I know I’ve had my share of questionable truck ideas. With therapy, I’ve been able to accept that. But I think this truck idea is different. It’s different because, for the first time in my truck ideas, I think this one could fill an actual need or at least a want of many truck owners. I know this because they’re trying it already, and that “it” is in-truck bed pools.
Currently, most people with the innate human desire to turn their truck into an ersatz pool or hot tub usually just use a tarp and a hose, and the results vary wildly. It’s messy, there’s a lot of leakage, heating the water is a difficult-to-solve conundrum, and, generally, it’s seen as a terrible idea.
Well, it’s really more of a great idea that happens to be terrible for most trucks and their suspensions. At least, a conceptually great idea. It could be an unqualified great idea if only a few steps were taken. What the truck bed aquatic fun system really needs is to be integrated as a feature for a truck right from the factory.
I’m confident that any truck manufacturer who’s able to introduce an affordable option package for a truck that allows the truck to be easily used as a pool or hot tub will find themselves bathing in hot and cold running cash.
There’s technical challenges, sure, but I think I have an idea as to what the TubTruck option package needs to have:
First, a factory-ready TubTruck has no need for messy tarps or any of that hillbilly-grade shit. The bed will be lined with a one-piece liner made much like a standard hot tub shell, most likely acrylic backed by either ABS plastic or fiberglass. It’ll be insulated much like a hot tub would be as well; really, it’s very close to a standard hot tub shell.
There’s even companies making products a lot like this already!
Perhaps there’d be an extra layer of protective spray-on bedliner on the surface as well, because the truck should still be completely usable as a truck; it can’t be fragile or warrant any extra care.
The tailgate will be designed like those old-people bathtubs with doors– lots of rubber weather stripping, and the tailgate will have that slightly tapered-plug shape to keep things watertight. A pair of spring-loaded clamps on the rear will help keep the tailgate sealed and tight against the body as well.
To drain the bed, I think it can be kept simple: a drain plug and a slight incline to the floor, so you can open the tailgate and just let the water swoosh out, satisfyingly.
Now, when the truck is full of water, that can weigh close to a ton, which is why most trucks aren’t really all that well suited to do this. So, to keep the suspension from getting overloaded, the TubTruck option package will include a pair of flip-down jack stands, mounted to reinforced points on the truck to take some of the burden off the suspension, and to make sure you stay stationary, dummy.
To fill the truck, I think there should be standard hose fittings on the side. I’m thinking there’d be separate fittings for cold and hot water, though I’m happy to include a Y-adapter to allow one water source to supply both lines. You’re welcome.
The cold water supply line will basically go right from the hose fitting to a tap in the bed. The hot water supply is a little different, because we need to, you know, heat that water.
There was a lot of debate in the Jalopnik Virtual Space-Cyber Garage about this, with Tavarish initially advocating for an electric heating unit, while David Tracy maintaining that we can, in fact, use engine waste heat.
I’m a big fan of repurposing waste heat, so let’s try that route. I’m (and by I’m I mean I’m stealing various ideas from Tavarish and David) thinking that we’ll use some form of heat exchanger pre-catalytic converter, where all the good heat is.
The heat exchanger system could be a section of exhaust pipe surrounded by a coil of copper water pipe, or maybe a finned fitting inside a water pipe; I’m not a thermal engineer, sadly. But I know there’s a lot of ways to transfer that waste heat to water. Oh, and maybe there’d need to be a valve to cut it off if it’s an issue for the cat to get up to proper temperatures if it’s cold. I’ll leave that to the emissions geeks.
I’m thinking there’s also need to be some sort of reserve heated water tank to act as a sort of ‘buffer’ so you get hot water from the tap while more water is being heated.
So, you’ll need to run the truck’s engine to get the water hot, and it’s likely it’ll take a bit of time to fill up the roughly 337 gallons of water you’ll have in there, but I’m confident it will work. I mean, we don’t need to boil anyone, just have some nice warm-to-hot water, right?
Okay, so we have a bed that’s water-tight and ready to go, a jack stand system to keep your suspension from busting, an easy way to get water in, and a method to get that water heated. What more could you want? I’m even throwing in steps on the fenders and rear bumper!
Truck manufacturers, you know where to find me if you decide you’re ready to make an truckload (pun VERY much intended) of cash.