Going back to a Full Size for my Overlanding

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tjZ06

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Historically, I always camped from my pickup back before we called it Overlanding. I've also done a lot of trailer/RV camping, and still have an RV. In the search for simplicity, I got more into Jeeps the last few years, and managed to over-complicate those too. I went from throwing a tent out of my WJ, to towing an expedition trailer with the WJ, to towing the expedition trailer with a WK2 Trailhawk 5.7 I picked up specifically, and only for that task. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the little trailer and the Trailhawk is an awesome rig that does an exceptional job with the trailer. However, I have a unique life situation where I live in one city (Vegas) where I have garages/shop, but work in another (Palo Alto, CA) where I just have a room in an apartment and no garage (or even driveway).

For me, Overlanding is an escape from the Bay Area on weeks/weekends when I can't go home to Vegas. So my Overland gear is based in the Bay, not in Vegas where my garages are. As such, I found myself paying ridiculous fees for a storage unit for the trailer (it just went up to nearly 450/mo) that's ~30min away from my apartment without traffic. I also have the Trailhawk solely for this purpose, which is a little silly when my good 'ole truck was just sitting in the garage in Vegas doing nothing.

So, I'm in the process of selling the trailer, and will sell the Trailhawk after the trailer is gone. Replacing that combo, will be my pickup and a Fourwheel Camper Hawk. I picked up the Hawk last month, and so far have only been able to do one short shake-down trip in an RV park (which is obviously not the intended purpose, but I had some friends going and couldn't wait anymore to try it out):

258845415_415094246975051_219159755942110904_n.jpg258893284_600662701260150_4264150253701259895_n.jpgmessages_0 (4).jpegmessages_0 (3).jpegmessages_0 (2).jpegmessages_0 (1).jpegmessages_0.jpeg

My truck is already pretty well equipped for this job, having a 60 gallon replacement fuel tank (replaces stock tank under the truck), air bags (I used to tow as much as 17k lbs 5th wheels with it), and a little lift with 35"s. Still, there a few drawbacks going this route. Perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps obvious to most, I actually have a lot less storage with this setup. 99.99% of my Overlanding I'm solo, so in the Trailhawk I could fold the rear seats and utilize the front seat too and have a TON of storage. In fact, I found I brought way, way, WAY too much stuff on most trips. With the truck I obviously still have the back seats and front passenger seat I can use, but it's not nearly the same amount of space as a "big" SUV. Also, I had the trailer itself. If I was so inclined I could fold the bed over and have another huge storage area. Now, to be honest I had tried to stop doing this in recent trips because a) it was annoying taking things in/out of the trailer to "make my bed" on trips where we move every day b) it lead to me just bringing too much BS. Obviously I have the camper now, but in these pop-ups storage is much more limited than you might think.

I have it pretty well figured out already, still I knew I'd miss the expanded metal box on the front of my trailer, where I stashed things like firewood, extra fuel (which shouldn't be needed now, but it's nice to carry it for others) etc. I was looking into an Aluminess rear bumper with swing outs for both a spare holder and some storage boxes. Unfortunately, while they still have them on their website, they actually stopped making them to focus on van-life stuff. :( So I got to looking for other options, and came across RIGd and ordered their "UltraSwing MegaFit" which will take care of a spare for me as well as adding a little table, and some Rotopax mounts. Like I said, I shouldn't need to bring extra fuel, so I'll use the Rotopax for water. The idea is to make a nice hand-wash station so I don't have to climb into the FWC every time I just want to wash my hands after nature calls, or I'm cooking outside, or whatever... basically picture this setup:

1639333018408.png

But instead of fuel, it'll be a water Rotopax mounted upside down with one of these on it:

1639333072164.png

I also found Mule Expedition Outfitters and got their FWC mount for an Aluminess shovel/axe:

1639333119985.png
1639333165685.png

So, that'll take care of *most* of my dirty/outdoors stuff, other than my chainsaw and my Powertank. I'm going to have to get everything on the truck to figure out the chainsaw mount, but I hope to adapt something like one of these:
1639333285780.png 1639333360489.png

Onto either the FWC directly, or the RIGd tire carrier. Since I've gone to an electric saw, I won't have to worry about fuel for it. As for the Powertank, I already have a nice bag for it, so it might just be something that gets chucked in the back seat. I'm going to pare-down and tighten-up my toolkit, and hopefully reduce it to 1-2 tool rolls instead of the 2-3 bags plus the big plastic kit I'm using now and those along w/ my recovery kit should fit on the rear floorboards.

As for the truck itself, it's been meticulously maintained over the years (I bought it new in Oct '10) with all Amsoil and over-the-top frequency. I have a lift-pump with increased filtration and I replaced the dreaded CP4.2 around 100k miles (130k miles now) as preventative maintenance and replaced lots of other wear items at the same time (water pump, both t-stats, radiator was replaced the year before, every hose/belt, etc. etc. etc.). To take the truck to the next level though, I am setup with WFO to drop the truck off Feb 7th for a Solid Axle Swap (SAS). WFO has an extremely nice setup for trucks like my 2011 that utilizes radius arms and coil overs, instead of going leaf-spring in the front. It will utilize a '05+ Super Duty front Dana 60, which will be entirely rebuilt by WFO to include a free-spin kit, an ARB locker, and either 4.56s. The rear will also get rebuilt to match the gear ratio, but also just as a precautionary measure at 130k miles, with lots of heavy towing. I'm undecided yet on the rear traction device. Being the AAM 11.5" there are several options out there, from open, limited slip and both Truetrac Posi or Detroit Lockers to just doing an ARB in the rear as well.

I'm definitely open to advice and input on the rear locker option. Part of me wants the Detroit for proven reliability and simplicity. However, I've heard Detroits create a loose, wild ride in snow since they lock up under power at all times. I know I want more than just a limited slip, but I'm not sure the Truetrac is "enough" for me. So, it'll probably be an ARB unless there are compelling reasons not to go that route.

As for wheels/tires, I'll be going "down" to a 17" wheel. I have 18"s now, and in theory could have run 17"s but it gets really tight on the '11+ GM front brakes. The Ford front brakes I'll use with the Ford axle are slightly smaller (but not enough smaller to be a worry, plus we'll run top-notch pads/rotors) and are a better fit with 17"s so I'll take advantage of that opportunity for more sidewall. I have to buy new wheels anyway, since I'm going to 8x170mm (from my 8x180mm) lug pattern with the free-spin kit on the Ford axle and re-drilling my rear axle flanges (plenty of meat for that, WFO has done it plenty). As for tires, I'm "just" going 37x12.5-17" from my current 35x12.5-18". I know it might seem like a lot of cost and effort just to get a 2" bigger tire (only creating 1" more clearance at the rear pumpkin, and actually losing clearance up front as compared to the IFS) but it's obviously about more than just clearance. To be clear: I'm not building a rock-crawler here. I just want to improve the capability of my rig and I've always dreamed of SAS'in it.

As a final mod, I'm going to figure out a front winch solution. Of course, there a zillion front bumper options for my truck, but TBH I don't love any of them. I'd much prefer a sleek, hidden winch mount setup - but none are made for my truck. There's a lot going on in the front of my truck with the giant cooling stack including the intercooler, but I've seen some folks DIY it so I'm sure we can get something figured out.

Well, that's about it for now, as you probably can tell, I'm pretty excited...

-TJ
 
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DevilDodge

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Awesome. I agree. Full size Truck is the way to go. We always find our selves in the trucks instead if our SUVs.

Anxious to see what you do and how your opinion goes as you use the setup.

Right now I am debating slightly modifying our 2015 RAM...mildly modifying our 03 and 99 Dodges...or doing a full overhaul making the 99 a dedicated travel machine.

So following along will help making this decision.

Thanks for sharing.
 

tjZ06

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Awesome. I agree. Full size Truck is the way to go. We always find our selves in the trucks instead if our SUVs.

Anxious to see what you do and how your opinion goes as you use the setup.

Right now I am debating slightly modifying our 2015 RAM...mildly modifying our 03 and 99 Dodges...or doing a full overhaul making the 99 a dedicated travel machine.

So following along will help making this decision.

Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the encouragement, I'll certainly keep this thread posted. FWIW, I went back and forth on doing the expensive mods like the solid axle swap to this truck or just buying a newer Ford or RAM that's already solid front axle. At the end of the day, this is still the more "affordable" route vs. buying a new $60-80k truck and modding from there. I suspect you're in the same boat having the 3 rigs already. Which one is best I suppose depends on the specs and condition of each, and how you Overland. I'm sure the '15 will be the most comfortable, and perhaps the most capable too, but it's also the most valuable of the bunch to potentially damage off road.

-TJ
 
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NMBruce

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Last year I sold my GX470 and went to a Tacoma, still just can’t go full size. I do have a trailer that I will bring on most trips, because it lets me carry everything I want and more.
I do like your set and going to a pickup

gotta look for that chain saw holder, it would be nice to added
 

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Historically, I always camped from my pickup back before we called it Overlanding. I've also done a lot of trailer/RV camping, and still have an RV. In the search for simplicity, I got more into Jeeps the last few years, and managed to over-complicate those too. I went from throwing a tent out of my WJ, to towing an expedition trailer with the WJ, to towing the expedition trailer with a WK2 Trailhawk 5.7 I picked up specifically, and only for that task. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the little trailer and the Trailhawk is an awesome rig that does an exceptional job with the trailer. However, I have a unique life situation where I live in one city (Vegas) where I have garages/shop, but work in another (Palo Alto, CA) where I just have a room in an apartment and no garage (or even driveway).

For me, Overlanding is an escape from the Bay Area on weeks/weekends when I can't go home to Vegas. So my Overland gear is based in the Bay, not in Vegas where my garages are. As such, I found myself paying ridiculous fees for a storage unit for the trailer (it just went up to nearly 450/mo) that's ~30min away from my apartment without traffic. I also have the Trailhawk solely for this purpose, which is a little silly when my good 'ole truck was just sitting in the garage in Vegas doing nothing.

So, I'm in the process of selling the trailer, and will sell the Trailhawk after the trailer is gone. Replacing that combo, will be my pickup and a Fourwheel Camper Hawk. I picked up the Hawk last month, and so far have only been able to do one short shake-down trip in an RV park (which is obviously not the intended purpose, but I had some friends going and couldn't wait anymore to try it out):

View attachment 217934View attachment 217935View attachment 217936View attachment 217937View attachment 217938View attachment 217939View attachment 217940

My truck is already pretty well equipped for this job, having a 60 gallon replacement fuel tank (replaces stock tank under the truck), air bags (I used to tow as much as 17k lbs 5th wheels with it), and a little lift with 35"s. Still, there a few drawbacks going this route. Perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps obvious to most, I actually have a lot less storage with this setup. 99.99% of my Overlanding I'm solo, so in the Trailhawk I could fold the rear seats and utilize the front seat too and have a TON of storage. In fact, I found I brought way, way, WAY too much stuff on most trips. With the truck I obviously still have the back seats and front passenger seat I can use, but it's not nearly the same amount of space as a "big" SUV. Also, I had the trailer itself. If I was so inclined I could fold the bed over and have another huge storage area. Now, to be honest I had tried to stop doing this in recent trips because a) it was annoying taking things in/out of the trailer to "make my bed" on trips where we move every day b) it lead to me just bringing too much BS. Obviously I have the camper now, but in these pop-ups storage is much more limited than you might think.

I have it pretty well figured out already, still I knew I'd miss the expanded metal box on the front of my trailer, where I stashed things like firewood, extra fuel (which shouldn't be needed now, but it's nice to carry it for others) etc. I was looking into an Aluminess rear bumper with swing outs for both a spare holder and some storage boxes. Unfortunately, while they still have them on their website, they actually stopped making them to focus on van-life stuff. :( So I got to looking for other options, and came across RIGd and ordered their "UltraSwing MegaFit" which will take care of a spare for me as well as adding a little table, and some Rotopax mounts. Like I said, I shouldn't need to bring extra fuel, so I'll use the Rotopax for water. The idea is to make a nice hand-wash station so I don't have to climb into the FWC every time I just want to wash my hands after nature calls, or I'm cooking outside, or whatever... basically picture this setup:

View attachment 217941

But instead of fuel, it'll be a water Rotopax mounted upside down with one of these on it:

View attachment 217942

I also found Mule Expedition Outfitters and got their FWC mount for an Aluminess shovel/axe:

View attachment 217943
View attachment 217944

So, that'll take care of *most* of my dirty/outdoors stuff, other than my chainsaw and my Powertank. I'm going to have to get everything on the truck to figure out the chainsaw mount, but I hope to adapt something like one of these:
View attachment 217945 View attachment 217946

Onto either the FWC directly, or the RIGd tire carrier. Since I've gone to an electric saw, I won't have to worry about fuel for it. As for the Powertank, I already have a nice bag for it, so it might just be something that gets chucked in the back seat. I'm going to pare-down and tighten-up my toolkit, and hopefully reduce it to 1-2 tool rolls instead of the 2-3 bags plus the big plastic kit I'm using now and those along w/ my recovery kit should fit on the rear floorboards.

As for the truck itself, it's been meticulously maintained over the years (I bought it new in Oct '10) with all Amsoil and over-the-top frequency. I have a lift-pump with increased filtration and I replaced the dreaded CP4.2 around 100k miles (130k miles now) as preventative maintenance and replaced lots of other wear items at the same time (water pump, both t-stats, radiator was replaced the year before, every hose/belt, etc. etc. etc.). To take the truck to the next level though, I am setup with WFO to drop the truck off Feb 7th for a Solid Axle Swap (SAS). WFO has an extremely nice setup for trucks like my 2011 that utilizes radius arms and coil overs, instead of going leaf-spring in the front. It will utilize a '05+ Super Duty front Dana 60, which will be entirely rebuilt by WFO to include a free-spin kit, an ARB locker, and either 4.56s. The rear will also get rebuilt to match the gear ratio, but also just as a precautionary measure at 130k miles, with lots of heavy towing. I'm undecided yet on the rear traction device. Being the AAM 11.5" there are several options out there, from open, limited slip and both Truetrac Posi or Detroit Lockers to just doing an ARB in the rear as well.

I'm definitely open to advice and input on the rear locker option. Part of me wants the Detroit for proven reliability and simplicity. However, I've heard Detroits create a loose, wild ride in snow since they lock up under power at all times. I know I want more than just a limited slip, but I'm not sure the Truetrac is "enough" for me. So, it'll probably be an ARB unless there are compelling reasons not to go that route.

As for wheels/tires, I'll be going "down" to a 17" wheel. I have 18"s now, and in theory could have run 17"s but it gets really tight on the '11+ GM front brakes. The Ford front brakes I'll use with the Ford axle are slightly smaller (but not enough smaller to be a worry, plus we'll run top-notch pads/rotors) and are a better fit with 17"s so I'll take advantage of that opportunity for more sidewall. I have to buy new wheels anyway, since I'm going to 8x170mm (from my 8x180mm) lug pattern with the free-spin kit on the Ford axle and re-drilling my rear axle flanges (plenty of meat for that, WFO has done it plenty). As for tires, I'm "just" going 37x12.5-17" from my current 35x12.5-18". I know it might seem like a lot of cost and effort just to get a 2" bigger tire (only creating 1" more clearance at the rear pumpkin, and actually losing clearance up front as compared to the IFS) but it's obviously about more than just clearance. To be clear: I'm not building a rock-crawler here. I just want to improve the capability of my rig and I've always dreamed of SAS'in it.

As a final mod, I'm going to figure out a front winch solution. Of course, there a zillion front bumper options for my truck, but TBH I don't love any of them. I'd much prefer a sleek, hidden winch mount setup - but none are made for my truck. There's a lot going on in the front of my truck with the giant cooling stack including the intercooler, but I've seen some folks DIY it so I'm sure we can get something figured out.

Well, that's about it for now, as you probably can tell, I'm pretty excited...

-TJ
Welcome back to the full size rig lifestyle. Nice rig.
 

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Nice setup! On my Hawk, I just use the built-in fresh water drain as a hand washing station. I've never used the full 26 gallons (fresh + hot water) on a week-long trip, showers included, so no fear using the drain for the occasional quick wash.
 

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Nice setup! Since you don't want the limited slip, ARB is the way to go. Consider putting it in the front since you are going solid axle. Might be easier to pull the rigs weight than push it.
 

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Nice rig! We are moving from a two door jeep into a four door Land Cruiser. Seems giant compared to the jeep but our camping has changed as we get older. Trading in the tent for a teardrop and the trails we do are not nearly as rough. The jeep was locked up front and rear with selectable lockers and most of the trails we did required lockers. Think I may just install a posi unit in the Cruiser for more scenic roads less technical stuff. Easier on the wallet and the nerves. Happy Trails!
 

DevilDodge

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Thanks for the encouragement, I'll certainly keep this thread posted. FWIW, I went back and forth on doing the expensive mods like the solid axle swap to this truck or just buying a newer Ford or RAM that's already solid front axle. At the end of the day, this is still the more "affordable" route vs. buying a new $60-80k truck and modding from there. I suspect you're in the same boat having the 3 rigs already. Which one is best I suppose depends on the specs and condition of each, and how you Overland. I'm sure the '15 will be the most comfortable, and perhaps the most capable too, but it's also the most valuable of the bunch to potentially damage off road.

-TJ
You kinda hit my situation right on the head.

The 15 is a crew cab. So easiest for transporting the family. With the 8 foot bed...everything has a place. It is used for everything...family truckster...wood hauler...camper puller...daily driver.

The 03 is kinda a middle ground. But my least favorite of the 3. But it is not being used daily anymore...so I could make it a bit more dedicated.

The 99 is my favorite truck ever. But Penn's Woods has been degrading her finish everyday. It is going to be a father son project...but my son and I have talked about making it our dedicated adventure rig. It needs lots of body work and there are still some great aftermarket options for it. So that is on the table too.

20190929_160643.jpg2018-03-02 09.52.18.jpg20170704_113857.jpg20190927_165459.jpg20160808_080231.jpg20151002_130215~2.jpg
 
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I'd just trade it in for a Ford Superduty, if you really want a solid front axle. Get a 4.30 axle ratio and the 7.3L.

I got a sweet deal on a lot truck with 3.73 gears. I plan on regearing to 4.88 though. So special ordering to get 4.30's for $10,000 more, wasn't a good deal. I have a good axle guy local anyways. Only hard part is reprograming the ECM.

Yukon Grizzly autolocker front, OEM Elocker rear is the hot setup for that truck.
 

tjZ06

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Last year I sold my GX470 and went to a Tacoma, still just can’t go full size. I do have a trailer that I will bring on most trips, because it lets me carry everything I want and more.
I do like your set and going to a pickup

gotta look for that chain saw holder, it would be nice to added
Thanks, I'll keep this thread posted on what I do with the chainsaw.

Welcome back to the full size rig lifestyle. Nice rig.
Thanks!

Nice setup! On my Hawk, I just use the built-in fresh water drain as a hand washing station. I've never used the full 26 gallons (fresh + hot water) on a week-long trip, showers included, so no fear using the drain for the occasional quick wash.
Wow, can't believe I didn't think of that...

Nice setup! Since you don't want the limited slip, ARB is the way to go. Consider putting it in the front since you are going solid axle. Might be easier to pull the rigs weight than push it.
Thanks! ARB in the front is 110% sure thing, rear I'm still toying with a Detroit... but prob ARB there too (no real price difference for the AAM 11.5" and I already have air 'n stuff so why not?).

Nice rig! We are moving from a two door jeep into a four door Land Cruiser. Seems giant compared to the jeep but our camping has changed as we get older. Trading in the tent for a teardrop and the trails we do are not nearly as rough. The jeep was locked up front and rear with selectable lockers and most of the trails we did required lockers. Think I may just install a posi unit in the Cruiser for more scenic roads less technical stuff. Easier on the wallet and the nerves. Happy Trails!
I agree, I'm now far more into mild trails than the extreme stuff. I just want to get out far 'nough that I'm away from the crowds.

You kinda hit my situation right on the head.

The 15 is a crew cab. So easiest for transporting the family. With the 8 foot bed...everything has a place. It is used for everything...family truckster...wood hauler...camper puller...daily driver.

The 03 is kinda a middle ground. But my least favorite of the 3. But it is not being used daily anymore...so I could make it a bit more dedicated.

The 99 is my favorite truck ever. But Penn's Woods has been degrading her finish everyday. It is going to be a father son project...but my son and I have talked about making it our dedicated adventure rig. It needs lots of body work and there are still some great aftermarket options for it. So that is on the table too.
My thought based on all of that is probably use the '03. The '15 has full-time duty and is your favorite, so keep it as your practical DD that gets everything done. The '99 will be an awesome Father and Son project, but needs work before it's ready and you don't want to rush the project just so you can make some trips in the spring. The '03 has no other "job" in life right now, and can be built out specialized to Overlanding!

I'd just trade it in for a Ford Superduty, if you really want a solid front axle. Get a 4.30 axle ratio and the 7.3L.

I got a sweet deal on a lot truck with 3.73 gears. I plan on regearing to 4.88 though. So special ordering to get 4.30's for $10,000 more, wasn't a good deal. I have a good axle guy local anyways. Only hard part is reprograming the ECM.

Yukon Grizzly autolocker front, OEM Elocker rear is the hot setup for that truck.
Believe me, I did think about that route. I like the new 7.3 gas and the 10 speed auto a lot. I am sure I could get enough for my truck that the sale price + what I'll spend on the SAS would get me into a stock, new SD. But then I'd still be modding from there. Of course, there's little that needs modded w/ the new SD if you order with 4.30s and since they fit 37"s with just leveling. At the end of the day though, I decided to stick with my truck for a few reasons (attachment to it, the 60gal fuel tank + 16-17 MPG I'm getting on the 35"s new WITH the Hawk on it).

-TJ
 

tjZ06

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I figured I'd get a weight on the rig as it sits, before the SAS, bigger wheels/tires, rear tire mount deal, etc:

1641828144943.png

It's a little washed out, but the weights are:
  • Front 4880 lbs
  • Rear 4800 lbs
  • Total 9680 lbs
Not too bad, close to what I expected. I figured it'd be over 10k lbs. The truck's fuel tank (~60 gallons) was full, but the water tank on the Fourwheel Camper was not. The camper was loaded with all my gear, cookware, etc.

-TJ
 

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Taking the rig out this weekend, so I did some accessorizing. First I did a Mule Expedition Outfitter's Alluminess mount for the FWC. It's mean to be mostly "bolt on" but they don't notch it to be compatible with the LED lighting package on the FWC. To be fair, they DO note that on their website, but c'mon guys I bet 90% of FWCs sold in the last 5-10 years have the LEDs. Anyway, here's that on the rig and the notch I cut:

messages_0 (26).jpeg
messages_0 (27).jpeg

Last night I put on my RIG'd tire mount/swing, table, and "sidehack" so I could hang a chainsaw back there. Overall VERY nice product, extremely well thought-out/engineered and high quality. The ONLY complaints I have would be
  • For the 2.5" receiver option I'd like the shank to be natively 2.5"... I know this would limit swapping it to another vehicle but having the slide-over sleeve makes getting it all lined up when you tighten the wedge" down pretty tough (top tips: don't use an impact with a torque-stick like I initially tried, it will cause things to move around too much and second get a 2nd hitch-pin so you can have one going into the holes from each side to hold things in alignment as you tighten the wedge down, which requires putting the socket and extension in through the receiver, meaning you can just have the pin all the way in)
  • The table mount was a littttttle too wide to slide into the channel on the spare tire mount a intended. Visually I could see that it had opened up just a hair (probably from heat expansion/contraction in the welding process, my $0.02 is it needs to be better secured in a jig during welding that prevents this) so I had to give it a few good whacks to get it to slide in
This AM I moved my license plate and mounted my Adventure Trail Gear garbage and chainsaw bags. Now that I'm pretty happy with where everything is sitting, I need to wrap up the extra strap material and zip tie 'em. Obviously it'll also be much cooler once I get a matching spare wheel/tire, but I'm not going to bother to do that with the current wheels/tires since they're changing when I do the SAS next month. Oh, and the tip of the bag does hang a little low, but I only have my Dewalt 20V with a 12" bar in there so the tip of the bar is actually up above the level of the RIG'd "SKEP" (which is the skid/step you see mounted into the RIG'd's auxiliary receiver which will still allow me to pull 10k lbs when needed).

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-TJ
 

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I made a post about my trip, but I finally got to take the FWC off road, as intended this weekend. I did 2 nights in Big Sur with some friends, and man it was great. The truck and FWC didn't disappoint me at all. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised how well the truck road on the trails (with the tires aired down to ~35psi). The FWC was also excellent, other than the solar seeming to be inoperable. I'll dig into that more, probably just a fuse or controller setting, who knows. I used my Exped Megamat Max Duo 15 in the FWC, which was exceptionally comfortable. I hadn't removed the factory "mattress" (which is just a series of cushions) from the bed platform in the FWC, mostly out of laziness but somewhat in case the Exped didn't work out I wanted a backup. That meant I had to get most of the air out of the Exped daily to drop the top on the FWC, which really isn't a big deal but it's a task I'd like to eliminate. I sort of wish I had gotten the Duo 10. I have the single-width 10 and love it, so I think it'd be plenty and along with removing the factory cushions I think it could stay inflated on the bed with the top down.

Other than that, I really didn't have any issues or find anything I'd change with the FWC. I still need to trim-out some of the excess BS I take with me (I had the back seat of the truck loaded... and 90% of that stuff I didn't touch once) but that'll work itself out with time/experience with this setup.

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-TJ
 
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tjZ06

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Added another accessory... Overlanding is like Barbies for old fat guys! I got the Zero Declination "drop tent" with their mounting kit for the FWC. The mounting kit is really just hardware to allow you to mount it with 3 holes through the side of your camper (always fun putting holes in a nearly-new camper!). Install was pretty straight forward, and it'll be very handy:

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I just need to remember not to use the interior heater when the tent is down, but it was either block that, or block the hot water heater. I chose to leave the hot water heater clear for obvious reasons. ;)

-TJ
 
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tjZ06

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Truck gets dropped off next weekend for the SAS. I had been debating back and forth about tires. My plan was to run a 37x13.5-17" Toyo Open Country M/T (same make/model tire I have now). The more I thought about it though, the more an A/T makes more sense for the actual use case of the truck. So I was looking into the 39x13.5-17" BFG KO2s (which measure out more like 38" in real life). I was all set for that, but they're 90-days backordered. Of course, I'm changing rim size (from my current 18" down to 17") and bolt pattern (from my current 8x180mm to 8x170mm) so I can't just run what I have 'til they come in. So, we went back to looking into the Toyos, basically nothing available either. Might just be stuck with a Nitto for now, maybe a Ridge Grappler but it all depends on what's actually available in there. Perhaps the Exo Grappler AWT but I know very little about them...

-TJ
 

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Totally forgot to update this thread with progress:

IFS knocked off, and frame plating starting:
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Getting the Super 60 under it:
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More or less buttoning up the front:
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We're going to see how she does without hydraulic assist for now, but if it sucks turning the 37x13.5"s on the trail we'll add it. I have it on my WJ, and with the right caster in the axle it's not too bad, but it does make highway driving busier/more tiring. I want to be able to put 10-12hr highway days in with this truck no problem, to really stretch the bounds of what a "weekend trip" is, so it has to keep good road manners.

-TJ
 

tjZ06

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It's back under its own weight, temporarily. Just a quick test, as well as moving it over to the axle side of the house at WFO to regear (and refresh) the rear along w/ the ARB. The front will probably come back up about 1.5" and the new leaf spring pack still needs to go in the rear which will raise it about an inch. Overall, it won't sit much (if any) higher than it was before in terms of axle center line to fender (but will be sitting an extra 1" higher just from tire size) but has much more travel and much-much more articulation (along w/ the beefier front end parts and selectable lockers). I love that it's still looking clean, and almost factory if you didn't know GM never put solid axles in these trucks. I wasn't going for a monster truck look here...

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-TJ
 

tjZ06

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Also, I swear there was a thread on here talking about tire sizes, weight and accelerated wear. My search-fu isn't finding it, but here's what some of my rear axle parts looked like after 130k+ miles and lots and lots of heavy towing including 17k lbs 5th wheels (all with about a 450/900 RWHP/RWTQ tune);

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-TJ
 

tjZ06

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Air bag spacers and cradles getting made (the idea here is that at anything other than full droop, the air bags will stay in contact w/ the cradle so they won't make noise, but when dropping out they won't limit travel/articulation):

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Then the beginnings of the fuel tank skid. The tank is ~60 gallon aftermarket unit, which is obviously great for extended range off-grid, especially because I actually get pretty great MPG (for a 10k lbs truck/camper). But, the downside is it is pretty much the lowest-hanging part of the underside of the truck, and stretches almost the full length of the susceptible area under the truck between the wheels front to back:

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-TJ