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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It's about time to start a build thread, so here goes . . .

A little bit about my background, I'm a Marine (0311 in the early 90's), hunter, fisherman, outdoorsman, and father of Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

I rode "Adventure Bikes" and camped off them for years. On one of my first motorcycle trips, my daughter handed me her stuffed elephant Savanna and told me Savanna would keep me safe. Savanna has been on every adventure I've been on since then as my faithful travelling companion. She'll pop up in pictures later.

When my neck issues finally became too much, I sold the KTM's and bought a 4Runner. I spent 2 1/2 years building up my ultimate 2006 4Runner Sport Edition and camping all over southern California and Oregon. However, my daughter went to Colorado for college and needed a 4 wheel drive vehicle and I had been wanting something newer which got better mileage. If you're curious about "Hank," my build thread is located HERE.



Enter my 2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner. I bought it brand new on April 23, 2020. It is my first brand new truck and I'm really enjoying it. I didn't even know about the Trail Runner package before I got to the dealer. I went planning on buying a Z71 with the Duramax, but the one I wanted was broken. The sales guy showed me my truck and told me about the Trail Runner package. Basically, you get the ZR2 sliders and skid plate(s) and tires (Wrangler Duraatracs) and the Bison grille. I realized it was a great deal and that I would only need to upgrade the suspension to have a trail ready truck.

Here it is the day I brought it home:




Here is how it looks as of January 23, 2021:





MODIFICATIONS

Suspension

Fox 2.0 Coilovers set at 2.5" (front)
Fox 2.0 Shocks (rear)

Wheels and Tires
AEV Bison wheels
BF Goodrich KO2 tires - 255/75/R17
NoLoss Valve Stem Caps

Armor/Recovery/Misc
ZR2 Skid Plate
ZR2 Sliders
Datin Rear Shock Skids
ARB Single Compressor on a 589 Fab Mounting Plate

Lighting/Electrical
Baja Designs Squadron Pro fog lights
Baja Designs Squadron Pro ditch lights
Baja Designs S2 Sport chase light
Baja Designs S2 Sport rear camp light
Trigger 4 Plus Controller with switches mounted in a 3D printed holder
Diode Dynamics SL-1 LED Low Beams

Exterior
AEV Snorkel
Leer Shell/Topper
Custom Rear Sleeping Platform with Tool and Miscellany Drawers
TopperLift Nomad Camper Tent
Baja Rack Camper Shell Standard Roof Basket
GM Fender Flares
Black COLORADO Emblems
Black Plastidipped Bow Tie
ARB 2000 Awning with LED Light Strip on FourTreks Mounts
Shovel on FourTreks Mounts
Maxsa Traction Boards
Overland Labs Hammock

Interior and Comms
Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band Ham Radio (KM6WTD) with Diamond K400C NMO Antenna Mount
Custom RAM Mount for a iPad-Mini for navigation based on a VSM mount
Course Motorsports phone mount
HomeLink rearview mirror
Rough Country speedometer corrector
InReach SE
Baofeng UV8R Dual Band Handheld
 

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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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646 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Obviously, the first thing you do when you get a new Colorado is to remove the air dam. It was sort of a pain in butt due to the limited access, so I borrowed a neighbor's kid to get the center bolts.


The following weekend, I replaced my chrome "Colorado" emblems with black ones which I had purchased with the GM Rewards points I got when I bought the truck. I also plastidipped the rear Bow Tie and swapped in the Baja Designs Squadron Pro fog lights which I had removed from the 4Runner.

First, I taped around the chrome emblems so that I would be able to place the black ones in the same location.


Then I removed the chrome emblems using fishing line and then Goo Gone to remove the last of the residue.


Then I stuck the black emblems on:


Then I plastidipped the rear Bow Tie with black Plasti-Dip


Finally, I finished off the day by swapping in my Baja Designs Squadron Pro fog lights. The swap was very simple and the fog lights work off the stock fog light switch. LINK to the Baja Designs kit.


I also ordered a Leer Topper with the sliding front window, LED interior light, carpeted interior, and roof rack rails and was told it would be in the following weekend. One nice advantage of a black truck is that the topper was in stock and just needed to be shipped to San Diego.
 

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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
While I was getting the Leer topper installed, I decided to have the bed sprayed with bed liner at the same time.






The next day we left in the 4Runner for two weeks at my mother-in-law's house in Oregon, leaving the truck behind. :cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When we got back from Oregon, I had a few boxes waiting for me that Brown Santa had dropped off for me. First up, because it was the easiest, was to install Datin shock skids to protect those low-hanging rear shock mounts. It was soooooo nice working under a brand new truck after working on a 200,00 + mile truck for the past couple of years. 🤣





They were very easy to install and look like they should provide good protection to the mounts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The next step was a BIG one. When I was building my 4Runner, I needed a sleeping platform with tie-down points and it needed to be low enough that our dogs, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, would have plenty of head room. I saw a build thread on T4R.com in which the guy had built a low platform with slide outs under it. I realized I could do the same and have two 2" tall drawers under it for tools and other miscellaneous stuff like a spare pair of flip-flops. A friend welded up the frame out of 2x2 aluminum stock, we bolted it to the stock tie down points, and then I built a plywood platform for it. When I bought the Colorado, I knew I wanted something very similar for the bed.

Well, as it turned out, the aluminum frame from the 4Runner fit almost perfectly in the bed of the Colorado! I went up to my friend's (same guy who welded up the frame) and we installed Nutserts in the bed to bolt the frame to.



A quick test-fit of the drawers and I went home to build the platform:



The idea of the drawers is to have every tool I need to work on the truck in the drawers. When I work on my truck, I usually use the tools in the truck to make sure I'm not missing anything. One nice thing was that I've only had to add a couple of tools for the Colorado. I do need to get an oil filter socket and I need to get a spark plug socket for this truck (assuming it's not the same size as the 4Runner plugs.)

I had purchased a rubber bed mat and used that as a rough template for the plywood platform. I used two 1/2" sheets. On the bottom layer, the tie-down tracks are screwed through the plywood and into the aluminum frame for strength. Then I cut out the "holes" for the tracks in the top layer, screwed it to the bottom layer, and then glued down some exterior carpet I found at Home Depot. Then I made an additional small platform for the tailgate, giving me a 7' flat platform for sleeping on. I also cut the front of the platform off and re-attached it with hinges so I have a relatively hidden storage compartment at the front of the bed.







The front "hidden" storage area:





And the finished platform:



Finally, to finish off the camping set up, I installed the TopperLift Nomad bed tent. It wasn't perfectly installed at this point, but you can get the idea. A cool part is that the top half lives rolled up in the roof of the shell, the tent pole lives in the passenger side drawer, and the lower half of the tent lives under the fold-up front of the platform.

 

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Finally, I finished off the day by swapping in my Baja Designs Squadron Pro fog lights. The swap was very simple and the fog lights work off the stock fog light switch. LINK to the Baja Designs kit.
Awesome build and truck! I’ve been looking for a yellow fog light and this looks like it would be it. Are these the cornering set or the combo set? How do you like them?
 

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2010 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab 4x4 Z71 V8
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The idea of the drawers is to have every tool I need to work on the truck in the drawers. When I work on my truck, I usually use the tools in the truck to make sure I'm not missing anything
I’ve got my truck tools streamlined but you definitely have me beat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Awesome build and truck! I’ve been looking for a yellow fog light and this looks like it would be it. Are these the cornering set or the combo set? How do you like them?
Thank you! Those are the combo lights. Actually, all four are the combo pattern.
 

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2018 Colorado ZR2
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Following. Looking good brother. SFMF
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The next few changes weren't huge but they were significant to me. First, I got rid of the LED light fog light surrounds and replaced them with the black oem ones. (I'm not a fan of chrome on modern vehicles.)



I also added Diode Dynamics SL-1 LED bulbs in my low beams. It actually went very smoothly and I was able to tuck everything behind the stock dust covers.

In @BizzyB build thread I saw that he had attached a couple of small bags to the backs of his headrests to keep track of frequently used things. I'm always hunting around for my headlamp, flashlight, extra sunglasses, etc. So I grabbed a small NorthFace duffel and two #2 NiteIze S-Biners LINK and attached them to the headrests. To remove the headrest, there's a little hole on the inside of one mount that you have to stick something like a paperclip in to release the headrest.



Then the big(ish) thing happened; I got my Baja Rack Camper Shell Standard roof basket for my shell. LINK This is my third rack I've bought from Baja Rack and they're great. Fortunately for me, they're only a 30 minute drive from my house, so when it was ready I just drove down and picked it up. I assembled it in the parking lot and the dude even helped me lift it onto the roof of the truck. Install took 30 minutes max.





 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Next up was moving my Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band Ham Radio (KM6WTD) with Diamond K400C NMO Antenna Mount from my 4Runner to the Rado. Fortunately, I was able to fit it in pretty much the same spot as I did on the 4Runner and the battery is in the same location so I was able to re-use my harness too. I mounted the main body in the center console to keep it safe. A lot of people mount them under one of the seats. Well, I'm special and I've thoroughly soaked the interiors of most of my trucks so I wanted it somewhere safer. I also don't really use my center console for anything else so I stuck it there. The head unit and speaker live in the cubby at the bottom of the center stack but still provide access to the USB for Apple Car Play and charging my iPad.

The first step was to tear everything up to see how it would lay out. Luckily, Crutchfield sells their installation guides without requiring you to actually buy anything other than the guide for ~$20. Their guides have been very helpful to me over the years. This is how it looked after I'd torn everything apart:



The main unit mounted in the center console. The fit was a bit tighter than I would have preferred with the antenna cable being a bit crimped, but it's held up so far. (Sorry for the crappy picture)



Then I mounted the head unit and external speaker in the cubby. The mic has a NiteIze steelie on the back, but I ended up not using and I just set the mic in the cubby with everything else where it's easily accessible.



One issue I've had is that when I transmit on the ham, I get interference on the trucks radio and it kicks me out of Car Play. Any ideas why that would be happening and how to fix it?

Up next, front suspension . . .
 

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2018 Colorado ZR2
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Looking good! Do you have the HAM radio piped in through the sound system?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The next step was a big one, but there aren't a ton of pictures. What we're talking about here is, of course, suspension.

Shortly after I got my Colorado, I went out of town for two weeks. While out of town I did a ton of research on what I wanted suspension-wise. I intend to use my truck off-road as much as possible, so a spacer lift was not on the table. I've had Bilstein 5100's before and while they're adequate, they were not sufficient for my purposes either. I briefly considered Kings, but their price tag and frequency of re-builds took them off the table. I considered OME but have heard several reports of them being overly harsh although very reliable. Ultimately it came down to Peak or Fox. What ultimately sold me on Fox over Peak was that I could get the same setup from Fox for the same price as the Peak suspension through a contact. I'm familiar with Fox and just didn't know peak back then. So Fox 2.0 coilovers, rear shocks, and 1" lift blocks it is.

**Note: At that time, the Bilstein 6112 front and 5160 rear suspension was not available for our trucks. I have that suspension on my 4Runner and really like it, so I may have been persuaded to go with those had they been available as they have the added advantage of not needing service and coming with a lifetime warranty.

Anyways, I ordered the Fox suspension and set to waiting. I ordered them on May 26th and the fronts (only) came in on July 1st.



Isn't it beautiful?? I also received the lift block and u-bolts for the rear so I decided to have those installed and figured I would swap the rear Fox shocks in whenever they came in.

One of my off-roading buddies is the head tech at a local shop so I had him install them.







While the truck looked great with the lift, it was clear I would need new tires sooner rather than later as it looked like I had skipped leg day. :ROFLMAO:

The front suspension rode great, but it was clearly mis-matched with the stock rear shocks.

Fast Forward to December 29th: My rear shocks finally came in. Although it's out of chronological order, I think it makes more sense to cover them here.

You can see how much thicker the Fox shocks are compared to oem.



They are also about 1" longer fully-extended:



And installed in the truck. After I took this picture, I hiked the boots up so they're not all wonky and they look pretty.



What can I say about the ride other than that I am very, very impressed. I've taken them off-road twice now, once on some washboard roads and high-speed dirt roads and once in some rutted out, whooped out trails. In both scenarios, the suspension worked great. They are much more plush than the stock shocks while absorbing big hits much better.

Measurements:

Passenger front: 35 1/2" before, 38" after
Driver's front: 35" before, 37 1/2" after (so 2 1/2" lift in front)
Passenger rear: 36 1/2" before, 38 1/2" after
Driver's rear 36 1/2" before, 38 1/4" after (so 2" give or take)

We'll see how they do for longevity. If they don't last long enough I'm going to reach out to the folks at Peak, since they're semi-local, and see what to do.
 

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Truck looks awesome! Jealous of the drawer system, a nicely organized tool box is always satisfying. I'm still trying to figure out the best setup for me, currently battling not bringing those extra 8 adjustable wrenches and a whole power tool set everywhere I go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Due to my neck injuries, I was able to get a "disabled archer" permit this year and bought myself a crossbow. After a bit of research, I ended up getting an Excalibur Micro 360TD Pro. I won't go too into the details, but I wanted a crossbow that was field serviceable and the Pro has the upgraded (and very nice) trigger and comes in Kryptek camouflage. Once it arrived, I took it out to a friend's ranch to sight it in. Took next to no time to get it dialed in out to 60 yards.



The next upgrade was adding an ARB awning to the roof rack. I had an awning on my 4Runner and found it really nice to have in inclement weather or on sunny days. The nicest thing about this new awning is that, apparently, ARB now only makes them with the LED light strip in them. I used FourTreks mounts to attach the awning to the rack. LINK At $105 they aren't cheap, but they're made in USA and they are pieces of CNC machined art. They are also solid af.



As you might be able to tell from the skies, the awning came in very handy on this trip. Although it's light out, you can also see the LED light strip. It's really nice and dimmable too.

 

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Awesome set up. Had a very similar set up in my previous truck (). Looking to do the same with my zr2. We should go on a Coues hunt in AZ sometime! How long is the awning ?


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