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Chevy Silverado 3500 4x4 Crew Long Bed

12/29/02 - Purchased

12/30/02 - Trailer changes and hookup
I bought some parts from Pep Boys to get the wiring working.  On my Tahoe, Jeep, flat bed and M416 trailers, I run all 6 pin connectors.  But I didn't really want to change the factory 7 wire connector on the Dually.  Instead, I found a 7-wire to 6-wire converter that's real small and simple.  Good enough!  A while back I converted the flat bed trailer to spring over to gain some room for the load distribution hitch for the Tahoe.  Since that's no longer needed, I decided to convert the trailer back to spring under.

12/31/02 - More trailer changes and garage parking
The jack support on the tongue of the flat bed was too big.  I needed one 4" shorter to be able to get the caster wheel off when the weight is on the ball.  I didn't feel like buying a new one, so I took it apart and chopped about 4.5" out.  Didn't take too long and the result was perfect.  I drove the Jeep up on the trailer to see how it would sit behind the truck and the truck didn't settle the suspension at all, not even a 1/2 inch.  The Tahoe use to settle at least 3 inches.

Next I went to work on the garage.  I measured the Dually and it came in at 260" long.  The Silverado brochure claims 256".  Then I measured the garage from the inside of the garage door up to the wall (behind some cabinets).  That came in at 266".  Good enough for me!  I went to work moving the refrigerator and cabinets.  Took most of the day, but I finally got the Dually in there.  I'll sleep much better at night now :)

01/02/03 - Trailer brake controller
I installed the trailer brake controller in the dually today.  The truck is still too new for me to drill holes, so I found a nice spot in the glove box.  I figured that I'd need to use some Velcro, or double sided tape to hold it in place, but the controller was the perfect size to just wedge in there.  The way the truck comes from the factory, you need to buy a wiring harness to plug into a wiring block under the dash.  This was disappointing after spending so much money on a vehicle where towing is the primary purpose.  Not only that, but all Chevy 3500 series trucks come with the towing package on the back, yet don't include this simple harness.  Anyways, it was $25 at the dealer which wasn't too bad.

01/15/03 - 1000 Watt Inverter
While in Oregon I picked up a 1000 Watt inverter at CostCo.  I picked up some wiring at a local RV shop and installed the inverter under the rear passenger side seat.  Turns out I didn't get enough wire, so I ran the 2AWG for the positive side, then ran a short smaller wire to a ground under the seat.  Since I won't be using the full 1000 Watts anytime soon, it should be OK.

01/23/03 - Personal license plate ordered
Through the DMV, today I ordered "GP HAULR" for my license plate. They're estimating 8-12 weeks for delivery

03/17/03 - A.R.E. "Z Series" top ordered
I was looking at a SnugTop XV originally, but the local shop in town doesn't carry SnugTop products.  Instead, they have the A.R.E. stuff.  I did a little research and found a lot of good comments on the "Z Series" top.  I couldn't find any comments at all, good or bad, about the XV.  I decided to order the A.R.E.  The guy said it takes two weeks.

03/26/03 - License plate arrived
Sat in line at the DMV for an hour and got my new plate. I also talked to the shop in town where I ordered my camper top. I was hoping it would arrive this week so I can use it this weekend at Johnson Valley. No luck, it won't be here until next Thursday.

04/03/03 - A.R.E. "Z Series" top arrived & installed
Got a call from the shop in town that my top was in.  I went in and they installed it.  I really like the looks of it.  I can even open the back window in the garage without it hitting the garage door.

The pop out windows are pretty cool.  They can be operated without having to get inside the back of the truck.

The window at the front can be opened to clean both side of the glass, and to clean the glass on the back of the cab.

I had the option of a battery operated light, or wired in the the vehicle battery.  I chose the vehicle battery setup.

Now for a few things I don't like about the top.  The clamps that hold the top to the bed of the truck look temporary.  This is a good system if you don't want holes in the bedrails, but I think holes in the bedrail is in my future.  These clamps just aren't right.

The wiring is also a bit cheesy.  At the very least, a single 4 pin wiring plug should have been used.

Now, on the construction of the top.  Mostly, it looks great.  There's a few details that are lacking though.  First, the carpet isn't cut very well in this one spot.

Next, the way the hatch closes against the tailgate just isn't right.  I've tried adjusting the catches on the latch system, but this is as good as it gets.

07/06/03 - Backup lights
I installed some additional backup lights today.  When I back out of the garage, I can't see squat!  Well, with the new lights, I still can't see that much, but it's got to be better, right?  Anyways, I had planned to have a switch on the dash to turn them on and off, but changed my mind (got lazy?).  Instead, I found the backup light lead on the trailer connection, wired in a relay, and that's that.  They come on when the vehicle is in reverse and that's got to be good enough.  Actually, it wasn't entirely laziness that kept me from wiring the switch.  I don't want to drill any holes in the dash yet and I couldn't find a decent place for the switch.  You might not see the lights on first glance of this picture.  They're under the bumper at the outer edges.

09/15/03 - Velvet-Ride Shackles
These Velvet-Ride shackles from LORD are supposed to soften the ride a bit when the truck isn't loaded.  They'll also lower the rear suspension a little so it doesn't have such a "raked" look.  The Chevy factory installed the shackle bolts from the inside out.  The reason they did this was so if a nut came loose and fell off, the bolt couldn't fall off as well.  This makes it difficult to change the shackle though.  I figured the easiest way to remove the bolt was with an oxy-acetylene torch.  I installed new grade 8 bolts from the outside in, with nylon locking nuts.

11/06/03 - Overload Spring Adjustment
After installing the Velvet-Ride shackles, I noticed that the ride is actually rougher when towing the Jeep.  It use to be that it was smoother when some weight was back there.  After taking a look under there, I realized that since the new shackles lowered the suspension an inch, I was now sitting on the overload spring with just a little weight back there.  Also, when I was driving empty, I heard a slapping or banging back there.  Turns out when the truck was empty, the overload spring was just an inch from it's rubber stop.  When the suspension bounced over a bump, the overload spring would slap the rubber stop.  I figured the best way to fix this was to move the rubber stop up the same amount that the spring pack moved up.  I added metal to the factory mount and drilled new holes 1 1/16" further down.  Everything seems to line up perfectly now.  Here's a pic of the newly relocated rubber stop.

06/13/04 - Finished wiring the 1000 Watt inverter
For the last year and a half, the inverter has been installed in a temporary manor.  I've never needed the full capacity, so the small wiring on the ground was never a problem.  I bought more 2AWG wire at the local welding shop and ran the ground directly to the battery, like the positive side has been all along.

09/09/04 - Backup camera and DVD player
I've always wanted to have a backup camera since I can't see squat behind the truck.  We also wanted a DVD player to see movies when in the truck (especially with baby Lucas due any day now).  The solution ended up being the Alpine IVA-D900.  Unfortunately, this unit sells for about $2,500 in audio/video stores.  I found one on eBay and bought it for a bargain price of $911.  It's used, but I can't tell.  Everything seems new and works perfectly.  I also picked up a 70* view waterproof camera on eBay for about $40.

12/10/04 - Warranty repairs
I dropped the truck off at the dealer last Monday (12/6/04) for warranty repairs.  I'm within 80 miles of over running my bumper-to-bumper portion of the warranty.  My right door mirror shakes too much.  The left door mirror won't extend anymore (camper style mirrors).  Also, I noticed some black smoke and traditional "diesel odor" the other day.  The service guy said they would check the fuel injectors for "balance".  Turns out they were out of whack, so they replaced all of them.  Overall I'm fairly pleased with the service.  I also complained that my brakes were squeaking, but they said that was normal.  Also, my "range indicator" won't drop below "33 miles to go", but they said because the gauge still works, fill the tank when it's low.  HA!  As for the mirrors, they completely replaced both mirrors, so that's cool.