Adding a voltmeter to the Ford

Several years ago, I converted the truck from its original 1G (first generation) alternator to a 3G alternator. It’s a 130 amp unit, which was better than the old 65 amp unit. Here’s the forum thread I read prior to doing my conversion. It’s pretty straightforward, if not easy.

Anyway, the conversion left me without a working amp gauge, because the wiring that FoMoCo uses as a shunt no longer is connected to the (eliminated) voltage regulator. RCCI to the rescue!

For the small sum of $55 (shipped), RCCI sells a replacement amp gauge that is converted to a volt gauge, using a new movement. The gauge face is perfect, and the needle comes repainted the bright orange that the factory used. It’s beautiful except that the rest of the dash is old and faded. I’ll learn to live with it. The new gauge is a sight to behold:

RCCI voltmeter conversion gauge

The old dash is pretty faded, so the new gauge really stands out:

RCCI gauge installed in the panel

Rocketman does an outstanding job with these conversions, and I wish I’d done this a LONG time ago.

When the truck is off, the needle is at “D” (0 volts): when the ignition is on, but the engine is off, the needle is just under the halfway mark. (actual battery voltage) When the engine is running, the needle is somewhere between just over half scale and past “D” (actual charging voltage). It’s something I’ll have to get used to, but I’m confident that it’ll give me a good idea about the condition of the charging system.

You can find the wiring diagram to this conversion HERE.

I used a relay to turn the angry pixies on and off at the alternator cable (connected to the mega fuse) to control the voltage going into the gauge;this allowed me to use the stock amp gauge wires, and simultaneously get voltage within 18″ of the alternator output.

If you’ve got an old Ford/Mercury that the ammeter doesn’t work, please consider installing one of these gauges.




Longmont Hamfest 2018

My buddy and I made a mad dash to the Larcfest Friday afternoon to offload excess gear. I sold my Hammarlund HQ One-Seventy to a fella ho really wanted it, along with a couple hard cases and a window antenna. I came home with a set of USGI camo netting support poles, and ALMOST bought a gigantic signal generator, but “missed” it to another buyer-it was actually a relief.

On the trip down, my windshield washer pump cratered, so I replaced it Sunday morning. It was surprisingly easy to change, and I had it done it less than an hour, including washing the mung out of the reservoir.

Not much more to report.

VHF/UHF contest today

I participated in the annual VHF/UHF contest today, attempting contact with fellow ham radio operators in Fremont county. I was unable to do so, either on 6 meters, 2 meters, or 70 cm.

Lots of chatter on 40 meters that I picked up with my 6M PAR omni:

My PAR Electronics omni 6M antenna

It’s installed on a Poles and Holders (dot com) 22″ extendable mast-

6 meter antenna in the air

and it works pretty good. It’s quick to deploy-Just run over the “holder”, drop in the mast, put on the antenna, connect the coax, raise it up, and you’re ready to transmit. Here’s the holder:

Holding up the mast

Easy to use. I was using my HF/VHF/UHF station:

My HF/VHF/UHF station

It’s a Tac-Comm case (seems like I keep promising a video). It holds my Yaesu FT-857D all band all mode radio, its LDG AT-200Pro II autotuner, and my Yaesu FTM-400 XDR/DE 2M/70cm radio. Eventually I hope to put a Icom IC 7300 in it.

I was able to make contact with a local ham through the Meadowlark repeater, but not the Fremont county group. Next time, I hope.




New suspension

In stages.

I purchased new upper and lower ball joints and control arm bushings, strut arm bushings, and alignment shims from Rock Auto for the Nissan a few weeks ago, and last Thursday I installed the upper ball joints and control arm bushings. I might sound odd to hear someone say it, but I really enjoyed doing the work. My body didn’t enjoy it and was complaining that I was abusing it needlessly but I sucked it up and completed the job.

I’ve started the rebuild of the front end because the front tires wear funny, and I’d like to correct that prior to installing new ones. Naturally, I’ll need to the steering components, and I’ll be buying them next month-ish.

I’ll install the lower joints and bushings soon, when I can get it up on a rack so I don’t have to crawl on my back to do it. The torsion bars have to be “untensioned” to remove the parts, so I want to do it safely.

More to come.

Where in the heck have I been???

Sick and lazy, mostly.

I sat for my Amateur Extra test (passed!) on 4 November, 2017, and promptly got sick for two weeks with what I think was bronchitis. I didn’t go to the doctor, so I’m not sure. I was out of work all but ten hours that week.

I installed new exhaust parts and power steering pump on the Ford, finished installing radios and wiring in my Tac-Comm box,  and picked up some used solar panels from a fellow in Riverton. While I was there, my alternator cratered but as I had a spare, I installed it and got home just fine. More posts to follow as soon as I can gather photographs.

Finally, 12V through the firewall

I’ve been pretty sick and I’m still coughing frequently, but I was well enough last Sunday to drill a hole through the Nissan’s firewall and install the 12V power cables through the firewall and install a grommet:

Nissan 12V power

Here’s a closer view:

Nissan 12V power

Later today I’ll plug up the hole I used previously-I need to glue the rubber plug back together and reinstall it, but that will be easy.


Adding power to the Nissan

I installed a 12 volt power supply for powering my FTM-400XDR last winter, but I didn’t include proper fuses or use large enough wire, so I’m starting over, using a couple (excellent) Littlefuse Maxi fuse holders I bought over at Mouser.

First, I ran 10g bonded wire from the battery, using corrugated wire loom:


The run to the new fuse holders:


If you look carefully, you can see the little bracket I built to hold the fuse holders.

Here’s a view with the covers off, no fuses fitted yet:


And another view with the covers on:


The lead from the fuse box to the firewall isn’t visible, but it’s there, and here’s the loomed wire disappearing into the firewall:


This isn’t where it will pass through the firewall, but for now it’ll keep it out of the weather until I can finish the install.

Just my OCD brain trying to do it as well as I’m able.

Stay tuned for more.





Four years ago in a fit of prepareadness fear I bought an All American Model 921 pressure canner, and used it on and off to put up cheap grocery store meat from the “reduced for quick sale” bin.  I spend a goodly portion of a recent Saturday evening canning two bags of Sam’s Club sweet onions.

I can’t recall what I paid for the canner. It wasn’t cheap, but I purchased it with a windfall from work, and I’m glad I did-I’ve used it for canning a lot of meat during the past few years. I’ve canned LOTS of tomato based items and acidic hot pepper relishes in my big Cinsaware pot using the water bath method, but it’s not generally accepted as safe to water bath meat.

The canner is pretty handsome:

My All American Canner

It’s sitting next to my Zenith Transoceanic, which I’ll be ordering capacitors for next week (after payday).

The onions came out vey well:

Canned Onions

They’re really tasty. I used beef broth to fill the jars, left around an inch of room from the top, and loaded them in the canner. I put up 14) 1.5 pint jars, and 5) 1 pint jars. I opened one to use in some beef sausage cabbage soup, and it was excellent. Next time I might cook the onions down in a pan first before putting them in jars, and I’m definitely going to make some onion soup as well-my buddy’s wife over at has a recipe that’s to die for. While you’re stealing his recipe, check out his site-he’s a good guy.

My trips to the gym are paying off. I’m getting stronger, I have more stamina, and my fasting blood sugar levels have been much improved- from 210-220 down to 130-135, and I can live with that. It remains to be seen whether my doctor can.

I’m getting kitted up for some wild camping (its a British term for camping in the woods out of a backpack-we’d call it backpacking). I’ve had most of the stuff for years, but I’ve added a couple mess kits that are more suited to carrying into the woods, and a military sleep system. I’ll describe all in a later post.

That’s all for now. Get up and get out folks. It’ll do you good.