A new video from just after SEMA SHOW 2015. The TCT Trooper 2016 Toyota Tacoma plays around in the desert outside Las Vegas, NV.
Edit courtesy of Alex Fleming =)
Like a lot of people, I am disappointed Toyota does not offer the Trail Edition with a 3rd row seating option. We decided to settle on the SR5 because seating for more than 5 people was mandatory for our family. One option is to get a Trail Edition and add a 3rd row, but safety for my family is of the utmost importance. The SR5 includes additional air bags and safety equipment designed for the 3rd row. Being the engineer that I am, I decided to look a little further into the Crawl Control Circuit and see if it was somehow possible to put this into my SR5. Why not just go straight for lockers? I am a technology guy, and Toyota has really developed some great off-road Technology and I really wanted this over lockers to start with.
I started off by doing a pretty extensive search of the internet forums and found nothing, just a lot of people wanting a Trail with 3rd row seating (BIG HINT TOYOTA!). I started by purchasing a 2-day subscription to the Toyota TIS website for $15 (https://techinfo.toyota.com). This provides access to schematics and repair manual information needed for this mod.
I found the schematic for the Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select. Upon closer examination, Toyota actually calls the Crawl Control Switch, the Drive Monitor Switch. There are six connections on this switch and they are Constant +12V(+B), Switched +12V(IG), Ground, 2 CAN bus connections (CANN and CANP) and LINT. From finding a section in the repair manual about the Drive Monitor switch, it appeared that the brains for all of this are right in the switch assembly itself and communicates with the Combination Meter via LINT and the rest of the system via the CAN bus.
I examined the actual wiring in my SR5. Removing the dash components is pretty straightforward (FIG 1A-D). From the overhead console (Connection SU1, FIG 2A) down to the A-Pillar (Connection FS1 Male, FIG 2B) all wiring was in place. From Connection FS1 (Female, FIG 2B) down, the needed wires were missing. The connection F14 (FIG 2C and 2D) for Combination Meter was missing the LINT wire and the F10 Connection on the Body Control Module was missing the 2 CAN bus wires as well.
I researchedto find the proper repair harness parts that plug directly into the connectors. I was able to find all of the connector repair parts except for the F10 connector on the Body Control Module (still working this through Toyota as the repair manual shows no repair part numbers for this connector). For this one I was able to strip the 22AWG wire back and fold it back on itself and slide it in the connector with some dielectric grease to make a good connection. If I cannot get a repair part, I will just epoxy the wire in place as is. I got all of the other repair parts plugged into the proper connectors and soldered the physical connections between all the wires and used heat-shrink tubing to protect the connections. I used AWG 22 wire between all the points. For the source ends of the +12V switched (IG) and Constant (+B), I connected them to the switched and constant wires leading to the Steering Sensor right in the steering column. The Trail has them connected this same way but through connectors hidden way up under the dash. I tried to find them, but it was easier to do it this way. I used some T-Taps for these, which is easy to access by pulling off the plastic covers on the steering column. You could always use whatever switched and constant sources you want, but I chose to keep it the same as the Trail.
Next up is replacing the stock Body Control Module (BCM) with one from a Trail. This unit acts as a gateway for the Drive Monitor Switch to communicate on the CAN bus and the 2 pins needed (CANN and CANP) are disabled on the stock SR5 BCM. This is quite simple and you just need to unplug the harnesses from the BCM and use the release mechanism to allow the BCM to come out of its holder. You do not need to do any kind of initialization on the BCM; just plug and play.
After this is complete the hard stuff is done. The Combination Meter needs to be swapped out with one from a Trail unit as well (FIG 1E, FIG 3). The Trail unit has the LINT connection enabled and the programming to display and enable the Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. This may be the most difficult part to get.
I connected with a great dealership that wanted to help me out and was able to order a new Combination Meter with the correct mileage on my 4Runner (more on this below). You will also have to order the Drive Monitor Switch and a new Overhead Console from a Trail to mount the switch. Once you have these you can get everything plugged in. One thing I was hoping to do was keep the DAC switch. What I found out is that when you do a memory reset and do the Crawl Control Calibration, it disables the DAC Calibration. Whatever one you do first, the other is disabled. Thus, there is no way to have Crawl Control and DAC.
Once everything is hooked up and back in place, you will need to do a Memory Reset for the Skid Control ECU, then a Crawl Control Calibration and Zero Point Calibration. It is important to do the memory reset otherwise the crawl control calibration will not work. These can be easily done through Techstream Lite with the mini-vci connector or you can do it manually by using a jumper wire on the ODBI port. See the repair manual for detailed information on this procedure. After this, everything will work just like the Trail. Overall I am extremely happy with this retrofit and looks completely factory including the display lights in the combo meter (FIG 4A-4D).
Some things to note:
I did this on a 2015 SR5 4Runner base model. The part numbers listed below are what I used for this mod.
Part Numbers used:
Drive Monitor Switch: 84977-35020 (x1)
Trail Body Control Module: 89220-35340 (x1)
Trail Combination Meter: 83800-35R40-RP (x1)
Base Trail Overhead Console: 81260-35650-B0 (x1)
FS1 Connector Repair wire (Female side): 82998-24290 (x5)
F14 Connector Repair wire: 82998-12870 (x1)
AWG 22 Wire, Heat Shrink Tubing, Soldering Iron and Solder, wire strippers/Cutters, screw drivers, and plastic trim removal tools.
There may be some slight variance in the BCM part number needed and Overhead Console depending on what configuration you have. If you have a Premium model, you would need the Overhead Console from a Trail Premium. There are a few choices with the BCM as well: just try to match the version you have to the equivalent Trail version. The part number stamped on the BCM does not always dictate what you may have. This stumped me for a bit as I was researching this. A lot of people who have a Trail version do not have a part number that corresponds to a Trail version. It would appear the BCM modules themselves are the same, it is just the program in them is different. When I received the Trail version I ordered, the right part number was on the box, but the one on the actual BCM was showing for something else.
From 2014 on up Toyota Changed the Combination Meter as well as the part number for the Crawl Control Switch. Make sure you get the equivalent part numbers from your year. For 2010 to 2013 you should still be able to do this mod, but you will need that center display that is in the middle of the dash as well (Accessory Meter). I am not sure if you will need additional wiring, but possibly.
If you have a Limited, I am unsure whether or not this will work, but leaning towards not working. The Skid Control ECU Part numbers are different on the Limited so it probably has different programming. Also, there is no center diff lock light in the trail Combo Meter. It would be interesting to see if it could be done though.
I could have not have completed this mod without the help of Toyota Cruisers and Trucks Magazine and them putting me in touch with Tim Bernard, the Parts Manager, at Larry H. Miller Toyota in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tim was extremely receptive to what I was trying to do and offered to help out in any way he could. He was able to get the remaining pieces I needed to complete this mod without any issue. He is willing to help anyone out there that reads this article and wants to do the same thing. Please contact the dealership at 866-554-0772 and ask for Tim Bernard in parts. Please let Tim know that you read about this article and we sent you.
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Rokmen Off Road has been building quality off road parts for 12+ years. Their attention to detail and precision machining leads to a phenomenal end product with everything they build. In the last couple of years, Rokmen has begun to produce specialized parts for Toyota trucks and SUVs. TCT Magazine has highlighted some of their great products in past issues and now we bring to you their latest addition to the lineup - Rokmen Pro-Series Upper Control Arms.
Now you are probably thinking... another UCA for Toyota suspensions. Well rest assured that this UCA is far from ordinary. Aside from the precision machining to insure the highest quality there are a number of differences that set the Rokmen UCA apart from the crowd. From the top of the line stainless steel uniball to the precise fit heim boot covers every detail has carefully thought through to be able to provide Toyota owners with one of the best UCAs in the market in 2016. Being able to fine tune this arm is why Rokmen incorporated into the design stainless steel spacers that can be aligned in different configurations to achieve even better alignment results. But there is even more to touch on as we install a set on our 2007 2nd Gen Tacoma in this article.
Our install truck already has a 3 lift and uses OEM lower control arms. The current UCA has already been removed and we are ready to install the Rokmen UCAs. We begin by opening the Rokmen UCA kit and find that this kit goes to extreme lengths to include everything you need for a smooth install. Some notable items included in this kit are:
We start by setting up the arms for installation. The FK Stainless Uni-Ball w/PTFE liners comes already pressed into the arm. So we move on to installing the rod ends into the arm. These arms are built in house to insure quality production at every step. The tubing is 3/8 thick and the rod end threads are machined directly into the tube. This insures a perfect thread match between the tube and the rod end. We coat the rod ends with silver anti-seize to help protect threads from the elements that the arms will see. The rod ends are threaded all the way in. For the average install Rokmen suggests you back the rod ends out 1.5 turns. For this particular truck we actually backed the rod ends out 2.5 turns.
One of the hardest parts of setting up a UCA with heim ends is getting both ends lined up perfectly. Rokmen includes in the kit a rod end alignment tool that allows you to set up the ends perfectly and tighten the jam nuts down tight so the ends cannot come loose. Without this tool getting both ends lined up can be a chore and require multiple tries to get it right.
Next up we need to get the rod end boots installed on the ends. Before you install them make sure to put some Tri-Flow on the joints. You can use the UCA bolt to move the ball from side to side and work the Tri-Flow in to the joint. It should be noted that only a small amount of Tri-Flow is needed. Make sure to wipe off excess Tri-Flow. The weather boots are designed to be very tight fitting so as to keep moisture and dirt out of the joint. So Rokmen includes a special tool designed to allow you to expand the boot for ease of installation on the end.
Once the boots are on you need to set up 17-4 Stainless Steel spacers. Rokmen includes an Alignment and Adjustments guide in the instructions to help guide you on the best way to set up your arms. The spacers allow to change the amount of top end caster based on your needs. In the stock location set up the arms have approximately 4 degrees of castor when installed on a vehicle with 2.5 to 3 of lift. Our install truck is running larger sized 315 tires on it so we ended up adjusting the arms forward to increase the top end castor and get the tires further away from the inner fender wall. When you have determined your best spacer set up you need to insert the spacer inside the boots. Using the tool included you just need to open up the boot ends and install the spacers. Make sure to inspect the rubber boot after this is done so that it is not twisted or kinked. The boot can easily be worked by hand to get it to lay evenly and flat.
Last thing we needed to do before installing the arms on the vehicle was to add Tri-Flow to the uni-ball. Again use the UCA bolt to work the Tri-Flow into the uni-ball by moving the ball back and forth. Make sure to get the top and the bottom. Once you are done with this its time to get them on the vehicle. These arms are installed the same as any UCA. Once you have the arm on the frame end you need to line up the uni-ball so that it seats fully into the Spindle. Rokmen has machined 17-4 Stainless Steel inserts for each Toyota model that is currently building these arms for. Through extensive R&D Rokmen discovered that the spindle taper is different across different Toyota models. There is a common misconception that the spindles are the same which is not the case. So to insure the most precise fitment a different insert was created for each model.
Once you have insured fitment is correct, its time to tighten everything up. Make sure to follow the torque specs that are included in the instructions. The signature Rokmen aluminum uni-ball dust cap gets installed next. The cap includes a rubber O ring to seal it and is secured with stainless bolts. Dont forget to reinstall the ABS bracket onto the arm with the stainless bolt that comes with the kit.
Once install was completed we took the truck right over to get it aligned.Post alignment the truck drives great. I myself am enjoying the solid feel that comes with having heim ends on the UCA vs a bushing. At the time of writing this article the install was only 3 days old. So we have not had an opportunity to get them off road yet but we know that they will not let us down and will perform at the level in which they were manufactured. Hence the name Pro-Series. Were looking forward to putting them to the test in the coming weeks and months as the adventure season begins. There is a lot to be said for the peace of mind that comes from having quality performance parts on your truck when you are hundreds of miles away from civilization.
Rokmen Pro – Series UCAs are available for:
For more information on Rokmen UCAs and other Toyota product they offer visit: www.rokmen.com Also check out/follow their Facebook page for upcoming product releases and news.
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If you know me, you know I’m a nut when it comes to wiring up lights on my FJ. I started out with an sPod switch system to control all the lights, but at Overland Expo in 2015 I discovered Switch Pros and their new 8100 Switching System. A quick demo at the Pelfrey Built booth had me hook, line, and sinker. The funny thing was that sPod’s booth was just across the road and they were showing off their newest touch screen module, but I wasn’t interested in something built on the older relay/fuse system. I just saw the future in a solid state, modern switch system by Switch Pros. The brain was small andcould be mounted virtually anywhere. There was only a small wire harness containing 4 small gauge wires to route into the cab of the vehicle and the switch module was small for easy mounting. It had 8 switches, 2 more than the sPod, and could be customized with the included sheet of switch decals. Whenever I see innovation in our market it gets me giddy. Here was a new company flipping switching control systems on it’s head. There are plenty of offerings from basic do-it- yourself relays and fuse boxes to the sPod, but there is a new kid on the block with something up its sleeve.
In a few of the installs I’ve seen, the control module was mounted near the battery. The control module contains the brain, has a positive post and waterproof harness connection. I decided to install a bracket on the rear firewall of the FJ where my sPod was previously installed. I found an L style bracket in the lumber section of Lowes where all the angles, clips and straps are for tying lumber together. It provided enough surface to mount the switch module and the Blue Sea terminal bus.
Making the Connections
I connected all my exiting ground wires from my accessories to the new Blue Sea terminal buss. Using the diagram in the instructions I noted which wires on the switch module corresponded to each switch on the switch module. I wanted all my roof lights on the top row and the bumper lights on the lower row. I labeled each wire with a label maker and did the same to each wire for each accessory. This bit of work helps keep things organized when making the final butt connections. I made all the connections. I tidied up the wires by bundling them with several zip ties to keep it neat. There was an “ aha” moment after finishing up my install; I may re-do the positive connections with a small bus bar so that the connections are not permanent. The buss bar allows for all connections to be made at a screw terminal so further wire organization is possible on the positive side. So, having two matching terminal bus bars, one for ground and one for positive is the way to go. This is one thing the sPod does well because it provides screw terminals for ground and positive.
Routing the Switch Harness
I used the same hole I used for my sPod in the main firewall boot to pushthrough the significantly smaller 8100 switch panel harness. I sold my sPod and included the driver’s vent with the six installed switches. In return, the buyer gave me his untouched driver’s vent, so in return and I had a new,clean surface to mount my 8100 switch panel. I drilled a hole large enough to route the harness through the vent and it provided a clean install with no exposed wiring. I used 3M VHB double sided tape to mount the switch panel. Using a band saw, I cut off the mounting tabs on the sides then I sanded and wrapped the entire sides of the panel with black decal vinyl for a clean look. I used a razor blade to make a clean cut around the edge using the panel’s edges as a guide for the blade. You can’t tell I cut them off. Switch Pros will be providing forthcoming versions with no mounting tabs for more installation choices. Had I left the mounting tabs on the sides of the panel it would have been wider than the vent’s width and looked goofy.
Connecting Your Accessories
Installation is easy, even for the electrical novice. That’s why I recommend an all-in-one solution like the sPod or Switch Pros to many friends starting out. This gives you the ability to organize your wire routing to keep it clean and plan for future accessories. Mine was a bit more difficult because I had all my accessories hooked up to the sPod. Consequently, I needed to remove and reorganize the wiring to connect it to the newSwitch Pro 8100. It was tedious and I’m satisfied with the results, but since I like clean installs I’m already contemplating re-doing the layout for an even cleaner install. The 8100 is a nice unit but the sPod was better at organizing the incoming wiring since it had negative and positive terminals for connecting your accessories. The 8100 only has positive connections and it’s up to you to figure out where you’re going to terminate your ground wires. I installed my 8100 with a Blue Sea Terminal Buss for all my negative wire connections and connected all the positive wires on the 8100 to each accessory positive using the included heat shrink butt connectors.
Programming the Switch-Pro
There are two different methods to programming each accessory on yournew Switch-Pro. Either at the switch panel or on your smart phone. The Switch-Pro comes with Bluetooth installed. I tried both methods and the smart phone method was easier since you have direct feedback when inputting settings for each accessory. When you’re programming via the switch panel buttons you have to pay attention and count the blinking lights to keep track of where you are in the setup. You can configure several features on the Switch-Pro; momentary, battery input, flash, strobe, override low voltage disconnect, memory, switch panel dimming, switch names, set password and master switch.
Momentary: Set your switch to act like a momentary switch.
Battery Input: Set your switch to remain on with the ignition turned off. The default is all switches are “ hot” with ignition turned on.
Flash: Set your switch to a secondary flash when the switch is double-tapped.
Strobe: Set your switch to strobe (flash fast) when double-tapped. You can’t have both flashing and strobing lights. It’s one or the other.
Low Voltage Disconnect: The unit will shut down if it detects 11.5 volts for 60 seconds. If it detects 12 volts for 60 seconds it will can be powered onagain.
Memory: Set the switch to come on with the ignition.
Dimming: Set the switch panel night-time backlighting and LED indicatorbrightness.
Switch Names: Set the name of each switch.
Set Password: Set a password to secure the system.
Master Switch: When programming via Bluetooth you can set a master switch to activate more than one accessory. For example, set a switch to turn on all your roof lights.
When using your smart phone to control the Switch Pro, you can turn on and off accessories using Bluetooth regardless if you had programmed the switch to function with Battery or Ignition Input set to ON.
It’s good to know companies like Off Road Engineering keep pushing the envelope and advancing the technology to power all of our accessories in a safe and well-thought-out package. Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Switch-Pro to anyone looking for an all-in-one switching system.
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So you just got an RC Crawler for the Holidays, and now you want to mod it out to get the most out of the little package. The RC world is very similar to the 1:1 world of trucks, it’s very easy to get sucked into the modifications and the bills can add up very quickly. Luckily, parts for your new RC come a lot cheaper than for your 1:1 rig! That said, it’s still nice to gain performance on a tight budget. Here’s a few tricks to pull a little extra out of your Axial SCX10 (other makes and models may have similar results). These mods were done on an Axial SCX10 Honcho (available at http://www.axialracing.com).
Gain up travel:The factory coilovers come with a rubber bump stop that can easily be removed with a knife or scissors. Simply lift the coil spring up to reveal the bump and carefully cut the rubber bump out. This will give you a little extra up travel and zero cost!
Secure coil spring:On some occasions, on full extension with the coilover on zero preload, the coil spring can lift off the lower perch. This can leave to your lower spring perch prone to falling out. A simple solution is to drill a small hole in the perch and run a thin wire around the spring to hold it in position.
Ride height and travel: Not free, but a cheap mod. There are many options out
there for shock relocations. This version keeps the shocks outside of the frame, but allows you to easily add lift and adjust the suspension travel.
Tire performance: There are a few things you can do to the factory tires to get a little better performance out of them. First is to thin out the foam insert to allow for more tire flex and the second is to add weight to the wheel while the tire is apart. Adding weight to the wheel, especially the front tires, will help keep the tires planted while on steep climbs and off-camber terrain.
The tires come from Axial glued to the wheels. To separate the tires from the wheel, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and bake the tires for up to 10 minutes.
Using thick gloves to avoid any burns, grab the heated tires and peal back to separate the rubber from the wheel. Go slowly, if the tire is not separating from the wheel, put the tire back in the oven for a little longer.
With the tires separated, you can now modify the foam and add the tire weights. Tire weights are available for purchase or you can wrap the wheel with wire or solder. There are different ways to cut the foam. Here I have shown a “V” and reverse “V” compared to the full foam. Another option is to run without any foam for a very flexible tire.
To reattach the rubber to the wheel, use a strong glue along the inner and outer beads. I suggest setting one bead at a time, allowing the glue to set before working on the other bead.
The mods with these RCs are endless and these are only a few of the cheap/free mods you can easily do to squeak out a little more performance.
Do you have any cheap tricks that you’d like to share? Please let us know by visiting our Facebook page, maybe your cheap trick can make it into our next installment!
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This year during the FJ Summit, Toyota invited journalists from around the country (including our Editor in Chief Beau Johnston) to join them on a multi-day Toyota Overland adventure. The route was planned, guided, and filmed by our friends at Expedition Overland.
Last year at SEMA Show, Senior Editor Dennis Lloyd and I were racing through the show, like we do, when suddenly I was stopped in my tracks. In front of me was a 2014 Tundra with a full truck tent + add-on ground tent. We were looking at the Napier Outdoors Sportz 57 Series with their new addition, the Sportz Link model 51000.
As you've read over the last year, my goal with our 2015 Tundra CrewMax TCT Explorer has been to uncover that most delicate balance of utility vs. convenience vs. performance. Our initial goal to build an amazing family explorer has been met, so since we finished our first round of modifications last year Ive been thinking....outside the box.
Upon further inspection of the truck tent + link tent in the Napier booth, I realized that this one-size-fits-most approach to truck tents could have major advantages over our current trailer/flip out tent setup.
The two bags containing the Sportz 57 & 51000 occupy very little real estate in the short CrewMax bed. We wouldnt have to drag the big trailer setup for shorter trips.
The addition of a truck-bed mattress (we chose the Airbedz Truck Bed Mattress) could make the setup quite comfortable.
The ability to sleep in a comfortable, elevated truck bed with room for the kids on their cots is certainly appealing.
Still, some questions needed to be answered:
Would the truck tent fit on our short CrewMax bed with the Truck Covers USA rolltop cover?
Since the 57 Series Truck tent would need to be disassembled prior to leaving camp, would this be useful for basecamp->exploring adventures were used to?
How will this equipment hold up over the long term?
After the show, I contacted the great folks at Napier Outdoors (theyre Canadian – of course theyre super friendly) to find out if we could answer these questions.
The Fedex truck arrived in short order, dropping off 50lbs worth of truck tents. However, as luck would have it, our spring in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lasted a bit longer than usual this year. Getting out to test this setup has proven...difficult.
Finally, last week I seized a few hours of almost sunshine to setup the entire system. My main comparison for this review has been our full Manley ORV trailer with CVT Family-12 tent, which provides a similar amount of space, albeit at a much higher price in terms of cost and complication. Still, would the Napier system be suitable for similar families?
Comparing a multi-pole tent setup to an open & sleep roof top tent style system really isnt fair. The RTT simply folds out & is ready in minutes. Any standard nylon tent system large enough to sleep 4 will always take a little more time. Unlike many traditional nylon tents, I found the Sportz instructions well written, concise, and easy to follow. Color-coded poles with corresponding color-coded sleeves made it easy to get everything in its proper place. The wind on our little plot of land however, did NOT make it easy to get the tent fully deployed.
After less than 30 minutes (the first time), I had the 57890 Truck Tent installed on the Tundra and the AirBedz mattress was inflating. The fit is about 90% perfect on our truck due to the roll-top cover, certainly suitable for a restful nights sleep. Installing the 5100 Link tent took another 15 minutes or so, but I expect that the entire setup time will shrink as I become more familiar with the system.
At this point I feel like Ive answered our initial questions:
The tent does in fact fit with our rolltop cover, at least close enough for moderate use.
For using this in a basecamp scenario, its simple enough to remove the truck side of the tent and put it back on after exploring. I do not think it would be worth it to disassemble the entire setup & pack it up during a multi-day overland adventure.
The material is of high quality, but it will likely take several more trips before I truly get a feel for how it holds up.
For a first look, I really like the option of <50lbs of tent and <$600 investment for both parts of this system. While it may not be suitable for multi-day, multi-location adventures, it would certainly be perfect for a hunting trip or basecamp adventure. Its certainly a great option for a family on a budget thats searching for maximum flexibility with their Toyota Truck.
In an effort to fully serve our various readers, Napier also sent a SUV Tent system to our Editor in Chief, Beau Johnston, for his initial evaluation:
The Sportz SUV 82000 from Napier Outdoors is an interesting option for Toyota 4Runner & SUV owners interested in an inexpensive way to camp with their vehicle. A step above standard tent camping, the 82000 is built to attach to any vehicle via a universal sleeve, so its suitable for virtually all 4Runners, Land Cruisers, or FJ Cruisers. For us, the ability to access all of our gear in the back of June without leaving the tent is very useful.
The tent & built in awning are a great size for the two of us. With our lifted 4Runner the sleeve was a tight fit and a bit problematic to mate perfectly. My lift-gate managed to make up the difference, so the system still works well. Trucks with more than a minor lift may have more trouble.
With 81 square feet of internal area, plus the ability to leave most gear in the 4Runner, Im a fan of this option for the cost-conscious overland traveler. The system retails for $349.99, putting it line with similar high-quality ground tents. While rated for three season use, as always, your mileage may vary.
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As FJ owners we know all too well how bad visibility can be when looking out our windows from inside. It’s one of the cons to the many pros to our lovable rigs. Especially when it’s stacked to the ceiling with camping gear in the rear and we can’t use our rear view mirror effectively. Trail Toys has introduced a solution. Their new EZView mirrors provides a 35% increased field of view, eliminates blind spots and also allows the rear tire to be in view.
Installation was a bit tricky. We broke one mirror and had to order a new one. There’s an informative YouTube video on their website to do it right. In order to remove your old mirror you unsnap it from the mirror housing. Then you use a bit of heat from a hair dryer or heat gun to loosen the plastic edges of the backing plate. Work your way around the edges, pushing the plastic edge “off” the mirror’s edge. Apply enough heat and it will soften the plastic and the mirror can be removed. Installing the new EZView mirrors is the opposite of removing the old mirrors. Heat the plastic edges enough to work the edges of the new mirror into position. Take extreme care to make sure the plastic is pliable enough to bend so you can get the edges of the mirror into place. I broke one while applying too much force trying to get it seated. Once it’s in it’s easy to snap the new mirror into the housing.
Set both mirrors in enough to where you can see your rear tires. Take a drive and test out your new mirrors. You’ll notice passing vehicles are distorted much like a carnival mirror. This will take some time to get used to, but it’s well worth it. I can see vehicles approaching from directly behind me. This is one of the best features since I always load my rear cargo area too much to the point where the rear view mirror is useless. Vehicles approaching in adjacent lanes can be seen all the way until they get to your doors and pass you. No more blind spots! The Trail Toys EZView mirrors are hands down one of the best mods you can do to your FJ. There are optional defrost films and wiring kits to make the mirrors heated for colder climates. They also sell a kit for 2005-15 Tacomas.
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In Germany Maltec have built up a reputation for building motorhomes based on the Toyota Landcruiser HDJ80, but far from being just a gimmick for the rich end of the 4x4 market maybe they are actually the ultimate expedition vehicle... Robb Pritchard goes to find out.
So how can they add a mini house to the back of a Land Cruiser and still maintain the vehicle's structural integrity? “The camping cabin is fixed to what is left of the original bodywork and where the original pillars have been cut out we install a strengthening framework of chrome-molybdenum steel.”
The camper stands proud at 2.2 meters high which is only 25 centimetres higher than the standard vehicle but the roof lifts up on its gas struts a full metre so that inside there is an internal height of more than 2 metres, meaning that even the tallest of expeditioners won't need to stoop. The upper floor houses the 'bedroom'. The lying area with a real mattress extends over the entire width of the roof and measures 1.4 x 2.1 meters. It can be lowered down to sleep or folded up out of the way when you want to be in the 'living space'.
I remember a line from their website, 'Reliability, performance and comfort at the highest level' and that's exactly what the interior is. There's a complete wardrobe and kitchen unit made of light Alucobond panels, a two burner gas stove, a sink, a 65-litre refrigerator and a water tank. On the other side is a wide couch that can also be used as another bed, and under it is a 25-liter boiler providing hot water for showers... although you'll have to take them alfresco as a bathroom is just about the only thing not included...
Mounted under the body, just in front of the rear axle, is a polypropylene tank to store additional fresh water for those long trips away from any fresh water source... or alternatively you could have aluminium storage boxes in the same place. There's another large storage space in the body at the rear.
Power comes from a 12 and 220-volt system powered by a solar panel on the cabin roof that charges an Optima battery with 85 Ah capacity and energy is saved by using LED technology for the interior lighting and the pretty cool looking tail lights. There are also external 220 volt connections for campsites. And what about those heading to cooler climes (or those peculiarly cold desert nights)? Well, the interior can be heated in three different ways, by the water heater, with a Webasto air heater or from ducts directing warm air back from the engine.
The fuel carrying capacity is an impressive 275 litres. The stock Toyota tank is already a generous 90 litres, but Maltec add an additional 185 litre aluminium tank mounted where the spare wheel used to be. But if massive range is what you are after then it's possible to have another fuel tank in front of the rear axle which will give you a massive 345 litres!
With the second fuel tank fitted the standard exhaust doesn't fit any more so it is re-routed to come out just behind the passenger door which gives a nice throaty sound to the big engine. It seems pointless to mention that a snorkel is fitted and what expedition truck doesn't have a heavy-duty bumper... but cleverly this one also doubles as another water tank! Also mounted on the outside are a set of sand tracks and an awning. Still on a quest for shedding kilos wherever possible the wheels are a set of aluminium Alocas with the spare mounted on the roof overlapping the windscreen a little. It's maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing option but there is nowhere else for it to go!
For rough roads suspension is HT-springs and Koni shocks although Maltec will fit any set-up you request.
All Maltec Explorers are bespoke vehicles, built to the requirements of each individual customer, so no one 80 is like another and prices vary accordingly. The base vehicle itself, stripped and re-built will set you back 23,000€ and the standard interior will be around 5,500€. The complete vehicle featured on these pages is on the forecourt for 78,000€ which might seem a lot of money for a car that is at least 20 years old... but it's a fully-equipped, luxury expedition vehicle that you can trust it to take you almost anywhere and you know that old saying; you get what you pay for! And as it always will be, a HDJ80 in a class of its own.
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