ShenValleyCruiser's 500K Mile Tiki Cruiser Build Thread and CNC Creations (1 Viewer)

Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
Welcome to what has now become the The Tiki Cruiser build.

This is going to initially be a retro active build thread to catch up to where the truck is now, fast forwarding through the boring parts. This is the truck in her original glory:

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These are actually the photos from the listing online from about December 2018. Not bad looking for 480,000 miles at the time and only the second owner. And for the whooping price of $2,250 I decided to go crawl under it and check it out. I swore to my wife I was just going to go look at it and wouldn't make it any rash decisions without her...lol I drove it home. The guy selling was not a car guy but he basically took to Toyota whenever he had an issue and let them do whatever they told him it needed. Not the world greatest maintenance records but good enough and very little rust aside a bubble spot on the rear hatch and some surface rust on a cross member.
As my wife began raging into the phone about why I bought this the check engine light came on...luckily it was just an O2 sensor. But thus began a solid 9 months of wrenching just about every other weekend on it.

In the first 6 months I did a pretty mix of things both maintenance-wise and getting it trail ready. I get a steep discount on certain aftermarkets parts so I've been than willing to them a shot on any non-engine destroying related parts while anything with bearings and engine related I've stuck to OEM. In the first 6 months I did a pretty mix of things both maintenance-wise and getting it trail ready:
- o2 sensors
- Timken wheel bearings, new hub flanges, and OEM reboot
- drain and fill F, C, and R diff with mobil1
- grease the drivetrain
- Moog/Beck Arnley stabilizer links
- Moog/Beck Arnley UCA and LCA and ball joints
- Rancho Adjustable shocks
- replace all the vacuum hoses
- clean the MAF and Throttle body (it honestly wasnt that dirty)
- also did outer TRE's hoping it save the wobbly steering, it made it better but ultimately had to replace the steering rack and power steering hoses
- Reman Steering Rack
- 285/75/R16 BFG K02 All Terrains and lazy plastidip of the rims
- ARB front bumper
- Smittybuilt x02 10K# winch w/ wireless remote (awesome btw and unstuck me 3x!)
- Cheap Chinese aluminum roof rack

Later on by end of the first year of ownership I had:
- fan clutch w/ 30,000 cst cillicone oil
- SS brake lines
- Wagner thermoquiet brake pads
- new fan shroud
- new CSF radiator
- new OE idler puller, tensioner pulley, alternator belts
- Aisin timing belt, timing tensioner, water pump
- OME medium springs
- rear stabilizer links
- new Fuel Pump

Later on:
- Overland Pros 2500mm 270 degree awning with walls
- homemade pvc shower tank
- quick fists shovel and axe mounts


Basically everything but spark plugs, coils, starter, and alternator...so theyre probably next. Starter is less than 150K old and same with plugs. So might just carry a spare alternator from now on.

in addition I guess I've done some oddball PM things:
- Sea Foam induction clean
- BG EPR before oil changes
- BG MOA with oil changes
- couple rounds of BG44K in the gas tank after the above
- for the last three oil changes I've sent a sample of the old oil off to Blackstone labs for testing and on the last one I sent some transmission fluid off to be tested. So far everything has come back with glowing reports. One of the tests was done at 10,000 miles on the oil and it still looked great.

Since getting the truck I've put 35K miles on it. Done all the work myself thanks to this site, would have never been able to afford to maintain this otherwise. Has been towed twice to my shame, once for the fuel pump (we were back on the road in an hour), and once I had beat axle with low splines and lock washer with no tooth and the axle slipped on the highway, used my AAA deluxe to tow it to my friends driveway where we put the new CV I had in my garage on and welded a tooth onto the lockwasher and got back on the road 6 hours later. All part of the fun!

Having a truck with 500K miles has been fun and painful, in one sense you don't care what happens to it, in another sense you're never surprised when something breaks and every noise makes you paranoid. I just try to be responsible, I got AAA deluxe, always radio, emergency staples, and some tools.

Been all over the Virginia/West-Virginia mountains, Asheville, done about 3 trips to Florida and back, camping on the beach in SC and the OBX, all with our three kids 4 and under.
 
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Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
Over the end of summer I built a drawer system and since then it has evolved into The Tiki Cruiser. This is perhaps where my build is a little different than others. A lot of people doing building up their overland rig go for for real hard, intimidating, military style gear and equipment and the color coordination consists on getting all black. Of course this makes sense and usually practical, but I'm going a for a different angle now.

First thing was the drawers which provide a good quick kitchen and bar work station set up. I used my CNC router to produce a good chunk of it including the drawer latches and the carved drawer faces. System consists of two independent drawers of an eclectic combination of 3/8", 1/2" and 5/8" plywood to save weight and so that one drawer can be removed a third row seat added. The passenger side drawer has a 22" slide within it for the coleman stove.
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Later on I added folding wings with fold out supports to the top is a true flat platform to pack everything else, and make the area around the wheel arches a little more usable as storage. The drawer faces themselves are walnut and I've added a couple coats of satin polyurethane.
 
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JunkCrzr89

Competent Ignoramoose
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Colorado
A lot of people doing building up their overland rig go for for real hard, intimidating, military style gear and equipment and the color coordination consists on getting all black. Of course this makes sense and usually practical, but I'm going a for a different angle now.
You have my attention :hmm:

But also because your photos make me miss home... "Oh I love those hills of old Virginia. From those Blueridge hills I did roam. When I die, won't you bury me on the mountain. Far away, near my Blueridge mountain home!"
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
You have my attention :hmm:

But also because your photos make me miss home... "Oh I love those hills of old Virginia. From those Blueridge hills I did roam. When I die, won't you bury me on the mountain. Far away, near my Blueridge mountain home!"
I'm getting to it!

Yes its certainly gorgeous and I lucked out being here when I got the truck. I live about 5 mins from the end/begining of both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive and there is just tons and tons of forest trails within an 1hr of my front door.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
I've always been the designated bartender for our group whenever we go camping and pretty much the reason I like overlanding/off-roading is basically to have a cocktail and a cigar in interesting places. Also I like to do some good eating while camping out. Part of this has been to prove to the wife that dispersed camping can become glamping if you're prepared enough. I usually bring about 4-5 homemade bar syrups (orgeat, falernum, grenadine, simple syrup, etc) and multiple rums, bourbons, curcao, triple sec, etc... With the drawers I now have a very functional and good looking platform to work off for juicing fresh lemons and limes, making some food. With the pvc shower tank I hang the nozzle on the lift hatch strut and its like I have a sink and running water. But till now Ive never had a good solution for bring booze into the wilderness. I usually stuff it all into a reusable trader joes bag and listen to all clink all around down the trail and its a total mess grabbing the right bottles and getting stuff out of it and it doesn't pack. So I finally decided make a solution. Introducing The Tiki Crate v1.0 for beta testing:
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Now, its not finished as I broke one of my bits on saturday and couldnt finish the inlay popout lettering for the front and I still have to stain it all and lacquer/urethane it. And I'm waiting on some cherry for the cutting board which will be integrated into the top so after pop open front door (which utilizes a secret hidden push button in the forehead of one of the carvings) you can slide the top off, flip it over, and it becomes a cutting board with a juice trough and monstera leaf inlay.
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Inside it's a 4 tier shelf with bamboo railings and 3D carved tiki heads to separate the bottles. I took the crate out for a Sunday Safari yesterday on a trail and it did pretty good, a need a Velcro strap hold down on the carpet I think, and it had very minimal glass clanging but I'm going to tie braided jute rope between the bamboo railings and make them slideable bumpers between the bottles. Inside of the front features a decorative carving of a mai tai recipe artwork, sides are lauhala weaving, back is a reed wall fence, and a carve trim crown piece all around the top.
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Also used my cnc to make some stencils to give the outside some mystique and pizzaz, plus 2 points if you know the references.
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Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
152
Location
Duluth, GA
Over the end of summer and since then it has evolved into The Tiki Cruiser. This is perhaps where my build is a little different than others. A lot of people doing building up their overland rig go for for real hard, intimidating, military style gear and equipment and the color coordination consists on getting all black. Of course this makes sense and usually practical, but I'm going a for a different angle now.

First thing was the drawers which provide a good quick kitchen and bar work station set up. I used my CNC router to produce a good chunk of it including the drawer latches and the carved drawer faces. System consists of two independent drawers of an eclectic combination of 3/8", 1/2" and 5/8" plywood to save weight and so that one drawer can be removed a third row seat added. The passenger side drawer has a 22" slide within it for the coleman stove.
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Later on I added folding wings with fold out supports to the top is a true flat platform to pack everything else, and make the area around the wheel arches a little more usable as storage. The drawer faces themselves are walnut and I've added a couple coats of satin polyurethane.

Nice!

Care to whip up another set and send them my way? :)
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
That is essentially where I am today. As far as whats planned I've got the following in coming up on the horizon.
New badging inside and out.
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This is what I've drawn out so far. I'm gonna try machining it out of MDF material and some chrome spray and some shiny coating material for the drivers side rear quarter area or the rear hatch. And then carve this out of walnut, cherry or cedar with a rustic wood look for the inside.

Next, and excuse my doodle but this how I work:
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Using a piece of distressed driftwood I'll carve a sign with design or similar and hang from the inside top of the cargo area using some antique wrought iron loops I've yet to source. On the left and right side antique red/green lanterns. What I'll have to do is come up with a way to flip the sign and the hooks back when the vehicles moving. This I haven't figured out yet.

At the same I'm also looking replacing the poles for the awning (at least the vertical poles, with telescoping bamboo poles (this is apparently a real thing!). And of course none of would be complete without some tiki torches, I'm just working on find some durable rugged ones that dont leak and can maybe be stored on the roof rack.

At that the ambiance will be pretty on point. I've got a JBL bluetooth speaker with a killer Tiki soundtrack, dewalt jobsite fan to beat the summer heat and feel the breeze while I'm whipping up some potstickers and a round of Zombies.
 
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Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
Also on the list of future mods and makes is the practical and normal build thread stuff is:
- Fridge with slide out, right now I use a Coleman thermo electric and 20qt yeti. The Coleman is ok but uses 6.5 amps which is crazy. The Coleman is for food and yeti stores the drinks and ice.
- a dual battery system with 150w solar, I have 75ah interstate battery in a trolling motor box with some crappy harbor freight panels that are too big and bulky and take up room. I want to switch a true daul battery set-up with a tray under the hood, will save space in the back too.
- full size roof rack, mine is a bit small and yet somehow way too tall. Im regularly putting 200+lbs on factory cross which is...not ideal...again my rule for the roof rack is that it has to scream jungle safari expedition and not paramilitary swat vehicle. So I'm looking more towards gamiviti than say Prinsu or Dissent (no offense, just not for this truck)
- dual swing out rear bumper with fold down table: I still do a lot of trails, plus the spare tire carrier gives a spot for storing maxtraxx and a trasharoo. At this point I would also have to upgrade to heavy duty springs

Even further down the list:
- if I can really nail the dual battery system, I want to install an ice maker in the back, cocktails go through a ton of ice and having it on demand would be great
- battery powered projector, I've always thought itd be a blast for the kids to watch a movie on the wall of the awning in the woods
- WeBoost, if I can also upgrade laptops and keep selling some of my creations, this would make it more feasible to go on trips and be able to work on designs and respond to things to go on more trips.

So here's to more stimulus checks and less covid furloughs!
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
791
Location
Phoenix
You have my attention :hmm:

But also because your photos make me miss home... "Oh I love those hills of old Virginia. From those Blueridge hills I did roam. When I die, won't you bury me on the mountain. Far away, near my Blueridge mountain home!"

Buck up and stop sniveling. It's rains about every day there.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Messages
419
Location
Waynesboro, VA
All packed and ready to go for Fall Crawl, now to just get through work. First time just packing for me and not 3 kids and a wife. Loads of room especially with 3 car seats out, barely anything on the roof except the tent. I don't know how some of you fill your car on a solo trip. I packed all kinds of outrageous extra stuff and still have room. Replaced the last o2 sensor so now theyre all <1.5yrs old...replacing the post-catalytic sensors actually seemed to make a difference, it seemed to be running rich and the exhaust had a smell to it that seems to be gone.... Put on Trail Tailor recovery points, had been using the stock ones but they don't fit a d-ring so I could only use them with the hook off the winch. And while I did that my machine finished the walnut inlay lettering for the crate.
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Here's a peak inside the drawers, they're still not really finished. I haven't decided If I'm gonna make insert dividers for the "pantry" drawer. As you can see on top drawer, for now I just have plywood above the stove with I put the bar tender mat and a cutting board on usually, and then I just stick our "kitchen" tub down next to it. Eventually I will have silverware/utensils caddy to replace the plywood above the stove. I already started making some cutting board countertops that will go over the caddy, span the width of the drawers, and rest on the sides of the drawer so that when you want to grab some tongs, a knife, or whatever you just slide the cutting board over, grab what you need and slide it back. Probably will make some kind of divider set to get rid of the kitchen catchall bin.
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As you can see only the essentials to survive the harsh wilderness...
 

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