My 2011 Tahoe LT. build, a work in progress.

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Charles M

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1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

We started out with a bone stock 2011 Tahoe with a single speed transfer case.

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First step was pretty big adding some lift with a Rancho 4 in lift kit. To improve the suspension and smooth out the bumps I installed a RS 7000 suspension front and rear. Then installing a FabFour bumpers up front with Warn 9500 winch. To keep the rear end from looking odd I also installed a rear FabFour bumper.

Note:(For more serious off road adventures I would suggest checking out a 11.5 inch travel kit by Baja kits and installing a set of king shocks and going with a 6 inch lift)

With the lift kit installed we were able to install a set of Pro Comp 9x17 rims and 315/70x17 Cooper AT-3 tires. I did get over 40,000 miles out of them. (But, I just installed a set of 35/12.5/17 Goodyear Ultra Terrain AT tires and I like them much better)

To help light up the night a Ridged Hybrid Spot / Flood light bar was added to the front bumper along with a set of 4 in. spot lights.

So this first step took about 5 days and it looked like this...

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After a few months I was getting pretty tired of the poor MPG that had dropped from 18-21 MPG stock to around 12. So an idiot at a local 4X4 shop in Reno recommended and installed a set of 4.88 gears for me. Well that was a terrible idea because the gearing was way to deep and acceleration really suffered. The mileage dropped to a high of 10 MPG plus the gears were installed wrong and started making a lot of noise... So I decided to do my own calculations and had another shop install a set of 411 gears this made a big difference improving the MPG to 16 to 19 miles and it also improved acceleration considerably. Total cost on gearing changes over $5200.. Note: I could have added a blower for about the same price.

Next step was to give it a more aggressive look and to get the tires covered up so it would reduce the amount of dirt and mud spraying on the side of it...
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Since we do toss a canoe on top and the stock roof rack has plastic end pieces I offen worried they might break sending our fiberglass canoe down the road without a paddle.
I found some cro moly steel shaped like a wing laying around my shop and was later told they might have had a previous life as a wing spar on a bi-plane... These are much stronger and lower and lighter than the stock set on the right.

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Installing them was easy a 1/4 drill and bolt through the stock rack system then added a set of canoe bunks for the boat. This modification also improved the MPG when hauling the boat on top because of a reduction in frontal area and improved airflow and was quieter too. I love a win win.

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Since the 315x70x17 tires were to big to fit in the spare tire storage my first solution was to put it in the back with a board on top so I could put things on top of it. Very crude idea but it worked and it gave me an idea for a future modifications.

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Next I installed a new swing out spare tire rack it was much better and it allowed me to install a shelf back there... 20180127_125816.jpg
 
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Charles M

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Member

Enthusiast III

1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
First Name
Charles
Member #

17640

Next step was to make it better for camping. So the first step was to build a shelf in the back that would be the same level as the second row seats when folded down. I still wanted to keep things simple and be able to convert it back to a three row seating if I needed it.

After doing some measuring I realized the area was 4x4 this made things real easy.
I picked up some steel shelving that were 4x2 and cut one of them and added a set of hinges to hold them together. This also allowed me to be able to lift and flip the rear section on the front shelf section if I needed the room. I put a rivet in each of the legs to keep them from falling out when lifted or when removing the shelf system. With this system it is easy to remove the shelf and install the third row seat in just a few minutes.

I use a ratchet tie down strap that hooks into the seat mounts and through the underside of the shelf to hold it in place. I also installed a board in the front to keep things from going forward if I had the second row seats flipped up.
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In this photo you can also see the insulation I put over the rear windows to keep the heat in during winter camping and heat out when sitting in the hot summer sun of Reno. (This all will be modified again later as this has been a work in progress)

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A full size foam mattress fits in here for a very comfortable nights sleep there is plenty of room for camping stuff underneath too.

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Charles M

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Enthusiast III

1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

The original window insulation held up for about 18 months so I decide to try something different.

I started out by creating some templates with cardboard then cutting 1 inch thick closed cell foam. Fit the foam pieces into the window they should fit a little on the lose side because their will be more fabric add to the edges of the foam in the next step.20190130_134240.jpg

Next I placed the foam over some fabric using 3M 77 adhesive (Note in the summer the 77 allowed some of it to peal off I am looking for a better adhesive)

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You will need to cut pieces along the edge so it will form fit around the foam. Don't worry to much of how pretty it looks when you fold the cloth over the foam because the next step will be to cover it with a black carpet backing. The carpet will give it a nice "black out" look from the outside and will also help keep the panels in place too.

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After gluing it in place it is time to trim and test fit them into the window openings.

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I made these to fit on all of my windows for camping. Most of the time I keep all of them in place except the two front windows. One more note the front windows are cut away 4 inches on the top to allow for fresh air to circulate through with windows partially open. As noted before I leave all of them in place except the driver / passenger windows and it dramatically reduces inside temperature in the summer after the car has been sitting. It also improves the inside temps when driving in the summer and keeps you warmer in winter camping.

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I like this camo design they make seat covers and steering wheel covers with the same pattern and I even have jacket with this design too. The carpet I picked up at a local store it was already cut and hemmed at the exact size I needed 2x4 feet. The carpet on the outer shelves are zipped tied in place on all sides but the center one is only zip tied on one end so I can store two 2x2 carpets under them for putting on the ground by the doorways for camping.
 
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Charles M

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Enthusiast III

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

Well our needs are always changing so.... I stripped all the extra seats out and added another flip up shelf for even more storage room...

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This front shelf section is also hinged so it is easier to put things in there. This also leaves room for a cooler accessible to the driver and front passenger.

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Do you wonder what this will hold now? all of the following is in here and there is still a lot of room left over...

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This is what it looks like from the back plus a few rifles and ammo boxes and a shooting bag are added in to. If you look a couple photos up you will see there is still a lot of room under the front section too.
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Well this lasted another 2 months before... Being modified again due to unexpected circumstances... Of needing a single seat added back in for a three person trip... It was real easy to replace the 4 foot shelf with a 3 foot shelf and shift it over to the left and installing the solo right side seat... After wards I decided to remove the seat and install a larger 5 day cooler in its place. So we are now back to a two seat Tahoe... I will have to add some photos later...
 

Charles M

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Enthusiast III

1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

It is always good to have a basic tool set this fits in the left wheel well storage area. Since this photo was taken I have added a few more tools into this bag along with several tie down straps and spare parts. fan belt, extra light bulbs, head light tail light and all the other bulbs in the truck.

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For camping we also wanted some more power in the back so I added two USB sockets and one accessory 12 volt socket. To use when sleeping or when doing other things in camp with the back door open.

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OK so I thought I better add in some photos of me having fun with it too... First two photos are in Moab Utah.

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The following is just out side of Silverton Colorado.

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Charles M

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Enthusiast III

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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Other additions are:

Airaid JR intake. I did some investigation talking with people who dyno tune for a living on Tahoe's and they seemed to agree an expensive full cold air system produced little to no gain in power over what a simple Airiad Jr does. The amount of power was so small you would not be able to actually feel the gain. So I opted to save money to be spent elsewhere. (I did dyno tuning for a living for over 4 years so I know there is a lot of tuning hype out there just to sell parts) This does not mean in any way that it is not possible to get more power from a Tahoe just that you are not likely to find it with a cold air system.

DashPaq tuner: There are a lot of tuners out there and I suggest you do your own due diligence on selecting one that will do what you want and also fit in your price range. The amount of power to be gained with any tuner on a tahoe is pretty small. If you can find a good tuner and get a very specialized tune you may see more power. In my experience as a dyno tuner any one using a dynojet dyno will not likely get peak performance for you due to the nature of how they work. Again if you are doing a lot of other engine work the type of tuner may be important.

AMP power step boards:
I really like these on the street and off road they do not hang down as low as other solid mounted steps do. But, I limit my rock crawling so I wont damage them or my bodywork. There are no companies making sliders for these tahoe's at this time. I am hoping to build a retractable slider / step set up in the future as a personal project.

AVS window visors:
These are great for reducing bright sun and for allowing ventilation while moving or camping without the rain and bad weather getting in. a great addition to any vehicle.

Pioneer rear camera: It works and I am looking at adding another camera to the front end the new one will have night vision too. Having a forward mounted camera will help seeing down a steep incline just in case the guy in front of me stops or if I do not want to send my wife out there to look.

Installing a dual battery set up in a tahoe is pretty simple chevy has already installed a battery box on the front driverside corner all you need to add is a battery hold down and cables to connect into the system.

I opted to install mine directly into a parallel because they are identical batteries installed at the same time. When my original battery went out I figured it was a good time to install two batteries for more power and a longer service life. I also used the highest output / highest reserve batteries I could fit in there.

I am sure there will be some people who will prefer an isolation device or some type of expensive device to control how they are charged and to this I say to each his own... I and a lot of car manufacturers have employed this method for years you will not die or blow up or have a mojor melt down at least not on this tahoe. I have used it on other camping vehicles since the 70's and have never had a problem.

Yes it is possible for one battery to go bad and drain the other one, it is also possible for two batteries to fail at once but, either case is highly unlikely. It is also possible you may foolishly run both batteries down but, it will take twice as long.. It is also possible to disconnect one from the system while camping and reconnect it to jump off the other battery too or to put a blade disconnect in. So I am not here to debate multiple ways to connect a dual system but, only to present an inexpensive way to install two batteries on your Tahoe.

The connection on the original battery remains mostly the same except I have added a battery cable on the positive side that connects to the new battery.

The connections on the new battery are; Positive post as stated a standard battery cable goes to the original battery and the winch is also connected to this battery. If I get in a really bad situation winching I could use the second battery with the main battery cable disconnected. Although it would actually be better to pull the power from both batteries at the same time. The negative cable is connected to the winch, the frame and the motor.
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Charles M

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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The brakes were not up to par with the additional weight and larger tires so I decide to go with EBC rotors and their Yellow pads. It is very important to properly break in a new set of brake pads. I like to do slow easy stops from low speeds to start then let them cool and repeat. After the initial break in I try to go easy on them for the first 100 miles. This allows the pads to seat with the rotors and will result in better stopping and longer pad life.

These brakes up made a noticeable difference in stopping power and are strong but, not grabby they are very predictable. They do wear much faster than stock pads due to their higher friction coefficient.

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Installation was fast and easy after installing the brakes I put anti seize on the lug bolts and torqued the wheels down to 140 ft lbs. Using anti seize will make changing a tire on the road or in the woods much easier.
 

Charles M

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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As I mentioned above this 2011 Tahoe did not have a two speed transfer case from what I understand the 2 speed became and optional equipment and most Tahoe's were built with a single speed transfer case with a 2 high and a 4 high. Most of us know a 4 low is a very important thing to have in extreme off road conditions. The tahoe also has a locking differential in the transfer case that is engaged only in low gear.

I searched all over trying to find just how bad it would be to swap out a single for a two speed. The dealerships did not have a clue and contacting Chevy did not get me an answer either. I was lucky to find someone on another forum who said it was an easy swap.

I found a transfer case off a 2011 Tahoe on ebay with only 50,000 miles I requested the TCM and the shift motor off the same vehicle. I also had to install the shift selector with 2H-4H-4L and Neutral positions. Once bolted in it worked perfect no problems... My total cost was around $450.00
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Charles M

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Enthusiast III

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

I recently replaced the upper and lower control arms on both sides with the Moog problem solvers. It sure rides smoother and I like the tighter steering too. Installation time was about 4 hours.

My up coming projects....

One is making a folding table to fit on the swing out spare tire mount for cooking and what ever else I need a table or shelf for back there.

Two will be installing a 270 degree awning and possibly making a roof basket to mount it to.

Getting my ham license and a radio.
 

UltimaSanctus

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Sweet rig. I have a similar platform in the back of my '04 Z71 except it's wood and weighs enough and is awkward enough that it takes two people to remove it...
 

Charles M

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Charles
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Sweet rig. I have a similar platform in the back of my '04 Z71 except it's wood and weighs enough and is awkward enough that it takes two people to remove it...
With the original two piece build I was able to fold the 4x4 unit into a 2x4 section and remove it. Now that I have three pieces it will certainly take two people to get it out. Mostly because it is a 4x6 foot steel shelf when opened up. Folded up it is 2 feet wide and about 3 feet tall as you slide it out.
 

Charles M

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Enthusiast III

1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
Member #

17640

I decided to mount a clinometer so my wife will be a little less scared when we are tilted or climbing a hill. Plus I think they look cool too. I also added a Trasheroo to the spare tire for our next camping trip.
 
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Charles M

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Enthusiast III

1,798
Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

Today's project...

I Mounted my Nomadic 270 degree awning today. I ordered it from Overland vehicle systems it was $750 shipped. I got the front side wall for extra protection too. I think I will have to get the back section in the future too.

While working on it I learned something new about my Tahoe rack mount... It is NOT level with the ground the rear is actually 3/4 inches higher. I custom made my cross overs months ago and when I measured the factory side rail I found the rear is much lower. So when I made up a third crossover for mounting the awning I made it 3/4 in. higher so the awning would be level with the ground.

You can see in this photo the rear section has a much larger gap. My crossovers are wing shaped and too wide for the U clamps supplied with the awning from Overland vehicle systems. If you have standard crossover tubes (I am guessing1 inch to 1.5 inches or around that size) the supplied U clamps should work fine and installation will be quick and easy.

After the new crossover was welded up and painted it was time to drill them out and mount the supplied L brackets to the awning backing plate. The backing plate is extruded aluminum and a well designed structure very rigid and up to the task of holding things together.

I started by mounting the L brackets to the backing plate spacing them according to my crossbar spacing Then lifted it up and placed it on the crossbars. I used a forklift to hold things in place as I drilled out the crossbars and bolted them in place. With standard cross bars I would just loosely install one of the U clamps on two of the braces to hold things in place. Check my spacing and height and if it all looks good then put the remaining clamps on with red lock tight and mounting would be done...

I mounted the bottom of the awning about an inch above my roof so it would not interfere with opening and closing of the doors.

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Once it was all mounted up it was time to see just how big this awning is. After unzipping the bag you will swing out the rear section first attaching it to your rack on the other side with the supplied adjustable strap. Then swing out the front section I attached mine to the front bumper and cinched the strap down. At this point it is a very stable canopy and I think it would hold up to a lot more wind than many of the thin walled awnings like the Rino-rack 270 Batwing. The Nomadic awning is actually less expensive too.

I will follow up on this after I get a chance to play around with it a little more.
 
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Charles M

Rank V
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Enthusiast III

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Sparks, NV, USA
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Charles
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17640

With the front wall in place you can make the whole truck disappear from this side and you can see the heavy duty rafters they use too... If you are wondering my swing out tire carrier will clear the pole if I want to close it

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This is completely covering the side of my Tahoe... In the section to the right there is a very large door it and the other panel to the left can be staked out as another awning too.

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