As noted in my 31 December entry, we traded-in our 2006 Toyota Tundra / tandem hauler on a newer, smaller 2017 Toyota Tacoma long-bed pick-up back on 28 November. To transform it into a tandem hauler would require a few things: a shell to enclose the bed, a bed liner and because the bed once enclosed isn’t quite large enough to just roll the tandem in with only the front wheel removed, I’d need to fabricate a fixture that would hold the Calfee tandem upright without any wheels such that it could be easily slid into and out of the enclosed bed.
Oh, there were a lot of other things we’d need to change to make the little Tacoma “our truck” and most of those have been completed while we waited for the long-lead item in the tandem hauler transformation — the A.R.E. Z-Series shell — to be fabricated in Mt. Eaton, Ohio, and shipped to Georgia; they included:
- De-badging the exterior, i.e., removing brand & feature emblems from the doors and tailgate as well as the special edition decals from the back corners of the bed.
- Replacing the stainless running boards with a set of NFab step rails.
- Getting the front cab windows tinted to match the rear windows.
- Swapping out the stock wheels & tires for some that were more fitting.
- Installing special shocks to level the front & rear of the truck.
- Swapping the stock TRD Sport grill for a “TRD Pro” model.
- Replacing the grey cloth seat covers for black leather seat covers.
Tandem Hauler Specific Items
As for those tandem-hauler specific items, the BedRug bed liner was ordered on 29 November and delivered / installed on 4 December. An A.R.E. Z-Series shell was ordered back on 2 December from Custom Camper in Lake City, Georgia, which is where I purchased the A.R.E. Z-Series shell for the Tundra and it finally arrived last week and was installed this past Wednesday.
With the shell on the truck I could finally design and fabricate a new fixture that would hold our Calfee tandem upright with the front & rear wheels removed so it could be carried inside the now covered bed of the Tacoma, pretty much how we hauled around the Erickson in our 1989 Toyota SR5 X-Cab with its high-top/rear door Brahma shell. However, the A.R.E. shell I bought is a low-profile Z-Series, so the fixture I used with the ’89 Toyota was too tall and I needed to come up with a lower-profile design.
I should note, since 2001 we’ve had a couple of K1500 Suburbans and the 2006 Tundra that could carry our tandems with just the front wheel removed and placed in a fork holder to keep it upright and stable, so there’s been no need for a transportation fixture. While the Tacoma’s bed is actually an inch or two longer than the Tundra, it’s four inches more narrow so the rear wheel now needs to come off as well to get the tandem in the covered bed.
Anyway, I found the materials I needed for my new design on Thursday night and I headed out to the garage on Friday afternoon to fabricate the tandem transportation fixture. My materials of choice were a 1″ x 4″ x 8′ piece of oak and a few PVC plumbing fittings that I cobbled into a boom tube cradle. Back at the house I did a quick mock-up before putting the piece of oak on the chop saw.
The cradle’s base was about the only tricky part since I needed to create a recess around a center hole in a wood block that would hold a PVC plug threaded into another PVC fitting through the wood block; this was how I decided to mate the dissimilar PVC and wood materials together. Once the block of wood was attached to the center support of the fixture, the PVC plug became hidden from view and the other fitting is where a PVC T-connector would attach to the fixture after I shaved-off the top-half of the pipe: instant boom tube cradle!
After that it was just a matter of attaching the fork mount and two cross supports to the center support so the fixture would stand upright. A wheel holder went on the left-rear half of the cross support which is where the rear wheel of the tandem goes once it’s removed. There’s a padded piece of material that goes in the cradle and a bungee cord that holds the tandem’s boom tube to the boom tube cradle and that’s it.
I may replace the bungee with some velcro straps and I need to permanently affix the padding to the boom tube cradle after sorting out the tie-downs. I may also add a second wheel holder for the front wheel just so the tandem is fully self-contained on the fixture. But, other than that, it fixture is done and it works as intended. It takes an extra minute or two to get the tandem out of the truck and ready to ride vs. just rolling it into the Tundra with only the front wheel removed, so not a huge change.
I also need to rethink how I’ll make sure the fixture doesn’t move around inside the bed. I don’t think the red bungee cord will do what I want it to. But I’m 98% there.
As mentioned, I decided to go ahead and add a second wheel holder to the fixture so the tandem is fully self-contained when it’s on the fixture. I also gave the white PVC a coat of black pick-up truck bed liner paint and customized a velcro carrying strap to work as the hold-down strap for the boom tube. It’s a bit lighter weight than the previous fixture which was basically an old-style Yakima tandem mount attached to two 1/2 x 4 x 16 pieces of Oak.
HOW TO SPOT US:
And here you have it; the new tandem hauler. The 2017 Tacoma is pretty much a scaled-down, red version of the 2006 Tundra, which says a lot about our tastes and preferences for how a truck should look. So, once again, if you don’t see the big black Tacoma at a tandem rally, it’s because we’re in the not-as-big, but hard-to-miss Barcelona red Tacoma.