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Chad's 2-Year "TUNDY Project"

Back in March of 2020, after driving a minivan for almost 15 years, I traded in our Dodge Caravan for a Truck. I didn't want a car payment, and I was able to find a truck to trade in the minivan for. I found a 2008 Toyota Tundra with 200,000 miles on it in, selling for a little over $11,000 in Galesburg, Illinois. I made the trade and drove home with "TUNDY" my new-to-me Toyota Tundra 4-wheel drive crew cab. I drove TUNDY home knowing he would need some work and upgrades. . .

The truck bed was rusted out in various places. . .

I priced out what it would cost to replace the rusted truck bed with a salvaged truck bed in good condition. With the cost of the bed, delivery, and installation by an autobody shop, it came out to about $5,000.00 -- too much for an $11,000 truck!!

I talked to autobody technicians and a welder about repairing or removing the rust spots and holes. They wouldn't touch it!! So I had to think of a DIY solution. I managed to take the bed off the truck using a pulley system in my garage. I cut out all of the rust, put rust killing paint on it, and patched the holes by riveting metal patches on it. I then bought a plastic liner for the truck bed. This cost me about $600.00 -- much better!

The next project was fixing the grill. You can't tell by the picture below, but the chrome foil of the grill was failing and bubbling. I had to order a replacement grill and install it. I also wanted to have "TOYOTA" in big letters across the grill (just like the trendy Ford Raptor grill style). I ordered mesh wire and metal lettering to create a custom Raptor-made-Toyota Grill. I am very happy with how it turned out!

The next project was finding new wheels for TUNDY, who came with the original aluminum allow wheels. I polished the aluminum wheels to see how good they would look, and it was an improvement, but getting new wheels would make TUNDY look at least 10 years newer. I did a ton of research to pick the style, size, dimensions, etc. and WOW! What a difference!!!

I wanted a truck topper for TUNDY'S bed. These toppers cost between $2,000 to $4,000 new. Again - I wasn't going to spend that much money on a topper for a truck that cost less than $12,000. I found a Toyota Tundra Topper on Facebook marketplace for $600.That was a great deal!! However, I ran into two problems; the topper was white, and it was in Louisville, Kentucky. With no other options, I made the 10-hour round trip to buy the topper. I ended up painting the topper with a black "Raptor Liner" coating to better match TUNDY'S style. It turned out great!!!

Another upgrade for TUNDY was to giving it new front and rear bumpers. Instead of the standard chrome, I went for black "overlanding" style bumpers. The front bumper has a 12,000 pound winch inside of it, in case I ever need to pull someone (or myself) out of a ditch, or move a giant tree out of the way!!

Before I switched out the bumpers, my good friend Jason G. worked on removing the ball hitch that was fused into the hitch receiver of the truck with rust. I took TUNDY to a local garage to see if they would remove the ball hitch and they said they wouldn't touch it - it couldn't be removed. Undeterred, Jason the master mechanic, was able to remove the ball hitch. I owed Jason a steak dinner for that one!!!

After updating the bumpers, I wanted to install fender flares on it. Adding fender flares make the truck look more aggressive and they complimented the style of the new wheels. I decided to paint the fender flares silver to match the truck. I was tempted to keep them black, but I am glad I took the extra time to paint them. The flares make the new wheels look even better!!

I have done some other electrical projects on TUNDAY as well, such as installing a new radio/head unit with 10 inch screen, installing steering wheel control buttons for the new head unit, and installing more lights to the truck.

These are the main projects that I have successfully completed on TUNDY over the last 2 years. Having the "TUNDY Project" was a great distraction during the COVID-19 lockdown, and I am glad I had the garage to work on the truck at home. Overall, I am very happy with the "TUNDY Project" so far. I have numerous other TUNDY projects on my list - stay tuned for updates!!


This article is a service of Attorney Chad A. Ritchie and the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd.

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