Now comes the fun part-ripping sheetmetal off your rig any which way you can. Saber saws, tin snips, and of course the crowd favorite, an oxy-acetylene torch set. It's like taking your rig to Jenny Craig. Our advice is to mark the area you want to cut and remove anything that could catch fire or release toxic fumes. Otherwise you may find yourself doing more work than necessary. Level out the vehicle for reference-such as frame to floor-so all the new parts will hang correctly.
We bought an '01 Tacoma roof skin and grille from Pinehurst Toyota and slapped it on. It's good to start here and work around it, especially if you already have a rollcage. Lots of tedious trimming is necessary. There isn't a no-hassle return policy on mistakes. We recommend a particle mask to keep from petrifying your lungs. You'll want to trim the door skin at the same time to make sure the window frame is level. The roof should be bolted on in case the unmentionable happens, because you'll want to keep steel over your head.
Temporarily bolt the hood and fenders together, since they're easier to work with as one piece. Notice the extra X support that Boatec puts into the fiberglass for added strength. The holes in the hood are for the big shock hoops on the front of the truck. We simply started cutting the fiberglass until the hoops fit through the hood.
Mock up the front clip with the doors. It helps to have someone hold the doors up for you. The fenders should fit to the door with some trimming. Make sure you have the proper tire clearance or you'll rip off the front clip with your first turn.
Once the body is set up, you need to build an infrastructure to hold it in place. That's when you call Cliff at G&J Aircraft. The company has an ample supply of fasteners, rod ends, and doodads for the at-home fabricator. The quick-release Dzus fasteners we used come in three parts: mount plate, spring, and fastener. If you have ever used them before you know it's just a simple turn of a really big screwdriver to mount and dismount.
We cut holes for our lighting, did some minor fender trimming, and fit the new grille in place. Who says you can't judge a book by its cover? It almost looks street legal. Now that it's brand-spanking-new, we can go out and brush it up against a tree or roll it in a ditch.
After you tack-weld the subframe, mount up the panels. We used a spray bottle of water to cool off the mounts so as not to melt the fiberglass during welding. The amount of Dzus fasteners you need per piece is up to you. Our project took 38-6 per bedside, 7 per door, and 12 for the front clip. Check the level and bodylines of all the panels to make sure they all match. Minor adjustments are easy because the mounting plates are thin enough to bend, but thick enough to hold the fiberglass.
G&J Aircraft And Competition