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FWC Project M Project

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Builds (2016+)' started by AverageGuyTaco, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. Jan 30, 2020 at 12:31 PM
    #1
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It’s Four Wheel Camper Project M time!

    I’m at the Four Wheel Camper factory getting the sixth Project M Shell out of the factory installed today. According to the installers, this is the second Taco to have one installed.

    Fingers crossed it all goes well! I am a bit nervous being an early adopter. FWC’s been around along time and know how to make great quality slide in campers.

    The folks at FWC have been great so far allowing me to watch the install. Being the fourth Project M install for them they are still figuring out the process.

    C6D94BBC-B807-470E-A368-A9BFFBB02F2A.jpg

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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  2. Jan 30, 2020 at 12:32 PM
    #2
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    3C59CFE8-3431-4F1D-B09D-4DAECE3923AC.jpg

    The install took four hours. They told me their goal is to get it down to two hours. They custom fit the shell to each make/model of truck and individual trucks. Mine was the first to get an improved tie down system which essentially is angle aluminum tied into the factory tie down rail.
    D70D3CD0-C82A-42C9-82DB-3ACF12088809.jpg

    It’s definitely not very sophisticated but does the trick. It also make it much simpler when you reinstall if you ever had to remove the shell. They also use flat aluminum stock at the front of the shell. This allows them to adjust the fitting depending again on make and model. Essentially this model shell would fit on mid size trucks not just Tacomas. They would then tailor the install to fit the particular truck bed.

    They used a good quality double bulb seal around the base which is good. A lot of shells on the market use inferior foam seals. When I removed my old ARE shell, the foam was flat and didn’t rebound at all.

    Overall, I was pleased with the experience. They were fairly detailed with prepping the shell and with install.

    In a later post I will go over my first impressions, specifications of the shell, some of the issues I have found so far, nothing to terrible mostly just cosmetic/finish work and and a few gaps that needed to be sealed. I will also go over how I sealed up the truck bed. I spent several hours yesterday sealing all the hole, cracks and gaps in the porous Tacoma bed and tailgate. After that I will document my build out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  3. Jan 30, 2020 at 2:01 PM
    #3
    2ayne

    2ayne Well-Known Member

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    Looks awesome man! Congrats!
     
  4. Feb 5, 2020 at 5:21 PM
    #4
    AddicTioN

    AddicTioN Forklift technician

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    Love the smooth siding! looks great ready to see some more pictures and the build info!
     
  5. Feb 5, 2020 at 9:55 PM
    #5
    DarkSkyGuy

    DarkSkyGuy Active Member

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    Thanks a BUNCH for your thread about the Project M!

    I will be following your every post here with great interest. I just got a 2020 Tacoma OR ACLB (Super White) and I would really like to be able to camp in my truck without exceeding my max payload limit. I will be very interested to follow your solutions to the dust problem. Also: have you thought about how to deal with the fact that now your shark fin antenna on top will be covered by an "aluminum overcast" at all times? You may have to install another antenna in an alternate location, such as a hood mount, in order to get reliable GPS, Sirius, "Safety Connect" and all that. (Somewhere on TW I saw a thread about "relocating shark fin" or something like that. I will see if I can find it again...)

    EDIT: here is the thread I was thinking of:

    https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/sirius-antenna-relocation.420350/#post-19701838
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  6. Feb 6, 2020 at 2:32 AM
    #6
    AddicTioN

    AddicTioN Forklift technician

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    op may have a different experience but i will chime in and say i recently installed a fwc. I have no issues at all with antenna signal/radio reception. It works as if its not there at all.
     
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  7. Feb 6, 2020 at 6:40 PM
    #7
    DarkSkyGuy

    DarkSkyGuy Active Member

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    Does your OR DCLB have the nav system? Just wondering if AM/FM works ok but maybe satellite signals suffer a bit more.
     
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  8. Feb 7, 2020 at 2:05 AM
    #8
    AddicTioN

    AddicTioN Forklift technician

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    No i dont. I opted for no nav as now with apple car play my screen can act as a nav through my phone. Which google maps is 10 times better anyways in my opinion. I didnt use my nav one time in my 2017 just always used google maps. So i didnt wanna pay for it this go round.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2020 at 5:13 PM
    #9
    Pk1963

    Pk1963 Well-Known Member

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    Averageguytaco, your truck and camper look great. Did you have to modify your suspension or were you able to keep it stock?
     
  10. Feb 8, 2020 at 7:32 AM
    #10
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I have not really tested this out. I left for a week long work trip two days after picking up the new shell. I agree with other posts, I really don’t use the nav system as I use my iPhone exclusively. I don’t have car play though which would be nice. As far as radio, I was able to get local stations no problem. I am not sure how it would be when you are further away from urban areas.
     
  11. Feb 8, 2020 at 7:45 AM
    #11
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    No my suspension is not stock. At a minimum you would need to do an add a leaf. My previous build was about 500lbs constant weight and it really sagged in the back. This is my previous build. Before I upgraded my suspension.
    6FE3F476-32A6-4A2C-800E-C5EAE8CB9159.jpg

    I am now running Icon RTX leaf springs. I opted to use all a eight leaves. With those springs and the weight I had about 1.5” of lift in the back over stock. The ride was awesome with that weight. If you didn’t want to do a complete replacement, a three leaf progressive add a leaf would be ideal. The other option is air bags. But I’d start with the progressive add a leaf first.
     
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  12. Feb 8, 2020 at 11:57 AM
    #12
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    First Impressions:

    Two days after I picked up the shell I had a week long work trip. I’m on my way home as I write this post. I only had one day to work on the build and spent most of that time working on sealing up the truck bed. I will post more on that later.

    Overall I am impressed with the quality and construction of the shell. My old shell was an ARE MX and the finish work/details was a bit lacking. That being said there where a few annoying things that I found on the FWC. All were cosmetic and easy to fix. I am a bit retentive and I realize most people would not notice many of these issues. But when you are spending a lot of $$ on a shell I’d expect to not see these issues. I’m not trying to bash FWC. They are a good company and make quality products. I also realize as an early adopter of a new product there will be issues. As long as it is minor and something I can fix with minimal time or expense, I can live with that. There is nothing that I have found so far that I would drive several hours to have them fix. These are all things that could be addressed when picking up the unit had they been caught then. I intend on passing this information on to FWC so they will hopefully address this in the future.

    1. The most important issue I found was several gaps between the bed and shell that needed to be sealed. They were significant enough that water intrusion would have been an issue. At the front of the shell they mount aluminum flat stock at the time of the install. This allows them to adjust the fit for a given truck. The double bulb seal is affixed to the flat aluminum.
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    You can see the flat aluminum sandwiched between the front bed rail and shell. The issue is on the sides where the bulb seal has to step down to the flat aluminum. This creates a gap between the bed rail and the seal. This is not a huge deal since I caught it and put silicon in the gap. Since I don’t plan on taking the shell off, this won’t be a problem. I found another gap in the rear drivers side corner where the installers didn’t quite get the seal lined up. Again a shot of silicon filled that one in as well.

    2. The next issue has to do with the back door. There are two large lifters on the outside. They mount to the back door. The mounts have to be slightly angled to accommodate articulation of the lifter when the door is up. The issue I have is the angle of the brackets from one side to the other do not match which means they are eye balling the install and not using a template. Again not a big deal. It is just aesthetics. Another issue is when mounting the brackets they crushed the door. This caused a gap on either side of the door which would allow moisture to get into the door. FWC needs to put something inside the door to prevent this crushing. I filled the gaps with black silicon which should solve moisture getting into the door. Additionally, the door gasket doesn’t seal at the bottom of the door or either side. Their is a gap where the seal should touch the door frame. I fixed this by putting my own weather stripping around the door frame. I’ll go into more detail on this in another post.
    BA08F765-0B84-470E-8DC7-A58581C0B044.jpg


    0E125E36-C10F-4911-A8F7-4282F67B3EA6.jpg

    3. The most annoying issue I have with the whole install is how they tied in the tail light for the third break light. This is ridiculous.
    70C69B29-1B25-4B5F-8897-BA44A4B269BD.jpg
    Seriously FWC. You are much better than this! They used the same plug they use to connect their slide in campers to the vehicle battery system. Way over kill and not even close to elegant. I will be removing this and coming up with a better solution.

    4. There were a few other small cosmetic issues. They left a lot of metal shaving related to the angle aluminum tie down plates. I removed these tie downs in order to seal up the bed and was able to vacuum them all up. Otherwise over time they would have come out. Since I plan on putting a house battery in the bed, this would have been problematic. There were also metal shaving under the slide out bed platform. This was very surprising since FWC has a crew that meticulously goes over each camper. [edit] 7 of the 12 rivets holding the bed platform together came out. A simple pull or push on the platform would have revealed this.
    0855A2FB-DB53-479E-97E0-4D95BDAD9237.jpg
    Additionally in the bed area, they use carpet on the walls. The front piece of carpet is tattered and frayed at the bottom. This would be covered up by the bed. Finally, the corners of the trim pieces on the outside bottom of the shell don’t line up. They are cut 45deg angles. They covered it up on the back corners with caulking but did not on the front. This can be seen in the first picture above. This is just shoddy craftsmanship and lack of attention to detail.

    5. The last issues is more a disappointment not a workmanship detail. FWC does not include lifters on the side door or a way to keep the door open. I had side doors on my ARE shell and it was nice to be able to open them up and have the door stay open for access and also airflow at night. I will come up with a solution to this down the road.

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
    Peace1, CenCal805, Leppz and 2 others like this.
  13. Feb 9, 2020 at 7:02 PM
    #13
    Pk1963

    Pk1963 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting how the back door hinges are mounted. Different from the pictures on their website. I do think that the way they mounted yours, and crushed the doors, is sloppy and actually unacceptable for a camper that cost pretty much 10 grand. I am really surprised how sloppy they were with the other issues that you mentioned. You would think that they would be extra careful on the first models sold, because the reviews of this new camper will be based on on the first few.
    I was considering this camper, but will be keeping an eye out on how they hopefully improve soon.
     
    Peace1, mac_2_nite, tacomarin and 3 others like this.
  14. Feb 17, 2020 at 3:53 PM
    #14
    DarkSkyGuy

    DarkSkyGuy Active Member

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    Thanks again for your detailed descriptions and photos. I must say I am concerned by some of the issues you brought up. In particular I do not care for the lifters used on the rear door. These lifters are completely different from what has been seen previously on FWC's web site as well as third-party reviews of the Project M. It really looks like they "tried too hard" to put gas struts on the rear door. Clearly the screws that are used to mount the strut attachment plate to the rear door were over-torqued; either that or the aluminum skin on the door is simply not strong enough to support the attachment points for the gas struts.

    And over half of the rivets holding the bed platform together "came out"?!?! Wow - that seems really shoddy. I certainly expected more from a company like FWC who have been making campers for a long, long time. I wonder if this spate of problems you encountered stems from the huge backlog of orders that FWC has presently? I wonder if they have less experienced workers doing the Project M because it is "simpler" and less expensive than their slide-in offerings? Or maybe we are seeing the inevitable start-up transients involved with bringing a new product out of the prototype stage and into production.

    I really, really hope FWC can address these issues in a timely and satisfactory manner. I was very close to placing an order for a Project M this week - got invited to visit my local dealer and take a look at the first two Project M units they have gotten in and which they will be installing for other customers this week. I was about 80% sure that I would like what I saw so much that I would place my own order for one. But now I think I will hold off for a while and see how the Project M "growing pains curve" shapes up...
     
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  15. Feb 18, 2020 at 4:51 PM
    #15
    Taco Neck

    Taco Neck Member

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    Thanks so much for sharing. I was going to order one this week.How long did it take roughly? Are you still pleased for the most part?
    Have a great day
    Eddie
     
  16. Feb 18, 2020 at 5:38 PM
    #16
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I am happy with it. It really is a good product despite some of the minor issues. I think the biggest plus is the weight. Mine is 380 lbs according to the sticker on the side. There slide in campers are over 1000lbs.

    I am behind on my posts. I have three I need to write where I will go into more detail. I hope to get those done this coming weekend.

    We took it out for a quick over night trip this past weekend and it performed well. Way more room than our last build. It seemed like a palace inside. We did about 50-60 miles of dirt roads and washboards. No issues came up.
    A9DE47F7-BEC7-4773-8016-F9191AC5B2F7.jpg
    A34735A8-A624-4E85-91FB-8A0F376090F8.jpg

    Yesterday I started the build out in earnest adapting our old build to the new shell. More to come on that.
    F712076F-7101-41CE-8F36-685D70A29983.jpg

    As far as timing, I believe they are at about 10-12 weeks build time. Give Mike Olds at FWC a call and he can let you know for sure. They are super nice and no pressure sales at all. They have so much business, they don’t need to push people around for sales.

    I will talk about it in another post, but it is worth buying one at one of the shows they attend like Overland Expo. They have specials like free installs, roof vents etc. I saved a a bunch by purchasing this way. They have a list of upcoming shows they will be at on their website.

    Hit me up before you order if you have more questions especially with the options. Just so you know, the options I ordered were the large side door(jury’s still out on whether I like it), pre-wired, and one roof vent. I also got stronger lifters 50lbs vs the standard 40lbs. There was no extra cost for that, but you need to order ahead. This makes it easier to push up the roof when you have more weight up there. But makes it harder to pull down if you don’t have the weight.
     
  17. Feb 18, 2020 at 6:27 PM
    #17
    DarkSkyGuy

    DarkSkyGuy Active Member

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    Thanks again for your continuing chronicles! It is great to see you out using your Project M. I hope I did not sound too negative in my last post - but I was surprised at some of the things you pointed out, given that Four Wheel Campers has a stellar (and well-deserved) reputation for quality. How are those "lifters" on the rear door performing? That is one difference I see between yours and most of the photos out on the net. The prototype apparently used a simple brace to hold the door propped open - it had to be manually lifted up first. Were those gas struts on the rear liftgate standard equipment or did you have to select them as an option?
     
  18. Feb 18, 2020 at 9:50 PM
    #18
    AverageGuyTaco

    AverageGuyTaco [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Not at all. I brought it up mostly so people know what to look for if they were to purchase one. I fully expected there to be minor issues considering it wasn’t in production when I ordered mine. Everything is minor and mostly cosmetic. Nothing I can’t handle. I did a tour of the factory back in Oct and saw the internals and how they build the units. They are well built.

    The lifters came late to the game. They are standard no extra charge. The first time I saw the prototype was in Sept at a van show at Tahoe. They just had the janky bar to hold up the door. They told me the engineers were working on a solution. When I ordered mine in Oct they had retrofitted the prototypes with the new lifter. They work really well and are out of the way. No real effort to open or close the door and they seem to lock in place when the door is up. I’m happy with them.
     
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  19. Feb 18, 2020 at 10:06 PM
    #19
    DarkSkyGuy

    DarkSkyGuy Active Member

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    Thanks! I think the probability that I will get one of these is back up in the 80-90% range. I share your notion that there are bound to be minor "problems" with any kind of camper/shell/RV unit that you buy. I have spent 40 years tent camping (from a car) and so anything with a hard roof over it is a step up for me! When I go camping I do not expect to always be clean, dry, or comfortable - if those are "requirements" I should just stay home! But I do want to learn all I can about issues like water and dust infiltration so I can make my own assessment of how much work I want to do to "finish" my rig. I will be watching your posts with great interest whenever you have time to make them.

    [EDIT] One question: earlier you mentioned "Additionally in the bed area, they use carpet on the walls. The front piece of carpet is tattered and frayed at the bottom." - is this carpeting on the walls standard or optional? Reason I ask is that one video interview with the CEO and VP of FWC indicated that the interior - in fact the entire shell - was made of materials that are impervious to water, so that the shell could be hosed out with water if desired. In your photos it looks like the interior walls of the unit are some kind of smooth, hard material, not carpet. Perhaps you can clairify?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGfpmK9su1Y
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
  20. Feb 18, 2020 at 11:26 PM
    #20
    Taco Neck

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    Thanks so much. Stoked to see you got out there and enjoyed.
     
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