Update: It was a Tough weekend.
The original piano hinge ripped apart on the previous owner in Baja so he replaced it with some external Stainless Steel hinges. We were debating keeping or changing the hinges based on 1 of the center pins of the hinges being broken. So, we decided to go with the type of rubber hinge that Maltec uses. It’s a German made hinge where the moving part is a steel belted rubber piece. It looks similar to a tire cross section. Interesting and it sounds sketchy, but they’ve been using this style of weather seal/hinge on commercial trucks for a long time. 1. The new hinge is often riveted on, but in an offroad application I hate rivets (It might be unfounded, but I’ve had a few crack or shake loose). It took us hours to contort our hands to get the nuts onto the hinge bolts, but by sundown we had the 24 bolts done. The new hinge sets the top up another inch... That means to get it to sit flush all the way around we have to add a 3/4" square tube and a new seal. The rubber hinge seems to have some of the rubber deforming already. I’ve already decided that I’m not okay with this so we’re going to stick with the traditional, but ugly, external hinges. I don’t want this thing breaking apart mid trip anywhere. So, a solid day of work needs to be undone, but first we need to decide what hinges we’ll use.
2. I enlisted my buddy to tig weld (I’ve never learned to Tig) to weld up the old hinge holes. I was there with a bucket of water and a rag to quench the hot metal each time he’d stop to keep it from perpetually heating up. (The rubber hinge could be damaged by that level of heat). His kid took over quenching and I went outside to paint a couple pieces of the awning mount. I heard them yell “fire”... I ran inside to see flames inside the truck. I jumped in and yelled for the bucket. It seemed like a minute passed, but I’m sure it was just 5 or 10 seconds. As soon as I had the bucket in my hand I was quenching the fire by splashing the headliner/insulation that was burning as liquid plastic hit my arms. We got it out, but the front driver seat was covered in liquid plastic burns. I got some nice burns on my arms, but Goose was safe. If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta.... you know the saying. In Summary, we’re a bit gutted, but thankful we had water and the fire extinguisher there, but also that we didn’t need to use the extinguisher since it’s a mess. We’re going to pull the rubber hinge and go another direction. My buddy Mario uses some stout hinges on his trailers and pop tops so we may try those. Time to redo the headliner and insulation. **** happens. Kelsey was able to mostly save the front seat. I think continually oiling the leather seats recently kept the plastic on the exterior of the leather, mostly. I’ll upload some pics of the fire damage later. Right now we are concentrating on buying everything we need to fix it.
The hot liquid melted some of the seat stitches so we are going to try and re-stitch them before it gets worse.
Thankfully my wallet, sunglasses and Kelseys jacket were on the seat to take some of the hit. ;-) Sorry honey...
This is a huge setback time wise, but financially it’s not too bad. Insulation is cheap and headliner is $9 a yard (We used 3 yards). The tent fabric we had left overs of. It’s just a ton of time and work.
This is a bad cellphone photo, but what you’re looking at is the front of the truck to the left and about the midway point to the right. The really sad part is that the popup tent fabric also got burnt so we’ll be removing the tent again and resewing a new piece on.