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Friday, 10 April 2009 22:59

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My new storm chase truck starting for the 2013 season. The GMC Acadia I used last season proved to have too many mechanical gremlins for my comfort, and I also needed a vehicle that can pull trailers, so I decided to go with a Chevrolet Crew Cab Silverado.

This presented a few challenges, as outfitting a different vehicle often does. The biggest was where to put the stuff I used to carry in the back of the SUVs and Minivans.  I considered a bed cover, but I may also need to pull a 5th wheel trailer at some point, so I dismissed that. Not to mention they are mostly fiberglass, and I wasn't sure how that might hold up to hail.  I decided on a crossbed toolbox.  I modified it with better weatherstripping, and an LED lightstrip to be able to see inside at night, and problem solved.

One of the things I did this year was upgrade many of my halogen lighting to LEDs, then I got carried away and even replaced many of the factory bulbs with LEDs as well. I just love LED lightning!  The most noticable is the huge LED offroad lighting on the front. This thing puts out over 8000 lumens of white light, and will light up reflectors on the pavement nearly a mile away! This will come in handy for many situation. I also mounted a Ranch Hand grill guard so I won't be having any more deer taking me out of a chase like happened a couple years ago.

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Up top, I needed to mount equipment, while minimizing holes in the roof.  Past vehicles had roof racks I could utilize, but not this one.  Instead, I had T.J. at Tumbleweed Manufacturing in Amarillo, TX fabricate a headache rack to my specifications, which included an adjustable mount for the Davis Weather station, so I can change the height as needed, as well as a platform for the Mesodome camera system I use for live video streaming.  It also allowed me a place to mount side and rear LED flood lights. On the roof, I mounted my dual ham antennas, cb antenna, as well as a cell antenna that is connected to my data device signal amp. Was able to also put the scanner antenna on the headache rack as well, as it really doesn't need the ground plane that the transmitting antennas do.  The cross bars also eliminate one of the most common methods of break-in on these trucks, and that is busting out the back glass. Also on top is a wireless remote GoLight as well as a Whelen Liberty lightbar.

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Inside I've got all the devices I use while chasing at my fingertips. I'm a big fan of everything having it's place, and having a stable place, as well as hiding the wiring well. Equipment list includes: Davis Vantage Vue Weather console (up top), Icom 2820h D-STAR enabled Ham radio (up top), windshield Sony HD camera, cell phone mount, Uniden Home Patrol Scanner, TomTom GPS, Verizon Jetpack Mifi, Toshiba Android Pad, HP DV7 laptop, and down in front of the center console a Midland CB.  That's also my primary cam, Sony NX HD cam sitting there. You'll also note the map lights, one side is red.  This allows me to turn on red light while chasing at night, without killing my night vision.

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I've also added a storage compartment under the rear seat, for various things, such as a rain jacket and traffic safety vests, as well as a great place to store my tripods! Further behind this, there is a 750 watt power inverter, which can be switched on from the dash, to allow charging of camera batteries, etc, en route to a chase.  You might note in the back of the front seats, my well used paper maps (yep, some of us still use those)!

The entire operation is serviced by its own secondary electrical system, with its own battery, that is isolated from the truck's system when the ignition is off.  This means I can run all the equipment without having to idle for long periods if necessary, but charging is enabled once the engine is on.  Behind and under the rear passenger seat, I built a junction area where the old factory jack used to reside (I now have a better one in the box in the back), which houses 15 relays, and a complete fuse system. System also has some built-in capacity for future upgradability.

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On the rear, I had Tumbleweed Manufacturing create me a bumper bar, which will be a temporary placeholder until I can locate a steel bumper setup that I really like, at which time that and the entire rear bumper will be switched out.  The outside is rounded out with taillight guards and graphics from KCBD, the NBC station I chase for when I'm in the home Lubbock area, as well as from Glass Doctor in Lubbock who sponsors my glass replacement (thanks Neal!), and my own company name, Dryline Media.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 06 April 2013 19:14
 
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