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Redwing

So I bought a '78 Sunrader...

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Hey guys, 

So I've posted to this forum in the past looking for advice on a sunrader and as much as my wallet didnt want me to, I got it for such a low price I just couldn't talk my self out of it :) Although shes ugly as sin, she'll be pretty again soon enough.

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With that said, my plan is to pull the camper shell off and put it on a more modern 4x4 truck. (after a lot of research I'm thinking either a T100 or a Jeep Comanche) 

So I started demo and got it down to basically the fiberglass all around but since this particular model is not the norm I noticed something strange while in the process of trying to free the shell from the cab and I'm kind of stuck...

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After removing what I think are all the mounting bolts for the shell to the cab

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Bed Canopy with a molded out cavity around the bed area

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The old crappy wood that was fiberglassed in at the bed canopy

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After cutting out the section of wood at the cavity

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After pulling back the headliner (or lack there of) to show that unlike most other Sunraders, this one has the roof of the Hilux still in place? Not normal based off my research. But for the build I intend this works out much better for me :)

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Where the Fiberglassed section meets the cab

Sorry for the lengthy post but some people were asking for pictures of the attachments.

So now that I have removed all the screws and cut off the 4 carriage bolts should the shell be free at this point? Also, since I'm doing this at home and dont have access to a lift does anybody have any recommendations for getting the shell off safely? My best idea is just to use jacks and posts to elevate the shell then push out the truck. 

As always, thanks in advance :)

 

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11 hours ago, Redwing said:

use jacks and posts to elevate the shell then push out the truck

Yes, that seems like a good plan.  Stripped out I would imagine that the shell is not incredibly heavy.  

When you look under the shell where it attaches to the rear of the truck, do you see the frame for the floor welded to the two rails of the truck frame?  For example, I have quite a few of these welded to my truck frame:

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But I also have two of these mounts right where the cab and shell meet:

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If all of the shell mounts were like the second bolt-on one I'd be able to lift off my shell after detaching it from the cab, but in my case I'd have to cut those metal supports welded to the frame (quite a few of them).  

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I havent noticed those but I'll have to look again now that you mentioned it. 

Where are those weld points for the floor or those mounts but where are they located on your truck? Also, it looks like yours is a 21'? Mine is about the size of a chinook so I'm moreso referencing removal for chinooks with this removal but definitely want to make sure I cover all bases.  

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The mount with the rubber bushing is right at the connection point between cab and camper body.  The bracket you see in the pic is welded to the frame just out of the picture on the left.  The other weld points are along the truck frame.  The square tubing used to support the floor of the camper body is welded directly to the large metal rails of the truck.  I'd suggest getting underneath and following the two main rails of the truck and looking to see how and where the camper body is attached. 

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I don't think your going to find all those brackets and supports on your 1978. In fact my 1986 doesn't have them. In fact I have never seen them on another Sunrader. Wonder where they came from

Linda S

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Yeah I checked all around the frame and didnt see anything like those connections you mentioned AtlantaCamper so i went ahead and did a 'rough lift' using a jack and 2 2x4's I screwed together to create a post in preparation for to remove the shell tomorrow when I have some help.

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And I did the same in the rear. The shell appears to be coming up okay so it looks like I got everything detached accordingly. Looking forward to getting this thing off and moving forward with the project 😀

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Okay, so, I pulled the Sunrader Shell off the truck the other day. Since I havent seen any photos of anybody doing this I thought I'd include my process in detail.

Tools used: 2 Car Jacks, 2x4 'extension pieces', chop saw (to cut the 2x4's as you keep stepping up) cinderblocks, jack stands. 

I gotta be honest, there is DEFINITELY a better way of doing this. This was my 'limited access to the heavy machinery that would have made it a hell of a lot easier' approach 😂 The higher it got, the sketchier it got. If I had to do this again, I would use more than two people and build out a more substantial framing system. But it worked and nobody died so the projects moves forward! haha. 

 

IMG_5244.JPG.980acb671626dbeff07396519ff7e1b9.JPGAt the beginning...IMG_5245.JPG.f3e7b2b851ade42fcb9e330e28ea73bc.JPGRear starting to be lifted.IMG_5249.JPG.2ea165ec62d08b424d53dc6263499be7.JPGTaking our time and stepping it up bit by bit.IMG_5247.JPG.bbcd6aee2ef479cbbf11942196368501.JPGGap from underneath

IMG_5253.JPG.6ddd2dec2792d9786076f8bb224549a6.JPGGetting ready to add taller postsIMG_5260.JPG.ea18ac8086eb22d4249e0b8ba04b4bc4.JPGThe 'balancing act' IMG_5264.JPG.baeac27170ec312d6ffa3100f81ec67d.JPGGetting to a point where it was getting sketchy at this height

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This is where things started getting pretty hairball so we re-engineered our support system quickly. We used two ladders, two cinderblocks (to achieve the appropriate height) and a 2x8. This was much sturdier and it went from a wobbly nerve wracking ordeal to being back to safe(ish) but holy shit, for a good 45 minutes I was stressing haha. 

 IMG_5267.PNG.d541924520a934f15f256540e3dfe595.PNG My dad and I pushing out the truck :)

In the end this was an effective way of getting it off. Was it the safest? Not by a long shot. The ladders worked very well due to their A-frame stability. Ultimately, this system worked well but I should have built side supports because once you get above the wheel height the camper could have been knocked off if you breathed on it too hard. Overall, everything came off easily with no damage to the vehicle, the fiberglass shell, and most importantly ourselves. Hope this helps for anybody looking to do something like this. 

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Posted (edited)

Lookin good there, Ace! haha stay safe out there :) Looking forward to following along with this project, thanks for all the pics!

Have you landed on what the next rig is going to be?

Edited by TigersRreal
another ?

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Brings back bad memories of loading and unloading my sunrader truck camper. People think sunrader shells are light; they are not. My camper weighs 1700 pounds empty. And the thing has just 2 jack points in the middle of each side. You jack it up with original jacks that seem flimsy as hell, then the whole unit tips backwards because it's so back heavy. By the time you get it high enough to drive the truck out, you feel like people are going to get crushed. It takes 4 guys to get the camper off or on the truck, and it's still a crazy nerve wracking exercise. I've thought about making jack points for 4 jacks, just to make it easier to unload or load, but haven't got around to doing anything like that yet. In the spring I will come up with a bunch of projects for it i'm sure.

Looks like a cool project here. The shells are definitely worth saving.

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17 hours ago, TigersRreal said:

Lookin good there, Ace! haha stay safe out there :) Looking forward to following along with this project, thanks for all the pics!

Have you landed on what the next rig is going to be?

Haha thanks! Still kind of a toss up but I kind of have it narrowed down to either a Toyota T100 or a Jeep Comanche Long Bed. I'm sure I'll get some back-lash for this but as of right now I'm leaning more towards the Comanche...but nothing is set in stone :) I basically am just looking for my best option of a Automatic, 6 cylinder, 4x4 truck. 

16 hours ago, lexxxel said:

Brings back bad memories of loading and unloading my sunrader truck camper. People think sunrader shells are light; they are not. My camper weighs 1700 pounds empty. And the thing has just 2 jack points in the middle of each side. You jack it up with original jacks that seem flimsy as hell, then the whole unit tips backwards because it's so back heavy. By the time you get it high enough to drive the truck out, you feel like people are going to get crushed. It takes 4 guys to get the camper off or on the truck, and it's still a crazy nerve wracking exercise. I've thought about making jack points for 4 jacks, just to make it easier to unload or load, but haven't got around to doing anything like that yet. In the spring I will come up with a bunch of projects for it i'm sure.

Looks like a cool project here. The shells are definitely worth saving.

Oh no, they definitely arent light, although you would think so the way it was so easy to move around once it was jacked up. Yeah once that thing was about to / gaining clearance of the rear wheels, shit started getting real hairball real quick. Once we had a 2x8 running across the width of the rear and also at the front it stablized it much better and once we had the ladders there to create a more rigid support structure, I felt a lot better about the whole process. And yes, I love the look and overall use of space with these shells. Chinooks seem to be the more popular swap but the other-cab area is such dead space to me that the sunrader was the way to go for this build. But after the whole ordeal removing the shell I know that when I swap it to another truck I want to keep as low of a center of gravity as possible and probably widen the stance of the truck a bit.    

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A Jeep Comanche is only going to give you a rear axle width of 60". A T100 has a rear width of 66.75. With wheels and tires it's going to be about the same width as the duallys. Pretty stable with no modifications needed

Linda S

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If your headlight grills are not cracked (Toyota) they have a market value. Same as the Toyota emblem in the middle. There is another site call Toyota Mini’s where you can sell them. (Hope I don’t get in trouble here). Selling off parts from your original chassis can help offset some of your costs. 

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4 hours ago, linda s said:

A Jeep Comanche is only going to give you a rear axle width of 60". A T100 has a rear width of 66.75. With wheels and tires it's going to be about the same width as the duallys. Pretty stable with no modifications needed

Linda S

Hmm, good to know, thanks Linda!

4 hours ago, fred heath said:

If your headlight grills are not cracked (Toyota) they have a market value. Same as the Toyota emblem in the middle. There is another site call Toyota Mini’s where you can sell them. (Hope I don’t get in trouble here). Selling off parts from your original chassis can help offset some of your costs. 

I considered that but I'm keeping the hilux and turning it into a flatbed work truck once I get the clutch fixed. :)

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A couple more updates. I built a dolly system (one at the front and one at the rear) so I could move the Sunrader Shell around my backyard/driveway area while she awaits her new truck. I wanted a low center of gravity so it is sitting about 5" above the ground on a slight slope (of about an inch) so water can run off the top. Works very well and would recommend this for anybody who is trying to do a similar project. 

 

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With hindsight being perfect, it looks like you need to combine your storage cribbage with your jacking setup and make it really easy to reinstall it.

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1 hour ago, WME said:

With hindsight being perfect, it looks like you need to combine your storage cribbage with your jacking setup and make it really easy to reinstall it.

I'm going to take it over to my buddies shop to install it. Assuming I will need to weld on brackets and such to make it work, I'm expecting to have to put it on then take it off at least once. Plus after as hairball as it was getting it off, I've come to realize that paying to use larger machinery is well worth it so as of right now, I think thats my move. 

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On 3/13/2019 at 1:08 PM, linda s said:

A Jeep Comanche is only going to give you a rear axle width of 60". A T100 has a rear width of 66.75. With wheels and tires it's going to be about the same width as the duallys. Pretty stable with no modifications needed

Linda S

Hey Linda, do you mean no modifications needed if he transfers the whole cab over? The T100 isn't a good option for a foolie swap, is it? I'd really like to do a swap from foollie to single.

-Neil

Edited by TigersRreal

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My rear axle width (with the dually) is 77" so I definitely would like to match that when swapping the Sunrader shell especially since it'll be taller / more top heavy. Probably going to need some modifications but since I'm planning on keeping the stock Hilux as a work truck, I may just swap that rear axle when the time comes. I'll have to weigh out my options with all that.  

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Are there other 1-ton floating axles that can be used, like from a Ford or something?  Seems like if you can mate up to the springs and drive shaft properly you could use any axle and diff that has the right width and proper load capacity, right?  Might have to rig up the sway bar and deal with brake connectors and such I suppose.  Then there's wheel size and probably the list goes on...

Seems like it would be nice if there was a short list available of other axles that could be used considering it's so hard to find the proper Toyota 6-lug 1-ton axle.

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Take a read here...

 

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14 minutes ago, WME said:

Take a read here...

 

"The GM also came standard with 4.10.1 gearing, same as the Toyota."

How important is this? Can't you do a gear swap?

My biggest takeaway from this Fred Heath post is kind of along the lines of what Atlanta was saying - that as long as the springs have a place to set, the drive shaft lines up, and the axle is FF (or can hold the weight you need) and length is what you want, then you can work out the brakes etc. 
Personally, I love the idea of not running dually's and finding a perfect match like Fred did. Just working on widening the scope of what can fit.

Edited by TigersRreal

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Pick yur poison, ratios can be had from 3.21 to 5.38

Edited by WME

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21 minutes ago, WME said:

Take a read here...

Oh, excellent!  And it's a piano-carrying weight axle to boot!  It did take a few mods but it can be done!  Good to know, thanks for the link.

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This is great info as I also, would prefer not to have a dually on the rear. Thanks WME!!

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On 3/20/2019 at 12:34 PM, TigersRreal said:

"The GM also came standard with 4.10.1 gearing, same as the Toyota."

How important is this? Can't you do a gear swap?

My biggest takeaway from this Fred Heath post is kind of along the lines of what Atlanta was saying - that as long as the springs have a place to set, the drive shaft lines up, and the axle is FF (or can hold the weight you need) and length is what you want, then you can work out the brakes etc. 
Personally, I love the idea of not running dually's and finding a perfect match like Fred did. Just working on widening the scope of what can fit.

Any axle will work as long as it and the tires can hold the weight. I went for the 14 bolt as I had access to one. You don’t need a ff for singles. The more heavy duty, the better. The 14 bolt works well as it has the same rear ratio as the Toyota. Plus I wanted one with drum brakes in the back rather than disc. This way your not fudging brake proportioning valves to make everything work. I opted for an early model axle as the brake drums are smaller and will accept a 15” wheel. Later models of the 14 bolt require 16” wheels. Do good research before buying your axle. 

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2 minutes ago, fred heath said:

Any axle will work as long as it and the tires can hold the weight. I went for the 14 bolt as I had access to one. You don’t need a ff for singles. The more heavy duty, the better. The 14 bolt works well as it has the same rear ratio as the Toyota. Plus I wanted one with drum brakes in the back rather than disc. This way your not fudging brake proportioning valves to make everything work. I opted for an early model axle as the brake drums are smaller and will accept a 15” wheel. Later models of the 14 bolt require 16” wheels. Do good research before buying your axle. 

Hey Fred, thanks for this I appreciate it. I'm scouring this forum as well as google - but I'm definitely putting the cart before the horse as I don't have a MH yet - working on getting one tomorrow tho! Reminds me that I need to visit the bank...
Once I have a rig I can do all sorts of fun measuring and pick'n'pull hunting. If I remember right, you carry a spare for the front and back - where do you store those suckers? Have you given thought to a front axle swap?

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One thing to consider is that getting a non-Toyota axle means that you would have to carry two spares.  One for the front and one for the rear.  Bit of a downside to getting a totally different axle...

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34 minutes ago, AtlantaCamper said:

... you would have to carry two spares.

Most who install/swap a FF axle are faced with this. Either 5 lug or 4x4 6 lug up front, FF 6 lug rear.

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When I go on vacation in August I plan to upgrade my front tires to match the back, returning to only 1 spare. We’re fortunate that the early Toyota ‘s carry the same bolt pattern as the Jeep (5x4.5) or 114.3 (close enough). So I’ve ordered Jeep 5 lug adapters to gm 8 lug. It’ll add about 4” to the front track width, but the bearings can handle that. Might even add a little stability when taking those turns at 80mph. 😂

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