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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 22-----------APRIL 2004



The snow at the Ranch is almost gone!  Still some in a few shady spots and where I stacked it so high while plowing.  We're starting to have some near 70 degree days, so the snow that's left, won't last much longer!

I've been exchanging e mails over the past several weeks with a friend who was doing some in depth research before investing in a new varmint rifle.  Caliber, .223 Remington, was already decided, but about 4 or 5 different brands and models were still under consideration.

After much "cussin' 'n discussin'" the pros and cons of Remington, Savage, Ruger, Tikka, and others, Courtney finally settled on a Savage Model 12 BVSS.  I think the Accu-trigger® and Savage's reputation for "out of the box" accuracy tipped the scales in that direction, although he admitted to overcoming some prejudice to go there.  As I recall, he put it this way:  (He has driven Chevy pickups as long as I've known him)  "I kinda' felt like I was goin' out to buy a dang Dodge!"

During our e mail conversations Courtney mentioned that he had collected a bear while muzzle loader deer hunting last fall.  I asked him to send me a picture and a story about the hunt, and I would include it in this month's newsletter.  This story is a perfect example of why you should always include a bear and cougar tag in your deer or elk tag package!  When you spend time in the woods, you never know when opportunity will come knockin'!

So, here's the picture, and the story, in his own words:

Courtney Johnson and his Muzzle Loader Bear

With regard to the bear, here is the brief story:

"I was muzzle loading for deer S-E of Chewelah near Buzzard Lake.  I generally still hunt, but this day sat down due to a bum foot, 1.5 miles from the truck overlooking a nice little draw.  At 5:30 pm I was about to head for the truck when something started coming down the hill behind me, directly at me.  Due to the heavy cover I could not identify the critter and it moved to my left after approaching within about 20 feet.

"Motionless, I waited for the buck of my lifetime to appear from the brush when suddenly this Monster Boar (approximately 175 lb female) appeared.  Without hesitation, and with only the head and front shoulder in view I put a 360 grain Maxi Hunter driven by 90 grains of black from a 54 caliber Thompson Hawken, through both lungs.  The critter deceased on the spot at 12 paces (approximately 30 ft), after a brief episode of projectile defecation (the bear, not me), the likes of which this hunter has never seen.

"The next 2 hours were spend cursing why in the heck I would shoot such a thing 1.5 miles from the truck, alone, just before dark, with a bum foot!

"At about 8:00 pm I arrived back at camp and the photo you have was taken.  I'm planning on making a rug out of it if the hide doesn't look too bad after being drug so far.  Should be a nice little wall hanger."

Courtney, Thanks for the story!

Even though temperatures here at the Ranch, are still dropping to just below freezing at night, I think Spring is here!  (Maybe that's why we pulled the travel trailer out of the shop last Sunday)  We're looking forward to that first trip out in a few weeks.

For now, we are just making sure everything still works after being idle all Winter.  So far the batteries, refrigerator, and furnace check out OK, but we'll wait another couple of weeks to flush the anti freeze out of the water system and check that out.

I did discover that the stock TV antenna/cable hookup will not allow a signal from the portable satellite dish, to come through the existing connections.  So, I spent half a day putting a splitter into the coax cable from the external cable connection, along with a second connector inside the trailer.  This allows us to bypass the antenna booster when we want to hook up the satellite receiver and still use the regular antenna for local channels wherever we may be.

Finally got everything stuffed back inside the wall and workin' like it should!  (Hallelujah!  Over 200 channels available from anywhere in the country to keep Jennifer entertained!  Well, OK, Grandpa too!)

We haven't towed the trailer on the road yet to see how the new programs in Big Red's computer are going to affect our pulling power, but that will hopefully occur next week.  Now, as promised in the March newsletter, here is an update on the status of the $1200 + power upgrade to Big Red, the 1999 Ford Powerstroke Diesel.

As we left the project on March 1st, when I wrote last month's edition, the new 4 inch oversized exhaust system from the turbo back, had just been completed, the Edge Products ( www.edgeproducts.com ) Evolution® power programmer was in hand, and the BD Power ( www.bd-power.com ) X-Monitor® gauges were on order.  The truck was also at the Ford dealership awaiting a part to correct, the unrelated to this project, Park/Neutral sensor problem that had been occurring occasionally for a couple of months.

After the parts were all here, and Big Red was back in my shop, the rest of the project was ready to move ahead!  Let me forewarn you; this got very frustrating before it was over!  I'm not sure if it's just that I'm getting old and crotchety, or some of the people who built, wrote instructions, and packaged the products I worked with throughout this ordeal were just danged incompetent!  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'll just tell the story, and you be the judge.

The rest of the story about the power upgrade is rather long and detailed.  I'm trying to give you a feel for the frustration that can be involved in doing this.  If you have any idea that you may embark on a project such as this, the rest of the story might save you some headaches.  If, on the other hand, a project like this is the farthest thing from your mind, you might want to just skip ahead to this month's "Hillbilly Wisdom" and call it a day.

The retail supplier of all the products I used was Terry's Truck Center.  (6223 E. Mallon, Spokane, WA.  (509) 534-0609)  General Manager, Brian Brownlow, quoted me a price for the parts and supplies, and offered to provide technical advice to help me over any "rough spots" as I worked through this "do it myself" project.  Brian did exactly what he said he'd do, so I had no issues with Terry's Truck Center.

When the "factory delayed" X-Monitor® gauges finally arrived, Brian called to tell me they sent the newer  "dash mount" set instead of the "pillar mount" set that he had ordered.  This snafu turned out to be a good thing, since the dash mount looked better, and is easier to install on the Ford, than the pillar mount anyway.  So, I decided to keep the gauges as sent.

Now, it's time to start the installation process, so I read the instruction booklet.  (I know it's hard to believe, but that's where I started)  Because my truck has an automatic transmission, my application is supposed to give me readouts of three functions:  Transmission fluid temperature, Pyrometer (Exhaust temperature), and Turbocharger boost.

Problem One:  According to the chart in the instruction booklet, there is no program number listed for the combination of "trans temp, pyro, and turbo boost" for the dash mount set I have in my hand!  Phone call number one to the factory in Vancouver, BC.  After a long conversation with a customer service rep, I'm finally transferred to the engineer who had just revised the instructions.  I learned that the units now being shipped, whether dash mount or pillar mount, whether Ford, GM, or Dodge, contain all the programs for all the possible combinations, and you just scroll through the numbers until you find the application you need for your vehicle!

The engineer's response to my inquiry about why the application chart didn't say that, was:  "I forgot to take that one column out of the chart that shows the old applications for the different types of mounts and vehicles."  (Well, DUH!)

Now I'm really ready to go forward with this, right?  Well, not quite.  A complete inventory of the contents of the package reveals Problem Two:  There is no wire and tap-in terminal for the transmission temperature connection.  Phone call number two to the factory.  I'm assured that the missing parts will be shipped UPS by the end of the day.

Now I'm really, really ready to proceed, right?  Well, yeah.  I can go ahead with everything but the transmission sensor connection.  Surprisingly this part is pretty straightforward.

The control unit mounts on the firewall under the dash.  I used epoxy to glue on a nylon strap and buckle that holds the unit in place.  Find a wire that is hot only when the ignition is on, and tap in the unit's power wire.  Connect the ground wire.

Screw the thermocouple for the exhaust temp sender into the existing threaded opening in the downpipe just after the turbo, connect the wiring harness, and route the wires through the firewall to the control unit under the dash.

Remove the turbo boost sensor hose from the barb on the manifold and insert the supplied tee.  Connect one end of the supplied new length of hose to the tee, and route the other end through the firewall to the control unit.

Mount the digital readout gauge box on the dash.  (I used two small pieces of Velcro® and mounted mine on top of the dash on the far left)  Connect the modular cable to the gauge box, run it down through the opening at the end of the dash, and connect the other end to the control unit.

Of course, what I have written here in 10 minutes took me about 3 days to do.  And, that's OK, because Little Heifer and I try to let "hurry up" interfere as little as possible with our lives any more.  Besides, it took 3 or 4 days for the needed transmission sensor connection to arrive.

Now, back to that interesting instruction booklet!  There is an existing wire in the harness that connects to the Ford's computer, that monitors the transmission fluid temperature.  So, all you have to do is tap into that wire at the computer's plug-in to activate the readout on the gauges.  There's even a poorly reproduced schematic drawing in the booklet that identifies the proper terminal as "pin 37."  (Probably just a photo copy from a Ford shop manual)  You are also told the the correct wire is "orange with a black stripe."

Problem Three:  What you aren't told, is whether the drawing is supposed to represent the computer terminals themselves, the plug-in terminals from a front view, or the plug-in terminals from a rear view.  Neither is there any indication of left, right, top, or bottom.  Making things even more interesting, there are at least three orange wires with a black stripe in that mess!  Heck, I even found an orange and black wire hooked to the heater fan on the opposite side of the engine compartment!  No, I did not call the factory on this one!  At that point I'm not sure my polite telephone voice would have been working all that well!

After moving various fuse blocks and relays, and removing the bracket for them, that was blocking access, I finally managed to contort the old, fat body enough to get both hands into the required area, low on the firewall, left side of the engine compartment.  After removing the locking bolt and unplugging the harness from the computer, I was able to isolate the correct orange and black wire, by identifying a couple of empty slots and counting out from the bolt hole.  A quick squeeze with pliers on the supplied tap-in terminal, and bolting everything back together, completed the gauge installation.

Fortunately, even I could understand the instructions for finding the correct program number and setting the parameters, and then everything worked as advertised.

Now I'm ready to play with the Evolution® programmer.  As I wrote last month, this unit just reprograms the existing computer in the vehicle, and allows for 3 power level settings above stock.  I might add here, that both the instruction booklet and the on screen prompts for the Evolution® were very clear and straightforward!  Even a real dummy could breeze through those, if everything worked right!

The idea here was to run the truck a few miles at stock with no load, and do the same with each of the 3 power settings to get a baseline for gauge readings at each level.  With those numbers on record, I can tell exactly the effect of each power level when I start towing the trailer.  When I programmed for level 2, the process went much slower than it had before, but eventually made it through.

When I plugged in the programmer to change to level 3, that big if raised its ugly head!  Different product, new problem!  The programmer screen told me, "vehicle mismatch, reprogram original vehicle to stock."  Hmm, this is the original vehicle; now what do I do?

This time my call to the factory was to Ogden, Utah.  After my problem was explained to the customer service rep, he asked for the version number on the back of the programmer unit.  After I gave him the numbers he said, "Well, we've been having problems with that version, so we'll send you a new one along with a programmer to get your truck back to stock."

My query was, "Where, When, and How?"

Here's what happened.  I had to plug my unit back into the truck to read the code numbers for the original stock program in my computer.  After another call to relay those numbers, the process was set into motion.

No messing around with UPS Ground, with these folks, as did BD Power!  A new Evolution® and a unit to reprogram to stock were sent UPS, next day air, along with a prepaid label to return the old unit and the stock programmer to the factory.  I was up and running again in just over 24 hours!  While I would have preferred not to have had the problem at all, when I did, I got true "customer service," and I commend Edge Products for that!

So, for now, all systems are "go" with my power upgrade, with everything working fine.  I can tell already that the truck has a lot more power than it had at "stock."  The real test will come when we begin towing 10,000 pounds of travel trailer, but, I'll have to report on that next month.

If you've been interested enough to wade through all this and want more information or discussion about this project, just go to the link at the bottom of the Home Page and send me an e mail.

This month's "Hillbilly Wisdom" comes from Ann's paternal grandfather who was a lifelong farmer and livestock grower.

"The ideal time to castrate pigs is when the moon sign is in the knees, goin' down.  Never do it when the sign is in or even close to the secrets, 'else a lot of them pigs is gonna' get sick 'n die."

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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