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Old 11-24-2013, 10:02 AM
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Default 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Custom Console

I've been cruising around the site for a while looking at everyone's installs that are all just great! There's only one problem… My wife doesn't want a rolling "shack" with an "antenna farm" out back or up top...

I got away with it on my 2007 JK Wrangler mostly because the antennas were there before she was! I posted some pics of the semi-custom 3 antenna mount on the tailgate I made in another thread, but I never got around to installing all the radios I wanted to.



In July I upgraded from my JK to a 2014 GMC Sierra 1500. Doing a lot more commuting and a lot less off-roading these days. Just made sense from a MPG stand point (yes, I went up between 3-3.5 MPG buying a V8 pickup). It's also a lot quieter and more comfortable ride while still letting me have a truck when I need it for towing and hauling.



Anyways, I've been trying to find a radio mounting solution that was low-profile enough to keep the wife happy while still getting 2-3 radios installed. Looking at everyone's awesome set-ups here, and the commercially available consoles, I couldn't find anything that felt right.

The Sierra is a SLE trim level, which means I have the bench seat up front. I figured it would fit any number of the major brand name consoles (Havis, Jotto, Troy, etc) but it won't! So this weekend I set out to make my own solution.

I started with a CAD like design program to determine what the smallest console I could make to fit my first two radios, a Cobra 18 WX ST II and a Vertex VX-2200 UHF. This was a combination of measuring the radios, measuring the cab in the truck, making cardboard templates, and making it all fit. Here's what I came up with:



These are just renderings I made in a design program to make sure it would even work… This one shows the internal clearances for cables/wiring:



It's going to be a 1/2" square tube frame (shown below) with a 22 gauge sheet metal skin. I'm used to working with the square tubing, but the sheet metal will be a new experience for me…



Here are the dimensions I worked up… The radios will be angled about 20 degrees, which is plenty for me to see them while driving.



Of course nothing ever goes according to the design engineer's plan, even when he's the one fabricating it. But this is my starting point. I started the frame last night, and maybe I'll get it finished by next week… Probably not, maybe more like 2-3 weeks.

Another goal here is to make it adaptable in the future, but not quite as easily as the commercial consoles. So the entire front face will be removable in case I decide to change out radio types in the future. The Cobra 18 has the same (almost) dimensions as a Uniden 996XT, which I swap out in the future. If not, I could always mount the remote head below the VX-2200...

Last edited by Sharkbait08; 11-24-2013 at 10:43 AM..
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:11 AM
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Default Antennas...

So I've kinda put the cart before the horse here. I already installed some antenna mounts for the CB and a scanner on the Sierra. Being brand new, and trying to keep the wife's concerns about "antenna farms" in mind, I decided to start with some stake pocket CB mounts and a fender NMO…

In order to install the Firestick (yes, I know I use a lot of their stuff) Stake Pocket mount, I first had to cut the brand new, as yet untouched plastic bedrail caps. It was a lot easier than I was expecting, thanks to GM's molded recesses…







Next I preassembled the mounts to make sure I knew how everything was going to fit.



The mount uses two plates of steel to sandwich onto the stake pocket sheet metal. There's a gasket, which is extra for me since I have the plastic rail cap. The bottom plate gets you your ground connection when it clamps down.



The cables are 18ft ring terminal setups with mini-UHF connectors installed. I routed them through the side of the truck bed using existing holes and the pre-installed bulkhead penetrations on the back of the cab. This allowed the cables to come out behind the rear 60/40 bench seat.



It's a little hard to see, since I was laying on my back looking up. But this is the point between the cab and the bed, and the bulkhead penetration is the black plastic rectangle near the cable end…

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Old 11-24-2013, 10:24 AM
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Default Yup, more photos… CB Antenna Con't

This is going to be a long thread before I even get to installing a radio! Before I continue, quick shout out to KG4LEO and his 2011 Tahoe PPV Install thread… I don't have nearly as much gear to install, but I want it to wind up looking as good as his by the time I'm done. If you haven't taken the time to read through it, you should! I shamelessly stole a lot of ideas, and incorporated them into this and future plans...

Anyways, back to the mounts. After removing the front 2 screws, the mount can slip into the stake pocket:



The bottom plate is slightly longer on one side, this is your "clamp".



Tighten down the screws, and you're good to go. If you don't get lucky like I did with the ground, you either need to rough up the paint where the bottom plate contacts (hard to reach) or run a ground wire. Firestick puts a hole in the top plate for a grounding strap.



Installed with the fold-over adapter. I chose to leave the slight gap in the pocket to make sure I had good contact on the front with the clamp. I did the same thing on both sides of the bed to make them match.



And now for the antenna. Firestick Firefly 4ft CB antenna (predictable much?). Shots of it both raised and lowered. When it's down, you can't see it out the back window, and the wife is much happier I don't have it sticking way up in the air…



When it's folded over it seems to do just fine driving down the road. It's heavy enough to not bounce around all that much (if at all).



I also tried a 2ft Firestick FSII, but the SWR was HORRIBLE. I expected this because of it's proximity to the cab, but hey, I had to try it for myself…



So far reports from truckers are pretty good. Esp considering my CB is wired up to a temp 12V plug and the cable isn't fully routed yet. SWR is 1.0 on 19, and about 1.3 on 1 and 40. And the fold-over mount is very easy to just pop up and down when I come or go.

The other side is reserved for either a scanner antenna or MURS antenna depending on which way I go with radios in the future...
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:41 AM
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Default NMO Antenna

Long term I want to put 2-3 NMO mounts on the roof of the cab. But until I get up the courage to pull the headliner, or find a shop to do it for me, I'll stick to bolt-on mounts. This time I chose a standard fender NMO bracket and a Maxrad mount/cable combo.

No one lists any mounts as compatible with the 2014 Sierra/Silverado, so I just took the risk and it paid off.





The mount uses the fender bolt by the hood hinge. Probably one of the easiest mount installs I've ever done. The only catch was I had to install the NMO mount first, otherwise there wasn't enough clearance to get it in place around the fender. You can see just how close it was below:



And here it is with the hood closed up…



Currently I have a Laird dual VHF/UHF A150/450C commercial band antenna installed for my scanner. This will eventually get connected to my UHF radio for GMRS once the console is finished.



The cable is routed through the fender itself into the door well. I didn't even bother looking for a fire-wall penetration since this was so easy. It's run through an existing grommet by the driver's door electrical boot that I just cross sliced with a knife for the cable. From there, the cable goes under the door trim, out under the driver seat, to the cupholder on the center armrest.









Reception so far is pretty good for GMRS, Marine VHF, and MURS (when I'm close to a Walmart anyways). LA went P25 for gov't, so I need to upgrade before I can go back to listening to Emergency Responders. For now, it's just my handheld Radio Shack Pro in a cupholder…



At least the '14 Sierra has dual ignition-switched USB ports inside the armrest cubby. Allows me to run the scanner without worrying about batteries. I could run the audio through the AUX port next to the USB, but for now, I just let it run through the handheld speaker while I'm listening to XM. Maybe if there was more traffic on it I'd use the AUX port...

And that's about it for now. I'll try to get some more done on the actual console and post more pics soon...
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Old 11-24-2013, 1:11 PM
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Looking good so far! Your attention to detail - both in your install and in your posts - is great. Keep it up and keep us posted!
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Old 11-24-2013, 6:03 PM
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Sharp looking truck.

How do you like the new GM?
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Old 11-24-2013, 6:39 PM
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Nicely done! The new Sierras are great-looking trucks!
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Old 11-24-2013, 6:46 PM
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Default Little bit more progress...

Well now that I've got an idea of what I want to do, I found it hard not to keep working on this today even though I was supposed to be doing yard work. Eh, the leaves will fall again tonight anyways, so who'll even notice?

Using my dimensions, I marked up a piece of sheet metal with all the cut lines and drill holes. I'm doing all this work by hand, so I can't just swap in/out new faceplates like on a Jotto or Havis. Any faceplates I make in the future will have to be matched up to the existing holes in my frame.

But planning for that, I drilled the square tubing all the way through to enable me to mark future plates. Such is the cost of making it myself in my garage without automated machinery…

Then I quickly cut up two pieces of square tubing to make the "arches" of my console frame. Eventually there will be a bottom bar on each, plus cross braces in 3-4 spots. But that'll have to wait for another day.

Somehow my angles worked out conveniently at 90 and 135 (45 past 90). I didn't plan it that way, but it's nice when things just work out to be easy. I notched the tubing, bent it to the angle using various squares and guides, then tacked them in position using my 110V MIG welder. Once I was sure they matched, I beefed up the tacks. It's very hard to weld this small tubing without blowing it out (melting it away), so I planned for it to be a mounting surface and general shape holder rather than a "strong" structure. The 22 gauge sheet metal should provide some extra rigidity once it's attached to the frame.

I didn't take pictures of drilling the faceplate mounting holes on the drill press or tapping those holes. Basically I just positioned the faceplate flush with one of the arches, clamped it in place, then drilled 2 of the holes. Then I tapped (one "p" or two?) them with an 8-32 tap and secured them with some 1/2" #8-32 SS machine screws. This way I didn't have to fumble with the clamp every time I repositioned the two pieces for the other holes.

The screws are spaced out every 1". I was debating every 1/2" to make the frame more flexible in the future, but for now I decided that was just overkill, even by my standards. I only got one side done for now. The other side will have to wait until I cut and attach the cross braces.

I did go ahead and drill the radio mounting holes in the cutout areas. Those areas will just get cut along the sharpie lines and bent 90 degrees to form a mounting bracket. I also drilled a center hole to let me get a saw blade in to actually make the cuts.

Sorry for the crummy picture quality, my camera just didn't want to cooperate tonight. But at least you get the idea. And of course, since it is now the basic shape of the design, I had to go out to the truck and see how it fit!

Again, crummy pics, I'll have to get better ones when it's not so dark. But it fits right where I want it, still lets me use all the dash features (including the mini-govebox right above it and the 110V inverter on the passenger side) and I can easily read the radio faces.

That's another reason I didn't make this for 3 radios. I was trying to save the use of that glovebox. The nice thing about working in steel is if I decide I do need another radio/scanner on top of the console, I can just weld on some more square tubing, add some more sheet metal, and be good to go.

I still need to trim about 3/8" off the bottom of the frame which will allow it to slide back just a little bit more. But even where it is now you could fit a 3rd person on the bench seat without too much trouble.

If I can figure out a bracket and quick-disconnects for the power wires and coax, I might even be able to make it so the entire console could be pulled out as a self-contained unit, which will make the wife happy. Not to mention a nice security feature if I'm headed into the city (or get relocated to one). Heck, find a desktop power supply and I could even use the console as a "mobile" shack when I take it out! Not a bad idea…

Plus if I need to trouble shoot or replace anything I can do all the wiring and work on a workbench instead of trying to be a contortionist under my dash...
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Old 11-24-2013, 7:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rjk_165 View Post
Sharp looking truck.

How do you like the new GM?
Thanks!

I'm really enjoying it. I almost feel like these new trucks can hardly be called trucks anymore… ALMOST.

My JK, which had no carpet and was Line-X'd inside the tub, was way too noisy on the highway. My Cobra 75 had to be turned up to full volume to hear anything. The stereo was stuck at 75% max all the time. This thing has no road noise, and is even quieter than my wife's Pontiac G5 at 70 mph. That GM commercial about merging onto "US cover your ears" isn't an exaggeration. (it actually just came on during the NY vs Dal game…)

The main reason I bought it was the new variable displacement engines. It's a 5.3L V8 that will cut out 4 cylinders when you aren't using the extra HP or torque. That's part of how my MPG went up so much from the JK. And before anyone asks, there's no perceivable delay in the switch. If you're in V4 mode and stomp on it, you had better hold on tight...

My dad has a '05 2500, so I'm already used to driving vehicles this size. What I wasn't ready for was how much smoother they feel now. I test drove a '13 Tundra too, and it was the same way. Then when I hooked up my boat, I couldn't even tell it was there. The JK would struggle with it on a level road (ok, my boat is 4,000 lbs, the JK was rated for 3,500). This thing will still switch to V4 while towing and have plenty of acceleration left in reserve...

Considering I'm now commuting 45 min each way to and from my new job location everyday, the extra quiet, more comfortable seats, better on-road suspension, and the improved MPG are all huge benefits.

I'm not sure how I lasted as long as I did in the JK without going crazy… oh, wait, I spent most of that time deployed various places, so I was only driving it for a month or two at a time…

Long winded story cut short, this thing is great!
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Old 11-24-2013, 7:05 PM
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Looking good so far! Your attention to detail - both in your install and in your posts - is great. Keep it up and keep us posted!
Thanks! It comes from being an engineer for the military… that, and maybe just a smidge of OCD…

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Nicely done! The new Sierras are great-looking trucks!
I agree. The new front end on the Sierra sets it apart more from the Silverado. It's almost like a hybrid between the Silverado and the F-150… But don't tell my wife that. She's a Chevy girl, and would throw me out if I said I liked how a Ford looked…
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:10 PM
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It's a very nice install thus far. I have to wonder, why not design your custom mount to accept Jotto or Havis faceplates? They are awesome to use.

In any case, I have to wonder why your wife factors into these decisions so much. I have 3 antennas through the trunk of my car and two radios in the passenger cabin, along with a siren control box. As long as it isn't too loud, mine is happy.

If'n I was you, I'd consider a sleeker, more low-profile wife! (I kid).
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkbait08 View Post
Thanks!

I'm really enjoying it. I almost feel like these new trucks can hardly be called trucks anymore… ALMOST.

My JK, which had no carpet and was Line-X'd inside the tub, was way too noisy on the highway. My Cobra 75 had to be turned up to full volume to hear anything. The stereo was stuck at 75% max all the time. This thing has no road noise, and is even quieter than my wife's Pontiac G5 at 70 mph. That GM commercial about merging onto "US cover your ears" isn't an exaggeration. (it actually just came on during the NY vs Dal game…)

The main reason I bought it was the new variable displacement engines. It's a 5.3L V8 that will cut out 4 cylinders when you aren't using the extra HP or torque. That's part of how my MPG went up so much from the JK. And before anyone asks, there's no perceivable delay in the switch. If you're in V4 mode and stomp on it, you had better hold on tight...

My dad has a '05 2500, so I'm already used to driving vehicles this size. What I wasn't ready for was how much smoother they feel now. I test drove a '13 Tundra too, and it was the same way. Then when I hooked up my boat, I couldn't even tell it was there. The JK would struggle with it on a level road (ok, my boat is 4,000 lbs, the JK was rated for 3,500). This thing will still switch to V4 while towing and have plenty of acceleration left in reserve...

Considering I'm now commuting 45 min each way to and from my new job location everyday, the extra quiet, more comfortable seats, better on-road suspension, and the improved MPG are all huge benefits.

I'm not sure how I lasted as long as I did in the JK without going crazy… oh, wait, I spent most of that time deployed various places, so I was only driving it for a month or two at a time…

Long winded story cut short, this thing is great!
Glad to hear! I almost took a trip to an auto show an hour or so away from me to see the new GM stuff, but some work got in the way and it didn't happen. I've heard they're good, but I don't know enough about them yet to really formulate any opinions.

The variable displacement engine concept is a very interesting one. I'm sure it's REALLY efficient. Lots of people have told me that they love it, I think Ford has an engine with the same sort of setup.

Same here, I'm used to that same generation, the 05ish generation. Good to know that the towing capacity is good, especially with a half ton. That's amazing that it kicks back down to V4 while towing. Wild stuff. Well, I wish you luck with it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drachen_Fire View Post
It's a very nice install thus far. I have to wonder, why not design your custom mount to accept Jotto or Havis faceplates? They are awesome to use.

In any case, I have to wonder why your wife factors into these decisions so much. I have 3 antennas through the trunk of my car and two radios in the passenger cabin, along with a siren control box. As long as it isn't too loud, mine is happy.

If'n I was you, I'd consider a sleeker, more low-profile wife! (I kid).
I agree, that would have probably been a bit easier, but hey, to each his own! Whatever works!
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drachen_Fire View Post
It's a very nice install thus far. I have to wonder, why not design your custom mount to accept Jotto or Havis faceplates? They are awesome to use.

In any case, I have to wonder why your wife factors into these decisions so much.
The main reason not to use the commercial model is dimensions. My console will be 1/2" narrower, allowing access to the 12v plug and 110 outlet and allowing it to slip up under the dash around other obstacles. The height will also be 1/2" shorter per radio than theirs, which lets me squeeze under that mini glovebox...

The other side is I'm doing all the fab work by hand. In order to drill all the holes precise enough for their templates, you would need a CNC or other automated type machine. Trust me, I've tried before to match commerically manufacturered templates on stuff for my Jeeps (not the radios though). Plus this way it truly is a custom console, exactly the way I want it...

As for the wife, it doesn't have to factor at all. I'm already ignoring her wishes just by having radios installed. But if I can make a decison on the install that keeps her happier, then I'll be much happier! Besides, the fold over mounts don't hurt my SWR, and they are convenient, so considering her opinions doesn't hurt in this case.

I also got tired of the lack of space in the front of the jeep, so I'm not overly keen on eating up all my real estate when I can engineer my own version of a solution that works for the amount of gear I currently have and use. If I ever get back into the first responder business (former VFD) then all bets are off and I'll prob have a full blown console anyways...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjk_165 View Post
Glad to hear! I almost took a trip to an auto show an hour or so away from me to see the new GM stuff, but some work got in the way and it didn't happen. I've heard they're good, but I don't know enough about them yet to really formulate any opinions.

The variable displacement engine concept is a very interesting one. I'm sure it's REALLY efficient. Lots of people have told me that they love it, I think Ford has an engine with the same sort of setup.

Same here, I'm used to that same generation, the 05ish generation. Good to know that the towing capacity is good, especially with a half ton. That's amazing that it kicks back down to V4 while towing. Wild stuff. Well, I wish you luck with it!
Yeah, we went out "looking" at trucks and I wound up driving it home. You might be better off you didn't get to go...

Most of the trucks on the market now (including Ford's ecoboost) are VVT - Variable Valve Timing. This allows the ECU to adjust the individual timing of the intake valves, exhaust valves, ignition spark and fuel settings to optimize the efficiency of the engine for the situation (HP/torque requirements, quality of fuel, air temp/density, etc).

Variable displacement actually stops fuel from flowing to the cylinders completely, reducing consumption even farther. It's been around for a while on some cars (Chrysler 300 is one that I know has had it for several years, and Buick toyed with it in the mid-80's or early 90's I think) but this is the first I heard of it in a truck... Time will tell how well it will hold up to my abusing it.
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Old 11-25-2013, 7:51 AM
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Very nice build and the truck looks sharp!
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:32 PM
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Default 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Custom Console

Can't wait to see it when it's all complete. Which I had metals skills.
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Old 11-26-2013, 7:54 AM
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I ment to say "I wish" I had skills to work with metals. Spell check has let me down once again, LOL.
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Old 11-26-2013, 8:49 AM
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I ran into similar issues with my 2011 Silverado. I have built a console out of MDO but the biggest problem is the viewing angle. In order to clearly see the radio display, I needed to stand the radios at about 70 degrees. The commercial consoles are either too big or they leave the radios too flat and I cannot read them at a glance.
I just picked up a free console so I don't mind hitting it with the plasma cutter and shortening it up to allow access to the latch for the lower center seat storage.
The other issue is hearing the radios at highway speeds with the windows open. I tried fitting speakers between the top of seat and the headrest but wasn't happy with it. Next effort will be to look at putting a wedge shaped mount between the visor and headliner. That way the sound will be directed right at me at head level.
Good luck with your project

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Old 11-29-2013, 5:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharkbait08 View Post

Most of the trucks on the market now (including Ford's ecoboost) are VVT - Variable Valve Timing. This allows the ECU to adjust the individual timing of the intake valves, exhaust valves, ignition spark and fuel settings to optimize the efficiency of the engine for the situation (HP/torque requirements, quality of fuel, air temp/density, etc).

Variable displacement actually stops fuel from flowing to the cylinders completely, reducing consumption even farther. It's been around for a while on some cars (Chrysler 300 is one that I know has had it for several years, and Buick toyed with it in the mid-80's or early 90's I think) but this is the first I heard of it in a truck... Time will tell how well it will hold up to my abusing it.
The basic concept of the Variable Displacement engine actually goes back to the early 1970's Cadillac 8/6/4 engines, If I remember correctly. Unfortunately, for it to work efficiently, it truly requires the use of electronic fuel injection, which didn't exist back then. I also believe that it was an option in the Dodge Ram series of trucks some years back.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharkbait08 View Post
Yeah, we went out "looking" at trucks and I wound up driving it home. You might be better off you didn't get to go...

Most of the trucks on the market now (including Ford's ecoboost) are VVT - Variable Valve Timing. This allows the ECU to adjust the individual timing of the intake valves, exhaust valves, ignition spark and fuel settings to optimize the efficiency of the engine for the situation (HP/torque requirements, quality of fuel, air temp/density, etc).

Variable displacement actually stops fuel from flowing to the cylinders completely, reducing consumption even farther. It's been around for a while on some cars (Chrysler 300 is one that I know has had it for several years, and Buick toyed with it in the mid-80's or early 90's I think) but this is the first I heard of it in a truck... Time will tell how well it will hold up to my abusing it.
That's always the case, isn't it??? Hahaha...

Yeah, it's an interesting concept. I haven't really studied it much to be honest, but I guess time will tell how it performs.
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:38 PM
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Thanks for the kudos SB, I thought the Tahoe thread was a dead issue. Your metal fabrication for the console is impressive, I have a project for you! How 'bout we trade, I'll pull your headliner and drill holes in your roof if you will build me a small bracket to mount a short loaded whip under the rear faring for an CB antenna. (Yep I'm going to try it again.)

Good job!!

Keith KG4LEO
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