When we left our "Beat to Neat" Project Over/Under, we had completed the interior, made some power, and had things running pretty well under the hood. We have not yet addressed the exterior whatsoever. If you read the editor's column, you may have noticed we've slowly been cleaning off the stock moldings and badges and doing some primering, but that's about it. Well, that ends today, because any overland-style truck worth its salt needs more than a beat-up, empty bed. We spent a little time deciding what we wanted. Extra storage, obviously. But we were also looking for more of a sporty look, as opposed to using full-on rockcrawler accessories. And, as with every component of this build, we were looking for nice-looking, functional items that don't break the bank.
Our first call was to SnugTop, in Long Beach, California, from which we ordered a custom shell—in primer, of course. We chose the lifetime-warranty Rebel design, which features tinted sliders on the front and sides and a flush-mount-look rear glass. The inside of the shell features a full carpet kit, 12-volt LED light, and dual USB ports. Also from SnugTop was the Yakima Corebar system—the base setup for running a roof rack on the shell. Combined the rest of the Yakima system, namely the MegaWarrior roof rack basket with not one but two MegaWarrior Extentions, this is one of the biggest Yakima racks ever built! It is, after all, a longbed. Speaking of longbeds, BedRug didn't have a part number for this exact truck, so we picked up a universal BedMat and trimmed it to fit perfectly. We began the install at our favorite truck bed outfitters, Discount Camper Shells in Long Beach, California, and later added the MegaWarrior basket and BedMat in our friend's brand new garage.
| You can't order your SnugTop direct from the factory (which happens to be in Long Beach, California), but you can head to your nearest SnugTop dealer for ordering and installation, and our local dealer happens to be one of the biggest SnugTop dealers around. We're lucky to have one of the best in the business right in our backyard. Discount Camper Shells has been in business since 1973 and knows how to get you the truck accessories you need—fast.
Now we have a clean, secure storage area where a beat-up bed used to be, not to mention a couple hundred pounds of storage up top. And finally, we have a component that helps give us that overland style we have been touting. This build is getting more exciting every day. Check back every month to see what we do next. And check out truckin.com
to see all our installments so far.
| But don't let the old-school storefront fool you; the showroom is loaded with just about every bed topper or accessory we could think of. Discount is also a huge resource for camper shell replacement parts.
| When we arrived at the shop, the crew had the SnugTop Rebel ready to go. The Yakima rails were already installed, as was the Yakima Core crossbar system. The purpose-built forklift was even revving up.
| Seconds later, the shell was being dropped onto the bed. If you look close, you can see there's an "over-the-rail" spray-in bedliner. We would later remove the material on the rail and primer it up before the final shots. This helps make a seamless edge from bed to shell instead of a -inch black stripe.
| The truck was moved into the installation bay, and the Discount Camper Shell crew started by running a power wire from the pickup point in the engine compartment all the way back below the driver's taillight to meet the shell's harness. It was wrapped in black wire loom for protection.
| The reason for the power wire is right here: This little box and wiring harness is fused for and sends power to the third brake light, the shell's overhead LED light, and those two conveniently located USB ports!
| If you remember the beginning of this build, we got the truck with no bed, because a utility bed had just been pulled off. That left a bunch of hacked-up spaghetti for a taillight wiring harness, but we persevered and had the new taillight working properly. A new harness is in the future plans.
| This clean little convenient box was a nice surprise, and standard equipment on SnugTop shells.
| We moved on once we had the new taillight working properly. A new harness is in the future plans, by the way.
| The Yakima Corebar system was already installed on the SnugTop when we arrived. Sometimes, rack systems read like Ikea directions, but the Yakima kit was extremely easy to understand and simple to install. We'll be adding the MegaWarrior soon!
| With everything else hooked up, all that was left to do was secure the shell to the bed. This fancy kit makes the install super easy without having to drill holes all over the bedrails.
| The bolt and washer go through the shell, and the nut/bracket combo holds the shell down via the bottom edge of the bedrail.
| Then a second nut locks the assembly tight and a rubber cap slides on to clean things up.
| Since we're working with a longbed, we repeated the process seven more times. With that, our SnugTop installation at Discount Camper Shells is complete!
| Once the Yakima MegaWarrior basket, measuring 52x48 inches, and the two extender sections, measuring 22 inches each, were delivered, we laid everything out to see what we were up against. It's actually a pretty simple install.
| Each section slides into the next and is fastened by screwing into a nutsert.
| The included wind fairing looks cool and cuts down on wind noise. A bolt, rubber washer, bar clamp, and hand-tightening nut are all it takes.
| We set up the crossbar in the dead middle of the four pieces for added strength.
| At this point, we spread the Corebars as far apart as they would go in the mounting tracks.
| Then we set the MegaWarrior in place on the Corebars. This basket is made of heavy-duty alloy steel, yet it was lifted in place and can be easily removed by one person.
| The sequence of parts used to mount the basket to the crossbars is shown here. Again, pretty easy.
| And here it is all tightened down. Once done, we threw all our weight into trying to move the basket around. It was not going to budge.
| BedRug sent us a universal BedMat to line our bed floor. We freshened up our well-worn spray-in bedliner with some bedliner in a can. Then we set the mat in place and took some measurements. We determined that about 1 inches of the width needed to be trimmed.
| We made a crude cardboard template, took a bunch of measurements, and marked the wheelwell areas to be trimmed from the BedMat.
| When we went for a quick test fit, the BedMat dropped right into place! The extra measuring paid off.
| We trimmed the corners for the stake pockets and called it done. BedRug supplies tree fasteners, which require some drilling to secure the mat to the bed floor, but since we will always have the shell on, we opted to skip that step.
| In a total of about 8 hours, we transformed this wreck of a bed into a clean, comfortable, safe, secure storage area.
| The SnugTop shell and Yakima rack made a dramatic improvement in the looks of this base-model beater. It's just the first step of many to make this truck overland-worthy.
| This combo represents the best in form and function and will serve us well. Stay tuned for more on our Project Over/Under!