ImNoSaint's Tahoe Build

Imnosaint

Adventurer
Spare Tire Swingarm

In the event I need access to the spare, having it tucked up between the frame isn’t ideal on any level, not to mention what that does to a departure angle; not that the Tahoe has one. I took a look at a number of swingarm options and decided to go with Wilco Offroad’s Hitchgate Solo, standard size.

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Capacity is 300 lbs and it accommodates 35” in diameter. Install is straightforward with a wedge system that engages the 2″ receiver eliminating any slop. There’s a second 2″ receiver just above the main insert.

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The spare mount has an adjustable top stud that positions the wheel into any bolt-pattern application.

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At 25″ wide from the pivot, the extension is perfect – not too long – for access to the hatch.

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And with the Tahoe’s tongue weight at 1,000 lbs, it’s still able to tow our trailer.
 

Imnosaint

Adventurer
The Rhino Roof Rack

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The plan for the cargo area displaces storage for recovery items and tools so I decided to add a modular roof rack upon which I can mount a Pelican Cargo Case to hold these items and more. After researching a number of applications (which isn’t much for the this generation of Tahoe), I went with a 76″ X 54″ Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform that I picked up from etrailer.com with the design intent to create a custom mount to the factory roof rack rails.

I removed the factor load bars and blacked out the aluminum factory rails with tape to give the install a seamless integration to the roofline.

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The width and length of this platform fits the stock rails perfectly. It’s mounted with 5/16″ rivet nuts inserted in the rails, five per side that align with the Rhino Rack crossmembers. While the bolts disrupt the utility of the outer rack slats, there’s still enough platform for our anticipated loads. Factory rating is 150 lbs, and this rack weighs in at 65 lbs, allowing plenty of load for our intentions.

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My concern with this hardware was its tension strength; that given the amount of torque I wanted, the rivets might pull from the aluminum rail, but each held fast and at ten points of attachment it’s a solid, very low-profile mount.

Before and after shots to this build point.

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Imnosaint

Adventurer
Drawer System Insert
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I’ve been wanting to work with extruded aluminum since I stumbled upon the stuff on Amazon. I was considering a rebuild of the Nomad’s drawer system to shed some weight and looked up aluminum framing and found all kinds of applications for 3D printers. I started to do my homework. After a few weeks of poking around the interweb I decided to start the drawer system insert build for the Tahoe.

There are several different sizes of extruded aluminum (EA), 1010-10, 2020-20, 4040-40, and so on. I looked at a build using 2020-20 and wasn’t convinced of its rigidity and decided to go the 40 route, which is equal to one and a half inches. Once I selected the size, I checked out all the hardware I could find to put it all together, basically a big erector set; 3-way end corner brackets, T-nuts, L-shape interior corner connectors, and right angle corner brackets, the main supplier for most of which is 80/20. It’s a great place to start when thinking through your build.

For this build I wanted to up my game on appliances and design, while the Nomad’s drawer system met our needs, the Tahoe will be my last build and used much more than our travel needs required before, so I wanted this to be more convenient and user friendly. This meant a larger fridge/freezer with easier access and a two burner stove with an integrated sink, all on pull-out hardware that creates an overland kitchen out of the back of the Tahoe.

Storage is another upgrade with easier access along with a dog deck that is load-friendlier and roomier. I mocked up a digital design and started acquiring appliances and hardware.

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The bottom of the main frame was cut to spec and assembled inside the Tahoe to double-check fit and clearances. With that complete I bolted the fridge slide onto the three parallel crossmembers and started adding the uprights.

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Planning steps ahead is crucial to working with EA, plotting the position of mounting locations, uprights, and the location and type of hardware needed to make connections and fasten the frame together. Once it’s built, it’s a pain in the ass to undo joints to add stuff. If you’re like me, you know plans are going to change, so it’s a good bad idea to not tighten everything down until it’s time to apply the LockTight.

I built the top frame to create a height inside the Tahoe to come up just to the rear window opening at 22 inches, making the entire insert 48Wx44Lx22H. After one last test fit, I moved on to creating the stove/sink pullout.

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One plan change was creating a bit more of a work area around the stove/sink insert. That ate up some of the center drawer real estate, but I have a new plan for that as well. The insert is from Dometic, it’s the UK MO9722RUS Slim 2-Burner Hob/Sink Combination with Glass Lids. It’s a European application that was converted to US Lp gas. The unit appears to be no longer available. I had to order the faucet from a company in England (not yet pictured).

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For the fridge I chose ICECO’s JP40 40 liter fridge/freezer coming in at 18″ tall, perfect what this application.

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The stove/sink insert fits in the bottom RH side with a matching 30″ drawer above for cooking, serving and dining hardware. The outboard side (tailgate) is shown below.

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I’m building a narrow 30″ two-level pantry drawer that will install into the middle section (omitting the horizontal cross member).

The original plan had a middle frame with horizontal EA to add support and places to install the drawer slides, but I omitted the mid frame as well deciding to use the slides as stressed members of the frame as well, keeping them height adjustable as well.

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The inboard side of the insert will have a large storage compartment for camp gear with a vertical door that opens from the top, swinging down to the dog deck.

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This space will have two shelves and house the unit’s water pump. Speaking of which, with the spare tire relocation, the space underneath the rear of the Tahoe between the frames will be used to mount a 20 gallon water tank. The Lp gas for the stove will be sourced from a 5lb tank mounted to the spare tire swingarm.

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One last detail is the 12v system that will be mounted on this panel which will include a Blue Sea blade fuse block and a switch panel for power to the fridge, water pump, worklights and USB ports. Power is drawn from the Tahoe’s secondary stock house system. The system will be connected to a 100a fuse with a quickconnect to enable easy removal of the insert.

All the drawer and door facias will be finished with the same type of panel – leftover flooring from our home remodel – and there will be a panel covered in grey indoor/outdoor carpet on top providing more storage accessible through the rear hatch window. The insert will be bolted to body points in the floor front and back.

Stay tuned for the rest of this build.
 

RAFoutdoors

Retired Explorer
WOW! What a great build. You are executing what I have only dreamed of. You have done very well planning out your needs and tastefully building it in a clean, no nonsense (or wasteful) way. I look forward to seeing more.
 

Imnosaint

Adventurer
WOW! What a great build. You are executing what I have only dreamed of. You have done very well planning out your needs and tastefully building it in a clean, no nonsense (or wasteful) way. I look forward to seeing more.
Thank you. It's been fun to apply what I've learned in other builds, both what to do and what not to do on the bucket-list build. Working against a few deadlines so this will progress much quicker than my previous rigs.
 

Imnosaint

Adventurer
Part Two
More progress on the drawer system.

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The sink/stove combo was mounted to the pullout with diagonal trusses and a lateral support. Dometic has a clever attachment system that uses existing holes for the rubber dampening stopper for the glass lids. The faucet arrived from England and mounted without issue to the sink. It’s wired for a on-demand water pump that will be located on the frame of the insert.

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With the stove/sink pullout built, I moved on to the pantry and mess drawers. The pantry is a three-tiered pullout built to fit standard canned goods and dry food packaging along with dehydrated meals and kitchen seasonings.

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The mess drawer above the stove/sink pullout is build to hold nesting camp pots and pans along with table service for four, and most everything else needed to suit cooking needs. The drawer will be organized with pull-foam inserts to dampen rattling.

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Stay tuned for the rest of this build.
 

Imnosaint

Adventurer
Part Three

With the drawers ready it was time to complete the build and get the insert installed. The installation went perfectly with the frame mounted to the Tahoe’s sheet metal floor with the same type of hardware I used to mount the Rhino Rack. Once installed and squared up, I mounted all the drawers and the fridge/freezer.

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I’m not too happy with the stain color on the stove/sink slide-out, but I’ll live with it for now. The insert height was designed to come close to the bottom of the rear-window access.

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I topped off the insert with 3/8″ plywood covered with the grey indoor/outdoor carpet. The top was measured and fit to keep the EA rails exposed so I can add tie-downs in the event I need to secure anything on top of the insert.

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I made a door for the rear compartment from 1/2″ plywood and installed it with a slam latch and stainless marine hinges. This rounds out the dog deck.

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Inside are storage shelves and the water pump.

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The electrical panel on the driver’s side will distribute switchable power to the pump, fridge and worklights. I’m waiting on a 9-gallon fresh water tank that will install beneath the dog deck. I was going to go with a larger tank fitted in the space where the spare was stowed between the frame rails underneath, but I couldn’t find a tank that would work in the wonky space.

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It has some needed finishing touches that I’ll take care of while I wait on the water tank, along with the 5lb LP tank that will feed the stove, mounted on the swingarm.

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Wilbah

Adventurer
Really awesome job. Well thought out and executed very cleanly. Perfect use for the space. Nice job and thank you for sharing. I've seen alot done with the 80/20 stuff, it seems easy to work with.
 

Imnosaint

Adventurer
Utilities
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Gas, power and water. All three were fairly straight forward to come by making the back of the White Rhino a sustainer on and off the road.
Key to this was the design of the stove/sink pullout, creating a stable platform that had enough space beneath to wrangle plumbing and gas.

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The idea was to be able to quickly deploy the unit without getting on hands knees beneath the unit, as well as have the drawer still be able to slide without obstruction. Pressurized water arrives at the drawer on the rear wall via a swivel I made with two couplers that rotate freely, allowing the feed hose to adapt to its rest position when deployed and stowed. I’ve since deleted the drain hose since it would hang down and obstruct stowing the drawer. It now rides in the sink and is easily attached when the unit is used.

Gas comes off the 5lb tank stowed on the swingarm. It’s easily connected with the LP quick-connect fitting.

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Water is pumped from a nine-gallon tank located beneath the dog deck. I’ve installed a fresh water fill inlet on the deck at the rear passenger door that vents the tank. The tank has since been wedged into place creating a well at the far end which is reached by an inner draw tube that reaches to the back of the tank.

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Water pressure is created with a Seaflo self-priming automatic pump that delivers three gallons per minute.

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Powering everything is a 12v system that comes off the White Rhino’s PPV option house system protected by a 100a breaker. Power arrives at a Blue Sea six-circuit fuse panel and is distributed to a switch panel or fed directly to the rear work lights via a switch in the galley.

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The water pump is switched and the fridge is powered from the 12v plug.
I sourced three 5 watt recessed 12v downlights to create an even illumination source for the galley. They’re installed in the lift gate panel.

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I made three 2 3/4″ holes in the panel and wired each lamp in series. While I’m not impressed with the quality of the fixtures, the light they produce is amazing.

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Things I’ve learned on the road:
The water inlet turns into a water feature on every left-hand turn. I’ve since installed a valve to close the vent while in transit.
Don’t turn the water pump on until the sink/stove drawer is deployed. With the glass lid down is partially opens the faucet.
I did this entire build during the first four rounds of chemotherapy to treat Mantle Cell Lymphoma, and the White Rhino was created to knock off items on my bucket list as we mobilize to make the best of the time I have left.
If I can do this, you can do anything.
 
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02TahoeMD

Explorer
Seriously nice work on your rig. The only thing missing from your doggie area is a spill proof water bowl

Edit to add - you may even want to consider some K9 unit style window guards for your pups, you can keep the windows down while the car is parked knowing your pups will not be able to get out or be gotten to. I have some on my Tahoe and have some window screen material zip tied to them, they make for great ventilation.

Happy wheeling, may it be a blessed time for you.
 
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