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Diet Taco... trying to keep things light

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Builds (2005-2015)' started by DVexile, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:01 AM
    #1
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Guiding Principle

    The Toyota Tacoma has a pretty pathetic payload and expedition builds tend to get heavy fast. So the guiding principle for this build is to keep the Tacoma on a diet. Don't bolt things on just because everyone else does. Carefully choose modifications that give the most bang for the weight in my specific applications. Don't develop a "just in case" attitude that brings 400 lbs of recovery gear and armor. Be realistic about the most likely scenarios and accept that in the worst case "stuck" just means an unplanned camp site and a recovery bill. Don't adopt the Boy Scouts' ethic of "it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it". Hew to the ultralight backpackers' motto "if I don't have it I don't need it".

    [​IMG]
    The Diet Taco at rest in its natural environment

    Starting Point

    Based on my needs the base for the build is a 2015 Tacoma DCSB TRD Off Road with a windowless FlipPac. The photo above is of the very first camping site for the rig immediately after the FlipPac was installed (it started camping the very night of the install).

    Completed Modifications
    Planned Modifications
    • A/C condensation drain extension
    • A/C control modifications
    • ES radiator bushings
    • No slip patches on sliders
    • Temporary slider gap cover for rear passenger door (daughter's door)
    • OBD-II Reader and Display
    • Low profile quick disconnect hardware for FlipPac struts
    • Cabin air intake rodent screen
    • Under throttle body rodent screen
    • Cam tab reinforcement
    • Exhaust trim
    • Bed mounted fire extinguisher
    • In cab AC outlet and 400W any time mod
    • More in cab USB ports
    • Side shade panels for awning
    • Shade solution of some sort for the rear
    • Rear mesh screen curtains
    • Sound dampen/insulate rear cabin wall behind seats
    • Remount FlipPac without bed caps
    • Additional bright LED brake lights near top of FlipPac
    • Temporary air intake relocate for water crossings
    • Wireless spotting camera
    • Dash camera
    Declined Modifications
    • Winch
    • Front Bumper
    • Fridge
    • Larger or Dual Battery
    • Rear Swing-Out
    • Roof Rack
    • Fancy interior/exterior camp lighting
    • Toilet
    Useful Things I Carry
    Maintenance

    Current "Dry" Weight w/Full Gas - 5400 lbs

    Camping Trips
    And I must thank all the members of this great forum - over the few months before purchasing the truck and FlipPac the amount of information I extracted from here was incredibly useful in planning and beginning to execute my build. I hope I can "give a little back" over time with my build thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
    jubei, dewayne, greysands and 25 others like this.
  2. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:02 AM
    #2
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Buying the Tacoma
    Purchased March 2015

    So the story starts of course with buying a truck. In my case I had a 1992 Toyota 4WD regular cab long bed since 2000. The truck was not a DD, it was for camping only. And a number of years ago we relocated to the mid-Atlantic and so I'd left the camping truck in storage various places to use for camping trips in the southwest. Served me very well over the 15 years I had it, but now that we have a daughter we don't fit in a regular cab so well.

    I camp most of the time in the Mojave, particularly often around Death Valley. I've done trips with both a mid size and a full size truck and certain places were a pain with the full size. I especially remember a trip down Lippencott road which would take about 45 minutes in my 1992 but with an Excursion along on this trip having to shimmy by narrow points and perform twenty point turns at hairpins with a spotter it took over two hours. At one point it got very dicey for the Excursion and we almost got very stuck. So I wanted to avoid going to a Tundra or other full size truck.

    I was looking for quick camp setup and tear down as I like to "explore" and move frequently and I wanted something a bit more comfortable and weather sound for the rest of the family. So that ruled out a Jeep of some form or an SUV. Basically something more like a camper would be best I thought.

    I had looked at pop-up campers like a FWC but the weight was just excessive for the mid-size trucks and I felt that would force me into a full-size truck. So I was in a quandary for a couple of years.

    Then near the end of 2014 I saw a FlipPac out in Saline Valley. I hadn't seen one before and given its light weight it seemed like just the thing to suit me. It meant I could go with a mid size truck. With that, the Tacoma was back in the picture.

    I needed to fit two adults and a child seat now, and of course three adults by the end of the service life of about twenty years. Driving distances could be quite long hitting various National Parks and so that ruled out an Access Cab. I didn't particularly want the extra wheelbase of a Double Cab Long Bed and I was interested in the TRD OR package as well. Dave's build thread on Expedition Portal convinced me a DCSB with a FlipPac would provide plenty of room, no need for the DCLB.

    Considering the various package costs I thought the TRD OR package was a good deal compared to an SR5 with additional upgrades, even if swapping the suspension. Certainly going with a base model made the price difference wide enough I could argue skipping the TRD OR and using the saved money for more upgrades. In the end I decided I liked enough of the SR5/TRD comfort features that I wouldn't go base model and at that point for me the SR5 just didn't make sense considering how much more I got with the TRD OR compared to the SR5 for a modest increase in cost. Obviously different people with different needs would reach a different conclusion!

    I love manual transmissions, but the 6 speed on the V6 did not seemed to be loved by very many people and the TRD OR brought a number of useful features only implemented with the automatic transmission. Oh, and after having driven my 1992 22RE 4 cyl up passes at 35 mph for the past 15 years I was going to treat myself to a V6 for sure.

    And so I ordered a DCSB V6 AT 4WD TRD OR. Oh, and the tow package as well. Though I never expect to tow the added wiring harness in case I ever do along with the alternator and trans cooler are well worth it on their own given the surprisingly low cost of the tow package.

    Did I mention deserts? If you've actually lived in one day to day you'll know the only vehicle color for a desert is white. Even things like beige, grey or silver absorb more solar radiation than white with noticeably higher cabin temperatures. Since my vehicle is stored outdoors in a desert I saw no need to bake it by choosing any color other than white. I admit other colors look nicer, but function before form for me always.

    I ordered with no other options - not even floor mats or door sill protectors because I was going aftermarket with all of those. And so after a six week wait my truck was ready to pick up. In one mad day I bought the new truck, put new tires on it, transferred gear from the old truck to the new truck, put the new truck in storage and drove the old truck away to be sold the next day. I got to drive the new truck for all of 20 miles before leaving it behind to wait for the FlipPac to be ready.

    Here's what it looked like just new, but with the stock tires already changed out (to be discussed in a future post):

    [​IMG]
    Stock except for new tires (BFG KO2 235/85R16)
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
    big_jarv, mtbkr, Jc4x4 and 6 others like this.
  3. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:04 AM
    #3
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Tires - BFG KO2 LT235/85R16
    Installed March 2015

    Since the truck is not a DD the question of tires is almost entirely about off road performance - though there could be long highway spells getting places too. Tread wear also not a concern as the vehicle is so low mileage tires will be replaced due to age before even 50% tread wear.

    I pretty quickly settled on the BFG KO2. I've run the KO on my previous truck for years and years and it did quite well on the kinds of trails I drive. The KO2 looked to be an improvement all around, so I planned to wait for the KO2 to come out in my desired size before swapping tires. I probably could have done more due diligence and research about alternatives to the KO2 - the KO was by no means a perfect tire and the KO2 is too new to really know how much improvement there really is. But in the end, each alternative I read about also had its detractors just like the KO did and I decided to go with what I was familiar with.

    So the question of size.

    I decided narrow pizza cutter was best suited to my needs. I never do mud or dunes but do occasionally encounter sandy roads that might cross the apron on a dune system. Otherwise it is dirt, gravel and rocky roads sometimes steep. I may encounter off road passes with snow from time to time. After some research it seemed pizza cutter was the right approach for me. This article was a particularly good read.

    But what diameter?

    It seems that a 33" was almost a prerequisite for calling a vehicle an "expedition" vehicle. But with the Tacoma that came with a lot of fuss. You'd have to lift to 3" to fit a 33" on. Unfortunately at 3" lift you'd really need to swap the UCAs as well to ever get good alignment. You would also risk having the CV boot ribs rubbing leading to premature failure, so you are probably swapping the CV boots. The steep CV angles also may necessitate a bearing swap to reduce vibration. Lastly the increased rotating mass and diameter seemed to leave some folks deciding to re-gear their diffs. Also the standard pizza cutter 33" in the form of the 255/85R16 isn't available in KO or KO2 and I'd have to swap wheels to 17" to get something similar or look to a different tire (like a KM2). That seems like an awful lot of cascading problems or upgrades to properly support a 33" tire.

    Alternatively a 235/85R16 comes in at about 31.7" in diameter and can be put directly on stock with no issues whatsoever. I'd still want to lift, but now I can go to just a 2" or 2.5" lift which doesn't necessitate new UCAs, CV boots and lower risk of bearing vibrations post lift. And compared to a say 33.2" tire I've lost a whopping 0.75" of clearance under the differential by going with the slightly smaller tire.

    So in the end I decided 0.75" was not worth all the additional (potential) troubles with going to a 33".

    BFG was estimating the KO2 available in 235/85R16 on April 15th. Unfortunately that was after my FlipPac install date and so I'd probably not be able to put the KO2s on until the fall when I'd next get to work on the truck. But then it turned out they were available earlier than expected and in fact I could get them the very day I purchased the truck. If I lived where my truck lives I would have sold the brand new Rugged Fails taken off on craigslist probably for a good $400 for the set of 5. However, logistically selling used tires from across the country was not a realistic option. Fortunately it turned out Discount Tire would give me a $250 trade in on the set of 5 and their price for the KO2 was within a dollar of TireRack's price. So just a couple of hours after picking up the truck from the dealer I pulled into Discount Tire and traded in the Rugged Fails with 32 miles on them for the KO2s I had ordered a few days earlier to be ready.

    Photo of tires in previous post.

    (3YR UPDATE: I've not been too impressed with how the KO2s have worn though I have no complaints about their off-road performance.)

    (AUG 2018 UPDATE: Replaced with Cooper S/T Maxx LT235/85R16)
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
    yub, mtbkr, ecgreen and 4 others like this.
  4. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:05 AM
    #4
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Floor Mats and Door Sills
    Installed March 2015

    If I could have gotten a vinyl floor I would have, and in a few past model years you could. But carpet only for the Tacoma these days. The standard quality mat for a long time has been the WeatherTech and I was all set to go that route. But I soon learned WeatherTech are extremely rigid, the plastic is more like a trash can lid than rubber. A number of people had been complaining about poor fit because the rigid plastic wouldn't deform to close gaps on vertical surfaces. Husky had their WeatherBeater line in competition but these were also rigid plastic. I wasn't sure I was going to like either options.

    Then I found that Husky now made X-act Contour mats which are made from a more rubbery flexible plastic. I honestly think these should be the new standard for quality mats and people should give WeatherTech a pass unless they specifically like the rigid plastic for some reason. The Husky mats went on discount from Amazon just before I was to take delivery on the truck, so I had them drop shipped to be waiting for me when I got to Las Vegas to pick up the truck. They are simply wonderful in every way. Love the fit, thickness and pliability. They fit over and use the front mat latches in the Tacoma perfectly. The rear single piece mat fits perfectly and stays in place with a combination of traction nubs on the bottom of the mat and perfectly snug fitting underneath the front seat mounts.

    I really hadn't even considered door sill protectors - didn't think I'd need them. But I did realize that they could probably get pretty torn up. I looked at the various plastic options - including OEM and wasn't too impressed.

    One of the reasons I went with the Tacoma over other midsize options was the extensive third party after market support. Similarly I wanted a 2015 rather than waiting for a 2016 for this mature support. I found over on TacomaWorld a guy selling metal door sill protectors. G-Tek Fab is the name and I decided to go with those. Probably overkill, but I do quite like them.

    [​IMG]
    Floor Mats and Door Sill Protectors
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  5. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:05 AM
    #5
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Console and Glove Organizers
    Installed March 2015

    Still in the not so interesting category of "mods" are some nice organizers for the center console and glove box. Again, one of the benefits of the Tacoma and ten years with essentially the same model is a wealth of options in the third party market. These are some nicely designed dividers from Salex that custom fit the center console and the glove box. So far I haven't stuffed too much in there, but I'm sure that will change with time!

    The center most short divider in the console can be removed to create two compartments the same width as a CD - if you still have such anachronistic media around still :)

    [​IMG]
    Glove box organizer from Salex

    [​IMG]
    Center console organizer from Salex
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  6. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:06 AM
    #6
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    FlipPac
    Installed April 2015

    The real key to the entire build is the FlipPac. I wanted some sort of camper like build for family comfort and rapid camp setup and tear down. Pop up campers seemed too heavy for the Tacoma (though I know many people do use them on Tacomas). When I saw a FlipPac in Saline Valley for the first time I was pretty sure that would be the ideal solution. After checking out various FlipPac build threads I was convinced. So shortly after ordering the Tacoma it was time to get a FlipPac on order. I actually never looked at the interior of that FlipPac in Saline so I was essentially buying just based on the excellent information available here on the TW and ExPo forums!

    My plan was to order through AT. Unfortunately AT had just stopped doing FlipPacs - apparently because getting any sort of reasonable lead time from FRP was nearly impossible for them. I grimaced and expected to find a multi-month lead time from FRP. Well I called FRP and they said they had just a 7 week lead time. So I placed my order and kept my fingers crossed. It was ready exactly when they said it would be. I was flying from across the country to get it installed, so hitting the date was very important to me!

    Originally I had thought of doing windoors on the FlipPac. The one I saw in Saline had them at it seemed like a really great concept for getting easy access to everything in the bed. I envisioned using the windoors as a pass through for outdoor cooking and indoor eating as well. After reading a lot of threads on Expedition Portal though my opinion began to change.

    One major factor was desert camping and desert storage of the vehicle. Nothing heats up a cabin faster than glass. So I'd have to have reflective sunshades for those side windows. Keep in mind black curtains while great for privacy are pointless in managing solar load. Glass is opaque to IR. If you have a black curtain you get 1kW/m^2 pouring in through the window in the visible wavelengths which after being absorbed by the black curtain is radiated as IR wavelengths which can't get back out through the glass. You must get that light back out the window in visible wavelengths if you don't want to heat the interior and so that means silvered sunshades. Again, spend some time living day to day in a desert parking your vehicle in the sun and you will quickly learn all about the thermodynamics of managing cabin temperature in a parked vehicle. Windows are your biggest enemy.

    I also started to realize that how I'd likely do the interior build would make the windoors not very functional for me. Also with only a 5 foot bed it isn't that hard to get to most things from the rear. It seemed like there were a lot of happy folks without windows and so when it came time to order I went windowless. So far very happy with that choice for my needs.

    So in early April I flew out again to Vegas to the truck to drive down to Riverside for installation at FRP. As a side note I live in Baltimore and the truck lives in Las Vegas and thankfully Southwest has many direct flights between BWI and LAS often with prices of only about $100 each way. So all this flying is actually not too burdensome either physically or on the pocket book! But it is a bit of a logistical nightmare to manage a build across the country...

    I got into Vegas the evening before the install date, smiled to be able to drive my new truck more than 20 miles this time and spent the night in the wilderness outside Barstow, CA. Slept in the bed of the truck (tailgate down) on a wonderful little cot I have (which deserves a post of its own at some point). Up early the next morning, did some repacking and throwing out stuff I'd no longer need so that the bed would be empty for FRP when they did the install. The Double Cab was packed solid with all my gear! Drove down to FRP for an install starting at 9:30AM. The folks at FRP were great to work with on the install. I took the 3.5 hours of install time to shop around at a local Home Depot to get ready for the build I'd be doing the next day. I also did some other shopping getting various gear together and expendables replenished.

    By 1PM the FlipPac was installed. My first impression climbing in with it opened up was "wow, this is really spacious". I got the tour of my new FlipPac and basic instruction from the nice folks at FRP. And then I drove away...

    I had some things drop shipped to a nearby REI and swung by to pick those up before heading back into the high desert for the night. I used a 20% member coupon to purchase my new Yeti cooler (a subject of a future post in fridge vs. cooler). Got some Action Packers as well. After that it was time to get stuck in traffic going through the Cajon Pass on I-15 before finally breaking free into the high desert. Truck seemed to drive great with the FlipPac on. Just outside Barstow I took a quick shot of the new FlipPac before the light faded. It was an all around good day. Despite all my misgivings about getting the FlipPac direct from FRP it all went smoothly (at least for me).

    (3YR UPDATE: Still loving the FlipPac but the manufacturer FRP has gone out of business. Rumors are the design was purchased and some day someone else may restart production. Adventure Trailers also introduced a nice variation on the concept called the Habitat.)

    [​IMG]
    Newly installed FlipPac
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  7. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:07 AM
    #7
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Raised Floor
    Built April 2015

    Alright, something that is actually a "build" rather just a "buy" now!

    For the bed build out there are many awesome examples on the TW and Expedition Portal forums. The new Goose Gear stuff that Dave is showing in his Flippac over on ExPo is pretty awesome. For right now though I'm pretty sure I just don't know exactly what the best option would be for me. Until I use it a bit I don't think I could do a decent specific full build for the bed and get it "right". I do know that I'd like to be able to hole up in inclement weather without tripping over my gear. I also know that in general I'd like to encourage being outside the truck so that we are enjoying actual camping in the "outdoors" rather than sitting in a built out bed. And I'd like to make best use of the rather small 5ft bed. Some of the bed build out decisions interact with other build decisions of course.

    I thought about this a lot and came up with these guidelines:
    • I don't plan on a swing out bumper, so water needs to be stored in the bed
    • I rarely carry extra fuel but I do carry a usually empty fuel can for the times I do need some
    • I'll have chairs, tables and other "big" things that won't fit in crates with other smaller camp gear
    • Plan on occasional "dirty" or "wet" things I wouldn't want to dump in the living space
    • The wheel wells are annoying to step, sit and work around
    • In foul weather it is annoying to live amongst camp gear you'd normally have unpacked
    With all that in mind and having seen some nice raised floors (sometimes called "sleeping platforms") constructed using the built in lips and notches in the Tacoma's composite bed I decided the first iteration of my build should be a raised floor. This will get the living space above the annoying wheel wells, allow most of the bulky gear to be stored under the living space and creates a "dirty" or "wet" zone under the "clean" and "dry" living space. Given how tall the FlipPac tent is when opened it seemed being on a 9 inch raised floor shouldn't be an issue. I did wonder if the raised floor would make entering the FlipPac from the back more awkward or what other unknown problems there might be. But it seemed simple and cheap enough to just build it and live with it awhile to find out.

    Again, my truck lives in Las Vegas while I live in Baltimore and so that makes doing any sort of "building" a bit annoying as I don't have a garage full of tools or anything else we take for granted when doing mods. Any tool I need lives in the truck and my building is done in the outdoors.

    So, the day after the FlipPac was installed I spent most of the day in the parking lot of the Barstow, CA Home Depot building my raised floor. I built it with the FlipPac open to provide more space and light for working. This attracted a lot of attention. I'd been warned about parking lot discussions slowing you down, but this was insane. No less than six people came and asked about it and asked where to get one. I handed out FRP business cards to those six. A fair number of other people stopped and asked general questions or commented on it but weren't interested in getting one themselves.

    The easiest way to discuss and illustrate the build is to show a picture of the partial build:

    [​IMG]
    Partially built raised floor

    Some things to note:
    • With the FlipPac installed you can't rotate a full width plywood sheet down onto the raised floor lip of the bed. The lip of the FlipPac sticks too far in. So you are forced to build the raised floor as two halves.
    • The Tacoma bed has two cut outs specifically for cross beams for a raised floor. I've used 1x4 boards (truly 1" in dimension as the notches are exactly 1" deep - if you use standard lumber sizes you'll need to use a 2xSomething and then route down the ends to be 1").
    • Hard to see but there is also a lip running the full length of the bed on both sides that the edges of the plywood sit upon. Toyota did a great job putting this very functional aid into their composite bed to make a simple raised floor requiring no support from the bottom of the bed itself.
    • In constructing from a single 4x8 sheet of plywood you can't have a single or two half boards running the full length of the bed since the final floor dimensions are about 57" square. This was fine for me as I wanted a removable section at the front of the bed. Thus the large rear portions are 4 ft long leaving about 10" to be covered by "scraps" from the 4x8 sheet.
    • Note the 1x4 attached down the center of the half board installed. This provides additional stability from sag and ensures that if standing on just one half board you don't have only one half sag. Note that there is no need to attach this board to the cross beams in anyway. Just adding a support beam and attaching it at multiple points with screws prevents sagging. Attaching the ends to the cross beams would do nothing structurally to improve the situation. The sag is prevented by the tensile strength of the 1x4 and this strength has nothing to do with end support - it has everything to do with the 1x4 being securely attached to the plywood above it in multiple points.
    • The water cans (and fuel can still wrapped in paper in this photo) are meant to be stored lying flat underneath the floor. But because I'm not 100% sure how I'll use the configuration I made sure to locate the forward cross beam such that there is the option to store them vertically and be held in place by the cross beam against the front of the bed. The cross beam notches in the bed are wider than 4" so I had some flexibility to do this. It also worked out nicely as this left about 2" to support the large boards and 2" to support the small boards that will cover the front most portion of the bed.
    • I've used a hand saw to trim the rear most corner of the board to match the shape of the rear of the bed. The bed steps in as you get near the tailgate. This step in notch combined with the position of the rear most cross beam (to which the plywood is screwed) prevents the floor from sliding fore or aft.

    The rest of the plywood arranged in place makes the full floor look like this:

    [​IMG]
    All four plywood sections laid out

    Note that not everything is screwed down at this point and we are still missing a rear support 1x4 that will go right along the back edge at the tail gate. Much like the mid support 1x4 described earlier the ends of this one are not supported by anything - simply screwing it at multiple points to the plywood above provides the tensile strength to greatly reduce sagging.

    The front most two small plywood sections are also joined together using a small section of 1x4 in a similar fashion such that they act as a single wide board. They are in halves only because everything came from a single 4x8 sheet and smaller pieces were all that was left. Because this section is only 10" long it can be rotated and placed in as a single wide piece without interference from the FlipPac lip. This section is supported on the sides not just by a thin lip in the bed but rather the full wheel wells and the rear portion by the 1x4 cross beam. So it is only the corners in the center right up against the front of the bed that need stabilization from a small section of 1x4.

    After getting all that screwed down it was just a matter of adding some carpet. I used a outdoor rug that I trimmed to a custom fit. I wrapped it around the rear of the floor for a finished look and to prevent scrapes and splinters when entering and exiting. I used a ghetto carpet installation technique developed successfully in a college dorm room decades ago - U-nails (sometimes called chicken-wire nails) are what holds the carpet down. With the carpet installed the final floor looks like this:

    [​IMG]
    Carpeted raised floor

    There was a large scrap from the rug and for now I put it below the floor as a crappy bed liner. This was to make it easier to slide things in and out and reduce rattles when driving. It was a good experiment and I want to do something like that permanently, but just having the scrap down there is not functional as it slips and slides around too much. I did realize from the experiment that whatever goes down there should be made long enough to roll out onto the tailgate when open. (3YR UPDATE: I now don't think any sort of carpet/liner belongs under the raised floor, the bare bed works just fine. Additionally if there were a liner I wouldn't want it to roll out on the tailgate, a separate door mat works better for that since it can be removed and shaken out).

    Here's what it looks like underneath with the cans stored below the floor at the front of the bed:

    [​IMG]
    Water and fuel cans stored under the floor

    I'm happy storing full water cans like that. The Scepter 20L cans don't seem to leak at all and even if they do water down there is no big deal. The fuel can I would store vertically elsewhere in the bed on top of the raised floor when full. Again, I'd rarely use it and if I did would of course empty it into the fuel tank as soon as possible. But again, my truck has to hold everything I might ever need since I don't have a garage to store things I don't need on a given trip. So most of the time the fuel can will lie empty and horizontal under the floor. (3YR UPDATE: I've actually stored the fuel can when full lying flat under the floor with no leaks or issues a number of times now).

    As mentioned that front most 10" section is designed to be removable primarily to gain access up there for cleaning or other maintenance. As a secondary function cans could be stored vertically up there. These three pictures show the front section closed completely, carpet pulled back for access and with the 10" section removed showing the cans below.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Forward removable floor section

    And finally this shows the current loading of the bed with the raised floor. Lots of long thing things (chairs, tables, cots) and potentially dirty things stored under the bed with a cooler and two action packers stored above. With the packers on the side and the cooler acting as a step up to the FlipPac bed nothing has to be moved or removed for inclement weather living in the bed. The cooler and packers act as seats or tables as needed. In fair weather the packers would likely come out of the bed into the outdoor camp area (envisioned in the future as being under a Fiamma awning on the side). Note also that with the raised floor the bed rail system now rides at the mid point of the cooler and packers rather than just above or at their very tops. This makes securing them from sliding using bed rail rings or cleats much more functional and practical.

    [​IMG]
    Sample packing using raised floor

    After camping in this for a few nights with the raised floor I am very happy so far. Getting in and out of the back is just fine with the floor and it creates a nice open and square living space without wheel wells in the way. I imagine at some point I will do a fancier build once I better understand how I use the space, but for now this has proved to be a cheap, easy and extremely flexible way to build out the back. (3YR UPDATE: Actually this simple mod has worked so well that I now consider it permanent and preferable to any sort of fancier build out.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  8. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:07 AM
    #8
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    De-badging
    April 2015

    I'm very much a function over form kind of person, so this modification is a bit out of character. I do expect to have this rig for 20 to 25 years. I didn't expect the "TRD Off Road" sticker on the truck to weather very well over such a long period. I could certainly remove it later when it looks bad, but I assumed it would leave some sort of a shadow at that point as the surrounding finish would have changed color by then. So I opted to remove the TRD stickers. While I was at it I figured I'd get rid of all the raised letter badges as well - they tend to just trap water when washing and make it hard to apply wax or sealant. Lastly FRP put their name and phone number on the back of the FlipPac in black letters, which would be fine except they did it crooked and I plan to mount a ARB awning there which would partially cover the text making it look weird. So off with all the stickers and what not!

    I bought a low wattage hair dryer meant for pets to run from the truck power (only 400W inverter in the Tacoma) as people said heating the adhesives helped. I also had Goo Gone to use. People recommended the 3M Stripe Off Wheel as a good fast and safe way to remove remaining adhesive. This is an ablative wheel you attach to a drill. To remove the raised letter badges fishing line is used as a cutter to cut the adhesive between the badges and the vehicle.

    The operation was a little bit fussy and messy of course. In the end I found the 3M Stripe Off Wheel was the fastest and easiest way to get adhesive off. Glad I bought it and saw the recommendations from others to use it. It was particularly effective on the black letters that FRP applied as I was able to just use it directly on the letters themselves.

    One TRD sticker peeled off leaving almost no residue. The other left a lot of residue. I used 30 lb monofilament line for cutting the badges and the line broke about three times during the operation. Higher test might be a better choice but I was worried about how thick a line would fit. Could have gone a bit thicker I think. I used some round wood dowel to make handles for my line cutter.

    The only place I had an issue was on those FRP letters on the Flip Pac, there is a very slight discoloration in a few spots in that area now. I did run the wheel a bit aggressively in that area and I presume the finish was also very fresh having just been installed. That region will likely be covered by an awning in the future anyway and I don't think anyone can notice it except for myself since I know where to look.

    Anyway, here is a photo showing the truck missing all its various stickers, badges and letters. I actually find I like the clean look a lot! I almost feel embarrassed admitting that to myself as I pride myself in usually ignoring appearances.

    [​IMG]
    All stickers, badges and lettering removed
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  9. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:08 AM
    #9
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Lessons Learned So Far
    As of April 2015

    I've updated the first post with links to the posts about the mods so far completed as well as a list of planned future mods. The thread will go quiet for awhile now as I won't be able to work on the truck for a few months. Come this fall I will have the rare opportunity to actually live in the same place as my truck for about one year! So modifications will commence again at a steady pace. But for now, some lessons learned from my first few days using the new rig.

    Disable ABS

    Previous truck was a 1992 - so of course no ABS. I'm really quite happy to now have a much, much safer vehicle for highway travel. Face it, you are most likely to end up in serious life altering trouble on the highway getting to the trail than anything that might happen on the trail. This point was driven home by one person that stopped to ask about the FlipPac. They were a previous Tacoma owner and had their vehicle totaled in a head on collision with a drunk driver. They walked away. I'm fairly certain I'd never walk away from such a collision in my old truck. Stability control and ABS are of course a big part of staying safe on the highway but...

    I nearly buried my skull in the headliner because I forgot I had ABS on this past trip. Many of the roads I drive are mostly flat washboard occasionally intersected by small washes that put dips and "whoops" across the road that are hard to see until the last minute. I was driving on a road I had already traversed twice so I knew it was safe to run at modest speeds with the intention of slowing down for the dips along the way. I've driven my old truck like this for many years. A bit of a hard braking as you come up on the dip, the wheels lock and dirt forms a dam rapidly slowing the vehicle, and then release the brakes to unload the suspension before rolling through the dip at low speed.

    Well this time I hit the brakes and essentially nothing happened except for a rapid clicking - ABS had activated of course. I flew through two dips much faster than intended with the resulting ridiculous bucking of the suspension and contents of the truck. I was fortunate that it really wasn't that bad of a hit at all - I don't think I even hit the bump stops. But it did serve to give me quite a scare and remind me I need to drive different off road or disable ABS.

    The disable ABS modification described on Tacoma World was always a planned modification - but I'll be elevating its priority now! And until it is done I'll remember to drive a lot slower on dirt roads.

    Shade, shade, shade

    I already knew how important shade is in the desert and had planned one if not two awnings for my build. Spending one full day out in the open Mojave next to a large Joshua Tree working on the truck the whole day drove the point home. You really, really want a decent footprint of deep shade in any camp. For hiking I always tell people "the most important thing in the Mojave is shade so be sure to bring your own" and recommend an umbrella as mandatory hiking gear. I've even got this snazzy German made lightweight umbrella that is black on the bottom and silvered on the top that is a joy to hike with. Need the same concept for the truck. At this point I'll be doing a Fiamma awning on the side of the truck for sure. The ease of deployment with the Fiamma will make it nice for shade during lunch stops on days we are moving and exploring. But for a campsite one awning can be troublesome as the sun moves... So I'm thinking of an awning on the rear as well. Right now the narrow ARB awning is my first thought and I can make a triangular section to join the edges of the Fiamma and the ARB along with some side panels to create a good patch of shade through out the day.

    Dividers

    I've got two Action Packers to use for storage on top of the raised floor along with the Yeti cooler. My old truck setup used a whole set of slightly smaller crates in the bed. With my old truck it was often a chore to pack things in the crate such that you could find anything. With the Action Packers being larger the problem is even worse. I need to come up with some sort of dividing system to use inside the Action Packers. Especially critical for keeping a section reserved for squishy things like bread and hot dog buns. Right now I'm honestly thinking of looking at some of the Ikea organizing boxes and what not. The Yeti has a built in groove for a divider and I think I'll need to use that divider for sure.

    As a side note to the divider thoughts I found that a bunch of canvas tool bags (about a 11x7x9 in dimensions) have been super useful for storing stuff by need/application (e.g. hand tools, sewing repair, common camp needs, first aid). I found that a great way to fill those out and keep the inside organized is to use those Ziploc containers that are like thin Tupperware. They make them in a bunch of sizes, including very small ones that are good for holding things like grommets and O rings. Given the success of using those "sub-containers" inside the tool bags I'm thinking a similar concept might work in the Action Packers.

    (3YR UPDATE: I eventually found a good divider solution documented here.)

    Garbage

    Somehow in years of camping the fact that I will have garbage is always a surprise. This trip was no different. Yes I have garbage bags, but never a designated good place to store garbage such that the bag won't rip or potentially leak on things I don't want "garbage water" all over. Now with the raised floor concept I need to come up with a dedicated garbage receptacle to keep under there - probably just some sort of Rubbermaid container of an appropriate size. As a side note for those not familiar with them - trash compactor bags are much thicker than standard kitchen trash bags and so make a good choice for a camping trash bag.

    (3YR UPDATE: Actually I have never bothered to get a trash container and instead just use a trash compactor bag that I twist the top of and wrap around the bungee cord that secures the kitchen Action Packer. Easy access all the time and has worked out surprisingly well. A little care in making sure not much in the way of liquids goes in is a good idea.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  10. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:26 PM
    #10
    DVexile

    DVexile [OP] Exiled to the East

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    Relentless Tailgate Reinforcement
    September 2015

    With the Flippac there is a lot of climbing in and out of the tail gate. I also like to use the tailgate as a work surface, especially for food preparation. The ribbed plastic stock tailgate cover is notoriously weak and the ribs are poor working surface. Also I was worried about the shell door rubbing the factory paint off of the top edge of the tailgate.

    Enter Relentless Fabrication and their reinforced tailgate covers. I got in a GB earlier in the summer and had it shipped to the storage facility my truck was stored at. Now in September we are actually living in So. Cal. instead of Baltimore for a year (super, duper hurray!). So was time to install.

    I got the aluminum cover and had it powder coated by relentless. Like it a lot, nice flat surface and very sturdy. Putting it on was a little tricky, I had to slide it on from the side the fit over the top is so snug. This involved disconnecting the tailgate cable on one side but as angling the tailgate so that as I slid it on the bottom edge of the cover actually slid between the bottom of the tail light and the body metal there! Anyway, it went on. I put some weather strip right below where the lip of the cover goes to make sure the factory paint didn't get scratched under the cover lip. I think I put that strip a bit too far up the tailgate, there might still be the slightest contact between the very bottom of the cover lip and the very center of the tailgate. I'll monitor over time.

    I also ordered some replacement OEM screws without shoulders so they'd be flush when installed on the Relentless cover. Lots of good advice in the thread on these covers.

    And after a few months I can say indeed the shell door is rubbing the cover lip, looks like the power coat is going - but I don't care since the cover is aluminum!

    Here is a photo from a few months after install showing it loved, a little scratched and dusty. When at a camp site I set a small door mat (seen sitting on the raised floor in this photo) on the left side of the tailgate so people can climb in and wipe their feet or take off shoes without scratching up the tailgate too badly. Since this is aluminum scrapes are just fine and are merely a cosmetic issue.

    (3YR UPDATE: I still love this mod. The one issue so far is that the bottom edge of the Flip-Pac door rubs against the top of this slowly removing the powder coat. Since it is made of aluminum that is fine as far as corrosion goes but it means the top of the tailgate gets covered in extremely fine black powder coat dust. This dust is nearly impossible to get out of clothing. I need to find a solution to this issue.)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  11. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:29 PM
    #11
    Joe D

    Joe D .

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    Nice post!
     
  12. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:44 PM
    #12
    T4RFTMFW

    T4RFTMFW 10% OFF

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    Sub a dub dub.

    I have the same issue with my Relentless aluminum tailgate protector - on the passenger side. It looks awful, but ain't gonna rust!
     
  13. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:47 PM
    #13
    xenophon

    xenophon Well-Known Member

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    Wow, very nice.
     
  14. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:57 PM
    #14
    rngr

    rngr Aix sponsa

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    Cool theme! I'm in.
     
  15. Jan 7, 2016 at 3:57 PM
    #15
    T4RFTMFW

    T4RFTMFW 10% OFF

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    @DoorDing would probably appreciate this also.
     
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  16. Jan 7, 2016 at 4:09 PM
    #16
    T4RFTMFW

    T4RFTMFW 10% OFF

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    MQQSE likes this.
  17. Jan 7, 2016 at 4:18 PM
    #17
    scocar

    scocar Treat the cause, not the symptom

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    In close proximity to an undisclosed location
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    2015 DCLB 4x4 SR5
    Mostly pallet racks loaded with very impressive boxes, and a smashed head unit
    Subbed. Tldr yet. I'm interested in sensible options that provide capability and efficiency without reducing performance. Once you put a cap on a DCLB, payload takes a big hit. I also tow a small trailer over/through the Sierra Nevada. And automatic tranny FTMFL.

    I'm looking into new wheels/tires to fit the bill. Interested in the Cooper Max, but only going up to 265/75 16. Heavy tires, but Konig Countersteers are lighter, so should help mitigate some of the tires' increased rotational weight bto minimize loss of power/mileage overall.

    Bringing less booze on camping trips might help too.
     
  18. Jan 7, 2016 at 4:25 PM
    #18
    MQQSE

    MQQSE GOB

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    Up there ... a bit to the left
    :eek: Look at you getting all grown up.
     
  19. Jan 7, 2016 at 4:31 PM
    #19
    scocar

    scocar Treat the cause, not the symptom

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    Mostly pallet racks loaded with very impressive boxes, and a smashed head unit
    Less beer, more single malt. :cool:
     
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  20. Jan 7, 2016 at 4:32 PM
    #20
    ODNAREM

    ODNAREM MEMBER Of The Church Of @ODNAREM

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    Ron
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    2012 TRD Sport Prerunner
    TRD catback exhaust,FJ Cruiser trail team wheels,BFG All Terrain K02 tires,Grillcraft front grill,Pelfreybilt IFS/Mid skids,sliders,standard rear bumper,Total Chaos bed stiffeners.TRD Pro Bilstein front/rear suspension.
    Nice write up!Truck is looking real nice OP!
     

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