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-   -   Northwest by Ex-MOD (http://www.expeditionexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1452)

chris snell June 21st, 2013 08:16 PM

Northwest by Ex-MOD
My ex-MOD completed the final leg of its journey from Galveston to Seattle last week. After picking up the truck in Texas and driving it to Colorado, I drove it on the Utah Rovers trip but didn't drive it back to Colorado. Instead, I left it at Ben's place until I could finish the journey several weeks later.

I picked the truck up in Salt Lake on a warm Friday afternoon in early June. It was still loaded up with all of my gear so all it needed was a quick trip through the car wash and a grocery run and then I was off. I headed out into the desert west of town, where I met up with my old friend, Michael Slade. The plan was for him to accompany me around the western side of the Great Salt Lake before splitting up as I continued west. I was hoping that Slade would bring his 145" monster crew cab truck but it was in need of freeze plugs and not going anywhere soon. Instead, he brought his old RRC. In true Slade fashion, he was fearless and not overly concerned that his truck was throwing a code and running on busted shocks and crappy department store tires. No ham radio, either. Not even after this.

After meeting up alongside I-80, we left the highway for the far northwestern corner of the lake. The Union Pacific operates a railroad causeway across the lake. Post 9/11, most of the causeway is off-limits but Slade is a encyclopedia of Northern Utah knowledge and he took me to a spot where we could drive along the UP access road.

The original plan was to camp on a mountain with a grand overlook of the lake and the Wasatch Front.

Strong winds killed that plan so we headed back down to lake level and found a little campsite alongside an old Pioneer cemetery.

The graves are a testament to how incredibly tough, brave, and crazy these first white settlers were. I can't imagine what would drive someone to cross this land in a horse-drawn wagon. The poor family on these tombstones all died within two days of each other; the baby died the day after it was born.

We had a feast that night and Slade threw down. He brought t-bone steaks from his family's farm near Logan, UT. The meat came from a cow that his family raised; Slade personally observed the slaughtering and butchering. It was grass-fed and finished on grain and the beef was some of the best I've ever eaten. Sadly, it was dark by mealtime and I didn't get any photos of the spread.

The next morning, we patched a hole in one of his crappy tires with the Safety Seal kit and said our goodbyes.

I made my way west on some lonely two lane roads.

The original plan was to head into Nevada and the Jarbidge Mountains and then follow the Bruneau Canyon up to Boise, where I would meet up with Jason. Sadly, I was running short on time and had to save Jarbidge for another day.

Instead, I followed dirt roads in the far northwestern corner of Utah and explored Grouse Creek, one of the stranger Utah towns I've seen. Grouse Creek lies far off the beaten track, about 35 miles of rattlesnake-covered dirt roads from nowhere. What's strange about this place is that you travel these rough desert roads to get there but once you're there, it's a nice little town with paved streets, grassy pastures, and it's own little school. I stopped in the little general store for a Snickers bar and a soda and the lady who ran the place was busy curling another woman's hair in a barbers' chair behind the register. I drove out of town and as the pavement quickly ended and it was another 35 miles of rough dirt road to the next town.

After staying with Jason and his family for the night, I left Boise roasting in the heat and headed north into the mountains around McCall, Idaho. I stopped for a burger and an awesome raspberry shake for lunch.

The road to McCall was paved and I was eager to wander off the pavement again.

Soon after leaving the highway, I rolled through a farming town beside a small river. A few blocks off the hardball, behind a little country airport, I discovered a little slice of heaven:

This little swimming hole lies beneath a one-lane wooden bridge. I probably wouldn't have stopped but the bridge was blocked by clothes and an ice chest belonging to the locals who were swimming underneath. It was really hot in the cab of the 110 so I decided to stop and take a dip.

Afterwards, I continued on a seldom-used double-track through farm country and up into some really beautiful mountains.

I was wandering now, with only a vague sense of where I was going. I happened upon a dirt road which started in alpine terrain at 7,000' and ended up at an almost-tropical 2,000' alongside the Snake River. It reminded me of the road from Creel to Batopilas in Chihuahua, if you've ever driven that: twisty, steep, and narrow, with insane exposure at every turn. I'm guessing that some corners had 2,000' drops off the edge...not that it mattered...if you drove off any part of this road, you were totally fucked.

After an hour of white knuckle driving, I stopped for the night at a campground alongside the river. I was exhausted, so I watched the sun set and ate a cup of chapagetti out on a floating dock in the river before crashing out in the back of the 110.

Early the next morning, I crossed into Oregon.

Like Idaho, the mountains of Eastern Oregon are beautiful. I stopped for lunch and some trail coffee on a dirt road alongside a mountain stream.

Another farming town, another swimming hole.

The mountains gave way to the rolling farmlands of the Columbia River Valley.

Seattle, at last.

Thanks to Steve and Zachary for the sweet tour and Mike, for the dim sum dinner.

greghirst June 21st, 2013 09:57 PM

Nice-great pics

benlittle June 22nd, 2013 06:33 AM


stu454 June 22nd, 2013 07:50 AM

Groovy. You're racking up some fun miles in that truck.

Matt Kendrick June 22nd, 2013 09:04 AM

Very cool Chris.

hks3sgte June 22nd, 2013 04:27 PM

Love your trip reports.

JSQ June 23rd, 2013 12:46 PM


Originally Posted by chris snell
It was really hot in the cab of the 110 so I decided to stop and take a dip.

You got that right.
I can't even imagine what it's like in your hardtop truck. That thing looks really sealed up and it's still dark green. My truck can be opened up, but the times I've been driving long distances on the highway and I have the door tops on and sides rolled down it can get warm in a hurry. Even thought the 2.5 NA runs pretty cool, the t-case put off some serious heat at highway speed. With no insulation, the middle of the cab just starts to radiate heat.

JSQ June 23rd, 2013 12:48 PM

It's funny how having the tire on the hood makes the once-boring windshield shots so much more interesting.

chris snell February 8th, 2014 08:50 PM

The 300Tdi is coming along. All-new ancillaries make such a difference. Everything comes together so much more quickly when you're not breaking apart rusty fasteners and sludge-covered parts.

Most of the components on the sides, rear, and top have been mounted. I got the main engine harness wired and most of the hardlines plumbed. The hoses will go on tomorrow, along with the timing cover, fan, etc.

The Bosch injection pump is something to behold. I had the choice between new Genuine, rebuilt Genuine, and new Britpart. I went for the rebuilt Genuine. It was the right call, I think. It came in a Bosch box, sealed in a Bosch bag, rebuilt by the factory in Germany to like-new specs.

Rob Dassler supplied a freshly rebuilt LT230 and R380. Rob has been known to have fun with some customers' t-cases and motors. This will never top Jason's Yellow Submarine 200Tdi but I got a G.I. Joe LT230.

I decided not to hack up the original frame by cutting and welding new motor mounts. I went for a new Richards Chassis galvy frame with 300Tdi mounts installed before the dip. I have the old chassis and motor up for sale on D90 Source but may end up keeping it for a future project.

Tomorrow is a big day. I'll finish up most of the remaining motor assembly and get the gearbox and t-case mounted. Might even get the radiator and intercooler mounted if it goes well.

greghirst February 9th, 2014 12:48 AM

Looks good Chris-keep the pics coming.

jrose609 February 9th, 2014 05:13 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by chris snell

Rob Dassler supplied a freshly rebuilt LT230 and R380. Rob has been known to have fun with some customers' t-cases and motors. This will never top Jason's Yellow Submarine 200Tdi but I got a G.I. Joe LT230.


You mean this one, Chris? :D

The previous owner of my 110 had decided to ford a stream. I've always been told to not stop forward momentum in the middle of running water.......apparently the previous owner was worried about the water getting to deep and stopped. The 110 was more of a brown submarine, but Rob Dassler picked an appropriate color scheme for the motor.

Keep up the good work, Chris. Looks great!

JSQ February 10th, 2014 01:06 PM


Originally Posted by chris snell
The 300Tdi is coming along. All-new ancillaries make such a difference. Everything comes together so much more quickly when you're not breaking apart rusty fasteners and sludge-covered parts.

Most of the components on the sides, rear, and top have been mounted. I got the main engine harness wired and most of the hardlines plumbed. The hoses will go on tomorrow, along with the timing cover, fan, etc.

It's not like the three hundy is the greatest offroad engine ever built but to me, it will always be a beautiful sight to behold.

You're going to love it.

chris snell February 15th, 2014 11:03 PM

T-case and gearbox all bolted up.

Wrenched all day in the cold rain and wind.

Once the drivetrain is on the new chassis, we rolled it to the back of the shop and rolled the remains of the 110 inside.

Tomorrow should be a big day. We'll finish pulling the seatbox, tub, and tank and hopefully get them mounted on the new chassis.

chris snell February 17th, 2014 08:07 PM

My iPhone photos have been crap, but my friend Carl was in town to help wrench and shoot some better photos of the tear-down.

Here are a few of his:

greghirst February 17th, 2014 10:38 PM

Wow-that's a lot of work in a short time.

That'll be the nicest Ex-MOD D110 on the west coast when you're done with that frame-off resto.

Nice work, Chris

benlittle February 21st, 2014 07:00 PM

Looking good, Chris.

chris snell February 23rd, 2014 08:09 PM

Good progress this weekend. The bulkhead and tub are now off the old chassis. Doug Shipman of Portland is buying the old chassis and motor from me. It will live on as part of someone else's rebuild. Here it is, sitting out in the rain. Still need to strip the axles, the JATE rings, the pintle hitch, the brake lines, the tank and fuel lines, the transmission brake assembly, and the LT77 linkage, which will be adapted to fit the R380.

Most of this truck has been a nice surprise. The bulkhead is in amazing shape. The tub supports are very clean. The only nastiness I've found has been the chassis harness. It's obviously original and wasn't replaced during the Tithonus refresh programme.
Everything coming out of the frame back by the fuel tank was covered in a layer of mud. After my experience with a faulty chassis harness in my NAS truck, I'm not taking any chances on 25 year-old outgassed wiring. I will be replacing the harness and running it on top of the frame for easy access if trail repair is needed.

The removal of the bulkhead and tub--the remaining body pieces--warranted a celebratory lunch. This place is pretty awesome. They do really thin shoestring fries and they fry a garlic clove and some rosemary with your fries and serve it in the pile.

chris snell February 24th, 2014 03:34 PM

The UPS driver has been making a lot of stops at the house here lately. When it comes to parts, these rebuild projects are like icebergs. You might think that a new motor and chassis will get you 90% of the way there but they're just a small part of the massive amount of shit that you need to acquire to do a swap.

One of the things that I've decided to replace is the gauge cluster. I wanted to add an EGT gauge and the VDO gauges look like shit when you mix them with Land Rover gauges so all of the gauges would need to be replaced with the VDO stuff. The EGT, fuel, and coolant temp gauges were easy but the speedo was much more challenging. This is the typical gauge that D90 Source guys use when they replace their clusters:

It looks okay I guess but it's missing the secondary metric scale and it it goes all the way to 120mph, way too wide for my slow truck. VDO makes a combination Imperial/metric gauge but it's even more ridiculous at 140mph scale. VDO used to make a 4" gauge that topped out at 85mph but it's long since discontinued and Google turned up nothing. I placed a Wanted ad on D90 Source on the off chance that someone had one lying around and sure enough, a guy in New Jersey responded privately. He had an 85mph gauge still new-in-box, unopened, that came with his truck when he bought it, and would I like it? Indeed.

hks3sgte February 24th, 2014 07:57 PM

Nice find.

greghirst February 24th, 2014 10:09 PM


JSQ February 25th, 2014 11:53 AM

I tried to find that same gauge when I did my VDO switch and couldn't get it so I ended up with the 120. I still wish I had the one you found. Not having km is annoying with as much as my truck has been in Mexico.

chris snell March 7th, 2014 10:55 PM

It's a roller. Jason came out from Boise and helped us wrench. Got the bulkhead and fuel tank on, too. The tank was one of those 5-minute installs that turn into four hour installs. No two Land Rover frames are exactly identical and I had to do a lot of trimming to the tank mounts to get it to bolt back up.

This weekend is a big push to get the rear drivetrain tightened up and the tub installed. The fuel lines and brake lines need to be secured, along with the new chassis harness which I will run on top of the frame.

Ben and Jack, I picked up my new Genuine chassis harness from SafariHP. He has a huge stack of them and he's selling them for $100 (compare to $400 for my NAS D90 chassis harness). It's a hell of a good deal if your harness is getting old and crappy.

Brian tracked down a rare but awesome engine harness for my truck: it's a factory 300Tdi harness that adapts to the old-style main harness so we won't have to hack up a new-style 300Tdi harness as originally planned. Apparently Land Rover made these for 2.5NA to 300Tdi conversions back in the day.

alexcivick March 8th, 2014 08:26 PM

Man I wish I had the time to work on my D1. It's parked at my house while I live across town with my girlfriend in her apartment. I hate not being unable to just walk outside and tinker with it. You're not making it easier on me with these posts either. Where'd you source your Tdi Chris? Did you have it shipped from the UK or was it already in the US? I'm planning to convert from my V8. My goal is to be able to drive out of Texas without stopping for fuel.

Good job as usual with the progress it's shaping up nicely

chris snell March 9th, 2014 10:40 PM

Today was a huge day. It started off with a lot of shuffling around as we arranged things to install the tub.

The tub was an interesting challenge because we had only an engine hoist to lift and move things. A typical 3-door 110 tub might weigh about 300-400 pounds but this tub with its tall and heavy Tithonus roll cage and internal tub bracing trusses is probably close to 1,000 pounds. Complicating matters, it's very front-heavy and there are no easy lifting points. A long piece of 3" webbing looped around the lower triangles of the roll cage got the tub in the air. We had to remove a rear wheel and use a jack stand and a floor jack to dance the Sals around the legs of the engine hoist but we finally had the tub in place.

One of the few downsides to this heavy Safety Devices cage is that I can't run a standard canvas top. There is a PVC top made for this cage but I'm not crazy about it:

I would like to find one of the PVC tops and have a canvas top patterned off it so that I can get closer to the standard ex-MOD look:

The other downside to this cage is that the crossbars interfere with the standard L1A1 "clip" mount. More to come on that.

For now, it's back to the gel top:

The windshield and front roll cage came next.

Finally, we finished the day by installing the turbo. Since I'm going to be running an uprated Allard radiator and full-width intercooler, I decided to go for a Garrett VNT turbo and M&D Engineering's modified head. With this setup, I should be able to get a little more power out of the motor without impacting EGT significantly.

JSQ March 10th, 2014 11:56 AM

I hate that roll cage. Its certainly safer, but it's terrible.

You should ditch that awkward cage. It's going to keep making your life difficult and it's ugly as hell.
I had my roll cage made in the pattern of the hoop set. It's not factory and it's not tied to the frame at every corner, but it looks pretty close and it's reasonably strong.

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