Chasing Squeaks (A guide on how not to problem solve)

A week after green-laning at Salisbury (a story for another day), we had decided to go down to the New forest camping.

It was a nice relaxing weekend surrounded by the nice peaceful forest. That is until the nightmare began. On the way home the front left wheel began to scream. It was so loud it was scaring the horses that roamed the forest. Moments of quiet sanctuary ruined by what sounds like a stampede of horses being chased by a baby pig….

Anyways once I was home I had a quick look around and nothing seemed obvious… other that the entire front wheel could be shaken and rocked! The bearing was completely gone. How I didn’t notice this while I was driving I’ll never know. So I went straight online and ordered two new front hub assemblies from Energized Customs. They came the next day. Simple.

I went ahead and disassembled the front left wheel and brakes, then onto the hub, bolts out and finally took out the drive shaft. It wouldn’t budge. Time for the hammer. Stupid decision. The drive shaft popped out, and the hub came straight off. The new hub went straight back on, and I started to reassemble. It was only when I tried to put the bolt back on the drive shaft that I had realised my mistake. I had completely ruined the thread with the hammer, and now the bolt. Great.

This complicated things. Instead of buying a complete front left drive shaft (probably the easy option), I bought a new outer CV joint, luckily Milner Off Road had them pretty cheap. It came two days later and after getting completely covered in grease, it was done. No more squeaky bearing.

However, now there was a squeak coming from the right side. Probably a bushing. I sprayed some WD-40 onto all the front right bushings (two on the upper control arm and two on the lower), this seemed to quieten the squeak for a while.

At this point the truck needed an oil change. I bought 10L of fully synthetic 5w-30. I drained the oil from the engine. For future reference it might be beneficial to use a piece of piping to direct the oil away from the skid plate and into a tray.

I forgot to buy an oil filter.

So after letting the truck sit for a day with no oil in it, I picked up a Mann oil filter. Getting the old oil filter off was a pain, I ended up breaking a chain oil filter remover tool, removing the front right wheel and wheel well liner, hammering a screw driver through the filter to try and turn it. That didn’t work. Eventually I ended up borrowing a metal strap filter tool which did the job.

After all that excitement my steering started to squeak! Great. We’ll get to that later.

On to the squeaky bushings. I removed the front right upper control arm as this is where I thought the squeak originated. I took it to a shop to get the old bushings pressed out. After an hour or so of them beating the bushings with a sledge hammer they finally popped free. I had bought some polyurethane bushings from Milner Off Road as a replacement. They pushed in easily and went back on to the truck with ease. Wheel back on and truck on the ground, there is still a squeak…

This is where I am now, 3 months from the first squeak. I’m pretty sure it must be the lower bushings squeaking now and possibly the lower ball joint causing the noise with steering. I decided the best action was to buy a lower control arm complete with new bushings and ball joint installed. This does mean that I won’t be able to put in polyurethane bushings but with all the rough terrain of green-laning I think it won’t be too many years before they need changing.

With the new control arm installed I should have a quiet truck! But for now I’m stuck with this squeaky thing.

So in brief:

  1. Do not use a hammer to remove the driveshaft from the hub assembly.
  2. Make sure you know exactly where the noise originates before buying and changing parts.
  3. If bushings don’t need to be changed, DON’T CHANGE THEM.
  4. Milner Off Road have next day delivery.
  5. Use the right tool for removing oil filters.
  6. If you are changing the oil, get a new oil filter.
  7. Use drainage piping of sorts to guide dripping oil away from skid plate.
  8. Polyurethane bushings are super easy to install.

I’ll keep you updated.

Rock Sliders! (My first real welding project!)

Looking around online for new side steps for the skunk proved to be difficult, they were either really expensive (over £700) or the same as stock ones (gross). I was tired of the old ones, they had been painted by the previous owner, probably more than once, the paint was chipping, they were rusty, and the plastic step surface on them was all warped and discoloured. They were too short. I did not like how they looked.

The old side steps.

So I decided to make my own.

I ended up buying about 12m of 30x30x2.5mm square steel tubing for around £80 online. I had a plan in my head so I started to draw out the measurements on an old dirty piece of cardboard. (Engineering at its finest). It didn’t take long before I had cut out the main shape and laid it all out on the floor.

Once I was happy with how the step looked I began to weld it together.

Now I’m pretty new to welding, and I was using a small arc/stick welder that I got from Aldi. So I wasn’t expecting perfect welds, but I think I did a pretty good job!

Once I had the main steps welded together I was pretty happy, although I had no idea how to attach it to the truck. I decided to use where the stock steps had been bolted on. So I just measured out some small bits of flat metal and welded them on.

Once I had welded these parts on I put it onto the truck and quickly realized how unstable they were. Time to attach them to the frame like ‘proper’ rock Sliders. So measured some more tubing and some thicker flat metal for the bolts, welded and Vola!

They fit snugly on the truck and even unbolted could withstand me jumping about on them. Now to attach them to the frame I decided to use rivet nuts. At short notice I could only seem to get rivet nuts that were hexagonal.

Rivet nuts similar to the type I used.

Have you ever tried to set these things using two spanners and a spare nut and bolt? It sucked! This led to me going out and buying an electric impact wrench (Best tool I have ever purchased!). This made setting the rivet nuts in the frame easy. With everything in place and tested, (and a load of grinding to get rid of my bad welding…), time for paint!

I ended up painting them with a cheap bed liner paint from Halfords. Which made them durable and grippy making getting in and out of the truck easier.

And so here they are, the finished product!

I’m pretty happy with them to be honest, especially with my welding skills!

They are tough and sturdy. Since I’ve had them on I’ve hit them against quite a few rocks and banks whilst green laning, the occasional tree, and they are perfect.

The only issue I’ve had is the paint isn’t super durable and I have had to go over parts every now and then.

So there it is. You don’t have to go and buy super expensive rock sliders to make your truck look good. I built these for about £100, even if you include the welder it’s still below £200.

Why Overlanding Skunk?

Why is the truck called the skunk?

Thought I’d address this early on. It’s pretty silly but here we go. I spent a long time trying to decide a name for my truck. Things like nissy (because it’s a nissan), the outlaw (Navara outlaw model), Billy the kid, chunk and other names were thrown around, but nothing really stuck. Apart from Chunk. It was only after I installed a bright white, jungle skid plate, that the truck in some way resembles a skunk. It’s black and white and when it’s angry a big cloud of smoke comes from its rear end.

Chunk the skunk.

What a mouthful. So from that Overlanding Skunk was born.