What about trays, canopies, drawers, fenders, and doors?

What about trays, canopies, drawers, fenders, and doors?

So, this would serve as the first official upDATE of 2023 for the Ute bed tray and canopy system. I cannot believe we have already crossed January off the calendar this year and it’s amazing how fast all of this is moving.

I’ve made some final selections for the construction materials for the tray, canopy, drawers, fenders, and doors. So far I am still pretty confident in our sealed bearing roller system for the rear exiting storage drawer. I’d like to get back to Utah with the prototype this month or next month just to fill everything up with moon dust one more time and make sure that we don’t have any weird issues with contaminant build up on the rollers. Once we’ve signed off on that I think we can safely say that the drawer system is ready to go.

There has been much debate about a universal solution to integrate the fuel filler across a broad range of vehicles that the Ute will eventually need to fit with little to no modification. It seems to us that leaving the fuel filler cap and neck somewhat exposed and securing it to the fender is the most versatile option that won’t bog down production with a lot of different products for a pretty menial part of the system. The prototype brackets on the Tacoma have worked well and those should be adaptable to the production units without too much more work.

Canopy latches. Wow. I have been through the wringer on different latches trying to find the mix between easy operation and something that pulls the doors down tightly to maintain seal integrity. At this point it seems like finding what we want will require us to have some parts milled to get the job done. I don’t think that there exist off-the-shelf parts available that will do the job the way it needs to be done.

I spent this last weekend completing the last of the wiring for the truck lighting, as well as adding the solar panel to the truck and getting that dialed in. After completing that work, the production unit canopies will definitely get some type of removable polymer panel that you can easy drill and install your various bulk-head connectors and the like for all of the various systems people are going to install. Drilling and milling the stainless panels this weekend is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I think a removable panel here would make initial installation/wiring, as well as future upfitting to the tray/canopy an easy task with minimal tools required.

I’ve still got a couple of things left to address regarding factory safety and convenience systems, and how to transplant them to the Ute. Rear view cameras, back up sensors, and lane departure sensors all need to be moved from the trucks bed during disassembly and transferred over to the tray/canopy. Research continues on the availability or feasibility of sourcing a direct plug-and-play type harnesses to complete these tasks. We will have to reverse engineer these things across each individual vehicle platform as we install the Ute for compatibility checks across all the different make and model of trucks.

Hopefully we will get a break in the Colorado winter this weekend to get a few more trails and another camping trip on the prototype. Happy to report that so far, we’ve had no issues with the tray or canopy. The Tacoma front coil over buckets…..that is a completely different story. 😉