Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Storage and an Inverter Outlet

When we bought the camper, we had two gas can carriers installed on the rear wall. The Tacoma has a relatively short driving range and we wanted the ability to travel in remote areas without worrying about running out of gas.


We used this extra fuel capacity to our advantage in Nevada, when we were able to avoid paying a high price for gas at a remote location by having filled the gas cans at a less expensive fuel stop. It also gives us peace of mind for exploring back roads without having to watch the gas gauge.

However, we are often traveling in areas where running out of gas is less a concern. I have been thinking of ways to use the gas can carriers usefully when we don't need to carry extra fuel. Military surplus ammo cans provided an answer. I found some 25 mm size cans at a local surplus shop that were in good condition and fit well in the carriers. The advantage of ammo cans is that they are sturdy and have a secure latching system with a waterproof gasket. Things stored inside are well-protected from moisture making them ideal for storing tools and other items.

The gas can carriers, made by Adventure Trailers, are designed to hold standard gas cans securely with an aluminum strap that locks into the carrier.

The ammo cans I used are a bit shorter and narrower than the gas cans, so I had to fabricate new aluminum straps to hold the cans in place. 

I lined the new straps with some closed-cell foam I had lying around to hold the cans securely. I needed to add a bolt with a wing nut to the new straps to get the secure hold I wanted. The straps can be locked with padlocks for security.

One can holds my tools and the other holds a water hose, an electrical extension cord and other miscellaneous items that we use infrequently. This frees up space in the exterior-accessed cargo cabinet in the camper for items that are more frequently used. The ammo cans ride very securely and are easily accessed if the contents are needed.

Another modification to the camper is the addition of an outlet in the camper connected to the 120 volt outlet in the bed of the truck. The Tacoma comes with an inverter that converts 12 volts to 120 volts and supplies the 120 volts to an outlet in the bed of the truck. Earlier, I had wired an outlet in the cab to the factory inverter so we could run the computer and phones in the cab.

This latest modification allows us to pull 120 volts off the truck in the camper. I had cut an access panel to reach the bed outlet from the camper earlier. Because the access panel was usually hidden behind the toilet bucket and other stuff, I decided to wire an outlet into a more accessible location in the camper. I bought a weather-proof extension cord with pigtails on the other end and wired it into an outlet box that I mounted in the camper. It is normally plugged into the bed outlet but can be unplugged by reaching through the access panel. We probably won't use the outlet that much, because the truck ignition has to be turned on for it to work, but it is there if we want to use it.

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