2019 IN REVIEW

This is a chance for L4EC to look back at what we accomplished in 2019. So here it is, our very first “Year in Review.”

New year’s day 2019 found the Line 4 Tacoma in Ashville, North Carolina on the last day of a trip that had included 2 National Forest and the noteworthy Hurricane Creek trail! This was a fun trip and a great test for the newly installed Icon Suspension! In the next few months, I spent allot of time traveling with the Navy for various training. I was also able to knock out a bunch of small upgrades that netted big improvements. The list included; SDHQ ABS guards, Total Chaos bed stiffeners, Baja Designs amber fog lights and a cab mount chop completed by a fellow Sailor. Right before the next trip we also got the Dometic fridge, which was really nice for all the fresh food that I was going to be cooking on the Skottle!

The next trip was with the Line 4 Alaska Truck and my parents to western Virginia including the Shenandoah Valley, and the George Washington National Forest! It was incredible to finally camp with my parents again. This had not happened since Death Valley at the end of 2013 and I enjoyed it immensely! Also having my Dad along gave me a chance to compare their full size truck with 4WD Camper to my smaller Tacoma in the tighter forest of the East Coast. Sadly this was the last trip with my now ex-girlfriend, more on that later.

The next few months was a blur of Navy trips and more truck upgrades. Lots of parts were arriving for the upcoming Montana build and GFC had provided completion dates which allowed me to finally start planning a trip out to Bozeman. The upgrades to the truck during this time included; CBI Sliders, Safari Snorkel and a Goose Gear Seat Delete. I also started building the deck plate system for the bed. It turned out great, but took much longer than expected.

Finally! The Montana Build trip had come! After making it to Bozeman, Ross and I started working on electrical systems and prep work before the GFC install. My Dad joined us with the Alaska Truck and the three of us cranked out the build. The truck totally transformed with; GFC camper, custom deck plate system, fridge slide, dual battery, Cell booster, CB radio and ditch lights! We then packed up the rigs and headed out to Pony, MT for one of the most epic campsites ever! Most of the upgrades worked flawlessly and we just made some minor tweaks. The drive home was epic and camping in the GFC was a dream come true. I have to say the highlight of the drive was crossing the Bear Tooth Pass into Wyoming. Returning home, things changed completely. My Girlfriend ended things and moved out, which surprised me and changed voided a planned trip south for the fall. The silver lining was that I was able to dust off the New England Plans and distract myself with planning what turned out to be an epic adventure!

Preparation for the New England Expedition began with allot of reorganizing and weight reduction of camping gear. This was followed by a shake down trip to North Carolina for the weekend and was the first time camping in the rain with the new GFC. I also got a chance to corner weigh the truck and was happy to see the bed layout was more balanced than I could have hoped for! Also the total weight was still below the GVW for the Tacoma. The final upgrade was a set of Nitto Ridge Grappler tires mounted on Method Racing Wheels, which turned out to be a great addition for the muddy conditions of New Hampshire and Vermont.

New England Expedition. The Trans New Hampshire route was a great success and put all the truck’s upgrades to the test! The rock sliders finally got some scratches and the brand new tires proved vital for the muddy conditions. There was allot of rain which flooded parts of the trail and lead to my deepest water crossing in the Tacoma, headlight deep! Unfortunately, the stock rear bumper took a few hits breaking the trailer plug and highlighted the need for an improved departure angle. I also met some great people and was able to reconnect with a Marine from my Iraq deployment. Some of the highlights included; crossing the Kancanagus highway during peak foliage, driving up Mount Washington, apple cider donuts, and getting to stay at Pete’s Camp! This trip also brought the total states visited to 48, leaving only New Mexico and Alaska! Returning from New England, I was able to do a photo shoot with Spiritus Systems in North Carolina just prior to leaving for deployment.

Moving into 2020, the next big trip will be to Texas Hill Country and will include a pig hunt with On the Move Archery. There is also a growing pile of parts in Virginia that will have to be installed. Specifically the rear suspension will be upgraded to match the front’s performance and factory IFS skid plate and rear bumper will be replaced by aluminum All Pro Off-road parts. Line 4 will also be re-launching our podcast and expanding our YouTube production.

Thank you all for your continued support!

V/R

Cj

Founder L4EC

L4EC Taco Tool Kit

Blue Ridge Overland Large Tool Bag
·     3/8 Metric sockets, 6 point
·     3/8 extensions. 2”, 4”, 6”
·     3/8 spark plug socket
·     3/8 ratchet handle
·     3/8 torx sockets
·     3/8 metric allen sockets
·     ½ 21mm deep well impact socket (for lug nuts)
·     ½ metric sockets **eliminate sizes included in 3/8 set for weight savings**
·     ½ extension 4”
·     ½ breaker bar
·     Klein Tools 4-1 Screwdriver
·     Needle nose pliers
·     Wire cutters
·     2 Pound Estwing Hammer (short handle)
·     3/8 chisel
·     Knipex pliers
·     Metric wrench set (non-ratcheting)
·     Adjustable 6” wrench
·     4” piece of 2×4 wood
·     Safety glasses
·     Mechanics Gloves
·     Metal file
·      Wire strippers
·     3/8 to ½ socket adaptor
·     ½ torx socket for Tacoma bed bolts
·      Mini tape measure
·      usb magnetic work light

·      small pry bar
·      box cutter
·      ½ impact socket 35 mm for axle nut

Additional Items
·      Hydrolic Bottle jack (replace Toyota jack)

Consumables
·      1” Gorilla tape
·      T-9 Lube
·      Brake Kleen
·      Electrical tape
·      Assorted zip ties
·      Nitrile gloves

What are we doing!?!?

I wanted to take a moment and address some things going on at Line 4 these days.

First and foremost, I know that content has dipped and the podcast has completely vanished for now. Here is the short answer, I have once again deployed and am trying to manage both my military duties as well as L4EC’s daily operations. I want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding!

Podcast. I really miss my weekly talks with people around the Overland and Outdoor communities and look forward to starting back up in 2020 with fresh episodes. In the mean time we are attempting to sort out the logistics and time zone issues for recording overseas.

Upcoming Trips? We’re still actively planning our Texas trip with On the Move Archery and will be executing this in the spring! We had a slot open up and will be looking for one of our fan’s to join us if possible. Spaces are limited due to planned activities on private land.

Taco update. We have a growing stack of parts and will be looking to work again with NBD Motorsports for some installs later this month. Rear suspension upgrades are on order and the Allpro Offroad bumper and skid plates are in Virginia waiting to go on the truck. Future plans for seats have been put on hold due to cost, but we will be upgrading our navigation capability in the truck to an data enabled iPad for ease of use and attempting to learn Gaia as we transition away from Hema maps.

Again, I want to thank everyone who supports this company and your continued patience as I continue to learn to balance L4EC and the Navy!

Happy Hollidays!

Cj

Founder L4EC

NE19: Top Truck Mods

Continuing on with the series of most useful gear from the New England Expedition, this installment will specifically cover modifications for the truck. For fairness sake, this will exclude the GFC and other systems installed inside the camper. Those will be covered in a future article about camping gear.

Top 3 Tacoma Modifications;

  1. CBI Fabrication Bolt on Rock Sliders. This is a vital piece of armor for any rig with a wheelbase longer than a 2 door Jeep! Most my overland trips are solo and not having a spotter can be risky around some of the rock obstacles found on Class 4 roads in New England. The powder coating not withstanding, these held up great and can be an important insurance policy.
  2. Nitto Ridge Grappler Tires. These were a last minute addition from NBD Motorsports in Virginia Beach their hybrid performance between Mud Terrain and an All Terrain, and beefy sidewalls were critical for the harsh conditions in southern New Hampshire. The thick sidewalls protected against sidewall punctures and I only got stuck once, which was solved rapidly with Maxtrax. Noise is minimal and fuel milage was about .5mpg less than before.
  3. Icon 2.5 Extended travel Coil-overs. Not a new modification, but the ride quality and improved wheel travel has made off-road performance and driver comfort a dream. Something to remember is suspension is really one of the areas that you get what you pay for, and these are worth it. Icon does a pretty good Black Friday sale, so I would wait for that.

**Bonus Item** Baja Designs Amber Fog lights. More light is never a bad thing, but light bars and highways don’t really mix. I like these fog lights for two reasons. First, they are a plug and play install. Secondly the amber doesn’t reflect off snow and dust nearly as much, resulting in less eye strain for the driver.

New England trip Top Tools!

This will be a new series of articles covering After Action Review (AAR) points from my 10 day trip in New England. I will break this down by category, but for today it will be the five most useful or most used items for the trip. Future articles will go into truck mods, apps, camping gear and clothing.

Top Items

  1. WeBoost Reach! This cell booster has consistently performed well since I installed it in Montana this summer and has allowed greater flexibility in route changes on the fly as well as uploading content during remote trail portions. It is so good in fact that when you finally loose service you have to remind yourself that it’s part of overland travel and not to get frustrated. Well worth the investment!
  2. Jungalas by Esee Knives. This is a very robust knife that has replaced my axe, and machete. While moderately intimidating and possibly illegal in certain areas, This is a very handy tool, with plenty of cutting power that I like to keep in the cab of my truck on the trail!
  3. Cell Phone. Navigation, camera, communications, and entertainment. Need I say more?
  4. Nitto Ridge Grapplers. This was a last minute upgrade and a critical one. With hybrid performance between Mud Terrain and an All Terrain, the beefy sidewalls were critical for protecting against rocks and tree stumps. I only got stuck once, which was solved rapidly with Maxtrax, and most of the credit I will give these new tires. Noise is minimal and fuel milage was about .5mpg less than before.
  5. CBI bolt on rock sliders. Save my truck. Without a spotter certain trail sections would have resulted in body damage.

Honorable mention. I only needed the snorkel once, but the water was over the head lights and possibly would have been a deal breaker for the day.

 

Would I still….? Selecting a truck

I bought my Tacoma brand new it was what I could afford. Now years later and even farther down the rabbit hole that is building any Overland rig, I am left asking the question we all wonder from time to time… Would I buy this same truck again? Short answer is yes, but let’s examine why in more detail. Disadvantages are a good way to start this article, so let me address those. I think the two biggest issues are overall capacity and fuel range.

The Tacoma is a light truck and mine has the very thirsty 4.0 V6. These shortcomings are most evident in the southwestern United States and places like the Yukon and Northwest territories where fuel stops are not only far but also more expensive the more remote you get. I have yet to address this issue in any real way, but for my Moab trip I used a couple of dirt bike fuel cans that I had in the garage. Which, if I’m being honest, did the trick. Even if it didn’t look as sexy as some overpriced rotopax would have on the roof rack. After looking at the incredible lack of long range fuel tanks (DOT compliant), I have come to the conclusion that I will be buying some jerry cans and hoping that my friends are willing to share if and when I do Alaska/Yukon.

Capacity…. It’s a midsized truck and that’s a good thing! It does mean that sacrifices have to be made with the amount of stuff it hauls. Far too often I see Toyotas on IG that are way overloaded and are struggling under the weight of all that armor and gear. The simple answer is to use the truck and see what you need. I am just now starting to add armor to the truck after countless weekends around the US. Bumpers look amazing but are often not necessary or at least as much as you think. My armor selection will include skid plates and rock sliders for starters with the addition of a rear bumper sometime in the future. Good route selection is often the solution! Only other suggestion for people is start with what you take backpacking and then build from there. You’ll be amazed how much you don’t need.

So now the good! First and foremost, it’s a Toyota and therefore is very reliable! I have had no mechanical failures on the trail and the only maintenance issues are from aftermarket upgrades. I also love the size, especially for the mountains of the east coast where I find myself for the time being. I am more than willing to cut some weight to be able to fit most places I need to get!

Other options… RAM, and the Ford Raptor are obvious contenders, but are cost prohibitive on my salary. I don’t like the 3rd Gen Tacoma’s engine and still am waiting for them to release a diesel option like the ZR2 Colorado. If money was no object I’d run out and buy an AEV Ram… but until I get out of the Navy I think Ill stick with the SR5 2nd Gen Tacoma.

Moving forward!

As a quick disclaimer, as the founder of this company, I am still on Active Duty and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This will cause unfortunate gaps in content and will cause much of the travel updates to remain censored heavily throughout the year. Thank you for your understanding! Here at Line 4 we have 3 areas of focus for 2019 and we hope you will be joining us on the journey.

The first and most visible aspect of the company will be the Tacoma build! Unfortunately at this time Line 4 has no sponsors, so visual progress will be slow. We are excited to announce the Go Fast Camper is entering production soon and will be installed by late Spring to early Summer in Bozeman, MT! Other noteworthy projects will be the much needed addition of skid plates and sliders, however no date has been decided at this time. Other small upgrades will continue as money allows, so please follow our Instagram for those updates.

The second area of focus will be our Podcast and YouTube platforms. We are happy to say we have partnered with On The Move Archery and Bright Eyes Photography to greatly enhance our media production capability and provide better content. Our podcast will go live within the next month and our YouTube channel will be expanding as time allows.

Third and most important, medical training and expedition consulting! This will be behind the scenes for most of you, but Line 4 will continue providing consulting on equipment selection and training for upcoming adventures! If you are interested please reach out to us! Also, our limited staff has already enrolled in multiple training evolution’s to improve our medical knowledge!

Thanks again for your support as Line 4 moves into the future!