Meet Bruce

June 17, 2017

I don’t think we realized when we woke on Saturday, June 17th that we would be adding a new member to our family. We planned to spend the day at the beach after making a quick stop in San Jose to check out a used truck. We did a test drive and we were completely disappointed. However, it sparked an interested in checking out another used truck. Still, the price was high and it wasn’t my ‘dream truck’. So Stew contacted a guy on Craigslist (craigslist always worries me) and we set to meet at a Lowes parking lot. Stew had noticed this truck for sale and recently the price was lowered so we jumped at the opportunity to check it out since we were nearby. The minute I saw him pull up it was love at first sight. I sat in the driver’s seat, adjusted the mirror and drove a quick loop around the lot.

 

As I turned to park next to Stew and the seller, I had the biggest grin on my face. Yup, this was it. Stew didn’t even drive it. We both knew. It was perfect. Lifted, good mileage, great condition, and talk about epic sound system. It was a done deal. We were now the proud owners of a 2004 F150. Bruce.

 

 

Adventure Vehicle

We’ve been discussing designing an adventure vehicle since we started dating. We both love camping and the outdoors but sometimes weather gets in the way and we’ve spent enough time camping in the cold, rainstorms AND even in unexpected snow storms that we agreed being a little more comfortable was okay. Stew wanted a van. I wanted a truck. So of course, we got a truck….now we just needed to agree on a design and get building. But first, we needed to take Bruce to our favorite sport, Tahoe, to test out its off-road abilities and long car ride journies. It definitely passed the test.

 

 

 

Stew also finally got to drive the truck and took us all down an awesome dirt road at night. Good thing we have a light bar!

 

We had our Oregon trip set for August, only a little over a month away. I started taking measurements, Pinteresting and designing. We came up with Phase 1 and set dates for construction.

 

Since we didn’t have a camper shell yet, Phase 1 included designs for the platform and base. This also included setting up the electrical and lights for the back of the truck. We also started our search for finding a camper shell.

The base includes 4 slots, the ones on each side run the length of the truck bed, while the one in the middle runs 2/3rds of the way back. On the right side (looking at the truck) there are vertical cubbies for quick access. These cubbies would be initially left open until the final design. On the left side, secret doors allow access to additional storage. At the head of the truck bed, there is one big storage cubie that can also be accessed through a door. Phase 1 included construction of all these components.

 

 

 

Build Phase 1

 

 

I headed up to Danville for the weekend to borrow my dad’s workshop and knowledge. Friday night we headed to Home Depot and purchased all the wood for Phase 1 that we thought would be enough. (side note: we were spot on). I wanted to get started right away but in the heat of summer, we called it a night. I did start playing with the lighting to see how it would look though. At this point, we still didn’t have a camper shell so it was all speculation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We woke up early on Day 2 to try and beat the heat. I started with the final measurements before cutting. And yes, everything was being sized to this cooler….The height of the base was 15.5″, allowing for just enough room to slide the cooler back and forth underneath the bed.

 

 

We learned very quickly that nothing in the truck bed was square. All the side panels were going to have to be drawn and cut by hand. Stew was on his way up (via bike) so I started working on the electrical before he arrived. The temperature was really starting to heat up.

 

 

 

Well that doesn’t really look exciting….

Electrical

Solar Panel – 20W 12V Solar Panel (Amazon)
Battery – 12V 12Amp Rechargeable Battery (Amazon)

We then have a Dual USB + 12V Outlet built into a box, which houses all the electronics, including two switches. One to turn on the lights and another as a master switch to turn on the full power to the back of the truck. We also installed two USB chargers to the head of the truck for additional power at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I picked Stew up (flat tire) and we wrapped up day 2. We discussed final design at the halfway mark and finished up the left side of the truck, including the two side secret pockets. Everything was sanded and fitting together nicely. Surprinsgly it was extremely sturdy too. We thought we would need to brace the platform to the truck bed but it did not seem to be going anywhere.

 

 

 

We put together the final touches on Phase 1 on day 3 of the build. With unlimited storage and a comfy bed, we were ready to roll.

 

We purchased a foam mattress from IKEA. This sure is camping in style.

 

 

 

Camper Shell

We ordered a NEW camper shell from a place in San Jose that would match the color of the truck and install for free. We were starting to get a little too close to our trip to Oregon and we wanted to take it for a test run first. Luckily the called a few days early saying it had been delivered and we were ready to go!

 

 

 

I didn’t think Bruce could get any bigger. But he did! Some perks of the camper shell? Improved gas mileage, no wind noise, super smooth ride, OH and no we have a place to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Officially ready for an adventure. So we decided to take a quick camping trip to Northern California for the weekend.

 

 

Test Run

I woke up early to start work so that we could leave by 1pm. We loaded up Bruce with all our camping gear and hit the road north. We already knew Bruce was a comfy ride from our long drive to Tahoe….little did we know that after being in the truck for 12 hours we would still be smiling….

After making one giant loop we found a small little campground with availability. We called it a night and slept amazing in the back of our adventure vehicle. This is what Bruce was built for.

 

Can’t beat waiting up in the morning to this view.

 

The next day we headed to Lake Berryessa, backed into a private camp spot. And enjoyed our little piece of paradise. Success. We worked out some details for the Phase 2 build and felt we were ready for our trip to Oregon. It was hard to come home after the short weekend, we wanted to keep going.

 

Phase 2

I stopped at my parents on the way home from the quick weekend, Stew had a work meeting up North so it worked out perfect. Made some minor adjustments in preparation for Oregon. In just short of a week we would be headed North again.

 

 

 

Built for Adventure

 

 

 

We purchased a new Küat bike rack which arrived just in time. I put it together and loaded the truck up for Oregon. We discovered that if we put bikes on the middle two racks we would still place the tailgate down.

 

 

 

 

 

We filled almost every cubby. I mean, why not?

 

 

After spending another week camping in the truck it was perfect. It worked out amazing, it was warm, we were comfy, and everything stayed dry. Now we want to go on more adventures! If only we didn’t have to work! Excited to see where Bruce takes us next.

 

 

What’s in a Name?

I name everything. All my bikes have names, the Subaru is affectionately named Blueberry, so there was no question that our new truck was going to be needing a name as well. I had a long list of names and presented them to Stewart. We finally agreed on Bruce, named after the shark in Finding Nemo.

So of course, Bruce has a shark….