Q: Why do I think there's a commie behind every tree?

Utilize the language with the same manipulation the Commies do, using the phrase "VACCINE FREE" instead of "UNVACCINATED" or "NON-VACCINATED"

Saturday, July 13, 2024

A Nice Send Off

I became a member of The Patriot Guard Riders immediately upon purchasing "The Beast" in June 2018. CT and MA P.G.R. did an awesome two state mission for my father's service earlier that year, and I swore that when I got my bike I would join them. Because of where I live, I belong to and do missions in CT, MA, and RI. Below is a map of the area I usually stick to circled in orange. Its a guideline, not a hard and fast line I won't cross. I only do Cape Cod about once a year because it is over a hundred miles one way and it depends on the start time, but it is a nice ride to Cape Cod Harley Davidson, and the National Cemetery in Bourne is quite beautiful. I did this mission on July 1st that had a staging time of 10:15. I was able to leave my house at 07:30, stop for breakfast and gas in RI, and get to Bourne about 09:45. The state veterans cemetery in Exeter, RI is a beautiful place too.

Click it to big it

I am going to pause for a moment to shamelessly promote The Patriot Guard Riders and try to convince you to join us. Do you ride a motorcycle? Great! For me it gives me great purpose (as if I need one) to ride. You don't ride? Guess what, you don't need to. Cars and trucks are in escort processions as well, or you can ride with someone else to the flag line area. Are you a veteran? Then you know what this shit means to have a flag line of volunteers standing silently at the services of a comrade, fellow veteran, or family member. Oh, you never served? No problem, you are welcomed in our ranks and will stand shoulder to shoulder with combat veterans that are happy to see you. Other members will show you what to do and what the different commands are. Not a Conservative Republican? No one cares about your politics, only that you respect the flag and the traditions, but most of all utmost respect to the families. The P.G.R. is supposed to be "A-Political" and the subject of politics rarely comes up among members. If someone were to say something disagreeable, just walk away, don't start an argument. You are disabled and can't stand up for long periods of time or are in a wheelchair? No problem. Do what you can and fall out of line if you need to. Park that wheelchair in line with the rest of us and hold your flag proudly. Members will be more than happy to assist you in getting around if needed. No time for membership meetings? No problem because there are none. Can't afford the dues? There aren't any of those either. Time is at a premium in your life? You sign up via email, and when a mission comes up in your area and you are available, you get an email alert and just show up at the staging area. No one, and I mean NO ONE will ever say, "Where were you last week?" or "Who the fuck are you?" I know, "funerals are grim, sad affairs" true... but they can also be looked at as a celebration of a hero's life and I always feel honored to be a part of it. Also, there are lots of other missions that are not funerals. Military send-offs and welcome home ceremonies, Honor Flight departures and arrivals, and other events dealing with honoring those that serve or have served. This event was to stand a flag line at a veterans luncheon at the Westbrook Elks Club back in June. I have been before (I took my veteran father-in-law last summer and we both enjoyed it) and was bummed I had to work that day this year. At any event, we will do whatever is asked by organizers or families. I have been pall bearer, assisted with dignified transfer of remains, helped set up tents, and as an EMT always keep a watchful eye on elderly or handicapped participants for any signs of medical stress or emergency. Most of the folks that regularly show up are retired and can make almost every mission and are happy to have something else to do. I now work 24 on and 48 off with the FD, so it has recently gotten easier for me to attend missions. On good days I take The Beast, on iffy or crummy days or in the winter I will take my truck. Some of the missions are multiple parts over a few days. In the evening during calling hours at the funeral home, we might be asked to stand a flag line to greet the arriving mourners. That's easy to do after work. Therefore, there is really no reason not to join us.



I do a lot of funeral flag lines at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, MA. I have a lot of family buried there so after the service I visit every grave and leave a shiny penny on top to signify a visit. Again, another beautiful piece of hallowed ground. This post is about the service from yesterday, for a veteran and long time member of the MA P.G.R. Chief Petty Officer (retired) Edward J. Boutin. He was part of my Dad's service at Agawam and remembered it well when I first asked him about it. 

Ed (circled) standing a flag line outside the Agawam chapel


Ed was one of those members that didn't ride a a motorcycle. Instead he always showed up in his red Mustang with P.G.R. door magnets and amber lightbar. He would pull out first and block traffic on RT. 159 so all the riders could exit the parking lot together then bring up the rear of the motorcade.

So yesterday, there were a lot of P.G.R. members from all over New England to see Ed off. I got off work at 6 AM and scrambled to take care of everything I needed to before hitting the road at almost 7. We staged as usual and then rode in a group to the cemetery. Another group of riders were in the actual funeral procession to the cemetery. MA limits processions to only six P.G.R. escort motorcycles (stupid). We got there first and assembled our flag line. The funeral procession arrived soon after. Ed's family brought his Mustang and the funeral director placed his cremains inside. Ed's daughter donned his leather vest and the Navy Honor Guard came out of the chapel to do the dignified transfer of Ed's cremains into the chapel. I chuckled to myself, thinking it was almost like ED did the P.G.R. mission for his own funeral 😆. The service and rendering of military honors was not long. The unfolding and refolding of the flag (only done when the deceased is cremated), the rifle salute, and then taps. Because members of The P.G.R. were also considered to be mourners; when it came time to pay last respects, we stacked our flags and lined up outside the main doors behind the rifle team. The doors opened and we all filed in to pay final respects with a salute and a snappy right face out the side door to get back in the flag line. The flag line stood as the remainder of mourners and family came out the side doors. We stood for several minutes until dismissed. Upon dismissal, we file off the flag line in a single file to the support vehicle carrying our flags. Only once we get to the support vehicle are the flags broken down and rolled up. That optic is pretty awesome.

I went to my bike and took a nice long drink of ice cold water from the insulated 2 QT mil-surp canteen I carry on warm days. I made the rounds to the family graves to leave the penny and headed for my aunt's house next town over for a visit. She wasn't home so that's where I headed. Good thing she wasn't home because I hit some drizzle about 15 miles from home, and it got heavier as I got closer. I just got a little damp and had put Rain-X on my windshield and helmet visor because of the morning fog I left in. Once I was in my garage though, the rain came down steady for quite a while.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

There Must Have Been A Grant

Because these things are popping up everywhere in towns in my area, on both local and state roads. Solar powered electronic speed sensor signs that provide feedback to the driver.

Once upon a time, these were only seen in school zones or problem areas. They also used to show your actual speed no matter how fast you were going. It was once my favorite game, to announce loudly "My Favorite Game!" and romp the accelerator as soon as I spotted one, much to the dismay of my wife that would ask "Do you have to do that?" My personal best was in a 25 MPH school zone in MA on a Saturday afternoon with no one around reaching a smokin' 74 MPH. But no more. DPW and DOT tyrants have ruined my fun and obviously the fun of many like me.

Some of the signs now simply don't turn on or go blank at certain speeds. The one closest to my house does both at 50 MPH. Others say "SLOW DOWN" or "TOO FAST" and some have attention getting strobes. I have seen a couple of strobes set up with alternating red and blue, I guess to make you think its a cop? The signs are obviously user programmable, so my new favorite is this one:

Aw... unhappy face because I am ignoring the speed limit

These are more rare but fun to find... I made the sign unhappy. HA! HA! There was a rumor once upon a time that these things had a camera that took a photo of your license plate so you could get a ticket in the mail, but that was just bullshit.

Speaking of bullshit... on I-84 East in Tolland there is an overhead electronic sign that normally reads how long it will take you to go the 19 miles to the MA border. It also changes to give traffic and weather advisories. Speeds on that stretch of highway with a 65 MPH speed limit usually run 80+, yet the sign ALWAYS reads 19 miles in 18 minutes, never the true reading. The math for a true reading would be:

Distance x 60 / Actual speed = Time

So 19 x 60 = 1140 divided by the legal speed limit of 65 = 17.54 minutes rounded up to 18

where a true reading would be

19 x 60 / 80 = 14.25 minutes (rounded down to 14?)

The gubmint nannies have always told us that speeding doesn't make much difference in travel time, and it is so unsafe. Oh yeah? I would call 4 minutes over 19 miles a significant time savings and I usually crank along at a good clip. State police in Kommiecticut don't run radar traps anymore, even on this holiday weekend. They only bother with the really high speed and aggressive drivers. I was monitoring C.S.P. Troop C at the firehouse Friday, and they issued at least 4 BOLO alerts for high speed aggressive drivers IN THEIR AREA on I-84 from the MA border down to exit 64 in just a couple of hours. I don't have to worry about a speeding ticket. Even if I did get pulled over, my Kommiecticut fire department ID shows next to my license in my wallet and unless I did something really bad, acts as a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ambitious Automotive Project Part II

My Tundra is back together, but work continues on making the truck reliable for at least the next five years.

After all the welding and fabrication was completed, the underside of the bed was scaled, primered, and undercoated while upside down in the driveway. I set up an old EZ-Up type tent that had side curtains to act as a pseudo paint booth. The clouds of yellow pollen coming off the pine trees was incredible this year, and the tent helped keep bugs and other tree debris off the fresh paint, as well as keeping the stiff breeze from blowing paint where I didn't want it.

The first thing I did was clean and seal all the voids and openings with LEXEL. It takes 48 hours to fully cure and when it does, it is very pliable and paintable. The underside sealant was done on Sunday June 2nd and the next two days I had to work which allowed the LEXEL to cure. On the 5th and 6th I worked on painting and other repairs so the bed could be re-installed on the 9th. I took the wire wheel to the bare steel and rusty areas. Once shiny I vacuumed up all the debris and rust dust, then wiped everything down with dry rags. I applied two thin coats of grey Rustoleum Etching Primer on the bare metal.

The new front support

Same area from a different angle

And again from the other side

There is a small bracket with a bolt in it visible in all three photos near the front edge of the bed. That is for another piece of aluminum exhaust heat shield that was barely hanging on the bed. I repaired it and remounted it using a self-tapping stainless steel screw into the new front bed support like the original. Below is the same section of bed sporting 2 fresh coats of Rustoleum "Pro Grade Undercoating" rubberized paint. Yes, I did this whole job with spray cans. I have used them in the past and was pleased with the results. Preparation is everything! The following photos were after all the paint was dry and the tent removed.

Bed front. Second piece of heat shield not yet mounted

Middle/rear supports

Another view of the rear. Notice new angled rear fender supports

The original fender supports were rusted to almost nothing. Two supports and 4 bolts to make like new. Everything was ready to go for the bed remount on Sunday afternoon June 9th. I had four guys lined up to come over and get it done. In the mean time, I got my new spare tire put together from the local garage. $50!! The tire is an almost new off road light truck tire the proper size to match the others that was taken off another vehicle. Works for me. If it is anything like the original 17 year old spare, it will hopefully never get mounted and used anyway. 

On Sunday the 9th the guys came over and the bed was rolled vertically onto a moving blanket on the front bed box panel, and then rolled the rest of the way upright. The bed was spun 180 degrees, walked a few feet to the rear of the truck, lifted up and over the fuel filler pipes, and set on the frame. One of my concerns was the measurements for the bolt holes, and how much shimming would be needed. There was no way to get the bolt alignment measurement from the bed because so much was rotted away. The measurements were taken from the frame mounts and transferred to the new fabricated parts on the bed. Apparently I chose the right guy for the job because it was spot on! I only needed a couple of fender washers at each mounting point to get the bed sitting where it belonged, with proper spacing and alignment. I could not be happier.


This is the point where I began neglecting to take proper photos. I was so busy just getting the work done I forgot to document what I did as I did it. First, the 6 bed mounting bolts were torqued down to 50 ft/lbs (they were supposed to be 49 ft/lbs, but I didn't have a proper torque wrench for that low a setting) so I could drive it while the rest of the work progressed. The plan was when I painted the top side, to pull the bolts back out of the new panels so I didn't have to paint around them, and I didn't want the T-55 bolt tops glopped up with paint. After painting they were put back in and torqued down.

The topside repairs in the raw. Pretty ugly, but solid.

Sorry for the crappy focus. That is the new spare against the other door

The openings for the tail lights got cleaned and the light assemblies got all new mounting hardware. The original Torx bolts were rusted and one of them completely seized. I cut away the seized one and got new bolts from Toyota as well as new metric speed nuts at the local hardware store. I replaced the bumper end supports and had bought all brand new mounting bolts. The bumper went on exactly as I envisioned and other than the couple of spots where the chrome is bubbled looks great. I had to drive it for work as is before getting to paint which allowed the LEXEL sealant applied to the topside to fully cure. I was going to do all the paint Thursday the 13th and drop in the bedliner on the 14th. That was the plan, anyway.

Late in the afternoon on the 12th, my wife calls me at work to tell me that because of the good weather, she was going to be able to attend our niece's high school graduation. She asked if I could go to her work place and pick up two of our dogs she had with her. I told her I would, but I have to go home first and then make a couple of stops on the way. She said that was fine, so that's what I tried to do. As I was headed to her work place, I got on I-84 like normal. Nothing aggravates me like slowpokes getting in the way while getting on the highway and that night was no different. I romped on the accelerator and launched out into traffic. OH SHIT! I looked in my rear view mirror and saw clouds of.... what? smoke? steam? whatever it was not good. I cut back to the right and luckily found a gravel area off the asphalt beyond the emergency lane to stop in and killed the motor. The 4-ways went on and the hood went up and I immediately saw the problem... the lower radiator hose blew off the radiator. The result of yet another case of rust it turns out. The clamp rusted through and the hose came off with the extra pressure of my sudden acceleration, dumping every drop of coolant on the highway. I had no way to fix it and no proper coolant, so I called AAA to get towed home. At almost $200 per year and never using it, I figured that would be best and I can fix it in my own garage. What an ABYSMAL FAILURE! 15 minutes on the phone with some dumb bitch that insisted on trying to pinpoint my location to the nearest inch. I told her sternly where I was and that there would be no difficulty for a local tow truck operator to find me. It took 2 1/2 hours for the tow truck to arrive, again all because of the failings of AAA, not the tow operator. There are hardly any tow companies that honor AAA, because they are down to only 20% reimbursement on a AAA tow, and all the area garages have told AAA to fuck off. My tow truck driver told me his company is only doing it because no one else will, and that has allowed them to squeeze a much higher reimbursement rate out of AAA. I have discussed dumping AAA with my wife and she has agreed that it is fucking useless, when I can call a local garage and just pay them full freight for a tow which is about the same for a full year of AAA. She is able to renew her drivers license at AAA every eight years, but I can't because I have a CDL. She is fine with going to DMV every 8 years to save money. The other few things we've used them for we will just pay full retail and still be ahead. I will be either composing a nasty letter to AAA, or somehow slamming them online. This post doesn't really count because there is no meat space connection. Anyway, I ordered a new OEM hose, OEM clamps, and 3 gallons of the pink Toyota 50/50 coolant mix on the 13th. I worked on the topside of the bed in the garage all day while the wife was at work and it was empty. After hitting the bare steel with a wire wheel and giving the bed a thorough cleaning, I got everything painted in one day. The parts came in to the dealership on the morning of the 14th, so I ran down on "The Beast" to pick it all up. A couple of hours later the truck was back in working order. I took the bedliner out into the backyard and gave it a good cleaning. Before putting in the bedliner, I removed the bed rail caps and gave them a good scrubbing too. Because the bed had been sitting upside down on them, they were filthy, and there was tons of rust crumbs stuck underneath them from the cutting and welding. When I popped the rail caps off, there was a pile of rust crumbs the length of the bed on both sides which I vacuumed off. If I didn't do that, the first time it rained I would have had ugly rust streaks down the sides of the bed on the outside. The bed liner went right in and sitting in the hot sun settled down into place nice and flat. With everything completed, I packed up my car wash stuff and headed for the firehouse to give it a wash.

Parked at the firehouse the next day. She hasn't looked this good in a long time

The main body of work is nearly complete. I had to fabricate a new mounting plate for the aftermarket trailer electrical connector. It came out fantastic, and will get bolted onto the receiver and the wiring pigtails plugged in tomorrow. Also the new spare tire will get put in its proper place in the carrier under the bed.

The only thing left for now is to replace the rusted and bubbled brake lines that traverse the rear axle, as well as replace both sets of original rubber hoses. I will need a whole day for that and hopefully they don't let go until I am ready to replace them. The 2 year emissions inspection is due by July 8th and that will easily pass. Later this summer, I will be due for new timing belts and a water pump. This is a DIY I don't care to tackle because there is too much room for error, and those errors are costly. I have a reliable garage that specializes in Toyota that can get it done quickly. Afterwards, I can drive the old girl without any worries.

The next and final phase will be to clean, rehab, and re-install my camper cap.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Do You Have Arachnophobia?

I do not, however there are a few venomous varieties around so I tend to exercise caution when I see them or if I know they may be around. This guy was on the down spout on the corner of my garage, and that is right where I left him (her?)

A Brown Recluse



These are usually found in larger numbers much further south than Kommiecticut, but they are around here too. Habitat is moist dark areas. They only bite when you reach somewhere blindly and confine them against your flesh. Their bite can cause spreading necrosis of your skin, for which the only cure is surgically cutting away the affected area.

My wife calls all large spiders tarantulas, and she came into the house from the garage the other night to get me to move one. She knows they are beneficial and won't kill them, and knows I will come relocate it if she asks. I keep an old coffee can handy for these relocations because they can't get out until I release them. She found a very large Wolf Spider on some boxes she uses for dog training and it was easily moved into the can. She wanted a good look at it before I brought it outside, and as tempting as it was to thrust the can at her and yell "Braaaaaghh!" I did not. If I did that she would then rather kill every spider than to call me to move it in the future. Just doing my part for the environment, I guess. The spider was taken outside and the can tipped so the spider could get out and onto the Azalea bush by the door. I have found them traversing my driveway at night, because the LED motion sensor light reflects back on their tiny eyeballs. The light comes on when I go out to my truck, the spiders don't trip it.

We have other species of spiders that will put up and maintain a web during the summer, most commonly Black and Yellow Orb Weavers. I will catch a moth or fly and throw it into the web and watch the spider come and quickly dispatch it. One usually ends up in the basement window frame when I pull the screen out to put in the air conditioner, so the web is reachable. My version of feeding time at the zoo.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Ambitious Automotive Project Part 1

Toyota Tundra Bed Repair

First and foremost, I can not afford a replacement truck at this time. And like I've said about the EV mandates Kommiecticut keeps trying to implement, I will NEVER willingly buy one. Instead I will be like the Cubans that keep 70+ year old American vehicles on the road well into the 21st Century if I have to. 

Before you read all this and think me a fool, let me explain some back story. There was a known problem with the manufacturing process of 2nd Generation Toyota Tundra truck beds that came out of the Union Township, Indiana plant. The mounting point cross members were never rust-proofed where they attached to the underside of the bed floor. Therefore, any trucks that ended up in winter salt spreading geographic areas rusted from the inside out, with the rust cancer spreading to the truck bed pan. There was a Toyota Service Bulletin (#T-SB-0101-12) that is no longer available to view, however this link addresses the issue. I had never heard about it and initially discovered it too late when I pulled out my drop in bedliner for some damage I caused to the exterior of the bed for repair. Toyota refused to address the issue, for which the ONLY solution was complete bed replacement, even for a "customer good will replacement," so my rusting bed was made like new on the outside. This was sometime in 2013 or 2014? I don't remember exactly. I put the bedliner back in and the cap back on and let nature take its course.

Fast forward to the spring and summer of 2018. Toyota was court ordered from a class action lawsuit to completely replace any 2nd Generation Tundra frame that had a perforations 10mm or larger anywhere on the frame. If the holes were less than 10mm, no matter how many there were, they just sprayed the whole frame with Fluid Film and that was deemed "repaired." The process for all repairs was to bring it in for inspection and if it met the criteria, your truck would be immediately "RED TAGGED" and removed from the road. You would be given a rental for the duration. I had holes in places an inch wide and several inches long, as well as the end of a cross member that was completely gone. I received my postcard to bring my truck in any time. I was in the middle of selling my dearly departed Dad's house and needed my truck. I took photos and brought them in to the dealership service manager to look at. He said if that is what my frame looks like, I need to bring it in IMMEDIATELY! I said nope, I'll see you in a few months because I need my truck. The TSB covered trucks 12 years out from the in-service date regardless of mileage. My truck was originally purchased in November 2007, so I actually had another full year and a half to wait if I had to.

Dad's house was sold a couple of months later, but I waited until late November to bring my truck in for inspection. It was immediately taken off the road for frame replacement which was supposed to take 6 weeks. They wanted to put me in a sedan, but I stated that winter is coming and because of where I live, I have a 4x4 pickup truck for a reason and THAT IS WHAT YOU WILL PROVIDE! They did. I ended up in an Enterprise rental brand new Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 luxury edition truck. The dealership had an old body shop out back that they re-purposed just for frame replacements. Tundra trucks are completely modular so frame replacement only actually takes a few days. It takes weeks to order and build the specific frame required for my truck. While not a Dodge fan, that was a nice truck and did well for me to get around in, especially since it snowed a few days later. I was a regional over the road truck driver at the time, and the yard was 28 miles away so I made it back and forth safe and secure.

I visited the dealership when my truck was torn down to once again discuss the rusting bed issue. As you will see in the photos further in the post, the rusted out areas are right where the mounting bolts are. I asked them if they were really going to put that rusted out bed back on my truck and they assured me they would, that Toyota was not going to replace it. My next statement really pissed them off. I told them that when I round a corner going through an intersection and my bed breaks free, rolls off, and kills someone; I will be happy to join the plaintiff's in the wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota. My truck repair was completed and it was returned to me rusted bed and all. I put the bedliner back in and the cap back on.

Over the next 5 years I would see the rust progressing every time I got underneath to do routine maintenance, and knew at some point I would have to do something because it was getting real bad. Either remediate the problem or ditch the truck for a replacement. I have had many trucks in my life, and this one by far is the best I have ever owned, even with the rust issues so I would prefer to keep it. I bought it with 33K miles on it just off lease at the end of July 2010. I toyed with the idea of converting it to a flatbed using a pre-manufactured unit. I went to a local dealer that sells nicely made steel and aluminum units. Unfortunately, even the aluminum units would be too heavy for my 1/2 ton truck. He said the GVW of my truck would only allow me to carry a basket of flowers before I would be overweight. They only put those beds on Ford F-350's, GM 3500's, Ram 3500's. or bigger. I then searched for a used bed. Every single one in the region of NY and New England was rusted out as bad as mine for $1500+ and would still need to be painted to match my truck. There were rust-free beds available down south, starting at $3500, but I would need to go down with a trailer to get it, and then spend a few grand to get it repainted to match so that wasn't happening. The final option would be to remove my bed and repair it which is what I decided to do. I have a friend that lives close by, has a mobile welding service, and is real good at fabrication so I called him over to have a look. Knowing this is what I was going to do, I had already removed the cap and bedliner allowing him to see what it looked like top and bottom. He was confident that with the bed removed and lying upside down in the driveway, he could patch the holes and fabricate new bed mounts. Below are the photos of the bed still on the truck.

Front left mounting bolt area

Front right mounting bolt area

Middle Left mounting bolt area

Notice the aluminum sheet metal patch with pop rivets. When I got my truck back from the frame replacement, this was the only area completely rusted through. I put the patch there to keep the elements out. Even that got eaten up by the corrosive shit Kommiecticut puts on the roads in the winter.

Middle right mounting bolt area

This photo was from April 19th and shows how the rust manifests itself. After disturbing the bolt and surrounding area it all crumbled away. The blackened area is the remains of the P.O.R.15 paint I applied to all the areas after I got it back from the frame replacement.

The two rear mounting bolts. This area is intact

I knew bed removal was pretty simple. and watched a couple of YouTube videos of guys doing it. The bed weighs 400 pounds, so once freed from mounts, fuel filler, and electrical wiring, it takes one guy in each corner to lift it off and carry it to the rear. So the first step was to remove the fuel filler door and disconnect the fuel filler plumbing. It is all braced and attached to the frame underneath and stays in place with the bed removed.


Next you need to remove the rear bumper. Because mine came with the factory tow package, the bumper is actually attached to the trailer hitch assembly. As you will see, my receiver was completely rusted to shit, so every single bumper mounting bolt sheared off. This means if I tried to reuse the receiver hitch, I would have to drill and tap all the holes. FUCK THAT! It looks like it spent a decade at the bottom of the ocean, and there is so much scale inside the 2"x2" opening where the hitch goes its difficult to put one in and take one out. So it was going to be replaced. While the chrome plated bumper itself has some bubbles and flaking, the steel core is solid so it is going back on. I am not interested in making a show truck here.

The rear with the bumper removed

A close up of the receiver hitch. Click on the photo to embiggen and see how bad it is.

I had three days off this past week, so the schedule of lining up help and getting stuff done was originally this:

Saturday May 18th 4 guys over for bed removal, flipping over, and placing upside down on blocks

Monday May 20th all welding and fabrication gets done

Tuesday & Wednesday May 21st and 22nd seal, prime, paint, and undercoat bed for re-installation

Well, that didn't go according to plan, but I am not in the least upset because as you'll see things turned out better than imagined. 

The bed removal went well. Of course, one of the six Torx head mounting bolts refused to budge, and in my efforts to remove it I rounded out the area where the bit goes in. No matter. A quick cut of the remaining piece of the rotted structural member with a Sawzall freed the bed. I could deal with getting the stubborn bolt out later standing next to the frame, and I had planned to replace all six mounting bolts anyway.

Lined up waiting for the guys. The bed is just resting on the truck

All done and resting on blocks ready for fabrication & welding

The frame and rusted receiver hitch

My hillbilly temporary light setup so I can drive to work

I need to be able to drive back and forth to work and around town while these repairs are being made, so a crappy grade 2 x 4 from the local building supply ty-wrapped to the end of the frame and some inexpensive trailer lights from Tractor Supply did the trick. The next photo shows the bed in the driveway ready for cutting, fabrication, and welding. The cones are not because of my wife or father-in-law, but UPS, FEDEX, USPS, or any other moron that could run into it.

I should have taken some closeup photos of the rot on the underside but neglected to. The next few photos are my bud cutting away the sheet metal bed pan. He has already drilled out the spot welds and removed the cross braces. The two cross braces with rubber pads that rest on the frame rails in the middle will stay and just get scaled and painted. The front floor stiffener rib will also get scaled and painted, but the rear one is completely corroded and will be removed and replaced.

Here, he has the two rear holes patched and his temporary grounding lug is on the closest patch. I opted to not use the thin gauge corrugated material, but heavier gauge flat pieces welded to the high spots. The openings on the low spots will be sealed top and bottom with a paintable product called Lexel. I have used it with great success on other projects.

Here are some photos of the finished product. I will hit each section with a wire wheel before sealing, and painting. The project delays came from having the cross pieces fabricated in a shop to spec instead of my buddy making them on site. It added about $150 to the whole job, but they came out fantastic.

There is a short piece of iron pipe welded into the channel where the mounting holes are that duplicate the factory mount for crush strength. In the last photo you can see the new floor stiffener rib he fabricated as well. From here I turned my attention to the frame, specifically the bumper mount and trailer hitch. The next two photos are of the factory unit prior to removal.

The mounting is the same on both sides

The straight edge in the front is a bumper mount, about to break off

I priced out an OEM replacement through Toyota Parts online. Buying parts this way as opposed to at the parts counter offers a huge discount, and I opt for not paying for shipping but picking them up at the dealership parts department. Even with the discount, this piece listed for a whopping $1928. Holy shit, there must be a better way, and I came up with it saving a little over $1000 that blew away the parts guys for my ingenuity.

As I wrote earlier, my truck came with the factory towing package. But what if it didn't? Well there would be a simple bumper bracket assembly to mount the bumper, and a light duty ball hitch available through the bumper in front of the license plate. That piece listed for $260 and required two additional large frame mounting bolts for $12. So I got it and put it on.

The circle shows where the extra bolt goes, not needed on the factory set up









The view from the rear after installation

For trucks that don't have factory towing, Class III and Class IV receivers are available from Toyota for easy bolt on installation. Even with the bed on the truck, these bolt right on to the outside of the frame rails and come with instructions and all the necessary hardware. Because my truck was setup for Class IV, that is what I purchased.... for $631!! My father-in-law and I installed everything and placed the bumper where it will need to go, and everything lined up perfectly.

The new tow receiver in place

The only other adjustment I had to make was to angle my tailpipe downward. While it did just barely clear the mounting arm, on bumpy roads I heard it hitting. There is now 1 3/4" of clearance and my exhaust does not move that much so it no longer hits. Turning the exhaust cost another $30 for two 3" stainless steel exhaust clamps. That area is circled in yellow, as well as the additional bolt that was required for the bumper mount.

So, this is where I am so far. I am hoping to get all the sealer, paint, and undercoating Wednesday. My original spare tire was complete garbage so I bought a Toyota rim and a local shop is putting an inexpensive radial tire on it so that will be new too and ready Wednesday. At this point, I should get this whole job done and my truck back on the road fully functional for about $3500.

Work and life has been getting in the way of forward progress, but I can drive to and from work so there is no urgency right now to get it done. I will pick away at it and put up another progress (hopefully to completion) post when I can. Stay tuned.