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My $100 Skamper build

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#1 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 08:03 PM

Hey everyone, first post on here, and a long one at that, this is a documentation of the past month or so of my life and to the present day of my Skamper 072s rebuild that I picked up for a cool $100, and proceeded to dump much more then that into it.


So let me preface this with a bit of a Disclaimer, while I do have skill sets and the great internet to learn tips and tricks, as well as being a mechanic, I am in no way a master craftsmen or carpenter.  I do attempt to do things the right way or as best I can for what I have on hand, but sometimes in the end "good enough/probably ok" engineering is just fine in my book for most things.  That being said, enjoy the ride, as its been a hell of a roller coaster for me  :D


Chapter 1: The hunt/obsession begins...


Over the past few years my camping setup had started out as a humble tarp thrown over a tent pole in the back of my old 95 Nissan hardbody, to a pretty slick yet time consuming truck tent setup that moved from that truck to my Tacoma.  But after a few years of that I longed for something I wouldn't have to take so much time to setup, and something I wouldn't have to belly crawl in and out of, I liked the looks of the pop up/cab over campers, so the hunt was on.


I had been eyeing this site and others trying to find as much info as I could to get me a pop up truck camper that would fit my Tacoma.  I would have loved to pick up a FWC, but with a cheapskate and anything can be fixed mentality, those were too far out of my budget, and I wanted something I could build to my liking.  


After much research, I had my eyes out looking for an old Skamper, Sunlite, or even an old FWC that I could make work.  I liked the looks of the Skamper 060s and the 072s as they seemed to fit the Tacoma pretty well and weren't too heavy for it's light payload capabilities.  Over the past year, I got close to picking up a Viking that would prop be too big for my truck weight wise, an overpriced Sunlite, a leaky and barren 060, and a rough but promising 072s, but those weren't "meant to be".  I was getting a bit discouraged as I started to see POS campers going for way more then they were worth (4500 for a beat 060 in Norcal, but to my surprise was sold the day it listed), which had me worried that I may have missed the boat and now people my age were getting wise to these old campers and racking up the demand/prices.


That was until my buddy sent me an offer up ad for this beauty for $100.









I looked at it and laughed, say F* that that's way too far gone.  But my mind started churning, and I thought hell lets see whats up with it.  So I messaged the woman, just trying to get a feel for it.  The canvas was my biggest concern (Should have been my least), she said canvas was good, just the windows and screen were all gone.  I was still very meh about it, but talking with my brother he pushed me to just go get the thing, its $100!  Worst case I could clean it up and prob sell it for at least 2-300.


Well the thing didn't have jacks, so after much guilt tripping, I got a few of my buddies and myself to heave this thing off the woman's S10 onto my tacoma, and brought her home




Chapter 2 next, I have a lot to post, and pretty much mirroring this thread over on expedition portal too   :huh:

Edited by bikerbill2021, 03 June 2018 - 08:05 PM.

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#2 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 08:25 PM

Chapter 2:  Getting a game plan/ removing all the rot and scorpions 


So I got it back to my house late at night, pretty much gave the woman the money, hucked it onto my truck with my friends, who all heckled me for it, and didn't look back.  In my mind I wasn't too worried about what the outcome would be, either I would fix it, or I wouldn't, simple.  


So the next morning I started going through it.  The woman, while very nice, seemed to have been living out of it in some way, and it def showed in the sense of grime and smell, this thing reeked.  She states she got it for free from a friend, saying the previous owners had left it at a rental property on the desert ground for years, so who knows what was living inside of it.  She had left alot of her belongings in the upper storage bins, but b/c the top was ratchet strapped down, she said she'd come get her stuff at a later date.  So first thing I did was remove all of her belongings, gently placed them in bags, set them aside, then proceed to declare chemical cleaner warfare on the inside of the thing.























So once again, I called on some different friends to help me get it off my truck and onto some furniture dollies so I could wheel it into my garage (HOA would have a field day with that bad boy sitting in my drive way), more heckling, more heaving, but I got it where I wanted it.  It fit perfectly in my garage with it popped up, which was exactly what I wanted and wasn't sure would work until I had it in there, awesome!  






It proceed to stink up my garage for quite some time, very BO/dead animal kind of smell, but at least I had it, and the tear down began.

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#3 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 08:48 PM

Chapter 3:  The tear down/ poop hole??


So, the tear down.  First thing I did was get the canvas down and tear that rotted/mangled roof off.  After much cursing due to the HECO system being F*ed up and not locking properly, resulting in the whole roof slamming on my head several times, I threw that thing off to the side.  You can see how rotted the floor is, as well as, as my friends named it, the "poop hole" in the back left of the camper.  I dont know what that is, but someone at some point cut a hole and chiseled out the aluminum sheeting below it for some reason, but the running gag is it was used as a make shift toilet.  Gross either way, and I def wore gloves for the majority of this build, but I didn't let it hinder me. 


The next thing I did was tackle cleaning that canvas and giving it a once over.  After spending a Sunday morning scrubbing the bejesus out of it/pressure washing it, I got her nice and clean.  It was clear that I would need to figure out the window/screen problem, but overall, it was in useable shape, and in cleaning it, I even got it feel a bit more supple and not desert rotted, plus got rid of what looked like black mold etc














The infamous "poop hole"




The YZ keeping watch















getting better!





all done, now she dries





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#4 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 09:29 PM

Chapter 4:  The roof rebuild


So the roof was my biggest worry in the build for several reasons.  The aluminum skin was torn so I wasn't sure if I would be able to fix it, I was missing two of the side trims which I knew and found out to be impossible to find, and just a general "how the F* am I going to fix this".   Plus, in my stupidity/unawareness, I had the roof mechanism down when I was unbolting the HECO system from the back, well those back braces are torsioned, leading to alot of the problems these old Skampers have.  Thankfully my hand wasn't near it, but I proceeded to not once, but twice blow the bracket through the roof skin, weeee more work!  Oh well, but thanks to the good ol' internet, I got some ideas that I implemented into my roof, and was able to make it stronger and all around better then the original design in my eyes, as well as complete over kill in water tightness, I wanted to be able to use the roof as a boat if need be, as I knew the canvas would not be completely water tight.


I'll give a quick breakdown of what I did, then let the pics do the rest.  I stripped down the roof to the aluminum skin to get a good base, then I proceeded to rivet and seal an aluminum sheet to the gash.  From there, I laid down that cheapy roof flashing/knock off sound deadening from lowes on the repaired panel and all other holes of the roof using a wall paper roller.  Next, I proceed to build the wooden frame for the top and side pieces, and boxed the roof back together with some corner braces.  From here, I implemented what I saw on an 080 build, and ran some aluminum tubing to add strength while still trying to keep the weight down.  Laid down some styrofoam insulation, ran the wires for the lights and fan, laid down some white paneling for the headliner, added a bigger vent with a fan, and new LED light fixtures.


Since I was missing those trim pieces for the side, and since they also acted as the mounting points for the roof clamps, I had to come up with something else.  So I decided I would have to move the clamps up on the body and make my own grab points similar to other pop ups (more on the later) and just used some simple roof angle.  Taped up all the seams/rivets/bolt holes with that eternabond tape (great stuff), and laid down some of that RV white rubberized roof paint.  The roof caps, as some of you know, were a problem, but thankfully, canvasreplacements.com had some for the hallmark campers, while not a direct fit, I made them work, more on those later


















Forgive my ghetto weights, I threw everything I could on top while the glue cured








more weights, I used quite a bit of that Gorilla glue on this build, great stuff


















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#5 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 09:42 PM

Chapter 6:  The floor/poop hole revisited


So now that the roof was ready to be put on, I wanted to tackle the entire interior before putting it back on.  The next big obstacle was the floor, mainly for the fact that i did not have jacks to lift the thing up and work underneath.  But I said the hell with it, and just tipped it on its side very gently, no issues, nice and solid.  Tore out the nasty old floor and poop hole panel, and added thicker wood with a new frame to fit my truck a bit better.  Sealed it with some oil based paint off the oops!  shelf at home depot, job done. 
















nasty old, scorpion/spider invested floor board/rails




This was at the end of the wiring/cables


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#6 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 09:52 PM

Chapter 7: Paint 


Next was rebuilding the HECO system, plugging up all the holes, cutting new holes for the bed reach through and moving the small doors forward so I could access the turnbuckles, adding some meaty eyelets for said turnbuckles, adding a new front window, and paint!  


I wanted this to be very simple, just a spot for my cooler, stove, and a simple storage area, function over form is the entire thought process of this build!  















someone at some point attempted to restore this thing, hence the missing windows and half painted look to it in early pics, as well as "overspray" for lack of a better term of their painting attempt, oh well, it looks good to me either way

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#7 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 10:03 PM

Chapter 8:  Roof back on and canvas window repair


Jumping around here a bit, but me and a friend wrestled the roof gently back onto it.  Before I did this, as per recommendation of others and issues with the torsion system of the roof lifting mechanism destroying the roof over time, I bolted the torsion brackets together to a simple piece of 6 ft long steel bar that runs along the back of the roof panel to take some of the stress off the roof, and aid in raising/lowering, works great!  


After that, I enlisted the same friend, whom I owe quite a bit to now, to help me hand stitch some new window material into the canvas.  Originally I tried to get someone to stitch the windows/screens back into off the camper, but everyone said that the machine would destroy it, you need a new one blah blah, so I said F* it and did it this way.  Trust me, this SUCKED, it took us prob close to 10 hours, but I now have functioning zipper windows.  I added some shoe goo as per recommendation to the seams, and waterproofed the whole thing with that shoe spray stuff.   I live in a dry climate and camp in similar climates, so I'm not all that worried about rain intrusion, If I can get another 2 years or so out of it, Id be stoked, as Ill prob put a new canvas on it at some point.  The screens will be another day, I ain't going through that or putting someone else through that again lol










again, function over form!  No where near perfect, but it'll do for me. 

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#8 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 10:08 PM

Chapter 9:  Finishing (major) touches


Almost there, laid down some of that sticky backed floor tile, added some carpet a friend had from his remodel to the sleeping platform/head basher, and wired up the lights/fan.  















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#9 bikerbill2021



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Posted 03 June 2018 - 10:29 PM

Chapter 10:  Final build chapter/present 


So thats more or less it guys!  My goal was to get her usable before the annual memorial day camping trip, and I pretty much did everything you see in about 25 days or so, working until 2 am some nights, but it was well worth it.  This thing was a whole new level of comfort, it was awesome!  And the Tacoma, while a lil weighed down with the trailer on it, handled it like a champ, drove around for about a week with the camper on it as I waited for my jacks to show up.  


From here on will be present day stuff, I wanted to bring it all up to date so people could see that its possible to bring something as bad as this beat old Skamper back from the grave and still enjoy it!  I learned a lot on the rebuild, it was a lot of fun, and now I have the camper Ive always wanted built to my specs.


Heres some shots from the most recent trip, got another one planned here in a few weeks, as you could prob tell, riding is a big part of my life, so my bikes are usually always with me on camping excursions.












It worked really great, it was warm, cozy, comfy, I found myself just chilling in the door most of the time chatting with my friends, it was awesome.


Getting it off the truck was one of the most stressful things Ive ever done tho.  My jacks showed up, but my driveway is sloped, so I had do all this on the street, had to lift it off and drive my truck out, lower it onto my trailer, back my trailer into the garage, lift it off the trailer, and then lower it onto my dollies.  Sketchy, but it works!  








And just to keep things up to date, today I finished up my shower, couch cushions and curtains.  we'll see how the shower works out next time, I used a shower tent but that thing was a major pain to set up, plus im too tall sadly for it.  The setup I made now is similar to the FWC setup, except I use a bug sprayer with a sink hose kit attached to it, boil up some water, add some cold water, pump it up, boom shower, works great for rinsing off after a long day of riding.
















And thats present day!  Plans for the future are painting the outside white, maybe some new Skamper decals, and an awning, and that will pretty much be it!  Until next time 



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#10 mcgee


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Posted 23 December 2018 - 01:50 AM

I'm new to this forum also and just came across this build you did. You took a lot on by the looks of it for sure. Great job!! 

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