’t yet parted with your joysticks like the Quickshot Warrior or Thrustmaster.

Swapping out your manual stock shifter for joystick is actually pretty easy as the author of Geek Greek and TDI Club member, NarfBLAST, can attest. All each of them had to do was remove the stock shifter knob by twisting, pulling or unscrewing it and pushing down the collar to expose more of the shift column.

Joysticks are typically comprised of two plastic halves that are held together by screws so you can open them up and remove any extra components you don’t need. Buttons can be wired to do a variety of things like activate interior lighting, sound the horn, trigger high beams, start the engine, deliver some NOS, or even engage “ludicrous” speed.

Joystick Wiring

NarfBLAST | Geek Greek

Now attaching the joystick to the shift column can be a little tricky and I’ve seen all sorts of methods. Geek Greek filled the base of his joystick with epoxy putty and let it bond directly to the column. But if you change your mind, you’ll probably end up breaking the thing trying to remove it.

Gurobuzz at Instructables came up with a less permanent solution so it fit snug but you could still remove it easily. Drill a hole going through your shift column (preferably in a non-threaded portion) where the handle screw can go all the way through. This will prevent the joystick from shifting or twisting around while you use it. Protect your shift column by covering it with tape or plastic wrap. Fill the base of one of the handle halves only halfway up with bondo and let it cure. Be sure not to cover up any wiring or switches. Then do the same to the other half but fill it right up to the edge. While it’s still wet, cover it with plastic wrap and unite the two halves on the shift column and let it dry in place. This way you can always unscrew the two halves if you ever want to change up the wiring or get another shift knob.

Others have managed to install a threaded base to the handle so it screws on like an aftermarket knob. Although the look of a flight control stick is undeniably cool, I don’t know how much trust I’d put into a plastic toy so I’d keep the stock knob handy in case you ever find yourself with a hand full of plastic shards.

Flight Control Stick from Huey Helicopter

NarfBLAST | Geek Greek

Or, you could get the real deal – like this one that came out of a military Huey helicopter. These pop up on eBay all the time and some even come with the column so you could modify it to fit your car. They’ll cost you a few hundred dollars, but you plan on making it a permanent addition to your ride it’s well worth the reliability and peace of mind for even the hardest of drivers.

Check out the post at Geek Greek for details on how he installed a Quickshot Warrior 5 joystick, NarfBLAST’s thread for the Thrustmaster joystick install, Gurobuzz’s Instructable for specifics on wiring it up and Wexy21’s walkthrough for the Huey helicopter flight control stick.

Jeep Wrangler Gets Pressurized Water Right Out of the Bumper

By | Automotive | No Comments

After a day of off-roading, mudding or camping wouldn’t it be nice to hose off your vehicle, gear or wash your hands before heading home? Ed over at the Wrangler forum came up with a creative mod that adds a pressurized water tap to his Jeep Wrangler.

While looking for a concealed place to store the water, he discovered that the rear stock bumper was hollow but had some drain holes on the bottom. After plugging those with stainless steel bolts and adding a fill hole on the driver’s side, he ended up with a reservoir that holds about 7 gallons.

To pressurize the water and deliver it to the tap, Ed installed a Shurflo pump which is commonly found on RVs and has many practical features. It runs off your battery and turns on and off automatically when the tap is opened based on water pressure – no need for an extra on/off switch. It self-primes and shuts off when you run out of water so the motor doesn’t get damaged. And 3.2 gallons per minute at 55 PSI is more than enough for quick clean-up jobs.

Finally, he designed a black panel with orange lettering that matched his exterior color scheme to attach the tap with additional holes for an air hose and gauge that will be hooked up to an air compressor in a future install.

For more photos and step-by-step guide, see Ed’s thread on Wrangler Forum.