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Saturday, June 6, 2009

HOM: Topping Out

I've mentioned the aluminum S&S topper I had built for my little Datsun. I'd put a lot of thought into what I wanted & S&S did a great job of putting my ideas into practice. Here are the details. The topper was about two feet higher than the truck cab, which meant that people could sit up comfortably in it on a stool or bucket. Gordon had complained that he had gotten too low a topper for his Jeep pickup, so I tried not to make the same mistake. What it cost in gas consumption, the extra height made up for in comfort & convenience. It had an extension out over the cab which worked as extra storage. I kept lightweight stuff like sleeping bags and suitcases up there. The topper was slightly longer than the pickup box, so the tailgate was removed.There were double doors on the back of the topper: one side was set up as a "people" door, but both could be opened for loading bigger items. I had a hatch about 18" square installed on the side right behind the driver's door. It gave me handy access to the tools I kept in the front of the topper and saved a lot of climbing in and out. The topper had sliding windows in the front that matched the sliding windows in the back of the truck cab and a rubber boot I put in made a weathertight seal around them so they could be open all the time. I put a shelf across just below the window that made a handy but out of the way spot for cameras, binoculars and such. I was fussy about window placement. I wanted a good view out the back for trailering & maneuvering and a broad field of view on the passenger side so it would be be easy to check for oncoming cars when pulling out into traffic -- no blind spots. The passenger side had a full-length sliding window, handy for visibility & ventilation. There was a matching but shorter (because of the hatch) window on the driver's side. There were vertical windows in the two back doors. I made a rack for my Handyman (sheepherder's) jack so that it stood vertically right inside the back door of the topper. I put on a boat rack that did double duty for carrying light-but-bulky items. I mounted CB and scanner antennas on it. I put in gun racks on both sides. I cut down an old army-surplus stretcher and installed it as a bunk along the driver's side, high enough to use as a seat and store stuff under. I put in a roof vent/skylight and a couple of 12v lights. I put a BIG driving light on the front of the over-cab extension. Cyclops! Dave McCoy put a tip-away spare tire carrier on the back bumper. Overall,the looks were acceptable and the utility was close to perfect. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)