1983 Toyota Dolphin rebuild


1983 Toyota Dolphin

We picked up an older dolphin on a stair railing trade out. We had it towed out of the yard. The pieces to the engine were on the table in pieces. I did get it running after a trip to the wrecking yard. The carb was in tiny pieces, much like a jig saw puzzle.

We have been driving it around town now all spring. It gets around 16 – 18 mpg. Not bad for its size. I have been surprised at its handling abilities and we did get it up To 66 miles an hour on flat highway.

After months of analyzing the thing I decided to dump a boatload of cash into the project. Mechanically the thing is sound. It has the full floater rear end installed per recall. Without it the thing is unsafe to drive. Lives were lost  in the past from axles coming loose at speed. Toyota did supply owners with new factory axels to remedy the problem. Toyota also stopped the sale of the trucks for motorhome conversions.

The previous owner had replaced the roof completely. The walls have rot below the windows. The walls have a minimum of insulation. The roof seems to have 3/4 styrofoam. The exterior walls are Mesa design aluminum siding. That has seen its share of hail storms over the years.I pondered replacing the exterior walls and residing the thing. I have a local company that can make the siding, the cost was reasonable. In the end I figured for the amount of work I could replace the whole box and have a layout my wife and I want.

The existing layout had a rear side door with a kitchen and tiny wet bath in the very back. The bath was hardly usable for anyone over 5 ft tall. The bed over the cab was 4 ft wide. Not large enough for two adults. The lounge seats were uncomfortable with thin foam.  Someone had scavenged the water tank, heater, and barrel seats before we got it. The floor is 3/4 plywood that had settled over the years. Not really much to base a rebuild on so it will come off as well.

Next week we will be tearing this thing to the cab and frame. The advantages are numerous. The ability to inspect the frame. Acces to brake lines. Shocks. Water gray tanks etc.

We are making changes to the layout. Installing a double bed in the rear higher off the floor for extra storage underneath. Relocating the door to the front. Relocating the bath to behind the driver. Utilizing a sunken shower floor in the hall like the old pleasure ways used. I am not using a black tank. But going with a cartridge system. Keeping my gray tanks cleaner and better smelling.

The propane fridge is being dumped in favor of an Engels 12 volt chest. We will also build in a chest cooler in the kitchen counter like boats use. The engel will be setup as a freezer supplying frozen blocks for the cooler. I am wanting to rid the camper of propane. I will install a single burner induction burner for cooking inside. Most of our cooking will be outside anyway.

I plan to construct the walls with 1 1/2 inch pink foam with a 11/2 hardwood studs. I will attach 1/4 inch luan to both sides the outside will get a filon covering. The inside will get a heavy wall paper. The ceiling will get the same framing except I will use the white board ceiling and a rubber roof.

i plan to install a house window ac on the back wall. I want to keep the roof clear for solar panels and a kayak rack. I will have a fantastic fan above the shower area.

The solar system will consist of 400 ah AGM batteries and 400 to 600 watt panels on a tilt frame.  A 30 amp mppt controler and a 2000 watt pure sine inverter. This gives us a little under 200 ah of power daily. Enough to run the cooktop, lights, led of course, TV, computers,engel freezer, phones…..the truck alternator will also be used to keep us topped off.

Stay tuned




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