Fumoto F103N Oil Valve

I’m not sure anyone really enjoys changing oil. I sure didn’t when I was getting paid for it, and I certainly don’t like doing it when I have to do it on my own time. Yet I’d rather partake the task myself than pay someone to do it with questionable results. So, how could you make it less painful?

Enter an oil pan valve. Instead of undoing a bolt each time you wanted to change the oil, all you did was flip a lever. Genius! However, that’s not to ay it doesn’t come with one severe drawback if you aren’t very careful.

My first oil change under by ownership came around 10k miles. I pulled the oil drain plug, and it made a massive mess. It came out as such a speed and volume that it overwhelmed my drain pan. My pan holds about six quarts at the absolute most, and the Tacoma takes 6.1. Thankfully this disaster did not have to happen again with the install of the Fumoto.

Now, for the danger. This valve hangs down a good bit more than the drain plug, so this could be a potential failure point if you go offroading. It did not hang down below the crossmember, but it was close. And a rock could have easily sheared it off, which is why I absolutely did not venture offroad until my skid plates were installed. Now it is safely tucked away. I wish it was safe to install on my other vehicle, but it is very low to the ground and no protection is there.

Fast forward to 15k miles, and the next oil change. I hooked up a 3/8″ hose, inserted the other end in the oil catch container, and flipped the valve open. It was slow, but I might have had a single, solitary drop escape when I took the hose off when it was done. By comparison, taking the filter off was so much messier. I will have to address this part for the next oil change.

Now, the F103N has a pretty large nipple, and you could go smaller certainly. For my purposes, and the skid plate protection I have, this one works well for me.

SOS Skids and Sliders Review

The Product

  • Skid trio (IFS, mid, transfer case)
  • Sliders with kickout

The Why

  • Price during the sale for the skids wasn’t much more than buying the TRD Pro skid from Toyota. I also decided to grab sliders at the same time because of the price. Pricing was near the bottom of most everywhere I looked, and I could avoid a shipping charge by picking them up. I am three hours or so from his shop, but thankfully I was able to arrange for someone to pick them up for me the day they got done. These were purchased with my own money at a publically available discount.

The TL;DR

I’ll likely be picking up a gas tank skid from Eddy as well, I am happy with the quality and the price paid.

The good

I was impressed by the quality and the speed. Even during a big sale, these were ready for pickup in about five weeks. The skids are 3/16″ steel and the 15° sliders are DOM and square tube. Prep was fairly minimal, some IPA and occasional green scotch brite pad. Then primer and bedliner.

The fit quality of the skids was spot on. I thought that maybe a couple of holes were slightly off, but after backing off a couple of bolts I was able to get them all in. I installed the IFS and mid skids, and installed the TC skid a few weeks later (why to come).The alignment of the drain plug hole and the filter door was just fine, did my first oil change with them on (and a Fumoto valve) and it was easy.

The bending form issues of the past are not present here. I did not see any major issues with welds, but I have not welded in over twenty years and wasn’t proficient then. The hardware here is stout.

The fitment of the sliders was pretty on point as well. The intended holes matched up really well. You can see where the plastic welds (?) are perfect for the intended holes in the slider plates. The hardware included appears beefy and there was enough.

The okay

The jigs for the TC skid and the sliders may be based on older frames. For my 2019 Sport, I did not have the required holes to mount the rear of the TC skid. I had to drill holes in the frame, which took me a couple of weeks to come to grips with. I only bolted up the rear two mounting points, I didn’t see a point to drilling for all four at this point and time. I can always do so later.

There is also not an abundance of mounting points for both sliders, the drivers side much more so than the passenger. I think I have four main bolts through the sliders on the drivers, five or six through the passenger. The driver side also has some minor bolts for the covered control module and a small bracket. The page on SOS’s site does mention that there could be less holes, but I’m honestly not sure what a big drop will do. Wasn’t planning to test that out regardless.

If it were me personally, I would go with button head (think carriage bolt with a hex insert) for the filter door just so that there is less to potentially get hung up on and shear. However, I discovered today that I’m going to have to order it instead of picking up because they are a metric size outside of what Lowe’s carries.

The needs improvement

Communication wasn’t fantastic through email (either direct or through his site). I had a question about the product before I ordered and never got a response. My question about a timeframe I guess was technically answered three days later when I got the email they were done. I was able to get a response the same day on pickup day when I let him know he could release my purchase. I have gotten a bit better luck through his Instagram for a couple minor things. He is a smaller shop, and I do give a bit of leeway for that. However, this was a complaint from the old days that still needs some improvement.

The gallery

Current Mods

(Hyperlinks are reviews)

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Manual DCSB

Armor

Audio/Video

    • Joying 8.1 Android head unit w/ wireless CarPlay/Android Auto

Drivetrain

    • Toyota TRD T4R “SEMA” bronze wheels 17×7 +4
    • Toyo Open Country A/T III 265/70/17
    • Fumoto valve and OEM aluminum filter housing

Electrical

    • Toyota remote tailgate lock

Exterior

    • Taco Garage Pro grille
    • TRD Pro hood graphic (matte black)
    • Tyger roll-up tonneau
    • V6 badge delete 
    • MESO Customs Gasshole
    • Toyota bed mat
    • Matte black tailgate inserts
    • Chin spoiler delete
    • Pinnacle 25 front/50 rear tint
    • Dipped scoop

Interior

    • EDBETOS glove box and console organizers
    • TRD Pro shift knob
    • Joying Android head unit w/ wireless CarPlay
    • Aukey Dash Cam w/ SimpleUSB connector

Lighting

    • Phillips H9 headlight bulbs
    • MESO Customs Total Tails S1
    • MESO Customs Ultimate Turn Signals
    • Lamin-X fog overlay (yellow)
    • MESO Customs Ultimate dome v2
    • MESO Customs Ultimate map
    • Heise SL2014 bumper light bar (in progress)

Recovery/Misc

    • Smittybilt X20 10k winch w/ synthetic line (in progress)
    • X-Bull traction boards (2)
    • Tow and snatch straps
    • ARB puncture repair kit
    • Audew jump pack
    • First aid, Lifestraw
    • MESO Customs cement flip fob

Motivation and Inspiration

So why did I buy a truck?

Well, for the last few years, I had done a good bit of theater set building. Here are some examples.

Well, it was pretty hard to get the materials back to my house to build this stuff, and I absolutely needed help to get this stuff to where the play was being staged. That might have been via a trailer when I had the CRV, and that might have been by begging after it died. My regular hobby woodworking fared a bit better, as I didn’t have to transport anything after it was done.

So having a bed was pretty crucial to these efforts, which is why I didn’t go with an SUV. I did consider a 4Runner, which I’ve liked for some time as well. The need for the bed and the lack of a manual transmission made the Tacoma choice a smart one.

The cruel joke about the timing of everything meant that I only got to use the truck once for this purpose. Not long after, my kids decided they at least wanted to take some time off from the theater. And, of course, COVID. So I got to use it to haul things right away, and not since. I’m hoping that I’ll get some woodworking in at some point in 2021, but it seems like adventure is more in the cards than making things.

So, what inspired me to buy this truck and the vision for it? Well, back nearly five (!) years ago, the 2017 TRD Pro model was unveiled with some slick press shots. Here is one of them.

Something just absolutely struck me about this truck and stayed with me for the years to follow. It was in the back of my mind each time I thought I might want to do something else. I didn’t think a Pro would be affordable to me, and in the end I went with a Sport model because of that. No matter, while these aren’t quite as customizable as a Jeep, you can pretty much make them what you wish.

The color was something I hadn’t decided on until the day I bought mine. I wanted dark green, but it was discontinued back for 2016 (Army Green was only available on the Pro when I purchased). So I had to figure out what a second choice would be. I did like the white, but without mods it does look a bit like a service truck. The orange was pretty cool, but I think Barcelona Red was probably my goal.

So on the day in question, the same dealer had the Inferno and the Cavalry Blue. 2016 and 2019, respectively. I actually liked the Inferno a bit better in the pictures, but the Cavalry was newer, less miles, and actually cheaper to insure due to the Toyota Safety Sense. But what sold me on the color and make that drive happen was this picture.

https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/cavalry-blue-thread-post-them-up.528969/page-49#post-22096058

It really went a long way to show how good that color could look, and the entire thread did a good job of highlighting how different the color looks depending on the light. But I love that picture, and has continued to inspire me. It is an Off Road model, and mine is a Sport, so I’m both not able to and not trying to copy it.

Next up I talk about goals.

In the beginning

I had wanted a truck for a few years by the time 2020 came around.

I bought what I would consider my first “adult” vehicle in 2009, and sold it in April 2017. I did this before my 2004 Acura TL lost too much value, so that I could pay some credit card debt down. Even at this time, I had my eyes on the future to buy a truck. In the meantime, I drove our spare vehicle that we had held onto. It was a mule, something I used to build my new workshop and ferry building materials in and behind. It almost hit 200k miles when it suffered a major oil leak in March 2019. Once again I was lucky and had a vehicle I could access to get me by.

Clearly, though, I needed to seriously look for my own next vehicle. The money didn’t get put into fixing the one car due to this. Since I knew I wanted (and really needed, for the woodworking) a truck, I did my research. Full size or mid size? What manufacturer? Could I find one with a stick shift?

Well, by this point I had started to miss my stick shift. The Acura had one, my last in a long line of vehicles almost completely uninterrupted since I started driving. A Beetle. A Probe. A Jeep. An Eclipse. An Accord. The TL. All stick shifts. The only exception was my El Camino.

My only truck. The Jeep was my only 4×4. Now I wanted to combine the two and also make it a stick. That was really the starting point, because so few manufacturers make trucks with manual transmissions anymore. Full size was basically completely out, unless I wanted to reach back a decade or so. Even though I really like the Tundra and debated it a bit because of the leg room in the back.

Mid size trucks, then. The new Ranger is only available in an automatic. Unfortunate. Same for the Colorado/Canyon twins, even though they look really good. Basically I was down to the choice of a Tacoma or a Frontier. Since the Frontier is an absolute ancient design, I started looking at Tacomas. 2012-2015 models, to be specific. Why? Because it had one of the best colors I had ever seen – Spruce Mica. A deep green that reminded me of my Eclipse, I decided that I would find one of those in my price range.

I looked. And I looked. And I looked. These trucks in that color and transmission choice were not made in massive quantities. The ones I found were also not very easy to travel to. So I bade my time and kept looking. I actually preferred the interior and some of the exterior of the 2016+ models, but these were out of my price range.

On January 4 2020, I happened to see two Tacomas near me that were slightly out of my price range. They were in my old city, about 2.5 hours away. One was a 2016 model in Orange, the other a 2019 model in Cavalry Blue. I was stunned at the color on the blue. Unfortunately they were both Sport models. I had wanted to get an Off Road for the rear locker, but the Sport was appealing as well. Scoop hood, body color flares and bumpers. The blue one also only had 6600 miles on it. It was tempting. I impulsively sent an email to the dealer, knowing that the price they had was still a bit out of reach. Then I went to the gym.

When I got home, I had thought about it more and looked at other vehicles in this color. It was amazing what a couple of mods could do to it. I was absolutely smitten. My wife knew how long I had waited to pull the trigger on a truck, and weirdly enough this was a rare instance of her having the weekend off. We threw the kids in the van and headed east – it wasn’t entirely clear if we could make the dealer before they closed.

I hadn’t driven a stick in almost three years, but it felt like home. The truck was in pretty good condition, a few scratches on the dash and etc, but it was so nice. Aside from our leased Jetta, it was the newest vehicle I’d had ever driven. A few hours later after a nice meal in our old city, I was headed back west in my new truck.

The Other Hobbies – Video Games

To know me is to understand I have quite a few different hobbies that I ping-pong between on any given day. Presumably, you’re here because of woodworking. Today I talk about video games – my general history and recent events.

Being a child of the 80s of decent means, my family bought a PC for me to learn on and play the occasional game. In my case there were a couple. I assume the first one was a Texas Instruments TI99/4a because it was released first. I learned BASIC, I played games like Parsec and ZeroZap. Then there was the Apple IIc where I played Lemonade Stand and countless others. I think the first dedicated console we had was an Atari 2600, which had it’s charms.

The first real foray into video games for me though was the Game Boy. I had one near launch and played so many games that I can’t remember them all. Occasionally I’ll get a faint memory and try to pull on it to see what title it was. I had a ton of accessories for it too. I took it everywhere, and while the handheld and the accessories have been lost to time, we did hold onto most of the games and I took those back last year into my collection.

The real star of the show, though, was when we bought a Sega Saturn. This would be the hook that has kept me around. Need for Speed was a highlight, as was Daytona USA and World Series Baseball ’98 (it had Atlanta Braves star Chipper Jones on the cover). The game of the console for me though was Road Rash.

Road Rash was such a formative game, and in all likelihood my most played while the Saturn was our only console. Moreover, it introduced me to my favorite band of all time, Soundgarden. I had just really found my niche in music only two years earlier in 1994, catching on with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, etc. STP was a drug for me, but it wouldn’t hold a candle to what I eventually found in Soundgarden. Just hearing the intro to Rusty Cage takes me back to August 1996.

So that month would prove to be one to shape my life for over thirty years now. I still love video games, I still love hard hitting music, and I feel the need to break out the Saturn every now and again to scratch an itch. It isn’t the original one we bought because it broke, but I’ve had this replacement one now for sixteen years. Around this time I got a Playstation and actually got to keep it in my room, soon after upgrading to the PS2 with it’s DVD player. The Saturn largely fell to the wayside after this due to the various failings of SEGA and the lack of content.

From there it went. In 2004 I bought my Xbox, which introduced me to Microsoft’s vision of what a console was. Upgrades to Playstation and Xbox came. I also started buying the consoles I missed out on originally. The SNES, N64, the Gamecube. I had Master System games I couldn’t even play. I got into the Dreamcast. Shortly after the kids arrived, and I sold off the Nintendo consoles when I bought the Wii. I’ve purchased every single console since.

Well, in 2019 I decided I would buy back those classic consoles I previously sold and more. I kept the Dreamcast and Saturn, plus the old 2600, but sold everything else what wasn’t current. So I spent quite a bit of time on eBay and in local stores buying pretty much what I could find and afford easily.

Now, I have pretty much every mainstream console made since 1977. I also have several of the “Classic” consoles, updated flash versions of the older consoles with built-in games made by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, and now Neo Geo and NEC. I also have an Nvidia Shield TV and a couple of Rasberry Pis to allow emulation whenever I want. And of course the handhelds, including several DS/3DS, a couple of PSPs, a Vita, and an emulation handheld in the style of that original Game Boy that houses a Raspberry Pi.

What I don’t always have though, is time to play them or display them properly. A nice cabinet would go a long way…

 

The trade

I use this site to post about things not directly related to woodworking or my shop. That has been tech and games, but sports is a huge part of my personality as well. Those two meet today.

I’ve been playing a lot of MLB the Show 15, and just finished up my third season on their Road to the Show career mode. I love the Braves, and as such that is the only team I ever create a player for. Well, the Braves have gone in tank mode in real life, so it’s been a hard season. For the last two virtual seasons, so have the digital counterparts. 22 and 29 games back after making the playoffs my rookie year (I advanced from AA to MLB in a couple months). Even as I was putting up ridiculous numbers (easy settings, I love offense), I just got traded after the 2017 season. To the Angels. My usual reaction in past years would be to start another profile, but this time was different. Once the shock wore off, I decided it would be a nice change of pace. See different stadiums, set different milestones (I’m a nerd and keep track of stats and stadiums I’ve homered in. I don’t know why). I’m only on a one year contract, so I’ll play the 2018 season and decide what I want to do. For the first time, I may choose not to play for the Braves. I may play Harvey Wallbanger up in Boston. I know there are teams I would choose not to go to. I do know I want to try and hit a home run in every single stadium. Because that sort of thing is fun. All the NL parks are taken care of, but most of the AL needs to be conquered outside the East. I’m a bit neutral on the Angels. Not a team I actively hate, so that’s nice. At least it wasn’t an NL rival or the Yankees.

To sorta bring it back to real life, I’m not wavering on my support of the Braves. It may be a tough season, but this is my team. This year is lost, so I hope a long-suffering team like the Cubs finally break through. Boston in 2004 was a fantastic story, even though they’ve since become insufferable. I just don’t want one of the big rivals to succeed. Sue me.

I’m looking forward to the 2017 edition of the game, since it will include our new stadium. Unless the 2016 edition adds something amazing, I may just ride out this version and see if I can make the Hall of Fame.

New Nintendo 3DS XL

You never want something until you do. Seems like a stupid statement, but if you think on it, it does hold some truth. I was pretty happy with my 3DS XL, even though I didn’t play it that much. It was a Mario & Luigi (Year of Luigi) special edition model, and I put it in one of the best cases I’ve ever seen – a Rocketfish Slim Case. There was no reason for me to upgrade, until I started reading about the improvements. With a trade-in deal at Gamestop, I started to waiver.

While I was on vacation, I made my decision – to upgrade. With the promotion and credit I had, it was only around $50. I must say, it was a fantastic decision. The 3D is massively improved. I’d always play with it off on the old model, because it would go in and out of focus. With the new model, it incorporates eye-tracking technology, so you get a lot less of the out of focus picture. It has NFC, for Amiibo use (I still don’t get the lure, however), improved button placement for the start, select and home (although the power button relocation is a negative). It adds an additional nub and two shoulder buttons. Mine came with an IPS top screen, which is improved over the TN panels. The four action buttons are now slightly colored, which gives it a nice touch.

It does have slightly different dimensions, for some reason. So those clip-on cases you use are now obsolete. It’s close enough to the old size that pouches should still work, however. There’s also a massively improved regular 3DS model, which America is not getting, due to the fact that almost everyone bought the XL size. Which means we don’t get the removable faceplates either, nor the completely colored action buttons. Shame. I blame Nintendo for pricing them so similarly the first time out. For some reason as well, we aren’t officially getting the slick new charging dock. Amazon however is selling the imported Japan version, which works as you would think it should. I like that it holds the handheld upright, as opposed to the old model of being flat.

The stylus location has been moved, to accommodate the new microSD (yes, that’s accurate) location, under the back plate. You will need a #0 screwdriver to access it, but if you put a larger card in that isn’t too big of a deal. The charging port has moved to the middle rear, and the card slot is now up front. I can’t say moving it there makes it easier to remove cards, rather the opposite. The Wifi switch is gone, having been replaced by software control. The new model is fully backwards compatible with all 3DS and 2DS titles, however there might be some trickling of titles down the line that are only usable for the new model. We’ll see how that fragmentation plays out in public opinion.

I’ll echo what other reviewers said when this came out: if you don’t own a 3DS, this is the one to get. If you already have a 3DS, particularly the XL model, it’s not that big of an update. Do it if you can snag a deal like I did, though.

Controllers through the years

I didn’t really get into gaming until the Saturn came along. However, I was pretty familiar with almost every console controller before that and since. The joysticks of the Atari, the cramp-inducing pad of the NES (although if you were young, it was a much better fit). The much more ergonomic pad of the Genesis. The Saturn controller was pretty good, but it felt so lightweight.

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite controllers through the years. I’ll be sourcing pictures off the internet, so if you’ve followed your image here and don’t want me using it, please just say so and accept my apologies. I will have sources for it, but I won’t be hotlinking and using your bandwidth.

Playstation. Sony’s entrance in 1995 took everyone by real surprise how successful it was, most of all Sega. The controller hasn’t changed much over the years, being more of an evolution (Xbox changed a bit more to me). There’s a really cool gif of both at Mashable. What really changed the game for me was when Logitech came out with their cordless PS2 controller. Cordless wasn’t a thing yet, and the design was so much more comfortable than what Sony had done, and would do for years. It was comfortable, it was cool (blue!), it was cordless. It was a winner, and I still have one.

The Xbox version was almost as cool, except it had that ridiculous dongle.

This was when Logitech made great products, which in my opinion, they don’t do quite as well outside of keyboards and mice. But I digress. For the first time I could game without being physically connected to the console. There might have been some before that, but I didn’t own them. The Logitech Xbox controller was light years ahead of the Duke (never used) and the S controller, in my opinion. Best controllers of that generation, as the GameCube was awful, and the Dreamcast was decent, but not great.

When you look at the seventh gen consoles (PS3/360/Wii), only the Wii sucks. The only thing I liked about those controllers was playing the classic games on them sideways. Only way those really spoke to me. Otherwise, I had to strap on a classic controller to the Wiimote to be satisfied. The DualShock3 was pretty good, but nowhere near as comfortable as the 360 controller. To me, it looks like they took the best parts of the Logitech controller above and built theirs around it. The comfort is absolutely great. The only thing that kills it is the proprietary charge port.

Now, the eight generation is where it seems to all come together. The Xbox One took the 360 controller and had it slightly evolve. The battery is no longer a bomb sitting under a Dauntless, but is now tucked into the controller itself without making the controller any bigger. It also now uses microUSB to charge and connect, which is very nice. I don’t like how they removed the standard port for mics and headphones, but they are about to come out with a new version that brings that back. The dongle you need now isn’t too bad though, at least I can change volume with it easily. The DS4 is a bit different than the DS3 in that the handles have been elongated and there is a touch area at the front top of the controller. Handles are better, touch area isn’t thoroughly evaluated yet. The controller also lights up, for reasons I’m aware of but don’t really understand. The charge port also evolved from mini to microUSB – yes, you can use the same cord for both Xbox and PS4 now. Yay!

The Wii U is really where you see a lot of change. The Wiimotes are still used somewhat, but the big deal is the tablet-esque controller now included. Unfortunately, there’s only ever one paired to the system, but it’s pretty neat. I thought it was a real gimmick at first, but I love being able to play games (or have the kids play games) solely on the tablet while I watch something on the TV. It’s really rather well done. The controls are pretty good as well. There’s some games that also take a unique take on immersion with having to look at the smaller screen, like ZombiU. A recent addition to my personal stable is the Wii U Pro Controller. This controller is extremely similar to the 360 controller, has a super long battery life and charges via miniUSB. I can’t wait to give this a go, but I can already tell I will love it. Very ergonomic.

Soon, Valve will release it’s own controller for the PC, and it looks very intriguing. I might have to get that as well, even though I really don’t game on the PC. When I do, I use one of the 360 controllers and a dongle. Other than that, I drive. I’ve had several wheels – Wii ‘wheels’ (just controller holders, really), the Xbox 360 wheel, and a couple of Logitech wheels. The Driving Force Pro wheel was good, but I am absolutely in love with the G27 wheel. Three pedals, six speed H-gated shifter, good grip on the wheel…it’s awesome. Unfortunately not yet compatible with the PS4, and not compatible with anything Microsoft has done. I wish I could use this wheel on every single driving game. It’s fantastic when playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 on the PC. Yes, I own that game and it’s actually really good.

It’s hard writing things that aren’t woodworking or shop-related for some reason. I’m just as passionate, however the thoughts and ideas don’t seem to flow so smoothly. Hopefully I can develop a better gameplan about my topics soon.