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BITX40 Rebuild Part 1: Mistakes, Planning and Teardown

August 2020 Update: Camping, Knives, Trike, Truck. And JS8Call.

I know, I know- quite a headline! In this update I’m going to update you on a few things I’ve been working on or doing in August. It was an action packed month. There’s plenty of difficulty to go around too, but I’ll leave that stuff out and stick to the stuff that’s hopefully at least mildly interesting!

Two Nights of Solo Truck Camping

The last time I went camping was in April of 2012 out in the Nevada desert for a quick overnight trip. I’ve been collecting camping equipment, gear, and knowledge so that I can go again. This time however, I decided that I wanted to sleep in the back of my Suburban.

I mentioned in the July 2020 Update recently installed all new front brakes and what not, and I felt a lot more comfortable about taking it out. I gathered up my gear and headed for the hills for a two night trip not far from my home.

Solo truck camping for two nights. It was great!

I am glad to say that not only did I survive it, but it was a blast! I also learned that some of my gear was great, some just so so, and some of it needed major rethinking. I made a video and posted it to YouTube if you’d like to come along for the trip:

I also made a video about the Coleman Camp Stove that kept trying to kill me on the trip. If you own an old Coleman Camp Stove, or any other older Coleman gear, this video may be of interest to you:

Butch’s Knives and Rope

Another problem I ran into had to do with knives and rope. The blue nylon rope that Harbor Freight sells is awful. I did not realize this, and it made life a lot more difficult than it needed to be. So, I went to Amazon and ordered some Paracord. Problem solved. It’s known to slacken under load over time, but for general camping use I think it’ll be fine.

While I always sing the praises of my Gerber Suspension multi-tool, the knife on it is a compromise and isn’t really much of a knife. So I thought about the people I know, and I decided to ask Butch, one of my workmates.

Why Butch? Here’s the story: Out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Butch was out off-roading by himself and knocked a hole in the oil pan of his truck. Butch decided to walk the the highway, 20 miles away. The sun went down and it was getting cold so he set up camp for the night and got a fire going. A rattlesnake went by, and Butch thought it looked tasty. So he killed it and ate it. He seems like the kind of guy who’d know a thing or two.

Butch’s suggestion? A Kershaw Blur as both a camp knife and an EDC (Every Day Carry) knife. In Butch’s former life, he was a EMS/EMT/SAR superhero kind of guy, and it turns out that this very knife is the knife that most Firefighters carry, too. Reasons: Great blade, holds an edge, and has a great no-slip surface for ease of use even if it’s wet.

I have to admit that it was a little expensive for my taste, but I took the plunge and bought it. I love it. No kidding around- it’s a great knife and I can’t believe I went so far in life without it.

While I was shopping, I saw a less expensive knife from Kershaw that I purchased for my Emergency Go Bag called the Kershaw Barricade. It’s got a seat belt cutter and a glass breaker on it. It weighs about the same and has a nylon Safety Orange handle. It was around 1/3 the price, and I don’t mind it sitting in my Go Bag.

Here’s a pic of the Paracord, the Kershaw Blur, and the Kershaw Barricade:

The rope and knives. Links are in the paragraphs above.

Simple EFI Fix Saves Fuel

After all the work I’ve done on my Suburban, I noticed that it still smelled very rich on startup. It shouldn’t, because it’s fuel injected. It also ran rough cold. I decided that the most likely cause was a Water Temp sensor. You can think of it like the choke on a carburetor in that it affects the mixture when its cold- except it also affects it when it’s hot.

This engine has two water temperature sensors: one for the EFI and one for the gauge in the dash. I replaced the EFI water temperature sensor which is on the thermostat housing right at the top of the engine. The old one was pretty crusty looking. There’s no telling when it was last replaced.

How’d it go? Well, the truck now runs far better than before, and I’m pretty sure the fuel mileage is back to normal. The gas gauge needle doesn’t sink quite as quickly as it used to! :p

JS8Call: Keeping Me On The Air

JS8Call has been a savior of sorts for me, because without it, my radio would be simply off. I haven’t had the time to play radio lately, but my station can still be online even as an automated station while I’m monitoring it. It can be used as a relay or just for heartbeat responses.

And for those who decry that it’s just another “zombie mode”, please keep in mind that JS8 is more than a QSO mode. It’s a network of stations that make long distance communication possible for even modestly powered rigs like the BITX40.

Trike Update: Paint!

I’ll keep this short: It’s done! There are still things to do, but as it sits I can hop on and go for a ride any time I want. It’s a nice feeling. It was a lot of work! If you’d like to read all my exploits in building it, please check out the post September Trike and Welder Update. Here’s a picture of its current state:

If you have any comments, suggestions, or just want to make fun of how bad I am at camping, leave a comment below or on the YouTube videos. Thanks for reading!


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  1. You paid $5 for the tarp in that video? It looks like one of the ones that Harbor Freight gives away from time to time; just wait for one of the coupons to come around. I have collected a few because they’re the right size to use as a ground cloth under my tent.

    1. Hey there! Actually I paid $1.49 for the tarp, $2 or $3 for the rope. $5 was a guesstimate, it might have been less than that. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the freebie tarps! I did buy about 4 of them at $1.49, even then it’s a good deal.

    • Doug W on September 2, 2020 at 7:24 AM
    • Reply

    Sounds like a good trip. FYI, you link to the Kershaw Blur goes to paracord.

    1. Thanks Doug, I’ll get that fixed!

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