Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Super Camper: Rebuilding Begins

After removing the camper from the truck (thanks again for all your help, friends!), we got a chance to take our time and really survey the damage to the frame from an easier angle. Ryan appreciated not having to be underneath the truck for once!

One thing we didn't notice before was the severe kink and crack in the cross beam that supports the spare tire.

Here's another shot of the broken spring. Ryan was pleased with the strength of the extra bed mount support that he installed. For anyone who doubts the strength of rivets, these seven rivets allowed us to drive 20 miles, and sit for two hours in line to cross the border. If they hadn't held, we would have been in a far worse situation.

Even with the supports, the bed mount buckled slightly. Imagine the damage had the supports not been installed!

This photo is taken from above, looking down at the frame on the right side. You can see the little kink in the metal that pushes out along the bottom of the hole on the side of the frame.

All this damage has made us understandably depressed ever since the accident. That combined with the fact that Ryan wasted a week of vacation from work and we didn't even get to surf, has made for little to be excited about.

So when the surf report lit up in bright red, I was relieved to see Ryan with a smile on his face.
It was after sunset, so he grabbed his binoculars to help see through the darkness to the flag that sits atop the post office and gives an accurate reading of current wind direction and speed.

He liked what he saw...

...and set the alarm to wake us early for what was sure to be the biggest wind swell of the season.
The morning dawned, and it was big alright.

But far from perfect. There were lumps running this way and that, and often the waves would look amazing as they approached all the way up until the time they broke. We watched a few of our friends try it out but it looked like much more work than the payoff would warrant, so we just watched.

We weren't the only ones choosing to watch instead of paddle out.

Since the surf didn't provide us with an excuse for any more procrastination. It was time to begin rebuilding.

Ryan donned his battle gear and got into it.

Since we had ordered just enough Nida-Core for the project, with only a little extra, we had to get creative and pull together a bunch of bits and pieces of scraps to make the shape of the utility box door that was blown apart in the collision.

We then layed out layers of fiberglass tape and resined it into a complete piece.

Ryan fitted the aluminum angle along the edges and riveted them on.

This man looks like he needs a martini!

Ahhhhh..... that's better!

The next step was to begin rebuilding the utility box itself. Fortunately we had plenty of extra aluminum and steel sheet metal left over from last time.

We are very greatful that most of the damage to the camper itself is cosmetic. Only the front end was hit, so the very corner was smashed in which created a crease in the underside of the aluminum edge trim.

Ryan drilled out the rivet, used his grinder to make a tear in the metal and then set up the jack underneath the pucker to use the weight of the camper to try to flatten it out.

He then used his grinder to smooth out some of the scratches in the metal on the corner.

After receiving our estimate from the insurance companies appraiser, our depression level increased. Sure we didn't expect them to offer us the full amount at first, but the $4,500 appraisal seemed like a joke. It will obviously take much more than that to repair the truck. The Toyota was towed away to a body shop and now we just have to wait to hear their estimate, and find out what we can do next. In the meantime, we have been shopping for white 2004 Tacomas, with 4x4 and the TRD package. If you or anyone you know has one for sale for less than 50,000 miles, let us know!

Finally, we went to the Redondo Beach Brewing Co.

for a beer.


Heidi said...

pretty! It will be fixed in no time!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you guys are getting the supercamper put back together. Don't let it get you down, things will work out. You guys are great. Charlie

Anonymous said...

just happened on this blog killing time... out of curiosity can you ballpark how much you have spent on this project... i would really like to do something like this, but the cost might be the limiting factor.. cheers..

Collin said...

Made my way here from a truck/camper forum. Absolutely heartbreaking your rig got beat down like that.:(
Love the last picture with the beer though, you guys obviously have the strength to move forward again!

Anonymous said...


If you are going to get a new Taco - make sure it is a 06 or later with a VIN greater than the following (look at 6 numbers) 217578. There were a BUNCH of TSBs (technical service bulliltens) on the earlier Tacos and post this make the major one (exhaust valve) was fixed.

After considering doing something similar with a similar vehicle, you should look at a Dodge Cummins Diesel - better all around for what you are trying to do...

Good Luck hope to see you in Baja.


Anonymous said...

Check out Sportsmobile - they make the ultimate dream Baja vehicle/s. I am looking to get one myself for Oahu now that the Super Ferry is about to go into action. If I lived in Cali... I'd already have one.

Here is the link:

And Holly - thanks for being someone my daughter can look up to without me worrying. She is 9 years old and we live in Ewa Beach.

bissell said...

yeah holly beck! the super camper looks like it goes off. envious of your baja trip i saw on surfline. check out my blog if you feel like it-
best of luck with your surfing.

dave rich said...

Hey... Good to see you guys rebuilding. I have often thought of building something like yours, but I just eventually decided that sleeping on the ground is waaaaay cheaper. Im heading off for 2 solid months in Mainland Mex this May, I cant wait. We are camping the whole time, everywhere, should be a blast. I should be blogging too if your interested.

Xaviera said...

Keep up the good work.