Storage Solutions W/ Spiritus Systems

Adam is back, and in this episode he and Cj will compare some of the most popular storage solutions in the Overland space. From Alubox to the simple tote box, there are options here for everyone!

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DIY Bed Deck

For those of you interested in a bed deck system for your truck, but don’t want to pay Goose Gear prices, this is for you!

Reasons for a deck system over drawers comes down to three things;

  • Price
  • Weight
  • Modularity

The materials and tools were covered in the last post, but for midsize trucks w/5′ beds you can complete everything with one 4×8′ sheet of 1/2 plywood. Please look at photos on L4EC’s Instagram for more details.

Build Process:

Wood Prep

Cutting

  1. Measure and cut Base plate to length.
  2. Cut fender wells into deck. *Driver side piece will be used as fridge guard.
  3. Cut optional square for driver’s side bed stiffener.
  4. Measure fridge slider and cut.
  5. Cut Notch for fridge slide lever.
  6. Cut rear fridge plate
  7. If using a National Luna Portable battery pack, cut out base for tray.

Router w/ radius bit

  1. Tailgate edge from Driver’s edge to edge of fridge plate.
  2. Top rear edge of fridge tray. (nearest to tailgate)
  3. If building battery tray, router top inner and outer edge for top piece.
  4. Top outer edge of fridge guard plates.

Router with cutting bit

  1. Cut underside of fridge tray to fit L- brackets.
  2. If using bed stiffeners, mill spots for rear most bed bolts and notch passenger side for Total Chaos Bed stiffener.

Mock up/ Drilling/ T-nuts

  1. Measure and mark holes for bed bolts.
  2. Clamp Fridge plate to deck plate w/L-brackets in place.
  3. Clamp side plate to L-Bracket.
  4. Set 48″ Aircraft track next to fridge side plate, so that it is touching.
  5. Set Drivers Aircraft track on outer edge of bed deck.
  6. Mark and drill all holes for Aircraft track and bed bolts.
  7. Remove all items from bed deck and flip deck over.
  8. Over drill holes for installation of T-nuts.
  9. Press fit t-nuts.
  10. Flip Bed deck back over.
  11. Using a 1/4-20 bolt and fender washer, tighten T-nuts into deck.

Fridge Plate and slider install

*There is more that one way to do this, but I suggest gluing the plate before drilling.

  1. Clean surface of bed deck and bottom of fridge plate.
  2. Apply wood glue to bottom of fridge plate.
  3. Place fridge plate onto bed deck being sure to align edges.
  4. Clamp fridge plate to bed deck. ** I placed a 40 pound dumbbell on the back corner where the clamps couldn’t reach.
  5. Clean excess glue with damp paper towel.
  6. Allow glue to dry.
  7. Remove clamps
  8. Sand edges *If not aligned, use straight router bit to clean up edge.
  9. Place Slider onto plate and mark holes.
  10. Remover slider and drill holes.
  11. Flip bed deck and over drill holes for T-Nut installation.
  12. Press fit T-nuts
  13. Flip deck over and tighten T-nuts.

Battery tray Install

Given the fact this is a specialized item not everyone will be using  I won’t be covering detailed steps.  Please refer to photos on IG account. It is secured to the deck by T-nuts.

Paint

If using Durabak-18, primer is not required. Please check specific paint selection prior to beginning.

  1. Primer top of bed deck and side plates.
  2. After top is dry, flip and primer bottom of deck and side plates.
  3. Repeat as needed.
  4. Apply paint of choice per instructions.

Assembly 

  1. Install L-brackets and side plates.
  2. Install Aircraft track.
  3. Install battery tray. *If applicable.
  4. Place Rubber spacers over bed bolt holes.
  5. Place deck into bed and install bed bolts.
  6. Install fridge slider
  7. Install fridge

Bed Deck Overview and Material list

Tacoma Bed Deck 

This is the shopping list to start your DIY Bed deck, a how to will follow in a future post.

Features;

  • 1/2 Birch Plywood deck
  • L-Track (Aircraft track) tie down points
  • Durabak 18 Marine textured deck paint (orange)
  • re-enforced fridge plate w/side guards
  • removable battery tray with straps to hold National Luna Portable power pack
  • cut outs for Total Chaos bed stiffeners
  • right side mounting of fridge and battery helps balance the factory design of the Tacoma!

Recommended Materials;

  • 1/2 inch birch plywood sheet (4’x8′) x1
  • 1/4-20 x 1 1/4″ Bolts x10
  • 1/4-20 T-Nuts x28
  • 1/4-20 x 5/8 Countersunk machine screws x18 (for aircraft track)
  • Aircraft track 48 Inches x1
  • Aircraft track 18 Inches x1
  • 1/4 lock washers
  • 1/4 flat washers
  • Durabak-18 x1 Gallon *Optional
  • Primer x1 Qt *exterior use
  • spray paint x2 *matching durabak
  • Paint roller x2
  • paint brush x2
  • paint tray x2
  • motorcycle straps x2
  • National Luna Portable power pack kit
  • 3/8-16 x2″ Bolts x4
  • 3/8 lock washers
  • 3/8 flat washers
  • 3/8 t-nuts
  • Rubber conveyer belt material to create spacers for deck mounting points.

*List does include materials for mounting ARB Air compressor case forward of power pack.

Recommended Tools;

  • Jig saw
  • circular saw
  • drill w/bits and drivers
  • Orbital sander
  • Wood clamps 4-6
  • Router with radius edge and straight cut bits
  • 3/8 ratchet and sockets (I cheated and used an impact driver!)
  • T-55 Torx bit for bed bolts
  • Saw horses and a workbench are a huge plus!

 

2019 IN REVIEW

This is a chance for L4EC to look back at what we accomplished in 2019. So here it is, our very first “Year in Review.”

New year’s day 2019 found the Line 4 Tacoma in Ashville, North Carolina on the last day of a trip that had included 2 National Forest and the noteworthy Hurricane Creek trail! This was a fun trip and a great test for the newly installed Icon Suspension! In the next few months, I spent a lot of time traveling with the Navy for various training. I was also able to knock out a bunch of small upgrades that netted big improvements. The list included; SDHQ ABS guards, Total Chaos bed stiffeners, Baja Designs amber fog lights and a cab mount chop completed by a fellow Sailor. Right before the next trip we also got the Dometic fridge, which was really nice for all the fresh food that I was going to be cooking on the Skottle!

The next trip was with the Line 4 Alaska Truck and my parents to western Virginia including the Shenandoah Valley, and the George Washington National Forest! It was incredible to finally camp with my parents again. This had not happened since Death Valley at the end of 2013 and I enjoyed it immensely! Also having my Dad along gave me a chance to compare their full size truck with 4WD Camper to my smaller Tacoma in the tighter forest of the East Coast.

The next few months was a blur of Navy trips and more truck upgrades. Lots of parts were arriving for the upcoming Montana build and GFC had provided completion dates which allowed me to finally start planning a trip out to Bozeman. The upgrades to the truck during this time included; CBI Sliders, Safari Snorkel and a Goose Gear Seat Delete. I also started building the deck plate system for the bed. It turned out great, but took much longer than expected.

Finally! The Montana Build trip had come! After making it to Bozeman, Ross and I started working on electrical systems and prep work before the GFC install. My Dad joined us with the Alaska Truck and the three of us cranked out the build. The truck totally transformed with; GFC camper, custom deck plate system, fridge slide, dual battery, Cell booster, CB radio and ditch lights! We then packed up the rigs and headed out to Pony, MT for one of the most epic campsites ever! Most of the upgrades worked flawlessly and we just made some minor tweaks. The drive home was epic and camping in the GFC was a dream come true. I have to say the highlight of the drive was crossing the Bear Tooth Pass into Wyoming. Returning home, things changed completely and due to unforeseen circumstances the New England Plans were pulled off the shelf and reimplemented for an epic adventure!

Preparation for the New England Expedition began with allot of reorganizing and weight reduction of camping gear. This was followed by a shake down trip to North Carolina for the weekend and was the first time camping in the rain with the new GFC. I also got a chance to corner weigh the truck and was happy to see the bed layout was more balanced than I could have hoped for! Also the total weight was still below the GVW for the Tacoma. The final upgrade was a set of Nitto Ridge Grappler tires mounted on Method Racing Wheels, which turned out to be a great addition for the muddy conditions of New Hampshire and Vermont.

New England Expedition. The Trans New Hampshire route was a great success and put all the truck’s upgrades to the test! The rock sliders finally got some scratches and the brand new tires proved vital for the muddy conditions. There was allot of rain which flooded parts of the trail and lead to my deepest water crossing in the Tacoma, headlight deep! Unfortunately, the stock rear bumper took a few hits breaking the trailer plug and highlighted the need for an improved departure angle. I also met some great people and was able to reconnect with a Marine from my Iraq deployment. Some of the highlights included; crossing the Kancanagus highway during peak foliage, driving up Mount Washington, apple cider donuts, and getting to stay at Pete’s Camp! This trip also brought the total states visited to 48, leaving only New Mexico and Alaska! Returning from New England, I was able to do a photo shoot with Spiritus Systems in North Carolina just prior to leaving for deployment.

Moving into 2020, the next big trip will be to Texas Hill Country and will include a pig hunt with On the Move Archery. There is also a growing pile of parts in Virginia that will have to be installed. Specifically the rear suspension will be upgraded to match the front’s performance and factory IFS skid plate and rear bumper will be replaced by aluminum All Pro Off-road parts. Line 4 will also be re-launching our podcast and expanding our YouTube production.

Thank you all for your continued support!

V/R

Cj

Founder L4EC

L4EC Taco Tool Kit

Blue Ridge Overland Large Tool Bag
·     3/8 Metric sockets, 6 point
·     3/8 extensions. 2”, 4”, 6”
·     3/8 spark plug socket
·     3/8 ratchet handle
·     3/8 torx sockets
·     3/8 metric allen sockets
·     ½ 21mm deep well impact socket (for lug nuts)
·     ½ metric sockets **eliminate sizes included in 3/8 set for weight savings**
·     ½ extension 4”
·     ½ breaker bar
·     Klein Tools 4-1 Screwdriver
·     Needle nose pliers
·     Wire cutters
·     2 Pound Estwing Hammer (short handle)
·     3/8 chisel
·     Knipex pliers
·     Metric wrench set (non-ratcheting)
·     Adjustable 6” wrench
·     4” piece of 2×4 wood
·     Safety glasses
·     Mechanics Gloves
·     Metal file
·      Wire strippers
·     3/8 to ½ socket adaptor
·     ½ torx socket for Tacoma bed bolts
·      Mini tape measure
·      usb magnetic work light

·      small pry bar
·      box cutter
·      ½ impact socket 35 mm for axle nut

Additional Items
·      Hydrolic Bottle jack (replace Toyota jack)

Consumables
·      1” Gorilla tape
·      T-9 Lube
·      Brake Kleen
·      Electrical tape
·      Assorted zip ties
·      Nitrile gloves

What are we doing!?!?

I wanted to take a moment and address some things going on at Line 4 these days.

First and foremost, I know that content has dipped and the podcast has completely vanished for now. Here is the short answer, I have once again deployed and am trying to manage both my military duties as well as L4EC’s daily operations. I want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding!

Podcast. I really miss my weekly talks with people around the Overland and Outdoor communities and look forward to starting back up in 2020 with fresh episodes. In the mean time we are attempting to sort out the logistics and time zone issues for recording overseas.

Upcoming Trips? We’re still actively planning our Texas trip with On the Move Archery and will be executing this in the spring! We had a slot open up and will be looking for one of our fan’s to join us if possible. Spaces are limited due to planned activities on private land.

Taco update. We have a growing stack of parts and will be looking to work again with NBD Motorsports for some installs later this month. Rear suspension upgrades are on order and the Allpro Offroad bumper and skid plates are in Virginia waiting to go on the truck. Future plans for seats have been put on hold due to cost, but we will be upgrading our navigation capability in the truck to an data enabled iPad for ease of use and attempting to learn Gaia as we transition away from Hema maps.

Again, I want to thank everyone who supports this company and your continued patience as I continue to learn to balance L4EC and the Navy!

Happy Hollidays!

Cj

Founder L4EC

NE19: Top Truck Mods

Continuing on with the series of most useful gear from the New England Expedition, this installment will specifically cover modifications for the truck. For fairness sake, this will exclude the GFC and other systems installed inside the camper. Those will be covered in a future article about camping gear.

Top 3 Tacoma Modifications;

  1. CBI Fabrication Bolt on Rock Sliders. This is a vital piece of armor for any rig with a wheelbase longer than a 2 door Jeep! Most my overland trips are solo and not having a spotter can be risky around some of the rock obstacles found on Class 4 roads in New England. The powder coating not withstanding, these held up great and can be an important insurance policy.
  2. Nitto Ridge Grappler Tires. These were a last minute addition from NBD Motorsports in Virginia Beach their hybrid performance between Mud Terrain and an All Terrain, and beefy sidewalls were critical for the harsh conditions in southern New Hampshire. The thick sidewalls protected against sidewall punctures and I only got stuck once, which was solved rapidly with Maxtrax. Noise is minimal and fuel milage was about .5mpg less than before.
  3. Icon 2.5 Extended travel Coil-overs. Not a new modification, but the ride quality and improved wheel travel has made off-road performance and driver comfort a dream. Something to remember is suspension is really one of the areas that you get what you pay for, and these are worth it. Icon does a pretty good Black Friday sale, so I would wait for that.

**Bonus Item** Baja Designs Amber Fog lights. More light is never a bad thing, but light bars and highways don’t really mix. I like these fog lights for two reasons. First, they are a plug and play install. Secondly the amber doesn’t reflect off snow and dust nearly as much, resulting in less eye strain for the driver.

New England trip Top Tools!

This will be a new series of articles covering After Action Review (AAR) points from my 10 day trip in New England. I will break this down by category, but for today it will be the five most useful or most used items for the trip. Future articles will go into truck mods, apps, camping gear and clothing.

Top Items

  1. WeBoost Reach! This cell booster has consistently performed well since I installed it in Montana this summer and has allowed greater flexibility in route changes on the fly as well as uploading content during remote trail portions. It is so good in fact that when you finally loose service you have to remind yourself that it’s part of overland travel and not to get frustrated. Well worth the investment!
  2. Jungalas by Esee Knives. This is a very robust knife that has replaced my axe, and machete. While moderately intimidating and possibly illegal in certain areas, This is a very handy tool, with plenty of cutting power that I like to keep in the cab of my truck on the trail!
  3. Cell Phone. Navigation, camera, communications, and entertainment. Need I say more?
  4. Nitto Ridge Grapplers. This was a last minute upgrade and a critical one. With hybrid performance between Mud Terrain and an All Terrain, the beefy sidewalls were critical for protecting against rocks and tree stumps. I only got stuck once, which was solved rapidly with Maxtrax, and most of the credit I will give these new tires. Noise is minimal and fuel milage was about .5mpg less than before.
  5. CBI bolt on rock sliders. Save my truck. Without a spotter certain trail sections would have resulted in body damage.

Honorable mention. I only needed the snorkel once, but the water was over the head lights and possibly would have been a deal breaker for the day.