Adjust Headlights on Suburban

How to adjust the headlights on a 1995 GMC Suburban

The headlight son my GMC Suburban were really foggy and yellow. I am sure I could have cleaned them and gotten new bulbs but I found a good deal on replacement assemblies so I just changed out the whole thing. The first time I drove i the dark however, I realized I needed to align the new headlights. It was not obvious to me how to do it.

You don’t have to remove the grill to adjust the lights but since I had it off anyway, I took a picture to make it more clear how to adjust them.

Fist of all, the two 4mm hex pins that look like adjusters, are not adjusters. They are the pins that hold the light in place. If you remove these pins you can pull the headlight to change a bulb or something. To change the whole housing like I did you have to remove the grill.

The adjusters are hidden deep behind the grill. They have a funky star head on the bolt but I was able to turn it with a 7mm socket. I had the right socket but it would not fit in the access hole. I used a long extension on my nut driver to reach the adjuster bolt.

See the pictures for more info.

Suburban headlight adjust




Safety wire

I have never given much thought to safety wire. We used it on several critical fasteners on the printing press I used to maintain, but I did not even keep the pliers when I left there.

However on our new to us Porsche Race car, the shift linkage was supposed to be safety wired and was not. This caused the shift linkage to fail on one of my starts up the hill at the Dragon Hill Climb. Not being familiar withe way the shift linkage operated, I first loaded it up and headed back how to the shop. However after consulting a mechanic friend, I decided to stop and take another look.

I set the trailer ramps on jack stands and backed the car out to make a mini work pit. With better visibility I was able to see that the set screw had backed out.


I put it back and we went back racing. But it came out again. I was much faster at putting it back but I knew I had to do something different. The folks on the FL/GA 944 owners group suggested safety wiring.

I ordered a set of pliers. I also noticed that there was already a hole in the bolt head so it was intended to be safety wired.

Here is the result:


I also decided that the cheap pliers I ordered from Amazon are nothing like the ones I used to use. I will be searching for a set of Milbar pliers in the near future.

How to disable the steering wheel lock on a race car.

How to disable the steering wheel lock on a race car.


On our Toyota Celica we went to the trouble to drill out the security screws and remove the lock cylinder from the steering column.  Then I used a cut off wheel to shorten the locking pin until it no longer engaged the shaft.

On our Sentra Race car, however I tried a tip I overheard somewhere. I drilled a 3/8 hole in the cover on the bottom of the lock pin chamber. Something fell out. A spring maybe. After that the lock pin no longer engages when the key is removed. This was much simpler and quicker than removing the cylinder from the column.

On my Rally Jeep, I simply removed the lock plate. However this required removing the steering wheel and using a lock plate removal tool. The Sentra was by far the easiest solution to disabling the steering wheel lock.

Jeep Cherokee XJ Dash Fire

Jeep Cherokee XJ Dash Fire

I was using Jennifer’s XJ to move my race car back into the shop.  Just as I had cut loose the tow strap I noticed a glow in floor board.  At first, I thought her under dash interior lights were trying to come on, but I knew they normally don’t work.

I leaned over to see what was going on and saw flaming drops of plastic falling into the floor.  I quickly drove closer to the shop door and ran inside to get some water.  I told Jennifer her Jeep was on fire and ran back out to splash water on the floor.  Since the fire was actually inside the HVAC duct, the water did not help at all.   Jennifer tried more water but that was not helping either.

I then got the fire extinguisher out of the race car and pointed the nozzle under the dash. A quick blast had it all out. However, now everything was covered in pale yellow powder.

Once the excitement was over, the cleanup and diagnosis began.  The fire was located in the HVAC duct and the blower wheel had melted.  The most likely ignition source was the resister pack.

She had been having trouble recently with blower motor fuse blowing.  I had traced the problem to the Tan colored wire and after installing a replacement control switch, I had disconnected that wire.  However, I disconnected it only at the switch.  I did not remove it from the resister pack.  At the time I did not realize that if it shorted, it could back feed from the resister and get the resister very hot.

She got a new blower motor and we used an old fan wheel we had in stock. Removing it from the old motor was quite a chore and had we known how hard it would be we would have simply bought a new wheel with motor.  To get the old blower off, we first removed the clip.  Then we used a heat gun to soften the hub and used a screwdriver to pry it apart until it would slide off the shaft.  However, this operation made the shaft too loose on the new motor.  We solved that by heating it again with the hot air gun while the spring clamp was in place.  When it cooled it was tight.

When we tried to fit the assembly into place however, we found part of the side of the duct work had melted and interfered with blower wheel.  Again, we used the heat gun to reshape the inside of the duct work so that the fan would clear.  It still rubs a little and sometime makes a squeak, but it fits and moves air. Later the entire duct will be swapped out; but that is a job for another day or two.

To seal the hole that had melted in the duct, we used metal duct tape. Working from the foot well and through the blower motor opening we made two layers of tape to seal the hole.  Once it was all in place we installed a replacement resister pack from another donor vehicle.  This time’ I disconnected the tan wore on both ends. Access to the shorted area will have to wait until we pull the dash to replace the HVAC duct.

For now, she has heat and air so the Jeep is serviceable.  However, even after much vacuuming, powder from the fire extinguisher still continues to blow out of the vents from time to time.

I also gave her a new fire extinguisher to keep in her Jeep from now on.

Trailer Brake upgrade

After hauling our Chump Car racer to Charlotte, I felt he current brakes were inadequate.  They are over 20 years old but have new magnets and drums.  Still he same old shoes however.   When they were new, they would lock the wheels easily. Now even with full voltage applied, they will not quite lock even withe trailer empty.

My first upgrade was to install a new brake controller. I got one with a “boost” feature that really helped liven up the old brakes.  However, the instructions boldly said not to use the boost feature to compensate for weak brakes.

I was about to buy new brake shoes when I discovered that for just three dollars more, I could get a whole new backing plate with a new magnet and new shoes installed.  I then decided that since I was getting new plates, I could just put them on the other axle that does not have brakes. Then I would have four brakes instead of two.  I just needed to add new drums to the order.  I also discovered that the non braked axle did not have the mounting flange installed so I had to buy that as well.  So my brake relining job quickly escalated.

When the big box arrived, I began by pulling the rear wheels up on ramps allowing the front axle to hang free.  I removed the wheels and the hubs. I then pulled the rusty U bolts and removed the axle from the trailer.  This step allowed me to carry the axle to the welding table instead of trying to bring the welder to the trailer.

I found the mounting tab fit nicely into a ridge on the spindle like it was mode for it.  I test fit he backing plate and drum to confirm that was the right place.  I had to clean some rust off the spindle surface to make it fit right and to get a good weld. I put a bead around the back on each flange. I made sure it was lined up square with the spring perch.  I used masking tape over ht bearing surface of the spindle to protect it while grinding and welding.

I then reinstalled the axle.  I bought new U bolts but they did not fit so I ended up reusing the old ones. I chased the threads with a die first.

My first glitch came when I discovered the brake plates did not come with nuts.  They were 7/16 – 20 so not something I had in stock.  I made it to Home Depot at 8:58pm to buy some.

The baking plates fit perfectly on the mountings flanges. I then greased and installed the new bearings that came with the new drums. I then discovered the new drums did not come withe a new castle nut washer or key. I reused the old nut and washer and used a new key from stock. I had trouble getting one of the new caps on so I reused one old cap.

Next came wiring.  I was not looking forward to crawling under  the trailer to run wires.  So I spent a few minutes figuring a way to put the trailer on my car lift.  It fits between the post with only an inch to spare.  The arms can’t swing under the frame because they hit the tires.  I ended up using some pipe to span the gap between arms and lifted the trailer that way.  I did not try to thread the wire inside the axle tube although there are holes for this purpose. I just taped it to the outside of the axle tube.

I ran new blue wire from the new magnets to the front of the trailer and used a sheet metal screw to secure the ground side to the trailer frame. I know the instructions say to run a separate ground wire; but the old brakes have been wired this way for over 20 years and they get plenty of current to the magnets.  I spliced into the other brake wire right at the connector.  I may add a switch here later as the front wheels often don’t touch when towing the trailer empty.

A quick test pull showed that the new brakes give me a lot of confidence when towing. It feels much safer now knowing I actually have reserve stopping power and am not using all the brakes just to make a normal stop.