The Shakedown

Our family adventure vehicle is operational.  Mostly built the way we’d planned with slight variations from the last, an ’04 Tundra with Flip Pac.  This updated version is built on a ’12 Toyota Tacoma doublecab shortbox.  Yes, you read correctly, a short 5 foot box.  So, why did we choose a 5 foot box for a family of 4?

We wanted factory reliability in all the components and this included the rear differential locker.  Our previous Tundra didn’t have a factory locker option and we installed an aftermarket air locker.  We could have ventured into a 6 foot bed and added an air locker (since Toyota doesn’t offer a locker with the long bed) but the maneuverability was another strong consideration.  This wheelbase fits our needs very well (two track, I’ll say it, Jeep trails in the southwest).

We outfitted the Tacoma with all terrain tires, a Flip Pac, Bedrug, Firestone Airbags, auxiliary battery and lighting, and a sleeping platform.  Quite minimal by many standards.  Our intention is to keep the vehicle simple and light.

This trip was a weekend of back roads and trails in what we consider our back yard.  We spend the winter playing in an area between Sedona and Jerome.  The purpose was to test out the vehicle and see what shakes out.

We didn’t have many surprises except the cold nights.  Not really that cold, but when fun is an objective 30 F takes away from the experience.  So on our second night we found electrical hookups at Dead Horse Ranch.  Our ceramic electric heater worked very well through the night.  However, the electrical extension cord gave up in the morning and began arcing in the plug causing our observant boy to jump into action.  The now hot plug and related do-dads were guickly removed from the vehicle.  I still think an electric heater is safer than burning fuel inside while we sleep… a smoke detector is on our ‘need’ list right next to fire extinguisher.

All else went very well and the shakedown was a success.  I’ll examine the underside of the truck for anything that missed a factory skid plate.  We’ll post more as new adventure unfolds.


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