1988 Toyota 4x4 + 1977 Chinook Build

Greetings fellow Overlanders!

So last year I posted my ultra-light expedition trailer build (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/152895-Ultra-light-Expedition-Trailer). The trailer was a great learning experience and has served us well for the last couple years. However, over the last few months I’ve been dreaming of building a 4x4 Toyota Chinook. After searching nearly every evening for chinooks I hit the jackpot with a Denver Craigslist post of a chinook already converted to 4x4. As a couple of you can attest, these things go fast but I managed to contact the seller 11hrs after the post, then meet up the next day after driving 10hrs from southern New Mexico. I am currently working over the road, and away from my tools and workspace. So for now, only light mods will be possible until the job is over; likely a couple more weeks yet.

The previous seller completed the 4x4 conversion by mating a 1977 Toyota Chinook camper onto a 1988 single cab pickup LWB with a 3.0L 3ZVE and a 5 speed manual. It’s truly the incarnation of my hopes, v6 power, 5 speed, 4x4, and a structurally sound camper on the back. The PO made a short post about the vehicle on another forum (https://www.mountainproject.com/v/climbers-best-vehicle/106685573__3#a_107499468). It includes a few pictures of the swap, for those interested.
Additions by the Previous Owner:
• Gutted camper
• Built “dinette” style bed/table.
• Built cabinet that doubles as counter space to cook on.
• Insulated with 1.5” pinkboard.
• Made interior walls and roof made of Coraplast (plastic cardboard)
• Made cushions of old mattress and goodwill fabric, also used to make curtains.

First things first: “Before Pictures”

Step one of new ownership: Clean, clean, clean. We just spent the entire weekend polishing the ole girl’s interior from top to bottom. Exterior cleaning will come when I get back to our pressure washer and steam cleaner. The truck interior was straight forward. The camper took some real elbow grease. While the Coraplast walls were easy to clean minus a few stains, the canvas looked rough. To our surprise, after 2 passes with a scrub brush, wash rag, and soapy bucket, the inside of the canvas looks night and day better. The outside will have to wait for a ladder.
I added a tachometer and an electronic water temperature gauge (Autometer) as soon as I got the rig, before these images. I plan to also add a voltmeter and an oil pressure gauge to mount in a 3pod a-pillar for the truck. That will also have to wait until I get back to the shop where I have things delivered. Life on the road has it’s sets of issues, an address being one.

OK OK, here are some initial shots.










The Cleaning process: A couple hours of elbow grease and hot water brought new life to the tired old canvas!




The Dinette System: The PO built this quite well. The image below shows one of the two boards needed to make the bed. It has two pegs to with corresponding holes to keep it seated while stored in bench seat mode. The table is the other board of the bed system. To make the table, simply use long PVC pipes. For bed mode, use short PVC pipes, a board in the middle, and the two wide boards set on top. I will take more photos of this, but for now this will have to do as I'm eager to get this thread started.






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Really nice! It even has our state flag on it! I like the open interior in the camper (although it may not stay that way).


Very cool, CONGRATS! I had a v6 1st gen 4runner and never had any of the issues people talk about with those engine. One thing I did to help prevent any head gasket issues was to install headers.
Apparently the head gasket area around the #6 cylinder, I think, heats up due to the crossover pipe. In time the heat will fatigue the gasket.
Such a cool vehicle.
Wow, thanks for the encouragement everyone! Slightly surprised by the popularity of this little project. I will try not to disappoint and make regular progress reports, but it'll be stop and go as I find the time. This weekend we took her out and had a blast wheeling in the Capitan Mountains near Lincoln, NM. Thanks for the advice, JasonRedwood. I will work some headers into the budget. I've read the horror stories of the 3vze being HG prone. First priorities when I get back to my tools/garage (last weekend of March) will be a full coolant system overhaul, including new hoses, WP, radiator, fan clutch, etc. I will also do the timing belt/pulleys since IDK when the last time it was changed, on top of the standard "tune up" of fluids, filters, plugs, wires, etc. Until then, here are some 1st use photos:


Camp Guardian:

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Texas Aggie

Really cool camper. I'm confused by some of the pics. Is there a bulkhead/rear window between the cabin and the camper? In some shots it looks like there is, and in others it appears open?
Really cool camper. I'm confused by some of the pics. Is there a bulkhead/rear window between the cabin and the camper? In some shots it looks like there is, and in others it appears open?

Texas Aggie: the 1977 Toyota Chinook originally had a pass thru between camper and cab. The cab of the new (1988) truck was not cut when the camper was put on. A few reasons for this, the biggest one being leak prevention. It's also easier to keep the cab toasty or cool while driving. It has a sliding rear glass that makes camper-cab transfers easy enough. In one of the fisheye photos you can see the hole in the front of the camper, which I plan to seal up, leaving only the opening for the rear window. A couple of the photos were taken while the camper was on the original 1977 chassis. Hope this clears up some confusion.

Texas Aggie

"A couple of the photos were taken while the camper was on the original 1977 chassis."

Thanks for the clarification. I thought maybe you'd somehow removed the back part of the '88 truck cab, but wasn't sure what I was looking at. Safe travels with your new rig.

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