Superchips Tuner

by Woodsbum

The battle with my truck over fuel mileage, power, shift points, and the like has been waging for quite a while. At one time I was getting around 10.7 mpg on average. Of course it is a full sized truck with 35 inch tires, but still….  10.7 mpg?

To help out with my fuel economy and power I have done quite a few things to my truck. I have installed a cold air intake, different exhaust, rebuilt the top end on the engine, upgraded transmissions, redone my front and rear differentials, blah, blah, blah……  Finally, I decided to go forth with the whole Superchips thing.

I decided to go with the Superchips Flashpaq tuner. It allows for several different tunes to include performance, towing, standard fuel, and gas mileage. It also has options to allow me to fix my speedometer issues associated with the 35 inch tires I run on my truck.

Superchips Flashpaq

Superchips Flashpaq

First thing you have to do, as with almost EVERYTHING now a days, is upgrade it. This requires you to download a program called “Spark” from the Superchips.com website. There is an old school USB connector on the side of the device to connect to your PC. Now here are a few things that I learned:

  1. It will not work the first, second, or third times.
  2. Reboot your PC with the device connected for it to actually allow the software upgrade to succeed. I tried all sorts of other “rituals” that did not work. Only the reboot with the Flashpaq connected seemed to work correctly. Hello Windows 98.
  3. Don’t expect to do this in any sort of quick or timely manner. The first time that the upgrade took place (successfully) the process took around 15 minutes with an i7 processor and 16 gb of memory.
  4. Don’t expect the actual programming to be anything but boring and long winded.
  5. It is common for the tire size programming to not work. It has something to do with ABS that doesn’t throw a code, but is always broken. That was what I got as an answer from Superchips Tech support. Just saying what I was told….
The device just plugs into your ODB II port under your dash and then you follow the on screen prompts.

ODB II Connector

ODB II Connector

When you first plug in the programmer, you will see this screen.

Initial Screen

Initial Screen

Of course you have to choose the right option…… As always this means “Advanced.”

Choose wisely, my friend.

Choose wisely, my friend.

After you go through all the prompts and options, you get the opportunity to see this sequence NUMEROUS times.

Love this screen because you will see it a lot.

Love this screen because you will see it a lot.

But don't forget this!

But don’t forget this!

Nothing to see..... Wait some more.

Nothing to see….. Wait some more.

As for results, my truck ran a WHOLE lot better and smoother on the 87 octane tune. I will be messing around with the various 91 octane programs soon, but so far I think it was worth the price. The only thing I see for mpg, however, is an increase of about .4 mpg. This isn’t very much, but is better than nothing. The tech people said that I should mess around with the different tunes and fuels to figure out what the magic formula for my truck.  They said that each vehicle is different so there is a lot of trial and error.

My final conclusion is as such: If you are doing upgrades to your vehicle, it makes sense to just get one of these tuners. If you don’t there will be some point where it goes from “nice” to “required.” Might as well get it and use it from the biegining.
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Split Wood Fires

by Woodsbum

Several people have told me that I take things for granted due to my upbringing. One of the things that I think probably fits that description is my ability to make fire, even in terribly wet conditions. To assist people in getting better at making fires, I searched around for a couple videos on split wood fires.

Split wood fires are just that: fires made from wood that has been split into smaller diameter sections. The nice thing about split wood fires is that you can get past a lot of wet or punky sections and just use the good parts, you can take big pieces and get them down to desired size without the need for aimless searching through the woods, and even allows you the ability to store large rounds that just get split up before use. It is a great technique and skillset to have.

Here is the first video I found. It goes over some basic ideas and fire lays to get you started.

 

 

This one is a bit more advanced and shows the use of a bit larger wood.

 

 

I would take every opportunity to practice these techniques and get good at using them. As an estimate, I would guess that about 75% of the fires I make in the bush are split wood type.

Enjoy!
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Incredible Gesture

by Woodsbum

So many times I browse the Internet and see all these stories of people feeling entitled to this, that or the other. It really irritates me that these people with no understanding of sacrifice that feel that they should receive something for nothing. This story is different and actually gives me a little more faith that we are not completely lost.

Here is the story.

It appears that the son of a slain deputy had raised as much money as he could to buy his father’s now retired patrol car. Although he was outbid, the gentleman that purchased the car turned around and gave the keys to the son.

Watch the video.

 

 

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Erik Nording Rustic Pipe

by Woodsbum

For many years I was a cigar smoker. Although I love the taste, feel, and aroma of a good cigar the price really put a damper on the various types and amount that I could afford. Even with the lowered price of bundles or seconds it was way too expensive of a vice for me to really partake that often. That was when a friend of mine gave me an old Savinelli pipe that he no longer used. From then on I found that the price of pipe tobaccos gave me the variety that I craved with the lowered costs that I required.

As years went by and more and more pipes found their way into my collection, I stumbled across a very nice looking Erik Nording. Although I am anything but a pipe snob, I was actually quite proud to have this beautiful piece in my collection. Between the draw, the way the heat maintains an even tobacco burn, and the lack of moisture that builds up this has become my favorite pipe by far.

Erik Nording Rustic finish

Erik Nording Rustic finish

As you can see, the stem comes apart quite easily for storage and transport. This makes it the perfect pipe for taking with you on outings. The tobacco shop where I bought this actually has extra stems for sale in case you break one. This also is a nice feature of this pipe.

Erik Nording Rustic pipe

Erik Nording Rustic pipe

Over the years I have become quite fond of the up swept pipe shape. It cuts down on the amount of “juice” that travels up the stem when you get fresh tobacco. I am sure that there are all sorts of techniques to keep this phenomenon from taking place, but I sure have not been able to keep it from happening with any regularity. This is why I only make churchwarden style pipes for myself and am really fussy about the pipes I purchase. If I could find a pipe that had a “juice” bypass valve, I would be all over it.

Nording pipe

Nording pipe

The other thing I have discovered is that I like pipes that are big and bulky. I am not too fond of the smaller, dainty models. Maybe it is because I have bear paws for hands, but the actual smoke and draw just seem to be that much more pleasant with a larger pipe.

Again, I am not a pipe expert and am self taught via trial and error. There are many things that I am sure that I am doing wrong, but I don’t care. Smoking a pipe isn’t a status thing for me nor is it something to make me “look cool.” It would take much more than a pipe to make me even remotely close to “cool.” I enjoy the different flavors, aromas, tastes, and relaxation that smoking a pipe provides.

If you are debating on moving over to a pipe my main recommendations for you are as follows:

  1. Spend some money on a good pipe. A $40 pipe will not give you the experience that a $200 pipe will. I don’t know the physics of it all, but I know from personal experience that any cheap pipes that I have purchased have either been intentionally “lost” or given away. The most expensive pipes give a much more pleasant smoking experience.
  2. Making your own pipe is a close second to an expensive pipe purchase. Just make sure you make the stem long enough to cool the smoke properly. Otherwise you get a burned taste from the smoke and the flavors of the tobacco are lost.
  3. Get good tobacco. DON’T BUY PREPACKAGED TOBACCO. Go to a cigar shop and look at the glass containers for your tobacco. It is 200x better tasting and burning.
  4. Get a good pipe lighter. The cheap Bic lighters seem to be only capable of successfully burning my fingers and can barely light the bowl. Some can make it work, but I can’t. I doubt new pipe smokers can either.
  5. Don’t think of it as a cigarette. It is more like a cigar. Don’t inhale the smoke. Play with it and taste it. This also adds to the relaxation and enjoyment of the pipe smoking experience.

I hope this helps you out if you decide to try pipe smoking or have been thinking about getting a Nording pipe. Both are highly recommended by me.
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Transmission Replacement for Dodge Ram 1500

by Woodsbum

This post is a bit of a departure from my norm. Over the weekend I had to replace the transmission in my Dodge Ram 1500 4×4. Unfortunately, I found that there are very few videos online that are specific to the type of transmission I have or year of truck I have. To put it mildly, I was hunting and pecking a lot. To help anyone else that has to do this swap, I decided to add a few tidbits of knowledge that I gained while doing this job.


  1. Make sure to take out the 4 engine mount bolts on the driver’s side. I am referring to the ones that actually bolt to the block. There is a bracket that the frame engine mounts bolt to that has to be loose enough to pry out of the way for the transmission to make it past. This bracket also attaches to the front of the transmission (same side) by 2 bolts.
  2. Remove the transfer case. You will be lacking about 3 inches of room to be able to pull the transmission and transfer case as a single unit. To get to the bottom bolts of the transfer case, you do have to pull the cross member and transmission mounting brackets.
  3. Transmission jacks are very nice and almost required. Don’t assume that you can strong arm it or just use a couple of floor jacks. The problem is that you have to turn the transmission a little and then twist it back into position to miss the engine mount bracket.
  4. There is an inspection plate right behind the oil pan. It is held on by 4 bolts and the transmission actually bolts onto this pieces as well. Make sure to take it off to bolt your torque converter onto the flywheel.
  5. Don’t listen to any of the old Chevy guys that say that you should just put the torque converter onto the transmission and slide it all in as a unit. You will end up dropping the torque converter several times and probably get hurt. Even though it is hard no matter what way you do it, just bolt on the torque converter and then slide the transmission shaft into the torque converter from there.
  6. There is a metal plate that goes around the whole bell housing that likes to slip while trying to place the transmission. Don’t let it slip down a hole on the driver’s side. It will try to and loves to make your life miserable. Don’t let it.
  7. The wires and loom at the back of the engine will also get pinched if you are not careful. Just move them out of the way because any use of zip ties WILL cause you to blood your knuckles up while trying to get the wires loose after the transmission is installed. Don’t ask…..

I should have taken some pictures or video of the whole process, but I was more interested in getting the transmission installed. These tips I gave you above will really help you out while doing the swap, however. All other aspects of the swap are fairly straight forward.
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