Okee dokes, so I was (and maybe still am) getting a bit of a cooling issue:
1. random temp spikes on the gauge not to H but way too close. Doesn't seem to matter if I have the heat in the cab full blast or not. Doesn't seem to matter if I'm idling or going 25/35/40mph. Pulled over after driving 1.8 miles at 25/35mph becuase the gauge was way too high way too fast & was able to take off the radiator cap without getting sprayed (though I did shut the hood onto my arm as far as possible while doing it). Sometimes the temp would lower itself back down... disturbing behavior, sometimes not!
2. temp gauge showing normal operating temp way faster than normal (though it's been hot weather here to be fair)
3. fan spun easier by hand after warmed up to than when cold
4. discovered hose inside the overflow container was disconnected & resting at the bottom.
5. was losing some water/coolant but not an absurd amount
6. discovered belt that goes around the fan pulley thing was starting to split on one section of the edge about 2" long (cheap belt, wrong type probably, replaced of course).
*7. started hearing a new noise... no idea when it began, my kid's been driving the truck for a good month without me driving it inbetween. The noise sounds like a thump thump thump but doesn't increase with engine RPM. I went all over the truck, on my knees, on my tip toes, couldn't pin point the noise but seems to be louder under the truck behind the front wheels. Damn. Related? Unsure, but mentioning it anyways. My best guess as of tonight is that it's a noise from something hitting something else while the engine is shaking .. you know since it needs new motor mounts of course. Hoping that's all it is, still cant' pinpoint the damn noise.
Researched how to replace the fan clutch, about $40 from local shop for new one, and water pump about $20 give or take. Both looked easy to replace. Figured I'd start with the fan clutch & see if the temp behaves, if not, then do the water pump.
But along the way I tripped over a video on youtube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qSsKzS2_L0 ) showing how to "fix" a fan clutch. I couldn't find anything here on the forum about that, but a lot of references about switching over to electric here & there. I didn't know they could be fixed...
Since I still have an electric gremlin or 2 in the truck I don't want to mess with adding electrical anything yet. But hey, instead of buying a new fan clutch, I figured I'd try to "fix" it.
Sprayed a bunch of liquid wrench on the pin that holds the center of the spring, tried to grab it with needle nose pliers, no luck. Dumped it out and sprayed it again letting it sit for another hour. Tried to grab the center, still couldn't & couldn't get the coil to budge. After 3 1/2 hours it moved!
According to the video that pin in the center of the coil can get rusted in place. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I'm experimenting so what the hell.
I sprayed it again with liquid wrench one more time for good measure and let it sit for an extra hour - because why not.
Took out the coolant overflow tank and washed & scrubbed the heck out of it inside & outside, cut a new hose for the inside (cut the bottom at an angle so it wouldn't suck the bottom like an octopus), and replaced the cap.
Then I replaced the belt with a different design type same size, tightened everything back down, added straight water to the overflow container thinking if any coolant goes in/out it'll change the color from clear water to tinted.
So far it's just idled in the driveway, stepped on the gas to rev it ever so slowly to see if anything spectacular happened but nothing did. Ran it long enough for it to get up to temp and then some, but it didn't get too hot. Weird, it didn't get over the 2nd line - could it really be as simple as that little pin getting stuck in the center of the metal coil?!
Got out & felt the hoses, top was hot, bottom was cold. Took off the overflow cap & the water was still there, no hint of coolant tint color that I noticed. Then I took off the radiator cap and realized I should have topped it off BEFORE this test. Phooey! I topped it off & left it alone.
Couldn't see any leaks so tomorrow will be the test drive.