Welding and Road Tripping!

I got a welder for Fathers day from Abby and decided to start putting it to use. I finally got handles welded to the retaining nut on the tire carrier.

Now, it’s just the cheap Harbor Freight welder but it’s a start and I can start joining steel to steel. With that in mind I decided to tackle the rust hole in the back of the Samurai. I cut around the hole with a grinder and a dremel.

In the process of welding in the patch piece I discovered more rust closer to the side of the tub and hidden underneath the sealant they put over the joints.

This really had me beating my head against a wall. I was starting to consider just going for the virtual lift and welding in trailer fenders so I could finally clear some bigger tires. The area was too tight to get at with my grinder and the dremel just wasn’t the right tool for the job. I purchased a cheap body saw from harbor freight. The tool worked well and I was able to remove even more of the floor the tub behind the wheel well.

Now I’m honestly not sure how much of this is me being a poor welder or the fact that I have a poor 90 amp welder with no gas and I’m using flux core wire.
I smoothed the welds with a flap disk and slathered everything with some epoxy that Abby just happened to have out as she was building my daughter a bed.

Sprayed it with black spray paint and called it done.


With that project done it was time for our 4th of July adventure. I needed to take my kids to meet their Grandpa (my dad) in New Mexico. When I would go visit my dad in New Mexico we would go camping and fishing at Morphy Lake. We loaded the kids in the back of the Samurai and packed up the trailer and set off.


After having lunch with my Dad in town we set off to find a camp site at the lake much to our disappointment.

Oh well. We found a campsite nearby down a forest road. We had run into mud our whole way up to the lake and even more up to the campsite.

I had rigged some fishing rods to the roof rack with some zip ties so I suppose some fishing rod holders are in the works soon.

After doing some camping and fishing and meeting back up with my dad and grandma we headed back home to Colorado. About 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico we ran into trouble with the trailer. One of the tires blew. I guess it didn’t like being pulled at 75mph.

We had good luck though. The Tractor Supply store just happened to be open on the 4th and my dad was able to bring us two new trailer tires.

The entire trip went well and of course we couldn’t help but having one mishap with that blown tire. But the only nagging thing that I disliked about the trip was the soft top flap noise and the HEAT. Unfortunately I couldn’t take the doors off with the kids in the back so We had to leave them on which allows the samurai to get pretty warm. I think I need to really work on putting the air conditioning parts together for the Samurai. I really need to get serious about that. And I really want to find a hard top….

Electric Fan and Seals!

I had been hearing a rattle for a while and I thought I narrowed it down to my fan clutch going bad. I wasn’t experiencing any overheating or anything but I decided to swap out my fan in favor of an electric one. I had been following some of the local Zuk guys on a Facebook group and they had posted a nice electric fan setup utilizing the fan from a Kia Spectra. With the rattle really worrying me and $100 gift card to Amazon I ordered the fan and a fan controller from Amazon. I was hoping to get the fan installed in time for a camping trip because I was worried about the rattle….. Turns out that rattle was the loosening frame side bolt from the exhaust manifold to the catalytic converter. I put off installing the electric fan for a week. I decided to go through with the swap because I had purchased the parts and formulated the plan.

The fan fits the stock Samurai radiator almost perfectly.

The fan has these squarish tabs on the passenger side that fit into some squarish holes in the some brackets I’d need to make. I chose to make them from Aluminum because it would be easier to drill some holes and square them up with a jigsaw and file. I got some brackets from work in the scrap bin to use.



The drivers side mounts were easier. I used a 3/4″ wide 1/8″ thick piece of flat stock aluminum for the bracket. I was able to use two holes from the original fan shroud mounting bolts.

I used some 1/2″ deep drill bushings as spacers for some bolts to mount the fan to the radiator on the drivers side.

The fan is a tight fit and I ended up finally removing the hood prop to move the radiator as far forward as I could. I never used the hood prop anyway.

In addition to getting this new fan off Amazon I just had to use a plug from a kia because I couldn’t stand the thought of using spade connectors to power it. I ran to the junkyard in search of a kia to still the fan plug/harness from and ended up leaving with a spare kia fan and the harness for it!

I used a hayden fan controller to control the fan. It uses a temperature probe that I conveniently installed into a spare port on the thermostat housing.

I got it all wired and through it all in front of the battery because I’m a lazy guy.


Fast forward a week later and I get emissions here in Colorado, and Pass!!

They didn’t even question the engine swap!

I’m going to the zoo with my kids and notice that my temperature gauge is too hot. My fan didn’t kick on. I immediately suspect the fan controller after parking and entering the zoo. After I hotwire the fan and get home I discover that the wire that powers the fan controller itself got smashed between my battery and fender. Kicking myself, I repair the wire and commit to improving the wiring in the area on the coming weekend.

I used some HDPE (cutting board material from the tailgate table project) to make some mounts for the Sidekick Fuse Block, fan controller and the ARB Compressor Relay.


We’ve been getting some decent rain here in Colorado lately and the Samurai leaks horribly. I suspect water is getting in under the windshield frame and the door seals leak as well. Either way your feet and knees get wet while driving in a heavy rain. I ordered a new lower windshield seal from Roadless Gear, which was a good 1/4″ thicker than the original and I was very hopeful that it would fix the leak.


The new door seals were more spongy and thicker than the old ones as well.


Pretty confident that I won’t be getting water in through the door seals anymore but the windshield frame is still leaking…

Front Winch Bumper – Overlanding/Camping Trailer Begins!

Well I’ve been getting a little work done.

I’ve got the base for the bumper project welded.

The Samurai had some brackets on the front of the frame already. For Recovery or tying it down on the boat it came over on or something.

So I had some free time at work one night and made some copies.

Once these were cut and drilled out I began mocking some stuff up.

I think I’ve got the beginnings of a winch bumper going.

We’re having some work load issues at my job and unfortunately they’re having to let some people go. The future of my job is a bit uncertain as well but I prefer to remain optimistic. Anyway, the welders last few days came around last week and he welded up the brackets to the plate which will make the base of the front Bumper. He’s also the same welder who welded the brackets for the rear bumper/tire carrier.

I’m using some 3/8″ bolts to attach it to the frame (Hey, I come across hardware for free at work but it’s mostly standard) and I’m using some 3/8″ drill bushings as the spacers for inside the frame. Which is about 44mm if you ever find yourself googling the inside width of the stock samurai frame.

Got it mounted late Saturday evening to see how it fits.

Going to get some u-bolts bent and Denver Spring soon to attach the bumper to the center tube/crossmember on the samurai frame to added support. Still want to get a winch before I start making more progress on this bumper. Wanting to go with the Stinger design.

Now for some other news!! I’ve had some craigslist alerts set up for quite a while now for a harbor freight haulmaster trailer and Friday morning (also PAYDAY) I got an alert for a small (40×48) haul master trailer for $150. I got the original samurai hitch bolted back on and went and took a look. I ended up nabbing it for $100! Towed it home and marveled at it for a while. A Tiny Trailer for a Tiny Truck!

Put it to use this Sunday as well to haul a play set and our grill from my sisters house.

Getting some ideas for it and crawling over expedition portals trailers subforum.

That’s it for now! Probably won’t do much to the trailer in the mean time. I’ll keep the frame the previous owner put on and we’ll probably load the camping gear on it for camping trips. The wiring is kind of horrible and I’ll need to re do it.

Also, this has made it very clear I need to get a hitch on the bumper.

Reverse Lights

I forgot to give you all an update on the rear bumper reverse lights! I got these done before I went to Moab.

I started by removing the bumper from the Samurai and removing the tail lights.

Eventually I want to mount some shackle mounts and a hitch to the bumper so I made sure to leave room for those.

I used masking tape and measured the location of the lights from the center of the Samurai. I used a hole saw at all of the corners and a jigsaw to cut the rest of the metal from the bumper.



I used the opportunity to touch up the paint on the bumper and the swing for the tire as well.

I had some issues getting the lights to come on when I put the Samurai in reverse. Turns out that there is a plug under the hood from the reverse switch that I unplugged when I did the engine swap.

I really like the amount of light these put out and I think they look pretty good.

Moab Adventure

I’ll try to catch you all up. I didn’t really do much to the Samurai since the last post. I installed a new oxygen sensor since it was supposed to be replaced at 80k and this engine had 140k when I pulled it from the sidekick. I also didn’t like how close the windshield wiper fluid reservoir sat to the air intake so I made a new mount for it to move it a couple of inches away from the intake. I used some 1″x.25″ aluminum I had lying around. At this time I also put in a new air filter, completing the tuneup.

Now I really wanted to show some Suzuki pride for this trip so I put some decals on the Samurai. I got some overlays for the Suzuki emblem on the grill from Dan Muskopf Designs
http://muskopfvinyldesigns.tictail.com/

I used a brayer roller and heat gun to make sure it was pressed down nice since I had sprayed over the emblem previously with bedliner.

Also added some new jeep eater stickers (no pics, sorry)

This trip was a little different than our usual family camping trip. I had planned on camping 3 nights. 1 or two of those nights I was likely going to be camping on my own so I was actually left with some free space in the Samurai. I even considered taking out the passenger seat for the pelican cooler because I was going to be solo for wheeling and my family was going to be heading back to Grand Junction to wait for me to finish wheeling. I’m glad I left the passenger seat in and I’ll tell you why later.


The cooler and water jug were actually empty to save weight. I’d get groceries and water in Grand Junction.

Gassing up and Heading out!

Now we left Denver at noon, which happened to be when we had wanted to be getting to Grand Junction but we can’t ever leave on time…

Running so late we decided to spend the night in Grand Junction at the in-laws house. We got an early start Thursday and ended up pulling onto 128 around 3:30pm. Now don’t ask me why but I thought I could get away with a 3-wire sensor and it worked great for several hundred miles. I also decided to store a jug of oil under the hood that I think may have been pulling on some wires. Anyway. Just as we were pulling onto 128 the Check Engine Light started coming on. I was getting codes for MAF, O2 Sensor, IAT sensor. I moved the Jug of oil and the light went off. But I had a feeling about that o2 sensor.
Driving through Moab I saw tons of nice rigs! I saw the Chevy Tracker from the 2011 Ultimate Adventure! In the City Market parking lot I saw this nice Isuzu Trooper.

We ended up camping at Kane Creek campground just outside of Moab.



Now Abby is amazing with a sewing machine and is a great designer! She made our 2 month old son a sleeping bag/swaddle! Which he seemed to love! He did great camping!

Anyway. Long story short. After wheeling Secret Spire Friday the IAT and O2 Sensor codes came back. I didn’t get any pics of the Samurai wheeling but Secret Spire was a gorgeous trail.

The only damaged I did to the Samurai was I slightly bent the leaf spring mount.

The power steering performed great! The sidekick seats were extremely comfortable.

I stayed in town for the Red Rock Four Wheelers Easter Jeep Safari raffle and at 9:30pm that night with the raffle still going on and having not won anything myself I decided to call it and drove back to Grand Junction to spend the weekend with my family.

On Saturday I decided to replace the Intake Air Temperature sensor because I got the code for it. We drove the kids to the park in Grand Junction to meet up with a friend and afterwards went to the O’reilly Auto Parts for the sensor, which turned out to not fit (8v maybe). On our way back to the in-laws we got rear ended at red light. After sitting there for nearly a minute!. The driver of the truck said she was looking at other vehicles and thought we had started moving. From my perspective we got slammed into at a red light! We had the kids in the back seat but they were ok. We got hit hard enough for Abby’s glasses to fly off her face. Abby’s neck was hurting pretty bad and she went to the hospital with our son in the Ambulance. The in-laws showed up and gave me and my daughter a ride to the hospital after dealing with the police. Abby’s neck is still pretty sore but the kids seem to be just fine. My back was just a bit sore the next day but I don’t think I sustained any real damage.

My mother in-law offered to drive our camping gear down in her truck on Monday and after buying a new car seat for our son (I had one in the Samurai for my daughter) we loaded both kids in the Samurai and left Grand Junction, which happened to be my Sons first ride in the Samurai and Abby’s first real ride in the Samurai since the night she went into labor. We stopped in Glenwood Springs for a swim and got home pretty late Sunday night.

Getting ready for MOAB

I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done on the Samurai recently.
Early this year I solved my windshield washer fluid sprayer problem. I had accidentally smashed the hose when I removed the windshield frame last summer.

I relocated the on board air compressor the passenger side fender and ran a hose to a quick disconnect through the grill.

I finished the seat swap last week. I started making mounts a certain way first. I planned on using some flat stock running between the sliders but quickly realized that it was going to be a lot of work and I no longer have easy access to a welder and instead ended up using some angle iron.

The way the sidekick seats bolt into the sidekick higher on the middle of the vehicle on the tranny tunnel and lower towards the door side. So I needed to cut the door side mounts down to sit even with the tranny side mounts. I mostly followed the guide on izook (http://www2.izook.com/?page_id=279) without the welding.
I used two inch masking tape as a guide.

I had to remove the fabric and foam on the sidekick seats and detach the back rest from the frame as well.

On the tranny side I utilized the mounting holes left from the sidekick sliders and bolted the angle iron the mount. I had to mount the door side angle iron a little differently. I drilled sideways into the remaining metal of the door side mount. I made a template to transfer the original Samurai seat slider holes to the angle iron I mounted on the sidekick seat frame.


I got the passenger seat finished after some struggle with the mounting holes. One of the previous owners had added some pipe flanges as seat risers and drilled through the mounting nuts in the tub.

During this I solved another problem. The original passenger seat for the Samurai had a cable that ran down to the slider mechanism that would allow the seat to slide forward automatically when you pulled the reclining lever. This was a complete assembly and I discovered that I could use the assembly from the samurai seat on the new sidekick seat.

I began the drivers side the same as the passenger side but the sliders on the drivers seat are a little different. The bolts on the drivers seat were going to interfere with the sliders.

I solved this by countersinking them.

The sliding mechanism was still in the way so I added some spacers anyway.

One of the previous owners insisted on the seat lift for the drivers seat as well and mangled up the rear most brackets.

I purchased a head gasket set and power steering kit from petroworks as well. I think I’ll hold off on the head gasket until after the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab because I’m not sure I can afford the machining (if necessary) and I feel pretty confident that the engine will survive for quite some time.

I removed the old steering box easily enough and installed the sidekick power steering box with the wedge from Petroworks.

I wasn’t expecting much trouble with steering shaft but apparently there were two nylon pins that I had to break to get the steering shaft to shorten so that the rag joint would be in the proper location. At some point I’ll eliminate the rag joint as well.

The relocation bracket for the pump was a little confusing but I eventually got it installed. I had to try two belts before finding one that worked well.

You might notice that one of the mounts on the pump is broken nearest the pulley. I think it’ll be ok though. This must have happened in the sidekick somehow.

I ran into some issues with the reservoir as well. I was expecting the reservoir to mount somewhere near the radiator like in the sidekick but I ended up making a new bracket and replacing the hoses with longer ones and mounting it in front of the air box.

After that was all done I installed new shocks as well!

I did an oil change yesterday and I hope to get around to changing the fluid in the transmission, transfercase and differentials before the trip to Moab as well but I’m not sure if I will.

I also need to wire in the new Oxygen sensor.

I need to weld on or get some bolt on recovery points for the rear and install the reverse lights I bought before Christmas. Almost done working on the Samurai before Moab though.

My son was born January 29th and he has been a welcome distraction for me but I’m excited to take him camping in Moab next month.

More updates soon!

Samurai Plans

I wanted to revisit a list of planned mods I made early on and want to evaluate where I am now and where I’m going with the Samurai.

  • Fix The Engine Drinking Oil/Coolant Issue
  • Battery
  • My-Side Harley Carb Kit
  • Roof Rack – Packing Camping gear for two adults and a toddler now
  • Skid Plates – Diff Armor
  • Rear Tire Carrier
  • Rear Cage – Minimally since now I have a daughter to worry about eeping safe.
  • Full Cage – One can dream
  • The Transfercase Cradle from Zuks Off Road
  • Lockers
  • Lift – Goal to get on 33’s

That was a very randomly planned list of things.

So the things I accomplished were

  • Battery – Was forced into getting a new one as the old one predictably died.
  • Fix the engine drinking oil issue – Well I swapped out the engine but the new engine is leaking something… Not losing that much oil and I’m not losing coolant. But something IS showing up on the exterior of the engine.
  • Roof Rack – Been working out great!
  • Rear Tire Carrier – Want to change some things but I’ve got it done!
  • Transfercase Cradle from ZOR – I have it but I have not installed it…. Want to re-gear the tcase now.

Plans for summer 2017

Some things have changed. My son will be born February and we plan on taking him camping with us that Summer and I’ve decided to build a trailer to haul to camping gear as well. Expect a new thread at some point.
The roof rack worked out great for my family when it was just the three of us but I made a smaller roof rack with the understanding that I could use the space on the back seat next to my daughter’s car seat. Not going to work with an additional baby in the back. I’ll extend/remake the roof the roof rack for more cargo.

  • Head Gasket – If that is indeed the source of the leak on the new 1.6L
  • Add a receiver to the bumper. Can’t tow a trailer without a receiver hitch.
  • Roll Cage – Rear cage at minimum – but hopefully I’ll be able to just get the full cage all at once. Anyone know of a place I can get it welded? I’ve been liking this one from Low Range Off Road – http://www.lowrangeoffroad.com/suzuki-samurai-dom-sport-cage-kits-by-low-range-off-road-src-scf-src-scr.html
  • Transfercase Gears – Some Crawl would be nice.
  • Lift – maybe just SPOA to start but I’m not terribly concerned with lifting at the moment.

The big plan for The Summer is the Trailer.
With a trailer I can stow all the camping gear, food and water. I’d like to get a roof top tent to mount on the trailer as well. I’ve seen some cool things done with the harbor freight trailers as a base. The inside of the Samurai wouldn’t be as cramped if we could get the gear in the trailer.

Suzuki Samurai 16V Engine Swap

I’m back to daily driving my Samurai! Been working out some kinks here and there.

I made a bracket for the igniter.

In addition that I cleaned up the wiring under the hood pretty well. I wrapped everything with electrical tape and split loom tubing. I also took the opportunity to remove all of the automatic transmission wiring from the engine harness.

With all that done I noticed I fresh oil on the exterior of the engine.

The oil was the oil pump so I figured the gasket on it was going bad. I was advised to do the water pump and timing belt at the same time.
I put in an order from Petroworks for all the stuff I’d need, including a new timing cover.

In order to get the oil pump off I needed to remove the lower timing pulley/cog and the oil pan. There’s a nut in the center that holds it on but in order to get it off I need to hold the cog in place. I stupidly tried to pry against one of the pulley screws with a screwdriver while trying to break the bolt free and ended up cracking the cog.

I got on the ColoradoZuks Facebook group and asked for one and someone happened to have one about 30 minutes from my house on an engine block they were willing to give me for free!
Huge thanks to fixkick.com for the measurements for making the tool needed to remove this bolt properly. You can see it in the bottom portion of the picture.

With the new cog I installed oil pump and water pump.

And after all that I still have an oil leak.

I believe it may be from the front of the head gasket but the oil leak is slow and I’m not noticing and smoking or oil in the coolant.

In other news I purchased an OBD1 to USB cable and I plan on using the rhinoman software to read data from the ECM but have yet to get it to work.