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Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:15 pm
by seanc
Hey everyone,

I started this project three weeks ago and I've been meaning to post something about it here. I've wanted to build a camper for years and stumbling upon the crazy stuff you guys are putting together pushed me over the edge, so THANKS!

Here's deal. The truck is a 1998 toyota tacoma 2.4l. Not powerful. The goal is to have a standing height camper with room to sleep and eat. This thing needs to be LIGHT and CHEAP. I'd been designing this thing in my head for awhile. I tried drawing up plans and learning CAD but gave up pretty quickly. It's really a "design once, measure once, cut once" kind of operation, so adjust your expectations accordingly! :thumbsup:

I had no clue what I'd end up with, I still don't really, but I'm happy with how it's been going. Let's get to some photos!

First day dropped the big bucks at HD

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Building a platform on the truck
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platform is off, truck is out, and it's time to build some walls
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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:29 pm
by seanc
The idea is to have the camper rest on the truck bed rails, with benches at bed rail height, and use the existing truck bed floor as the camper floor. Primarily this is to save weight, but it's also simpler.

There will be a large cabover, but it won't be fully weight bearing, just space to store large/light items.

Started gluing wall panels together. Gorilla glue is crazy stuff. I'm still getting the hang of it.


Here's a wall panel with some shape to it. The beam is a 1 x 6 that will help support the cabover. It's flush mounted into the foam. This was my first time using a router. Awesome tool but wooooow so much foam dust. The four windows in the back I bought from an RV salvage yard. $30 total. They are heeeeeavy, but I like that they are matching (sort of), look professional (kind of), and three of them are sliders.
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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:09 pm
by bonnie
That's pretty neat. I have a Dodge 1500 and have thought of the same sort of thing. I have a lovely teardrop, though, so it's just staying a dream. :)

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:00 pm
by bespurcell
Cool Idea. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:15 pm
by KCStudly
Welcome. No need to lower expectations. These things are whatever we want them to be, so the only thing that matters is that you achieve your own personal expectations and have fun doing it.

If you're happy, we're happy!

We may make suggestions and try to help you find solutions, but in the end you are the one that gets to decide what will work for you.

I'm interested in where you are headed with this. It is always good to see how other people figure things out, and everyone has something to add.

Build on! :thumbsup:

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:45 pm
by seanc
Thanks for the support!

I've spent SO MANY hours browsing the internet for examples of diy truck campers and haven't found anything quite like what I'm building, so I'm really hoping the next guy or gal in my position will stumble upon my build and have a tiny bit more inspiration to just go for it.

Now where were we....

I made some frames for the reclaimed windows out of 1/2 inch birch ply. I'll use the router to flush mount these into the foam.
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Here's a better view of the wall construction. The beam should distribute the weight of the cabover across the entire wall and cantilever on the forwardvertical supports. We'll see... like I said it's not really meant to be weight bearing. The beam/vertical supports will also provide a place to mount a cabinet/countertop.
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I canvased most of the interior wall before I glued them up. They are gorilla glued to plywood on the bottom and a 2x2 on the inside edge.
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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:24 pm
by seanc
Two walls up and fitting the front wall. The "window" in the front wall looks tiiiiiny, but it's actually a little bigger than the rear window in the truck and makes it possible to get between the cab and the camper.

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I flipped the whole thing over to fill some cracks between the foam wall and the plywood. The front wall really stiffens things up! Putting it on its side really plays with your perspective. The exterior width is 6'4".

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I glued in the cabover sections. The rear edge of the cabover rests on the forward wall (hope that makes sense) so it's very strong. The left and right edges are gorillla glued to the wooden beams running lengthwise in the wall. That's obviously not a very strong joint.

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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:32 pm
by seanc
here's the rear wall resting in place. The wood visible in the top of the door opening will be to mount door hinges. behind those wood blocks there is a 1 x 4 flush mounted in the foam running from wall to wall.

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Here's a better view of that support beam

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Every time I put a wall up it is VERY reassuring to feel the structure stiffen up...

I knew before I started the build that making a snug fitting door would be one of the biggest challenges. I cut the door out of foam with wood blocks for the hinges and the door knob/lock. The edges are metal drywall corner bead glued on with Gripper. I'll be using a standard exterior door knob and deadbolt. Probably overkill since you can karate kick through the door... oh well!

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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:41 pm
by Padilen
Nice

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:43 pm
by seanc
I used used 1x2's for most of the beams in the roof. The middle (highest) section of the roof I used 2x2's flush mounted in the foam to maximize headroom. I think when the camper is mounted ill have about 1" of head room :lol:

I used two 1x4's for beams in the front cabover area. The 1x2's have a lot of give to them and I wanted something sturdier that would minimize flexing when the truck is moving at highway speeds. I'm hoping the truck can still move at highway speeds!! :frightened:

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I love a good curved roof!

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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:52 pm
by seanc
I have a love hate relationship with sanding foam. I love how easy you can take it down with some nice 60 grit, but I hate the dust! You definitely don't get any kind of pleasant smell like you do when working with wood. It's all worth it when you finish a nice corner!

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Sometime you have to get reeeeal creative with clamping haha. Dont try this at home!

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I put the camper on skis and pulled it outside to get a feel for how much light would come through the windows. It's pretty bright inside. I'll be using a 2 x 4 foot 1/4" thick piece of plexi as a skylight. At this point the weight is under 150 lbs (I think) and I can lift every side by myself. That will change with canvas, glue, paint, small counters and reeeally heavy RV windows. If I come in under 400 lbs finished weight this will be a huge success. But at this point if it weighs 800lbs I'll still love it :)

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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:12 pm
by seanc
I used 10 oz home depot drop cloth to canvas the interior walls and ordered 20 yards of 72" #12 duck from big duck canvas for the exterior. I wanted as few seams as possible on the outside.

I originally ordered 12 oz cotton duck, but they screwed up my order and upgraded me to the #12. It is NICE STUFF. A really tight weave, no loose threads, really consistent and smooth. They were also a great company to deal with. I would order from them again

I was really nervous to canvas the sides, but it was a lot easier than I expected. I cut it to length and pinned the top of the canvas to the roof with bamboo skewers. MAde sure it was lined up well and as tight as I could get it before I pinned the top down. Then I rolled the canvas up and set it on the roof while I rolled on titebond II to the entire wall. I dropped the canvas down, stretched it as much as possible and skewered it around the edges/stapled it around the bottom.

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When the canvas was stretched tight I rolled on 50/50 titebond as thick as possible.

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The glue takes quite awhile to set because its 65 degrees with +90% humidity.

The next day I trimmed the edges and cut out the windows. I'm really, really happy with how everything is going so far. I think I could get a truly professional looking product if I wasn't on a tight time schedule.....

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Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:16 pm
by dales133
Looking good

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:20 pm
by tac422
This is looking great !!
Nice job :applause:

Re: Foamie truck camper build!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:05 pm
by pchast
Looking good. :thumbsup: