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Rig Review: What worked and what didn't - Sep 2021?

September 12, 2021.

Whereas my previous update was several months in the making, it seems that I've already got several updates regarding the Tacoma after my trip to Canada and a few days in California, so let's get right down to it.

Hella HIDs fail to turn on (resolved)

TL;DR - My Hella's are working again, and the problem wasn't the Hella's or the HID upgrade at all. It was my Bussmann relay/fuse block.

After my previous fiddling with the Hella's, I decided to take a closer look at the rest of the circuitry for them when I was creating wiring harness for the Diode Dynamics SS3 fog lights that I installed recently. As part of that, I removed the Bussmann relay/fuse box from the engine bay and carefully looked it over for loose connections, etc. I didn't find any, but it did seem like - perhaps - the connections between the relays and the Metri-Pack terminals that they seat into might have been less-than-ideal. As such, I pulled the connectors, inspected each one, and reinstalled them, adding some dielectric grease to each connector prior to reseating the relays (and fuses).

Since then, the Hella's have worked flawlessly - turning on and off when they should. My best guess is that over time, a bit of surface oxidation had taken place to the contacts in the Bussmann, and so current wasn't flowing like it should have.

I'm still not totally happy with the HID Hella's since they emit quite a bit of radio frequency interference (RFI), and putting some high-powered Diode Dynamics lights on the bumper is very much top of mind, but the issue of the Hella's failing to turn on is now resolved.

The Hella's (and the related HID components) were never the actual problem.


Relentless Skid Plate Attachment (resolved)

TL;DR - I finally got off my butt and fixed the skid plate. Mostly.

For over a year, the center attachment point of my mid-skid has been broken off. It's not a big deal, because I really only run my mid-skid when I feel like I'm going to need it, and that's not very often - usually about once a year on my annual 2-week trip with buddies. With that coming up for this year, and with unknown terrain ahead of me in Canada, I decided I should get the skid sorted.

So, I measured for, drilled, and filed, a couple of holes for carriage bolts to extend up through the transmission cross member. So far, it seems to work a charm. I'm going to run it this way for a while, but I may ultimately cut out a small section and weld in a plate to make a little recess for the head of the bolt.

It's always fun to drill a square hole.

Should be more secure than some cantilevered mounts.


Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro Fog Lights Impressions

TL;DR - I love these lights.

I had the opportunity to use the fogs for the first time on my Rady Can't Wait trip to British Columbia, Canada. All I can say is wow. I had no idea what I was missing, and quite frankly, I figured that the install of these SS3 Pros would be more "for show" than anything else.

I couldn't have been more wrong. There are three things I really like about these lights:

  1. The brightness. After installing them, I was worried that they sat too far back in the bumper, and that their position would result in a lot of light being "lost" in the tunnel of steel before it ever made it to the trail. I'm sure some of the light is lost, but plenty of it makes it out to where I need it, and there is significantly more near-field light (than when I'm just running my low beams) when the SS3s are on.
  2. The color. The selective yellow is fantastic. It's so easy on the eyes compared to the whiter and bluer light of many of today's LEDs. It was such a pleasure to drive without any eye strain or feeling like I was squinting.
  3. The interaction between the SS3 Pros, my high-wattage halogen headlights, and my HID-upgraded Hella 700's. I adjusted my SS3s so that they'd illuminate the near field - ranging from directly in front of the truck to midway into the lo-beam headlight range. My headlights (both lo- and high-beams) then cover the mid-field. And that leaves the distance range to be covered by the Hellas. This results in a ton of light output, and the SS3 selective yellow (3000K) does a great job of mixing a bit with the 5500K Hellas to provide a more pleasing transition from dark to bright white.

Here are a couple photos:

The only forward-facing lights that are on in this photo are the SS3 Pro fog lights. Notice both the quantity of light, as well as the pleasurable hue it projects onto the surroundings.

In this photo, note the clearly defined beams of the fogs and Hellas, with a nice transitional area between the two. Additionally, note how much yellow light reaches the mountainside some quarter-mile away.


Verifying Offline Maps Prior to Departure

TL;DR - I got lazy with my offline maps this trip, since they've become so "easy" for me over the years, and it really bit me in the butt.

I've really come to rely on the maps I use with Backcountry Navigator XE as a part of my route planning. The Accuterra (Neotreks Land Use) maps have been fantastic all over the western United States, and so I didn't really think anything of it when I downloaded a big chunk of British Columbia, Canada for my trip across the border.

Unfortunately, the Accuterra maps are complete shit outside the US. This makes sense, as they are focused on US Land Use - it's even in the name!

Upon my return, I took a closer look at the map options that are available in the app, and I'm happy to report that there are some great options. I just need to be sure to download one of those next time, and do a quick check through my routes before I head into the unknown.

The Accuterra maps I had with me (left) vs. some actually useful maps I should have downloaded (right).


Replacing the Hood Insulator

TL;DR - Just a little bit of maintenance, replacing the insulator under the hood. Easy and done.

For a long time, my hood insulator has been falling apart. I probably didn't help the situation by trying to pressure wash it once to get some of the dust and dirt out. I resisted getting a new one, because Toyota wants over $250 for an OEM (53341-35010) one. I even looked into making my own high-temperature blanket to cover the old one and eek a few more years out of it. Finally, I did a search on eBay and found that there is an aftermarket replacement from Detroit Muscle Technologies for between $40 (non-foil backed) and $55 (foil backed). I ordered one up, it fit perfectly - including the replacement clips that it came with - and now this probably-doesn't-do-much blanket is no longer drooping down onto my engine as I bounce down the road.

My original insulator has seen better days.

Ready to protect the paint for another bunch-o-thousand miles.


Rear Axle Housing is Cracked

TL;DR - My rear axle housing cracked at the passenger spring perch. I've ordered a new axle housing.

I've been quite lucky when it comes to cracking - or not cracking, rather - parts fo the Tacoma. I'm sure this is partly due to the fact that I've only been using it to adventure for the last five years, but I've surely watched as others have had all sorts of problems. On this trip however, I ducked under the truck for a quick look around as I was making my way home, and noticed an oil stain on the rear axle housing, just under the passenger leaf spring perch.

I've seen this before, and the problem is that the welds on the perch were done too cold at the factory. Over time, they fatigue, and the perch begins to rip off of the housing, cracking the housing as it does.

Successful fixes have been rare, the only real solution being a new housing to replace the cracked one. So, that's what I'll do, but I'll need to find a way to patch up my existing housing until the new one arrives.

To say I was not happy upon noticing this would be the understatement of the day.

Seemingly solved from previous Rig Reviews

  1. Relentless Skid Plate Attachment
  2. Hella HIDs fail to turn on, sometimes

Unchanged / Still an issue from previous Rig Reviews

There are some things that have been featured in Rig Reviews that are - as yet - unchanged from when I originally reviewed them. Rather than highlight those things again, I'll simply link to them here.

  1. Oil Leaking from Transfer Case
  2. The Drawer in the In-Cab Battery Cabinet Rattles
  3. Front ADS Coilover Spherical Bearings
  4. The Zipper on the CVT Tent is Shit
  5. I Need New Seats
  6. My Steering Rack is Leaking
  7. My Suspension Squeaks





Check out older Rig Reviews


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