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AdventureTaco - turbodb's build and adventures

Discussion in '1st Gen. Builds (1995-2004)' started by turbodb, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. Apr 30, 2017 at 9:22 PM
    #41
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    AdventureTaco
    Thanks, glad you enjoyed the read.

    The Boss coilovers have worked out great. They are orders of magnitude better on the trail than stock (which I was running before), they are doing awesome with all the new armor (that's a lot of extra weight), and adjustment is easy using the supplied wrenches (don't even need to take off the tires/wheels).

    If I had to do it again, I'd buy the same thing.
     
  2. May 1, 2017 at 10:38 AM
    #42
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Millermatic 211 acquisition
    October 18, 2016.

    I am a woodworker.

    For the last twenty years, metal (stock and shavings), oils, and dirt have been systematically removed from my shops - they can bring no good to wood projects. Metal can dull blades and stain wood as it rusts, oils can soak into the wood and make finishing near impossible, and dirt - well, no one ever said "Can you make that fine furniture a little dirtier?" (I take that back - some do - and I think it's crazy to "pre-distress" a piece.)

    But I've always been curious about metalwork. And I've always assumed that metalwork and automotive work were the same thing, so in the last year, I've acquired a bunch more of the tools to work on my own truck thinking, "Now I'm getting into metalwork."

    Umm, no.

    Metalwork makes for a bunch of metal shavings, and it uses different tools than woodworking. Automotive work is oily and dirty and also uses different tools than woodworking. But I've realized in the last 24 hours that the overlap is about like this:

    [​IMG]

    At any rate, I began my foray into metalwork as I came to the conclusion that I really am going to get a Cascadia Vehicle Tent, which gets permanently (relatively) mounted to the truck. To do this, I'll need a rack to mount it on, which I could either purchase for $250-$500, or could build myself (with new metalworking tools) for something on the order of $2000.

    The answer I think is obvious. Time for some new tools.

    An email to my uncle was in order, since he's had years of experience with this stuff (wood heat stove fabricator), and I knew that he'd have a good recommendation. My requirements where:
    1. Welds steel (mostly), maybe some stainless, maybe some aluminium.
    2. High quality
    3. Doesn't break the bank, but I'd rather spend a bit more now than have to buy again later.
    His recommendation was to go with a Millermatic 141. The benefits he mentioned were that it was made by Miller, and that it plugs into 120V power - making it very portable. The drawbacks of course were that it isn't cheap (on the order of $700+) and with 120V power, it really isn't great for steel thicker than 3/16".

    I did some more research, and of course ended up looking at Lincoln's and Hobart's - both of which I was told by Bill "were welders" - so I kept researching. Finally, I realized that while I might be happy with the Millermatic 141, it really wasn't expensive enough.

    No, that wasn't it. What I realized was that I'd really hate to buy a 120V welder only to realize later that I wanted to do stuff that could only be done with 240V. So when I found a great deal on Craigslist for a Millermatic 211, I scooped it up the very same day ($900 for the nearly new welder and a mobile cart). With it, I can use either 120/240V, putting more types of projects in reach as I learn to weld.

    I've since purchased a welding helmet and some gloves. I now need to get some shielding gas, and then practice my brains out. By this time next year, maybe I'll have my $2000 bed rack to mount a new tent. One can hope.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  3. May 3, 2017 at 7:41 AM
    #43
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Camping convenience - Mt. Shasta CVT
    October 18, 2016.

    When I purchased the Sportz Truck Tent back in 2012 (see Sportz Truck Tent and Truck Bedzzz), I thought to myself, "Boy, I'm really living large and spending the big bucks now." The tent cost me $189 big ones, and the air mattress was another $90.

    I don't know if RTT's (Roof Top Tent's) like Cascadia Vehicle Tents existed then, but if they did, I didn't know about them and they would have been out of my price range.

    Today, I committed to really living large - I paid for a Mt. Shasta CVT - on sale of course. In doing so, I also got the good folks at CVT to hold on to my tent until next spring, when I hope to have my bed rack completed, so I have somewhere to install this puppy. Then, we'll be camping in style!

    [​IMG]

    So, how'd I decide on what tent to get? I started by thinking through how we were going to use it. Today, we sleep in the bed of the truck - uncovered when the weather and bugs cooperate (to enjoy the stars) or in our Sportz Truck Tent when it looks wet or the mosquitoes are in full force. We generally have plenty of room in there for sleeping, and we don't ever use the tent for cooking or "hanging out" - after all, the reason we're out is to enjoy nature! Oh, and Clara sleeps in her own (ground) tent now - which thrills her to death.

    So, that meant that we really only need a two person tent that's as wide as the bed (about 5'), and we want something that lets us enjoy the stars when the weather is nice, since we won't have the option of sleeping under the stars anymore.

    I knew I was going with CVT. They are local to the Pacific Northwest, and I've really only heard good things about them. I'm sure Tepui, ARB, etc. are all good tents too, but I just haven't had as much experience with them.

    In the CVT line, the Mt. Shasta tent fits the size bill pretty perfectly. It's 56″ wide x 96″ long x 50″ high when it's open, which is pretty close to the size of the truck bed with the tailgate down (57.9" wide x 90.4" long). And, it has an option for a "stargazer" feature - essentially turning the roof into screens - perfect!

    [​IMG]

    With that out of the way, there were only a few more decisions to make - what color, what size awning, and did we need the "Summit Series" or was the "Standard Pioneer" series enough?

    Color was easy - tan - to match the interior of the truck.

    Awning - small. We probably won't use it, since 99% of our camping is in the wilderness. With no other people around, why do you need an awning? (Answer: you don't)

    Which series? This was a question I wrestled with for a while. I always like the idea of getting things that will last, and the Summit Series definitely seems a bit sturdier than the Pioneer series - the fabric is a 380g compared to 280g on the Pioneer Series Tent, and straps on the cover are a cinch buckle versus Velcro. Plus, there's a bunch of other stuff that your $800 extra bucks buy you:
    • a waterproof mattress cover instead of cotton
    • interior poles are material wrapped
    • center pole has built in LED Lighting with on, off and dimmer switch as well as 2 USB ports
    • telescoping ladder (vs. folding)
    • plastic fittings have been upgraded to alloy (on hinges), D-rings are bigger and Velcro is thicker
    • the rain fly is heavier with quick release buckles
    • two shoe racks (one on each side of the ladder)
    • an X One Piece anti condensation mat
    • a removable PVC floor
    Some of that sounds good (alloy hinges, anti-condensation mat, but in the end I decided that the Pioneer series was for me. I like the folding ladder better, I've heard that the material thickness isn't too much of an issue (afterall, the waterproofing is what keeps you dry, and you aren't running the tent through brush when it's open). and I really like the idea of saving weight (the Summit series is 25 lbs. heavier).

    So, now I really do need to learn how to weld. Gotta get that bed rack and go pick up a tent!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  4. May 4, 2017 at 8:40 AM
    #44
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    WABDR Stage 3 - Backroads to Sleeping Lady
    October 29, 2016.

    One of our favorite places to get away in Washington is the Sleeping Lady resort in Leavenworth. It's great year-round, with hiking in the summer, snow in the winter, and amazing food (included in the nightly price) all the time.

    [​IMG]

    I've been itching to get away the last few weeks, and with rainy weather here for the next six months, we decided that we'd head to Sleeping Lady rather than on a camping/hiking trip. But, to make it a bit more of an adventure, I decided that we'd drive part of the way on the WABDR (WA Backcountry Discovery Route) - specifically, we'd join up with Stage 3 from Cle Elum to Wenatchee as it passed the town of Liberty and Table Mountain, and then we'd follow it through Wenatchee and to Cashmere - some 50 miles of trail.

    Looking back, that would have been a good plan in the summer. But it was a bit sketchy given the current weather conditions. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

    We piled into the truck around 9am, knowing that it'd take us longer to get to Sleeping Lady on WABDR than if taking the freeway all the way, but we figured that two hours on the freeway and three hours for 50 miles offroad would be more than enough (getting us to our destination for an early check-in around 2pm).

    It wasn't.

    We headed up FR-9712, and three miles in we came to a road closed sign. Undeterred, we drove right by - turning back now would mean no off-road adventure! Less than a quarter mile up the road, we discovered the problem - a 50 foot long washout, 5' - 6' deep, especially steep on the exit side. Both sides of the road were blocked with concrete barriers (that had been conveniently rotated out of the way for hunters on ATVs - two of which passed us as we were checking out the situation).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After scoping out the situation, we decided to give the washout a try. The exit looked iffy, especially in it's muddy condition, but I was sure I could back out the entrance if necessary, and there was a tree I could use as a winch anchor on the entrance side if it came down to that. So in we went.

    As expected, the entrance was straight forward. In L4, I let the engine idle the truck down the washout. And, as expected, the exit was difficult. Even in L4, the first attempt out resulted in wheel spin in the mud and a loss of traction as the front wheels crested the washout. I backed up and put the truck in H4 to get a bit more speed, and powered through the second attempt, clearing the washout with a wave of relief.

    Having heard one bump coming over the lip, I did a once over of the bottom of the truck and determined that nothing critical was impacted (I was glad for the Relentless armor) and we continued on our way - hoping the rest of the road was in better condition.

    The road was in better condition, but as we gained elevation (we topped out around 6500') the rain turned to snow - beautiful, especially with the golden Larch trees (deciduous conifers) but also a little sketchy on a few stretches along cliff-sides, where our hearts were pumping as we hoped that our traction would hold. Reduced braking helped, and next time we'll probably fill the bed with snow to provide a bit better traction for the back tires (though, the Duratrac's were great in general).

    [​IMG]

    Over the next couple hours we averaged 10-15mph, passing a truck here and there, and several well-established camp sites full of hunters - some of which looked to be setup for a week or longer! As we descended out of Blewett pass, we neared a turn-off from FS-9712 where we could either take FS-7100 into Cashmere, or continue past on FS-9712 (now Beehive Road) into Wenatchee, and then backtrack on Hwy 2 through Cashmere to Leavenworth. With it nearing 1:30, and not knowing the condition of FS-7100 (which climbed back into the mountains), we opted for the Wenatchee bypass - knowing that we'd be back in better weather to complete the trip (and more of the WABDR).

    [​IMG]

    Enjoy a fun little video mix of our WABDR run. We clearly don't take ourselves too seriously!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  5. May 5, 2017 at 7:53 AM
    #45
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    The @mrs.turbodb Mod - Custom Wet Okole Seat Covers
    November 2016.

    Most of the time, modifications I make to the truck are firmly in the "meh" camp for @mrs.turbodb. I mean, she appreciates the results, but she'd really be just as happy without them. And, they generally garner at least some amount of teasing about how they aren't technically necessary or how much money was spent (by which I mean, "if you give a mouse a cookie…")

    But this time was different. This time, there was a sparkle in her eyes.

    One of the first things I did to the truck in 1999 - six days after I brought it home - was put in some $45 seat covers from Target. Those same seat covers have been on the truck since, and they've worked really well - they matched the color of the interior, they kept the seats clean, and they fit pretty well. But of course, over time the flimsy straps broke, they bunched up here and there, and they had to be adjusted a little bit every now and then as the fabric stretched out.

    They were cheap. They worked. That was good enough for me.

    But, times have changed. The truck is getting more use, and when I saw the Wet Okele covers (with custom graphics) on the internets (Tacoma World), I was pretty sure that I should get some. At a couple hundred bucks as part of a group buy, they weren't cheap, but they got great reviews and an, "oh yeah, you should get some of those" from the woman.

    Sold!

    Wet Okele's are known in the Tacoma world, I think, because they are made in Hawaii - where 30% of the vehicle fleet are Tacoma's. They are made of neoprene (wetsuit material) and are custom fit to the seat - so much so that they recommend removing the seats to install them. Not only that, but they also offer embossed graphics - either a stock one from their catalog, or - if you design your own - a completely custom graphic.

    I designed my own. It's rad.

    [​IMG]

    After waiting for the covers to be made (I ordered covers for the front seats only, with mocha centers and black borders, as well as sunglass holders on the sides), and shipped, I was excited to hear that they'd be arriving a couple weeks into November. Of course, I was out of town when they arrived, and busy for a couple weeks once I got back, but I managed to get them installed Thanksgiving morning!

    First, it was out with the front seats - Four bolts, each and immediately, moar leg room!

    [​IMG]

    Then, on with the covers - pretty straight forward, and way easier to get tidy underneath with the seats removed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And then, back into the truck, easy peasy. They look great, though I'm not sure about the head rest covers - they are a bit baggy for my tastes, and I've never had the head rest covers installed in the past. I'm going to give them a month or two and see how I like them, but the color match is so good that I might just take them off - the headrests look nearly the same without any covers.

    [​IMG]

    In all, these things look great and are clearly a high-quality product. I imagine that these will be the last set of covers I buy. At least, until @mrs.turbodb tells me that we need heaters, like she has in her car :).
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  6. May 6, 2017 at 9:07 PM
    #46
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Christmas Tree, Sledding, and Recovery…Oh my!
    17 December 2016. (also posted earlier in trip reports)

    Cutting down our own Christmas Tree has become a tradition in the last five years or so. We've got our favorite place to go (FS-9021 off I-90 by Snoqualmie Pass), our favorite species of tree (Hemlock), and our favorite "dinner after" (Mexican).

    This year, only "dinner after" happened as planned.

    We've had colder than usual weather in the Seattle area for the last two weeks (highs in the low 30's), so we knew that there was a good chance we'd see a lot of snow on our hunt this year. But it's been clear for the last few days and it was projected to snow on Sunday, so we headed out Saturday morning with high hopes of scoring the perfect tree. We arrived at Exit 38 and FS-9020 around 10:30, and it was immediately clear that this was not going to be a snow-free trip.

    Half a mile up the road there's a nice flat spot where some high-voltage lines cross, and we pulled over there to chain up. While I got chains on all four tires, @mrs.turbodb and @mini.turbodb broke out the brand new sled we'd picked up on our way out of town and gave it a go on a few of the hills around. As you can imagine, it was a hit with the six-year old.

    [​IMG]

    We then continued up FS-9020, sure that we were on our way to success, happy to be back in the truck and out of the 24 degree snow.

    It soon became clear that this year wasn't going to be like any previous year. The snow had a different composition - a mix of light powder sandwiched between some firmer under-layers - so traction was terrible. We didn't sink down to the ground or even completely compact the snow - and so even with chains and Duratracs we had a hard time getting any purchase. In fact, after taking a look at the chains when I took them off later, it was clear that they were doing way less than they've done in the past - the knobbiness of the Duratracs tended to swallow parts of the chains!

    We struggled along about a mile (if that) of virgin snow to the junction with FS-9021. During much of this mile, @mini was bawling in the back seat - she's just so used to the truck going everywhere with relative ease that she was sure that she "was going to die."

    While we weren't going to get a tree, we definitely weren't going to die. With all the nice powder we decided to get the truck turned around. I jumped out and grabbed the sled, and heading further up the road. While @mrs.turbodb helped the kiddo get her snow gear back on, I took a couple runs down the road to make a track…or in my case, several tracks, each ending in a wipeout.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, my wipeouts were nothing but excitement builders for our little one, who was now over her fear of imminent death-in-the-snow and eager to get her turn on the sled again. So, we headed back up to the top and both piled in to the sled together.

    This would be our only run, as the obligatory wipeout at the end, while funny when it happens to someone else, is apparently cold and tear inducing for a six year old. She and I had a little talk after that about how that's just part of playing in the snow - you get a little wet and a little cold, but you have a lot of fun and warm up again after. Plus I told her, we can let Momma go now, and throw snowballs at her as she passes by.

    That brought her spirits right back up.

    [​IMG]

    So, we took turns sledding down, eating snow and having an all-around pretty great time for about an hour. The kiddo even timed a powdery snowball perfectly as @mrs.turbodb and I sledded past (quickly) and nailed Momma in the face - I was glad that she was in front on that run!

    [​IMG]

    After raising our spirits a bit, I suggested that we head a bit further east to FS-9030, where I knew that there were a couple roads that could be more heavily travelled and so might have either less snow or at least more packed snow. So we piled back into the truck and headed out (removing the chains as we neared the freeway).

    FS-9030 was a much more popular location - there were a dozen or more cars parked along the sides where the snow became deeper - but we forged ahead. Along the way we passed several hikers in snowshoes, most of whom were surprised to see a car, and a few of whom asked for a ride. We continued as far as we could - basically to the point where it was clear that the snow wasn't getting any shallower, and the trees weren't getting any more plentiful.

    So at that point I started looking around for the "story tree" - you know the one, the tree that looks kinda sad, but that has great story behind it.

    I found it - a 15-footer, 100 yards up a 45 degree slope off the road, in waist-high powder - thank goodness I was crazy. So I headed up, leaving @mrs.turbodb looking after me muttering "this seems insane, but not unexpected."

    [​IMG]

    Tree acquired I headed back down to the truck and got loaded up. And then we headed back, trying to decide what we were going to have for lunch, now that it was going on 12:30 pm.

    [​IMG]

    It turned out, we were going to skip lunch.

    As we neared the head of the road, I could see a Tundra with the passenger side in the ditch. Without as much as a shovel, and with 20" rims and matching slick tires, they were going nowhere fast. So when we pulled up and offered to help, they were understandably grateful.

    [​IMG]

    We got out the shovel, the tow strap, and D-rings and hooked up, dug out, and pulled. And, while the Tacoma was able to drag the Tundra along, we just couldn't get the front tires to purchase on the frozen edge of the ditch. It was time for plan B: pull from the front to get them back up in the middle of the road.

    So we re-positioned, strapped, and dug and this time we were successful - the Tundra was back up on the road, but was still pointed the wrong direction (up trail) and we were now trapped further up trail. Great.

    [​IMG]

    About this time, another Tacoma (@hobbs36) was coming down the road and we had a quick chat. We decided that the best option now was to try to have the Tundra back down the road and we'd follow him out.

    About 50 feet later, he was stuck. Again. At this point, @hobbs36 and I could scoot around, and we did. With @hobbs36 between us and the Tundra, we decided that we'd take the tow ball off my truck and put it on the Tundra to pull him further down the trail towards more solid ground. It worked well, and a hundred yards later he was able to back up under his own power.

    But we weren't out of the woods yet.

    As we caravanned down the remaining quarter mile to the head of the road, the owner of a Jeep Wrangler sporting some spiffy slick street tires thought it would be a good idea to try and get out before we passed. He immediately got stuck and I wished I'd brought along a few of these cards for him:

    [​IMG]

    As we got him and another tractionless VW out of the middle of the road, there were many thanks and smiles and waves as @hobbs36 aired back up and I put away all the recovery gear and got ready for the trip back to Seattle.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was 3:45 pm, we'd missed lunch, and we were hungry. The day hadn't worked out quite as planned, but we had a tree and plenty of stories to go with it. Merry Christmas!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  7. May 16, 2017 at 8:43 PM
    #47
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Building the Bed Rack (did someone say "new tools"?)
    December 2016 - February 2017.

    You may recall that no too long ago I decided to purchase a CVT, and then of course realized that the truck would need a bed rack to attach said CVT. That led to my Millermatic 211 acquisition, and the realization that this bed rack was the beginning of yet another expensive hobby (metalwork).

    Excited to get going, I started looking for bed rack designs. I wanted something that
    • would support the CVT - both on the road as well as deployed
    • would position the top of the CVT "in-line" with the top of the cab - for looks, to minimize drag on the freeway, and to give as much storage underneath as possible
    • was as light weight as possible (no need for a huge rack)
    • would be a good place to mount additional gear (hi-lift, shovel, rotopax, etc.)
    Of course, I wanted all of this before I did any actual measuring of the bed, cab, CVT, and additional gear - so it was only semi-realistic. Details.

    After spending a bit of time on TacomaWorld, I stumbled across @Box Rocket's bed rack design that he built for himself, and then a couple other folks several years ago. It seemed like a good contender (if he was still making them, I'd probably have just purchased one) with a couple minor tweaks - namely, I wanted it to ride a bit higher, and I didn't need it to have the tie-downs or light mounts (since I was just going to mount my tent on it). Oh, and I needed something to protect my bed rails - I wasn't sure of his design there, but I didn't want the legs of the rack to scratch up the rails too much (even though I'd have to drill them to attach the rack).

    [​IMG]

    So, I sat down for a couple hours in the bed of my truck with a tape measure and dimensions of my various "things to haul" to figure out exactly what I wanted. In the end, I came up with a design that I was happy with and met all my criteria but one: I wouldn't be able to mount the rotopax. Unfortunately, the two gallon containers that I have (fuel and water) were just slightly too large to mount on the support arms and have clear the bed rails and bottom of the CVT when it was deployed.

    [​IMG]

    We all make compromises, and this one seemed relatively minor. Plus, it leaves open the possibility of a swing-out rear bumper in my future, which I like the look of (even though I don't love the weight profile).

    Having built pretty much all my own furniture, as well as constructed the better part of three homes, I'm completely at home in a hardwood warehouse or lumber yard. But boy, my first trip to the steel yard was nerve racking. I didn't know the right terminology, didn't know where to look for what, and just generally felt out of place.

    But I walked out with what I needed for the rack, as well as some supplies to build a welding table.

    Turns out, the rack is bigger than the table, so building the table first was a bit of a waste of time (though it did get me some practice). And after building the table, it was time to build the bed rack.

    Not having any tools for working with metal, my first order of business was to get something to cut the steel I'd purchased. For the frame of the welding table I'd used a grinder, and boy - the accuracy of those 45 degree corners left something to be desired. So, I looked around and finally decided that a horizontal/vertical bandsaw was going to be the most versatile option for my new hobby.

    So it was off to Grizzly tools, to pick up my new G0622 metal bandsaw. As you may have noticed - the rack is getting cheaper all the time!

    [​IMG]

    Smaller than I'd expected, it was easy to put together when I got home.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Assembled it worked great, and being a bandsaw, I felt right at home using it - although I have been careful to keep it quarantined from the rest of the shop - I don't want to get the oils and metal shavings mixed up with my wood.

    But I still wasn't ready to build my rack.

    One of the issues I'd been running into as I measured for the rack in order to make a detailed set of plans was that I had to keep moving between the truck and the shop. That was a pain, especially in the 35 degree weather we were having. Plus, I knew I wouldn't be able to build the rack in the truck.

    So, it was time to build a jig. A full-size mockup of a first gen Tacoma bed, along with various brackets and tabs that would enable me to more accurately measure, assemble, and weld this puppy together.

    But there was a catch. And I liked it. I'd make the jig out of wood.

    Would it work? Maybe. Would it be sturdy enough? Maybe. Would it burn up as I welded? Maybe (but I hoped not).

    [​IMG]

    In the end, the rack came out just fine - relatively quick to build, great for alignment, and seemingly sturdy enough for actually welding on. Plus, now I could build more racks (more easily) if this first one actually worked out. Maybe even enough to pay for all this new equipment!

    Boy, I sure am getting ahead of myself.

    With the rack built, the bulk of the parts cut on the bandsaw, and an in-the-garage temperature of 29 degrees, I setup the frame of the platform and started tacking everything together, following along with full welds. Before long, I had a frame.

    [​IMG]


    And not long after that - the platform of the rack was complete.

    And the jig wasn't a pile of coals. Success!

    The welds weren't the most beautiful I've ever seen, but they were better than my first welds a month ago, and I knew I'd be grinding them down anyway, so it didn't matter too much.

    Of course, so far, I'd stumbled through the easy part. The legs of the rack were next, and those were a bit more complicated.

    But first, we were off to Hawaii for ten days!

    [​IMG]

    With ten days to think about how hard the legs were going to be, I was itching to get going when we returned. The next weekend I set about building a template, when I realized that I could make the legs stronger by notching both ends of the legs, so they cradled the rack and the sides of the bed.

    Of course, this would also make my fabrication life much harder. It was a no-brainer. Notches!

    [​IMG]

    Template built, I traced the pattern onto a piece of metal tubing and tried to figure out how to cut it efficiently on my bandsaw. Ultimately I don't think I ever found anything - and a task that would take me 15 minutes with wood, took me a good couple hours. But in the end, I had six legs.

    …that when I test fit them, were all 1/8th inch too long.

    No problem with wood, but with metal - well, it's a problem. At least for me. I ended up grinding each and every one down (a bit too much)…in another hour. Sigh.

    But then, with some more welding and a bit of grinding (and by a bit, I mean a lot - they say you're either a welder or a grinder…and I'm clearly still a grinder), I had a bed rack. And to my surprise, it seemed to be the right size to fit a 2000 Tacoma pickup bed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All that was left was prep for paint, priming, and painting. Naturally, that would take two weekends - because in prepping for paint, after using a wire cup on the grinder, I painted on some phosphoric acid (to convert any rust and prevent future rust). After rinsing off the acid, rather than eliminating rust, the entire rack flash rusted. "Minorly upset," I set it aside until the next weekend, when I could go over the entire thing again with the wire cup.

    [​IMG]

    Some grinding later I was ready for paint - but with temps below 50F, I wasn't sure that I'd get good adhesion, so I warmed up the garage using a propane heater and then sprayed on some Rustoleum primer and two coats of rubberized undercoating with no hiccups. Then, it dried for a week.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After all of this, installation was easy. A bit of high density rubber to protect the bed rails, and it fit like a glove.

    [​IMG]

    Looking back, this was a great project. I mean, it cost me about five times (or more) what purchasing a set of bed bars from Relentless would have cost, but I had a great time. And who knows - there might just be someone out there who wants me to build them one…for the right price!

    Now, I just need to pick up that CVT!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  8. May 16, 2017 at 10:30 PM
    #48
    squint0241

    squint0241 OVRLND

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    Well Done!...:cool::thumbsup:

    Great adventures and your pics are "Epic"!
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  9. May 17, 2017 at 8:40 PM
    #49
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!
     
  10. May 17, 2017 at 8:51 PM
    #50
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Rear Diff Breather Mod - Why didn't I do this sooner?
    March 19, 2017

    It seems like just about everyone does this mod sooner or later, and I chose a little later. 17 years a little later.

    The fact that we have to do this mod at all is a bit unfortunate. Designers at Toyota placed a breather for the rear differential right on the diff housing, which means that if you submerse the diff in water when it's hot, the contraction of air in the diff could suck water into the diff, destroying it.

    Sounds great, right? Yeah, clearly no.

    [​IMG]

    The fix is pretty simple: add an extension to the breather to move it up out of the reach of any water crossing. The hardest step is finding the right parts to do the mod. Luckily, others have gone before, and the parts have been well identified:
    1. 90930-03136 Plug Breather
    2. 90404-51319 Union
    You'll also need a few other odds and ends, and tools:
    1. Two stainless steel hose clamps
    2. A length of 3/8th inch fuel line (8' is plenty, I used about 6' to get to the fuel door location)
    3. Slot screwdriver
    4. Drill (if you're going to drill a hole for the relocated breather)
    5. Adjustable wrench
    6. A few zip ties
    [​IMG]

    Everything in hand, the entire process took less than 30 minutes:

    1. Drop the spare, to get a bit more room to work under the truck.

    2. Clean around the OEM breather (so nothing falls in your diff as you make the swap, and then remove the OEM breather, prep the Union, and install it.

    3. Attach the fuel line to the Union with a hose clamp and run the other end to the location you'll install the new Plug Breather. Zip tie it as you go, and don't forget to allow for rear axle droop (leave some slack).

    4. Attach the fuel line to the Plug Breather with the other hose clamp.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So there it is, installed behind the fuel door, next to the valve for the air shocks. Getting a little crowded in there, but still fits nicely. Why didn't I do this sooner?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  11. May 18, 2017 at 9:12 PM
    #51
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Bussmann RTMR installation
    April 2017.

    Wires everywhere. That’s how it’s starting to feel with the various accessories that I’ve added to the truck. Sure, I tuck them away here, and zip-tie them away there to try to clean things up, but in the end I still have several pair of wires running from various fuses and relays in the engine compartment to accessories and switches on the truck. As someone who likes organization, it’s always bothered me.

    Luckily, there are solutions out there for those of us who like order. There are pre-made fuse boxes from folks like Blue Sea Systems, and there are components from folks like Bussmann, each of which allow you to centralize fuses and relays for accessories.

    I decided to go with a Busmann box, and because at the time I ordered it (December), I didn’t really want to go through the hassle of building it out myself, I ordered one built for my by @Sandman614. It turned out great. (It also turned out that I ended up ordering a bunch of stuff to complete it - essentially weather proof connectors and such - and so I probably should have just built it myself, but I’m still totally happy with what I got from @Sandman614.)

    The RTMR box I’m going with is a 10 fuse, 5 relay model - specifically Bussmann 15303-2-2-4, wired up with:
    Of course before I could get anything installed, I needed to find a place to install the fuse box and circuit breaker. While not an easy task (a 2000 4WD Tacoma with ABS, AC, and cruise control has apparently the least amount of room under the hood of any Tacoma), I was finally able to find a location where I could squeeze everything, but I’d need a custom bracket.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The bracket started with some round rod and sheet metal, which I cut from cardboard templates and tacked together to get “just right.” I ended up mounting the bracket on three existing bolts - one for the ABS ECU, one for the cruise control module, and one holding a pair of brake lines to the inside of the fender.

    After getting everything situated and tacked up, I pulled the entire assembly out for full welding, grinding, priming and painting.

    And then I put the project on hold for two weeks. I realized that one of the things I wanted to do was get connectors added to all of the wires - to ease installation of accessories, so I ended up ordering all the other parts I needed in order to get that accomplished, as well as the larger gauge wire I’d need to hook the whole thing up to the battery.

    It was at this point - as I was ordering “minimum quantities” of the various bits (in the hundreds sometimes) - that I realized I should have just built this whole thing myself. Life. Anyway, who knows - maybe if @Sandman614 is busy, I can step in and build a few of these for folks now - I’ve got enough supplies to make several. :)

    For anyone interested in the parts, there’s a great write-up here on how to build your own Bussmann, and I used the parts listed there - Metri-pack 280 connectors and all of the supporting bits. I also ordered some 4 gauge welding cable and lugs from amazon since I wanted only 10’ of cable (vs. 250’).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Ready to go, it was a simple matter of bolting in the bracket with the existing bolts, and plugging in the requisite accessories - in this case, my Hella 500’s and an ARB CKMA12 compressor I installed at the same time.

    And now, the wiring is oh-so-much cleaner.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  12. May 19, 2017 at 6:23 AM
    #52
    nzbrock

    nzbrock Well-Known Member

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    Did you route the power wire along the radiator or at the back at the firewall?
     
  13. May 19, 2017 at 6:38 AM
    #53
    Sandman614

    Sandman614 Snarky TWSS elf, Travis #hotsavannahdotcom, LRGRNR

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    :thumbsup: great install, nice fab work on that bracket!! This is why I don't offer brackets, I would have never been able to come up with that!
     
  14. May 19, 2017 at 7:32 AM
    #54
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    From the battery it goes on the outside of the fuse panel, charcoal canister, etc (between those and the fender). There are a few bolts that you remove that hold those on that make it very easy to position the wires there (both + and -), then it runs along the top of the firewall on the little pinch weld shelf that seems to be purpose-made for the cable run. :)

    I put both the red and black into some split loom to protect from abrasion, but I've tried to trace them for you in the pic below...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  15. May 19, 2017 at 7:34 AM
    #55
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, this was definitely custom. It's too bad there's so little room in a 2000 engine bay. I'd have hoped that someone would have something that "sits over" or uses the bolt pattern of the existing fuse block, but I think first gens are just too old at this point for that kind of investment.

    In the end, I'm glad I fabbed my own, that's always a rewarding thing to do! hahahaha
     
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  16. May 19, 2017 at 12:10 PM
    #56
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Washboard relief - ARB CKMA12 on-board air compressor
    April 2, 2017.

    Thousands of miles.

    How far have I travelled on washboard roads at full tire pressure? Definitely thousands of miles. Probably not ten thousand, but enough that I wish I’d have known how much better life is when you can air down and air back up without too much hassle.

    Luckily, while I’m still cheap, I’ve smartened up over the years, and I know that some things are worth a little extra. And comfort is one of those things. So, it’s time to install an ARB CKMA12 air compressor.

    [​IMG]

    I’ve opted for the single compressor here rather than the twin (CKMTA12), because I’ve got really limited space under the hood. In fact, as it turns out, a 2000 4WD Tacoma with ABS and cruise control apparently has the least amount of space of any Tacoma, ever. The driver side engine compartment is completely full, with the battery, fuse box, charcoal canister, and power steering, and the passenger side is pretty full with the air filter, power steering, and ABS controller.

    Not to be dissuaded, I spotted that blank space on the firewall - it looked close, but, I was willing to give it a shot.

    [​IMG]

    So I did some searching around on the internet, and I finally discovered that the good guys over at Expedition Overland happened to find that same spot on their 2001 Tacoma, and in a short video cameo, I was able to see the compressor mounted. Was victory mine?

    Hoping so, I emailed them to see if they had any more footage or documented the installation. Jeff got back to me in a couple days and while they didn’t have anything he could share from a picture perspective, he did confirm that it fit, and gave me a valuable hint about removing the plastic cowl in front of the windshield (where the wipers are) to access the back of the firewall in that location. At this point I could tell, victory was going to be mine!

    Or so I thought.

    I didn’t discover until the end, but it turns out that the one last thing that makes a 2000 Tacoma’s engine compartment different than 2001-2004 is that the hood swoops down slightly in the middle rather than swooping up. Probably makes about a 1½ inch difference right where the compressor was going to mount.

    Victory would still be mine, but only with a little bashing. More on that later.

    First, I removed the windshield wipers, then a few screws, and finally some plastic clips that held the cowl in place.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It’s always nice when you can remove plastic clips without breaking them.

    [​IMG]

    Fifteen minutes in, and I was sure, I’d be done by lunch!

    But of course, this is when the fun part started. It was clear to me that there was just no way that the compressor was going to fit on the firewall above the little metal shelf. When placed there, two problems arose: First, it was about ¾” too tall; second was the fact that the mounting bracket wouldn’t sit flat against the firewall when the compressor was installed -- the motor on the compressor would hit the shelf.

    So I did what anyone in my position (aka “stuck,” since I’d already paid good money and had nowhere else to mount the compressor) would do - I improvised. First, I cut off as much of the bottom of the ARB compressor bracket as I felt like I could, while leaving myself enough room for the two bottom bolts to hold it on to the firewall. And second, I seam welded up and painted a couple pieces of ¼” bar stock to use as a spacer behind the mounting platin - hopefully pushing it far enough away from the firewall to clear the shelf.

    [​IMG]

    A bit of paint on the spacer, and four holes in the right place, and some EPDM rubber on the back for vibration isolation and sealing, and it was ready to mount up. Oh, and I used it to mark and drill the holes in the firewall.

    There is little I’ve done to the truck more nerve racking than drilling holes in the firewall. And technically, this isn’t even really called the firewall, since it doesn’t go directly to the cabin.

    [​IMG]

    After getting the holes drilled, it was time to mount everything up. Mounting consisted of some stainless steel hardware I’d purchased separately for its corrosion resistance. The sandwich then was:
    • ¼” stainless hex bolt
    • ¼” stainless lock washer
    • ARB mounting bracket
    • ¼” stainless washer
    • ¼” custom steel plate (painted)
    • EPDM rubber, 1/8” thick compressed
    • Firewall
    • 1 ¼” fender washer
    • ¼” stainless washer
    • ¼” stainless nut
    The idea of course is to ensure that the lock washer holds everything in place, and that the washers on the back of the firewall are large enough to support the weight of the compressor as it gets bumped around on the trail.

    Bracket installation took about 90 minutes, since access to the holes was nearly impossible (probably would have been easier with a second set of smaller hands, and the hood removed) and the stainless hex bolts I was using were just long enough (1 inch) to get started in the nuts with the whole sandwich.

    With the bracket mounted, I was sure that I was totally screwed. The more I looked at it, the more convinced I was that there was no way the compressor was going to fit under the hood. Hard-headed as always, I kept going.

    Turns out the hood wasn’t the thing I should have been concerned about (first). The shelf in the firewall was still a bit too wide and the bottom of the compressor was hitting it when I tried to mount it to the bracket. Sure that I was doing the right thing, I pulled out my hammer and knocked it down a bit, and out of the way. Disaster avoided.

    I then spent another 60 minutes screwing in the four bolts that hold the compressor to the mount (everything’s such a tight fit that getting an Allen wrench in there is nearly impossible.

    And then, it was mounted. Luckily, I think I only stripped one head when it was all said and done, and just as I completed tightening it.

    At least we know it’s never coming out.

    Oh, and now I’m really committed to making it work.

    [​IMG]

    The moment of truth. I gathered up my various tools and shut the hood. It was no good. I could tell that even with my cutting of the bracket, it was hitting on the top of the compressor. Actually, it was hitting on one of the anodized blue aluminum fins.

    So out came the grinder, and off went the fin. Easy peasy. Who needed that fin anyway?

    I closed the hood again. Better, but still touching. No more fins to grind off, I needed another ¼” or so to feel like there was enough of an “air gap” to accommodate hood vibration, etc. Luckily for me, the part of the hood hitting the compressor was a reinforcing bar, so I was able to once again use my precision hammer to bash it in just the right place and generate the necessary clearance. And with that, just like a 2001-2004 Tacoma, you can fit an ARB CKMA12 in a 2000 Tacoma. Sort of.

    And now, it was time for wiring. Having just installed my Bussmann RTMR, I was looking forward to using one of the relays to power this puppy. So I broke out the wiring harness that came with the ARB and pillaged the necessary bits from it - some 10 gauge wire here, connectors there - essentially removing the bits that would be replaced by the Bussmann. I also gathered up a few other new bits of electronics that I’d need to get everything connected up

    [​IMG]

    Those got split-loomed into the engine bay, and run through the firewall to the cab, where I installed my own push-button switch (that matches my other switches). A bit of soldering, reconnection of the battery, and I a test was in order.

    The switch switched. The compressor compressed. I could see the finish line.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last step was to attach the various fittings and hoses that would move the air from the compressor to the tires. With the single compressor version of the ARB, I made sure to get all V-style (to ensure as much airflow as possible):

    Some Teflon tape and everything went together well.

    [​IMG]

    And now, I can look forward to airing down when we leave the pavement.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  17. May 19, 2017 at 4:55 PM
    #57
    Suspender

    Suspender Well-Known Member

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    No joke, I just started building the exact same rack last weekend. Bought my Tacoma 5/4/17 and this is my first addition to it - picked up a Tepui Baja Ayer (2 person) RTT from Craigslist and used that same picture (courtesy of google) to map out my own plan. I used 1"x2" rectangle tubing (16 gauge) for the entire thing, and cut out one of the front-to-back cross beam supports. Amateur at woodworking and also my first experience with metalworking so I must say, your jig is impressive. I just leveled two steel sawhorses the best I could and used magnets and a speed square to get true 90-corners on the outer frame. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to get the legs cut right, and I'm on the fence about whether I'll only need 4 or if I should do 6 just in case... Given that it's only 48" wide... so thanks for the indepth walk-through and pics!!
     
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  18. May 20, 2017 at 9:04 AM
    #58
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Awesome to hear you're building essentially the same thing, it's a great design. The jig was super-helpful because it meant I could work on the rack without worrying about screwing up the truck (sparks, heat, etc.) From a support perspective, I think you likely only need 4 supports; I put 6 just to distribute the load a bit more on the bed rails. But the angle does a good job of that, I think. I do notice that I use the middle support to pull myself up as I step on the tire when I'm setting up/putting away the CVT though, so it is convenient to have.
     
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  19. May 21, 2017 at 11:30 PM
    #59
    Jajones Man

    Jajones Man One of the few "Southpaw's" still around.

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    Somehow randomly got on your build looking to see your ARB installation and was looking through your trips and saw you stopped at Joe's Fiesta in Pendleton! Once I saw the building I was like no way? My hometown lol Hope it was a great meal and trip! Crazy small world!
     
  20. May 22, 2017 at 12:25 PM
    #60
    boostedka

    boostedka Well-Known Member

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    Subbed. Great detail!
     
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