Toyota Tacoma Short Bed DC and FWC Finch

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Sometimes we have too much time on our hands, too many websites to peruse, and way too many friends who have some really cool stuff. An idea forms, even when you have things that are adequate, and the snowball starts. This thread is part build of the Tacoma, but more about the final addition of the FWC.

I've always liked Toyota Tacomas, and I was certain a double cab was what I wanted. I had a Jeep JK, and I had outfitted it with an Ursa Minor J30 top, as well as, I had a SoCal teardrop trailer I was outfitting for the rigors of off-road use, but the gremlins that plagued the Jeep soured me along the way.

A trip to the Toyota dealer, and a brand new 2013 pyrite mica colored DC was mine.



I'll save the suspense (and wading through posts) to show the "end" (is there really such a thing) result.



The following will give some details, and pics, of how it got from "there to here"...
 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Suspension

Now here is where things got somewhat tedious. There are about as many combinations of shocks, leafs, air bags, etc., that you can ever imagine. Every build seems to have a slightly different combo, and, in some cases, at least an explanation why they went that direction. One thing that did stand out to me, however, was the tendency of some to purchase an "adequate" suspension system only to have to "chuck it" for a completely new system a little ways down the road. I really did not want to go down that road so I began taking notice of "trends" in what people were buying, or upgrading. Trying to stay away from the "bling" factor seemed to be the valley most feared during my search.

I watched Youtube videos, read countless threads, had on-line (and in person) chats with those building and those who sell to the masses.

I found there seemed to be a following of sorts to the Old Man Emu stuff, and I liked the cost/quality reports I heard along the way. However, there seemed to be a trend of upgrading the shocks a year or so down the road for a Fox, or Icon, type system. While the cost of the "higher end" stuff was more, it was not enough to send me (and my wallet) running for cover. The one thing that did not seem to be replaced (at least not as quickly) was the OME Dakar springs. Low cost and very good performance seemed to be the norm. Finally I had my list...

Armed with my trusty credit card, I called Wheeler's Off-Road and placed my order. I chose the Icon rear 2.0 shocks with external res, the 2.5 coilover w/external res (and 9 position adjusters) for the front, an Icon UCA and the OME Dakars. A sway bar relocate and diff drop completed the ensemble. A few weeks later the shocks were at my door.



 
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cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Selecting tires came next. Do I go with a 17", or stay in the 16's, seemed to be my biggest dilemma. An E rated tire was a must as I planned on having some weight on the truck, and I was looking in the 33" range for size. After much deliberation I decided on the 16's, and my size of choice was the 285x75x16. I did not want to go with a "mud" design, nor was I happy with some of the AT's I saw. I did more research, and I found the tire that seemed to fit my needs - a Goodyear Duratrac. There is a Discount Tire store not far from my house so off I went (I had chosen this company in part due to the coverage - between them and America's Tires - across the country). My original plan was to put the tires on a Method NV rim, but once at the shop I found out about their brand (MB) of wheels, plus I discovered a rim which looked very similar to the Method's. A little more research showed the weight capacity of the MB's to be slightly lower than the Methods, but still higher than most of the other brands in that particular style.

5 tires and 5 rims soon became mine...

 
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cobblecrazy

Adventurer
All that was left was to find a top for the bed. I decided on an ARE top with the solid "windoors" on each side.



All put on it transformed from this...



to this...

 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
I finally got the teardrop back with the new frame and suspension upgrades. A few good trips followed, but there was something lacking. I liked the basecamp setup, but my method of travel usually doesn't keep me in one place very often.

I made a trip to So Cal to visit with family with a stop at Pismo Beach along the way. I had purchased a "tent" that goes over the back of the shell/tailgate from Campmor (I had one before this one), and my dog and I shacked up for a few days in the back of my truck. Needless to say it was an adventure. I came away from that trip knowing I wanted something more just for the truck, but I was not sure the direction. What to do, what to do...seemed to be my mantra from that point on.

We had been to the Four Wheel Camper factory a number of years ago, and while I liked the exterior and frame, the interior at the time did not spark much enthusiasm from my significant other, or me for that matter. I had watched some videos the owner did of the upgrades to their campers, and I have a friend who spoke highly of the new FWC he recently purchased. A trip to the factory seemed to be in order.
 
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cobblecrazy

Adventurer
A 2 1/2 hour drive from my home landed us in the outskirts of Woodland at the door to FWC's "new" facility. We were met with Mike, a very enthusiastic salesman, and we were off to the showroom to look at the various models available. I was aware only one model, the Finch, was made to fit my shortbed, but I had seen a blog where they had an Eagle (about 10" longer) on a shortbed. I knew the only way to "know" was to put my two feet in each one.

After looking through each model in the showroom we were lucky to find out there was a "Finch" destined for Germany which was almost complete out on the factory floor (they only had the Eagle, flatbed model and Fleet in the showroom for tacomas). I was amazed at the quality of the workmanship, and the functionality of the layout, right off the bat. The exterior/frame was still the high quality I remembered, but the interior was - in some respects - all new
 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Needless to say I went away from that first meeting with visions of far away places dancing in my head. I must have been rambling on as I believe I saw my spouse donning a pair of earbuds at one point.

When I got home, I went out into the garage and sat in the teardrop. With my legs dangling over the side I began to make a list of pros and cons. One of my biggest "needs" if that is the right word, was the RV had to be able to fit into my garage if it needed to be stored for any reason. I don't like having something at an off site facility for security reasons, and I'm too much of a spur of the moment traveler to have to go off somewhere to get my rig.

As I re-entered the house the obligatory "...honey what do you think if we..." took place. The normal roll of the eyes, what's this going to cost, and how is that better than what we've got, conversation took place, followed by several days of pros and cons lists.

A decision was made, a teardrop was quickly listed (and sold).

Now the "real" decisions had to be made...
 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
I can't say how many threads I searched that had either a shell model FWC, or a complete build FWC. The list of options were similar with the loss of the refrigerator, sink, and water tank, being the first thing I noticed between the two; however, I had a really nice Yeti cooler and I had several ideas for a sink and water storage in my head. One of the pictures on the Rocky Mountain FWC Facebook page was a Finch shell with a heater cabinet in the back corner and a flush mounted stove on top of the cabinet. I made up a list on the shell model which included these two options, as well as, the folding bench/storage on one side. A few exterior options were also selected. I conversely made up a list of options for a complete build, but I had really begun to lean toward the shell as we liked the ability to have several configurations of bags and goodies depending on our destination.

We were at the point where an order was going to be placed. Another trip to the factory seemed to be in order to really make those final "check the box" selections for our build (at one point I also went over and looked at my friend's FWC to see his options and to rack his brain for any changes he would have made if he were to do it again).
 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Again, the contact with the staff at FWC was stellar to say the least. Mike had made a point to meet us even though he was not scheduled to be there that day.

A stroll through the showroom, and factory, brought up a few new questions, but it was time for a decision. The turning point for us was when we discovered the shell was not wired for external power. While the plan was for the camper to be off the grid most of the time, we do travel with family from time to time which can lead us to the dreaded RV park, but, with the perils, also comes the chance to top off the battery, charge electronics, or plug in the laptop and watch a movie or two (not to mention having an shower and hot tub). Also, we sometimes find ourselves at a KOA on the first night of our trips as they end up being just the right distance away to make it a good destination for those late afternoon departures so often encountered, plus there are times where I want a known "destination" and don't want the uncertainty of trying to find a spot. While the shore power option was not the whole reason for the decision, it certainly played a major role in us deciding upon the "full" build.

This is what we "checked" for options: flush mounted sink and stove, 2 way refrigerator (I really liked the layout and the small freezer was something I'd never in any prior RV), pre wired for solar (the plug was to be mounted on the rear of the camper), Yakima tracks w/three sets of attachment nuts for the system I already had in place, exterior steps (two on each side of the door), front slider window to match the slider on the cab of the truck, the thermal "wrap", 2 - 12V plugs, manual jacks, "helper" struts front and rear, rear LED flood lights and the "Silver Spur" edition exterior color. I did not select the water heater as I really don't like the additional weight, nor the space it takes up, and I've had ones in two other vehicles that I never turned on the whole time I used them.

A deposit was made. Our lead time was 10 to 12 weeks (Oct delivery). Needless to say I knew I would be a basket case, and, again, I saw my wife donning the earbuds after the fifth time I asked her if it was October yet during the drive home.
 
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cobblecrazy

Adventurer
I probably made a pest of myself, but all requests I made by phone, text, or e-mail, were met with the enthusiasm I had come to expect.

Between pics Mike took, and a few we took during another visit to the factory, here are some from our build.













 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Near the beginning of September I received a call from FWC. My camper was due to be completed on Sept 15 - weeks before the projected date. A delivery/install was scheduled for the 17th. A few more pics along the way until finally ones with the completed unit.





 

Keyne

Adventurer
Fantastic. Great build. That is basically what I would build except maybe go with the Fleet forward dinette. Keep us informed of your travels and of course include pics! BTW, what front bumper is that (All Pro)? Looks nice.
 

cobblecrazy

Adventurer
Fantastic. Great build. That is basically what I would build except maybe go with the Fleet forward dinette. Keep us informed of your travels and of course include pics! BTW, what front bumper is that (All Pro)? Looks nice.
Thanks. I'll have some trip reports, and pics, in a few posts past the install. I was really interested in the forward dinette as well - to include the shower that you can get with that - but again the fitment issue on the Fleet on a short bed is how much it hangs over the back (18") apposed to the 8" on the Finch. That model is also slightly wider than the Finch/Eagle, and the overhang is something I did not like. I had a different cabover in the early 2000's (first on a regular bed Tacoma then moved to a Tundra), and I really did not like how much it hung out the back or the sides. The Finch fits like a glove on my shortbed, and the bench adds that "stealth camping" bed that can come in handy from time to time.

The bumper is very similar to the All Pro, but it is made by Relentless Fabrication - a local company that makes a variety of products for the Toyotas and a few other brands. I've been impressed with the quality. Gives the truck a whole new look.
 

GroovyDad

Wanderer
That is a sweet looking rig! I'm taking delivery of an ATC Bobcat in a few weeks, so I know that anticipation phase very well. I see you're in NV. I'm in Reno, so maybe we'll see each other running around. Do you belong to Wander the West.com? I'm sure they'd all like to see your rig as well.
 

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