10/23/19 Update Poptop, bumper, swingouts and more

It has been a mad dash across the country but the pleasure of working with great companies has made it worthwhile. The frustrations caused by others is part of the process but still sucks.

This is a quick update with limited wifi so I will hit the highpoints…

The Sportsmobile top is amazing, never doubt the strength of that frame and the guys there actually are happy and enjoy their work. The top is only partway up here, don’t freak out. Also the custom roof “fence/light holder/awning support” caused them some issues but it works for now even with a lube required tight fit. A little bit of tweaking by Dave the Fabricator back in Phoenix and the thing will be perfect.

The last post I wrote was from the Aluminess lounge, little did I know how upset I would be soon. I will provide a more in-depth post once everything is resolved but the lesson to learn is companies change as they grow, they can’t always hire the best people and new designs create new problems. But more on that later.

From Aluminess it was a side trip to drop off David the video dude I had hired in Kansas City. He is the reason the quality went way up on the videos. But I am a hard person to work for and this is a crazy mad dash trip across the southwest. We parted ways and I blasted north to the Bay Area so Owl Van could work their magic.

Like most of the bits on Red Chaser, this is a prototype swingout setup. The hinges are different both in placement and style from the other Transit they have modeled on, but in less than 2 days they had whipped up a tire carrier and a Sherpa mount that I now get to beat the crap out of in the desert.

In another example of killer customer service, Toby of Scheel-Mann let me invade his shop and helped me install a pair of seats that I am really looking forward to trying. By this point, I have put on almost 4000 miles in 9 days. When I lost my leg my pelvis was broken and healed crooked, I have scoliosis (curved spine), lower back pain and more. I have never been comfortable in any seats but I just figured that was the price of life. My hope is the 10-way adjustment in the Vario model, the firm but supportive padding and German engineering will make a big difference in my life. With another 1000 to 1500 miles before I get home the truth should be clear soon.

There will be a full write up on all this soon, but a quick note. I fully accept I no longer have airbags in my seat. I accept that all of these modifications change the vehicle and it’s safety in some way. I am an adult and I choose to do all of this.

The Scopema swivels will get their own notes but needless to say they were not the simple drop on mod I thought. But they are rock solid and work well.

Sunday was a workday with a buddy who has a houseboat north of Portland. More Heatshield paint on Db Skin (it washed off me with warm water and soap) and more L track installation. Also, I mocked up the tires, Oh Boy!

And then it was bright and early to Quadvan Monday morning to start the magic….and to see if they choke on these big ol’ Nitto Ridge Grapplers and the pretty Method 701’s. The front-wheel well has a pinch weld on the back end of it that has to go and on the rear wheel well the pinch welds at the front and back bottom ends will have to go.

These guys are really impressive at the concern for quality, for double and triple-checking work and the willingness to understand the customer’s needs.

Watch for more soon…..

10/16 Update… Fat Ford and Real MPG

PLG & Forum Update 10/16  only 18 days to Build a Van

Currently at in the Aluminess Customer Louge writing this up while the shop folks make front bumper magic happen.

Like many things along “the road to SEMA” (I am almost getting tired of saying that), I am sure there will be mistakes in my vision, my plan, my understanding of how all the bits will fit together. And like the previous mistakes the killer cool people helping me will make something great come out of it.

Lightforce sent flush mount Venom lights which was a cool idea, but Aluminess had already built the bumper with a tube to protect a standard single post mount 6in light. Luckily Lightforce is smarter than me and sent a set of that style Venom also. I am really curious which will work (or maybe 1 set IN the bumper and the other ON TOP !

I did ask for the weight of all the Ford bits they are taking off…..sorry super happy assembly line people. And a weight of the bumper going on since it is all about the data for you folks.

Sportsmobile actually finished up at the time they said they would when Jason quoted me weeks ago. It is nice that the operation there is so well run. Having the guys who worked on the van sign the back door was my favorite part. And some of them had been part of my van almost 10yrs before. That is a sign of a good company if folks stay around, especially since moving OUT of California would be a solid business choice for the owners. But nope, good employees are worth way too much to move away from.

Of all the shinny metal that was removed I was able to save the window slug which will get some pics stuck on and go in my shop. Hard to let all that pretty red paint go to scrap.

If you are ever passing through Fresno it is well worth the time to stop in the showroom. They have pretty much every configuration you want and you can see a 60’s VW and soon a 70’s Ford for historical comparison.

Oh and before you start thinking this is a paid post, well NOPE I paid the same price you would. $14,800 for an Electric Poptop, color matched in bedliner, solar panel install (my panel) with wiring, Drivers side awning window and too many laughs and jokes to count.

VanLife is the hot ticket right now, so if you are thinking of having someone else build your van, just ask:

How long have you been doing this?

How many have you built?

Now that said, I will be doing my own interior….for a couple of reasons:

I am burning through cash like a drug dealer and I still am not sure exactly what I want.



Sleep above or below……I have no idea. I have not slept in the penthouse bed yet so I am not sure how easily my 1 legged self will gimp up and down. I am not sure how comfy it will be for my terrible back & hip. So you all will just have to come back and see what happens.

I am bummed I lost the cool LED lights that Ford puts in. Those have to be the best cargo area light I have ever seen. Really bright, neat aluminum heat sink and flush mount. I did save them and will find a use. Sportsmobile does put in their own lights, stylish brushed aluminum but there are only 2 up front. I think strip or side lights might work better…….sorry I had to pause to write a note as an idea flashed into my head and it will drift out like my cigar smoke if I don’t capture it.

 My first driving impression was on the highway since Sportsmobile doesn’t have a dirt playground, but wouldn’t that be cool? I could absolutely tell the center of gravity has changed. I was really hoping to find a Truck Scale before I got to Aluminess but it was a 5hr drive south last night and early up to Heatshield Products this morning. However if I deduct the bumper when I find a scale today I will know what the top/window difference is.

The vehicle doesn’t feel tippy, it actually feels more solid and planted. Strange since all the weight went as high as possible. Even the solar panel moved from against to the van wall to the roof. Oh and MISTAKE ALERT….Bo the very nice wiring man was super kind along with Bernie in telling me that my 3M VHB & plastic solar mounts would “not be the best idea”.

Since I had already ordered the Thule rails it was a breeze for Bo to make brackets to low mount the panel to the rails. Love it and rock solid….I might have “passed” someone at 90mph on Grapevine pass as part of my data collection on wind noise and panel securement.

And for everyone curious about the roof “fence” (yeah I got tired of explaining it wasn’t really a roof rack, just an place to hang the 23Zero awning and Lightforce lights while protecting my poptop. Well it was a tight, tight fit but I think I can get through SEMA and then Dave the Fabricator can do a couple of tweaks to make it perfect. The “concept” is sound, it was just amazing he did as well as he did with 2 visits by a Uhaul Transit and 6hrs with mine.

And here is another MISTAKE ALERT, I knew we needed some sort of rubber gasket between the roof fence feet and the Transit body. I was just thinking it was for paint protection and vibration. Nope! It was because water can flood through those factory mounting points!

So anyone thinking of making your own roof anything, make sure you silicone, or gasket or something to seal up around those bolts, rain INSIDE your van is a bad thing.

Before I forget, let’s talk MPG (yeah my brain bounces around)….these are hand calc based on odometer & pump (stock tires, 3.31 ratio, 3.5 Eco, luggage and 2 extra single factory Transit seats…Certified scale weight 5780lbs

Here is a summary of most of my fillups, at over 500 miles a day I am getting frazzled:

KC to Witchita :15.7

13.8 (fast driving and variable RPM for engine breakin

14.9 (lower speed and less throttle modulation

15.1 (now 6815lbs with more crap hitting the highway to Sportmobile in Fresno)

13.2 (up and down a lot of hills)

12.8 (pushing way hard from Fresno south to LA, new Sportsmobile roof, still need new weight)

14 (pushing much less hard)

So I am at 2500 miles and my avg from Kansas City around the Southwest has been 14ish, hard driving, 5 over the speed limit maybe, maybe more….and not quite 7000lbs.

I will continue to update the data and info along the way….and pics as soon as I get to good wifi!

Day 1-4 of SEMA 2019 4×4 Ford Transit Overlander

So well, yeah, I am still in Kansas City….yeah yeah I know me too.

I wanted to use this “little” delay to talk about how great everyone from hourly security guards to Ford Corp Comm folks have been. Even when there is nothing they can do to help they are all really nice about it. Also this is a good chance to tell all you future SEMA builders to be careful how big and bad you want to seem, it can bite you in the butt.

But before we get to the part where I screwed up let me tell you about all the good stuff.

Sat am and no van and not likely but that is ok, there is plenty to do, roam the K CAP perimeter (Kansas City Assembly Plant)…..

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw a Red low roof van, but a little work with the zoom lens broken my heart, wasn’t mine…

So instead I went off to check out rural Kansas on my way to meet up with the fine folks of Konza Overland. This drive in movie theater is way cool and still in use.

And then you have the cool older places that I still wish were open so I could hear the stories of times gone by…..

And then I finally got to the Overlanding part of the day, well not really that would still be a bit as I drove 2hrs to join the Konza Overland group. But I did find the Great Overland Station, amazing the things you will see if you follow the little road signs instead of blasting down a highway. This place was one of the great railroad stations in the Midwest built in 1927, with 20,000 people coming to the grand opening.

Pretty soon I was in Manhattan, but not the one with skyscrapers, the one in the middle of Kansas! I found a great group of gents who were happy let me have a passenger seat and show me the dirt roads, waterfalls and history of an area I know I will return and enjoy again in the future, or sooner if I can’t get a van and hit the road.

I am working some video from the adventure…watch for that soon.

Now to the part you were waiting on….why it might be better to be nobody.

In the tactical world it is known as “grey man”, invisible because he is of little note. However when you tell Ford you are doing this 4200 mile road trip to SEMA, building the van along the way, and you plan to chase in Baja and have more adventures on the way to Overland Expo West in May, well, Ford doesn’t want anything to go wrong. Either they know how I beat on rigs, or they just don’t want a video of a Race Red Transit burning to the ground along a highway.

So the great folks at the factory are checking everything over, including the Paint which needed some work (if only they knew the desert pinstriping this thing will get). So waiting and waiting but in the end it will be worth it.

So word to the wise, before you tell anyone what you are doing, think through the “Law of Unintended Consequences”….are you better off known or unknown?

Budget, cash flow, cash flood as of 10/4/2019

Sema Show, the best & craziest place to see what is new the auto world

This isn’t some magical logo that results in parts and free labor flying in to save your project. Usually, this is what gets burned into your wallet as all the little things you forgot to add up along with all the time and labor to blow your budget out of the water.

Oh and that assumes you even started with a budget and not something along the lines of “hey it would be cool to build XXX for SEMA”.

This will be a living document that I try to update as I go along so check back often. I will do my best to include real invoices, real quotes and as much as possible all the little things that usually escape these types of articles but really add up.

Here are the dirty details in case you don’t want to read about each item, remember there is an additional cost to a project like fuel, meals, hotels, rental cars, and such….but I will keep those off the Van list. I will list what I actually paid and if there was any discount:

  • $34k Van : 2019 Ford Transit 130 RB LR 3.5 ecoboost
  • $14k Sportsmobile colar matched poptop & more
  • $???k Quadvan 4wd conversion getting everything they have 🙂
  • $3k Alumiess front bumper
  • $600 Extreme Outback Endura compressor (x2), tank and all the bits
  • $270 ARB X-Jack
  • $560 MaxxTrax (4 red board & mounting pins) 20% disc
  • $2550 Van Compass tuned rear Fox resi shocks, storage box, bump stops, grab handles, ditch light brackets, front Bilstein struts
  • $ Vehicle Graphics
  • $788 Method 701 (x5) & lug nuts w/ shipping (50% disc)
  • $ Rock Solid Products custom roof rack and panel inserts and more
  • $ Tires, mount & balance
  • $ TBD Lightforce LED lights (price depends on how much I help them)
  • $ TBD Mile Marker winch (price depends on how much I help them)
  • $110 Winch cradle for rec’r hitch, out of stock at Mile Marker
  • $800 Northern Arizona Wind & Sun solar panel and misc bits
  • $1034 Heatshield Products (if I get the right media coverage 100% refund possible)
  • $ Misc circuit breakers, wire, zip ties, loom and more
  • $ Plus nuts for interior mounting options
  • $ L-track
  • $ TBD Rollercam straps of all kinds (price depends on how much I help)
  • $ TBD SafeJack Rennstands, Bottle Jack, Jack plate (price depends on how much I help them)
  • $ 7P International Recovery Ring/Soft Shackle (10% disc)
  • $ Paint for fab work
  • $ Glue, panel & vinyl for interior
  • $1500 Scheel-man driver/pass seats (demo units at disc)
  • $ 700 Fridge (NIB off craigslist, but I would still like a partner on that)
  • $ Owl Vans Rear tire carrier and Sherpa panel
  • $ TBD 23Zero Peregrine 270deg awning & walls (price depends on help)
  • $ TBD Racechip Tuning setup (price depends on how much I help)
  • $59,912 total so far

The Van itself……On the Ford Transit Forum I came across Ed Bowers (CrewVanMan) who works sales for Matt Ford and is an amazing resource. Ed helped me spec out just what I wanted (not white), and get through the crazy options and configurations (no slider door).

Transit Order Summary
Everything I wanted from the Factory

So this is the Order Summary that outlines just want I wanted. From this Ed was able to find all the rebates and get my price down to $33, 954. That was great! I added GAP insurance in case anything happens before I get the van paid off and an extended warranty since I put on a ton of miles.

At the same time there were companies that have treated me really well in the past that I wanted to pay full retail in order to show my thank. Sportsmobile was one of them so between the color matched poptop, a drivers side CR Laurence window, solar wiring I am looking at about $14k.




Day 0 of SEMA 2019 Build a Ford Transit 4×4 Poptop Van Roadtrip

Today is the Day a Van gets built…..I think, I hope, I have not been able to make sure, but I trust the power of positive thinking, and a little 1 leg luck.

Yesterday I spent a bunch of time with the great folks at Matt Ford, from the parts guys that helped me figure out where some boost/pressure sensors where (cool news coming on that) to the finance fellow Fred who helped me pay for a van that doesn’t actually exist yet.

I also got to test drive a high top, 148 Ecoboost for a buddy. I had been telling folks how easy it was to deal with Ed and the folks at Matt Ford and there are actually people who want high roof vans. After seeing how much room is inside those things I can understand why. Now I can say I am really an influencer since a deposit was made and a trip arranged for another VanLifer to join the fray.

Another cool thing about Ed the mighty salesman is how tight he is with the Transit powers at Ford. From big things like the new CrewVan model to small things like a factory floor mat. And never scoff at a well-designed product like this floormat, after all the times Martin our engineer has complained about a poor design I get that the little things matter. The 2 part design keeps you from spilling the dirt and rocks out when you want to dump that mess. Not bad price at $95 (I paid for it quick, they only had 1 left).

Of course, I had to end the day with some Kansas City BBQ, and I knew my belly led me in the right direction when I saw a Transit parked in front of Slaps. They were out of ribs by 6 pm but everyone knows a quality joint should run out of meat each evening. Never trust a place that has plenty of long smoked meat around.

Keep an eye on our Instagram account pegleggarage for the latest updates, let’s all lift our eyes to the sky and say “Get Lance his Race Red Chase Van Today Please”, and thanks for following along.

Day -1 of SEMA 2019 Build a Ford Transit 4×4 Poptop Van Roadtrip

Update time for everyone, we ARE in Kansas anymore Toto! Or Claycomo to be more precise. But amidst the soybean fields, I found where Ford grows Transit vans! And some of them grow pretty tall.

And I admit I geeked out a bit at the serious architecture of the Ford Assembly Plant, very solid.

Now you know I am embarking on a serious Overland Trip when I drive through Overland Park and even see Overland Photo supply since it is really all about the ‘gram after all.

Back home Dave the Fabricator (really of Rock Solid Products) is working hard on the double tube rack to handle the torsional load of the massive 23Zero awning, 270 degrees and 280 square foot of coverage are not to be messed with, plus something has to support the Lightforce Nightfall LED’s.

Meanwhile, I am testing a new leg while trying not to abuse the temp socket too much.

Also just before I left I wanted to put in a new Treehouse to Tacoma gasket and make sure everything is right on this setup before I put it up for sale. So if you know anyone who needs a killer ready to roll ride this is the one.

Lastly, for today, there is still some parts selection going on. Quadvan just sent me these pictures of their Intercooler skid, Transfer Case skid, and Gas Tank skid. Yeah, I ordered them all. I had already ordered the VanCompass intercooler skid and rear diff skid but it is nice to have everything come from one place so I think I will switch out to the Quadvan products since they are doing the 4wd conversion.

The Way it SHOULD work with “Influencers”

Heatshield Products is a company I knew I wanted to work with as soon as the idea popped into my head to build a Ford Transit Poptop 4wd. I had worked with other companies before like Sportsmobile West, Extreme Outback and Aluminess, but Heatshield was new to me but not new to lots of racers I knew.

Heatshield logo
Keep the heat and sound away BEFORE it becomes a problem.

In previous builds I had gone a more DIY approach with FatMat, Reflectix and HyTech Sales insulated paint. But on this build I wanted to treat the van more like a race car where the goal is to keep the heat away in the first place.

Now to the influencer part. We I contact Heatshield Products about working with them we chatted and then I got a chance to read through the way they do things, and I like it. Their goal is for me to take the risk (makes sense) and for me to prove myself (again makes sense). That way if I fail, no loss to them, and if I succeed I can get 100% of the cost refunded back to me.

Heatshield Products Buy Back
I take the risk, I do the work, I get my money back.

Now this is just a bit of the entire program, the outline what qualifies, the time frame and the rest of the details. But the core concept is great, if I can really influence then I shouldn’t be worried. And if I can’t afford the product then they should be worried I could do anything I promised in some proposal.

Knowing your Center of Gravity

Center of Gravity Ford Transit
How cool to know the real center of gravity for your rig.

While working my way through the Ford Transit Builders Guide I came across the methods and formulas to figure out the Center of Gravity.

For a road going machine this is less of a concern, but with all the off camber fun we have in the dirt it will be great to know once the build is finished just where that imaginary point is at.

Sure playing on a RTI is fun and looks cool (Ramp Travel Index tells you how much flex your suspension gives), but knowing how if your Center of Gravity is high vs low or front vs back has much more value to the Overlander or VanLife world.

Looks like Martín our resident engineer will have to be involved with all this math, and we will need to borrow 4 wheel scales and a forklift, but in the end should be a good time and great knowledge to share!

Just part of the number crunching we will have to do.

Not “Girl Power” just normal

Female plugging a tire leak
Novice power is amazing, being a female should just be normal.

At a recent novice offroad training event we hosted there were male and female participants. Here at Peg Leg Garage, we treat everyone the same, male vs female, abled vs disabled, and race just doesn’t exist. The only time we label folks is novice, intermediate and expert. And that is more about helping each other than how we treat people.

Since this was a “novice day” we covered the basics of what to take when you first start, tire pressures and repairs, self-recovery items and such. I teach the same regardless of gender, if strength is a concern due to physical size or ability/disablity I will adapt the lesson for those folks.

group off road lesson
Gather around to play with cool toys.

Don’t worry I am getting to the “Girl Power” part. As an amputee, I have always been a bit bothered when someone tells me I am “inspiring”, or holds me up as an example to other disabled folks. Sure it is part of our marketing efforts, and I do look for products and methods that make life easy for the physically disabled as that helps me also, but I am not a fan of “amp life” or “amp power”. To me, it just is normal that a person adapts to their reality in order to do the things that need doing.

amputee moving rocks
1 Leg Lance stacking rocks, no big thing.

So when Alyssa called out on the radio that she was getting a low tire pressure alert I wasn’t excited that a “girl” would get to do something, I was thrilled a “novice” was about to test my teaching. Instead of “girl power” it should just be normal that a female can have the skills, knowledge and drive to thrive. If we want to get past sexism, racism and all the other “isms” then we have to make that thing normal. The phrase “girl power” started in the early 90’s, we are almost 30 years later, we should all accept gender as a non -issue by now.

extreme outback kit used by female to plug a tire leak
The Extreme Outback kit made it a breeze for “A” to plug a leak and get back on the trail.

If we want to celebrate anything we should be happy when a novice succeeds, or when someone overcomes a personal challenge. To me there was no “girl power” here, a female did exactly what I knew she could and would. The power was in her attitude to accept the problem, learn a solution and have faith in herself.

By the way, the Extreme Outback kit did make it super easy for Alyssa, especially since she needed 1 large and 2 small plugs to fix this hole/tear.

Why these wheels?

Choosing a wheel, it should be more than good looks…

Normally I am not a fellow that goes crazy when it comes to wheel choices. I either run a stock looking steel wheel so I can beat it back into shape if some rock attacks me in the back country or stick with the stock aluminum wheels if they are the right size.

blown tires on the burb
Blowouts, pot holes or wayward rocks can all damage a wheel.

However there are times even someone like me who isn’t about looks needs to find the right wheel, and that is usually when your wallet is also going to lighten up buying bigger tires.

In the case of our Transit build, Ford blessed us with a cute little 28 inch tire on a 16 inch wheel of steel. Normally this would be great as a 255/85/16 has been a fantastic size on my last few builds. However with the Quadvan 4wd conversion I also need to change the offset in order to squeeze as much tire in and not rub against the coil spring on the strut. Oh and yeah in the very near future we are going to see what can be done about some custom reservoir shocks with custom rate coil springs.

This mean a bit of research into 5x160mm bolt pattern wheels…..and only a few showed up. While I didn’t have first hand experience with any of them I did know Method from watching how well they held up during all the NORRA Mexican 1000’s I chased for. Almost any wheel will work on the street and most will work for a normally loaded rig on forest roads. But beat on a wheel in Baja or put it on a heavy vehicle and the real test begins.

Method Race Wheels
They really are lighter, stronger…but I am not usually faster.

Now is the point you start thinking, “well of course he likes Method, they are giving him free wheels”. Nope, I am paying for these, yes there is a discount but I would rather pay for something that works in remote areas than run free that leaves me stranded.

method bead grip
wheel design matters

With previous SEMA builds the wheel choice did come down to the best partner deal since all the choices were about the same in performance. However for this van since I can’t more than a 33 inch tire and can’t really go wide I know I will be airing down often and many times way way down. That means a higher risk of rolling off a bead in sand, mud or snow. Sure I know how to re-seat a bead, and with the Extreme Outback compressor and a tank it won’t be hard. But even better is not having to deal with the problem in the first place.

I have seen first hand Method Trail series wheels aired down to 5psi and hold a bead, to me that is worth paying for.

So the winner for our Chase Red Transit will be Method 701 bronze wheels in 17 inch size……and now to figure out tires.

Method 701 bronze
Method Trail 701 so pretty, but more important, so strong

SEMA Status Report 8/27

Partners Transit Poptop
Current Partners on our SEMA 2019 Ford Transit Poptop 4×4 van

We more moving right along lining up the right partners who make the best goodies for this Overland, VanLife, Chase Van.

Sportsmobile has us on the schedule for the electric poptop, it will have a Thule rack rail that we plan to use for solar panel mounts.

Quadvan has us scheduled for the 4wd conversion which will include a gear ratio change to 3.73, limited slip/lockers, rear axle shock mount shortening, installation of VanCompass intercooler and diff skids, and a bit more.

Aluminess has us on the schedule for a front bumper install.

Extreme Outback is working on our list of On Board Air Compressors, tanks and bits…..can’t wait to check out the new Endura line. Having owned a Magnum and High Output compressor I am sure the Endura rocks.

Scheel-Mann is getting our super supportive and amazing seats ready.

Heatshield Products is figuring out the best way to keep the heat and sound out of the van. Watch for some testing on our Tacoma & Treehouse camper soon.

And we are working out a match between a Redarc Manager 30 and some solar panels.

Plenty more to setttle like tires, wheels, lights, winch, fridge, recovery gear and more.

Our current stress fest is getting a hold of the right person at Ford to let us come in and tour/video the Van moving down the assembly line. Our build date is October 3rd. I know the Kansas City Plant doesn’t do public tours but the hope is that as a media company with a disabled guy who will drive the van it would be great to meet any disabled Ford employees who helped design/build it. Always great to see and hear stories of workers who are well supported by companies.

Watch for update on each partner on why we choose them, the cool stuff they make and best of all the struggles happening behind the scenes to line up the rest of the build.

SEMA 2019 4wd Transit Poptop

Our 2019 SEMA project is a 4×4 Transit poptop race chasing campervan.

We are back after some time away to enjoy life, and some an exciting new project in the works…..in will include these amazing folks that we have worked with before:

Sportsmobile West

And some new folks we are looking forward to working with:

Northwest Quadvan
Northwest Quadvan

And of course you know it is leading up to this place:

Sema Show, the best & craziest place to see what is new the auto world

Darche Awning and Walls 1yr Report

Darche awning on the beach
Extend the walls for even more shade.

After one year of use I figured it was time to give an update on my Darche awning. I paid for this at the Overland Expo in 2018 after my wife saw just how big it was and the expo special price helped.

I am not gentle with my equipment, I buy it to be used and while I try to take care I don’t do anything special. Quick cut to the end….I love it, just wish the bag was a bit bigger around to make zipping up easier.

Darche awning inside spae
This is just the front half of all the space under the awning.

The awning walls fit well in a Pelican suitcase sized case and they are heavy but worth the weight and space. Yes I will get a picture of it all packed up.

Darche awning outside
A view from the outside of the Darche awning setup

The walls work well without stakes unless there is more than a gentle breeze. It is always safest to place some stakes and guy lines just to make sure the wind doesn’t make a sail out of your investment.

Darche awning gaps
Darche awning does have some gaps.

I fully admit we have not been through any crazy rainstorms to see how much water could come in the gaps you see above. That is mainly because I don’t like rain and I hate mud as an amputee.

I will continue to report the longterm likes/dislikes for the Darche but for not I am glad my wife convinced me to spend the money.

Big Blue Burb Unique features, faults and scars

Well if the old girl is going away I really should be honest with folks about all her downsides. Now that said the Burb is a great ride with tons of smiles per mile, everyone compliments us on her and getting gas can become a conversation stop with strangers. But we have to be honest, she isn’t finished as a project and we get out and play which means she has a few blems.

It is mean of me to highlight all the bad things, but the right buyer will understand that a 1970 Suburban is not a new ride and resto-mod is not Pebble Beach perfection.

There 2 great spotlights for finding fun stuff at night, I upgraded the drivers side to LED, just haven’t gotten around to upgrading the passenger side yet, not really a blem, just a “to be done”.

We put a Maaco paint job on the burb because we knew desert pinstripping is part of our playground. So a here and there the paint is chipping. She still looks good at 20ft though!

That thin Maaco paint also means that the high traffic areas have worn through. If I didn’t live in a nice dry place like Arizona I would use some bed liner type coating on these areas.

I went simple on the door panels, again the paint is chipped on bottoms but still looks good.

Let’s move to some mechanical treats for a bit, the solar feeds into this CTEK controller which works great and enjoys hanging out with the remote power steering reservoir/filter setup. This is a great feature with all the off road driving we do.

My buddy Nick gets credit for all the excellent wiring work on my burb. Labeled and over built to keep us safe and having fun in the backcountry.

Here you can see the Vintage Air monster condenser , trans cooler, and under it the oil cooler, oh and there is a power steering cooler hiding in there also. In the brutal desert southwest we need all the cooling we can get.

Oil cooler at the top of the pic and a killer custom leaf spring setup and Fox shocks keeping the ride nice on the trail.

Under the passenger side is the Extreme Outback air compressor setup and tank, this gives plenty of power for airing up tires, the air lockers and dusting off the interior after a day of play.

Speaking of the desert one of the fun things I did during the build was choose to capture all the AC condensation to add to our water supply while traveling. Why let good water go to waste?

Back outside we go and up to see the roof rack which I made to hold the solar panel and keep space down one side for a kayak and space on the back for fire wood or such. The rack is removable with the quick clamps and the wiring passes through with a marine sealable disconnect.

Back to the inside we go, the original idea was a create seating that becomes a sleep platform. we can carry 4 people and sleep 2 inside and under the awning with walls goes the other 2. Of course as a factory 3 door someone gets to work a bit getting in and out 🙂

Here is the sleep platform, panels lift out from behind the seats to access tools, recovery gear and such. And below is plenty of room for camp gear, kitchen kit and more.

There are a few other dents and spots that could use work if paint time comes again. There is a dent on the drivers side where the swingarm went too wide and the tire kissed the body. Behind the passenger side back wheelwell is a spot of filler from the previous owner. I left it and a tough day on the trail cracked it. Battle wounds made for great stories at least.

Above the sleep platform is the rear AC setup, between the Vintage Air in dash and this in the back we survive and thrive in the desert.

As you can see from the pics there are a few things I still have to do like headliner, rebuild the center console (shown is the final prototype) and clean up a few other things. I also have a different set of front seats I was thinking of swaping to instead of the light colored ones in currently.

A project is never really done and we have been all about getting use out of the Burb every step of the way during our years together. Any questions please contact me and come take her for a drive.


Selling the Big Blue Burb $25k obo

Happy Day, Sad Day, looking to the future Day.

Our Peg Leg Garage Super Support 1970 Suburban is for sale as it is time to move on to a new project. This is a Happy Day  with excitement about the new build, and a Sad Day when we think of this tried, true and trusty steed moving on.

If you know the Burb and want to setup a drive or talk then call Lance 602-451-6079 or email info@pegleggarage.com

However if you don’t know this wonderful old iron then follow along and learn why she is worth every penny of our asking price, over the next week I will be adding pictures and commentary to explain upgrades and mods. Oh and speaking of mods, if you want to see the long list of everything then jump to the bottom of this post.


The Burb was a desert prospector when I got it on Black Friday so there was a bit of work tearing out the old man mods

And after a ton of work the camping setup works much better for backcountry exploring.

The goal was to make the rig a better long distance traveler and field serviceable. Thus the 35gal tank and extended lines to make dropping the tank easier. There is also a skid plate to protect previous fuel from rocks.



  • 1970 Chevrolet Suburban 3/4 ton, 4×4 K20 built in Freemont, Ca factory
  • 350ci 300HP crate Throttle Body Injection with Dynamic EFI custom ECU, can be monitored/tuned live by Netbook (computer included in sale) with Adj fuel pressure regulator, high flow water pump
  • 700R4 Automatic Trans with heavy duty upgrades
  • Dana 44 front/14 bolt rear axle 4.56 ratio with ARB Air Lockers in both
  • Fox reservoir shocks front/rear with Hydraulic bumpstops in front
  • Custom 3in lift leaf springs by Valley Spring Phoenix
  • Extreme Outback on board air compressor & 2gal tank with outlets front/rear
  • RPM Fab Dual swingout rear bumper for spare tire, propane & 2 Jerry Cans
  • 35gal Fuel tank with in tank Delco high flow pump
  • Dual battery setup with CTEK charge/solar control, manual battery linking switch, monitor gauge in dash, 125watt solar panel on roof, 200amp custom alternator
  • Custom aluminum radiator with dual high CFM fans on Dakota Digital controller
  • Baja Designs 6in LED in front bumper, small spotlights around roof rack
  • Dual Vintage A Pillar spot lights with LED upgrade
  • ARB 63L fridge as rear seats center console




WTF Wednesday….Fun with Drift Trikes…



We do love to have fun as a racing family….and it doesn’t always require the burning of petrol!

On a recent goof off day we took Martín’s drift trike and electric chopper for a little parking lot adventure. Martín has spent the last couple of years as an engineering intern for Local Motors and during that time we got good on their Verado drift trike.

Personally, my fake leg trembles at the thought of the body damage I can suffer on one of these, but they are giggle machines for sure.

Watch for more videos as we plan to gather with other Verado owners, hit a big park and fire up a drone for more fun antics.

Giving away all our SEMA swag…Free shipping even!

We grabbed some neat stuff at the SEMA show this year and figured why not give it away as thanks for everyone who subscribed to our YouTube channel, follows us on Facebook or Instagram or just sends an email to say hi.

Watch this video to learn more….

Borla cat back exhaust sound clip and install notes

With the SEMA show behind us we can now go back and give some install thoughts on various bits we put on our 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

Borla was great to work with, the cat back exhaust was a breeze to install late at night in our driveway because that is how SEMA crunch goes.

With plenty of highway time driving Phoenix to Las Vegas and back we can safely say there is no drone, buzz or other nasty noise to worry about. Borla does give a great rumble at the autocross or just powering around town.

Here is a quick sound clip, leave your thoughts on this exhaust or other aftermarket systems you have installed. Remember to subscribe to our Youtube channel for more fun videos.

Autocross at AMP Sunday 11/13/16, post SEMA racing

Hyundai Veloster Turbo
The boys are happy to be at the SEMA Ignited party with the public after a crazy week at the show.

Well we can finally put the car through some paces now that SEMA 2016 is over and pretty isn’t as important.

Come on out this weekend if you are in the Phoenix area and join Azsolo.com for a cone cruising good time. Bring your ride and test your skill or hop in our passenger seat and feel the sticky Federal Tires wrapped around our NS Wheels, the Borla roar, the firm Ksport coilovers, the whoosh of the Tork Motorsports Big Gulp intake and tuned ECU.

Check out our Youtube channel for videos of past events and of course our antics this weekend. Pics on Instagram or follow us on Facebook for more action in the moment.


SEMA 2016 Setup and first impressions

So we made it to SEMA 2016, yeah some carbon bits are still in transit but Socal Garageworks tells us we should see them sooner or later.

Good times driving up from Phoenix especially as we got in some dirt play to show the rallycross side of the Veloster Turbo.

Dirt fun with the Suburban and Veloster Turbo
Dirt fun with the Suburban and Veloster Turbo

Set up with QuickJack in booth 61007 was easy, some great guys working hard there. Funny to see all the detailing folks desperate to clean our ride, but we want the dirt side, track side look.

QuickJack display SEMA 2016 for our Veloster Turbo

We did some walking around as we checked in with our partners Federal Tires, NS Wheels, and Borla.  Plenty of neat rides to catch your eye……

Old school race cars will always be cool….


Terry our vinyl wrap guy and the folks at Cortez Visual who helped us cut all the graphics said we would see some plastic fantastic at SEMA…


We are here to learn and each day has some classes scheduled…


And of course scout out ideas for all our Peg Leg Fleet….


Taking our QuickJack setup to visit Ksport


In talking to the cool folks at Ksport there was interest in our QuickJack setup and how it works for days at the track. These guys are the real deal and actually use the stuff they make.

So I took the Peg Leg C10 for a drive to check out the old Sunkist building they are saving. I really hope they have an open house event so folks can check everything out Ksport & Voodoo 13 create.

QuickJack booth 61007 for SEMA 2016 check out our display



Well good news, we are teaming up with QuickJack in booth 61007 at SEMA this year to show off how “uplifting” their portable lift system is….sorry I couldn’t help it.

As the one leg guy in Peg Leg Garage I am always looking for easier ways to work on my rides. I was already looking into QuickJack when we got to talking about our SEMA build.

Watch for videos soon from us testing a unit out at home and at the races but until then zoom on over to their site and learn more.


AzSolo Autocross baseline testing

Oh boy did we have fun with our Hyundai Veloster Turbo at the autocross and it was great to see how good Nathan did improving his times by the end of the event. I dare say that boy will be faster than me,  old man experience, by the time SEMA rolls around.

Here is a video we did explaining autocross and what we want out of it….watch for videos from the event soon, goofy to serious we had a ton of fun. Find an event local to you and have a blast.

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The WAVE at SEMA & San Diego Autoshow

Ok here is another from the “wayback machine”…..Before we were Peg Leg Garage my son’s and I ran Disabled Explorers. After our FJ Cruiser that traveled the Continental Divide we needed something more wheelchair friendly.

Our good friends at Sportsmobile West helped us build a 2009 Ford E-350 4×4 RV with all the cool mobility toys. Lift, hand controls, camera system under the rig and sooooo much more.

SEMA once again donated a booth for display and we also showed it at the San Diego auto show, along with a ton of outings, events and good times. Alas water in the motor killed it, sad day.

San Diego auto showWave at SEMA

SEMA FJ Cruiser

Always fun to look back at what you did before. This is the first vehicle we had featured at SEMA. It was a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser that we built to travel the geographic Continental Divide. Disabled Explorers was a non-profit that used backcountry travel as therapy for folks with physical disabilities. SEMA was kind enough to donate booth space to DE.

Toyota FJ Cruiser at SEMA 2008

Peg Leg Garage launches, let the crazy begin!

First post, how exciting for us and we hope the future is exciting and fun for you that follow along.

Want to know how to build a car for SEMA?

Want to know how to get sponsors for your project car, truck, vehicle?

Want to know how to get better at autocross? We do to on that, rallycross and track days. Learn with us.

So here is the deal, we are an family that loves cars and everything that goes with them. This year you can follow along as we build a Hyundai Veloster Turbo for SEMA 2016. We are calling it a Tri-Sport project, tri as in autocross, rallycross and track day adventures.

Yeah we are doing this as a marketing company, happy to be honest about that. But we will not pitch crap. We will do our best to tell you what we like, why we like it and are happy to argue with all of you as much as we will argue among ourselves. Just because a sponsor gives us a part doesn’t mean we say it’s the snazzy best, instead we will search out good stuff and then beg. And along the way you get to learn the inside story.

Here is an amazing rendering by David Neal from Local Motors. We worked with him on the concept. Let’s get the party starting by hearing what you think.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Hyundai Veloster Turbo SEMA 2016 project