My Next Project

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My Next Project

Postby SteveL139 » Mon May 14, 2018 7:42 am

This site is great! I’ve been reading all winter and am ready to embark on my project, and would like some encouragement – or dissuasion where necessary.

I’ve been camping in a small softside popup with my family for 25 years, and now its time for something easier to setup for just me and my wife. There’s nothing really out there we can buy that fits our needs, although an ALiner comes pretty close (but is way out of our price range):

Small and light with a low profile – to be towed by a Dodge Caravan through the Rockies
Easy to set up – it still takes us an hour to fully setup camp in our popup
We need to stand up and have interior space (we go for 4-8 week ercursions)
Better protection from the rain – not having to deal with a wet canvas
Good ventilation and outdoor views – we camp a lot in the high desert
Minimal amenities – we don’t need water indoors, but a fridge would be nice (we don’t have one now)

So I want to build my own hardshell hybrid! I’ve built a couple of houses, and restored a few vw beetles, but a lightweight camper that cam move at 60 mph and stay dry will be a challenge. I’ve decided on a modified clamshell design, with a hinged roof and foldable hard sides. The box will be 11 ft max, with a rear bed, front dinette, and cabinets between. I think I can keep the road height to under 66” (It would be great to see out my rear view mirror!). And I want to keep it under 1400lbs.

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I’ve read lots of build logs, but haven’t seen any that do what I want, although many have lots of design information that I’ll build upon.

I have my donor frame - from an old palomino popup – I think I can use it with minimal modifications. I’m leaning toward a foamie build with hard edging to help secure the open box (like a traditional popup), and keep the roof as light as possible so we can lift it, with the help of gas struts). I will use PMF for the exterior, and maybe interior as well. The hardwall sides should be pretty light using the same type of construction, and most of the windows will be in these walls so I may have more leeway in building custom windows as they wont have to stand up to the most punishment while driving. I know I have a lot of water sealing to do where the walls meet, but the donor camper had floding hardwalls without any seals, and I may be able to use that hardware, or fabricate aluminum trim that diverts the rain. (More on this as I start my build…)

I don’t know how to classify this – its not a teardrop, but I can use many of the td build techniques. One big question I still have is which orientation is more aerodynamic? I chose the ‘reverse’ teardrop style as some of the larger hardshell campers are like this, but could I change the orientation to look be more like a teardrop, as the highest point will still be a little lower than my tv.
SteveL139
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Re: My Next Project

Postby Ron Dickey » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:43 am

Welcome,

notice you joined in Feb how far have you gotten.
121377.............134179.........134805
both side walls are up...cabinet needs stain.......ongoing 2.5 yr bld build as i find time..... Cross Bow in Build Journals....viewtopic.php?f=50&t=54108
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Ron Dickey
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Re: My Next Project

Postby SteveL139 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:15 am

Not to far, sad to say. I knew this was going to be a long haul. I did strip the donor camper completely, and found I may be able to reuse a fair amount of hardware and trim, which is good. And the electric brakes work! I built a mockup of the box and opening roof and tested a few techniques of cutting and gluing foam, and trying out PMF. Its camping season in NH, so the old trusty popup is seeing another summer of use, so I dont think I'll get back to this until fall.
SteveL139
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Re: My Next Project

Postby mary and bob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:31 am

We camped with a pop-up for years and have since passed it on to our son. We bought and restored a vintage teardrop 10 years ago and used it for a few years. Then bought a Uhaul fiberglass 13 foot camper (10 foot body) and got it back into good shape. It is nice in that there is little set up time, unhook, put the stabilizers down, plug in if shore power is available, and open the door and go in. Can stand up and sit comfortable in it. Then 3 years ago we added a 17 foot Casita fiberglass camper to our collection. Same set up but also has water connection. Hot water, real mattress, dinette and bathroom and a screen door. I admire all those that have built their own campers but it's not a project I would want, or could do very well. Repairs I'm good with. We were in NH a couple months ago, heading to Maine next month.
mary and bob
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Re: My Next Project

Postby Ron Dickey » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:56 pm

one of the tricks that I have done and others do is to make it a flat bed and take it in to be reg. then you can use it to haul camping stuff or put you tent on top of it and pretend. and as time comes complete it.

I did that with my first trailer and for got on my second. on the second I have to keep a record of all receipts so they know I paid taxes.

Ron
121377.............134179.........134805
both side walls are up...cabinet needs stain.......ongoing 2.5 yr bld build as i find time..... Cross Bow in Build Journals....viewtopic.php?f=50&t=54108
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Ron Dickey
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Location: Central Coast, CA
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