Trucks. We thought we'd be building for them at some point, but not this soon, so we were delighted that a local Seattleite and writer reached out via Instagram to discuss what kind of car camping build could be put together for his 2016 Tacoma.
As we settled into a small table at Starbucks, his number one focus was being able to have his skis in the back of the truck along with the kit. Considering his Tacoma's short box dimensions, around 56" wide x 58" long, this was actually going to be a bit of a challenge as when laid fully diagonal at a 45 degree angle, there was no wiggle room left between the back of the bed and front gate.
Height wouldn't be an issue as three inches worth of skis isn't a problem. The challenge was going to lie in making sure the kit was supported enough throughout the build because of the skis cutting an unbreakable line through the length of the kit. To boot, we agreed on building hatches on the back platform to allow for easier access to the back portion, in turn losing even more available surface space to add stability.
Plan: build the front drawer to the left, have it end before the wheel well sticks out, extend the top platform to rest on the wheel wells, and figure it out from there.
The front platform part of the build went easy enough as we decided to double the drawer as an added lift / support. He also didn't require our patent-pending drawer design, so the final sliding product has a top board for cooking / prep & side-left opening, but no added sectionals.
Next up, the second platform to cover the back half of the truck bed. We decided to use a 2x6 to act as a bridge between the first and second platform that would also double as the resting edge for the hatches. We also used a 2x6 to line the back edge of the back platform with an attached pillar to offer a healthy portion of foundation on that end as well. Cutting out the hatches was more difficult than anticipated, even with each half already pre-shredded at Home Depot. With some practice and an X-acto knife to clean up the edges, both hatches turned out okay. For lifting, we cut a 1.25" hole on each so all that is needed to raise one of the hatches is a finger. Since the client was going to sleep on an angle like the skis, one hatch should be available for access at all times.
A classy little addition was putting another 1.25" hole in the front right corner of the kit, allowing access to the power outlet for a space heater on the right side of the truck bed.
Connecting the two platforms needed some creativity since there weren't support runners down the outer edges of the build like usual that would accept pins. After staring at the "T" junction where the two platforms met, we decided to employ a hook & catch fixture. The perfect hardware was not available at any of the stores visited, but eventually through much conversation and gesturing, a solution was found employing three zinc L joints. Two were attached at the sides of the 2x4 running down the middle of the back platform to form an enclosed space that was ready to "catch" the downward facing 3rd joint that was going to be attached to the front platform. This would also allow for the hatches to still rest flatly. Using screws, this 1/4" space was firmed up to snugly fit the third joint that was now drilled into the center of the horizontal running 2x6. After a couple 1/4" cuts to the vertical running 2x4, the two halves locked together and the outer edges were flush against each other.
This build was a beast, and a lot was learned. The angled skis request put our standard support designs to the side, making each portion of the kit a custom job to match the specific issue of that specific portion of the kit. Glad we did it. Glad to have a happy customer.