Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Design & Construction of anything that's not a teardrop e.g. Grasshoppers or Sunspots

Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Fri May 20, 2022 5:38 am

Hello all,

Completed a 6' x 9' "squaredrop" camper about six weeks ago. I think the design is a bit unusual in that it's actually got a bathroom with flush toilet, sink and shower. The "living" area is slightly under 6' x 6' and the bathroom is roughly 5' x 3' (2' at the floor then bumps out). Headroom is 4'.

The bathroom is separated from the living area by a wall and sliding door. The bathroom also has a 9" well in the center for standing with a dome in the roof which gives roughly 5'8" of standing room (but only dead center). It also has a bench.

It's got AC electric and water hookups. Also has a 12v battery, inverter, water pump, USB charger for off-grid. The camper sits on a Lowes utility trailer with a 4' x 6' bed and can be removed. I didn't buy the trailer for this build.

So far I've used it six nights, four nights in campgrounds and two nights off-grid (two nights with my wife), and I'm pretty happy with it. My main reason for having it is going to events called "Adventure Races" where you bike, paddle and trek over a course plotted on a map. Typically these races are several hours drive from where I live and start very early and sometimes end late (they can be 4 to 12 hours or longer).

The bathroom is actually very functional. Nice not having to get out and walk to a messy public restroom - especially when it's cold and rainy. It's got a traditional holding tank setup and flush toilet.

Build cost, not including trailer, was north of 2k but less than 3k. I may add up the costs at some point.

I built a website with some photos and build info (it looks like a commercial site but I don't plan on selling these):

https://basecampr3.godaddysites.com/

Mark

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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby QueticoBill » Fri May 20, 2022 5:51 am

Welcome! I like your overview and assessment and what you would (will?) do next time. Very instructive.
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby printer » Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:33 pm

I need to steal some ideas from you. like the idea of a bathroom, need a shower.
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Spotman » Fri Jun 24, 2022 3:08 pm

Good ideas. What part of Virginia you from? The Beach here for me.


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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby JasenC » Fri Jun 24, 2022 4:57 pm

FOWL!!!

Hold on now, you can't tell us you have a 3/4 bath and not show any pictures.

Come on man :lol:

I plan a hospital style curtain if the weathers bad and I need to drag the chem toilet inside for she who must be obeyed.
I'll be done when I'm finished, if that's not fast enough, take a number.

Build Thread https://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=74269
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Fri Jun 24, 2022 6:45 pm

I'm actually from the "other" beach, Colonial Beach, Virginia


Spotman wrote:Good ideas. What part of Virginia you from? The Beach here for me.


Bob 8)
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Fri Jun 24, 2022 6:48 pm

Hey Jasen

Take a look at the link: https://basecampr3.godaddysites.com/

There are a few photos of the (expansive) bathroom ;) Definitely worth the effort and very usable. My wife and I are fairly petite so it would have to be scaled up a bit for larger folks.

JasenC wrote:FOWL!!!

Hold on now, you can't tell us you have a 3/4 bath and not show any pictures.

Come on man :lol:

I plan a hospital style curtain if the weathers bad and I need to drag the chem toilet inside for she who must be obeyed.
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby JasenC » Fri Jun 24, 2022 7:41 pm

That's awesome Mark, nice camper you built.
I'll be done when I'm finished, if that's not fast enough, take a number.

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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby rjgimp » Tue Jun 28, 2022 1:43 am

NICE! I love the dome on top, I presume for the turret gunner.... Desperate times call for desperate measures.
:frightened: :thumbsup:
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Wed May 10, 2023 5:10 pm

Thanks! I've actually completely redesigned it and rebuilt it. Same concept. Website below. It was 6 x 9 but now it's only 4 x 9. Bathroom is a bit smaller but more headroom for sleeping. The reason I made it smaller was to try to stick within 4x8' lumber, foam and FRP size for an easier build (and less chance of leaks). Also it's much lighter so is much easier to tow with my Honda CRV 4 cylinder.

The walls are FRP outside, foam and 1/2"x2" wood frame core, and 1/4" ply on the inside. Naturally, the foam didn't adhere properly to the outside so it bubbles in the sun. Yep, I read about FRP and still went ahead with it. Don't mind the bubbles. Added a propane hot water heater (off grid, uses a few D batteries). The inside is also much nicer. Works well for one person. I've spent three nights in it. Will be camping with my wife in a couple of weeks so that'll be the test. It will be cozy at night and a challenge to get in and out of the bathroom. We'll see. Luckily we're both on the smaller side.

Check the link below for photos. I'll update it soon.

https://basecampr.godaddysites.com/

Bryllypit wrote:I love the fact...
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Evan » Fri Jun 30, 2023 5:11 pm

Mark Williamson wrote:Thanks! I've actually completely redesigned it and rebuilt it. Same concept. Website below. It was 6 x 9 but now it's only 4 x 9. Bathroom is a bit smaller but more headroom for sleeping. The reason I made it smaller was to try to stick within 4x8' lumber, foam and FRP size for an easier build (and less chance of leaks). Also it's much lighter so is much easier to tow with my Honda CRV 4 cylinder.

The walls are FRP outside, foam and 1/2"x2" wood frame core, and 1/4" ply on the inside. Naturally, the foam didn't adhere properly to the outside so it bubbles in the sun. Yep, I read about FRP and still went ahead with it. Don't mind the bubbles. Added a propane hot water heater (off grid, uses a few D batteries). The inside is also much nicer. Works well for one person. I've spent three nights in it. Will be camping with my wife in a couple of weeks so that'll be the test. It will be cozy at night and a challenge to get in and out of the bathroom. We'll see. Luckily we're both on the smaller side.

Check the link below for photos. I'll update it soon.

https://basecampr.godaddysites.com/

Bryllypit wrote:I love the fact...

I love your build and would love to see more photos. I have some questions:

  1. Do you have any photos of the finished bathroom?
  2. For the 1/2"x2" frame, did you rip 1/2" plywood into 2" strips?
  3. Can you share details on what FRP you used and where you sourced it?
  4. How did the wife test go?
  5. Any details available on the prior iteration? The previously mentioned https://basecampr3.godaddysites.com/ says "coming soon" and doesn't appear to have any details.
I'm considering a build with many similarities. 6' wide by 8-10' long. I want to be able to sleep 2 adults longitudinally with 2 kids across the 6' width that are overhanging the legs and feet of the adults similar to the 6x12 teardrop made by Bend Teardrop. It would also be like your 6x9 in that it would be a stand alone box that sits atop a utility trailer that isn't dedicated to the camper. Needs to be able to pull into my garage (<80" total height).
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Fri Jun 30, 2023 5:46 pm

Hey Evan,

I don't currently have any other photos of the bathroom. Will try to get some decent ones. Such a small space that it's difficult to photograph. Make sure you check out all the photos on this site if you haven't: https://basecampr.godaddysites.com/

For the framing I ripped 2x4s. 1/2" x 2" I believe. Some 2x2". I used FRP from Home Depot or Lowes. Really would not recommend or make sure you bond it very well. Mine bubbles up in the sun where it isn't bonded. I think it didn't stick to the foam. Should have known. I also used caulk and probably didn't get as much coverage as I could have. I've been thinking lately that I should have used fiberboard which is very cheap - $15/sheet - and painted it well - then stored the camper in my garage. The few times it's out in the rain wouldn't soak it enough to damage it. I have another project which is spray painted fiberboard that is actually out in the rain as I write this and is holding up well. That's my cheapskate solution FWIW.

My wife actually did pretty well. It's quite cozy at 4' wide. 6' would be much better. Getting in and out of the bathroom at night is a bit of a trick but do-able. An outside door to the bathroom might be better - especially in decent weather. But the bathroom is very functional. I may find a better solution for the sink which is on one side of the toilet. Maybe fold down in front of the toilet. Also, I currently have the dome over the toilet which really isn't necessary. Might move it to in front of the toilet so we can partially stand before sitting. Have a few inches bump over the toilet should be fine.

The previous iteration probably isn't worth looking at except as a cautionary tale. It was 1/2" plywood with some framing. Ugly on the inside. No insulation. The plywood does make it easier to construct. If you go that route then I'd recommend measuring and cutting very carefully and having a firm idea on the design. Otherwise, like building anything, ill-fitting corners and revisions are a pain.

One thing to note. If you plan on getting this thing off the trailer then plan accordingly and don't think it's an easy task. It's a lot of weight and if not planned, a serious PIA to get on and off. Not sure what the best way to do that is.

If I had a couple of kids I might consider putting a tent on the roof - or a tent next to the camper. Depends on the age of the kids. I think it would be a real space challenge inside. I guess there are other builders who have pulled it off and had it appear workable.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Mark
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Evan » Fri Jun 30, 2023 7:45 pm

I am very undecided on the exterior finish and I have no particular love for FRP, so I'll cross that off my list. I plan to store indoors and don't see a ton of rain, but I don't want to have any concerns about water either. My buddy used aluminum composite material (ACM) panels to skin his trailer and is a fan, but I'm not sure I want to go that route. Maybe plywood and PMF.

Bathroom is not currently on my list of requirements, but it is definitely on my wishlist. More so now that I've seen it done.

I have two ideas on getting it on/off the trailer. The trailer is a 4x8 Harbor Freight folding trailer with a 1200 lb capacity. Approach 1 would be to have the camper sitting high enough so that the trailer can be rolled under it and then lower the camper and secure it. Approach 2 would be somewhat similar but only lifting the front of the camper to match the angle of the deck of the trailer when it is in the tilted position. Either operation is my motivation to limit weight where possible, along with the 1200 lb limit of the trailer itself. Trailer is under 300 lbs so virtually any vehicle would be able to tow the combined weight. I tend to overbuild things in general (never built a trailer), so I'm trying to do some homework to keep weight and material expense to a minimum on this build while achieving my goals. I would like the structure to be able to support at least a little cargo on top (bikes or a cargo basket).

Do you know the weights of your 4x9 or 6x9 setups?

My kids are 7 and 9 and we're not a tall family, so I think the ~68" sleeping length would work for many years still. If I got desperate, maybe I could install a bubble on one or both sides to get a little extra sleeping room in the bunk area, lol. I've heard people do that on Sprinter vans that are tall and sleeping east-west. I'm 5'10" so I'm curious how much length I would need to not be uncomfortable. We do lots tent camping on the ground currently, so that is not out of the question when needed, but I'd like to accommodate everyone as much as possible.

I plan to model the design in 3D and/or mock it up with cardboard at full scale. I'll definitely do some calcs on the weight before starting any construction.

Thanks for the quick response, info and feedback.
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby Mark Williamson » Sat Jul 01, 2023 8:27 am

I don't know the weight of either of my builds. You lucked out with the Harbor Freight. They were completely sold out in my area so I had to go with a Tractor Supply for a lot more money.

I struggled coming up with a solution to get the camper on and off the trailer and finally decided to make it permanent. But it's been done successfully so shouldn't be difficult. Will just take some additional structure depending on how it's lifted, etc.

I think you're on the right track. Design, design, design then build. I tend to do a little sketch and go for it and it never quite works out like I picture it.
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Re: Squaredrop, 6'x9' w/ bathroom

Postby AeroNautiCal » Fri Jul 05, 2024 4:23 pm

That's a really nice, modern looking camper, and the bathroom makes it particularly interesting.

I love the full width front window which folds down, it really gives phenomenal ventilation and the feeling of being in the open whilst being in the nice, dry interior.
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