Thursday, 8 February 2018

Time For Another Road Trip

Almost two weeks ago I headed out for a road trip so dope and fun its up at the top of all of the road trips I've ever taken. My mom's 70th birthday was coming up on February 12th and her ten other siblings were throwing a surprise birthday party for her; and my twin brother, his wife and son and my pops were going to be there too of course. I could have flown down there, but since I was laid off from my last job recently I decided to take advantage of the time off and drive down.

I wanted to leave as early as I could so I could explore along the way, but I had some personal business to take care of before I could leave, so I didn't end up getting out of Seattle until Thursday morning, February 8th around 10:00am. Before I could leave though, I had a lot of prep work to do.

I built a new platform for camping in the back of my truck; a 2004 Tacoma TRD with about 186,000 miles on it. I've got a SnugTop canopy on it too, so its ideal sleeping in.

Right side of the bed with platform and middle section

Left side of bed with platform and middle section

Both sides, middle partition not shown
I had built another platform a year or so back and it worked fine, but I didn't like it since it was difficult to move in and out of my truck. It also was level with the top height of the bed, which doesn't sound bad but it didn't leave much headroom between the canopy and sleeping platform.

I had a few goals here: 1) Lower the overall platform height for more headroom, 2) Have support legs only on the inner corners of the platform, and put hinges on them so they can swing up 3) Have the outer edges of the platform supported by D-Rings (carabineers) rather than legs to save weight and make it easier to move the platform out of the bed.

The two photos below show the D-Rings that support the platform at the outer edges from the factory installed tie-downs in the bed. I also drilled out the support legs on the inner corners and used 7" long zinc bolts to stabilize the legs since they were on hinges.

The right side, with the D-Ring support and zinc bolt on the inside. 

Left side with its zinc bolt and D-Ring supports. 
In addition to the zinc bolts and d-rings, I also installed black powder coated door/gate latches to keep the sections linked. Those didn't work as well as I had hoped, so I installed eye bolts with hooks which worked well. Funny thought here, I told a buddy of mine the design I was thinking of for building this, and he thought about it for a moment and said "I don't think you should do it that way". Well, the easiest way to convince someone to do something they shouldn't do, is to tell them not to do it.

The platform assembled and all of my gear minutes before departing

Another photo outside of Twin Falls, ID at Lowes' Hardware

The gear I had in the back included a 5 gallon plastic jerry can for water, and another one for gasoline. I didn't feel like getting caught in the desert without water or gas, especially going through the Navajo or Hopi reservations in Arizona where you can go between 60-80 miles in between the nearest location for fuel.  I also had a memory foam mattress (full), my plastic bin with camp gear such as food, propane stove, utensils, backpack with clothes, laptop, books, and other gear for my truck.

I also upgraded the electrical system, including heavier gauge wiring between the battery and alternator, heavier gauge ground wires to the engine block and chassis, and added an auxiliary battery and battery isolator. I did all of this so I can use accessories like my laptop, portable heater for the canopy, and audio system without running the engine. I've gone through two alternators in the last year alone because of bad wiring and too much draw on the main battery and I'm tired of breaking down in the middle of nowhere without cell phone service.

Once I finished upgrading my truck, I made sure I had all of the supplies I would need for the road and headed out on Thursday morning.

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