Truck camper build.

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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Philip » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:43 pm

Poly resin is not something to use. It outgasses for a very long time. Epoxy is the only one to use.

Total Boat is about the cheapest brand of epoxy. It is a lot thicker than most brands. If you want a smooth finish you will need to sand.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:50 am

Philip wrote:Poly resin is not something to use. It outgasses for a very long time. Epoxy is the only one to use.

Total Boat is about the cheapest brand of epoxy. It is a lot thicker than most brands. If you want a smooth finish you will need to sand.



I'm not shy of sanding... I am not looking for show car quality finish, but I don't want to look like a dust bowl refugee either...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:00 pm

Philip wrote:Poly resin is not something to use. It outgasses for a very long time. Epoxy is the only one to use.

Total Boat is about the cheapest brand of epoxy. It is a lot thicker than most brands. If you want a smooth finish you will need to sand.



Just looked up at the availability of this. They have 2 different hardeners for it, there is the slow and fast hardener. Not sure which one to use.

At the gallon size, they seem to go for about $125.00 / kit. How much resin would a typical foamie, let's say a teardrop, use?
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Philip » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:44 am

If you look at my 1st camper build. I used about 1.5 gallons. That was just the outside, no inside glass work. The glass work inside the lower frame work was a gallon. That was a practice area. Having never done epoxy glass work before I needed somewhere to practice.

The fast hardener is what you want. In a 70 degree shop you have about 30 minutes work time. It the temps are higher use the slow hardener.

Do not use a roller to apply this epoxy on the first coat. It is thick. It will roll the fiberglass up on the roller. Just use a brush to apply. Sand to smooth as you can get. Then apply next coat with a squeegee.

My camper was outside width of 7'4", long was 7'4", camper body was 4' tall. The top was 8" tall
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:14 pm

Philip wrote:If you look at my 1st camper build. I used about 1.5 gallons. That was just the outside, no inside glass work. The glass work inside the lower frame work was a gallon. That was a practice area. Having never done epoxy glass work before I needed somewhere to practice.

The fast hardener is what you want. In a 70 degree shop you have about 30 minutes work time. It the temps are higher use the slow hardener.

Do not use a roller to apply this epoxy on the first coat. It is thick. It will roll the fiberglass up on the roller. Just use a brush to apply. Sand to smooth as you can get. Then apply next coat with a squeegee.

My camper was outside width of 7'4", long was 7'4", camper body was 4' tall. The top was 8" tall


So a W.A.G. for resin for my camper design, which is effectively 82" wide, 10' long, and 54" tall from bedrail to roof would be approx 6 gallons, for inside and outside. Fair enough.

That helps me figure out required budget of the build.

It looks like the OTI Epoxy Fiberglass Resin 1.5gallon kit with hardener is about 2/3 the price of the Total Marine kit. So 4 @ 89.99 to get 6 gallons of resin / hardener.

Still considerably more than PMF, but it alleviates the concerns I have with PMF durability, and poly resin offgassing.

I need to figure on stringers / reinforcing members to hold things like windows, the AC, door, attachment points for the awnings and support members for the ceiling and overcab storage area. Most specifically, what sort of wood to use, and how to properly treat it to prevent water intrusion and rot.

I have to apologize ahead of time, I probably tend to overdesign and overanalyze things. I only want to do this project once and be done with it, not have an ongoing maintenance headache, or regrets for not doing this or that...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby Philip » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:41 am

I would suggest rethinking the hard mounted A/C. Any type of A/C mounted into a trailer or truck might give off enough vibrations and sound to keep you awake. The A/C setting on the ground attached by hoses will keep those type of vibrations out of the sleeping area.

The only place you will need wood is for mounting points. Window opening, door opening, bed mounting rail, cab overhang area. With glass you are putting a hard shell around the foam. That will provide all the stiffness you need in the most part.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby GPW » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:01 am

small QUOTE : “ the concerns I have with PMF durability” ... DB, 6+ years in the southern Louisiana Sun and rain … still in great shape … :thumbsup:
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Wed Oct 16, 2019 2:24 pm

GPW wrote:small QUOTE : “ the concerns I have with PMF durability” ... DB, 6+ years in the southern Louisiana Sun and rain … still in great shape … :thumbsup:


What kind of load / use are you putting it to? My intended use is off road and while I doubt the PMF will support my weight, ever, I will be having the overcab to support misc gear such as chairs, sleeping bags etc...
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:45 pm

dbhosttexas wrote:
GPW wrote:small QUOTE : “ the concerns I have with PMF durability” ... DB, 6+ years in the southern Louisiana Sun and rain … still in great shape … :thumbsup:


What kind of load / use are you putting it to? My intended use is off road and while I doubt the PMF will support my weight, ever, I will be having the overcab to support misc gear such as chairs, sleeping bags etc...


Okay, I'm lost again. PMF or fiberglass over foam is not a structural element as is steel, aluminum or wood. These do not compare. As for a overhang supporting weight, I would not rely on either alone. As for over foam we're dealing with esthetics', not structural weight.

What I found in a foam build was adding my 1/4" plywood gave it so much strength. As far as holding body weight over the cab, probably not. That would take additional elements. Some sort of skelton framng.

The choice of PMF or fiberglass is not one of structural on a supporting cargo or bodies, yet one of cosmetic's and final look. Both will support snow, wind or rain.

Are you still thinking of building with foam? If so I'd think the flexibility of the foam compared to the skin material. Do you really want a hard skin on a flexible base?
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby wysedav » Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:25 pm

For epoxy help I'd do some research into strip canoe or kayak building. They are experts on techniques for laying down epoxy and fiberglass with minimal/no sanding. There are many videos. I'd get the slow hardener if I were you. The trick is to make small batches, pour it onto the glass and spread it tight with the squeegee. You don't want any extra resin, after it hardens, you should be able to feel the weave. Second coat fills the weave. If you get runs on the vertical surfaces use a razor blade to scrape them, don't sand. Do the scraping as soon as it's hard enough, so the job isn't too hard.

Good Luck
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:37 pm

RJ Howell wrote:
dbhosttexas wrote:
GPW wrote:small QUOTE : “ the concerns I have with PMF durability” ... DB, 6+ years in the southern Louisiana Sun and rain … still in great shape … :thumbsup:


What kind of load / use are you putting it to? My intended use is off road and while I doubt the PMF will support my weight, ever, I will be having the overcab to support misc gear such as chairs, sleeping bags etc...


Okay, I'm lost again. PMF or fiberglass over foam is not a structural element as is steel, aluminum or wood. These do not compare. As for a overhang supporting weight, I would not rely on either alone. As for over foam we're dealing with esthetics', not structural weight.

What I found in a foam build was adding my 1/4" plywood gave it so much strength. As far as holding body weight over the cab, probably not. That would take additional elements. Some sort of skelton framng.

The choice of PMF or fiberglass is not one of structural on a supporting cargo or bodies, yet one of cosmetic's and final look. Both will support snow, wind or rain.

Are you still thinking of building with foam? If so I'd think the flexibility of the foam compared to the skin material. Do you really want a hard skin on a flexible base?


I need to dig up the specs on it, but I know that properly resined fiberglass cured will bear a considerable load and is structural in nature. You see this quite often with fiberglass over foam boat building, but you ALSO tend to see a lot of wood stringers, a skeletal structure in fiberglass / no foam boat construction.

I'm seeing more and more info on the builds, and mind you, part of this project will have to be, because I am married, met with the aesthetic approval of my wife. That is going to be the tough nut to crack for sure... We are painting the living room and she is driving me nuts over paint drips...

Just how flexible is foam once it is bonded to the PMF or Fiberglass skin?

Without a doubt, as the questions get raised, and answered, the design changes... And I am leaning toward the wood / plywood rib skeleton framing, with foam and ? skin over it...

I am not talking about using the overcab as a sleeper by any means, rather as a storage cabinet for things that come out in camp. Bedding, clothing etc... I may house the campers electrical there so support for a small battery bank and inverter would be a good idea...

I do hope I am not confusing too many folks with my confusion. I am just trying to sort it all out.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:50 pm

Haven't heard from ya for a bit.. All good on the Home Front?

Being from the Nor'east, I know I have some minor frame issues and do believe at some point I will need to remove the bed and do some repairs. And of course rebuilding the bed. Now I'm thinking why even put the bed back on? The Sleeper cap went so well and learned so much from it I can see pushing it quite a bit further. I'm now thinking a frame up build. Why not? Add 10" (+-) to each side and I'd have a pretty nice space to work with!

I mention this because you're still in design/planning stage. Something you may wish to consider.

Hope all is well!
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:11 am

Thought I'd drop another note by ya.. Curious how you're coming along?
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby dbhosttexas » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:17 am

RJ Howell wrote:Thought I'd drop another note by ya.. Curious how you're coming along?


I'm back, sorry I got sidetracked with extended family issues, then the rona...

Since we had our last installment, I changed jobs, and haven't put much time into the actual build. So far we have.

Truck, still sitting where it was.
Fresh 5.4L 3V engine being saved up for, I lost the AC in my house, in Texas, so that took a priority.
LOTS of research into the designs, and processes needed.

I have been trying and failing to work in sketchup. The muse just won't cooperate right now. BUT I have an overall idea of what I want, and the dimensions, once I get them straight with a tape measure.

The width of the cap will extend beyond the sides of the bed like a slide in camper, to accomodate the length of a king size mattress.

I have made a deal witha friend that is a sewer, they will sew up custom covers for splitting a completely memory foam lengthwise into 3 sections . Basically we are going to make a king size memory foam trifold mattess / couch, with one fold the bottom. I have a king size memory foam, 8" thick mattress I got as a factory second for next to nothing. The cover is screwy, the memory foam is perfect, and there are no internal mechanical stuff like springs in this. It's just a block of foam. Like the mattress in a bag things.

I found a youtube video of a guy that build a plywood camper for his F150, with a rear slide so the camper expands witht he tailgate down, but fits with the tailgate up. His build is definately rougher than I can get away with, my wife would NOT go for something built like a hunting blind, but the slide is reallya great idea... https://youtu.be/VVlgQRYFepA

I DO plan on including some wooden framing, most notably to provide support for the walls, back wall where the door and AC will be, and the overcab. Let me explain the overcab though.

WIthout the slide extended, the camper will be a total of 8' long, and this is over a 6.5' bed truck. The overcab is planned to be 18" externally, and will require enough strength to support basic cabinetry. My kitchen gear should likely go up here.

Under the platform for the bed / sofa will be 4 7 gallon aqua tainers as my fresh water supply. Still trying to figure out the pickup for them. WIll probably go with a single pickup that I can move container to container. A shelf / sink countertop sort of rig to provide for an indoor kitchen IN A PINCH. I plan on mostly cooking outdoors, but want the ability to do so indoors should the need present itself as it often does when my wife and I go camping...

General camp gear such as lanterns, shower enclosure, chairs etc... can be stowed in the truck cab. (no kids)... Generator and gas gans LOCKED to a hitch haul.

Interior will be trimmed out with lightweight T&G pine wainscotting material. Somewhat similar to what this lady did in er F150 cap camper build... https://youtu.be/gndCVIIN7IE I have LOTS of the wainscotting left over from a bathroom remodel project where I massively misjudged the amount of material needed... Oops...

Anyway, I am needing to figure out lower cabinetry that will allow me to slide in / out, and provide storage.

Like I mentioned elswhere, the gray water containment will be simply a drain hose out of the truck to a 5 gallon container that will be taken in to dump. I have some serious back issues, so I use one of those folding salespeople dollies that helps my back survive dumping a 5 gallon gray, and 5 gallon black (port o potty) tanks...

I do not plan on using propane anywhere, my camp appliances are Coleman fuel / Dual fuel and can run on unleaded gasoline. I want to keep single fuel source for the truck, appliances, and generator if at all possible.
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Re: Truck camper build.

Postby RJ Howell » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:35 am

You posted:

Holy cheese whiz Batman!

See that is the sort of build I WANT to do, but SWMBO still thinks my now 16 year old F150 should be a shiny street driver. I don't think she quite understands...

Her requirements are actually a HUGE part of why I am needing to do a cap build instead of an overlander.

I'm slowly working on her for that. I think once we get her a nice new(er) SUV, she will relax a bit on the truck...

Should I get the go ahead for an overlander build, here are the big things I want to do design wise.


#1. Complete the base truck build out. This means swapping the Rancho coils for Moog HD springs to get the nose out of the weeds, Getting my body shop BIL to trim the back sides of the fenders so rubbing with the 35x12.50/17 LTs is no longer an issue at full turn / compression. 4:56 gears, LS up front, selectable locker out back, fresh engine, and make sure everything is sealed up blah blah blah. You get the idea... I only have 2.5" of lift. And want to keep it that way. I am overlanding, not rock crawling. Any terrain that will require more lift and tire, will be too risky with a camper on the back, and the length of the rig etc...
#2. The overcab sleeper would be designed, and the width of the whole thing would accomodate a king size bed in the overcab. And it MUST support a lot of weight. Part of the reason behind travel is weight loss. I don't know why, but I lose weight when I travel. But as it is, neither my wife nor I are in a good weight range and need the camper to support us...
#3. The pop up would be thickly insullated. A huge part o the reason for going with foam construction is the insulation value. I camp / travel where it is HOT. I remember my Dad had a Starcraft pop up camper in the 1980s that was a hard side pop up. I am considering a design like that, but need to consider how to insulate the hinges etc...
#4. Dedicated storage, maybe lockable roto packs on the outside, for at least 10 gallons of fuel for the truck, generator and appliances.
#5. 5K BTU window unit AC in the back wall, so the door would be on one side instead of the center. Maybe... If I can source an AC narrow enough maybe?
#6. I am planning on using a Coleman dual fuel stove / appliances. I need to get a cold winter to test my ancient Coleman Catalytic heaters on Regular Unleaded Gas. May gum up the wick, may not. Need to test. It was free anyway so... And I don't necessarily have an issue with using Coleman Fuel / Naptha if I have to. My travels will take me accross the US and Canada (plenty of Coleman Fuel at Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, etc...) and Mexico (most general hardware type stores carry Naptha in 4 liter cans for stove use and paint stripping... I am just not wanting to go with Propane. But I digress...
#7. At least 28 gallon fresh water capacity. My black tank is limited to 5 gallons (port o potty) But I can extend that somewhat I.E. I am not too shy to dig a cat hole and poop in the ground. My wife is a different story...


Mind you, if I were starting off with a Super Duty, Diesel, I would be shopping for Diesel appliances and calling that part done...

So maybe I can just I dunno. Leave a bunch of salty sand in the current bed to convince my wife we need to get rid of it...

#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..

#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..

#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.

#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?"

#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.

#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!

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.

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