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Toyota Tacoma Fiberglass Bedside Install

by Taylor Sowards

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This article covers the installation of Glassworks bedsides onto a 5-lug 1998 Mini Tacoma but should apply to any model Tacoma. I chose to install these onto a stock bed rather than bolting them to a bed cage. Because I won't be running a tailgate with the rear bumper I am planning on installing, I didn't bother re-installing the tailgate hardware. This article will cover the driver's side installation which is trickier due to the gas door.

Required/Recommended Tools:

• 4 ½" die grinder, and a lot of cutting wheels (I went through roughly 15 metal cut off wheels)
• Miscellaneous screwdrivers, sockets, combo wrenches
• Hammer
• Dremel w/ cut off wheels (good for the tight spots where you don't want to slip and hit the cab, etc)
• Cordless drill with assorted bits



Step 1: Removing the rear bumper

Unbolt the two factory bolts from each side of the frame.



Step 2
: Removing the gas door

Remove the gas door, and the catch basin from the factory bedside. There should be 2 bolts for the gas door and 4 screws for the catch basin



Step 3
: Removing the inner fender and bed supports

Remove the inner fender well as well as the front and rear bed supports. To get the fender well out of there you will need to pull out 5-6 factory plastic rivets with some needle-nose pliers. You won't re-use these, so just toast them to get em outta there.

After these are removed there should be a few bolts at the back of the wheel well that hold the fender-well in place, remove those. Then you just slide the fender well out of the wheel well. Remove the front bed support bolts and save the support and hardware, since you can reuse these later.



Step 4: Taillight removal

These are held on by 4 screws, unscrew, and disconnect the light bulbs from the back of the taillight. Mine have a harness that goes to all the bulbs, so I just disconnected that. Set these aside for now, and make sure you save the 4 bolts that hold the taillights on. Once these are removed, along with the gas door and the bed supports/wheel well, you are ready to start cutting!



Step 5: Cutting the stock bedside

This is the scary part. Now you have to take the die grinder and cut into your perfectly good bedside! (My driver side was dented already, so it was a bit easier for me) I chose to make the 1st cut at the rear taillight section. When you make your first cuts, be conservative, if you cut off too much you're bummed, but you can always cut off more! Then I made another vertical cut at the front of the bedside. There is a section of the wheel well that is attached to the bed, so you will need to cut the lip of the wheel well as well.

Once these cuts have been made, you are ready to cut the top of the bedside off. Basically just cut along the bedrail corner from the front of the bedside back to the taillight. It also helps to peel the bedside away as you cut.
Once you have removed the main portion of the bedside from the truck, you will need to remove the support that you cut off from the wheel well. It is spot welded to the bed in 3 spots, but you can either drill them out or pull it off by rocking it back and forth until you pop the spot welds.
Once you have all this off the truck it is time to do some cleanup. You will want to cut off the excess material at the front of the bed (a more time consuming way to get the skins off the bed would be to drill out the spot welds and peel it off, so if you keep that in mind when you are cutting this is a helpful guide as far as what you can or can't cut off). To cut the excess material off the front without hitting the cab I found it helpful to make a cut at the top of the bed and bend this whole section back away from the cab (this also helped to get the bedsides on the bed later).
You will also need to cut the top of the bed rail off as well as about ¼"-1/2" of the inner bed rail (using the skinning advice here is also useful…only cut off what would be removed if you were to drill the spot welds and skin). I also cut off the portion of the bed that seals it up when the tailgate is closed. You don't necessarily have to, but I did on the first side, so I cut it off on the other side to make it match.
Once you have cleaned everything up it should look like the pictures below. If you want to do a really nice job, grind all of the cut edges smooth and hit these with some touch up paint to prevent rusting.

         



Step 6
: Installing the bedside


I got mine on by sliding the taillight section of the bedside over the back corner of the bed and massage it into place. If you have cut off enough material at the taillight section, you should be able to get the taillight section to snug up to the bed with a small to moderate amount of force.

Make sure the front lip of the bed is bent back so that you can slide the front lip of the bedside around the front of the bed. When I went to shove the bedside around the front of the bed I noticed that the top front of the bed bulges out a little bit.

Instead of taking the bed off the truck and massaging the bulge out, I just cut a small half circle out of the bedside in order to slide it around the front of the bed without putting too much stress on the fiberglass. Once you have the bedsides on the bed, check the body lines to make sure they aren't sitting to high. If they are, you might have to take them off and cut the bed rail further down, or clean up the area at the front of the bed rail. Once you have the bedsides on the bed and the body lines are lined up, you will want to check that the bedsides are level, and the only way to really do this is to eyeball it. Once you have decided they are lined up, and exactly where you want them it's time to bolt them on.



Step 7:Bolting the bedsides in place


I used 3 bolts along the bed rail and measured the distance so that the holes are an equal distance apart. For the bed rail bolts I used a set of 5/16 bolts and stringers that were polished stainless steel from Bob's Stainless Fasteners . These were a little more expensive than basic bolts from home depot but gave it a nice finished look. You will also want to bolt the bedside down at the back of the taillight section, you can use a ¼" bolt, and there is already a hole through this part of the bed, so just drill through the bedside and bolt it down.



Step 8: Installing the taillight


Now you will want to install the taillight. First, hold the taillight up to the taillight hole to make sure it fits snugly. You may have to trim small notches out of the bedside tabs to get everything to mount up. Once the taillights are in place, use a small drill bit and drill holes in the bedside tabs using the taillight itself as a template. Remove the taillight and increase the size of the hole to just smaller than the screws that hold the taillight in place (that way you won't splinter the fiberglass when installing the taillights). Now reattach the taillight bulbs and install the taillight. Now you can bolt the rest of the bedside in place. I used 3 bolts on the inside bed rail, and 1 bolt at the lower portion of the front of the bed.



Step 9: Securing the bedside


Once the bedside is bolted in place, you can use the stock front bedside support with minor modifications. Re-install the front bed support but move it further out by only using one of the two factory bolts and bolting the inside hole on the upper portion of the bed support to the outermost factory bolting location on the bed.
You can line the lower bed support hole up with the bedside and drill a small pilot hole to mark the spot on the bedside you need to drill. Then enlarge the hole to ¼" and re-use the factory bolt to secure the lower portion of the bed support.
You may also drill a hole in the underside of the rear taillight support to secure the rear portion of the bedside. Use a ¼" bolt here as well.
Now you're done with the first side! The passenger side will be tons easier since you have one side under your belt, just repeat all these steps except for the gas door removal and you're finished!

If you have any further questions, feel free to inquire at our forum!

This material may not be reproduced in any way for commercial use without the express written consent of its authors, and is protected by all applicable copyright laws. © desertrides.com, 2003

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