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DIY/Homebuilt Camper - Flatbed Tacoma Doublecab

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#1 ekibike

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 06:55 PM

Hi WTW! My wife, Robin, and I, Zach, have been reading the forum for a while and gotten a lot of great info and inspiration from it. Thanks! 
 
Now it’s our turn - we’re building a camper for our 2014 Tacoma Doublecab and will be documenting the build here. This first post is a bit more about us and the process that led to making the decision to build instead of buy.
 
We’ll be making subsequent posts to keep you all up to date on the build progress. Or, you can follow along on our blog (http://selwyndoeslunch.wordpress.com) and instagram (@selwyndoeslunch). The posts here will mirror the blog. We've also got a build thread on ExPo: http://www.expeditio...acoma-Doublecab
 
We've always loved to travel and camp together and have had many vehicles that have taken us on these adventures. Over the past few years, it became clear we needed another #adventuremobile. One of our big regrets is that we did not bring Faith home with us when we returned from our adventure in New Zealand. Faith was our kitted-out 4x4 Toyota LiteAce van. She had a bed in the back and all of the necessary camping supplies. Last we heard she had been de-registered. We miss her dearly.

 

faith
 
So, thanks to Faith's inspiration and the desire to travel, a camper seemed like a fun idea. In a camper, we could cook and sleep indoors and off the ground. And, thanks to the truck, we could take our new home anywhere we wanted to go. Winning!

After deciding we needed (it's a need, right?) a truck camper, we began looking at our options. Something simple, lightweight, and capable.

We started with the idea of installing a Flippac and building out a custom interior in the bed of our truck. We were for sure going to get the Flippac.

Then, we decided that although the Flippac was great, it wasn't for us (for lots of reasons) and it was either an All Terrain Camper or Four Wheel Camper. In the end, we were for sure going to get an All Terrain Camper (ATC).

After making our final decision, and knowing we were getting an ATC, we ordered a flatbed from Ute Bed to replace the stock bed. Once the bed was installed, the plan was to order a custom flatbed version of ATC's shell camper and build out the interior ourselves.

But, after we ordered the flat bed we were once again overcome with indecision and options. 

Just what we needed, more options for our teeny tiny camper/tent/yurt/whatever. We flip flopped so regularly on what we wanted that we would get agitated anytime the subject arose. Not to mention the logistics (and costs) associated with actually getting the ATC camper from halfway across the country (either we pay tons to ship it, or we drive out to get it and pay tons in travel and time off costs - lose/lose).

Finally, finally. We decided to strike out on our own and build one ourselves. What's the worst that could happen? Right? Here's what we're shooting for:

 

camper For blog   right rear   partial frame exposed   060116
 
camper For blog   left rear   No interior Ply   060116

 

 


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#2 97grandby

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 03:19 AM

I like the idea of building out a shell model but I wouldn't take on building one from scratch. More then anything, I think you will be amazed how much wind will effect you and blow you around the road and lower your mpg and power. Personally I would got with atc and make a fun trip out of picking it up and enjoying the journey. Keeping a low profile and pop up roof will give you much more interior room. But I'm not the one swinging the hammer or driving in it. What ever route you go, I look forward to seeing it come to life!


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#3 GroovyDad

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 04:53 PM

I like the idea of building out a shell model but I wouldn't take on building one from scratch. More then anything, I think you will be amazed how much wind will effect you and blow you around the road and lower your mpg and power. Personally I would got with atc and make a fun trip out of picking it up and enjoying the journey. Keeping a low profile and pop up roof will give you much more interior room. But I'm not the one swinging the hammer or driving in it. What ever route you go, I look forward to seeing it come to life!


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I agree with 97grandby.  The wind is really going to push you around with the high profile and in places like NV the wind can be quite dangerous.

 

Here's a good Consumer Reports article on how even small roof racks can have a big effect on gas mileage.

 

EXAMPLE:

2013 Honda Accord (4-cyl.) MPG @ 65 mph No rack 42 mpg Empty rack 37 mpg Empty rack and wind deflector 35 mpg Rack with two bikes and deflector 27 mpg
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#4 ekibike

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:43 PM

 

I agree with 97grandby.  The wind is really going to push you around with the high profile and in places like NV the wind can be quite dangerous.

 

I like the idea of building out a shell model but I wouldn't take on building one from scratch. More then anything, I think you will be amazed how much wind will effect you and blow you around the road and lower your mpg and power. Personally I would got with atc and make a fun trip out of picking it up and enjoying the journey. Keeping a low profile and pop up roof will give you much more interior room. But I'm not the one swinging the hammer or driving in it. What ever route you go, I look forward to seeing it come to life!

 

You both hit on a big concern of ours. But, in the end, we figured there's only one way to know what it'll be like, and know what we really want in the future. We're expecting to feel side winds the most and are planning to upgrade the read suspension to at least keep things level and hopefully help with handling all around.  

 

Basically, we're approaching this as an experiment and are fully prepared to pull the plug if things get to be unsafe (or just unsafe feeling). 


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#5 ekibike

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:46 PM

The first thing we decided to build was the floor. After visiting literally every hardware store in a 10 mile radius, lumber and supplies were purchased and the first cuts were made for what will become the floor of our tiny truck camper. We used analog and digital plans. 
27205299015_5b63f9952c_z.jpg?w=736
Saturday 5/14:
The plan was to sandwich 1x3s between 1/2″ marine grade plywood* to create the floor. It would require a glued seam to make up the full 6′ x 6′ dimensions. The seams would be perpendicular to each other to increase stability. So, we cut one sheet of ply straight down the middle and lopped off the ends. The build had officially begun.
 
The original plan was to rip 1×6 treated wood into 1×3 pieces and use that as the framing. Treated wood sounded like a good thing. Why wouldn’t we want treated wood. Our little camper was going to be outside and exposed to the elements. Of course we wanted treated wood. But once we got our hands on it we realized we had made an error. It was wet. Real wet. A quick internet search set us straight*. But now the lumber store was closed because it was Saturday after 1pm. Back to the internet. Lowe’s had some cheap furring that was twice as expensive as Kemah Hardware, but kiln dried unlike Home Depot, and available from 6am to 10pm.
 
Sunday 5/15:
Now that we had appropriate lumber in hand, we got to work. After we attached longer framing pieces to the base floor plywood pieces we glued and pressed the seam and attached cross framing. Because we don’t have enormous clamps, to set the glued seam we sandwiched the two pieces of ply between a piece of drilled down wood and a clamped scrap 2×4. We used the truck chains to hold the middle of the seam flat.
26600127213_f455c55b67_z.jpg?w=736
Once the outside framing was attached we created a 3×3 grid of framing. All the framing was glued with construction adhesive, clamped, and screwed with decking screws.
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With the framing complete we hurried to check the fit before heading out to a friend’s graduation celebration.
27171411356_c9cf6a9430_c.jpg
Friday 5/20:
6″ square blocks were cut out of scrap 3/4″ plywood hanging around the garage to use as bolting blocks in the corners of the camper. 3/4″ solid insulation was cut to fit inside the 3×3 grid minus the bolting blocks.
27136262001_65745e1ed4_c.jpg?w=1472
Saturday 5/21:
The bolting blocks were glued and screwed into place and the insulation was glued into the grid. We found here that the 3/4″ solid insulation was slightly taller than our 1x3s, which are supposed to measure 3/4″ on the “1” side. *Turns out that neither of them were actually 3/4″. Figures. That riddle could wait until the next day – we had beer to drink at Texas Beer Refinery’s 2nd anniversary shindig.
27108217392_b3e46c4351_c.jpg?w=1472
Sunday 5/22:
We did our best to squish the insulation down but in the end just glued and screwed down the top pieces of ply and it seemed work out just fine. The location of the bolting blocks and the framing were marked on the outside and the top and bottom labeled. Besides from one side being just so slightly overhanging, the floor was DONE!
27204531175_7cf6b00d3c_c.jpg?w=1472
Supplies:
1/2″ Marine Ply (4′ x 8′) 
1″ x 6″ x 8′ Treated Lumber
3/4″ Polyiso R-Matte Insulation
1 1/4″ Deckmate Deck Screws
Loctite Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive
1″ x 3″ x 8′ Furring 
Scrap 3/4″ Plywood
 
*Lessons Learned:
1) Marine grade ply only refers to the glue used to hold it together, it is not sealed in anyway. It will de-laminate just like any other plywood
2) Treated wood is not a good idea
3) 3/4″ (or any other measurements) doesn’t necessarily mean 3/4″

 


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#6 super doody

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 09:27 PM

I admire your spirit and attitude. Are you guys going to wrap the whole thing in fiber glass? Here is another home built camper:

http://thesupercamper.blogspot.com/


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2003 Tacoma 4X4 - 2007 FWC Eagle shell

2006 Tundra Double Cab - 2015 Hawk - side dinette, silver spur interior


#7 ekibike

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 02:17 PM

Thanks!

We're not going the fiberglass route. We explored that and some other solutions (aluminum, FRP, etc) and decided to stick within our current skills and use plywood and marine paint. The roof will be aluminum flashing overlapped and sealed with roof sealer. We'll see how it goes...

And yes, we've seen the super camper. Very ambitious!

Edited by ekibike, 25 September 2016 - 02:17 PM.

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#8 ekibike

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 07:59 PM

Front and Back Walls
 
We picked windows!
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Post window decision, we had some celebratory beers. We earned it, after all. We’re not very good at decisions some times. We were asked by the cashier if we were building a tiny house. We laughed, looked at each other and then said “Yes! sort of.”
 
During the week we adjusted to the sketchup plans for the back and front walls to include proper window openings and framing.
 
Saturday 5/28:
The walls will be framed by 1x2s and 1x3s sandwiched between two sheets of 1/4″ marine grade plywood. To start we plan to build the walls with the interior ply only. Once they are all done we will build the thing and then add the exterior plywood.
 
We started by cutting the plywood and framing pieces for the back wall. It’s taller than 4 feet so there’s a seam that runs horizontally on the interior braced by 1×3 framing. Because we don’t have enormous clamps, to set the glued seam we sandwiched the two pieces of ply between two scrap pieces of wood and then clamped what we could. A heavy tool box on top of a flat piece of wood helped keep the middle flat.
27260238292_e9536fe38c_c.jpg?w=1468
We were most of the way done when we realized that one of the 1×2 pieces we bought was rather twisted. Begrudgingly, we made a late night run to Lowe’s to pick up a replacement and more framing for the front wall.
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Sunday 5/29:
We finished framing the back wall!
26750789583_9b381433ca_c.jpg?w=1472
We then moved on to the front wall. Same routine. Cut ply and framing, attach with glue and screws.
27081641690_b0e268ec86_c.jpg?w=1472
After a dip in the pool, we moved the floor and both completed walls to the dining room for safe keeping. This process was the most painful of the day.
 
Supplies:
(2) 1/4″ Marine Plywood (Kemah Hardware)
1″ x 2″ x 8′ Furring (Lowe’s)
1″ x 3″ x 8′ Furring (Lowe’s)
Liquid Nails – Heavy Duty (Lowe’s)
1″ Premium Decking Screws (Ace Hardware)
14″ x 21″ Aluminum Mobile Home Windows (Lowe’s $27.00 each)

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#9 GroovyDad

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 11:10 PM

I just saw this and thought of your build.  Maybe you've already seen it, but if not, check it out.

 

RAYZR Camper

 

rayzr.jpg


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"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." —John Muir. http://aimlessroamer.blogspot.com/

 


#10 ekibike

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Posted 13 October 2016 - 02:14 PM

I just saw this and thought of your build.  Maybe you've already seen it, but if not, check it out.

 

RAYZR Camper

 

attachicon.gifrayzr.jpg

 

Thanks for the reminder! We totally forgot to mention this camper in our list of things we looked at before deciding to build our own. It was a big inspiration for our floorplan and pushed us to give our build a shot. If the real camper builders think it's a good idea, what have we got to lose, right? Fingers crossed anyway...


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