Walt Wagner on Building Toyotas for Extreme Overlanding
Show Notes for Podcast #130
Walt Wagner on Building Toyotas for Extreme Overlanding
Scott Brady interviews Walt Wagner of Tactical Application Vehicles, one of the premier overland builders in the United States. Walt's history in government operations and passion for capability translates into some of the most impressive Toyotas, Rams, and UTV in the market.
About TAV and Walt and Karen.
Tactical Application Vehicles, LLC was founded by Walt & Karen Wagner. With Walt's combined eighteen years of search and rescue and federal law enforcement experience as well as a lifelong passion for exploration he has been given the golden opportunity to blend the two and build something truly unique. With his amazing wife, Karen, beautiful daughter and their white lab, the four of them set out on a journey of faith and haven’t looked back. Having spent many years building vehicles and driving in every type of terrain imaginable, both as a hobby as well as professional, Walt has developed the ability to know what is going to work in the field and what is just for show. His drive is to be able to pass on that knowledge to people that have the same desire to explore the backcountry with the family or as solo missions. He approaches every vehicle with tact and careful consideration. The end product then becomes a Tactical Application Vehicle which usually has a subdued face and a slightly aggressive stance. These vehicles are ready to do work every day whether it be in the city for domestic duties or in the field.
#TAVSPEC or Tactical Application Vehicles Specification Toyota Vehicles are designed to be the only tool you will need for any adventure you have in mind from Alaska to Patagonia, while hitting Moab in-between. Every TAV Spec Toyota vehicle is designed to get you, your family and friends to and from the most challenging places on earth with absolute reliability and ease. Your #TAVSPEC Toyota is built on the legendary Toyota reliability (we firmly believe that Toyota has built the most reliable expedition vehicle platform in the world) to create a truly unstoppable platform for taking on your wildest adventure!
-WALT WAGNER III
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Walt Wagner Podcast February 7, 2023
Scott Brady: Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady, and I'm here with very good friend Walt Wagner. Walt and I have been fortunate to be able to travel together and do several projects together, and we just happen to be out here in the wilderness of New Mexico. On kind of a foggy morning. And it's a little cold.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. Nice.
Scott Brady: So we've, we've, we've tucked ourselves into the scout camper, uh, to have a podcast. Uh, we're actually out here testing a skinny guy camper, spending some time with that as well. But, Walt, I've just so admired the work that you have done with the vehicles that you work on. And the quality of your team and the quality of you as an individual. So I'm just so grateful to have you on the podcast today, Walt.
Walt Wagner: Thanks, man. It's an honor. Yeah.
Scott Brady: This content is brought to you by Overland Journal, our premium quality print publication. The [00:01:00] magazine was founded in 2006. With the goal of providing independent equipment and vehicle reviews along with the most stunning adventures and photography, we care deeply about the countries and cultures. We visit and share our experiences freely with our readers. We also have zero advertorial policy and do not accept any advertiser compensation for our reviews by subscribing to Overland Journal. You're helping to support our employee-owned and veteran-owned publication. Your support also provides resources and funding for content like you are watching or listening to right now. You can subscribe directly on our firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walt Wagner: Thanks, man. It's an honor. Yeah. I mean it's uh, it really is like, it's, it's been a long time coming, I think. Yeah. You know, just finally getting to slow down a little bit and enjoy a cup of coffee and just relax and [00:02:00] chat, you know, so. We've talked about doing that for a long time. And finally, get to the stars aligned , we can make it happen.
Scott Brady: You have learned so much, not only in your own travels and your own, the work that you've done as a professional. But then also having now built so many customer vehicles through TAV, your company, that you've come away with a lot of insights that I think are really gonna be valuable for the listener. You know, I also wanna start off by thanking you for your service. At a high school, you were in the Coast Guard. And then you ended up working around nuclear security for many years. You ended up, we'll just call it that you worked for the agency, Walt Wagner: Yeah. Yeah, the agency. Yeah.
Scott Brady: We could tell you what agency that Walt worked for, but then he'd have to kill all of you. So, um, we're gonna avoid, we're gonna avoid that. or, or Walt actually, Walt actually said it.
Walt Wagner: May send somebody after me.
Scott Brady: Somebody, you may, can't come after him. So we're gonna leave it at the agency. [00:03:00] What led you to decide that you were gonna stop doing that work and start working on vehicles?
Walt Wagner: Having just done this kind of travel my entire life, just taking what I could, scrounge up and build a rack from a little samurai, you know, put a canoe on and.
Scott Brady: You had a samurai?
Walt Wagner: I had a 87 tin top.
Scott Brady: You just got even cooler. It's like somehow Walt just got cooler . I love tin top samurais.
Walt Wagner: That was my, it might as well been a five door. One 10 or, and.
Scott Brady: Aren't they like a hundred grand now? If you tried to find one, they're like so expensive.
Walt Wagner: You can even drive it. It's such an amazing little rig.
Scott Brady: They are rad.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, and it was, that was my first four wheel drive vehicle.
Scott Brady: And how cool was that?
Walt Wagner: On our little test drive, the thing spun, a rod bearing and it broke down on us and it was like the guy came down on the price a little bit. , we just fixed it in the driveway. When I was in the Coast Guard, I drove it from Philadelphia to North Carolina back and forth, that little thing, you know, cuz I could just get down on the beaches and just see the family and stuff. So it was, that thing had been everywhere, you know? And it was just such [00:04:00] a good little truck and.
Scott Brady: And a tin top too.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, it was a little tin top, you know? So it was like I was in heaven. That thing was so great. Even before the Coast Guard, we lived down in w Riceville Beach on a sailboat, and we were just on the beach all the time, you know? Get around on the north end of Carolina Beach, south South end of Carolina Beach. And it was like, that was our little escape. That was our little mini safari. You know, and just back then you could camp on the beach, you had a bunch of dunes, you know, to kind of hide out of the wind. And it was like, uh, the escape from the crowds down there, you know, so little. Having a little four wheel drive was, was awesome.
You know, that little samurai was the, the best thing ever.
Scott Brady: That's actually my first memory of desiring a vehicle of lusting after a vehicle. I don't know how old I was. Because Samurai came out like mid eighties, right?
Walt Wagner: Yeah.
Scott Brady: Wasn't that about when they first started coming out to the US?
Walt Wagner: Samurai Like two or something, like, I can't remember like the designations, but there were some pretty old ones too that, that were like even smaller. if can believe that.
Scott Brady: That's right. But I mean as [00:05:00] far as in the US when they sold them in the us I think they started in the mid or mid to late eighties. And I remember I was my dad, this was before I could drive and my dad was taking me to school. And we were on the freeway in Southern California and here's this motor home and it's pulling a samurai. A samurai behind it. But here's the thing, like my dad says, I've always wanted to get one of those things. And when you hear your dad say that, yeah, you're like, and I'm looking at it, I'm going. Yeah, dad. Like that's the coolest damn thing because like when you're a little kid, it's like, it's like the ultimate car. It looks like something that, it looks like your Hot wheels. And it's getting pulled behind this, this RV and I, and I remember that that, that memory. Like it was yesterday and it was probably the first time. That I ever really like lusted after a four-wheel drive. And that's why I think I still want, want a samurai. It's why I drove one across the Silk Road. I mean, it was a chiney, the newer version. But, uh, so you started off with a samurai and you started off living in a sailboat. So [00:06:00] you want to talk about the school of hard knocks of minimalism. Like what did you take away from happened to travel out of a vehicle so small and light.
Walt Wagner: It was, um, because I was into riding, I raced BMX and stuff at the same age, you know, growing up and, and, and surfed like we grew up on, on the ocean our entire life. You know, we had surfboards, little bit of dive gear, you know, our bike bikes and stuff like that. So, had to find a way to carry it all, you know, and, and to just take us to where we wanted to go and, We always looked at our cars as am I in our family like we had Volkswagen, Beatles, you know, and my dad did the same thing. We just, yeah, take the family and throw our junk in there and just go camp and stuff. But the car was the tool to get us there so we could carry our equipment with us. And we just made do with building a little rack or or whatever in storage.
That was just how we grew up, learning how to do that kind of stuff, just to carry her own mess. And then, so with a samurai , now I'm having to cover great distances. The roof is otherwise empty. Real estate for, you know, for equipment. So [00:07:00] then roof racks come around and uh.
Scott Brady: And you have to, you have to run 'em So light on a samurai.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everything's gotta be extremely efficient and light and um, yeah.
Scott Brady: Well center a gravity. And then what I found with the samurais, as soon as you put stuff on the roof, they struggle that much more on the highway.
Walt Wagner: Yes.
Scott Brady: Cause of the wind resistance.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. That thing couldn't get out of its own way anyway. By regearing the diffs for a little 31 or 32 inch tires. It did much better. But still everything's wind resistance over 55 miles an hour or so. It worked. You, you know, kid with no money. Yep. It worked out great and, and like being on the sailboat, a good friend of mine growing up, his dad had a sailboat. They, him and his two, two brothers. His parents family of five like us, they grew up on that little sailboat, you know, it was a 32 foot Corona sailboat. They sailed up to The Bahamas and all around and came back and lived out of, uh, Southport over there. And we just became really great friends, cuz my two younger brothers and I we're all the same age and. As we got older, you know, they had had their house and stuff, still had the boat, and I was like, well, I [00:08:00] wonder if we could just rent the boat or something. Let's all go in together. So Josh and Josh and I, we, you know, we all kind of pulled a little bit of money we had and got the fresh water tank resealed and did some work on the boat and sailed it to Riceville Beach and, uh, just kind of, we did some work on other boats, you know, scrub boat bottoms and stuff in the yacht club, yacht Harbor were there and just kind of earned a little bit of a living just so we could be on the water.
Scott Brady: That's awesome Walt.
Walt Wagner: Just learning how to be efficient in our own little ways and learning things.
Scott Brady: How long did you live on the sailboat?
Walt Wagner: It was, it was probably maybe six months or so. It was after high school when I was waiting on getting into the Coast Guard and stuff. And Josh was able to get in a little sooner than me, cuz I have plates in my arm. That big old fat book at MEPS was like, says right here, you can't go in if you have permanent plates or screws. And and I was like, well, you gotta be kidding me, right? So because of that, we were just kind of waiting. So we lived on the sailboat and we fought it. We fought that and well, my mom did, she wrote our congressman a letter , you know? And they changed it. They let me go back in and before he knew I had a [00:09:00] bootcamp and, and then rest is history. So, but that was, Just growing up on the water, wanting to stay on the water, which is why we wanted to get in the Coast Guard cause we could be on the, so I wanted to do heavy weather search and rescue and the law enforcement side of things. And that was the drive behind it. So both Josh and I did that and just at a young age.
Scott Brady: And Josh is your brother?
Walt Wagner: Yeah, he's my younger brother.
Scott Brady: Yeah. So you and your brother were both in the Coast Guard together?
Walt Wagner: Yeah.
Scott Brady: How cool was that?
Walt Wagner: We were trying to get into bootcamp together, but he was just, you know, he was a little bit ahead of me, just, yeah, for the wait time. But, but yeah, it was, it was fun, you know, cuz we, we can relate on that even today, you know? That was just kind of getting our adult life started and, but having a nautical background just growing up, you know, really helped out a lot because it, it just teaches you things for me. I'm a very mechanical thinker, so it's just a mechanical way of going through life.
Scott Brady: It is.
Walt Wagner: Tying knots and how, you know, mechanical things work even on a boat.
Scott Brady: And they're so similar. It's amazing. It's amazing. When I was doing the Pacific Crossing in Keilani, the sailboat, you know, it's like, it's a tron, you know, on their. You know, it's like, it's, you know, battle borne [00:10:00] batteries. It's like, it's the same stuff.
Walt Wagner: It is, yeah.
Scott Brady: It's the same stuff. And you know, Garmin. Navigation, Garmin systems on there. And so I felt really comfortable even though I was a little bit seasick at first. I felt really comfortable in the environment cuz everything looks so familiar.
Walt Wagner: It's general area of it. Yeah, yeah. And, and that's, that's what works so well in the expedition industry is, is it's gotta be vibration proof or, weatherproof, waterproof, dustproof, all these robust systems, you know, and in the ocean you've got salt and corrosion in different ways. You know, and sun, you know, you've got all these things that can happen differently.
Scott Brady: You don't have the high frequency vibrations, but you do still have impacts.
Walt Wagner: Right.
Scott Brady: Depending on the sea state, man, it's amazing how. Stuff can get jarred on a boat. Walt Wagner: Oh yeah. It's, it is, it's everything is always in motion. A hundred percent of the time. It, whether it's calm. Everything's in motion. In every direction. So learning how to, how to stow gear and, and even cook underway, you know, it's just a different way of doing things and, [00:11:00] but then when you look at this industry, you can kind of take, you can, there's a very good crossover to all of that stuff. And that was just where, where we were brought up and what we wanted to try to see that if we could offer something just a little bit different in this industry just with, with our, my background, that kind of led into the, the later background, which was an immense amount of driving. Both in a tactical setting, but then tractor trailers, any kind of vehicle. And there's a lot of crossover there. And even in the Coast Guard, that's where a lot of my really complex recovery started because I was running a crane on a buoy tender and running, you know, the pulling a buoy up out of the water. Well, the ship is moving. So you're running cross deck winches, compound poles coming up, and then across at the same time with on a moving ship.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Walt Wagner: You, you've got these different joysticks in front of, you're literally running a cross deck winch with this one coming up with a crane over here and then running the other one with my chin to try to get the cross deck to pull this way. So you're doing all of these things at the same time while watching a spotter.
Scott Brady: Wow.
Walt Wagner: Because a spotter can see on the [00:12:00] deck what you can't. Running a winch control, which carries directly over to four wheel drive vehicles.
Scott Brady: It does. Yeah. And learning to trust your spotter.
Walt Wagner: Exactly. And yeah, it's one of those things that is so very important when you're driving an off-road truck or, or anything, you know, and understanding how traction works and understanding how certain simple concepts work, that can be overcomplicated very easily in a recovery scenario. Uh, because you've got all these immense amount of tools to your disposal. Well, which one do I grab first? You know, well, well, can I just back up? You know, let's start there first. Like, why am I stuck? Why am I here? You know, and it's a lot of folks want to just get, get a little hyped up because now they are not in complete control and, and.
Scott Brady: They're feeling embarrassed.
Walt Wagner: Everybody wants to jump in. Yeah. They may feel embarrassed or, or whatever the case may be, but then.
Scott Brady: Or they may feel nervous that they're gonna get stuck worse and Yeah. You see it, people will, they'll start to get bogged down. What's the first thing they do? Go to the floor. Throttle. Now they're so, they just whiskey throttled it. So now what was something [00:13:00] that they probably could have backed out of? Now they're stuck. Yeah, you're right. Like, start off with, can I, can I back up a little bit? Or even before you even start to move, you just back off. You get out. First of all, have I air down? If I haven't aired down, I'm gonna air down right now.
Walt Wagner: Right.
Scott Brady: Do I have traction boards with me? Yeah. Um, let's get the traction boards underneath the tire. Cause what'll happen is they'll get nervous and then they'll, then they'll put it in reverse. They'll try to get out. Now they're dug in even deeper where if they had just stopped and reassessed.
Walt Wagner: Yes, exactly.
Scott Brady: Let's some air out of the tires. Let's, uh, dig out a little. From behind the tires so that you don't not have this ramp. You're coming up, slide in some traction boards if you've got it. And then the next thing you know, you're out. And it was no drama. Uh, but if you just, if you just whiskey throttle the thing, now you're up to the frame and you're digging, like you got.
Walt Wagner: You become a YouTube video.
Scott Brady: That's right. Exactly. Exactly.
Walt Wagner: I think it's, it's kind of just learning how to think it on a process through something like that, you know? Understanding the tools that you have, but [00:14:00] understanding when to deploy that. And understanding the risk that comes with every one of those tools that you use. Like you said, you may have to go through whatever you just got stuck at. But if you can stop before destroying the, the environment you're in, whether it's sand or mud or whatever it may be, if you can just stop, reassess and be like, we need to approach this differently, then you give yourself that opportunity to do so. But you have to have gone through that first to understand that that's what it takes to, to get yourself out of a scenario like that. Or a group of people through, through or out, a scenario like that, before you even get into it. Like, we know we're gonna have to winch through this, this spot. There's a huge boulder here that we can, we can go to. We're gonna have to get everybody through here so we don't just destroy where we're at and.
Scott Brady: Tear up the trail or tear up the trucks or whatever.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. Learning all of that, a lot of that stuff in a very different environment on the water, on how, how being complex and, and trying to solve a problem by over complicating it. Like with all these different compound winching devices, that was a very necessary tool to use for what we [00:15:00] were doing. So that was common practice. You didn't always have to do all these different things to pull something out of the water. Same thing with mooring up a ship. You've got basically a kinetic rope that a ship is tied to appear in several different points.
Because of wind pushing one way or something like that. But that. Kinetic energy is there for a reason, and that thing can stretch like in a, a really, really long ways. And there's dangerous zones that you don't want to be in.
Scott Brady: That's right.
Walt Wagner: And there's a, that is a good tool for that. We literally took our small, you know, inch and a half or one inch depending on which boat it was. When the Coast Guard would get rid of some of those mooring lines, we had to throw 'em away. Well, you can make recovery rope with that.
Scott Brady: That's what a bub a rope is or any.
Walt Wagner: That's exactly what it is.
Scott Brady: Yeah. What we call AUR in our industry, kinetic energy recovery rope is, is typically a, uh, dynamic mooring line. Like on my sailboat, I have mooring lines that I use that are dynamic. So that the boat isn't getting jarred constantly in the, because you know, [00:16:00] the boat is, is in Arizona, we get heavy monsoon weather and it can get really kind of whacked around in, in the slip. So you've gotta have some give around that for sure.
Walt Wagner: And pulling from all the other angles too, you know? Supporting all sides. And it's just like that with, with your four wheel drive vehicle, you know? It's way more forgiving. And you've used the right way. And attached the right way. It's an extremely effective tool, and a lot of people don't go to that or they go to the wrong thing, like a chain or something like that, you know, and you're destroying other stuff. Learning all that stuff at a young age, you know, and applying it and seeing it in a very dangerous and real world scenario. Just started to pave the way for some of that stuff. You know.
Scott Brady: I can see, I can see Walden. That's one of the things that I wanted to talk in the podcast today is one of the things I've really noticed about your projects is that you focus on reserve capability. I think that as, as travelers, as overland travelers, and the more remote we get and the more unpredictable the terrain is that we travel, [00:17:00] That we have to be mindful of. Do we have reserve range? Which means have we considered how much range we have? Can we get back if the vehicle has a mechanical problem or if the trail is completely blocked and we have to go back the direction that we came? A lot of people will think, do I have enough fuel to get from point A to point Z? But what happens if along the way? The road is completely washed out or like what just happened in southern Utah where they had these incredible floods, um, which not only blew out roads completely, or the rivers were so swollen, there was no way to cross 'em. So you could make it 80% of your way to point Z. And you have to turn around and come back out. So do you have enough, enough fuel to do that? And now the, now the conditions have gotten so much worse. And the road's blown out and. There's water on the road, the wa, the rocks are now wet and muddy. Do I have reserve capability as well? Does the vehicle have enough capability to get me through these kinds of scenarios? And then the [00:18:00] last thing, of course, which is the reason why I want to talk with you a little bit later about, about full-size trucks. Is reserve capacity is the truck, is the vehicle right up at the limit of its payload, which means you're on a trip with a couple vehicles, one of 'em breaks down, now you gotta load it up with extra people. And extra gear. Are you now way over payload or does the vehicle that you have have enough reserve capabilities? So what. What inspired you to begin to start building? Because your trucks are unique, like they're uniquely TAV like you. When you see 'em, you know that it's something that Walt and his team put together and it's cut. You guys have really pushed the limits on this performance side of things. What inspired you to build trucks that way?
Walt Wagner: Because I don't like to run a piece of equipment at its max capacity. Because if you do need to rely on that thing to go above and beyond that, you wanna be able to get that. You don't want to feel like you're constantly at its limit because you don't want your equipment to let you down. And that goes with anything you're carrying. Pretty much just wanting to [00:19:00] look at. A stock vehicle and what is expected of it? So when we, when we put gear on a truck, we're adding weight, we're gonna add people, we're gonna add water, things like that, that will change throughout that trip. Cuz you'll go through supplies, you'll go through water, you'll go through fuel. As you're driving, the truck will get lighter, but then you're gonna have, you're gonna laten it again with fluids, which become very, very heavy. Yeah. You know, fluids and it's moving weight in a lot of cases. You know, it'll move around if you, you don't have.
Scott Brady: Good ballasts.
Walt Wagner: Certain kind of ballast or, you know, in tanks, but, and roof loads and stuff like that. So I try to think about, Try to put it in a backpacking perspective. If you're physically gonna wear something, put a 40 pound pack on and go walk with a pair of flip flops on over rocky ground and then cover that same distance with a pair of hiking boots on. You as a person are more efficient, you know, or you're gonna start.
Scott Brady: Less chance of injury.
Walt Wagner: Exactly. The rest of you is gonna be more efficient for the long haul. Well, your vehicle's the same way. So if we can address engine output and horsepower in a responsible way without [00:20:00] modifying too much of the oem reliability of that vehicle, then we try to look at that, if it's needed, it's not always needed. And where you live too, or where you're traveling to, it's, you know, out here you could be pulling heavy grades on the highway at altitude. Well, your vehicle naturally is less performance oriented that way, and you're losing a lot of horsepower and things like that.
Scott Brady: That's the craziest thing I've noticed about electric vehicles. Cause we've started to test the electric vehicles. They could care less if they're at 11,000 feet exactly like that. Rivian goes zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds at 11,000 feet. And that's, which is just unbelievable. But it's also like the camper we're in is on top of my, my GMC and it has a three liter turbo diesel. I could not believe how enjoyable it was to drive in the mountains of Colorado, or like right now, you and I are at 8,500 feet. How much of a joy it is to drive something with a turbo or supercharger. It's like, it's just so much easier.
Walt Wagner: It is. And it's easier on the rest of the truck. It's easier than on the rest of your, [00:21:00] equipment and a lot of times you tell people that we're running a supercharger and they're like, oh, I don't need that. I'm not, I'm not racing this thing or anything. Well, that's not what we're doing this for. And I think that's what's confusing because when you look at like our Tacoma, that is a, a very complex, independent front suspension, long travel racing component list under that truck. But we're not building pre runners. Our spring rates are very different. The valving is very different. It now, the truck does handle speed far better than I expected it to. But the truck has to be balanced, right for that. And we're carrying equipment that balances a truck because there's a lack of space to put things in. Very different than what a pre-runner would be. But it's the strength of the component, the serviceability of the component and field fix ability of the component that's under that truck. But like the kings that are on that thing, I can rebuild that shock on the bench. And it's not, if you know how to do it, it's not as [00:22:00] complicated or, or painful as people may think it is. But that is such an important aspect of making that thing handle correctly at speed on the highway. Down a dirt road, or even just sand, because you need composure under heavy compression. Like when we were in Baja, you've gotta climb a real long dune. Well, in the middle of that climb, first you're going from gravity, pulling you straight down, and you're pushing that momentum into a transition at the bottom of a dune. So what is your truck gonna do when you hit that transition? And now you're moving up. You're gonna be losing speed, creating more drag through sand. So horsepower comes to play through momentum. Momentum and speed are different too. Which people may not understand, but, so you don't want to just hit this thing 40 mile an hour, right? You gotta kind of ha understand and it's okay to not make it to the top the first time. Just go as slow as possible, but fast as necessary.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I love that old Land Rover saying, I think it's a good one.
Walt Wagner: It makes so much sense.
Scott Brady: It does.
Walt Wagner: You know.
Scott Brady: And having that long travel suspension does allow you to maintain more momentum.
Walt Wagner: Absolutely.
Scott Brady: So you can come into the dune. With [00:23:00] more momentum cuz you can handle that transition.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, absolutely does. And back to the backpacking thing, if you, if you're standing on the tailgate of your truck and you are in a squatting position and you go to jump off of your tail, your tailgate onto the ground. Well if your legs can only extend halfway, you only have that much space to brace for impact. Well if you can extend your legs all the way, you have twice the amount of length to brace for impact and it's smoother on your body. Well that's how that long travel control arms, your legs can work. It moves in a larger radius so it has more time to brace and, and dampen what's happening on the ground. So when you hit the transition, it soaks that up and keeps your momentum moving up the hill without it just driving the truck into the sand. And then that dip in the middle, your suspension will extend and then compress and the truck can stay at a more even plane, moving that momentum up and through that and your traction is on the ground where it needs to be.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Cuz a lot of times when a traditional suspension or a stock [00:24:00] vehicle, when it hits a bump like that, you know, there's so little travel that you just get this very heavy rebound and usually stock vehicles are light on rebound control anyways. So then you, the vehicle bounces up off the face of the dune. Now the tires are in the air.
Walt Wagner: Off the ground.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Which means they’re gonna spin. You've lost traction. You've lost momentum.
Walt Wagner: And you're slowing down all at the same time.
Scott Brady: Next thing you know, next thing you know you didn't make. You didn't make the climb.
Walt Wagner: Exactly.
Scott Brady: Now, one of the things that I noticed about your vehicles, and I think it's important to talk about with the listener when we talk about adding performance to stock cars, is it has to be the entire system. One of the things that I'll see oftentimes is. Someone will put like a rate, call it a king shock or whatever, they'll put some race style coil over on their vehicle, but they've done nothing else to address the stock suspension. So they'll have, they'll have the original jounces on the vehicle. Like rubber, you know, single stage jounces on the vehicle. Or they won't upgrade the other suspension components that can be compromised. When you start [00:25:00] to drive faster. So I think one of the keys to it, and I do see that in your builds, is that all right, you've added, you know, improved damping capability. You've addressed the spring rates that you need for the load. But then you'll also add additional suspension travel by going with a wider track or a long travel kit. Uh, and then I'll also see that you'll run progressive jounces on there. Or maybe even hydraulic jounces on some of your builds that I've seen. So that way you're continuing to address, and then you're like, all right, what's the next point of failure? CV axles at those angles. So you, you run stronger CV axles and then I noticed that you'll run upper control arms that have additional range of motion so that you're not binding up the knuckles and, and the, uh, and the various joints on those components. At what point do you feel like when you're giving advice to someone that's building a vehicle, how do you help them navigate through that decision process of am I building for performance? And [00:26:00] how do you help them understand that this is a very expensive endeavor. If you're gonna do it, you have to do it right. You can't really go halfway, even though we see a lot of people do that. Walt Wagner: Yeah. And, and to no fault of their own. It's, it's just, uh, They're going to a facility to buy a component? Well, it's the person at the facility that has to have an understanding of what that person needs. There's a lot of really great companies out there that make really good parts and components, but not any one part number out of a catalog for a suspension kit or whatever it may be is right for everyone. Most people's needs are, can be very similar, but in in a lot of cases, they're very different, and I didn't want to have like a good, better, best approach to what we were doing because I don't feel like it applies that way. I kind of wanted to set up a stage setup to where, like, our stage one is a grouping of components that I know work really well together, and they're built, they're ordered to work together. Like we, when we order kings and RA flows, we work with RA flow too. We can do the. Speck of coil over or shock [00:27:00] based off of what the truck has to do. But that doesn't happen until I've spoken with that person and I know how they're gonna use the vehicle. I know what they're gonna put on it, how often they're gonna drive, where they're gonna drive because that tells me what the truck has to do. But now, The spring rate has to be correct for that. So we'll order, if it's a leaf spring, we'll order those springs specific to, to what it's gotta do. But then the shock internals are the shock companies get a build sheet from us on what? And this is a baseline to start from. Cause we can, if it changes drastically, we've been able to pull the shocks off of a vehicle, say a camper changes, and rebuild 'em on the bench and re valve them and even freshen 'em up, wipe wiper seals, bearings, things like that, hose fittings if we need to. You can completely build the thing on the bench. And it's there for the life of the vehicle. And it can change as a person's needs change and the trips change over over time. I want to kind of initially find out how they're gonna use this thing. So a stage one would be a more of a simple approach, a lighter vehicle, maybe some bumpers. Weight that's gonna live there all the time on the [00:28:00] truck, but they, they don't plan on having like rooftop tents. Well, even, and you could even do that, there's a certain kind of balance that I don't want to go past for that particular stage. Um, but it's stock width vehicle we're gonna run no larger than like a 33 inch tire on a Tacoma or 4runner, a stage one on Tundra. You can run a 35 very comfortably. And it, it absolutely. Changes the way the truck drives for the good. It's, it's amazing.
Scott Brady: Yeah. There's something about when you, once you get to 30 fives on a full size, everything gets so much easier.
Walt Wagner: It's crazy.
Scott Brady: Ride quality gets better.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. On the pave and on the pavement too. Like everywhere, it just, it's what's physically touching the ground. So if that can support what is above it, then it's all about support.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I've noticed, I've noticed on the GMC as soon as I got 35s on the truck, it just, it does so much better on the trail, it does so much better on Corrugations cuz it's a larger diameter tire. when I air it down, the ride quality improves so much more.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. Which translates into the rest [00:29:00] of the vehicle truck.
Scott Brady: It really does.
Walt Wagner: Heat up.
Scott Brady: It really does. And, and I think. I think that the same is true for 37s on a full size 40s become complicated. It doesn't mean that they aren't a good choice for some people. I think that they really are, but it starts to get complicated cuz the vehicle gets so huge. Mm-hmm. that you can't kind of drive traditional trails with it.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. And it absolutely depends on the, the platform that it's on. And it, it's gotta make sense. You know, and it can, it absolutely can make sense. It's gotta be considered. For what the truck has to do. Like, does that size make sense for, for what this truck's gonna be? And what it's gonna do.
Scott Brady: Because it makes them incredibly capable.
Walt Wagner: Oh yeah.
Scott Brady: Like if you, if you see like a prospect or XL on 40s on the trail in Moab, it's incredible.
Walt Wagner: And air down too. It's like.
Scott Brady: It's incredible where they're, where they will go. It's just important to remember that you have now a much wider vehicle. So there are trails that are just, it's gonna be too tight. Um, so just kind of going into that knowing.
Walt Wagner: Which is a, another big thing about like the [00:30:00] long travel stuff. You know, like the stage one is, is stock width, the long travel, um, like our stage two is we'll use a Tacoma, for instance. Tacoma and, and forerunner are pretty similar. It's like, it's two and a half, it's two inches wider per side. And th that's just the components that we use, you know, through total chaos and their arms, their control arms are two inches longer. There's a steering, a spacer that goes on your tie rod. Everything is just lengthened two inches per side. So your track width now is just a little bit wider, but there's, there's a lot of pros that come with that. We can lessen our CV angles.
Scott Brady: Oh, sure.
Walt Wagner: And like if you look at my Tacoma 37.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Cause CV axles are longer.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, they're longer. So it's a larger rate that it moves in so you don't have to, so when people look at lift, we don't lift a vehicle to say three inches. The Tacoma on 37s is at zero inches of lift. It's just adjusted in a way to support its weight at a certain height. It's zeroed out, kind of like zeroing a rifle scope, say for a hundred yards. My point of aim and point of impact needs to be at a hundred yards, so you're zeroing [00:31:00] your scope for that and you can zero a scope for a thousand yards. Same thing with our spring rates or what the truck has to do. If it's on 33s, it's zeroed at a certain natural stance as a little taller, cuz the tire is taller and the spring rate is heavier, so the truck's not gonna sag under its own load as much. But you can have preload on a coil over the exact same amount. But if that spring rate is heavier or less, the truck's gonna naturally stand higher or lower. So we make that proportionate for the load that's on the truck. The tire size that has to move a certain amount of inches in compression from stance, from way it stands to a certain amount of inches of extension. We wanna be somewhere in the middle. So you have room for compression when you hit something or you have room for extension when you hit something. But a lot of people with these mid travel systems, it's stock width. But when you preload that to get your lift.
Scott Brady: Yeah. You have almost no extension travel.
Walt Wagner: It points your control arms down, which now that radius is shortened because it can't point any further down.
Scott Brady: And the leverages on it is also [00:32:00] very high because you have, you have to get it to, to start to compress.
Walt Wagner: Correct.
Scott Brady: You have so little extension travel, you're constantly topping out and the right, the right quality is terrible. So, yeah. And making sure that you don’t over lift a vehicle. Like for example, on my truck, I do plan on upgrading the shocks here in the very near future, but it's not so I can drive any faster. I mean, I've got my house on the back of it. So I'm not gonna drive any faster. I just want it to manage the load better. And I'm actually not gonna add, I mean, I may end up adding maybe about 20 mil a lift. It'll be about 20 mil taller. Uh, just, which is.
Walt Wagner: Very reasonable.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Which is a really small amount. Because this truck is already two inches taller on from the. The AT4 has a two inch lift, so I don't want it to be, it'll be end up being about two and a half inches of lift. Over a standard GMC. But what I do need is much better damping. Walt Wagner: Yeah.
Scott Brady: And I need more fluid volume. Because these ranchos that are on here, they just aren't working. They just, they don't control the load. They're fine in a stock vehicle, but I need something with firmer valving so that I [00:33:00] can manage the load, and that's why I'm changing the suspension. But I think helping people understand. If you put an improved suspension on a stock vehicle and you haven't changed the track width, You're not putting that suspension on there to drive faster. You're putting that suspension on there to manage the load better and to be more comfortable. And if you do make a mistake as a driver, which we all, we all do. Um, we all write a check that maybe we can't cash sometimes. And you do have a hard hit. You have some of that reserve performance. What I see oftentimes is, is that people will just add a coil over onto their Tacoma and they now think that they've got a pre-runner. It is the furthest thing from a pre-runner
Walt Wagner: Yeah.
Scott Brady: You know, all you've done is you've just given yourself a little bit more. Capability when things go wrong.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, you're exactly right. I think there's a misconception there that like, well, I've got kings on this thing, or I'm running RA flows on this thing. I can blast through whatever. Well, no, that's not, there's a lot that goes into making a truck handle itself right at speed and, and, [00:34:00] and balance and things like that and, and composure. Maybe the exact same. Like a king on a stage one is the same quality king as on a trophy truck. It's just different dimensions, right. You know, and some added components on, on that, like bypass tubes and things like that. Overall, it's the same materials. You know, that, that make it, the quality that it is, is intended use is different. I mean, a shock can be a science project in itself. Like there is so much I need to learn about high performance use of a shock. But with what we're doing here, we've, we've found a balance that works so well in our industry with like the scout camper on one of our stage, one Tundras that we've done for, for a client. We knew the weight that was gonna go into it, but with a truck, weight can change drastically. It can just by taking it out of the bed.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's right.
Walt Wagner: The truck still has to handle, right? Right. Every truck we build has to be a daily driver. It just has to be.
Scott Brady: And because most people do use them.
Walt Wagner: Absolutely.
Scott Brady: In that way.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. And they gotta be safe and [00:35:00] comfortable. You know, on today's highways and roads, but then you wanna be able to rely on that to take you out into the bush. So there is a fine line to, to walk there when you talk, start talking about long travel stuff. But it can be done, you know, and that's in the spring rates and the valving and stuff like that. But like kind of going back to the good, better, best. A lot of folks think that, well man, I gotta have your stage three, cuz that's, that's got all the best stuff on it. Well, it's just in an addition of a component. You can have a stage one and work your way all the way up to what is stage three? The stage three just kind of collectively groups, engine performance drive train, which is in the gearing, and that's when we can introduce lockers, um, the, all of these suspension components, you know, in, in the long travel stuff. In some cases, like on a 4runner or a Tacoma, it's a new rear axle. Altogether it's a Ford nine inch that still uses a Toyota unit bearing. So the speed sensors and ABS work like it should. So there's no lights on in the dash, but the diff is a much, much stronger ring gear. Much. It's almost twice as thick as a Toyota ring gear. It's, it's insane cuz I had a catastrophic failure. [00:36:00] Over time that did not know what was going on until we were down in Baja and it spit a ring gear bolt out of the housing because over. Scott Brady: That's exciting.
Walt Wagner: Over. Yeah. That was a blast. But, and then.
Scott Brady: It allows you to address track width at the same time so you can match the width.
Cuz a lot of times people will just put a spacer in the back axle, which in general is not a, not the great greatest solution. It works in some cases.
Walt Wagner: In some cases, yeah. If used right, it can be very strong. I've seen a lot of people put like really wide spacers and stuff like on the front. Because when they preload their mid travel system and they wanna fit a 35, well I'm gonna put a two inch spacer or something on the front to, because when you do that, it draws your track width under the truck.
Scott Brady: That's right.
Walt Wagner: So they try to space that back out. Now your scrub radius on your steering is all thrown outta whack and you're hitting all kinds of other. . Like on our Tacoma, I've got a full width Ford nine inch housing, but I've got a one inch billet spacer to make the track width almost identical to the front. And I can fine tune that. The strength in [00:37:00] that is I, well we put one on in somebody's forerunner and it's, it's stronger than the axle looks mounted to. Like they got hit in a T-boned in an intersection. It ripped the axle out from under the truck. And the, the housing was destroyed, but the spacer was fine. I mean, that bill at spacer, if it's the right kind using the same lug stud that's on the truck. And but the spacer itself is a machined piece that's stronger than what it's bolted. So, but if used properly, it’s a good tool to be used, but it's gotta be used the right way.
Scott Brady: And especially in the front. And that's something that's important.
Walt Wagner: Which we won't do in the front.
Scott Brady: Yeah. It's important for people that are listening to understand what happens when you put a spacer on the front. Modern independent suspension is designed to have positive offset on the wheels, um, because we want the wheels to be inside the flange. For example, when we get close to the edge of a road or we're on a snowy road and we get into Lomi soil, or if we get into, into deeper snow, if you have a [00:38:00] negative offset or if the wheels are pushed out or spaced out. , it's gonna grab the wheel and it's gonna pull you into the ditch.
Walt Wagner: Creates a lot of leverage.
Scott Brady: That's right. There's an enormous amount of leverage and it's gonna pull you into the ditch. Whereas if you have positive offset, which means that the majority of the tire in the wheel is inside of that flange, when you hit that soft material, it's actually gonna push you away from that. It's actually gonna, that resistance is gonna hit that wheel and it's actually gonna force the wheel and the the vehicle out of that scenario. So it's a huge safety issue when I see people running negative offset wheels. I don't know, I think that they just used to do that with old CJs and stuff, and maybe it's a legacy of that, but, There's a reason why wheels are positive offset, and they stick in, they, they push inside the wheel well like that. And the wheel is very flat and there's not a lot of of negative offset and it's a safety issue. And so when I see people running spacers on the front, it's one of the most dangerous things you can do. Yeah. [00:39:00] Um, for the handling of a vehicle. It is.
Walt Wagner: And, and another thing, the tire's bigger too. So you've got more contact patch on the ground, which is gonna want to grab whatever's under it. You know, and another thing too, like if somebody's gonna run an aftermarket wheel, a lot of the aftermarket wheel companies, the OEM wheel is a certain width bead to bead. And when they wanna run a bigger tire, you can be up against your control arms and physically scrubbing on the control and on your side wall, which is.
Scott Brady: Not good.
Walt Wagner: Horrific.
Scott Brady: Yeah, not good.
Walt Wagner: So the wheel companies, because the width is bead to bead, is a little wider, like eight inch or like nine inch. Some of like 10, 12 inches deep, these massive wheels. But that's where what can change your offset as well, and back spacing and all those things. But, Like with method, they method race wheels. They have that bead grip technology.
Scott Brady: I like that.
Walt Wagner: That holds that bead. But they don't make that wheel anything different than a zero offset. But you kind of have to with the, cuz now the bead has changed width. So the dimensions of the wheel are still in a responsible range to where it's not gonna want to track the [00:40:00] way a really deep offset wheel would be. Especially with a larger tire, it gets your tire away from your suspension components. It's still close, but it's not too close. It's not touching.
Scott Brady: And it's one of the reasons why I love to run an narrower wheel with a narrower tire. Narrower tire run as tall of a tire as I can. But it allows me to maintain that positive offset on the wheel for safety and stability. But because it's a narrower tire, I can run it on a narrower wheel.
Walt Wagner: Right. Without, without getting into your.
Scott Brady: That's right. I don't like to run much wider than eight. Eight and a half inch. Wide wheel.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. Same here.
Scott Brady: And, and there's also, even if you run a little bit wider tire, There's advantages. Now you may get a little bit of accelerated crowning and wear, but there's some advantages on running a narrower wheel. The tire is less likely to come off the bead. It also keeps the tire very narrow. So just, just being careful not to run too wide of a wheel and being careful not to run too much offset. So you wanted to have lots of positive offset, which means it's pushing.
Walt Wagner: More up underneath [00:41:00] you, pushing it and supportive.
Scott Brady: That's right. Inside of the, the, the mounting flange, uh, for sure. One of the things that I wanted to, to chat about on the Tacomas, cuz you've built so many Tacomas up, if you were to talk about, like, let's say somebody just went out and got a 2022 Trd Tacoma, maybe they at least got an SR5, so they get the rear locker. What is, what is kind of the bill that you would recommend for most overlanders? Like what would, how would you address, like let's say you bought one just right now and you were building it for yourself to go travel in and you were planning on drive, driving around all around a lot in Mexico, and you didn't want too many. Too many components that you can't get replacements to. How would you build a truck like that?
Walt Wagner: If I was kind of new, new to that kind of traveling, or if I was kind of new to what kind of gear to use and all that stuff, I would just say, put a good tire on it and go tire is physically touching the ground. Just put good traction on the ground and just go, you know, just put gear in your truck, your clothes, whatever kind of tent you've got. Or even if you have to [00:42:00] stay in a hotel, just go travel. Just go. Yeah, just try to find out what. What would drive you to want to go and travel? If you just hate the being in the weather, if it's raining or windy or whatever, it's just inconvenient, uncomfortable, you know? There's ways you can get out into nature and be comfortable, but you kind of have to have your trip and your vehicle tell you what is required next.
Scott Brady: What's falling short.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, and.
Scott Brady: Like us this morning, it's crappy weather outside. We're nice and cozy. Inside a hard shell camper.
Walt Wagner: Windy and snow on outside right now, but we're good to go. You know, and it's, it.
Scott Brady: Depends on the need of the individual.
Walt Wagner: Sure. It absolutely does. And, uh, I think because man, look at the little beat up little rigs running around down in Southern Baja, you know, and they, they go everywhere, you know, and you can do it. All these other countries that have just old Mercedes cars just running around everywhere. Two wheel drive. You know, and yet can be done. And I think in our minds, we're. I wanna know that my truck can do it, whether I'll do it or not. I just wanna know that it can, and there's, that can be [00:43:00] okay, but then people can get carried away with that too. You know? We're not here to just throw a bunch of components on a truck and sell it because we can. If I built out a fully built truck for somebody and they have no budget, right, just go, go crazy with it. Right? I've had somebody say, I want you to throw the whole catalog at this truck. And I'm like, but I can't do that. Yeah. Like, I don't, I don't even know what you like to do. You know, like, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to try to build you something that I have no idea what it's gonna do. I'm just, I kind of really gotta know how they're gonna use that thing. And I just tell them to find if somebody's shopping for a vehicle, I, whether it's an SUV or a truck, I kind of try to dig into that a little bit and find out which one would be right for 'em. And just get the trim level that they like, cuz certain trim levels, like TRD Pro has a certain color to it, right? So if you like the color and it fits in your budget, get that. Get the, the seat trim. You like the interior things you like because those are things that, that we're not gonna be changing. You know? So get what you like there. And a TRD, let's say a TRD Pro, everybody thinks that a TRD Pro is just the [00:44:00] shocks and it's not.
Scott Brady: There's skid plates.
Walt Wagner: There's skid plates, there's wheel designs, there's colors, there's trim level on the inside. There's a lot going on to it. And if they did pull the TRD Pro stuff off, they could sell that like that to somebody that's got an SR5.
Scott Brady: Yep. It all bolts on and yeah.
Walt Wagner: And then just switch it right over. It's not a loss. They think like, oh, I'm gonna spend all the extra money on TRD Pro and I'm wasting it all. That is absolutely not the case. You know, and.
Scott Brady: Somebody's gonna want the, that fox suspension.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. And so a lot of people have done that because they want the color of the vehicle or the interior trim and, and we can build off of that. You know, it's, the components are mostly the same. The one big difference is a forerunner with KDSS and then or without it, there's ways we can still make the KDSS work. If it's long travel, then we just bypass it and we do mechanical sway bar in the rear and it handles amazingly, you know, cuz all of our spring rates are heavier anyway. So, but you know, a lot of folks are like, well, Should I get it with or without KDSS, I mean, its all, a lot of that's personal [00:45:00] preference, but that's, I think, kind of going back to your question is if somebody just doesn't know, or what I would recommend first is just put a quality tire on it and just get out and drive and explore and, and enjoy it for that. And then put the equipment on the truck. If you're, if you're gonna be putting stuff on the vehicle, I would start with, Whatever camping equipment you're gonna use, what you're gonna carry with, you put the weight on the vehicle first, cuz then you're gonna, it's gonna tell you immediately that maybe your shock dampening is too soft or your spring rates are too soft. As you're doing that and you're gonna put a couple hundred pounds of bumpers on the front back of the vehicle, then we can look at what kind of weight's gonna live on the vehicle and then we can, we can address the spring rates and the shock valving and stuff like that. So.
Scott Brady: Yeah, smart.
Walt Wagner: You know, it's not what everybody wants to hear because somebody buys a car, they want to lift wheels and tires. Because it drastically changes the way the truck looks. The look can come with it in the end if you make it work. Right. And I think that's, like you said, there was a certain kind of look with the trucks that we're building, we're not building a truck to be in your face and like, look at me and this is a loud, you know, [00:46:00] approach to a expedition truck. Like I wanna build it to work like old Camel Trophy trucks.
Scott Brady: They were stock.
Walt Wagner: They were discoveries and stuff. They were stock. And they had roof racks and all this gear all over 'em. They were built for a challenge. They were built to navigate through certain things. Well, that's where that people started to build for a look of that. And if you continue to just build the truck to carry your equipment and the gear and things like that to work right, then that look will come with it. And it is just a harder way of getting that look, you know, getting that.
Scott Brady: And it's, it's interesting how little we need when I, when I started driving this full size truck, um, and we're gonna talk about full-size trucks in a second. You know, I had not driven full sizes. I'd never owned one. So I thought, you know what? I'm going to take my own advice and I'm gonna do nothing to this truck at first. And I did, I drove it stock and I drove it off road stock and I towed with it stock. And then I realized, okay, it does need a slightly taller tire. So then I went to about a 33 and I still wasn't happy with the tire diameter. And I'm like, I wonder if I can fit a 35, 10, [00:47:00] 50 on there. And this, this truck that's underneath us right now, it, it's a stock vehicle other than the 35, 10 50 s on aev wheels. But I am realizing now that the Rancho shocks, they're under dampened for the truck. And the weight that I have on here. Cause I'm right, I'm right at gross vehicle weight rating because I'm right at gross vehicle weight rating. I can't add any other modifications. I can't add a winch, I can't add bumper. Because otherwise I'll be over on payload, which is something that I think is really important to stay under. So you're right. By taking it step by step and learning as we go along, we do recognize that like, first of all, we don't need half as much as we thought we needed. Walt Wagner: Absolutely. Yeah.
Scott Brady: And, and also like all of that stuff costs money. So it takes us away from. From traveling and spending money on gas and tacos and stuff like that.
Walt Wagner: So yeah, gas is a big issue.
Scott Brady: It is.
Walt Wagner: It's, it's an expensive part of a 20 trip.
Scott Brady: It, it's an expensive thing. So, um, you yourself have started to migrate from Tacomas and smaller vehicles [00:48:00] to the full size trucks. Uh, what did you feel was the, the motivation for you to make that change?
Walt Wagner: I think because we have to use, we have to use these trucks as a tool like we've gotta do hauling, like I've gotta be able to put a truck on a trailer and haul it. And when we first got the Tacoma, that was the only pickup truck we had. So we built it to support the weight that was on it. But we were usually traveling for like to set up at a show, so we were carrying way more stuff and we would normally camp with pulling trailer with gear in it, stuff like that.
But I was just killing the vehicle. Like it, I knew it wasn't set up or designed to do that. But we had to. It was all we had, you know? So to travel around and do these events and stuff like that. But when we would travel to camp and explore, we were way lighter. A lot of times we'll go somewhere, we'll see something we wanna bring home with us. I wanna have somewhere to put it.
Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.
Walt Wagner: You know, and it's fun to be able to do that. You know, a piece of driftwood. Or something, you know, and you want to throw it on the roof rack. A lot of times our roof rack's empty. Like on the Tacoma, there's one SGAs case with a recovery gear in. The other side's got max tracks on it, but I can throw those anywhere. I've [00:49:00] got real estate for my piece of driftwood.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Sure.
Walt Wagner: Or, or anything. You know, and like on the ram, the roof rack is completely empty, so it, it's just usable square footage that's like keeps the truck light, cuz we're not just loading it down with stuff that we might use one day. Now recovery gear's different. There's stuff that should go with you, but to a certain extent, you know, I like to plan or pack per trip because every trip is a little different. It's just what my background was. We couldn't take stuff that didn't do anything. It had to, it had to perform, uh, either our duties. Or our personal gear, like clothing, you know, for the trip. And that was kind of it. This is really no different. And that's the same approach I'm trying to take. Like on our Tacoma, we've got that, the Bowen custom bed. Now with all those compartments, well, I think half of 'em are empty. Cause I, I don't have enough stuff to put in 'em. I have house battery in one for the camper air hoses in one. And I have a couple tool roles in one, but all the other ones are empty. And it's nice because.
Scott Brady: Yeah, you don't have to fill up all the space.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, exactly.
Scott Brady: You [00:50:00] really don't.
Walt Wagner: I think that's, I think that's what a lot of people like to do because they can create, there's so many good companies that make drawer systems and all these different things that create usable storage. If there's an open space, they'll fill it, you know? And yeah, that's.
Scott Brady: The old Parkinson's law bureaucracies and Overland vehicles will be filled to their capacity. Yeah. We gotta be able to, to say we're gonna leave this stuff at home. Yeah. But I, I do think that we're seeing more and more migration to full size vehicles because, uh, the payload of a, even a three quarter ton ram, for example, can be twice that of a Tacoma easily.
And if you go to a one ton. Ram, it can be the whole weight of the Tacoma. Can be exactly, can be the payload of the truck. Uh, so these, and these, these full size vehicles, um, with the aftermarket support that we have now, they're more capable than they ever have been. And I think a lot of people forget that 99.9% of trails in this country, [00:51:00] Are driven by full-size trucks. What is the forest service driving around?
Walt Wagner: Full size trucks.
Scott Brady: They're driving around a full size truck. When you go along the border, what's the border patrol driving? Full. Sometimes they do drive Jeeps.
Walt Wagner: Right.
Scott Brady: But for the most part they drive power wagons. Around full-size trucks. And if you see fish and game out and about, what are they driving? Full size. So there are trails, no question that are, they're rock crawling trails. They're extreme trails and those are designed for much smaller vehicles overall. But the majority of traveling routes that we're gonna do in the backcountry are designed for a full size truck. You may end up with a little bit more pinstriping. But for the most part, they'll fit and they're not doing any additional damage to the trail because they're already being driven, uh, by ranchers and.
Walt Wagner: Exactly, yeah.
Scott Brady: And people, hunters that have full size trucks. So I think that in, in general, um, unless you need the ultimate performance of a smaller vehicle, um, that you're probably better off with [00:52:00] the capacity of a full size.
Walt Wagner: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think a lot of people have migrated from the forerunner and Tacoma platform to. Like the tundra or, or even like the, the bigger diesel trucks. You know, if they feel like they're pulling a, you know, a lot of these camper trailers and stuff now, these that are off-road capable are, they're, they're massive.
Scott Brady: They're big. You know, they're big.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. They're super nice. And anytime you make something a little bigger, you can fit something else that's nicer in it. So people are finding that I can still get fairly, fairly remote and have a super nice camper. Now the whole family wants to go, well, you're gonna need a full size truck to do that. And the right kind of full size truck.
Scott Brady: So, and another cool application, I'm seeing more and more of Paul May from Equipped is doing this and Matt Swartz, who does some editorial contributions for us. You know, they've got these high performance full-size trucks. Like Paul's got a tundra. Matt Swartz has got a a 2,500 ram so they can, they can pull their Airstreams. And they've got their home with 'em. And super comfortable. They can park it in a campground. But then they can [00:53:00] unhook the full size truck. And like Matt's got, he's got a, uh, superPAC Pacific camper on his, on, it's on 37s and aev, all the goodies. And he can go as far in the back country as he wants and then come back and tow the Airstream to the next spot.
Walt Wagner: Yep. Absolutely. Yeah. Cuz a lot of people will want to carry dirt bikes. Something in the bed of the truck. And that that can add weight. You know, I mean, they're they're heavy. Scott Brady: They are heavy. Yeah.
Walt Wagner: You know, so they'll carry dirt bikes and, and gear and people, and then you can have like a, like an Airstream or one of those, like off-road trailers.
Scott Brady: And some of 'em are awesome.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. I mean they're like this past event Overland Expo, uh, mountain West was a whole row of off-road oriented type RVs.
Scott Brady: It was impressive.
Walt Wagner: It was, yeah. It was pretty, pretty crazy to see. Who's coming to the table now with that kind of stuff and the capabilities, you know, and it's not just, you know, from Australia or South Africa anymore. It's, there's a lot of stuff built here in the US that's like that too. In the US you can see very drastic differences in terrain, you know, especially in the four quarter state. You know, and, but then you can be on both the East and west [00:54:00] coast and see what that's like. And you can do all of those things with like one of those trailers, you know, for the most part.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's amazing.
Walt Wagner: You need the right kind of truck to take you two days down. I40.
Scott Brady: That's right.
Walt Wagner: To get there. Yeah. You know.
Scott Brady: And they're so comfortable. These full size trucks are so comfortable.
Walt Wagner: They'll spoil you, man.
Scott Brady: They're just, you're just like, I don't know. I feel like it's a total Cadillac. I mean, it's like my, I mean, I could turn on the air conditioned seats and everything else. Feel I'm just getting, I'm getting soft, Walt.
Walt Wagner: I know. I'm getting, we gotta get back in the fj.
Scott Brady: We gotta get back in our FJ forties and give our spine an adjustment. Yeah. You know, Walt, I, I so appreciate, it's amazing. We're already at an hour talking about this stuff, but I so appreciate the work that you do. TAV is, is, uh, very thought. You guys are very thoughtful about how you support your customers. Um, and you build some of the coolest damn trucks that, that I've seen. In the industry, how do people find out more about you and TAV?
Walt Wagner: It's very important for, for me, personally, to be [00:55:00] face-to-face. So I, I try to get out to as many as like we do all the overland expos cuz it's a place for everybody to c collective, you know, brands and then people to get together to, to be face to face with and see this stuff in person. So we try to do that as much as we can, and we try to travel like we wanna see people out in the field. Social media is a huge help for a small business like us, like, uh, Instagram, you know, @TAV. Try to make it simple @ TAVLLC on Instagram. My buddy Matt is our marketing director. He.
Scott Brady: He does a great job.
Walt Wagner: He does an amazing job and, you know, he's, he's trying to get to paint the right picture and still make it entertaining. You know, it's, we're try, it's, we're trying to just be as educational as we can. Um, so it's very important to have that interaction. We try to do our best, you know, uh, it's, uh, just to relate with everybody that we can, and we're always gonna work hard for you, you know, and, and just try to get what you need. If it's not, You know, if it's just not something that we would feel comfortable doing, it's not any disrespect or anything. I'll try and get the right person involved for you [00:56:00] on a build, but there's a very specific way we're trying to go about this. And, and to keep our name attached to it, I want it to stay consistent and stay within our wheelhouse on what we're doing. You know, YouTube for us is, is literally a means of just trying to educate folks on what we just did on this build, like from front to back, because that will resonate with someone. And we, Josh and I literally just did it with a cell phone. And you know, we're just trying to.
Scott Brady: They're great.
Walt Wagner: Answer questions and, you know, and get that, and people seem to love it, you know, and, and helps build us up, like, okay, cool, people are liking this so we're not wasting our time. Right. Yeah. So, because we wanted to answer the questions, but I couldn't keep up with the different places they were coming in at. So if I can just do that in a video, quick video, you know, and Matt's trying to get that edited a little bit better to where it's not so painful to watch. But he's, he's doing a great job on that, you know, and it's, we're trying to graduate from just a cell phone, you know, video, but it's really just there to get information out and.
Scott Brady: No, you guys are doing, you guys are doing such a great job of that, making sure that [00:57:00] people follow you on, on social media as well and, and get in touch with you if they've got some questions.You know, and I think one of the things I want to close with, and it was before we, we started this conversation, but you know, we've both lost our moms in the last couple years. And you said something to me that I think I, I just want the audience to hear, but you said that every time you hugged your mom, you hugged her like it was the last time you were gonna hug her.
Walt Wagner: Yeah.
Scott Brady: And I think that for those that are listening, maybe think about that the next time you see your mom or your dad. Or your uncle, aunt, whoever in your life that you really care about, remember to hug him like it's the last time you might do that. Because we don't. Walt Wagner: Everyone you're close to.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Cuz we don't know. We don't know, uh, what's gonna come next. And a lot of us are traveling. We travel for long periods of time. We may not see our loved ones. For months at a time. And it's just so important that we hug the people in our life. Um, like it's the last time we're gonna see 'em.
Walt Wagner: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it's something [00:58:00] that it can just be taken for granted, you know? And we, everyone just gets so busy. Yeah. In their lives and work and travel and things like that. It's just, Important to kind of reign your brain back in and hold that kind of stuff dear. You know, and it's.
Scott Brady: Because you can't undo it.
Walt Wagner: Yeah. And a lot of us are doing this so we can spend time with our families.
Scott Brady: That's right.
Walt Wagner: You know, and, and we're, we invest everything we have in our life to be with our families. And that, that part of it is, is the pinnacle. You know, that's the most important part.
Scott Brady: It is the most important. So, The relationships that we have in our life. So thank you all for listening. Remember, hold the people that you love a little tighter next time, and uh, we'll see you out there on the trails.
Walt Wagner: That's right.
Scott Brady: Thanks for listening.
Walt Wagner: Yeah, thank you.