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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Idasho's IdaCamper2.0 now---> Idacamper3.0

Previously I have posted a few photos about a camper project I have been preparing for.

Per request, Im starting a thread to cover the build. Word or caution right now, this project will be SLOW And since this camper rides on my TOW RIG, it is to be in this section :flipoff2:


A little background...

A few years ago my wife and decided we needed a true 4-season truck camper. We had never had a camper before, and the currently available ones that were TRUE 4-season campers were well out of our price range. So we we opted to pick up an old camper, make it work for the time being, and use it, all the while taking notes. It was our test mule.

Enter the 1971 Bell camper. Originally built for a mini truck (toyota/ranger) but fit the bill. Insulated (3/4" worth of fiberglass batt worth), equipped with a sealed vent furnace that didnt use 12v, and CHEAP.



I quickly did a cheap retrofit to fit our flatbed pickup, and we have been using it ever since. And besides many of the old camper blues, it has done awesome.

But again it is just a test mule, and we have been taking notes in order to find the camper that we actually want. And since that camper simply doesnt exist, we are building one from scratch.

I have a very long and drawn out thread over on expo, if you google search "perfect camper frame" youll find it.


Anyhow, after more than a year of designs and planning, this is the resulting cad drawing. And is what Im shooting for. Obviously things will change slightly during the build as I see fit. But this is the gist of it.

So far I have a projected DRY weight of 2200lbs



more to follow...
 

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Looked up your thread on the other site. I think you have some good points on the wood construction. I too can not seem to find a camper that would meet my needs and am thinking of building one. Looking forward to more post on this project.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Main reason for using wood is from an insulation standpoint. It simply doesnt transfer heat/cold as readily as steel or aluminum. It is also incredibly strong and resilient when used correctly. As a result of my research and various design stages, the final frame and skin will be entirely encapsulated with epoxy resign, and all joints glassed. very much the way a "plywood on frame" boat is built.



Today I made the very first steps of actually constructing this thing.

The subframe is under way. It is built out of 1.5x1.5 .065 square tubing. 105lf total, weighing just 135 lbs.

Once finish welded, holes will be drilled and the tubing will be filled with polyurethane expanding foam.

Did I mention Ive had time to prep for this project?? :p



using simply square jigs to keep things in check.





Struggling a bit to get this thin tube to get along with my little wirefeed. It took a bit to get things dialed in enough to meet my approval. Still not happy about it. I hate the thin stuff :shaking:

 

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I don't think it will do much as insulation, as the heat will move through the steel anyway.

no idea on condensation.

plans looks good. will it be removable or permanently attached to the chassis?
 

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IDASHO
When welding thin material with MIG try more of a spot weld technique.
Stack the spots on top of each other 50% overlap.
This allows you to run more heat and get good penetration without melting a hole in the tube.
Try it, on some test parts, it works. I have a ton of hours doing this on .065 and even .035 tube chassis.
Keep in mind that even with the spot technique you’ll need to move around and let the joints cool, just one of the joys of working with .065

I’d do the foam fill too, even if it’s just for condensation.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Some small updates.... I told you this would be slow :shaking:

In the past couple of weeks Ive managed to fabricate my own camper jacks, and finish up the subframe.

Camper jacks are basic boat-winch cable drawn units. And use a simple barrel hinge with a pin for attaching to the camper.

The jacks allow me to set the camper REAL low, so no need for silly saw-horses or anything. Just a few blocks when stored off the truck.

But this is how it looks as of right now, just about ready to prep for paint.





test fit before finalizing the frame. it fits



 

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The jacks and camper frame look nice. A question for you though: How do you keep the jacks from rotating around the barrel pins? Normally, it won't be an issue, but if the camper got bumped or moved (by wind, etc.) I don't see anything to keep the camper and jacks from moving around the barrel pins. It seems like there could be a stability issue the way it is now.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You are absolutely correct.

After having it standing on all fours it was apparent that I need some sort of addition bracing. Ill be modifying the mounts a bit, using the same barrel hinge design to add one diagonal brace for each one. Hopefully it stiffens them up enough.

Right now it really is hard to tell what will be enough, as the frame as it sits weighs less than 150 lbs. It doesnt even lower on the jacks on its own. I have to PUSH it down :homer: Adding 2000 lbs should settle things down, but obviously the more stable the better.

Right now side to side movement isnt a problem. Forward and back causes the jacks to pivot on the mounts, so the braces should fit that.

More to come..... Ive got the frame primed, and have drilled the holes for the expanding foam.

using this stuff.... its a 2-part closed cell foam.

According to my math, two kits should do it :smokin:



FROTH-PAK12 FOAM SEALANT by Dow Chemical Company - 308900 - More Weather stripping at doitbest.com
 

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Sounds like you have a handle on the bracing the jacks. I've had an idea for a custom camper build for some time and I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the jacks and the camper itself.

That foam kit looks interesting, too. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts on the product.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Well, the chassis is filled with foam now....

THAT was messy :shaking:

No pictures of that... :flipoff2:


But the FrothPak worked out great. I did end up needing nearly 2x what I had anticipated, mostly due to working temps. The product specifies an optimum temp of 70+ degrees. Hard to do during an Idaho winter. With the heater I have int he shop, 55 degrees is about normal when temps outside dip below freezing. but it worked, and worked well.


Some more pics... this camper is starting to take shape

Brought home a load of 1x2 VG Fir. Pretty nice stuff





And proof of the foam... it filled VERY well. This end was taped off with masking tape. The filling was done through holes I drilled every 16" in the tubing.

 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Then wood started getting attached to steel :homer:



1/2" ACX plywood was used for the bottom, mainly for protection from punctures when loading/unloading and when stored off the truck.

The rest of the outer skins will be a 1/4" 5-ply mahogany

EVERYTHING wet set using Loctite PL Polyurethane Construction Adhesive



Floor skins and deck test fit...



And finally for today, the epoxy encapsulation starts... This was done with nothing more than a left-over clear garage floor epoxy kit I had sitting on the shelf. It needed to be used up, and this is a great place to use it. Marine grade non-blushing epoxy will be used for the majority of the build.

The UP side of the outer skins for the floor and the overhead, and the DOWN side of the inner skins were coated. I need a bigger "shop" :shaking:



 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
SLOW progress is still progress.... yeah? :shaking:

Some more pics of recent work.

Epoxy...Epoxy.... Epoxy...

I have decided that the key to this projects success is the absolute, no-holds-barred complete encapsilation of everything WOOD.

Needed a structural base for attaching the table. I have lots of plywood scraps, so this is how it went...







upper and lower deck insulated.




Then skinned
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
After that the "bottom plate" for the walls was attached, and everything wood/plywood was epoxied using a left-over garage floor epoxy kit. :homer:
Shit worked GREAT! Im sure the neighbors are still wondering where that wonderful odor was coming from :flipoff2:

The windows I have are expensive as hell, so I wanted a structural box for them to live in. This is what I came up with.





With a 1/4" planed off of the 1x2 Fir, these will be the same thickness as the rest of the framing. So I will just have to attach them to the studs, done.

And since they shipped with the WRONG TRIM RINGS, I had to alter the plans a bit. And no, I couldnt just send them back... I purchased these more than a year ago.

Pimptastic windows.

Dual pane
insulated
lower tip-out

PERFECT!







I then turned my attention to the free door I scored. I will be rebuilding it to work. It is the proper width, but is much too tall. 6'6" tall :confused:

Since the frame is welded alloy, Ill have to take it to the local machine shop to be shortened. beyond that, it will be rebuild using the same plywood on frame technique that the camper will use.






Styrofoam and 1x2s. Staples, no glue, no sealant. No wonder campers fall apart.


Progress to be made!
 
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