1988 Toyota Custom Cab Build


Man that's a bizarre looking ride! How long is that beast after the stretch? Seems like it would be a similar wheelbase to modern crewcab/standard bed configurations.

Is the rear cab just an empty storage area now that you put the bench up front?

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Wheelbase is about 132" if I remember correctly. Pretty much the same wheelbase as a new Chevy Suburban, not sure how it compares to modern crewcab truck wheelbases. Not sure about overall length but you definitely notice how long it is in parking lots and when trying to make tight turns on trail, however the added wheelbase makes it ride pretty nice on the highway for an old truck. Yeah right now the back is just storage area and no seating. I'd like to add some fold down jumpseat style seating in the back eventually, so I can keep storage area most of the time but have some additional seating when I need it.


Would you have any idea of the dimensions of the Cadillac seat? Just something close.
The base is 50 inches wide by 25 inches deep and about 8-9 inches high from the mounting points. It didn't really sit right in the toyota without doing some extensive modifications to the bottom to get it to clear the transmission tunnel and sit low enough to be comfortable so I haven't actually mounted it yet. I did all the modification I needed but haven't made the tabs I need to make it bolt in as it's extremely heavy and I haven't gotten anyone to help me move it around for fabricating them yet.

Recommended books for Overlanding


I've worked a bit on the Wildernest the past few weeks figuring out what materials I wanted to use to make the new tent with and modifying a sewing machine my Dad has had sitting around for while so I can sew it together with heavier duty thread than my hobby sewing machine.

I decided to pretty much just make a replica of the original tent on the Wildernest with the windows in the same locations and same design. The original tent was made from 8oz 400 Denier pu coated nylon packcloth. Most roof top tents made today are made from thicker PU coated polyester but after doing some research I came to the conclusion that I would probably end up liking the original nylon better than a polyester tent because of the higher strength to weight ratio and it being able to stretch more as well as not stiffen up as much in cold weather.

I ended up ordering a 400D nylon packcloth with a PU coating from seattle fabrics, V69 polyester tread, some x630 webbing for reinforcing where the tent attaches to the shell with screws, and grosgrain ribbon to finish the edges, and their no-see um mosquito netting. I chose to go with polyester thread for the added UV resistance over nylon.

The sewing machine my Dad had was an old Durkopp 211 sewing machine he bought at an auction at his work but after getting it he realized the motor ran on 3 phase 220V power which neither of us had a hook up for so we converted it to 110 using a 1/3 HP sewtco motor. Pretty crazy the size and weight difference for supposedly the same power out motors.

Durkopp by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Old Elka variostop motor
Elka variostop by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

New Sewtco motor
Motor swap by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

After getting it converted I've cleaned it up, oiled it, put in a new needle and have been playing with it trying to get the the hang of it and it's functions as it's a bit different than the hobby machine I've used in the past so I'll be ready when my fabric arrives. I also got the old tent pulled off and got all of the duct tape and the tarp patchwork holding it together removed.

WN2 by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

WN by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Tent Pulled off by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Tarp and Duct Tape by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Instead of cutting it up right away to make it fit the bed I'm going to make a new slanted tailgate to make up for the overhang so it can seal to the bed. My main goal is just to make it liveable as quickly and easily as possible for now.


My fabric arrived the other day and I got to work on the Wildernest rennovation immediately. The "hammock" that holds up the poles and tent when the top is closed was torn and tearing more every time I opened it so that was the first on the list. To do this I took the old hammock out, ripped out the seams to use as a pattern for the new piece I would be making. I had some black cordura laying around from some previous projects so I decided to use it for the material for the new hammock. I layed the old the hammock on the cordura and traced out the pattern, cut it out and got to sewing.

D side hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

P side hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Torn hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

In progress hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Completed hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

After making the hammock I felt confident enough to start playing with the tent itself so I ripped the seams out into the 5 major sections which get sewn to each other. I will be remaking each section individually and then sewing them together like the original wildernest.

Tent seams ripped by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Haven't completed much of the tent yet but here's a little teaser.

Sew it begins by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr


Tent progress has been slow as I've been trying to take my time to make it nice and I'm pretty pleased with how its turning out. So far I've completed the roof and most of one of the side windows. I ended up breaking the bobin case when the machine jammed so progress has stopped for a few days until the new one comes in. In the meantime I ended up working on getting more peices of the fabric cut and ready to sew as well as a few other little projects like getting the poles of the tent ready for paint and an addition I'm pretty excited to have; a rear seat.

Here are some pictures of the progress on the tent. As you can see I ended up going with silver for the packcloth to match the rest of the truck. I also am using black mosquito netting partially for aesthetics but also because it's less visible to the eye than a lighter color so it should give a better view out of the windows while I'm inside the tent.

Corner reinforcements by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Center reinforced by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Velcro on center by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Webbing by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

window by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

For the rear seat I wanted something that would be easy to remove and allow for me to still use the space for storing gear when not in use. I still will probably rarely have passengers in the back but like the option for having additional people join me camping or wheeling and around town. I found a utv bench seat that flips up and is also easy to remove on Amazon so I went ahead and got it. After it arrived I assembled it and test fit and the seat sat up too high to the point the passenger head would hit the ceiling, so I chopped the frame about 3.5", rewelded it and added gussets to make it a little more sturdy and safe since it is made for a utv. The lap belt it came with isn't great so I plan to add shoulder harnesses in the future but the seat belts are bolted into the roll bar which will do for now.

Seat frame reinforced by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

rear seat by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

rear seat folded by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr


To Infinity and Beyond!
You do realize YOU ARE NOW the Expo Portal GO TO GUY for NEW replacement Wildernest tents.

Keep your patterns as new customer's will be forthcoming!


Finally back to working on the tent after getting the wrong bobin case for the sewing machine and having to source the correct one. Got the window side done and treated the finished sections with seam sealer and a spray on water proofing to help seal and protect the tent from leaks and mildew. I also painted the tent frame and springs and am getting new screws soon so I can get the frame and hammock reinstalled. Depending on how the finished tent turns out I would consider making replacement tents for other members.

Window by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

window full by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

tent sealer by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Tent frame painted by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

painted springs by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

While waiting for the bobin case to show I got the cadillac seat mounted. Pretty comfortable and gives easy access to the rear seats and stuff stored in the rear with the rock and roll seat and it also has a center arm rest and two decent cupholders.

srx seat by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

srx fold by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

rear access by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr


New member
This is one of the best build threads I've ever found on the internets. Keep up the good work.


Work on the wildernest has been a little slow the past two weeks as I've had some other obligations that I had to take care of. However I put in a couple long days recently and am getting extremely close to wrapping things up on the tent. After giving the topper a deep clean, scrubbing with soap/bleach and a pressure washing, I reinstalled the poles, the hammock as well as putting on a new seal and giving the hinges a fresh coat of paint.

Dirty wn by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Top Removed by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Painted Hinges by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Hammock install by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Fresh seal by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

I got all of the main sections of the tent completed and sewn together. After test fitting it seems to fit well however its a little tight to reach the original mounting holes so I'm going to make a few small tweaks so I can get it to fit as well as I can. After that all that's left to do is add webbing reinforcement around the bottom so that the screws holding the tent on won't pull through, finish sewing the rain skirt on and then get it reattached to the topper and then figure out how I want to go about making the fiberglass poles which are missing.

WN test fit by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

I also had a camping trip planned with some friends which was fun to get out for some dirt therapy, we went out to the Foothills state forest in MN, had a beautiful spot on our own private lake and caught non-stop sunfish.

flex by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Rainy night @camp by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Camp by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr


Got the Wildernest all wrapped up and installed and it turned out really well. For my first sewing project of the size I'm pretty proud of the final product. I made a Cot or bench out of some scrap 8020 extruded aluminum my Dad had laying around, using some 3/8" cedar plywood to skin the top. Picked up a thule gutter rack for the topper as well. I prefer the yakima racks because of the round bars but the price was right and it was local so I couldn't resist, having a way to haul around canoes, kayak or throw my bike trays on top is going to be very nice. My Dad was going through some of his old stuff and ended up finding a period correct inclinometer and Ambient Temperature Gauge that his parents got him for a gift when he got his old Chevy S10 in 1985 and never ended up using so I put some new 3M VHB tape on them and mounted them in the Custom Cab. I painted the aluminum strip below the window on the topper and installed a new locking T-handle too. Also figured out the tent poles getting a replacement pole kit from Gander Outdoors and RV the I cut down and it works great.

Amb. Temperature by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Inclinometer by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Rack PR by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

PR WN Front by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

D rear WN fin by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

P front WN fin by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Rear WN fin by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

D side WN fin by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Cot/Bench/ Storage by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

So much space! by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Living Room WN by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Gear Hammock by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Kitchen Organizer by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Pole Rack by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

I've been exploring my local state forest, Crow Wing State Forest, a lot lately which has many narrow trails.

Trail? by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Unfortunately after following one trail for a long way trying to find a remote site on the Pine River the trail came to an abrupt end where a tree had fallen uprouting the trail. Forced to turn around in a very tight spot or back out the trail for several miles I accidentally crunched the roll pan and rear passenger quarter of the bed. I guess it's time for a rear bumper build.

Quarter Damage by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Also on the list of to-dos is make the new tailgate, get the chevy spring swap done, and I've thinking about getting some rock sliders soon too. I also have a fair bit of leftover material from the tent so I'll probably be playing around with making more accessories with that soon. I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to make with the extra material and it'll probably depend on how much I actually have left but thinking something along the lines of an awning or a changing/shower/screen room below the bed of the Wildernest.

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The custom cab has been taking some abuse as of late. Went out to Spider Lake OHV area with a local wheeling group and after a whole day of wheeling I was driving back one of the main forest roads with the group and hit a small bump which resulted in a loud thud. We made it to the nearest pull off and stopped to do some investigating. This loud thud was my torsion bar mount to the control arm snapping. We used a high lift jack to lift it up enough to get ratchet strap on the upper control arm strapping it to the frame enough to lift it so it could drive onto one of the group members trailer and get it back to the main lot where I had my family come meet me with our trailer. After getting it home I tore into it hoping for an easy fix as I had the spare torsion arm mount on hand. Upon further inspection the mount wouldn't bolt up so I pulled the upper arm off and found a nasty surprise, the forces from the torsion bar broke part of the weld and bent the control arm when the mount snapped. Plan is to try to heat it up and bend it back into place as it's only bent ever so slightly, weld it back up and add some reinforcements, which will hopefully work for the time being.

Uh Oh by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

inspecting the damage by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

rescue by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Torsion mount snap by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

control arm crack by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

Here's some more pics of the finished wildernest to take away from such a sour post.

DBTR Front by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr

DBTR Rear by Luke Hoffman, on Flickr
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New member
Did you figure out how to make the missing fiberglass tent poles? I just got one and I bought driveway marker fiberglass poles from home depot for $3.29 each. I think they will work but I just need to figure out how to make the caps that go on the end. If you had any luck with the poles, I would be stoked to hear what you did.