June 11, 2024 3 min read

Sometimes building your rig isn't just an art form, it's a science. Just ask Chip Vollers, who has turned his 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser into a measurement-perfect, mobile base camp. Dubbed Thomas the Tank, this compact beast is packed with custom-built (and even 3D printed!) features and more than a few well-engineered surprises. We loved learning more about the latest entry in the HEST Rigs We Dig series, and we're sure you will too.

Your Name: Chip Vollers

Location: Bellevue, WA

Make & Model: 2012 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Nickname:  Thomas the Tank

Bed dimensions: 76” long, 30" wide (at narrowest), and 14" high

Is this your daily driver or getaway car?

Daily driver.

What do you like most about your rig? 

I designed and built custom furniture for inside the rig. This includes the sleeping cot with sliding extension and filler panels, a large storage drawer (which has a Magma nested pan set and Nespresso coffeemaker) under the cot, a camp stove drawer with hinged, laminated countertop, and sliding fridge tray for my Iceco JP40 fridge. I have 9.2 gallons of potable water capacity inside the rig in two locations and a 3 gpm water pump that can draw from both locations simultaneously. An Anker Solix C1000 power station is the auxiliary battery and 1500 watt inverter. Rounding out the interior is a M.O.A.B. air compressor and PETT Toilet, both stored under the cot. I also just made a 3D printed rear window hold-open “thingy” that works great. On the roof is a Sherpa Fuji roof rack, 4x4 Colorado Nimbus RTT, four pod lights, custom roof rails with load stops, two 100 watt BougeRV solar panels, and MAXTRAX mounted to their locking pins. A 4 gallon pressurized PVC pipe water tank is up there too for spraying things down and doing dishes. I have a Krazy Beaver shovel that will get mounted up there too, and just added OME 2895 rear springs to deal with the additional weight. On the spare is a Trash-a-roo bag.

Any custom details? 

The cot extension uses an industrial glide car system to slide and a spring loaded plunger to hold it in place during driving mode.

Coolest place you’ve taken your rig to?

So far, Bend, OR. I have a trip planned with my brother to the Owyhee Canyonlands in September. 

Any projects in the pipeline to get your rig even more adventure ready? 

Yes, an installation of a Roam 270 awning and mounting the Krazy Beaver shovel. I'm also planning to upgrade the suspension with Bilstein 6112s in the front and 5160s in the back. The interior is pretty much done, however the back of the rig is getting RIG’d Supply components, including their RambleSwing and RambleRack bike carrier (which I am modifying to carry their UltraTable). I have designed a custom Rotopax auxiliary fuel carrier for the back and will have that fabricated and installed prior to the Owyhee trip. 

Biggest challenge in your build out?

Getting all the furniture situated and mounted inside the rig. It needed to be built and test fitted in two phases, then fully assembled in my shop, then disassembled into two sections and each section put into the rig separately, then connected together inside the very tight space. After that, the drawers, fridge tray, and rear cot panel were remounted.

Tips for others looking to do the same to their vehicle?

Send me an email. chip@4WD-Mod.com :) Also check out my vids documenting the build.

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