The Car Show - Preserving the rigs

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by B. Dean Berry, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. B. Dean Berry

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    A post by @Dan Robinson a few years ago has me thinking. His point was that, due to websites being neglected and going offline, and the rise of social media, that a whole lot of storm chasing media (images/video) as well as chase logs in the crucial 1995-2009 time period has been lost.

    I concur with this assessment. While it's not the same as photos, videos, or chase logs, I have a slightly different aim to preserve some of storm chasing's flair, some of it's panache, if you will.

    I am a gearhead. I've always been a "car guy", and that extends over to storm chasing as well. Remember how intricate and awesome the classic chase rigs of the 1990s and 2000s were. Not to take anything away from the junkmobiles, tornado tanks, and soulless bone-stock car fleet out there, but those somehow don't stoke that weathernerd fire the way that the Third Wave did vehicle outfitting.

    That's what I'm making this thread for. Everyone, please, post your custom vehicle setups that you use. It's rare anymore to find chase archives preserved. It's even rarer to see actual photos and descriptors of chase rigs anywhere on the internet (outside of social media, which is evil).

    Sooner than anyone wants to admit, 2018 will be 1996.
     
  2. B. Dean Berry

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    Skyforger
    In use - 2015-2017
    1998 Mercury Mountaineer

    This was probably the most outfitted and pre-planned I've ever been. This one featured it all.

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  3. B. Dean Berry

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    891
    In use - 2005-2012
    1999 Ford Explorer XLT

    This one was a bit simpler of a build, and was pretty sparse. It featured a removable rack containing an Oregon Scientific wireless weather station, and old VHS handi-cam, and a Uniden PC68XL CB radio.

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  4. B. Dean Berry

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    Beast
    In use - 1999-2003, a few days in 2006.
    1984 Ford Bronco

    At one time, this truck was completely outfitted with all manner of gadgets and equipment. This truck is where I learned that you could link a Gateway Solo 2500 laptop, an old modem, and a car phone, to get mobile radar imagery from NWS, at a blazing 28K dialup speed.

    Sadly, by the time these photos were taken, it was well past it's prime and had next to nothing on it. It would be sold to a friend less than a month later.

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  5. B. Dean Berry

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    892
    In use - 2003-2006
    1991 Jeep Cherokee Country

    My God, the problems. The hideous, awful mass of problems this vehicle was. This truck had a sudden death wobble over 60mph. I replaced the transmission....5 times. The CPS sensor is in a nigh-impossible to reach location on the bellhousing, and it fouled 3 of them in a row. Bad ignition packs were a constant, and then there was the cooling issues. Still, it was nearly unstoppable, once it decided to start and kick into drive.

    Like the photos of the Bronco, this was one of the only decent photos I could find of it, although I knew I took slews of them. Harkening back to the original premise here that most of the 1996-2009 chasing sites have evaporated.

    Still, this truck featured (at one time) a laptop, car phone, 800MHz radio, CB, scanner, and a weather station.

    Yes, that is a tribute to Jeff Wear on the front bumper.

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  6. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    My chase vehicles generally have never been very pretty - I build things to simply work, the aesthetics are secondary or just left out altogether (as many who have seen my current vehicle can attest to).

    Only once did I have something worthy of a "car show", that was my Ford Freestyle from 2005-2009 when there were 2 or 3 people going out to the Plains with me. I had a mobile weather station, custom-built network (with both ethernet and wireless connectivity), four small LCD monitors (one in front of each seat) that displayed radar, forward and backward dash cameras, two Jotto laptop desk mounts (one in the front, one in the second row seat), camera dash mount, and several other gadgets I can't exactly remember.

    While there was a "cool" factor to all of those things and they were fun to install, most of the Freestyle's setup ended up not being used much. Now, I only install what I need, and I only care that it works - function over form.
     
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  7. B. Dean Berry

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    Always good. I think the function-over-form of chaser vehicles is part of the ~ a e s t h e t i c ~.

    That sounds rather amazing. Unfortunately, I've also noticed that as time goes on, due to several factors (we're getting older and less patient, mobile phone technology, etc.) that I don't use anywhere near as much equipment as I used to. The difference between my Mountaineer and my Taurus is night and day, on the amount of stuff that's in there.
     
  8. JamesCaruso

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    Dean - responding to your original post about chase vehicles in the "era of chasing" thread:

    I've had the same nostalgic thoughts. I am a chase vacationer that just flies in and rents an SUV each time, but I used to fantasize about having a chase vehicle when I retire and have the time to drive out to the Plains and chase the whole season; or maybe I would even have a small place out there where I could leave the vehicle between seasons. Nothing crazy with light bars or stickers or anything, just something good for the dirt roads and properly outfitted with video, computer, etc. in the interior. But in recent years I've come to realize there isn't that much need anymore, when you can realistically chase with only an iPad. So that dream has basically died, but not completely, because it still would be nice to have a dedicated chase vehicle that is more rugged than what I would want to drive every day, and that I wouldn't be worried about getting hail damage or chips and dings from dirt/gravel roads.




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  9. B. Dean Berry

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    That's one of the biggest reasons that I started this thread. It's occurred to me that the massive tech-laden rigs of years past are no longer required. Technology has replaced so many pieces of equipment today. The only reason that I have more than a cell phone and a tablet in the car now, is that I'm a ham radio operator, and I like being on the air. That, and I still don't trust cell/internet delivery of NWS alert products. That NOAA alert receiver in the scanner doesn't lie. It gets a tone, it makes noise, I get the warning, every time.

    However, aside from the radio equipment, a lot of other stuff is redundant. I thought about this a lot when I was getting rid of the Mountaineer. I had a laptop and a tablet in the truck. Then, I just had a laptop. Then, I got a smaller tablet. It's just not necessary anymore to have so much stuff. The only old holdovers that could really be useful is an on-vehicle weather station, and the internet is getting pretty good at bringing meteorological products.
     
  10. James Hilger

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    I had no intention of participating in competition car shows, but a radio station flagged me down and asked me to participate in theirs. I somehow won best of show, best paint, and 2nd loudest stereo. I'm not listing all of my equipment, but here's the outside, and one of the windshield. Nothing compared to the last vehicle, but I've had this one about 4 months. Bought it new. Kids at the schools love hitting it with a bat, and people are constantly taking pictures etc. received_10213979923468266.jpeg received_10213979923988279.jpeg 20171206_185610.jpg

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  11. B. Dean Berry

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    I like that. How much did the full-body Line-X add to the weight?
     
  12. James Hilger

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    I used Herculiner and then Raptor, mixed with Satin black. 3 gallons total. So probably less than 40lbs.

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  13. B. Dean Berry

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    What kind of rear bumper guard is that? Slick ride.
     
  14. James Hilger

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    Vanguard. Thanks

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  15. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    James, how thick is the coating and how does it impact your MPG?
     
  16. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I'm curious about these coating...I mean if you really hit it hard with a baseball bat/big hail, wouldn't the metal substrate panel just deform?

    And I suppose kiss any resale value goodbye. But I guess if it's a chase vehicle, it'll be beat to s$%t anyway and smell like cheetos and swass after a few years chasing.
     
  17. B. Dean Berry

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    That's usually the case. I've never really bought a chase vehicle (or any vehicle) with resale value in mind. They're tools. There for a while, I was buying them for $2000, selling them for $500-$1200. This newer car is nicer, and $13K, but I have no illusions that it will be beaten to death and ready for the junkyard by the time I get rid of it.
     
  18. James Hilger

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    I didn't notice a difference in mpg. With q either vehicle. I still get over 30. Not sure exactly how thick it is. There's 3 coats everything, then probably 5-6 coats on the top, hood, and fenders. Finished off what I had left on the vulnerable areas. It's not invincible, but I let elementary kids hit it. Never had a panel cave in, but would be would be easy to fix. Obviously wouldn't have to worry about cracking anything obviously. The Raptor is made to absorb.

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  19. Todd Lemery

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    I also have the Raptor coating on mine. The one thing that really surprised me was how dirt really doesn’t stick to it. With the surface being rough I thought clay would end up being a permanent fixture on it, but it comes right off in the rain. I’ve had it for a couple of years and have never washed it. You can’t even tell.
    The other thing is, I’ve had it in baseball sized hail and without a mark to show from it. For the couple of hundred bucks to do it, plus a few hours, I couldn’t be happier with it.
     
  20. B. Dean Berry

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    This site. Man, I used to stare at this site for hours back in my senior year of high school in 1999. Just chomping at the bit to build something as nice myself.

    I may save these photos and transpose them over to this thread for safekeeping. No telling how long this will stay there.

    https://www.stormeyes.org/tornado/vehicles/
     
  21. Marc R. O'Leary

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    You need to add Hank Schyma's T.I.T. to that list. If for anything it's designation.


     
  22. B. Dean Berry

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    Now thinking about it, there are pushbars with wraparound brush guards made for my car. Of course, they're police model, but I'm trying to think of ways to make it not look like a police model. Maybe a set of KC HiLiTES 57 series fog lights? The car needs actual fog lights anyway, as those factory things are more like accent lights.

    I'm also thinking of having something like Hilger's rear guard custom-made for my car. I really like this guard.
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  23. Marc R. O'Leary

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    Question is...is the rear guard necessary, or is it just weight?
     
  24. B. Dean Berry

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    Front/rear guards help ever-so-slightly with collisions, if it's at a slow enough speed, but they really shine when you need to shove something. The front guards are also super-helpful to protect your car in the event of a collision with an object made of meat. Around here, that's deer strikes.
     

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