Mark's Alpha Build

How you built it

Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:47 pm

Finally got around to installing the ARB Differential Breather Kit I have had on my work bench for months. As well as the standard breather kit I also ordered their kit with additional tubing and fittings to vent the transfer case and transmission along with the diffs.

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I looked at a lot of options on where to place the manifold and filter, finally decided on the driver side of the engine compartment toward the firewall.

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This area normally stays dry even when hitting water pretty fast. The filter itself is splash proof so even if water does spray up in this area it won't be a problem. If I have standing water up to this point I have bigger problems to worry about than if water is getting into the breather lines.

Top view of the manifold where you can see the connections a little better. Note that one of the fitting is currently replaced with a plug. Didn't have time to get to the transmission vent line which is on the top of the transmission. Will go back for that one hopefully later this week.

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Ran all new vent tubing.

I was concerned about snapping the vent tube connector off the front diff because there is no way to get a wrench on it to remove it that I could tell so I left factory connector and used a hose clamp on it.

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Was able to replace the factory fitting on the transfer case with the ARB push fitting.

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I have run the new tubing back to the rear diff but capped it there. The rear diff has a larger hose barb on it and again like the front diff it was hard to see how to get a wrench on it to remove the factory fitting. When I drop the axle hopefully in the next few weeks to do the spring over it will be easier to change out the fitting so will do it then. Will plan on adding more detail when I get it done.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:43 pm

Not really a mod but a fix that many of us will run into if you have not already. There was a recall on the fake hood vent due to the clips failing and the vent flying off. Their solution was to glue it down which I didn't want done so I just had them mark the recall as done. Mine finally started coming loose so I came up with a fix for it. Sorry I didn't take any detailed pics as I didn't originally plan on posting this in the build thread but have seen a few people mention losing theirs lately so though I would post it.

Fist I took the vent off and removed all the clips. While I had it off I painted it with Rustleum Bumper and Trim paint.

After the paint had fully cured I drilled one hole in each corner of the vent. I just eyeballed where they would look good, there isn't really a specific location you need to put the screws. I then positioned the vent and used a punch to mark the first hole. After drilling the hole in the hood I tapped it for an M6 100 screw. I placed the vent again, secured it with the screw then marked, drilled and tapped the opposite corner. I did this so the vent would be held secure at opposite coners while I did the remaining two holes and not shift so everything would line up properly. After drilling and tapping all 4 holes I touched them up with paint to prevent rust. After allowing the paint to dry I mounted the vent with button cap screws which I also painted to match as well as prevent them from rusting. Pretty simple method and seems to be very secure. You need to hold the drill steady when doing the holes in the hood as depending on where you place the screws (mostly the front ones) you might hit the reinforcement on the underside of the hood. Depending on where you hit it the drill bit might want to wonder creating an oblong hole which would not work for tapping threads. You can always use longer strews and just use a nut on the underside of the hood if you don't have a tap set or have an issue with a hole. Overall I like how it came out, almost looks like it came that way from the factory. Hope this helps others with loose vent issues.

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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:12 am

With the Rancho lift dropping the front diff 4" the CV on the front drive shaft tends to wear a lot quicker. There are a couple of options out there to upgrade, Outfitter Design now offers a replacement HD front drive shaft and Thor parts offers an adaptor plate so that you can order your own driveshaft and make it work. I highly recommend either of the options and not only for those that have a lift.

I ended up going the Thor Parts route and mated it with a custom length 1310 Hack & Tap drive shaft from Tatton's Driveline Service in UT.

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Everything went it perfectly and on the half hour drive home last night there was absolutely no vibration from the new driveshaft and adaptor. As an added bonus this driveshaft will also work if I ever got to a solid axle up front but of course I am avoiding that.

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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:36 am

It was finally time to do my long awaited spring over in the rear. Have been running the Rancho leaf springs for about 16 months and of course they sagged pretty quickly. Purchased new spring perches, spring plates and shock tabs from Ruff Stuff. Was originally going to replace the stock from spring hangers as well with some from Ruff Stuff that are about 2" smaller but ended up staying with the stock hangers.

First step of course remove the rear axle and Rancho leaf springs.

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Next up was to take the plasma cutter and remove the stock bump stop pads as this is where the new spring perches will go.

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With the bump stop pads removed, everything ground down and cleaned up it was time to get the pinion angle right and put on the new perches.

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With the new perches of we flipped the axle and removed the factory perches to clean up the bottom of the axle.

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At this point we install the stock springs and mounted the axle making sure everything was lining up right.

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With everything looking good it was time to mount the shock tabs.

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Had to do some rerouting of brake lines and weld the mounts to new locations for better clearance but everything looked great so it was time to put everything back together.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:44 am

She is definitely much taller now and the 35s are starting to look a little small. I expect the back to settle a little bit, an inch or two but I am fine with that.

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Putting a few miles on her to help the rear settle to it's final height then will take some measurements to order a new driveshaft. At full droop there isn't much of the slip yoke left before it comes out of the transfer case. Overall I am very happy with how it came out, no driveline vibration what so ever and the ride is better with the factory springs than it was with the Rancho springs. Should get better flex out of the stock springs as well though the new longer perches will have an affect on that but I am willing the sacrifice a slight bit of flex for them as they will help prevent axle wrap.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby bunger » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:00 pm

That looks great Mark.
No more dragging the tomp shock mounts over obstacles :up:
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:06 pm

Thanks bunger! I loved the extra clearance with the Tomp plates but this is even better :lol:
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:34 am

Decided it was time to utilize more of the space in the cargo door and redo my storage back there.

Here you can see after I had originally cut the trim the amount of space that is lost due to brackets that aren't really needed anymore such as for the jack.

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So I trimmed what I knew was no longer needed as well as what I thought I could without sacrificing support the the door and spare tire. I believe I could have removed even more but some of it would have had very little gain so better to keep the support it might provide.

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I then cut a piece of 1/4" ply to fit the space, covered it with speaker carpet and installed.

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Then came the arranging what is kept back there. I used elastic strap material to hold items in place, some utilizing snaps.

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Same shot but at night with the light on.

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Compared to the original layout there is more utilizable space for additional items that were there before and I think it's a bit better organized.

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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:23 am

Well after 8 years of wheeling the Alpha the torsion bars had pretty much worn out and could not hold the truck up. It would not settle completely done but could not hold the front end up after it had been raised, would settle back down within a short drive. Looked at the options available such as OME and SwayAway. The OME didn't seem to be much of an upgrade especially for the price so didn't even check into availability. Called Sway-A-Way to check availability of their H3 torsion bars (part # 1766) and was told they had some in production but could not give a time frame for delivery. I think it's a standard response but could be wrong. Then came the pricing which I was expecting, $1,200 for the pair. I know there have been group buys offered by them in the past for $500-$600 a pair but I didn't have time for that so stock replacements is it.

There are 4 variants of the torsion bars offered by GM for the H3.

Left Part # Right Part # Diameter
L93357121 L93357122 30.5mm Strongest for V8
L93357119 L93357120 30.1mm
L15906133 L15906134 29.36mm
L15082981 L15082982 28.3mm Weakest for I-5

According to the dealer and the part searches I did the 29.36mm bars were the ones that came on my truck but they are the second weakest and I have an Alpha. I ended up going with the 30.5 mm bars. It's hard to tell in the photo below but you can feel a difference when holding them.

torsionbarssmall.jpg
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At under $200 shipped for the pair they might not be as good/strong of an option as the Sway-A-Ways but at I can change them out ever year for the next six years and still save a few dollars and at this point I am pretty happy. Maybe 10 minutes a side to swap them and then a bunch of raising the truck to adjust and measure over and over to get the ride height right but they are holding nicely. I am hoping that before I need to replace them again (if at all) somebody comes up with a coil over option for the H3 so I can git rid of the torsion bars all together.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:26 am

So with the spring over done in the rear the drive shaft was now a bit too short with very little of the yoke left on the output shaft of the transfer case at full droop. Time for a new rear drive shaft. Due to the time frame of an upcoming trip I ended up going with PST out of the Clearwater on the other side of the state. Didn't take any pics of it installed but I have been very happy with it and their service.

PST.jpg
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I have had zero driveline vibration issues and put almost 2,000 miles on it in a week. The first day on the trails I did think it might have been a little long though as when the rear articulated a certain way I was getting a harmonic sound that I thought was the yoke bottoming out on the transfer case which would have been pretty bad. After crawling under there to check it out and put a zip tie on the yoke to check how much it moved I noticed a two inch wide area near the middle of the driveshaft that was scratched up. I was very happy to realize that the noise I was hearing was the shaft rubbing on the gas tank skid when the rear articulated a particular way. This was never an issue before but now with the spring over and more articulation I need to do some modifications to the tank skid I guess :lol:
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:13 pm

When I added the 4th D-ring and made a license plate bracket to relocated it to the spare tire. Overall I was never really all that happy with it so I decided to make a new one.

First I made a bracket with a piece of flat steel and a section of square tube. I welded the square tube to the the flat steel then drilled and tapped two holes in it for mounting and one in the square tube for a set screw.

bracket.jpg
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I then drilled two hole is the spare tire mount inside the hub boar of the wheel for mounting. You can also see the set screw on the bottom side of the square tube.

wheelbracketmounted.jpg
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For the license plate bracket itself I took a thin pieces of steel sheet, welded 4 mounting nuts for the license plate and a smaller size piece of square tube that will slide into the larger piece.

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At the top I folded the steel sheet into a U shape so I could recess a strip of LEDs for lighting. I then ran the wiring through a grommet to a waterproof plug.

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To mount it I just plug the lights in, slide the smaller square tube into the larger piece mounted to the spare tire mount and tighten the set screw. I decided to go with a set screw so I could adjust the depth if need be. It also allows me to quickly remove the license plate quickly and easily if I should need to take the spare off.

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Now I could have bought a nicely made mount online but I like to build things like this when I can and just used scrap material I had around. As you can see I am out of practice with my welding and they don't look great. Also the square tube mount of the spare tire bracket moved slightly when I was tacking it so the bracket is at a slight angle but overall I am happy with how it turned out. I am sure as one point I will redo that bracket so that it is straight but it serves it purpose for now. Timing was good to because I recently got my new replacement license plate they send out every 5 years I think it is. No more bent up license plate in the new bracket.

EDIT:

While working on the RotoPax mount I fixed the license plate mount so that now it is level.

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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Charles Helm » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:27 pm

How do you like the drawers? Vacillating about putting them in the back of the Jeep just to hold recovery gear and tools and free up more room, but I'm not sure how much I'd miss the flexibility to have a higher load height available for gear.

Right now I have one large tool bag for recovery gear, another for tools, and a large battery jump box just in case. If I could hide all that away, it would free up some floor space but I also tend to load a lot of stuff in the back. :duh:
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:18 am

I have to say it's probably one of the most useful mods I have done to the truck, I love it. I waited until it was not longer my daily driver before I didn't due to the same concerns you had. After doing it I wondered my I waited so long. I love always having everything in the truck and ready yet not in the way if I need to put something back there.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Mark » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:55 am

So I have had a couple of RotoPax mounts for a while and finally figured I needed to come up with a way to mount them. I decided I would used a piece of steel plate sandwiched between the spare tire mount and the cargo door. The first issue I had to contend with was that where this would mount is slightly indented so I needed to figure out how to bring it out slightly to clear the door skin to the side. I thought about using washers or rubber spacers but ended up deciding to weld strips of 1/4" steel across the top and the bottom where the mounting holes were.

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I also cut an opening in the plate for the vent in the cargo door.

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The mount comes out to the passenger side enough to clear the tire then I put a 90 degree bend it in.

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The RotoPax locking mount is attached on this end.

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Spare tire back on with 1 gallon gas and water RotoPax mounted.

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I currently only have the 1 gallon containers but I designed and spaced everything so that I can go with several capacity options later if I want to.

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While somebody could still syphon the gas out of the can at least they can't steal it without some effort. The bolts are accessible if they really wanted to remove the cans with the lock. I might go back latter and weld the nuts to the steel plate so that it isn't removable without cutting the bolts off but overall I am happy with it. One thing I am going to have to watch is how much it flexes and bounces around. I put felt pads on the back of the steel plate so that it won't damage the door. I could have gone with a thicker stock steel but wanted something I could put the 90 degree bend in without a metal brake. I ended up having to cut about a third of the way through it to be able to bend it anyway then went back and filled in the gap from the cut with the welder.
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Re: Mark's Alpha Build

Postby Charles Helm » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:27 pm

Mark wrote:I have to say it's probably one of the most useful mods I have done to the truck, I love it. I waited until it was not longer my daily driver before I didn't due to the same concerns you had. After doing it I wondered my I waited so long. I love always having everything in the truck and ready yet not in the way if I need to put something back there.


Thanks. I agree it would be nice to have everything there but not in the way. I guess I need to make sure if I do this it can hold up to the weight I tend to put back there. I would go with a pre-fab system like the ARB as my skills are pretty much non-existent!
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