Troopy’s first bodywork is underway! I took out the seats, cleaned and prepped the interior and now the entire cargo area, front cab and running boards are being shot with Polyshield SS-100 “Arctic Liner” (similar to Line-X and Rhino Lining but much tougher) to beef up the resilience of the floor and running boards from daily abuse of boots and cargo. We selected Polyshield because it is almost pure polyurea and doesn’t have the fillers of normal consumer grade liners. It is hot shot at 2100 psi and cures very quickly. All the work was done by Auto Trim Design of Fairbanks (www.autotrimdesignalaska.com/spray_bedliners.html) I think the job came out great and will really give Troopy a “hard shell” protection for his interior. Here’s how we received Troopy back from the shop before any interior parts were installed:
Cargo Area Passenger Seat Post Area
This stuff is TOUGH. I banged on it with a hammer and drug a new Hi-Lift jack across it with not a mark. Troopy’s interior paint was in OK shape, but this stuff will ensure a long, rust-free life. The guys at Auto Trim spent 2 days prepping, sanding and treating the rusty areas before application. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about rust-through or rough cargo handling damaging the interior any more!
Containers or Drawers? The next big project was to either put in storage drawers and other built-in storage or to use containers. There is an amazing amount of stuff you need to take with you on extended camping trips or expedition travel. This issue of storage is an important one to tackle very early on and decide what to do. It is also very important that items are organized, kept (relatively) clean and readily available when you need them. Any of us that have fumbled around in the dark for tools or a flashlight when stuck on the side of the road for a repair know what I mean... For a variety of reasons we decided on containerized storage for Troopy. With containers you need a way to secure them. As you can see in the above photos the Polyshield-sprayed rear of Troopy doesn’t really have any way to secure our cargo. We thought about this issue for quite some time and came up with what we think will be a good solution - a reinforced wood deck with tie-down points and cleats installed to keep the containers from sliding around. It would also give us a good surface to attach our Tembo Tusk Extreme Duty fridge slide for our National Luna refrigerator. Total cost = Less than $500 including fridge slide.
Cutting and Sanding Wood Deck Detail w/Hardware
First off I measured and cut the bottom deck, staining the wood well to protect the surface. I placed the components on the deck before installation to ensure proper fit and ease of getting them in and out. I decided on the fridge to the left, Kanz field kitchen and “chuck box” field pantry to the right. Behind those I put in tie downs for additional Pelican cases and/or Zarges storage boxes, using measurements from boxes I already have and/or those I’ll be buying in the near future. This gives us a modular, easy way to get at our stuff on the large flat deck. Aluminum side rails protect the wood edges from damage when moving around cargo. All very inexpensive at the hardware store.
Next were the side decks up on the long wheel well shelfs to either side. I decided to mount side decks to increase usable storage space and tie-down areas. These will be used to mount the National Luna smart battery box to the left behind the fridge and several metal ammo boxes for tool and small parts storage.
Finished Interior Decks and Fridge Slide
Time for the fridge install - We bought a National Luna 52L Stainless "Weekender" 12V fridge, which we measured and ensured would fit onto the Tembo Tusk slide. Tied down with Tembo Tusk "Extreme Duty" straps and covered with a Nat Luna fridge cover, we think the new fridge and position looks pretty good and will provide easy access to our foodstuffs and beverages. Did I mention that the 52L will hold a LOT of beer?
National Luna 52 Liter 12V Fridge on a Tembo Tusk Extreme Duty Slide. Nice Set Up!
The next thing to tackle was how to get the 12V back to the rear compartment and get it distro'd properly. Through our experiences owning boats and RVs with radios I’ve found a product called “Rig Runner” from West Mountain Radio. It is a 12V distribution box using Anderson “Power Pole” connectors, which are our favorite way to connect up 12V equipment. We coupled the Rig Runner to our National Luna “Smart” battery box for our house battery. A 2-battery set up (one for starting and winch, the other for all other equipment) is the only way to go. The Nat Luna battery box provides for the house battery and charging through the vehicle’s alternator while running then automatically isolates the house battery from the starting battery after switching the ignition off. The Nat Luna box has several connectors on the side including 12V cigarette lighter outlets and Powerpole connectors, all fused.
A word about fuses – please don’t ever hook up a 12V piece of equipment without proper fusing, rated in amperage for the gear you’re using. Failure to properly fuse your equipment could be catastrophic fire and loss of your rig. No sense in risking it for lack of a fuse that costs less than a buck!
Rig Runner 12V Distribution (LED Controller in rear) National Luna House Battery Box w/Fridge Plugged In
Next up was some sort of lighting for the interior. Toyota's idea of interior lighting was barely able to light up the front passenger area, much less our cargo area. I thought about this for awhile and decided on 12V LEDs. I found a set 8 feet of flexible, bright LEDs in a rope light, with controller and remote. A bonus was the remote could dim and change the LED colors. So for around $30 we could outfit Troopy with LED interior lighting all the way around. Installation was a snap with the Powerpole connectors into our Rig Runner. Now when we're in the mood Troopy can look like a disco inside or, more practically, have nice even white lighting to see at night in the back.
Flexible Rope Light - Rear Interior Roof ----