Ok, the finale!
So first off, ML Toys ignition cant carry the current, despite what they claim. But my kid liked the big blue key, so i found a lock cylinder that was basically identical, on Amazon, for $9, so i bought that. Then i grabbed a 12v 80a relay i had kicking around the garage, and wired that in:
I know 80a is way overkill (30a would prob be fine), but i already had it, and i figure since its 18v not 12v, having a big buffer wont hurt. So the key switch triggers the relay, which is mounted here:
In retrospect i should have just done this from the beginning, i was thinking K.I.S.S. and you dont get simpler than just a key switch. Anyways, this completes the wiring overhaul. The little dude was romping it around the yard and ran it for a good half hour in the grass with no sign of it slowing down. The voltmeter said we were still over 18v, so im guess a good hour plus on the run-time now, maybe longer
So with this done, theres nothing left to do but to just let the little dude cruise!
Nest up is to finish the wiring issue with the '96, and then its finally time to start the one-ton swap on the '90!
So first up, we need to replace the accelerator pedal. The new one is not a simple on/off switch, its a variable resistor, for full variable speed control. So the original pedal has to go.
The original pedal is a pretty low profile and just snaps into a recess in the floor, whereas the new pedal is boxy, which makes installation easy, but also puts the pedal way higher
Im not a fan of this, so lets make some changes.
Here's the foot pedal all disassembled:
I have an idea. Lets chop it up!
...and with just some minor trimming, it fits in the original space!
All back together and installed, looks like it came this way from the factory!
The brake pedal i installed slightly to the left. First though, we need to deal with the wire coming out of the bottom. Cant have exposed wires in the interior, thats just asking for problems!
So the plan is to mount the brake pedal here. Of note is the upper and lower mounting points have been removed:
And then modify the pedal assembly so the wires come out the back instead of the bottom:
Because.....in this spot, the wires will pass thru a hole in the floorpan, to be hidden in the wireway and protected by the track!
The finished product- nice and clean, with no wires exposed anywhere, inside or underneath:
So here's the new ESC from ML Toys:
Theres some prime real estate for this, in the back next to the batteries:
...yeah, that looks good there:
So lets start wiring this thing up. It comes with some very nicely made wiring harnesses. Crimped, soldered, and heat-shrink. One for batteries with a 40a breaker built in, and a second made up for the motors. Different plugs so you cant get it wrong.
Simple enough install, and plenty of room to route the wires cleanly
Now, in a Power Wheel the battery would be under the hood, and you unplug them to charge them. But since the batteries are under the seat, we need a way to charge them. So lets tear into the harness and examine the original charging port:
So the switch is in series with the battery. A closer examination reveals contacts inside the switch, that open when the charge cable is plugged in, cutting power to the vehicle in the process so it cant be turned on while charging. Clever.
A quick test with the voltmeter verifies this:
So this was a pretty clever solution to a problem, but im not sure that it can handle the power, considering were now putting 3x more voltage through the contacts. Plus the teeny tiny wires they used. So im going to reuse this to charge, but im going to wire it direct to the battery, and then just remember that the Bronco has to be turned off when charging.
So that covers the batteries and the motors, now its time to move on, and start laying out the pedals!
So the obvious solution to the inadequate wiring in the Kid Trax Bronco, is a full replacement. I could have done something simple like upgraded wiring and switches, but instead i decided to go all out, and use ML Toy's Electronic Speed Control.
This thing is pretty cool. its a full variable speed ESC (so full variable speed control), with a brake pedal as well. Its programmed to apply the brakes after a certain amount of time if it doesnt see either pedal input, so you cant have a car runaway down a hill, which i think is a nice safety feature. It also has a 12v output for powering the stock headlights & radio, which we'll be using as well.
In addition to this, i am adding their key switch, and digital voltmeter.
The meter is not necessary, i just want it for the convenience of knowing battery life. The key switch i do want though; Power Wheels have the batteries under the hood where you unplug them to charge them, but Kid Trax has them hidden in the back under the seat, with a charging port. Having a key switch means we can turn it on/off to charge without having to unplug the batteries every time.
So lets get that wiring harness out:
With the track removed the harness is exposed:
Foot pedal wiring:
Remove a couple screws and the steering wheel and dash comes out:
power plug for dash harness:
...and the chassis harness is removed:
Here's the plug for the horn pad, which we'll obviously reuse
...and this mess of wires is the backside of the directional switch, where Kid Trax tapped off for all their other 'key hot' accessories, such as the horn, radio & headlights. We're gonna reuse some of this, but not all:
Just give it a slight tug and the volume knob pops off to expose the jam nut to remove the dial:
This is about as far as we need to go, as far as disassembly is concerned. Tomorrow we'll staart installing the new harness and ESC!
So the 18v Kid Trax Bronco is running well!
This thing runs great, and the run time is much better than before. However, the stock electronics are not happy!
The On/Off switch finally melted yesterday from the load:
Unfortunately, so did both the Forward/Reverse switch, and the socket for it:
Looks like the next upgrade is going to be getting some proper wiring and electronics in this thing. Stay tuned!
Never got to take the 88 for a test drive. I got the headlights all set and roughly aimed, with a plan to drive it to work one night and then adjust the headlights to get a good pattern. But when i went to turn the key, nothing happened.
Well, thats not true. Something happened. The column broke!
Im going to give you the abridged version: the ignition lock cylinder actuator rod broke.
Fortunately, Dorman makes a replacement, which is actually pretty cheap on Amazon. Unfortunately, replacing it requires the complete disassembly of the steering column:
While i was in there i figured its now or never, and i replaced the turn signal/hazard switch mechanism.
i spent a couple days cleaning up parts and slowly disassembling/reassembling the column, but all is now well, and the column is back where it belongs!
I do have around 80 pics of the process, so the plan over the next week or so is to get them all resized so i can put together a full gallery of pics on how to completely rebuild the column.
Got tired of the junky OEM style headlamp housings i have on the 88. Also, the lens fell off the passenger side turn signal housing! So i had to replace those anyway.
Went digging around and some some decent looking replacement housing sets on Amazon so i figured why not? And ordered em.
As expected, theyre typical cheap-ish china made housings. They didnt include the lower adjuster gear box so i had to swap that over, and the yellow zinc coated studs are total junk so i swapped them for the ones off my original housings (black in the pic)
Aside from that, they seem decent enough.
I bought another set of Hikari LED headlights because i have them in every other vehicle i drive, and they work very well.
Finished and installed, they look pretty good:
They look pretty good, and while i havent driven it yet, i was aiming them at night and the light output is much better, as is the beam pattern.
We're back from the Roundup!
All said, it was a good time. We arrived wednesday, set up camp, and just chilled out for the day
Towed the 88 out there with the diesel, and Dawn drove the 96 out. We had a big of an issue with the deisel; during my pre-trip prep, i broke the nozzle for the water-methanol injection!
There was no time to fix it (broke the day before) so we made the trip without it. Parts are on the counter, we'll get this fixed next week. So, the Roundup!
Thursday it rained basically the whole day. People were showing up as the day went on and the campground filled up. Friday was the official start, which consisted of some street cruises and an offroad trip to Rausch Creek. We went for the wheelin trip, but the kiddo isnt quite ready for that stuff yet so we bailed early and went back to go hang out in the pool instead. Friday evening was the SHow N Shine + dinner, and then Saturday was another offroad trip (this one to AOAA) and a street cruise to Pioneer Tunnel, an old coal mine that closed during the great depression. I wont bore you with family pics, but it is actually a very cool place to go if youre ever in the area. Once again followed by a big dinner, along with all the club's raffles and awards. So baring the family photos, we have a collection of pics from the Show N Shine friday night along with a couple misc pics:
There was a really cool EB done up in a Ghostbusters theme and loaded with all sorts of cool little details. A beautiful stock uncut one (orange), a lowered 2wd green one with a mod motor (mustang). A blue one with a black stripe, except it was styled as a topographic map with locations of offroad parks theyve been to. Of course Joe's monster diesel bronco was there. I think the most noteworthy though was a beautiful dark green one complete with custom trail used to haul their son's wheelchair, which was super awesome.
In our case, ti was the little dude's first Roundup and he was a little overwhelmed so we kind of kept a low key and just chilled out for the duration, but next year i imagine we'll be a bit more involved. We're already planning the list of upgrades to get done before then!