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Rig Review: Anza-Borrego & Ruining Around in Utah - What worked and what didn't?

Rig Review is a new type of post that I'm going to try to write up after most trips, where I'll note any things that worked really well, or could have been better. The idea has always been to optimize the Tacoma build and setup over time, so there's nothing really new from that perspective.

I won't talk about everything I've got going on - just new equipment to the trip and/or any outliers that deserve a mention. At the very least, I figure that long-term, real-world reviews of the products I use are good for everyone!

March 30, 2019.

Well, this month has seen a lot of adventuring - Double Fun @ Anza-Borrego and Ruining Around in Utah meant that there was lots of hands on time with a few different bits of the rig, with some interesting findings. I figured I'd write it all up as one Rig Review, since there wasn't much (any in the case of Anza-Borrego) time between trips, and the rig was essentially the same for both trips.

SCS Stealth6 Wheels replaced with 3rd Gen 4Runner 5-Spoke Wheels (new)

TL;DR - To solve the problem with mud being flung everywhere with my SCS wheels that stuck out past the fender flares, I installed some new-to-me 1999 4Runner wheels on the truck, which sit under the fender flare. This solved the mud issue, but introduced a slight incompatibility with my new ADS front suspension - the tires rub on the shock reservoirs at full lock.

The 3rd Gen 4Runner wheels are already a welcome change to the truck from a functional perspective. Only 7½ inches wide and with 4.625 inches backspacing - a mere 1/8" more than the stock 2000 Tacoma aluminum alloy wheels - they pull the tires inboard just over an inch on each side of the truck as compared to the SCS Stealth6 wheels, which were 8 inches wide and had 3.5 inches backspacing. That inch means that the entire tread - and most of the sidewall - is completely under the wheel well and fender flares; flying mud no longer makes it onto the sides and top of the truck.

For the most part. And from that perspective, they are a huge win. I have even less mud on the truck than Igor does at this point.

Igor on the left, the Tacoma on the right.

However, perfection is hard to obtain, and they are not without their problems. Two have presented themselves so far; one I'd like to solve reasonably quickly.

  1. The first problem is that being an inch closer to the frame means that when I fully turn (lock) the steering wheel to the driver side, the front inside corner of the passenger side tire gets reasonably close to the frame (and vise versa when turning to the passenger side). It's not close enough to rub on the frame at all - there's probably a good 2" to spare - but the remote resis for my recently installed ADS coilovers are attached to the frame in that exact location and sit 2.75" off the the tires rub on them a bit at full lock.I'll need to relocate the resis to a different location so that doesn't happen anymore.

  2. The second (minor) issue is that I like the look of the SCS Stealth6 wheels more than these 4Runner wheels. I think it's mostly a color thing, so I'm going to let that go for a bit and see if the silver bling grows on me.

The Bed is Cracking

TL;DR - I found two cracks in the bed of the truck, likely from the weight of the RTT bouncing around up there. I'll need to fix them and come up with a way to reduce/change the stresses in the future.

Just before our last few trips, I discovered that the bed of the truck was cracking in two places. The first was at one of the locations where the bed rack attaches to the bed rail - a crack had formed along the inside edge of the rail. The second was in the front corner of the bed - between the front and the passenger sides of the bed.

I've got a feeling this is happening because of the weight of the tent rocking back-and-forth (and up-and-down) as the truck goes over rocks. My increasing speed over the last couple years probably hasn't helped the situation.

I think there are two problems - which I obviously plan on addressing.

  1. I think the crack on the bed rail is due to some High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) rubber that I have installed between the bed rack and bed rails in order to reduce metal-on-metal rubbing. The side effect of this is that the rubber compresses slightly as the tent moves up-and-down over bumps, putting stress on the bolt hole rather than the top of the bed rail. Over time, this has resulted in stress in the metal at that point.
  2. The crack in the corner of the bed is likely due to the weight (and momentum) of the tent moving side-to-side over bumps and around turns. As it pushes and pulls on the sides of the bed, those stresses are transferred to the corners, causing one of them to crack.

Stay tuned for work in this area - I've already got a couple solutions in mind and in progress!

The CVT Roof Top Tent - A Stargazer-less Rain Fly

Bobby at CVT @Cascadia Tents was able to get a stargazer-less rain fly to me for the Mt. Shasta tent, and that got installed just during the second Anza-Borrego trip. While it didn't rain in Anza-Borrego at all, we did get one night of rain, and one morning of (light) snow in Utah and the new fly behaved exactly how I hoped it would - as the sun came out, it absorbed the heat and dried off nearly immediately.

In fact, even when it snowed a little bit - this fly didn't get nearly as wet as the previous one.

Perfect. Thanks Bobby.

The CVT Roof Top Tent - Sticky Zipper

To get the tent all squared away, I purchased some Gear Aid (previously McNett) Zip Care Cleaner and Lubricant. It's probably some expensive scam for what it is, but I spread it on the zipper and it was like magic. I'm not sure how often I'll need to reapply it - but with 2 oz. of this stuff, I've got plenty to last quite a while.

Problem solved. ...And honestly, I don't think that the problem would have solved itself as I was originally hoping - once the zipper gets dirty, it's too hard for it to clean itself.

Coleman Camp Stove/Grill (updated)

TL;DR - I found solutions for both the wind screens and keeping the bottom of the grill clean of drippings. I really like this stove now.

I added the Coleman Camp Stove/Grill back on the F.U.Rain trip. As I noted, I liked it for the most part, but the securing mechanisms for the wind screens seemed poorly designed. After looking things over, I was able to fix it reasonably simply - I made what turned out to be two popsicle sticks from some scrap maple hanging out down in the shop. These can be inserted into the securing mechanism, making it impossible for the wind screens to dislodge. When not in use, they can just be left on the "floor" of the burner, so they pack along with the grill.

Problem solved!

I also made a second tweak to this setup, which I'm really liking. When using the grill side of the stove, juices from burgers, steak, etc. would drip down onto the bottom of the stove and were hard to clean up (and over time make the kitchen box stink). So, I gave it a thorough cleaning and then lined the bottom with some aluminum foil. Works a charm to catch all the drips, and then at the end of the trip, I simply toss the foil liner.

Seemingly solved from previous Rig Reviews

  1. Stealth Custom Series (SCS) Stealth6 Wheels
  2. The CVT Roof Top Tent
    1. Stargazer windows in the rain fly
    2. Rubber cover zipper was still tough to close.
  3. Coleman stove wind screens

Unchanged / Still an issue from previous Rig Reviews

There are some things that have been featured in Rig Reviews that are - as yet - unchanged from when I originally reviewed them. Rather than highlight those things again, I'll simply link to them here.

  1. The Swing-Out Table - as expected, it was unusable on this trip.
  2. The Electrical System - continues to have the limitations of a single battery system.
  3. The Ham Radio Antenna - continues to have the shortcoming mentioned.



Check out older Rig Reviews

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