Truck camper build.

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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:20 pm

RJ Howell wrote:
#1 Basic's to the truck is a must, just like ensuring the trailer is in good shape. I'm on 33's and know what I can and can not go over. You being on 35's must do with what you know you will drive over. I did change to Moog coils up front and a 'add-a-leaf' to the rear with Bilstien shocks. That gives me a 1" lift. Also LS out back, no reason yet to change that. Like you want to, I am Overlanding, not rock crawling..

Suspension is mostly stock, but I have the Rancho Quicklift 2.5", which replaced the stock coil pack and a 2.5" leveling puck. The quicklift did NOT give me a full 2.5", but rather 1.5" of lift, and now I rub. Fender trimming has been minor, but exists. I know where I need to cut, and reinforce to make it work, and that required my BIL and his body shop, and probably my nephew... I am on 35s that I honestly hate. They are Hercules Trail Digger MT, and are far too soft / wear too quickly. If BFGoodrich made an All Terrain TA in 33x12.50/17 in load range D or E I would grab them and swap out. I think that is euivalent to 305/65 or 70R17... Shocks front and back are Rancho RS9000s. Ball joints / control arms have been upgraded to Moog problem solvers, all bushings are upgraded to poly. Rear spring pack is what came on the truck when I bought it used in 2006 I don't see a need for an add a leaf. Now if I had a 2006 - 2008 with the shorter rear leaf pack, then yeah...

The Moog HD springs, I have, I just haaven't installed them yet, I was wiating to swap the engine first so I don't have to fight the height of the truck to get it out. Anyway they are what Rancho recommended to get the full 2.5" height since I have a winch and winch bumper.

The winch is an Engo E9000 on a Go Rhino brush guard / winch bumper mount. 9K is the largest winch any winch mount for these trucks I could find would support. I would have rather gone with a 12K winch but this is what I have...

#2 I do think most of us loose weight will traveling. Probably due to lifestyle changes mostly forced on us. Anywho, I do as well..

I guess all those walking tours and strolls down the beach to find a better fishing spot are healthy!

#2,3 Most the designs I looked at had the overhead bed as a sliding/extendable platform. Doable with supports, yet think about both of you getting in and out of it.. Main reason I sleep in the loft and she sleeps on the main level. Besides she would have a time getting down from it at night to pee (several times that is). I'm still running thoughts of a folding hard side. I'm seeing it done and no reason it could not with foam. https://www.hiatuscampers.com/?fbclid=IwAR18a3sirlL4mHWen39Bb7-FmN1wr5-H7M6Z6DnQNzOP1fmujtROfSZWyL0 did a nice design for the roof/sides. I'll try to find the other as well.

I'm not wedded to a design yet. And it is going to take a LOT of work to get my wife to agree to going the flatbed route. She doesn't have the same vision for the truck that I do... Which is why the interim phase will inevitably have to be a wide body sleeper cap, like the one you did, but wider. And with the previously mentioned over the tailgate slide out. We could squeeze into a queen bed, but it would be uncomfortable for us, and the 6.5' truck bed means an AC would be problematic to install without the slide as we are not going to do a huge RV roof unit, but rather a small 5K BTU window unit in the back wall...

#4 Do you go that deep that you need that much extra fuel? It takes me all day to travel 60 miles Overlanding.. Barely consuming fuel. I can go days before re-fueling, yet here in the Nor'East there's typically a spot to re-fuel easily.. My mind is thinking "All that extra weight needed?"

Mostly for the generator. Solar is an idea, but expensive. Doing this in Texas / New Mexico, Mexico etc... where it is HOT. Running an AC off of what solar I can put on top of a truck cap, even a wide one, is going to be very difficult..

#5,6 Shame you need the AC unit, but you're in Texas so I get it. I'm not there so I don't have one. The AC brings that need for the generator (weight thing again) and probably the extra gas.. maybe a second tank? I'm not into gas fuel style appliances, used them in my backpacking days. I lean towards propane, just my choice. I'm trying a single burner butane (nice and compact) to supplement the grill/cooktop combo cookstove I'm now using. This gives us two burners and a grill/griddle surfaces when all is running (rare). The single is great for morning coffee inside.

I am very much not a fan of the 1lb disposable propane cylinders, and a 20LB tank takes up a LOT of room, and introduces a lot of fuel availability issues south of the border. And I already have several old school Coleman Suitcase stoves, duel fuel lanterns and for the VERY rare occasion, heaters..... I am trying to minimize the need for different fuels. It would be best if I could simply stop at one pump, and fill upwith what I need to operate the truck, cook, generate electricitiy for my AC etc...

We do cook full meals when camping, and a single burner butane backpacking stove just won't cut it. Not fine enough flame control. Admittedly a Coleman Propane stove is easily 1/2 the thickness of a gasoline stove, but the inside of the gas stove is empty, and I use the space for small item storage. The stove, and one fil of fuel weighs less than the propane stove with no fuel so we are at a net benefit there. I use 1 tank of white gas to every 3.5 to 4 bottles of propane used on the other stove.... so there are benefits that are more indirect, to using a liquid fuel appliance. I know it isn't the most popular choice, but I looked at the benefits and the annoyances... and settled for liquid fuel.

#7 Again, a lot of weight! I have 7.5 gallon capacity (3/ 2.5 carboys) and now travel with only two filled. Only when I hookup the DC shower do we run through water. I have had no issues finding water along the way to wash with. I figure to keep one of the carboys just for that, so there no cross contamination with any potable water. My 'gray' is between the cassette toilet (4 gallons) and the oil drain pan (3 gallons). We 'Wag-Bag' solids, so no 'black' water near my rig! Also no issues with digging a hole for either of us!

I saw a video done by a guy named Campervan Kevin yesterday showcasing something called the Hour Shower. I want to be clean and comfortable, and if I can do that with a half gallon instead of a gallon and a half why not? And remember, this is water for 2, not 1... And hot environments. 2 gallons of water per person per day minimum. Yes it is a lot of weight. We are talking about after the weight of the aquatainers, probably 240lbs of just fresh water. Hence why I need to keep the camper light.

My thoughts are always weight vs. need of item(s). My shell is about the same weight as the bed was, so no additional added (and more floor space). No brainer for me to remove the bed. By leaving it on, anything you do is 'payload' weight and where it is placed fore/aft of your rear axle is critical to control stress on that axle/suspension/tires/etc. Popping the top was also a must for me. I don't want a top heavy/sky scraper camper that wobbles in the wind or trail. Not to mention low hanging anythings... I like the steel cage framing for strength/weight ratio (Aluminum even better) over wood. So far I've camped in 54°F weather with the canvas wrap and only needed a blanket. Start coffee and I'm opening the blinds to let heat out. If it was hard sided foam, I do believe pressing freezing overnight would be the same thing.


Yeah, the same thoughts I had. The half ton truck really is limiting, but it's what I have. Like I mentioned above, I believe I will have to keep the OE truck bed on here for a while, but maybe given my lovely bride a nice SUV might distract her enough. However given that isn't super likely yet, we are back to the wide camper shell idea. Keep the weight low, the overcab small and only for storage of light stuff, sleeping bags, clothes etc.. Any framing I need to do on this will have to be steel or aluminum, I CAN make it from wood, but I would want to insure no real rot possibilities. Plus unlike your arrangement, I would likely do a pop top on the camper shell, just so I have standing room to change clothes in the morning, while keeping a lower profile. And yeah, I don't want her climbing up / down all night long to get to the port o potty..

Hey! Good to see ya back and possibly moving forward! Keep us posted on progress!

Thanks. I appreciate it!


I know a lot of my gear choices aren't what someone else would pick, but its stuff that works for me, and I already have so it fits the budget nicely. I do want to carry some, not much, but some cast iron cookware as well so weight is always a consideration. Again a 3/4 or 1 ton truck wouldn't be such a bother, but here I am with a half ton...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:18 pm

One of the big things I have not liked about most DIY campers, and well, even commercially produced campers, is the prevalence of wood in the construction of the main structure of the camper. Simply put, even with the best sealing jobs, eventually there WILL be wood rot that I don't want to deal with. In conversation with another builder here, and I got to thinking about metal framing. Steel would be fantastic if I was going to do a bed off flatbed overlander build, but I am married, and my lovely bride isn't (yet) on board with that idea.

Aluminum is a great idea, strong, light, although somewhat more expensive than steel, not terrible cost wise for what structure I need.

Off to Youtube I went searching for ideas. I seem to have come accross something that will work...

[youtube]https://youtu.be/7nWdmE93wP8
[/youtube]

This is gonna be fun once I get the specs on dimensions of available materials...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:13 am

Not a fan of soldering on a structural element. That really should be welded. I built 3 shelves using those aluminum brazing (soldering) rods and all 3 have failed with time. Just the vibrations of running down the road broke the joints. Remember that's soldering not welding.

A good MIG welder will do the trick if going aluminum. A good flux-core welder will do it if you go steel. I went flux-core due to the deal presented at the time.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:07 pm

RJ Howell wrote:Not a fan of soldering on a structural element. That really should be welded. I built 3 shelves using those aluminum brazing (soldering) rods and all 3 have failed with time. Just the vibrations of running down the road broke the joints. Remember that's soldering not welding.

A good MIG welder will do the trick if going aluminum. A good flux-core welder will do it if you go steel. I went flux-core due to the deal presented at the time.


I happen to have access to both, and a friend willing ot show me the ropes of welding. Yeah I was concerned about long term durability of the joints. Honestly I am concerned about long term durability of aluminum framing, but I am also concerned about weight...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby joshuag » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:29 pm

RJ Howell wrote:I'm still running thoughts of a folding hard side. I'm seeing it done and no reason it could not with foam. https://www.hiatuscampers.com/?fbclid=IwAR18a3sirlL4mHWen39Bb7-FmN1wr5-H7M6Z6DnQNzOP1fmujtROfSZWyL0 did a nice design for the roof/sides. I'll try to find the other as well.


Is this the one you were thinking of?

https://www.casa-trotter.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=7838

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I want to build a Tipoon clone foamie but I bought a truck, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.

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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:18 am

joshuag wrote:
RJ Howell wrote:I'm still running thoughts of a folding hard side. I'm seeing it done and no reason it could not with foam. https://www.hiatuscampers.com/?fbclid=IwAR18a3sirlL4mHWen39Bb7-FmN1wr5-H7M6Z6DnQNzOP1fmujtROfSZWyL0 did a nice design for the roof/sides. I'll try to find the other as well.


Is this the one you were thinking of?

https://www.casa-trotter.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=7838

Image


That looks pretty awesome, except that I believe you can do it without hte traingle folds, and thereby eliminate 4 weak points, particularly for water / cold intrustion / extrusion... The point behind a foamie after all is, at least partially, insulation...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:36 am

Only if you wish to lift those sides separately. This system goes up together. The folds open on gaskets. You would still require skinning the foam with plywood (or something) to attach hinging. Probably only the inside or framing the foam panel. I've seen this system a few times now.

Thank you joshuag for posting this one!
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:17 pm

So I spent some time screwing up a good bit of aluminum scrap at my friends shop today before I managed to actually get a decent, not great mind you, but a decent TIG weld on some scrap piece joints...

This is going to take some practice to get right, and I am a bit concerned about the load carrying ability / deformation of aluminum. More engineering specs to be looked up.

I figured a hard folding pop up like that would requiire some sort of framing. I would love to get some measurements as I have no clue how that origami looking rig could work. I am sure it CAN, but more or less how. I'm not seeing it somehow. I know it wil come to me probably while I am trying to sleep...

So a little update. Not sure if you are aware but it has been NASTY hot and humid here in TX. It is August after all. I fired up the little Harbor Freight 900w 2 stroke generator, on a full tank of gas, and ran the AC on it through the day. What I can say is yes, it did run the AC no problem, but fuel usage was higher than I would like. The tank holds something close to 3 quarts of 2 stroke mix, and ran through that in a little over 5 hours.

Mind you, a little reminder is that what I need to run is a small AC unit. under 4 amps max draw for a 5K BTU window unit, and charger for my CPAP battery unit. I CAN and jprobably should upgdrade to a 2K watt ish inverter generator, but don't want the size, weight, or fuel usage. The only 1K watt inverter unit I know of on the market is the Sprotsman, which seems to get a lot of love from the folks that own them, and has fairly decent run tim. The difference in cost between the 1000w and 2200w Sportsman inverter generators is a little over $100.00, I may look into the weight / fuel usage and decide it is worth it to have the extra power...

I did a test run of the Coleman 425 (white gas stove) for breakfast cooking at it works flawlessly. The 424 (Dual Fuel) needs a new packing on the generator nut. No big deal...

I have yet to transfer it to Sketchup and even less yet have decent measurements, but I think I have the slide out idea worked out on scrap paper, The biggest issue is going to be days if we get stuck in the camper due to bad weather and have to cook in the camper with another person on the sofa. I don't want a big cooktop counter type rig set up. I may just toss my Coleman Expoent F1 Lite and a fuel canister in the camper as a spare stove setup. It can handle my stainless camp cook set no problem, the CI stuff will be problematic though.

The wife may actually agree to the flatbed arrangement though. However, she wants an Escalade now.... Ugh...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:02 pm

Aaand I am VERY much wishing I had the truck, and truck camper done right now... Hurricane Laura is aimed at me, well very close to me anyway, and due to COVID I can't evacuate. On the plus side, I am 27 miles inland from Galveston Island, so there is some land the storm has to go over before it gets to me,

I am expecting a major wind event. Lots of boarding up of windows for preparation for the storm, trimmed the magnolia tree in the yard so it wouldn't rip my roof off... I ran out of light. I have 2 windows left to board up, and I can do them early tomorrow...

The trusty old Skil saw (made in USA, that kind of old...) stil worked fabulously today, so that's a good sign for the camper build, although I will likely use the table saw more for that...

Wish me luck, and I will catch up with you once the world stops spinning...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby pchast » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:50 pm

wishing you much luck. :o
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:22 pm

pchast wrote:wishing you much luck. :o



We dodged a major bullet. I really feel bad for the folks in Louisiana...

Back to the design process, and chunking my spare $$ aside for that new engine. Dumb design of that 5.4L 3V Triton V8...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:21 pm

Please excuse this ramble, I am thinking out loud as it were. I'd appreciate someone checking my thought process to make sure I am on the right track...

Let's see if I understand how the folding hard wall works ..

There is as I see it, the narrow walls, the ones going crosswise across the camper, AKA front and back walls, are a single piece each, with flap hingest connected via a metal strap. These appear to be attached to the side walls via piano hinges. Not sure of the builders construction. but it looks like some sort of composite. Maybe fiberglass, maybe not, but I digress. In my case, it would be aluminum framed foam with a fiberglass / epoxy skin.

Side walls appear to be 3 pieces, with the corners cut at a 45 degree angle, again attached with piano hinges.

As I mentioned previously, my concern would be thermal. Not eliminating, but reducing and controlling drafts. I would need some way to seal up the hinge points while allowing movement. Pretty sure that is doable, no clue how at the moment. File that under needs research.

Next up on the top assembly I see gas struts supporting the assembly. Good, or at least fair idea. Something to consider though... One of my design criteria is I MUST be able to sit up in bed. For me this is NOT a luxury. This is due to the osteoarthritis in my spine.

I totally get that I will compress the mattress a decent amount. I understand the physics, but when a spasm hits and I am forced bolt upright at 2 A.M. I would rather not smash my skull on the roof. Repeated measurements show 37" clearance is needed. I figure I will compress the mattress at least 3" (probably more) so if I give myself 36" sidewalls, that would permit me the height I need...

I've been experimenting with my friend before this weather thing happened, Simply put, going the aluminum frame route will require some VERY careful engineering to handle the load needed over time, but considering the load limits of the truck itself, I think it would be the best option just to keep payload to a minimum...

Items being reconsidered seriously due to design problems they cause.

#1. Water storage. I wanted to use my 4 Reliance AquaTainer containers, but I also want to use a single water pump / pickup and I want to be able to have a single fill for the tank. With these requirements, I think a more traditional freshwater tank is in order. 28 gallons might seem like a lot on a half ton truck, but again, aluminum and foam construction. I am doing lightweight so I CAN carry more supplies like water. I know my wife enough to know she will insist on daily showers even if they are navy showers...

#2. Power. With the folding hard sides, this may be problematic. If I were to go with roof top solar, I would need to rig up some sort of umbilical setup that allowed the leads to feed through and be routed without being damaged by the folding walls. Filed under more research. Staying with a generator for now, but not happy about it...

Certain ideas I am definately wedded to though...

#1. From the rear of the camper slide out. Obviously the door, due to the folding roof, can't be full height, but high enough to slide the port o potty in there and sit on it, and I am happy enough... Not a forever setup, just a foul weather don't want to set to toilet up in a privy tent today kind of setup...

#2. Through the rear wall 5K BTU window unit AC. They are cheap, plentiful, don't draw gobs of power, and are more than enough to cool such a tiny space efficiently.

Items bein debated.

Liquid fuel vs. Propane appliances. The advantage of liquid fuel is simplicity, reliability, and sharing a common fuel with the truck, and generator. However the heater isn't as safe as a propane heater, no biggie as we don't need heat much, and water heaters are more or less non existent. I use a stove top heat exchanger that works great for tent camping, not sure it is going to translate well to a camper... (outdoor shower only, not enough room for an indoor unit).

Also completeness of the kitchen. My wife and I love to cook, but we are realistic about the weight capacity of the truck,a nd how much space we are going to have. Which poses a problem. Most notably cookware and baking...

You see I admit I FULLY intend to include / carry cast iron cookware in the camper. Which means weight, but it cooks SO Much better than any stainless, or Titanium cookware I have carried. Now as an out of the truck tent camper, for years I have used a 12" deep cast iron dutch oven for doing slow cooking. I.E. an in camp crock pot. No joke. At the state parks, I try to pick lakeside spots, and will use the site grill as a DO table, just flip up the grate )IF available and possible). We do dutch oven slow cooker meals on fishing days, typically saturday. And we do biscuits for breakfast out of that same DO... Petty sure I don't want to lose that function... We do have a Coleman folding oven and know how to use it, but honestly, the dutch oven is a more multi use took for our usage...

Gray water. My current plan is to run a drain line from the sink down out the tailgate, and down to a flexible 5 gallon water carrier. This is only for sink water... I use Camp Suds for the shower, and am not worried about shower water, but food bits from the sink I do want to contain...

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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby joshuag » Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:19 am

Glad you made it okay!

The Hiatus Camper people said they use the polyolefin continuous hinges that are tested for something like 10,000 duty cycles. I think it's in their expedition portal thread.

I found these hinges at mcmaster that seem similar to what they describe
https://www.mcmaster.com/continuous-hinges/plastic-piano-hinges-without-holes/

Wally from the casa-trotter thread shows a pic of using stainless steel piano hinges but mounted with a waterproof membrane of some sort.

Image
-Joshua

I want to build a Tipoon clone foamie but I bought a truck, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.

Tipoon Youtube
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Postal_Dave » Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:47 am

When I built my camper, I didn't want to pay for a hurricane hinge. However, I knew that a cheap piano hinge wouldn't keep water out. Here is a little trick I used, and it worked. But you can take it or leave it.

Call up you local fire houses and see if they have any old fire hoses they want to get rid of. They change them out periodically and they are usually willing to give the old ones away. I took a 6 foot long piece, split it down the middle. It is tough rubber on the inside and canvas on the outside. I painted the outside canvas to protect it from the sun. It is very flexible and hasn't let any water through in 9 years.

For the hinge you are thinking about, the fire hose would be mounted on the outside of the wall. When the roof is unfolded, the rubber would be flat against the hinge and the outside canvas could be painted to match your camper. This should keep any breeze from getting through, even if you use a cheap piano hinge.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby aggie79 » Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:40 am

The "living hinges" have mixed success reports. You may want to read this thread: http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=69017. On the other hand, I've seen many successful reports of people using EPDM, vinyl, rubber from cut up bicycle inner tubes, etc., to seal both piano hinges and hurricane hinges.

Regarding how to seal the lifting roof panels, you may want to take a look at the drawings for the Compact 3 : http://tnttt.com/Design_Library/Compact%203%20Free%20TTT%20Plans.htm. While it is a wedge-shapes design and not rectilinear, you can see how the folding panels overlap and where seals are placed.

Lastly, it is probably sacrilege to post this in the Foamies section, but you may want to take a look at the Northern Lite Traveler build: http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=51991. The builder, Alaska Teardrop, constructed his trailer shell using riveted aluminum square tubing as the framing with a riveted aluminum skin. The result was a very lightweight teardrop trailer.
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