Builds indycole's 2016 200 Series Build and Retrospective

indycole

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It's time for vacation! We're heading out early tomorrow morning to Palm Springs. The plan is to enter via Joshua Tree (perhaps Berdoo Canyon if the temperatures are under 110. We're stopping in Tucson the next night and then thanks to pro-tips regional backcountry expert @Mark Mehalic the plan is to explore some scenic routes between Tucson and ABQ in the Apache and Gila National Forests. Then on to Pagosa Springs via a couple nights along the Enchanted Rocky Trail.

As much as we're looking forward to Telluride we couldn't imagine a trip to the area without a night in Ouray so we'll be there Tuesday night. See y'all in Telluride on Thursday!

All packed up.

IMG_3347.JPG


Last minute trip to Valley Hybrids for some 2725s.

IMG_5997.JPG
 

indycole

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We've returned to the real world after an excellent 10 days in the Southwest and the San Juans. The damage report is pretty tame compared to last year (thanks to the fact that I now have bumpers and that I didn't do any wheeling in Moab).

The most notable problem was a massive alignment issue. I must've hit a pothole on the highway or a rock at high speed during some light offroading in Arizona. I went into the LCDC event with the truck only driving straight with the wheel turned about 10 degrees CW. I was also getting extreme rear wheel well and KDSS rubbing with my driver side tire. I expect people in my groups got a kick out of my 5-point turns on most of the switchbacks.

The truck's total weight was about 8500 lb on the trails as I didn't have time to remove the heavy RTT before the trip. That said, the only time I noticed the weight was on a tippy spot on the Black Bear steps where I was honestly a bit concerned as the truck was swaying side to side while off camber. It was certainly unnerving though I expect the it felt worse than it looked.

Damage-wise, I scraped the rear bumper going too fast into the waterfall on Black Bear and gave the rear LCA and rear shock skids a workout. I may have hit the front skid once but otherwise made it through the trails without any lasting undercarriage damage. I did get some pin-striping on Black Bear and also scraped the rear diff on Mineral Creek.
 

Markuson

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I think you probably felt the weight of the tent on that tippy spot, but from where I stood, I think you were well shy of danger. No lurching on the throttle or over-breaking, so all good. :) You get points for wheeling with that top-heavy tent, and certainly deserved to be more concerned than the rest of us.
 

indycole

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What size Trekpak dividers did you get? Those look slick!
I purchased directly from TrekPak and bought 8" tall divider material for the passenger drawer and 3.5" for the shallow drawer below the fridge. I'd actually recommend 3.25" or 3" for that side as the 3.5" is just too tall if you want to use the drawer liner. It's worked out brilliantly so far!
 

Roy Park

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I purchased directly from TrekPak and bought 8" tall divider material for the passenger drawer and 3.5" for the shallow drawer below the fridge. I'd actually recommend 3.25" or 3" for that side as the 3.5" is just too tall if you want to use the drawer liner. It's worked out brilliantly so far!
Awesome. Thanks. I figure I’ve copied your build this far may as well go all the way. I need that LR aux tank tho.
 

indycole

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I finally found some time for an update thanks to whatever disease I contracted after some rando sneezed on me on Caltrain. I guess the silver lining is that I've had some time to catch up on Mud, go through vacation photos, and document what's been going on with the truck. I'll start with a retrospective on the Trekboxx system.

Trekboxx Storage System (Link)

I've put the Trekboxx Storage System through its paces since last spring via a couple long trips and numerous extended weekend trips. I also use it extensively while working on the truck. I figured it's time to share my opinion on whether it's worth the price tag (short version: yes, easily).



Yes, the Trekboxx product demands a premium over other drawer systems. I had a baltic birch DIY system in my Yukon and the popular ARB drawers in the 200 prior to the Trekboxx, for reference. Generally, I'm a fan of secure, safe, storage in the cargo area and pretty much any drawer system worth its salt will get you there. While I had nits to pick with my ARB drawers, I ultimately decided that I wanted more of a complete storage system rather than drawers alone. From here on out I'll cover what we like and don't like about the Trekboxx system.

Let's start with a short kudos for @TrekboxX. Working with David has been an absolute pleasure and I appreciate his ongoing support on anything from answering questions, dropping spare footman loops in the mail, making custom straps for my Aluboxes, and designing/building a middle row platform that matches the rest of the system.

I think it's important to look at the Trekboxx Alpha as a complete storage system — not just a set of drawers. Which features stand out that makes this more "storage" than "drawer" system?
  • The shelf above the refrigerator opens up a significant amount of space that's perfect for bulky, lightweight goods.
  • The cage surrounding the refrigerator enables you to store gear next to refrigerator on both sides, attach Molle gear, or as tie-down points.
  • The height of the cargo barrier is low enough that middle row roof cargo nets from Raingler or BROG can still be used.
  • The Trekboxx Fridge straps keep the refigerator secure but still easy to remove if needed and the fridge itself can be utilized for a bit of storage (paper towel holder, utinsil bag, etc.).
  • The wings on both sides between the drawers and the quarter panel are much easier to access and utilize than they were previously. I think the addition of an extra inch or so provides enough usable space to house spares, some tools, fasteners, fluids, and miscellaneous gear. I also like that the wings have soft-closing hinges and are one piece.
  • The built-in dual Richlite surface of the shallow drawer enables the drawer itself to double as a workbench, food prep surface, or a bar/lunch-counter. This is probably the most-used feature of the system.
Even without considering the middle row platform (where I keep a small Alubox for pantry items, the dog's penthouse, tools, recovery gear, med kit, and long implements), it's possible that I may store as much stuff (in terms of volume) to the cage/dividers and in the wings as I do in the drawers themselves. It'd be close. The point here is that the system has made it incredibly easy to have virtually instant access to our most of our gear. Everything has a home.

The Trekboxx system is one of the few truck modifications that sees equal attention from both my wife and myself. I asked her what she thinks of the system now that we've done a number of trips and her immediate response was, "I don't care what else you change on the truck but those drawers are staying" — no joke.

Aside from the "storage system vs. drawers" aspects above, here's a laundry list of things we like about the system.
  • No more scrapes/cuts on her hands — the ARB drawers (mainly the one with the roll top) had some galvanized steel interior structure that she cut herself on a few times
  • The drawers stay locked in place even on inclines.
  • The dual work surfaces on the shallow drawer make it easy to grab stuff out the drawer while still using it as a work surface. We keep our lunch kit on one side and quick access gear/tools on the other. It probably takes half the time to prepare a cold lunch compared to pre-Trekboxx time.
  • The surface (LineX) is easier to clean and maintain than the bootliner-type material on the ARB drawers (TBH I do miss the practicality of Velcro-ing stuff to the ARB drawer faces but I've since moved many of those items to the shallow drawer or tool kit).
  • The refrigerator is lower and more accessible which also let us install a larger fridge.
  • In terms of appearance the system is simply on par with the quality of the truck itself. It looks like it belongs as much as custom cabinetry in a vehicle can. One of my primary annoyances with the ARB system was that it cut up my quarter panels. It just didn't fit in the vehicle. I don't know if that was a 16+ issue or what. The Trekboxx does not touch vehicle interior at all aside from the mounting points. This is an impressive feat and a testament to the design, build quality, and fabrication. Every aspect of the system exudes quality and attention to detail.
  • There's no noise from the unit itself. If the drawers are empty and the fridge is unloaded the rear of the truck is completely silent. Upon installation, David did mention a couple types of noises that come up that are usually indication of needing to apply grease to a tab on the slide. I haven't had that issue, yet. Regarding the gear within the drawers, I've actually made use of TrekPak (no relation to Trekboxx) to isolate items within the drawers. I think most of the noise comes from the refrigerator when traveling.
So, which parts of the Trekboxx Alpha system could use improvement? There's only one thing that stands out and perhaps it's just personal preference: The Aux Work Station. This is an add-on to the Alpha System that includes two laser-cut brackets that screw into the tall drawer when extended. The brackets are cantilevered off the drawer and another Richlite surface or stove (if holes are drilled in the bottom of the stove) can be installed.

We haven't worked this feature into our camp setup like I thought we would. There are a few issues (and I'm pretty sure David is aware of these in general). First, the aux station brackets and Richlite surface must be independently stowed. It'd be nice if there was a built-in place for them to go. The brackets are pretty large and they can make noise if not secured well. The Richlite surface actually stores pretty easily in the tall drawer but it'd be nice if it could remain in pinned in place instead of just laying on top of the stuff.

Stowing the aux station gear isn't really the problem, though. In order to use the aux staton the drawer has to be extended all the way. When the drawer is extended it's pretty difficult to access anything in the refrigerator. If we really needed something, we'd basically need to disassemble the aux station, push in the drawer, get something out of the refrigerator, and then reassemble. From this perspective it could make more sense to put the aux station on the end of the shallow drawer instead of the large drawer?

In any case, I'm not a huge fan of having the stove attached to the vehicle and we tend to just set it up on our table. I did expect that we'd use the Richlite surface but instead I just leave it pinned on the drawer or just use that surface atop the tailgate. One scenario where the aux station would work much better is if your refrigerator opened from the driver side and if you don't have a rear bumper swingarm hindering access to the pullout from the driver side. I could see that working pretty well.

Anything else we don't like? Not at all. If we found ourselves with a new 200 tomorrow the Trekboxx would be the first thing we'd migrate over without question. I thought about mentioning the weight of the system (it's heavy) but I can't imagine where the weight reduction would come from without sacrificing something more important such as usability or strength.

Lastly, something to internalize for anyone in the market: realize that the actual drawer volume is a little lower than other systems, but you get more convenient, usable storage space overall when you factor in the wings, cargo shelf, and the barrier/dividers.

Also, just because I'm a Trekboxx fan doesn't mean I think all other storage systems suck. I think we're actually lucky in that so many amazing options exist for the 200 series. I'd have no hesitation recommending ARB, Drifta, or the KISS drawers based on what I've seen depending on all the usual decision-making factors. I know there are more vendors out there that I don't have as much experience/knowledge of.

More photos: Here's a gallery if you'd like to see more.
 
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I’ve had virtually the same experience with my @TrekboxX system, except that we have no problem accessing our fridge. We’ve got an ARB 62 so the hinge is at the rear. We have found the aux work station a bit cumbersome as well due to the storage aspect and the inability to close up the rig with it attached. If we’re camped in one spot for a few days, it’s a bit of a pain to have to tear down the aux work station after every meal to close up the rig. It’s a minor issue but the only thing I could quibble about. Otherwise, I love my storage system.

I currently have the rear cargo barrier out so I can sleep on the drawer top and rear folded seat. It works like a charm for solo trips. With the wide, short ARB 62, I can actually fit an Alu-box 42l case above it on the shelf. I’ve ordered a potential easy solution for my quick stove dilemma that will hopefully resolve my desire for a quick setup and tear down stove table.

This is a very thorough review that I wholeheartedly agree with. I have no regrets with my purchase.
 

ekberger

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I agree with everything @indycole said about the Alpha @TrekboxX system. I absolutely love my system but have not found the aux work station to be helpful. I just wish I had the same system in my FZJ80 and 4R, but I’m sure David would be happy to help me out.

My only issue with the system and it’s not the not the fault of the design at all but relates to my cord for the National Luna refrigerator. The power cord itself exits out the back of the bottom right rear area. My vehicles DC connection is on the left. The cord is sufficiently long and secure enough however it almost always gets hung up underneath the the drawer when I close it. To remedy the situation I have to partially close the slide and go into the passenger drivers side door, lift up the cord and pull in the refrigerator. I’m not going to relocate my DC connection I just have to find a way to secure the long cord up out of the way so that I can easily open and close my refrigerator slide without having to deal with the pinched cord time after time. Perhaps a retractable cord design might do the trick. Again, not a fault of a great system just the placement of my wiring.
 

indycole

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My only issue with the system and it’s not the not the fault of the design at all but relates to my cord for the National Luna refrigerator. The power cord itself exits out the back of the bottom right rear area. My vehicles DC connection is on the left. The cord is sufficiently long and secure enough however it almost always gets hung up underneath the the drawer when I close it. To remedy the situation I have to partially close the slide and go into the passenger drivers side door, lift up the cord and pull in the refrigerator. I’m not going to relocate my DC connection I just have to find a way to secure the long cord up out of the way so that I can easily open and close my refrigerator slide without having to deal with the pinched cord time after time. Perhaps a retractable cord design might do the trick. Again, not a fault of a great system just the placement of my wiring.
It would be pretty sweet if the system came with a retractable cord solution though I can imagine that being tough to standardize with all the fridges out there.

Not sure if this would work for you, but I used this kit from Wits End to run an Anderson plug to the rear of the drawer and then the coiled cable is zip-tied along the cage from the rear to the front and then it's fixed to the fridge strap tie downs in the rear. While the fridge is stowed the cable is kind at full extension since it goes from the rear to the front to the rear of the fridge. While the fridge is extended there's a bit of slack but only to the side of the fridge, not the rear.
 

TrekboxX

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@indycole @DRCocaCola and @ekberger thank you guys for the kind words! I really appreciate it.

For the fridge cord, I've seen and tried a lot of options. A length of 1/8" shock cord tied to the middle of the fridge cord, through the upper/center of the center divider and tied to the top of the center divider does a splendid job of keeping the cord out of the way. My length of cord has been doing it's job with zero issues for 5 years. You know I love to overbuild(!), but sometimes simple is better. You just need to anchor the power cord at both ends so it doesn't come unplugged.

The aux work station was my solution to many requests to have a stove attach to the system. I only sometimes use it this way and much prefer to cook away from the truck a short distance. To me, having a fire bolted to your ride home doesn't seem terribly prudent, not to mention the smoke, etc. With the aux station the stove is just resting on pins so it can be ditched if you have a stove fire. My personal go-to setup is the stove on a stump or other table, a TB camp table next to the stove with an extra mesh shelf for storing all dishes, a utensil roll hanging on there camp table, and a plastic table for wash duty. I use the aux station cutting board pinned to the top of the large drawer 100% of the time, and only use the aux station for the stove when I need a quick setup for cooking lunch, coffee, etc.

I tried to make the aux station a bit more convenient- i.e. attached brackets that swing out, etc., but I just couldn't come up with a more elegant solution that wouldn't break the bank or sacrifice too much drawer space.

@DRCocaCola - be cautious about putting too much weight on the shelf without the cargo barrier. It provides the lateral support for the dividers and shelf. I have been making half-barriers for this purpose for those that want the sleeper setup. Alternatively, we could make up a simple diagonal brace for the time you are running it that way. Let me know.

I have some other fun things in the works. I'll keep you in the loop as I'm sure you're all on my email list.

Thanks again guys! It's been a pleasure working with you!
 
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indycole

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Summer is our least favorite season to camp in California, but we've actually done a couple long weekends and a couple short weekend camping trips since LCDC. The highlight was probably the few nights we spent along the Eastern Sierra, Alabama Hills, and the Coso Wilderness over Labor Day. I know the Alabama Hills receives some ridicule on social media for one reason or another, but I've enjoyed every night I've camped there over the past 10 years.

I find that I'm taking fewer photos these days but I got a few keepers over Labor Day.







We'd originally planned on attending the pre-LCDC wheeling in Moab but last minute work issues prevented our leaving early enough to make it worth it but we did take the long route to Ouray via the Southwest including this stop at the VLA outside Socorro, NM.



More recently, @Atwalz @dc916cruiser and I finally met up for a short jaunt on some trails near Lake Tahoe. It'd been a couple years since we'd done Ellis Peak. There were a couple areas where we needed to pick specific lines but nothing too crazy.

EllisPeak-1.jpg
EllisPeak-2.jpg
 

indycole

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In addition to the video I shared in the 2018 LCDC thread, here are a number of still shots from the trip. You can find the originals (if you are willing to put up with other silly/stupid photos from our vacation) in this Smugmug folder.

Our truck at Clear Lake (it was my first time doing Clear Lake... it was a super-scenic and relaxing trail)


@Romer @Markuson and @laserturbo91 return victoriously from The Wall on Poughkeepsie while the rest of us ate lunch, enjoyed the views, and played with cameras


@Romer @elkeye @vapilotda @Markuson @Poupon at Black Bear Pass with @mcgaskins and @JohnJB just out of the camera's view



@ethernectar @linuxgod @Oakleyguy and @GeorgeN spotted in Ouray enjoying a round of beers after a fun day and recovery learning experience on Alpine Loop + Mineral Creek


Just me again... this time on Corkscrew Pass


@codyaustin5 on Mineral Creek (or maybe Poughkeepsie?)


@vapilotda @elkeye @Romer @Poupon snaking through the tundra on the way up to BBP


@The Woodz's young man... climbing mountains while the rest of us suck oxygen from an inhaler after taking photos of roadside flowers


Full Day 1 Lineup on Corkscrew Pass - @Markuson @laserturbo91 @codyaustin5 @M1911 @vapilotda @elkeye @Poupon @Romer
 

indycole

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Okay, how about some truck updates since this is a build thread after all?

I think the truck is at a place where I'm totally content with the build. I think I'm just going to enjoy it as is and table any improvements or optimizations for a while.

Just kidding. Next up is onboard water.

I've been carrying 15 gallons of water in Scepter cans on the fabulous Trail Tailor rear bumper along with up to an additional 8 gallons of water in MSR dromedary bags. I try to carry 100% potable, drinkable water even though much of the water is used for cooking, cleaning, and showering. Additionally, I have some nifty gadgets such as a 12v faucet that connects to the jerry can and a Kariba hot water heater for showers. It's not a bad water setup at all but there are a few things I want to improve in terms of the water setup and the gear in general.
  • As one may easily guess, it would be preferable to get the water weight between the axles. Ideally, an undercarriage water tank would be ideal but there's just no room.
  • The Scepter cans don't leak at all but I've unfortunately contaminated my water numerous times due to the amount of dust and dirt on the water cans simply from having them exposed to the environment. Part of the problem is that my various devices for using the water have to be stored and then attached to the cans which increases the likelihood of contaminating the water.
  • I've found very little utility to having the water cans stored outside the vehicle (other than not having to put up with sloshing inside the truck but I'll come back to that). The bumper is prime real estate for stuff that makes more sense to access from outside the vehicle like shovels, tires, recovery boards, etc. I think we'll find better use of that space when the water is housed somewhere else.
It's been surprisingly difficult to find descriptions, photos, diagrams, etc. of onboard water systems. I learn a piece or two of good info from each forum post but there's not a perfect design to copy out there though I've referenced Dan Grec's from The Road Chose Me numerous times.

Here's what I'm thinking so far:
  • 20ish gallon tank that lives below the second row platform with inlet, outlet, vent, inspection hatch, and sender
  • Shurflo 2.3 gpm self-priming pump with pressure switch
  • Either solenoid valves or old-fashion ball valves to control modes for filling the tank, using water from the tank, or using water from an external source
  • Control panel with switches, inlet quick connect, outlet quick connect, flow control for outlet, mounted to either a.) middle row platform near the door, b.) to the back of the Trekboxx, or c.) near the rear cargo window to be accessible via (see next bullet point)
  • I'm thinking about replacing one or both rear windows with Emuwings Gullwing windows — I'm having a hard time verifying fitment on the 2016+ version, though...
  • While I continue to be a huge fan of the Kariba hot water heater I'm not sure if it makes water nonpotable similar to Heltons... if so I may look into a hot water system that can be used without recycling the water (the Joolca that Drifta sells comes to mind)
  • I don't think I need an accumulator
  • I don't think I need filtration for the immediate future
The hardest part thus far has been sourcing a tank that meets my requirements. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that shipping from Tek-Tanks.com in the UK won't be a dealbreaker. That's all for now on the OBW topic... just working through the design, finding parts, etc.

The truck is nearing 45,000 miles. It's at Valley Hybrids right now for a few maintenance items:
  • engine oil, diffs, tcase, maybe transmission
  • adjust BP-51 front preload to 20mm
  • replace rear shock top nuts and bushings (they've been squeaking like mad)
  • check-up on fitment of the prototype LRA tank
  • check on suspension, steering, and driveline hardware, grease, etc.
I normally do some of the maintenance work but work's been a bear lately and I haven't had time. Not to mention that I just trust VH to do a much better job at spotting potential issues than I could.
 

Roy Park

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I use that same pump and it works well. You’ll want to find a shower head or other nozzle that reduces the flow a bit.

I also use quick connects on my OBW. You’ll want to keep an eye on the ball bearings inside because although the outside is brass, those may not be. Just watch for rust if you plan to drink. I treat them like a wear item and change out once in a while. Currently, I’m using the power tank quick connects to see if they last longer than the cheap ones I got from Home Depot.

I use a tankless water heater and it works well although not very elegant. I have to hang it off the swing out when I set up camp. I also had to modify it because of the reduced flow, the water would get too hot.

Not sure what material tank you’re looking for but I found a place that will make custom water tanks for marine use with reasonable pricing.

Water Tanks, Plastic Tanks, Poly Tanks, Storage Tanks

They also have tons of sizes and dimensions in readymade varieties as well.

None of this may be news to you or even helpful but thought I’d share. Hahaha.
 
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There are a few spots that'll make you a custom, plastic, water tank. I was researching this for the Troopy as well. It's not cheap but you'll have an exact fit tank.

I agree with Roy, you'll want something to limit flow or use a lower volume pump. My 3.0 Surflow will empty a 5 gallon jerry can in seconds (ok, 10 or so). The SurFlow I had has a built on stall, so if you stop outward flow, the pump will stall out and not pump. Which is good if you use a shower head with an "Off' switch or a faucet.
 
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Pump-wise, this is what my trailer has:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00W5GCQC2/

It will pressurize the PEX tubing to ~50psi and then shut off, so you could leave it on all the time so long as your outlet has a shut-off nozzle. That includes show heads like this one which is in my RV:

https://www.amazon.com/Dura-Faucet-Shower-Head-Hose/dp/B004NBDLYE

The above shower head kinda sucks (always dribbles a bit even when off and the flow isn't always consistent) but it'll give you an idea of where to start.
 
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There are a few spots that'll make you a custom, plastic, water tank. I was researching this for the Troopy as well. It's not cheap but you'll have an exact fit tank.
I've seen you guys wheel. If you get a custom plastic water tank under your rig then you're gonna want a custom metal skid plate too ;)
 
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My tank is going in the cabin.
Interior space isn't a problem with the breadvan Troop Carrier
 
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My tank is going in the cabin.
Interior space isn't a problem with the breadvan Troop Carrier
I've thought about eventually putting a tank in the passenger side front fender area and using that tank for hot showers. Not sure if I want 10 gallons of water sloshing around right there though, plus I'd need the tank to be custom molded to fit.
 
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