While traveling in South America, Chev noticed cons and pros of the sleeping platform in our 4Runner. Thanks to that he could plan a better design in our future car. Since the very beginning we planned to do our next road trip (from Colorado to Alaska) in the similar type of camper: built inside a 4×4 car. Built by ourself of course! Luckily we managed to find the car fairly quick and had 10 days to turn Land Cruiser in our home on wheels!
The most important part of our new toy was a sleeping platform with storage underneath. We had to get rid of the 3rd row seats and then we could start to plan. We have left back seats (2nd row) as they are part of the base for the front part of the platform, the other thing is that we still can have guests.
We built two huge drawers where we store our stuff..They are big enough to keep all our belongings and food supply. They have handles with locks so we can use them to secure our electronics while hiking.
At both sides of the platform, we have two hidden compartments for camping chairs, tools and other bits and bobs. There is an access to them from the front (when the drawers are open) or from the top (we can lift top flaps as well).
Drawers are quite long so to make our life easier, the back part of the platform is on hinges – we can open it to reach something from the back of the drawers.
The back gate is split in two. The bottom part was covered with a carpet originally, but we replaced it with wood – that makes a nice dinner table.
The very back windows are blacked out completely and the back window has a curtain that opens while driving. We haven’t done anything with other windows yet (they are tinted so nobody can see us anyway) but will have to make more curtains as we are going to be in Alaska in the summer time and that means daylight 24/7! 😀
Kitchen at the back
We prepare food for ourself and eat in restaurants only sometimes so we bought another gas stove, dishes and other kitchen stuff.
Most National Parks and laundries have coin operated showers. Whenever we can, we use them but when we are in remote places we use our camping pop-up shower tent. Public toilets are everywhere, even in wild places at the beginning of the trails.
We have 400W power inverter (from 12V DC to 120V AC) to charge a laptop, head torches or camera batteries. This works great and the only drawback is that we can use it while the car is running. When we put the 2nd battery on the car we will use it whenever we want!
Couple of mods
Land Cruiser is quite old and we had to upgrade a few things to make it better. We have:
- added few more lights: 4 spots and 2 fog LEDs, huge difference while driving in the night;
- cut front bumper to make rock crawling a little bit easier;
- sprayed all chromes in black matt;
- installed a snorkel (many 4×4 Toyota cars have air intake near wheel arch and while driving on the dirt roads car sucks all the dust! In South America, it was a real pain and we had to change air filter waaay too often. Land Cruiser has more expensive air filter so worked out better to put snorkel! )
In the nearest future, we want to do some more as we didn’t have enough time in Denver. Whenever we find a time we will:
- lift the car for a few cm;
- put bigger tires;
- fit 2nd battery;
- install solar panel (haven’t decide it for sure yet).
Mending Land Cruiser
While buying a car we knew it wasn’t perfect and needed some love. The worst was that car sometimes didn’t want to start or diff lock didn’t engage. Chev loves cars and knows how to fix it. So after rebuilding a starter motor and replacing diff locking motor everything works again.
Right before hitting the road we also did a full service – filters, oils, belts, bushings etc.
At the moment of writing this post we’ve been road tripping almost 3 weeks and can say it’s awesome car so far! Comfortable sleep, magnificent views, a lot of campsites everywhere, many remote places with 4×4 tracks and the coolest thing: Americans love this style of traveling! They love campings, campers, 4×4 cars and bonfires. We met hundreds of people traveling like us. We really like the US!
Update after the end of the road trip: As planned, we lifted the car a bit and sorted out rims & tires in Alaska. We didn’t bother to put a secondary battery or solar panel though as it has turned out that the power converter worked good enough for our needs.
Generally, Land Cruiser has done a good job and we had only a few problems on Dalton Highway which we described in another post: Troubles on Dalton Highway – Alaska.