Tacoma rear-seat platform mod

Since I got my FWC on my truck, I’ve been wanting a better way to pack my gear in the truck (and travel with the dogs)

A month ago or so, I took the rear seats out and have been researching platform ideas. I found a lot of great photos and started to plan.

As a lot of early planning goes, my plans were bigger than my stomach… er… my plans were bigger than my eyes… um. My plans were fairly grandiose.

My ultimate goal was economy of cost and a functional and secure platform.

I was planning to just take some plywood for a top, and some 2x4s for legs. One night a couple of weeks ago, I found this metal frame in an alley, and decided to use it. It’ll definitely give me a stronger backbone than just plywood.

The only problem was that it was about 6″ too wide and so it stuck out the truck door. That wasn’t going to work.

A friend had a cut-off wheel and mig welder, so I borrowed his tools and set to work.

Got the extraneous pieces cut out.

and it was time to do some hoopty welding.
There are no photos of my wields because I’m terribly out of practice and my beads were rather ugly.
I did have at least one good run tho 😉

Hey! It fits now! Yay!

Yesterday, I went to Home Depot, picked out some 1/2″ plywood, and had them cut it to size there (what a great service! Woot!)

You can see those triangle tabs sticking up on the frame? I left those on to use as tie-down points for whatever stuff I pack in there, but it meant that I needed to cut some holes in the wood top for them to fit through.

After my grandpa died in 2001, I got his red Craftsman toolbox and some of his tools, including his old jigsaw.

Unfortunately, somewhere over the years, the set-screw got cross-threaded, so the damn blades wouldn’t stay in and kept stripping out. I got some cuts done before the cussing commenced, then the impatience set in and I took a rather large drill bit to the cut.

That left me with some rather ugly areas and it still wasn’t wide enough.

I sent a friend a text message and luckily, he had a brand new Black and Decker I could use! Yay!

Bing, bang, boom! Zippo, Presto! Had it done in just a couple of minutes.
Still ugly, but functional. I’m okay with that.

The guy at Home Depot had recommended I use a piano hinge for this to give me a more solid and less flexy movement. Seemed like a good idea…

Until it wasn’t.

Der. Measure twice! Gotta remember that….

Back to Home Depot to get some different hinges. I got a three pack and quickly discovered that the screws were too long for the top (went through the wood, and pushed up against the metal) and that I didn’t have the right drill bit to make starter holes for the screws in the metal of the platform.

Fergeddabouddit. It was getting too hot to be working outside anymore anyway, so I decided to do hinges later. I do want to put them in though so that I can have decent access to the built-in cubbies on the floor.

(please pardon the dirty – got this pic right after I took the first seat out. Built in cubbies: )

So I got the platform set in the truck

and put my stuff back in.


A few things I want to do:

– I need to get a better drill bit to make holes in the metal part for the hinge screws
– I’d like to cover the wood with some cloth for splinter avoidance
– A better way to bolster the frame legs other than pieces of 2×4
– Vaguely considering making an upper shelf so things aren’t just stacked up and I can utilize the space more efficiently.
– Need to figure out a good way to secure the platform to the truck and ‘stuff’ to the platform
(I’m paranoid about getting into an accident and having stuff flying about inside. Saw a video in EMT class years ago about an unseatbelted back seat person who bounced around the car in an accident and killed the other three people. Eep)

Cayuse suggested I put thin closed cell foam for the top of the wood before I put the fabric cover on to make it more comfy for Argos doggie. That’s a good idea because then I don’t have to deal with the clumsy dog bed back there.

When I took the seats out, I left the outside mounts in. I can use those as mounting points for the platform but have to figure out how, exactly. I’m thinking zip-ties won’t do the trick. (Also, should have a mount forward too for better anchor of everything….)

Considering turnbuckles, hose-clamps….

Chasing Abbey

I thought I had a pretty good plan, with a couple of back-up places to camp at higher elevations in case the heat got to us. But unfortunately, and fortunately, tunnel-vision and exhaustion made the decision for me.

This long weekend started off with two objectives:

1) Get that photo of Muley Point for my (step)dad like I’d promised last time I went up there.
2) Travel the road into Arches to Balanced Rock that Ed Abbey talked about in Desert Solitaire. The original entrance into Arches BLM 378 Willow Spring Road.

The first night, I camped at one of my favorite-not-too-far-from-home places to camp out near Munds Park, AZ.

I suppose you could say that the weekend was a resounding success on those two objectives:
I drove up the Moki Dugway

and got the photo:


and stayed overnight up at Muley Point. This time, however, I didn’t stay right out at the point where it was so horribly windy last time, but instead, moved south to a somewhat treed area I’d scouted before. (Point over there to the left, my campsite somewhere on that red circled road.)

It was lovely, protected, and still had an amazing view. That’s Monument Valley out there!

Because it was so warm, I stayed inside and got some little projects done in the camper.
Set up my paper towel holder

Added Velcro to under the runner rug so it will stop scootching up. Cut out a reflector and added Velcro to keep sunlight from streaming in the ceiling fan.

I wondered if I could put in a skylight instead of fan over my bed?

Made a lunch of guacamole while working on the projects.

Wondered about changing out my sink faucet with on that swivels, as well as goes up/down?

Pugsly’s favorite napping spot. Need to organize that for her better.

Did my routine check of the turnbuckles and much to my surprise, one of the fasteners was loose! Eep!

Chris, from Rocky Mountain FWC, recommended adding blue Loctite. I’m going to pick some up today!

Unfortunately, there were bitey gnats that drove us inside the camper to spend some time viewing the sunset through the mesh. Still, not too shabby!


I also accomplished the second thing on my list:

I drove the original entrance to Arches. BLM 378

Not only did I traverse the original Abbey road into Arches, I conquered a fear and used my Low 4 on the truck for the first time! I was fine in the high-4 for the first part of the road, but then I came to a wash and encountered two problems. The first one was the big rock that stepped down at a rather alarming angle

and the second, was that I couldn’t see where the “road” went after the wash. I got out to scout, and saw some faint tire tracks so thought it angled off to the right.

This is looking back to the truck from where I thought the “road” led across the wash.

I sat there for a while, and texted my (unintentional) “navigator” Cayuse, and sent him some pics. He suggested using 4-low to slowly “walk” the truck down the decline. I thought about it, then decided that I wasn’t ready, backed up, and turned the truck around. Feeling like a wussy loser, I paused. While I was in that pause, a Land Cruiser drove by. I decided that if they could do it, so could I! Plus, I could follow them to find the rest of the path.

By the time I got turned back around, the Land Cruiser was disappearing behind a left angle of the road beyond the wash. I was correct in my initial assessment of there the road led, so with my confidence up, I slipped into 4L and slowly creeped down that rock.

The truck bottom scraped momentarily, but with a smooth transition, I was in crossing the wash and up the other side. What fun! I’m now considering adding an extra leaf. Nothing major, just to get a wee bit more height for next time….

Pugsly slept the whole time.

Balanced Rock was disappointing for the reasons why I dislike tourist attractions.
This was my view when I pulled into the small parking area.

That’s Balanced Rock peeking up from behind the bus.
The bus was sitting there, idling, spewing fumes and noise into the lovely view. I skedaddled away from that crowded area, and did a tour of the main attractions. At all of them, people were crawling about like ants. I had to leave.

This is near Devil’s Garden. The “dotted” line in the rocks fascinated me. How was that made? Did an alien ship set that top part down on top? Is it removable with internal hinges and there’s actually a whole gnome world inside?

The original idea was to boondock at the camping area that starts that original Arches entrance road BLM 378. But I didn’t have the energy to go back over that road, so I made my way back down the 191 to camp.

I ended up at Windwhistle Campground. Not boondocking, but it was a lovely place to camp. I wish I’d explored a couple of the red dirt roads that split off into the distance on my drive out to Windwhistle, I much prefer campering away from people and well, civilization. But there is a convenience to having a toilet and trash cans. Plus, there were these lovely giant rocks to scramble up behind my site.

It was too hot to do much during the day, so I got some reading done. Pugsly got a cool treat (my vet told me to freeze baby food – vegetable turkey for example – and give to pups) Great for a hot day!

Around sunset, Argos and I took a wee hike up on the rocks. I found a perfect spot for a tent up there… wish I’d brought mine along, although carrying Pugsly up would have been a trick. You can see my camper just off center, to the left.

Couldn’t resist a selfie with my goofy dog:

My original back-up plans for “in case of heat” included a couple of higher places near-ish, or to drop down to the Mogollon Rim back in Az. Instead, I headed to Capitol Reef (and on to Escalante) in what turned out to be a grueling and beautiful, and exhausting day of driving more than I’d intended.

I was cursing myself, but I also got to scout out places for future trips, and the following day, happened upon a favorite childhood memory.

Saturday morning, I first headed to Needles Overlook in Canyonlands. Wow. Just…wow.
What amazing earthly forces created these places. At 7:40am I could already feel the heat building.

I headed off for my unintentional crazy trip across Utah. Blanding –> Fry Canyon –> Hite –> Hanksville (the then through armpit of UT) –> Boulder –> Escalante.

Most of Utah is state parks. It’s pretty amazing.
I need to go back to Bryce Canyon NP

And I should have camped up near Torrey – it was amazingly beautiful, and satisfied my need to get out of the heat.

However, and here are lessons to be learned, my stress of Time did not align with my need to be out of the heat. I got tunnel-vision on the Time part of the equation and let that rule my decisions. That landed me a full day of driving behind me, outside of Escalante driving down washboard for 14 miles in search of a campground before giving up with worry of my poor turnbuckles and turning around. I found a boondocking site closer to the Hole in the Rock turn-off and pulled in there.

This looks a bit how I felt: dusty and rumpled

It was hot and a good portion of that day I felt kind of lost. That feeling of not having your bearings.
When I was 15, I visited my cousin in Houston. She took me to Galveston beach front to look at boys. I was excited about the big water and ran in – and got pulled down and topsy-turvy by the undertow. That feeling, of not knowing which was is up and feeling trapped in that place, stayed with me. It’s the feeling I get when exhausted and without a firm grasp on my location, even if I’m at home in my bed. My dad and I used to call it “the existential heebie jeebies”.
This time, I reminded myself that I was a day’s drive from my cottage, and not lost on a remote island.

Once the heat abated, it was a lovely sunset there outside of Escalante.

The dogs and I settled in for a good sleep and woke with the sunrise. As usual, the previous evening’s worries were gone with the fresh morning light.

Sunday. Heading back towards my cottage. Since I had another day, and was feeling on the home-stretch, I didn’t have that same frenetic stress as the day before.

I had planned to stop in Kanab, UT to visit Best Friends Animal Society. They do a ton of animal rescue and adoption and I’d once considered applying to work with them. On the way, I saw an unexpected sign:

When I was a kid – 9 or 10 years old – my mom and grandparents and I took a road trip to the Southwest. I was smitten. Grandpa and I peeked under rocks searching for scorpions, I picked sagebrush, and I saw the giant forever skies.

One of the stops we made back then, was to an off the main path state park the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. We rolled down those soft pink sand hills and had a glorious time. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. It was a location I’d put on my list to visit. I was surprised to see this sign and immediately turned down the road.

My family drove down this road some thirty years ago. I imagine it looks pretty much the same.

It was too hot to stay, and so I left the dogs in the truck (running, with a/c), clambered up a hill and buried my feet in the soft, pink sand. I could almost see my grandpa walking barefoot along the crest.

After I reluctantly left the Sand Dunes, I stopped in at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. It’s huge! They have acres of land dedicated for the rescue, rehab, and adopting of animals. Amazing.

I made some good time on the road, until I saw the sign for “Lee’s Ferry”. Well, what good Abbey-adventurer can pass up that sign? I had to see where the MonkeyWrench Gang met up! I drove down and saw another “Balanced Rock”

It was too hot to meander, so I left the dogs in the truck (a/c on…) and ran up to the mighty Colorado.

Then it was a push on to Munds Park area.

After the long, hot trip, it was a relief to find this idyllic little spot away from even the Forest Service road.

I arrive home somewhat conflicted as to whether sticking to original plans would have been the better of decisions, or if coming across my childhood memories and some lovely new areas was worth braving the harrowing heat and long drive times?

Either way, it was an adventure.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?