Tag Archives: tacoma

Security time

There is only so much a person can do to keep their possesions safe while driving to South America. My theory is to not bring anything. If you dont have it, they can’t steal it. Or in our case, and in the case of most overlanders, bring absolutely as little as possible. Yea thats right, all that crap you bought off the Sky Mall catalog stays in your parents crawl space. No 3-D goggles, or liquor cabinet golf bags allowed. Before we pack it all up, let us all take a quick moment to poke fun at all the rediculous trash Sky Mall tries to hustle.

You need to organize and lock up your gear so wandering eyes look the other way. If and when someone tries to smash and grab my gear, what will they really get away with? Inside the truck cab there is a lock box which can hold the laptop, important files, camera / lenses, and a few other things. This lockbox is made from 3/4 inch ply with angle iron steel corners, fastened with one way flathead screws, then bolted to the truck body. Someone could get into this thing if they had grinders, power saws, some time and effort. That is unlikely.

Next, I had an alarm installed. It is the most inexpensive alarm at the car security store. It was $200, including install. It has remote locks, activation blinking light, and it will provide me with a better sense of security. I have been told by experienced overlanders that a cheap alarm system can help deter theft in crowded areas. Yes, thugs will smash and grab on crowded streets. Our $200 alarm will help us out in this situation.


Follwing the alarm, I had a limo tint added to all the windows on the cap as well as the back windows in the cab. Yea you can’t see inside my whip, plus it looks gangster. I also welded up some steel window cages for the rear slider windows. The sliders are easy to access inside the cap, but if someone gets them open, the cage will keep them out. It is also to keep Lupe safe. (notice the fishing pole holder on the cieling also.)


Mounting the auxiliary battery

Installing an auxiliary battery in a truck can be useful for several reasons. We plan on running an inverter from the aux battery so we have DC power outlets avaliable for a laptop, fridge, interior lighting, charging stations, and what ever else we want to plug in. The aux battery will be wired in such a way where it will charge while the truck is running, but when the truck is off and we are using the aux battery it will not effect the starter battery.

Before any wiring happens you need to find a place for the aux battery. Ideally it will be under the hood, but some vehicles will not allow any room for this so they need to find other locations. Luckily for our Toyota I was able to move the the cruise control out of the way which leaves just enough room for my battery.


Once I moved that stupid thing out of my way I started fabricating the battery tray from some scraps of steel I found in the shop.

The welding went smooth and this thing appears to be pretty solid. This is the first time I’ve done one of these, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Once it got spray painted black it looked legit.


This thing aint going anywhere now. I just need to figure out how to wire this thing up. To be continued…



Gear test phase 1

We bolted down the Autohome and headed to upstate NY (North and South Lake to be precise). It looked like rain, but that didn’t stop us.  After all, that is the whole reason for this test run. We are lacking plenty of gear for the trip, but we really just wanted to test out the Autohome and the truck bed cabinets.  The rain added an extra element. So, we picked up some Mahi burgers, beer, and headed for the mountains.


Yea, it rained on and off, and it was actually pretty hard at times. There was not much to do but eat, drink, talk, and go for a short walk. With that being said, the Autohome basically performed flawlessly. That thing stayed dry while we were sleeping, and not to mention, that it is really comfortable with the Ikea mattress i got for it.


As for the cabinets I built, those things were also awesome. We are able to hangout inside the truck while the other person cooks. The whole setup is great, and it will be more comfortable once we get a cushion for it. I did realize that there are several parts to the cabinets that can and should be removed. I want to cut down the weight of this thing in every possible area. I should have built it that way from the get go, but this whole build is trial and error anyway.


We were also able to tryout our Everest 2 burner propane stove. I went with this one because it got the best rating for heat control, and overall performance. Once I sank my teeth into those fish burgers i was glad i spent the extra $20 for the better stove.


The short trip was a success (except for the blue tarp). I am looking forward to getting the truck awning so we can ditch the blue tarp. Nothing spoils a nice view like a big blue plastic tarp waving in the wind.


Custom roof rack / mounting the Autohome

Roof racks can be pricey, and if you want a nice one it has the potential to get really expensive. I am building a rack that will fasten onto my truck bed cap. With access to a welder, I was able to make one with scrap metal that was lying around the shop. First, I cut pieces of 2″ angle iron and welded them together accordingly. I drilled holes for mounting on the cap, and holes for the cross bar.


Then I through bolted square stock aluminum (it is lighter weight) to the steel angle iron. I welded the thread of the bolt to the nut, so it cannot be removed.


I painted the roof rack with truck bed liner paint. This way it looks slick, and also has a rubber coating to protect it from the elements. IMG_1057

I cut rubber to act as a gasket, on the inside and outside, protecting the fiberglass cap.IMG_1063


Making this rack was extremely easy and cost effective. I paid for nothing except the paint, which was extra anyway. If I was to purchase a rack like this from Thule or Yakima, I would be spending between $300 – $500. My rack is way stronger than theirs…AND it is way cooler because I made it myself, and thats good for my street credit.


When I purchased the Autohome from some dude named Barry on Craigslist, he gave me some mounting hardware which seems to work great. He also gave me a pair of gloves for some reason.


So far this thing is sweet. It’s the same size as our queen size bed. IMG_1100

truck cabinet conversion.


We all know living in a car, truck, or van is nothing to brag about. Usually it is a result of a person going through financial distress, or some kind of mental breakdown.  Our parents always warned us about the guy who lives in a parking lot nestled between Wal-mart and TGI Fridays.  Oh, and don’t forget about the couple that lives in the van full of birds under the Bklyn Queens Expressway. Despite these tall tales, and as glamorous as this does not sound to many, Sara and I have decided that this lifestyle sounds pretty good to us. Calling a vehicle home is an excellent way to travel. When traveling, lodging can take up a large percentage of your budget. By eliminating the lodging expense completely, we will be able to extend our trip by a matter of months. Now, this all depends on the person of course. Not everyone is open to sacrificing a certain amount of comfort in exchange for  the extension of a trip.  It is a personal decision that many travelers ponder. Or not.

With all this being said, I am in the process of making our 2001 Toyota Tacoma as comfortable as possible. Besides our roof top tent, which is where we will be sleeping, I have decided to build a cabinet / storage system in the bed of the truck. The system I built will contain a hand pump RV faucet with a 7 gallon tank, propane tank and hose hookup, a 12 volt cooler / fridge, electrical outlets, ample storage space, sleeping room and/or an area to chill out. Here is a rough step by step guide to the build:


First build your basic structure- notch out for wheel wells and anything else that might be in the way. You want this thing to be as tight as possible, and still have the ability to remove easily if need be. Before you go any further TEST FIT!


Once it fits, decide where all compartments will be located. I measured my fridge, propane tank, water tank etc so everything fits properly and can be easily removed if need be.


I painted the entire structure with 2 coats (all sides every piece) with herculiner truck bed paint. This is basically a rubber coating that will withstand abuse as well as water and moisture.


I then got some outdoor carpet and adhesive and covered all cabinet doors and the platform. I used piano hinges because they will help keep doors from warping and they have a low profile.


The RV pump sink works great.  It was easy to install and seems to be very durable. This will be great for drinking water. The small cabinets will probably carry basic every day things like toothpaste, toothbrush, suntan lotion, and hot sauce.


The fridge has a fan thats need constant ventalation, hence the blue vent on the sidewall. The 1 gallon propane tank has an access hole so it can be turned on and off easily. The propane hose runs through cabinet along the side of the fridge so it is not seen. When the stove is in use on the tailgate, the hose is accessible near bottom right side of fridge compartment.


The 7 gallon water tank is in the back right of the cabinets. In this location its out of the way, but can be easily removed or filled up. the clear hose runs through the pvc pipe. The pvc is only there to protect the hose from whatever storage is in the cabinet.


The center platform is removable, and fits on the floor when not being used as a platform. When the platform is not in use the space acts as an area to chill out. When the platform is in use it can be used as a sleeping platform, or a way to hide gear from wandering eyes. As you can see the cabinets provide a good amount of storage space for my machetes, bags of rice, and underwear.


Well here it is! its basically done except a few minor adjustments and additions. I estimate it weighs a bit over 200 pounds. We cant wait to go camping and test this thing out!

Suspension is in!

The OME suspension with Dakar leaf packs install was a success. This was the first time i put a suspension kit in a vehicle, and I found it to be a fairly simple process. Paul from http://ihearttrail.com has done suspension kits before and decided to help me. If he wasn’t there I would not be able to do this. After hours of wrenching and driving around Queens and Brooklyn looking for bolts we had to cut off, the install was a success. The Tacoma now has a 2 inch lift and a high end suspension that will be able to take the abuse of our 30,000 mile trip to Argentina. The truck looks and feels great.


Suspension in my kitchen



Roads in the states are maintained on the regular and built to last. A lot of the roads south of the boarder are either not paved or not maintained very well, which leads to a bumpy ride. With this in consideration as well as all the extra weight we will be carrying in the truck, the stock suspension is going to fail. We went with the OME full suspension kit with Daker leaf springs. This might be over kill, but we thought it would be a good idea to have a high end suspension for the 30,000 mile overlanding trip. Now i just have to get it on the truck somehow.