Author Topic: Joe's Xterra  (Read 57255 times)

JFanaselle

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #180 on: December 17, 2019, 12:42:43 PM »
Cargo drawer build in progress! We've grown quite tired of how long it takes to set up and tear down camp while out and about. Our previous method of piling everything into the back of the rig like a game of Tetris just doesn't work. The most frustrating part is dealing with bedding/sleeping bags/air mattresses that are the first things you pack away when breaking camp in the morning, but have to sit on top of everything else (tables, tent, etc.) once packed into the rig. I've been brainstorming a solution for months, but I had a lot of criteria that needed to be met. It has to allow easy access to anything that we'd bring with us without having to pull things out of the way (for example, need to be able to get to the fridge for a lunch stop or to get to tools/air hose without having to completely unpack the rig). It must be flexible and modular enough to allow for changes in what we bring, as our compliment of camping gear varies widely from trip to trip based on the distance/time, the climate, how many of us are going, and cooking/pot luck plans. It also can't break the bank, needs to be something I can build within my fairly limited skill set, and shouldn't be too heavy or fragile.

I watched countless You Tube videos and read dozens of forum posts, both specific to the Xterra platform and to other vehicles. I thought very hard about the different ways I'd pack up the rig for different types of trips, what I needed to bring and could live without, and even stacked various items inside and used some scrap lumber to formulate the best layout. Although not perfect by any means, I'm pretty happy with the design I landed on.

It incorporates a built-in drawer on the passenger side, which is equal width to the narrower side of the fold-down rear seat. The opening for the drawer is 10" tall by 16" wide, and the drawer box itself is 9" tall by 14.5" wide by 28" deep (after the heavy duty drawer slides and necessary movement spaces are accounted for). This big drawer will hold all of my recovery gear, tools, some basic survival gear, and other items that stay in my rig 100% of the time. The driver side is a large open cubby space to hold bulky items that can still be accessed when other stuff is stacked on top. Like the passenger side, it is the same width as the larger side of the split seat back, and the cubby is open on the back so that long items can fit all the way through with the seat in the folded position. This side will perfectly hold a FrontRunner Wolf Pack (or two, if I slide them into the seat area a little bit) and my Gazelle hub tent, and I can fit my camp chef folding table on top of the tent as well.

The top platform will be flat across, including removable "wings" to cover the side edges of the cargo area but still allow access. Those side areas will be a perfect place to store bungee cords and ratchet straps, spare parts, a light sweatshirt, a rain poncho, umbrellas, gloves, cold weather gear, etc. Under "daily" operating conditions, the flat platform will be perfect for the occasional bag of dog food or case of water from Costco. The cubby side should hold all of my photography and firefighting gear, and the drawer side and wings will carry what stays in the rig all the time. In "camping" form, the passenger side of the top platform will have an articulating slide mechanism mounted to it, which will hold the ARB 50 quart fridge and slide out/drop down at a 45 degree angle to allow access. The top of the driver side is open for sleeping bags, air mattresses, duffel bags, and other bulky camping items that normally bury everything else, and the cubby will hold wolf packs with food/camping items, as well as the tent and table. I'm also working on making the passenger side of the top platform removable, so that I can still sleep in the back of the rig when I take solo trips (the cubby is exactly the right width for my air mattress, by design), but I haven't actually cut it out yet because I need to ensure that the fridge slide has enough wood to mount securely to the passenger side. I'm also going to cut a large access hole in the floor of the drawer side, and may make a portion of the floor of the cubby side removable, to allow access to the storage space underneath. I will keep snow chains, spare wiper blades, and some other items under there.

The drawer slides come today and the fridge slider will arrive on Friday, so I'm hoping to have most of the project completed by the end of the weekend.

Test stacking stuff and deciding how I want the layout configured. Scrap pieces of 3/4" thick plywood proved to be very useful in this step.
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Assembling the floor piece
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With the top platform mounted. Nice and square!
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In the back of the rig (not mounted yet, just testing the fit for now)
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Here's how the Wolf Packs and the tent fit into the cubby side
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This is where the fridge should end up sitting with the articulating slide in place. Again, it'll slide out and tilt down at 45 degrees, which should bring it down to the same level or lower than if it were on the floor of the cargo area.
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The drawer box built out. I had to order 250 lb. drawer slides, as this will be a big drawer loaded down with heavy stuff.
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« Last Edit: December 17, 2019, 01:52:37 PM by JFanaselle »

Celt

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #181 on: December 17, 2019, 01:20:41 PM »
Cargo drawer build in progress! We've grown quite tired of how long it takes to set up and tear down camp while out and about. Our previous method of piling everything into the back of the rig like a game of Tetris just doesn't work. The most frustrating part is dealing with bedding/sleeping bags/air mattresses that are the first things you pack away when breaking camp in the morning, but have to sit on top of everything else (tables, tent, etc.) once packed into the rig.

 Hey brother, that's a super easy fix. Just don't haul so much. Two direct benefits to that:
#1: Less frustration.
#2: More room for beer!
Isaiah 6:8

Jayrat

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #182 on: December 18, 2019, 06:57:43 AM »
looks god Joe  O0
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JFanaselle

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #183 on: December 22, 2019, 08:12:35 PM »
Got some more work done on the organizer project over the past few days. It's about 85% done. Just waiting for the fridge slide to show up before I permanently mount the top and carpet it. I have 3/4" aluminum trim to protect the corners and edges, and I need to make wings that will cover the ends and make the top a solid flat surface.

Replaced the factory tie down channels with extremely strong low-profile unistrut, mounted with grade 10.9 bolts. This stuff is much stronger, and can handle the extreme force of the organizer mounted to it, especially when the fridge is fully extended and articulated.
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Test fitting the drawer box, after getting the drawer slides all mounted up
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I got the drawer face cut to shape and carpeted it. I carpeted the interior of the cubby side as well, to protect whatever is stored in there. I temporarily mounted the top back on so that I can keep it in the back of the rig for now, but it's not glued on yet. I installed internal bracing on the fridge side toward the rear, to keep the box from wanting to pull apart when the fridge slide is extended and articulated downward.
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The drawer all loaded up with my recovery supplies
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I found a storage bin on Amazon that was the perfect side to slide into the cubby side. In "daily driver' mode, this cubby holds some of my fire and photography gear. It slides all the way to the back, and leaves enough space for my helmet and camera case in front.
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I also cut out a section of the floor on the cubby side and installed a recessed lip to hold it in place. This allows access to the storage under the floor.
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0317

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #184 on: December 22, 2019, 10:20:20 PM »
looks great
It's better to sweat in peace than bleed in war. Death touches all men.

RBduffer

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #185 on: December 25, 2019, 04:05:32 PM »
Looks super clean Joe, as usual ;)
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JFanaselle

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #186 on: December 29, 2019, 11:19:16 PM »
Cargo organizer is finished. I'm really happy with how it all came out. I also picked up another little something something today ;)

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0317

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #187 on: December 30, 2019, 12:13:13 AM »
WHAT!!! a RTT. And here I am trying to get rid of mine.
It's better to sweat in peace than bleed in war. Death touches all men.

SCUBA_Dale

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #188 on: December 31, 2019, 09:50:34 PM »
WHAT!!! a RTT. And here I am trying to get rid of mine.

What are you trying to go with?

JFanaselle

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #189 on: January 28, 2020, 02:47:08 PM »
Been working like crazy to get my rig ready for a big trip in February. Here's what I've gotten done over the past few weeks:

* Had the steering angle sensor reprogrammed (stupid Slip/VDC lights!)
* Got new tires (same I was running before - Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 285 75 16 E rated)
* Replaced one of the TPMS sensors (stupid TPMS light! it's been on for over a year)
* Replaced both motors on my ARB twin air compressor - apparently I destroyed them (along with my alternator) while crossing the Mojave River during the last Afton Canyon trip
* Replaced the rear driver side door with a clean junkyard door (same color), and replaced the rear driver side plastic quarter panel/step. Now 90% of the damage that I did out at the Salton Sea is fixed
* had all windows re-tinted with high quality ceramic tint (I had to tint the window on the new door anyway, and there were several windows with major scratches. Plus my old tint was really cheap, non-ceramic. The guy offered me a heck of a deal, so I just did the whole thing).
* Built and installed the cargo organizer
* Added a leaf to my rear springs, repainted them, installed plastic "puck" shims, and installed new bushings
* Oil and filter change, and replaced the o-ring gasket behind the oil cooler where the filter mounts (it's been dripping for quite some time)
* changed the rear diff fluid
* acquired and installed an RTT
* installed new mounting brackets on the rear of the roof rack for my hi lift and shovel (the old location would no longer work with the RTT)
* and for some added patriotism, I installed matte black America flag decals on the rear side windows

Despite all of that, I still have a couple of projects to go!

* Front brakes (just ordered new rotors and pads today)
* replace the front passenger side CV half shaft

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0317

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #190 on: January 28, 2020, 05:53:14 PM »
"* and for some added patriotism, I installed matte black America flag decals on the rear side windows"

Badass, great addition
It's better to sweat in peace than bleed in war. Death touches all men.

RikRong

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #191 on: January 29, 2020, 11:56:12 AM »
Hey, those flags look familiar, but also oh so American! America f--- yeah!
R. Long
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FrankB

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #192 on: January 29, 2020, 09:35:07 PM »
That looks really good Joe.

JFanaselle

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #193 on: July 30, 2020, 12:23:45 PM »
It's only been 7 months since Jessica and I picked up that used Front Runner roof top tent, but it quickly made us wonder how we ever lived without one. It's a great little tent, but I will emphasize the "little" part. I love how small and lightweight it is, making it very easy to remove and store in the garage when not in use. It's also very simple to deploy, although the low profile design makes the re-installation of the travel cover a bit of a chore. But, the concern that we simply couldn't overcome is that it's just waaaaay too small for our 3 person family. So... we decided to upgrade.

Say hello to our new CVT Mt. Rainier 2020 Hybrid Series roof top tent. This model is CVT's brand new design. It uses a smaller travel cover that only covers up the sides and wraps around the bottom, kind of like a giant "scrunchie". When folded, the top of the tent is exposed, and it is outfitted with crossbars so that you can attach toys such as mountain bikes or kayaks, strap down firewood, etc.

CVT hasn't publicly promoted it yet, but they have a new shop location that's currently being setup in Las Vegas. To save the shipping cost (and to satisfy my need for instant gratification), we did a one-day turn and burn trip. The new tent design uses 1 inch four-way aluminum t-channel extrusions (commonly called "8020") as the base rails, and unfortunately, these will not work with my existing Front Runner quick disconnect mounting kit. However, CVT did have the regular Front Runner RTT mounts available at the shop, so I was able to purchase them and have everything installed right there before driving back home.

Bobby, the owner of CVT, gave us a tour of the new facility, and I must say that it's really awesome. We are planning to make the drive back out there to enjoy the grand opening celebration, which should be within a few months. I'll probably use that opportunity to also pick up a new CVT awning... I know it sounds petty, but my existing ARB awning doesn't match the cover for the new tent, and the mismatched gray/black combination sticks out really bad, in my opinion.

In order to keep the same arrangement of only installing the RTT when we plan to use it (and keeping it stored in the garage otherwise), I've already rigged up a solution that allows the installation and removal to be a one person job, like it was with the Front Runner. It takes a little longer because you have to individually remove each of the 4 mounting bolts (within a pretty tight space, too), but the process of actually getting the tent onto and off of the roof was actually VERY easy. I've linked to a YouTube video of the solution that I utilized - I basically copied this guy's idea 100%, except that mine is installed/removed from the side of the vehicle, instead of the rear. I also installed carpet along the 2x6 boards, making the tent much easier to slide.

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Jayrat

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Re: Joe's Xterra
« Reply #194 on: July 30, 2020, 12:36:06 PM »
Looks good Joe, the only thing I don't like is the non matching Awning LOL  lol
Seriously though, its looking good
You can pick your nose & you can pick your friends,   But you can't wipe your friends under the couch