Tempering For Transport

Months ago, I made the decision to move back to sunny California. I decided this time that I would not take everything with me. What I would take would be decided by what would fit in my truck and trailer. If it wouldn’t fit, it wouldn’t come; simple as that. Of course, I would be taking as many of my motorcycles as possible, and 3 of the 4 made the cut. The DR650 will stay with my friend as the rest come with me.

Given the weight calculations of the 3 motorcycles, plus the limited amount of essentials that would also fill the truck and trailer, I needed to give the Tacoma and the trailer their final round of modifications to prepare for the journey.

The first modification…and the last one to the trailer…was to replace to wobbly cheap steel motorcycle wheels chocks with more sturdy successors. This had been planned for months when Harbor Freight had their ‘self-locking’ motorcycle wheel chock on sale and marked down further in a coupon. I picked two up for half price and left them waiting to be installed. That time had arrived and it took no time at all to replace.

Out with the old…

And in with the new…


The new wheel chocks are a stark contrast to the old wheel hoops that always made me wary. I am much more confident hauling my bikes now. I also mounted my little trailer shopvac to the center workbench post and removed the wheels to my roller cabinet bottom and loaded that in place to make the journey with me.

With the trailer finished, I moved on to the mountain of mods to finish on the truck. I had already gone on an Amazon rampage to acquire the bits I didn’t already have. With all the parts present and accounted for, I needed to accomplish the following refinements: install add-a-leaf springs, replace the current hitch, replace floor mats, install Yakima tracks, install Rola roof basket, mount bicycle track, mount hi-lift jack, replace OEM Toyota badges, wax truck, and wash trailer.

First on the list is the additional payload springs. The Tacoma already sagged a little more than I wanted it to with the trailer hooked up and loaded with the additional weight I was planning on adding. Adding in the extra leafs was a fairly simple job made slightly more complicated by the fact that the alignment holes on the extra leafs were not the right diameter and had to be drilled out before installing.


Given the unsettled lift on the rear now, I knew that the already maxed drop on my current hitch wasn’t going to be enough. I gave my dad my old drop/lift hitch and purchased a 12″ adjustable locking drop hitch from Trimax. So far, this hitch is amazing and well worth the money. I also made the most of my Tacomaworld.com forum membership and got a discount on WeatherTech floor mats. Again, well worth the money.


Next on the list was the addition of a roof basket on my topper for increased storage capacity. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy or expensive and so Rola’s product was perfect. At just under $200, its a relatively cheap mod. However, I didn’t want to bolt the basket directly to my topper and make permanent. I wanted the modification to be modular and so I decided to buy top tracks as well. The basket, as with most, is designed to mount to crossbars but I didn’t want to spend the extra money on those, nor did I like how much they would have increased the height of the load. I came across a hack in my research of using 5/16″ carriage bolts to mount baskets to the track directly since they would slide into the track threaded side up.

With that design in mind, I first mounted the tracks in place and used additional stainless hardware to attach the roof basket.


With the roof basket mounted, I added the RockyMounts Pitchfork bike rail. It is also meant to mount to a crossbar or thicker gauge bar so I had to get some vinyl walkdoor weatherstripping to add the thickness I needed to the bars of the basket.


Next was the hi-lift jack that I definitely needed now that the truck is so jacked up. I didn’t buy any mounts specifically to mount it to the basket so I spent a couple evenings prior to mounting it looking for ideas of DIY mounts. I finally decided upon using electrical conduit clamps with carriage bolts and rubber bumpers to secure the jack in the basket.


Finally, I took the time to wax the truck (probably for the first time in its lifetime) and wash the trailer (also a first since I bought it). With a clean truck, I then went to work removing the chrome Toyota badges signifying its make, model, and feature information and applying the black vinyl decals that I got to replace them. I am thoroughly pleased with the result!


With all the modifications done, the truck was loaded up on the rainy, wet morning of April 2nd for the start of the journey.

Six days on the road, two days spent skiing in Colorado, and I finally made it back out to California the evening of April 7th!

One Response to “Tempering For Transport”

  • Ross Van Amburg:

    Your rig looks awesome! The songs “Truckin” and “Ventura Highway” come to mind. San Francisco, the Grateful Dead and America. Enjoy your adventure and share your stories with the rest of us when you have a chance.

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