2016-02-13

Jack2: Reflectix lining

This time around I wanted to try lining the cap with reflectix, to see if that helped keep it warmer in the winter and cooler int he summer. Reflectix is basically foil-baked bubble-wrap. It's hotly debated how well it really works in various applications, after reading a lot I decided to just it and find out:

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After a lot of consideration I decided to use silicone glue. There are lots of options but from what I've read silicone adhesive will bond to both plastic and fiberglass... and you can take it back off without damaging either. That's important in case I screw it up, we decide we hate it, or whatever. Here's the stuff I used.

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I bought a 24inch  by 25 foot roll, and it was the right size to buy. I have enough left to put across the windshield if I want to use it that way (not sure if I do yet). I kind of had to piece it together. It's pretty difficult to get it in and actually attached up solidly... particularly when it's below freezing out. Also, the fume from the glue are pretty terrible when it's drying. After trying several things (and getting a little light-headed and having to take a long break a couple times) I finally settled on leaving engine running with the heat on full blast, the windows from the cab to the cap open, and the window sliders and tailgate window open. That worked to both heat the cap so the glue would set, and to help push the fumes out of the cap, all at the same time.

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Some folks have warned me that this is likely to drip on me while sleeping in it. I wanted to try it anyway... so we'll see how it goes.

Jack2: Sleeping Platform

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This'll be a short post, but I at least wanted to get up some photos that show how the platform is constructed. As I noted before, I wanted to have a lot of cargo capacity in the truck. I also want it simple Anything that breaks up the space in the bed reduces the actual usable storage space. Drawers and things are complicated. Similar to Jane I just wanted to keep it simple.

The question then was, can we make it even simpler than Jane's platform is? Here's what Angie and I came up with:
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The design is 4 2x4's spanning the bed-rails. The cap tapers in as it goes upwards, and the 2x4's are as long as they can be and still fit, so they actually "spin" in to place. This is the same as the design of Jane's platform. Jane then had a tessellation of 6 panels filling the voids. That worked well and is great for easy assembly and disassembly... but the breaks in the platform meant that each panel was only supported at the edges, and thus drooped very easily, requiring them to be stiffined with 2x2's. The design in Jack2 is just 2 panels side-by side, each 73 inches long. This is much stronger, and requires less support underneath. It still uses some 2x2, but just little blocks to hold the 2x4's in place so they can't spin and drop out.
This build took about a day from start to finish. 2 10' 2x4s, a couple cheepo chunks of 2x2, and 2 4'x8' sheets of plywood. We ended up with a lot of spare plywood, but we needed two pieces to get sheets of the right dimensions.
It did take some tweaking to get it all to drop in place. We cut out notches in the rearmost 2x4 for the window latches. This was done with a saw cut down each side. We then drilled a series of holes, and hit the chunk with a hammer splitting it off. A bit of work with a rasp and sandpaper to smooth it out, and we were done.
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Notice how the platform actually sits just underneath the window, it fits pretty tight in there. It makes it a little harder to slide in place, but it means things are mostly held in place.
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Angie's parent's had this old mattress around, so we decided to give it a try... 6" tall is too tall and it just takes too much headroom so I don't think we'll use it... 2.5"-3" would be nicer, but it was interesting to try it.
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Excited to try it!

2016-02-07

Jack2: Another Toyota Tacoma

I got a Toyota Tacoma again, and I'm selling the Jeep.

My last Toyota was shared with Jess. When we were planning to settle down and buy land she started looking at cars. In the end I sold her my half of the pickup because it was perfect for doing K9 Search and Rescue, and I got a Jeep, because she already had a pickup, I work from home so mostly drive to get to the woods and we were going to settle down in Virginia, so why not a convertable? Also, it was cheap ($25k out the door) and available in manual. I loved the Jeep, and it was fun. I spent a few thousand upgrading it, e.g. http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2015/03/jeep-mods.html, and learned a lot in the process.

Well, we broke up, and all my life plans changed, and now I had a Jeep. If you read:
http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2013/10/review-tacoma-as-camper.html you know how much I loved owning and living in a 4wd pickup truck. I pondered and pondered and looked at every vehicle out there. I considered 4wd vans, large SUVs like the ford Excursion, full size trucks, regular cab trucks, keeping the jeep and pulling a trailer, roof top tends, everything you can think of.... and in the end I circled around. The inability to sleep in the vehicle on http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2015/11/trip-report-boondocking.html,  Just confirmed that although the Jeep was a blast, it wasn't for me.

So, I went looking for a 4wd, v6, manual, Toyota Tacoma, between the years 2000 and 2002 inclusive, with as low of miles and as flawless a frame as I could find (tacoma's are known for frame rust), and preferably with a locker. Eventually I found one for $15,700, with 74000 miles, sold by a guy I trust (every truck on his lot was in excellent condition), that had been recently shipped out here from Reno, so had not a spec of rust on it. It was a little expensive, but worth it... so I bought it.

And thus, Jack the camper 2 began. Like the farmer who calls every mule he's ever owned Jack, I decided to re-use the name. The photo below is from the day I picked up the cap... in the middle of a snowstorm.

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Here's the build plan I've been working on: https://docs.google.com/a/smalladventures.net/spreadsheets/d/1_ZWVUtGTnxuYMNcJOHucrMbbrerY1BwLsxxAgM757AI/edit?usp=sharing

I'm also going to be posting more detailed build stuff here. Expedition portal is an amazing resource
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/152989-2000-Extended-Cab-Tacoma-mild-long-term-overland-build?highlight=2000+tacoma+mild+build

Step one was to undercoat the whole thing with fluid film I swapped all the fluids (it had non-toyota coolant), pulled the security system 'cause it was obnoxious, and installed a fire extinguisher. Next I got a Leer 122 cap installed with windoors (like I had on the last truck) this time with a 12V power block as well. Yesterday Angie and I installed a new tougher bumper so we wouldn't wreck the truck if we back in to a tree while off-road, and so I have a hard-point and can pull my trailer. I also installed trailer wiring. I'm also slowly removing all the badging on the truck and cap.

Angie is learning to drive stick. She's getting pretty good, but isn't comfortable yet. Yesterday she asked "Why would anyone get an automatic Jeep", and I got a huge grin on my face. Another manual driver is born. Today we finally got Jack to a state where he's usable as a camper. Here's what the back looks like now.

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My Jeep is currently for sale. My budget for Jack is whatever I can sell the Jeep (and trailer) for. I'll be writing up some of the specific projects on Jack as well.

As an overview the goal is the same as the last time. I'm looking for a vehicle I can camp out of short-term and live out of long term. The goal is reliable, robust, lightweight, fairly capable off-road so I can boon-dock, but good for long-miles on road. Most of the options I considered were thrown out for reliability reasons. It's hard to beat a Tacoma. A Roof Top Tent was thrown out due to difficulty stealthing, and them just not being that great for snow, wet, and cold. Mostly because of difficulties with drying the material so it won't mold/mildew (Jane ended up soaking wet for almost 2 months straight at one point due to freezing and thawing combined with rainy weather... an RTT would likely not have survived). I wanted something narrow enough to fit down difficult trails, and I wanted a lot of cargo capacity.