Truck camper build.

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Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:54 am

Hey all. I'm new here so please go easy on me. I am trying to learn before I dive into budget or effort wise on a truck camper build. Let me lay out the requirements.

I have a 2004 F150 4x4 with the 6.5 foot bed and super cab. My wife and I are both heavy so a traditional truck camper, or commercial pop up truck camper won't be strong enough. I have been wanting to take my Leer 122 and turn it into a sleeper with a platform bed with storage for the port o potty, water jugs etc.. underneath, but find even with the 122, headroom isn't enough for me to sit up in the bed..

I came across the idea of foamies, and was pointed here. I have been experimenting with polyiso foam and fiberglass, and while it beats other types of foam, I have concerns for strength. I am considering making a, well for lack of a better term, tall box camper shell for my truck. The foamie construction would be great for weight and insulation properties, , but one of my requirements is that I can and will have an air conditioner. A 5K BTU window unit from Walmart will cool the space I want and then some.

I have seen a guy jam a queen bed frame and a short mattress in the 6.5 foot bed of the truck under I think a tall lance cap. Again headroom. I want to be able to sit up in bed, play a hand of cards or whatnot should we get socked in by bad weather.

So how do I even start doing this?
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Postal_Dave » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:47 pm

The first thing I did when I was designing my camper was to get out a measuring tape. You know you want to be able to sit up in bed, well, how tall are you sitting on the floor? Add a couple of inches because you will not want to bump your head every time you move or go to scratch. :D
Is the port-o potty going to be in the camper shell with you? How tall are you going to be when you sit on that?
How wide is it between your wheel wells? Are you going to have to build a platform above the wheel wells to hold your mattress? How tall will that have to be? (BTW: That will be a good storage area for clothes and whatever else you need camping.)
Looking at your truck with the tailgate down and the Leer 122 door open (or off), would that be a usable space to put something? Could you add something there? (This could be the area that you can sit up in and have your port o potty.)

Start with basic measurements, and a sketch book, and start coming up with ideas on the layout and what you can do with the space you have.

Have fun with your design and your build and keep us up to date on your progress.
Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Philip » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:49 pm

With all your requirements. Is a tall camper going to be able to work for you??

Your needing tall ceiling? Your truck is a half ton. weight capacity is very limited. Tall box brings swaying problems with a light weight truck. Side wind causes problems on a light weight truck. The taller the box and higher off the ground the more unstable it gets.

Myself I would see this build as a cargo trailer conversion option or a raised roof cargo van. Both would give you the head room to move around. Your half truck would pull a small cargo trailer easyer than hauling a oversize box on it.
Here is my build.

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=67073
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby me&z » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:12 pm

Try this thread. Might give you some ideas.



viewtopic.php?f=55&t=64361&start=75

Edit:. :( Having trouble getting the URL to go to first page of that thread. Sorry
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:06 pm

Philip wrote:With all your requirements. Is a tall camper going to be able to work for you??

Your needing tall ceiling? Your truck is a half ton. weight capacity is very limited. Tall box brings swaying problems with a light weight truck. Side wind causes problems on a light weight truck. The taller the box and higher off the ground the more unstable it gets.

Myself I would see this build as a cargo trailer conversion option or a raised roof cargo van. Both would give you the head room to move around. Your half truck would pull a small cargo trailer easyer than hauling a oversize box on it.


I'm not talking a compact truck. Payload is 1920lbs. The poor tuck has to haul my heavy behind too...

Assuming a truck cap With over all ceiling height identicle to the back height of the we're 122 this would be a non issue. There are many many trucks and my class that use pop up over cab sleeper truck campers that way a great deal more I am thinking something more along the lines of what the poster I believe directly above me shown which was a basically tall truck cap with overcame storage.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Philip » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:21 am

I see the 1900# payload as the problem. By the time your done building and adding everything your going to need for your travels. You will be above the GVW of the truck. You might be able to come below. But I bet it will not be by much.

Here is one thing to think about. In the case of a accident with a truck of any type. A adjuster is going to ask if you were loaded. He is going to ask how much the truck weights empty. Then he is going to ask what did the camper weight. Then he is going to add some extra weight for other items. All those answers you give better come in under the GVW rating for the truck. Remember he has the VIN of the truck. That gives him GVW for the chassis. If the answers are above the GVW. They can refuse the claim.

I went threw this last fall. I had a minor fender bender with my truck/ camper.

With the light truck. I still think a CT conversion gives you a better option. Lower floor to get in and out of. Taller ceiling. More room to grow. That is the big thing to think of. You have outgrown the topper. Where do you go from here. Build just enough to get by or go a little bigger as a hedge on future needs?
Here is my build.

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=67073
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:46 am

Philip wrote:I see the 1900# payload as the problem. By the time your done building and adding everything your going to need for your travels. You will be above the GVW of the truck. You might be able to come below. But I bet it will not be by much.

Here is one thing to think about. In the case of a accident with a truck of any type. A adjuster is going to ask if you were loaded. He is going to ask how much the truck weights empty. Then he is going to ask what did the camper weight. Then he is going to add some extra weight for other items. All those answers you give better come in under the GVW rating for the truck. Remember he has the VIN of the truck. That gives him GVW for the chassis. If the answers are above the GVW. They can refuse the claim.

I went threw this last fall. I had a minor fender bender with my truck/ camper.

With the light truck. I still think a CT conversion gives you a better option. Lower floor to get in and out of. Taller ceiling. More room to grow. That is the big thing to think of. You have outgrown the topper. Where do you go from here. Build just enough to get by or go a little bigger as a hedge on future needs?


All of my camping gear few included comes in at 300lbs.

Per Ford's published documentation they are counting the payload as above and beyond the weight of 6 150 pound passengers in the cab. So my weight and the weight of my wife plus the weight of the cooler in the cab and the dry food Box in the cab is already included in what I will call the pre payload weight.

So that literally means I have 1600 pounds to go before I am at or above my GVW. Now assuming I swap out the air mattress and pompous for a real mattress and a medal rower frame I am still in under 350 pounds total.

The airconditioner adds 43 pounds. My generator weighs 38 pounds.

The Leer topper weighs 200 pounds.

So far I've got 781 pounds of payload.

Add 28 gal of water. 233.52lbs.

5 gal fresh water in toilet. 41.7 lbs.

1056.22lbs total payload clean and wet minus clothes.

And yes I would like to reduce the weight which is one of the reasons I am considering a foamie.

Part of the reason I am not considering any sort if towable Is mobility. I know there are lots of people out there that tow trailers off road however I'm not very good at it and I know my limitations. I do intend to at 1 point in the future purchase a full on travel trailer but my intent behind this is for much more primitive camping however I am getting of the age where I just don't want to be down on the ground in A-tent anymore. Plus my experiences beach camping here in Texas have proven I want a more controlled sleep space without all of that screening and the ability of sand to blow through everything and ruin a night sleep.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:22 am

Postal_Dave wrote:The first thing I did when I was designing my camper was to get out a measuring tape. You know you want to be able to sit up in bed, well, how tall are you sitting on the floor? Add a couple of inches because you will not want to bump your head every time you move or go to scratch. :D
Is the port-o potty going to be in the camper shell with you? How tall are you going to be when you sit on that?
How wide is it between your wheel wells? Are you going to have to build a platform above the wheel wells to hold your mattress? How tall will that have to be? (BTW: That will be a good storage area for clothes and whatever else you need camping.)
Looking at your truck with the tailgate down and the Leer 122 door open (or off), would that be a usable space to put something? Could you add something there? (This could be the area that you can sit up in and have your port o potty.)

Start with basic measurements, and a sketch book, and start coming up with ideas on the layout and what you can do with the space you have.

Have fun with your design and your build and keep us up to date on your progress.


V porto pot will be in the camper with me while traveling but will be out in the privy in camp. There is no problem with sitting on the part of pot with it configured at the tailgate end of the current cap.

The sweeping Platform I was configuring to clear the porto potty and give it about an inch clearance. With the lid closed the toilet is 17" tall

The distance from the top of the bed rug which evens up the bottom of the truck bed floor and insulates it and the top rail of the bed is 20.5". The distance from the top of the bed rail to the top of the 3rd brake light which is the highest point on the cab is 21.5".

Thus at the front of the 122 I have a total of 42" from the top of the bed rug to the bottom of the headliner in the camper shell.

Seated I have 38.5" from where I am seated to the top of my head I would want at least 2" clearance if not more.

Given those measurements the bottom of the bed frame will be at 18" plus the plywood cover platform whatever you wanna call it would put it at 18 and 3/4 inches. I want to use a 6" thick memory foam tri-fold mattress.

With that data at 12" away because for member the trifled is going to double up on the back to make peach sofa back I will need what's round up and say 25" plus oh what I'm gonna round up and say 41" so I need 66" from floor to ceiling. Again would we say 20.5" from floor to bed real so I would need 46" might as well go 48 to go to the ceiling from the bedrail.

Now going with 48" material makes the design and construction that much simpler because I can use more or less whole sheets without having to rip them on the long side.

For the sake of aerodynamics and storage particular way of lightweight items such as clothing I can easily go with a basic cab over that would allow me to rapidly incline while not allowing enough space for a sleeper which is fine.

At least for now I believe I have mentioned here I know I have on other forms that my wife and I are considering adopting still. We may need sleeping space for others. That is not something with is going to happen before we go into a travel trailer though. It probably isn't a bed idea to consider designing of the over cab as a sleeper for kids.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Postal_Dave » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:37 am

Google "Leer 122 Camping" then click on Images. There are several good ideas already done there. All of which are more than light enough for your truck.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:54 am

OK so I just checked the weight on poly iso phone Lord 4 3/4 inch 4 by 8 sheets it weighs in at 7 pounds even. Even if I got carried away and used say 10 sheets that's only 70 pounds period between that a little bit a lumber to brace the AC mount and make the door and of course the poor man's fiberglass I don't see how I could go over about 2:00 pounds on a build.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby ghcoe » Sat Aug 17, 2019 12:44 pm

A sheet of 4'x8'x1/2" OSB is about 60 lbs. 4'x8'x2" XPS foam is about 10lbs. That should give you a idea of what your weight will be without doors, windows, PMF.
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Gorrilla Glue, Great Stuff and Gripper. The three G's of foamie construction.

My build viewtopic.php?t=54099
Working with flashing for foamie construction viewtopic.php?f=55&t=60303
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 12:57 pm

ghcoe wrote:A sheet of 4'x8'x1/2" OSB is about 60 lbs. 4'x8'x2" XPS foam is about 10lbs. That should give you a idea of what your weight will be without doors, windows, PMF.


Yeah OSB isnt in the plan.

Why XPS instead of polyiso?

The material I was looking at was 4 by 8 by 3/4 polyiso. 7lbs each sheet, R5 insulation.

It occurred to me that if I go with 48" with the 20" I get naturally in the bed anyway that I am a mere 4" away from full standing Room height it almost makes me want to go and tack it up to a 54" height shell. That way I can have for standing Room which would be much easier on my back should we have the misfortune of being stormed in.

My application is definitely off road but we places I plan on going do not require clearances that are critical.

With the planned tires on the truck and a fantastic fan on the roof I am looking at 112" total height. Just a tiny bit over 9'.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:46 pm

Good to see you started a thread on this and folks are helping out. It's time to start drawing up something to work with or at least show pictures on intent to follow. Not saying either will be final product.

A slide in camper is a completely different build from a cap like I'm doing. Both have advantages and dis-advantages. The most important part is what this camper will be used for. If your primary, then I'd be thinking 'slide-in' and designing accordingly. For me, especially as I think of my ultimate build, I'd be looking at steel/aluminum studs and thin sheathing with foam board inserts. Sheathing would be according to structural ability combined with the studding. Then comes shaping/aerodynamics. My though as a primary is how I would stand it without the truck involved? That takes good structural elements and jacks. Wether leaving it in the yard or on your campsite to explore.
As a secondary camper, as I'm doing, just what do you really need? Obviously, a place to sleep, yet how many? Think basic, you and...??

You've entered design stage big time! I like Sketch-up as a design tool.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby ghcoe » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:47 pm

polyisocyanurate foam is not structural. It basically crumbles if put under any kind of stress.
EPS (beaded) foam can be used, but needs to be thicker than XPS to get the same results.
XPS is getting into the lower end of structural foam.
Most foamies are built with XPS foam some with EPS. Formular 250 (pink XPS) has a compression strength of 25lbs per square inch. 25lbs on polyisocyanurate foam will turn it to dust. :thumbdown:
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Gorrilla Glue, Great Stuff and Gripper. The three G's of foamie construction.

My build viewtopic.php?t=54099
Working with flashing for foamie construction viewtopic.php?f=55&t=60303
Making a hot wire http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=55323
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:40 pm

ghcoe wrote:polyisocyanurate foam is not structural. It basically crumbles if put under any kind of stress.
EPS (beaded) foam can be used, but needs to be thicker than XPS to get the same results.
XPS is getting into the lower end of structural foam.
Most foamies are built with XPS foam some with EPS. Formular 250 (pink XPS) has a compression strength of 25lbs per square inch. 25lbs on polyisocyanurate foam will turn it to dust. :thumbdown:


Very good to know!

Now here's the next question does anyone know of any 3-D models in sketch up for an F156 and a 1/2 foot bed? I see lots of them with the 5.5' bed but everything's in the wrong place. I'd rather not reinvent the wheel on those 3-D renderings
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