Exploring Alaska had been a dream of mine for years. I would spend my free time planning and looking at pictures from other adventurers for hours on end. My grandpa told me stories of an old high school friend who did the long trek years ago. Billy Thompson, the man based on my grandpa’s stories who did almost everything, barely managed to reach Alaska. The rough roads nearly destroyed his truck and camper. Breaking down, snapped leaf springs and botched repairs, eventually the mythical adventurer arrived battered and torn. His truck was worthless and he had to sell it for scrap. Undeterred, I continued my plans to eventually get from Arizona to Alaska, one way or another.
At the time I owned a 2001 Ford Ranger, which was purchased in August 2004 with 26,000 miles on it. I mostly used it as a daily driver. Over time I installed a 3″ front spindle lift and 31″ BFGoodrich All Terrain tires for short offroad trips. Eventually, I had my brother build me a prerunner style front bumper. Marc, a friend of mine two worked for an auto collision repair shop, helped paint the bumper. He used self etching metal primer for the first coat then a heavy duty black paint. While waiting for the paint to dry, I started wiring up two Hella 500 driving lights for some extra lighting. After the lights were installed I started making some anchor points to attach to the chassis. So if, or more so when, I get stuck I had a good place to attach too. Welding 1/4 inch plates onto a 1/2 inch flat bar stock created the right thickness for the clevis’ to attach to. Holes where drilled to match openings on the frame. Nuts were then welded on the back sides to make installation easier. More metal etching primer was painted on the anchor points before being painted black. Once dry I bolted them in place and attached the clevis’.
Over the course of a few months I slowly got small items completed on the truck. I initially started the truck build for Alaska nearly a year before I even hit the road. I had to save up the cash for the trip and to build out the truck in between working a day job, paying bills and generally living day to day. Which took longer than I wanted too. During that time I researched where I wanted to go and what the weather would be like. I had visions of arctic conditions, so I was focused on making sure I would stay warm. I took the time to try a few different camping setups on short test trips.
More on the camper soon. Check back for updates!