From VA to the west coast in a 7.3L

Jawusn88

New member
I've been traveling from Virginia headed west since October 9th. Currently in Missoula, MT getting a hard start issue in my 1996 7.3L diesel looked at. Ive had a great time so far with my dog Forrest. My goal is to look for suitable areas to live in for the future as I'm transitioning out of the military into Wildland fire. My next stop when the truck is fixed is the Salt Lake area and, if I have time Tahoe. Though I estimate that I probably will not. This has been a steep learning curve for me (camping in my truck with my dog), and if you all have any suggestions I'm very interested in the following: (1) INSULATION: I have bought a buddy heater and slept several nights below freezing, but without proper insulation it has been running all night. I tried installing 1/4 inch cheap 4x8 insulation from Home Depot and the Velcro stuff wouldn't stick. A friend recommended construction adhesive instead; ideas/alternative? (2) CAMERA SETUP (under $500) all-purpose but mostly landscape/pictures of myself and doggo in cool places. I do lots of stream fishing and would like something capable of that. I'll let y'all know how its going and if there's anyone out there looking to meet up, let me know. Pictures up soon!
 

Foy

Explorer
Two questions which may help find some solutions: 1) Assume you have a camper shell or topper on the bed of the truck and you're looking to insulate the inner part of the shell and the steel "bucket" representing the bed and tailgate itself. Correct? If so, condensation from the breathing of two mammals will likely be an issue in choosing materials and fastening. If you somehow get it well buttoned up, you'll need a rooftop vent due to condensation and the venting alone compromises your efforts to insulate. That's a tough nut to crack.

2) You didn't ask, but is it likely that your hard start issue with the old 7.3 is one or more bad glow plugs and/or a bad glow plug relay? I've got a 2002 7.3 and most hard cold start problems in that vintage seem to center on one of the two.

Hope you find what you're looking for with the transition. As far as I know, you're in the right place there in Missoula.

Foy
 
Replace the relay first. Easy parking lot swap. I've found that many shops will simply replace all the glow plugs and the relay in one shot but most of the time its the relay. I've seen them function/test fine but were still the fault as they would not carry the current needed for the glow plugs.
 

Jawusn88

New member
Replace the relay first. Easy parking lot swap. I've found that many shops will simply replace all the glow plugs and the relay in one shot but most of the time its the relay. I've seen them function/test fine but were still the fault as they would not carry the current needed for the glow plugs.
Hey Wyo, I replaced the relay and then drove a little bit, went into Home Depot and when I came out the truck wouldn't start period. So I did some googling and ended up swapping the starter out in the parking lot (luckily a really solid Napa nearby). However several days of cold camping and the issue has come sloooowly creeping back. I just spoke to the diesel shop here and sounds like they replaced the glow plugs, head gaskets, and one harness that was melted. Hopefully that does the trick, but I'll keep y'all posted.
 

Jawusn88

New member
Two questions which may help find some solutions: 1) Assume you have a camper shell or topper on the bed of the truck and you're looking to insulate the inner part of the shell and the steel "bucket" representing the bed and tailgate itself. Correct? If so, condensation from the breathing of two mammals will likely be an issue in choosing materials and fastening. If you somehow get it well buttoned up, you'll need a rooftop vent due to condensation and the venting alone compromises your efforts to insulate. That's a tough nut to crack.

2) You didn't ask, but is it likely that your hard start issue with the old 7.3 is one or more bad glow plugs and/or a bad glow plug relay? I've got a 2002 7.3 and most hard cold start problems in that vintage seem to center on one of the two.

Hope you find what you're looking for with the transition. As far as I know, you're in the right place there in Missoula.

Foy
Foy,
Yes thats correct. Its got the old bed liner and with all the condensation im sure thats the issue. I do slightly crack the rear glass and the sliding glass and things like that. I'm going to try and grab some construction adhesive today and see if that works. Replaced starter and GP relay already, and the shop is doing the glow plugs and head gaskets plus one harness. Planning to be back on the road first thing tomorrow morning heading for the Salt Lake area.

Thanks,
Jake
 

brycercampbell

Active member
Are you using a sleeping bag or just blankets? I’d keep the buddy heater for waking hours and grab a sleeping bag or two for both of y’all. Keep some airflow for breathing condensation and you’ll still be toasty
 

Jawusn88

New member
Are you using a sleeping bag or just blankets? I’d keep the buddy heater for waking hours and grab a sleeping bag or two for both of y’all. Keep some airflow for breathing condensation and you’ll still be toasty
I've got a 32 degree bag with a liner, and for Forrest I've got a couple blankets and an old Navy issued 32 degree bag along with his plush dog bed. I'm usually fine, I've just been worried about him getting too cold (which im probably over-thinking)

Jake
 
Hey Wyo, I replaced the relay and then drove a little bit, went into Home Depot and when I came out the truck wouldn't start period. So I did some googling and ended up swapping the starter out in the parking lot (luckily a really solid Napa nearby). However several days of cold camping and the issue has come sloooowly creeping back. I just spoke to the diesel shop here and sounds like they replaced the glow plugs, head gaskets, and one harness that was melted. Hopefully that does the trick, but I'll keep y'all posted.
If it doesn't start when warm (after home depot visit) then its something other than glow plugs/relay. The valve cover gaskets on the 7.3's are also the injector and glow plug wire harness for each bank of cylinders. These can go bad and cause a few different issues from a no start to a died while driving to even a hard start. Maybe one of these was the "melted harness" that they replaced. These engines also experience cam sensor failures that are tough to diagnose and can cause hard/no start conditions. Easy to replace yourself.
 

Jawusn88

New member
If it doesn't start when warm (after home depot visit) then its something other than glow plugs/relay. The valve cover gaskets on the 7.3's are also the injector and glow plug wire harness for each bank of cylinders. These can go bad and cause a few different issues from a no start to a died while driving to even a hard start. Maybe one of these was the "melted harness" that they replaced. These engines also experience cam sensor failures that are tough to diagnose and can cause hard/no start conditions. Easy to replace yourself.
Wyo,

Awesome, thanks for the advice. The shop is doing a cold start test this morning so I'll see what they say and try the CPS myself if I can.

Thanks again,
Jake
 

Motafinga

Adventurer
To my knowledge with a 7.3, if you have a bad CPS the Tach will NOT move when you crank the engine, otherwise it will slightly move indicating the cps is fine. Either way it's wise to have a good one in your glove box as they can fail without warning. Regarding your camper shell, is the inside raw fiberglass? I have a tacoma with a shell that has a camping set-up and the inside of the shell is carpeted which makes a tremendous difference in fighting condensation. Smooth glossy surfaces are a magnet for condensation. I got a roll of Reflectix and cut out some panels to cover all the windows and it stays pretty nice in there. Since the shell is lined with carpet, I was able to put tabs of velcro on the refectix and it just sticks to the carpet and works great. I also use a buddy heater sometimes with a window cracked, but for extra safety and installed a C02/ LP alarm just in case. I also keep a Wiggy's brand overbag in there which is an oversized sleeping bag that you put your smaller bag inside and it works very well in colder temps and almost doubles the R value of a bag by itself. I put my bedroll on a cot and lots of gear stashes under the cot and the bed is always ready to go without having to clear a space.
Do you have a pic of your set-up to share?
 

Weeds

Adventurer
I've got a 32 degree bag with a liner, and for Forrest I've got a couple blankets and an old Navy issued 32 degree bag along with his plush dog bed. I'm usually fine, I've just been worried about him getting too cold (which im probably over-thinking)

Jake

I would go to Big 5 and buy an economical sleeping bag down to zero. When I sleep in my pickup, I use a cot, it works because I am not tall. I have found with the cot, the dog will like to sleep under the cot.
 

FAW3

Adventurer
Being a past truck cap camper: condensation is addressed by insulation and ventilation.

A great way to insulate your floor is to buy a BedRug (bedrug.com). They offer kits for both the bed walls and floor or just the floor mat. I did just the floor mat and loved it for the insulation and the ease of care, ease of cleaning, and my sore knees.

Folks have mentioned insulation...yep, get your roof insulated. Another aid is making Reflectix window coverings. Provides privacy, light blocking, and some insulation from both the product itself and the air space you create between the glass and the panel.

I also never did much permanent construction. Just plastic bins and a cot. There is a truck cap camping thread here that will give you a lot of ideas. Link to thread: Truck Cap Camping

Safe travels!
 

BajaSurfRig

Well-known member
If the 7.3 is not starting when warm it is probably the IPR on the back of the HPOP. It took me a while to figure this out on my own as by the time I’d change a starter or CPS or x part the motor would be cool again and fire right back up. A way to test this is by putting an ice cube on the IPR when it is not starting when due to it being warm. If it starts after cooling down the IPR then that is your culprit. If I remember correctly it too a 1 1/16” extra deep socket to replace the IPR. Harder to find the right socket than change it out. Good luck!
 

Superduty

Adventurer
Whyd did
Hey Wyo, I replaced the relay and then drove a little bit, went into Home Depot and when I came out the truck wouldn't start period. So I did some googling and ended up swapping the starter out in the parking lot (luckily a really solid Napa nearby). However several days of cold camping and the issue has come sloooowly creeping back. I just spoke to the diesel shop here and sounds like they replaced the glow plugs, head gaskets, and one harness that was melted. Hopefully that does the trick, but I'll keep y'all posted.


I hope you mean valve cover gaskets and not really head gasket. If head gasket, you are going to have quite the bill from this shop. The harness for the GPs and injectors is integrated into the valve cover gasket.
 

Ditriz

New member
I would go to Big 5 and buy an economical sleeping bag down to zero. When I sleep in my pickup, I use a cot, it works because I am not tall. I have found with the cot, the dog will like to sleep under the cot.
Better to buy a pair of sleeping bags that are designed for different temperatures.
 

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