Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dodge 45RFE Transmission

by Woodsbum

A few weeks ago I had to replace the transmission in my pickup truck. There seemed to be very few videos or instructions available on either the transmission or the replacement process. For those of you who might want to rebuild your 45RFE transmission, I compiled and posted these videos. They are quite good and really explain what is going on in this model transmission. The series then goes into changing out an evaporator, but I went ahead and included the whole series for you.





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Hiking With A Gun

by Woodsbum

It seems that one of the quickest ways to start an argument in any hiking/backpacking/camping community is to bring up whether to carry a gun while out in the woods. It is even quicker if you start discussing guns around people who don’t leave the urban sprawl. There are many perspectives about it and many people get quite heated during this discussion. The reason I decided to bring this up was due to two reasons:

  1. My daughter’s mother in law freaked out this weekend over a picture we took of my new grandson and his Savage Badger .22 birth gift. (disclaimer: part of this is a rant)
  2. I ran across this article while surfing this morning. The article was linked and posted in a forum that I frequent. The article talks about the carry of guns while out backpacking.

Here is the offending picture we took to get things started. As a side note, isn’t he so cute?

Picture in terrible taste according to my son in law's mother.

Picture in terrible taste according to my son in law’s mother.

She absolutely went off the deep end and had no rational reason for objecting to the picture. Between the little socks on this hands, my ball cap and the look that he was giving the rifle I thought made it a very cute picture. Her arguments against this picture were all over the place and were hard to follow. She first said that this was highly illegal to have a child holding a gun. She then said something about age and guns, basically that only adults should ever be able to touch guns and that we had put the baby in a dangerous situation by taking this picture.

Now to be perfectly candid: the firearm was taken directly from the manufacturer’s box it was sold in (brand new), it was checked by 3 adults, pointed in a safe direction, all 3 adults were within arms distance of the gun, there wasn’t a single bit of ammunition for any gun (except my .45 in my truck) within 50 yards of this rifle, and this is a child sized gun purchased for this child to learn with. Of course you treat all firearms as if they were loaded, but considering all the safety measures we took before taking this picture it is hard to argue that we were anything but diligent in keeping this little guy safe. Come on….  HE HAS SOCKS ON HIS HANDS!!!!

The whole argument based around “the poor child is in danger because they don’t know anything about guns and can probably kill themselves by holding it” is as stupid as saying that a 16 year old who got their first car “should not drive it, ride in it, or have pictures taken with it because they might drink and drive which is illegal.” Seriously taking that jump? How about “you shouldn’t fish in a boat because there is a book about a huge whale that attacks people and whaling is illegal.” See? I can do it, too…….

NOW back to the article and subject at hand:

As for the article there are some interesting points that were brought up. Although the author seems to take the anti-gun stance from the comments, there is an honest attempt to be unbiased. It is fairly easy to see where the author falls in on the 6 question poll.

These were the 6 questions:

Yes, Always. 5  8.93%
Yes, When it is legal.   1  1.79%
Yes, When it is appropriate to the area. 17 30.36%
No, I have never felt the need. 13 23.21%
No, I don’t like guns. 1  1.79%
No, I think the idea is stupid. 19  33.93%

There are only about 41% of the people polled in the Yahoo BackpackingLight Group that said that they carry a firearm in the backcountry. I find this interesting because any poll makes me wonder what type of audience was being asked the question. Many backpackers, especially the ultralight crowd, are very liberal types that are against many different outdoors activities. Then again, many bushcrafter types are very into hunting, fishing, trapping, and the sort. There is a huge possibility that the sampling used in the poll was already biased in one way or another. I have always been skeptical of polls and statistics due to just these reasons. During a college class we purposely skewed our statistics for a class just to prove how inaccurate polls can be. It was quite enlightening and made me an instant skeptic.

Another interesting thing is that only 56 people responded in this poll taken by members of a Yahoo group. First off, I am not sure how many people actually use Yahoo groups as their main source of online social interaction, but it is very reminiscent of the archaic format used by such gems as Democratic Underground. Not to bash his sources too badly, but using a poll of 56 people that just found their way out of AOL is not a viable note on a bibliography let alone a basis for any article/post. So where am I advocating that a poll be posted and used as a cross sampling of American’s views on the subject? No where…..  I see it as a very personal choice that each one of us must make on their own based upon personal experience and training: so how can one person’s background and experiences be used to make up my mind on a subject? If this is used as the basis for the argument then no poll would matter anyway.

Back to the article: The author states that there are two polar opposite viewpoints on the gun carrying subject. One is based upon the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing my rights to carry. The author says that the other “side vehemently declares that you must NEVER carry a weapon of any kind, and to do so is simply stupid.”

No matter which camp you are discussing it is important to remember that these are the two extremes. Most people fall into the middle ground that are just trying to figure it all out. So if we discount these two extremes, the numbers change dramatically.

Yes, When it is legal.   1  3.12%
Yes, When it is appropriate to the area. 17 53.12%
No, I have never felt the need. 13 40.62%
No, I don’t like guns. 1  3.12%

This leaves us with 32 replies and a much larger percentage of those polled that feel guns are important tools in the backcountry. According to these new results 56.24% think that guns are valuable tools that should be considered when out in the woods.

The author does make a few comments regarding use of a firearm in certain situations. A scenario about using a gun when your fellow backpacker is mauled by a bear is one that I was a little uncomfortable with. The author’s rebuttal against a gun being the best tool if a hiking partner is being mauled really bothers me. The response is, “Spray them both if you have pepper spray. If that fails, crack the bear with a hiking pole or stick to disengage him from the person being mauled. Don’t try to shoot a bear in the process of mauling someone. You aren’t that good. I’m not that good either. There are probably less then ten people on the planet who are.” My response to this is quite simple: Count again. You obviously have never been around too many gun people because I could easily shoot a moving bear in and around another person to disengage them from mauling. I could do it with either hand or even a pistol in each hand. If you are discussing the use of tools of any kind there has to be an assumption that practice and competency be a major facto. If someone isn’t practiced or competent in the use of a gun, then they might need a pointy stick. Assuming that there are only 10 people in the world that could “shoot a bear while they are mauling someone” is merely a slip behind the curtain at the author’s bias.

Overall, I do appreciate how the author does leave the article with the idea that the reader must make up their own mind based upon the situation. Although the article provides the reader with the impression that the author doesn’t condone the carry of guns, the author’s final comments are definitely true. The individual must look at the gear required for the areas that they are going to be in. Some areas are more wild than others. This includes the human element as well as animal element. Certain areas are high crime and hikers would be remiss if they did not pack accordingly.

Ultimately, it does come down to the individual’s personal beliefs and experience. Some people grew up with guns and would feel almost naked without one. Others are having a hard time differentiating the urban jungle from the real jungle. 911 doesn’t always respond when you are 20 miles back into a wilderness area.

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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 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.


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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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