Friday, November 11, 2016

The New Tug

It's been over six weeks since I last updated the blog. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then. The Tacoma, which served us well for 15 years and 280,000 miles has a new home.

It was tough choosing a replacement, with the primary consideration being how it will fit with the Scamp. In the end, I chose a Ram 1500. Payload is fairly similar, but the torque is twice as much and towing range will be nearly double. To get it optioned the way I wanted it, we ended up ordering it from the factory.

I ordered the Westin side steps and the Draw-Tite front receiver from eTrailer. Could have ordered steps from Ram, but I'm a cheap skate. In both cases, they bolted on with little extra effort.

The side steps leveraged existing frame holes and bolted in place very quickly. The front hitch receiver (that we'll use for supporting the canoe when we haul the canoe and the trailer at the same time) was a bit more effort since it required drilling a couple holes in the frame.

The nice carpet floor mats were removed and replaced with a full set of Husky Weatherbeater mats.

I also got mud flaps for all four corners from Husky. These were a very quick install with just a couple small holes to be drilled.

Perhaps the most important reason for selecting the Ram was that there were aftermarket springs available that would lower the back end about 1.5 inches, improving the clearance between the top of the pickup bed and the loft on the trailer.

The TufTruck TTC1210L spring kit included the shorter (but thicker) springs and slightly shorter KYB shocks. I was concerned with this project, but it turns out the toughest thing was accessing the upper shock retaining bolts. I'm real pleased with the change in stance while retaining a good ride.

The project I was avoiding was the installation of the hitch for the Scamp. I leveraged the tracks and base of a used Reese 15K hitch. I knew I wanted to install it in a 'non-standard' position so that there would be clearance for the tailgate.

Turns out I was able to leverage some of the pickup bed frame attach points so the project was easier than I anticipated. Now the hitch can be removed simply by pulling four pins, leaving just the tracks in place.

I fitted a Yakima Outdoorsman rack at the front of the pickup bed, and matched it up with one Yakima cross-bar that clamps on above the front doors for hauling boats.

The last step was to install clear paint protection film on the forward 18" of the hood and fenders as well as the headlights.

One of these days soon, we'll drag the Scamp out and see if all the measurements were correct!

For those that want the details: 2017 RAM 1500 Tradesman 4X4, 5.7L Hemi V8 with 8HP70 8 Speed Automatic Transmission. 3.92 Anti-spin rear axle, Popular Equipment Group, Chrome Appearance Group, Trailer Tow Mirrors & Brake Controller Group, LT Tires, 32 Gallon tank, Uconnect 5.0


  1. That is one purdy ride you got there! Love the color! You going to put a top on it like the Taco?

    1. I can't use a canopy with the Scamp. Put the old canopy back on the Taco so that I didn't have to hassle with selling them separately.

    2. Oh, I was thinking you needed it for the kayak rack, but now I remember it wasn't on there, as the bed was open..."nevermind." ;-)

  2. I like the pins to remove the hitch in quick order! Lets you use the bed while you're camped somewhere.

  3. Great looking truck. Looking forward to seeing it in person.

  4. Hi John. I came across your blog after purchasing a 2010 Scamp 19 (small world, though mine is a "standard"). I'm interested in your choice or the Ram half-ton. We've been wanting to upgrade to a new(er) half ton ourselves, but have found that many appear to be too tall (box side height) to allow for clearance to pull the Scamp. We have the 3" lift on our axles, but it still seems the sides would be too high. Never thought a new half ton (of any brand) would work. I'll be very interested to see how your pairing will work out.

    1. It took a lot of searching. The piece that made the difference was the ease of putting slightly shorter springs under the rear. Planning to hook it up for the first time on Friday.