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Old 01-05-2016, 11:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Smile Tacoma Aerocap w/ hatch

Just started the build on my aerocap. Using 1/2" EMT for the framing. It will have tempered hardboard for a covering. So far the frame is mostly built, and the door is yet to come.

*Also, I apologize for the white bordering on the photos. Had to photoshop to get the picture size low

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Last edited by tacotuesday; 01-12-2016 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Looks great, good for you to resist the urge to make the back of the cap slope to the top of the tailgate. Keeping it up 7-12 inches will yield much better results and give you more usable space.
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Old 01-06-2016, 01:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Looking good!

Always nice to see another Tacoma floating around. I have a build thread on here for mine if you haven't seen it.
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Old 01-12-2016, 03:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The build is done! I had to rush through the project because it was time to get back to Tucson for classes. But I've tested it at 80mph and put it through a snow storm and it didn't budge a bit. I left the edges really crude, and the bondo was slapped on haphazardly so it's not the prettiest thing, but hopefully when I get some time I can go back and properly clean the edges. When that's done, I bet it'll look like a proper aerocap.

In other news, my average MPG seems to have jumped by about 3 or 4 and the truck feels like it gained 20hp on the highway. My MPG tests are still extremely rough due to my last highway drive which consisted of a full truck bed and the strongest headwinds I've seen yet. Even in that, I managed 22 mpg at 75mph, and around 25 at 65. So i'm impressed! My overall average in good conditions seems to be just above 28mpg as opposed to my last reading of 24mpg on the scanguage (And that's with larger all terrain tires). If anyone has any questions on the build, I'd be happy to answer. All in all, it probably weighs right around 50lbs. That EMT is a freakishly light material.
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Old 01-12-2016, 04:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Awesome! Can you give us a pic or two to see how it looks from a distance?
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Old 02-06-2016, 07:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry for the late reply! Here are the pictures you requested. I may add some side windows this summer to make it look a little better. It will also get proper bondo and paint work. But for now, it's functional, and gets curious looks from guys in trucks
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Old 02-07-2016, 12:08 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tacotuesday View Post
Sorry for the late reply! Here are the pictures you requested. I may add some side windows this summer to make it look a little better. It will also get proper bondo and paint work. But for now, it's functional, and gets curious looks from guys in trucks
Impressive work. Makes me want to learn to weld.

Only thing I could think of different would be to window it so you could see through the back. Outside of that it's a fantastic job!
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Welding is definitely a great tool! To be honest, I am not a welder. I have very little experience. However, with the right precautions, good work can be done. The welder I borrowed for this project was a tiny Harbor Freight welder. I tacked everything together and did multiple passes on each to make up for my lack of skill. I do highly recommend EMT for this type of project and it's remarkably strong for it's weight and it's extremely cheap! The only trick is welding it. It's very thin and it's galvanized. I had to weld in open space with fans on in January to work with it, and I often had the fan blowing right over where I was to prevent the gases from getting to me. Even with those precautions, I took adequate breaks in between welding sessions.

With that said, here are my impressions of my build and what I recommend to anyone looking to mimic this project:

1. EMT is a wonderful material to use for the frame. I may not be able to stand on top of my camper shell, but it was extremely light, extremely cheap, and extremely workable. It bends like a dream if you have the proper tool. If you know an electrician, I'm sure he/she will have one for you to borrow and tips on doing it well.

2. I had never used hardboard before, and I was a bit skeptical on whether I needed to just bite the bullet and pay for fiberglass, or some other type of plastic covering. However, in hindsight, I am very happy with my decision. The hardboard was rather cheap, and it's non-flammable/water proof. It also has as much strength as it needs, and that's very important when you consider the forces of air on the highway, and how much snow can weigh. To top it off, I haven't seen much in the way of warping under the Tucson sun. I was almost sure it would sag in between the frame members immediately. Especially since it's black. But no problems at all.

3. C-clamps are your best friend. My truck bed luckily had a convenient place to bolt down one side of the shell. However the back... it needed some work. Fortunately, I was recommended some C-clamps. And man, they're strong. I clamped it to my bed rail and the side of the camper facing the cab, and it hasn't budged in months. I haven't even thought about tightening it.

4.Bondo and sealants are crucial. Bondo is a great way to fill those little gaps, and I put sealants anywhere I thought water could get in while piecing it together. Sure, you may run through a few tubes, but it's worth the effort. I decided to sleep in the truck when it was 9 degrees out with a few feet of snow in the mountains near Tucson. Froze my a$$ off, but I was bone dry.

5.Gate locks. I used those hinged gate locks to fasten the "hatch" type of door on it shut. They work perfectly well, and keep it shut very well. HOWEVER, when I lift the hatch, the little pins move. and if you aren't careful, and try to close it without paying attention to them, they hit the harboard, and start to rub it off. I will post a picture to illustrate what I mean later.

6.When it comes to the hinges on a big door like this, don't buy them from the hardware store. I was extremely tempted to buy a few hinges from the store, and I'm glad I didn't. If your EMT framing has even the slightest bend, it will tweak the hinges and your hatch door won't work. The beauty of this design is that the EMT is round. And if you are a little bit tricky about it, I'm sure you can guess how I welded the nuts into each end of one of the pipes, and drilled a screw in each side to make the hinge.

7. Find a way to prop it up. I created the hatch and didn't come up with much of an elegant solution to holding it up. I basically grabbed a piece of unused EMT and propped it up. For me, that's all I need. However, I'm sure there's a good ecomodder on here who can find a way to use hydraulics, or some other solution.

I hope this helps someone looking to do a project like this! All in all, this cap came in at $150. And I had to buy almost every nut and bolt i used on this project. The only things I didn't buy were my tools and my spray paint. So all together, this makes for a very affordable project. Just time intensive.... to say the least...
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
tacotuesday

1. EMT is a wonderful material to use for the frame. I may not be able to stand on top of my camper shell, but it was extremely light, extremely cheap, and extremely workable.




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aerocap, camper shell, emt, tacoma, truck

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