Custom build - 1982 grandby ghost

pods8

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Thornton, CO
Setting up a dedicated thread for this. I'm breathing new life into a project (this first started as an overhaul for a flatbed but I shuttled trucks and now its being reconfigured).

This mostly custom build contains the DNA of a 1982 grandby (I reused the main beam channel) but have otherwise opted to build the majority of it out of fresh aluminum that doesn't have screw holes, staple dents, and adhesive stuck to it.

As we all know these projects can take some time and life gets busy, my goal right now is to make a steady push to ideally get a shell completed. Fingers crossed.

Initial design choices for reference:
-It'll have a queen bed cabover with a king size slide out
-After some consideration I cut down the length of the frame I had fabed up to better fit a 6.75' superduty truck bed.
-Initial interior planning is with a front dinette in mind, primary uses likely would include myself and 2 kids along so it needs to be a wider dinette.
-This is not intended to be a luxury camper with all the bells and whistles, I want a agile warm/dry camper that is comfortable inside with heat and a stove, I'm planning to include a sink but won't die on that hill. The stove and sink are covered SMEV units.
-I am not doing a fixed water tank, it creates needless hassles to fill/drain/winterize. I'll have removable water jugs for fresh and gray water.
-I already have an atwood 8012 furnance so planning to stick with that and propane vs a diesel heater (my truck is gasoline also).
-I have an ARB compressor fridge that I'm using as a baseline but haven't written off getting a built in fridge, it doesn't affect my initial shell build plans so there is time to keep pondering that.

Hmm I think that's the main points.

Here is a mock up of the hypothetical interior that would dimensionally fit.
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YFNJF1U.jpeg


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I cut off the rear wall, made it taller for the Ford bed vs flatbed, and added additional framing while I was at it. Last thing I want to deal with is cracked welds in the future and don't really care if I have a few pounds of extra aluminum in it. :)
KvDLhKK.jpg


Refitting rear wall after cutting 4.5" off the length of the frame. It seems minor but it'll fit more flush with the taillights vs overhanging the bumper a bit. Also this makes better use of 24' aluminum tubes when building the roof.
ZHMElRG.jpg


The camper is in a carport off my garage, I've got the rear wall welded back on. I need to rework the bottom of the front wall still. I need to rework the passenger side a tad for the propane/furnace protrusions. I plan to double up some of the framing on the side and front wall as well before moving onto the floor pack. The original roof is strapped to the frame right now to give the cabover some structure while I'm working on it (till the cabover bottom gets installed) but I plan to build a new one from scratch.
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Used up my argon last night building the lower portion of the front wall (on my bench need to weld it to the frame now), swapped tanks at lunch.

I'll be moving onto the floorpack soon, seems like some folks have utilized round screw in ports rather than square flaps on some builds. I like that idea, any considerations with it to keep in mind? Or just a different way to skin the cat as they say?
 
" round screw in ports rather than square flaps" - I need a picture or a more detailed explanation. Factory used LONG staples.
 
I was talking about the turn buckle access ports. Some folks have used round marine inspection hatches (and similar) that the cover screws off. Vs a sliding panel (old campers) or hinged panel.
 
if your battery is near turn buckle port, it might be nice to have some form of ventilation thru that access.
. also screening is helpful.
 
goinoregon said:
if your battery is near turn buckle port, it might be nice to have some form of ventilation thru that access.
. also screening is helpful.
I’ll be running lithium.

Part of the reason I was thinking the circular ports with twist in covers is I can 3D print them and have a solid insulated cover and also a ring with screening as an accessory.
 
that sounds like a good option. The slide in flaps were "leaky" I rarely take my camper off and don't store stuff behind those access ports, so mine are bolted on, with insulation.
 
Other than doing some grinding on some less than perfect welds I'll clean up and reorganize my limited work area to build the floor pack now.

I got the frame shortened and reconfigured for a slide in version, I also double stacked more 1x1's in numerous areas of the front and sides (already did the rear) to make more torturous paths on any hypothetical weld cracks over the years. I have some more stitch welding I want to do around the upper perimeter but I'll do that after I flip it back over once the floor pack is built. Summer is starting to show up and welding in a carport has me sweating some in the 70s, need to get as much of this aspect done (still have to build the roof) before its 90s or else I'll be getting up in the AM to lay welds. :p

Also the fact I have that old roof strapped to the frame and lifted the frame higher to make lower welds tolerable (keep in mind tig welding is using two hands and foot pedal) has been an annoyance, feel like I'm in some boot camp or something doing high steps through the struts trying not to trip, haha.

oy1xoyC.jpg



Y4NzNod.jpg
 
Pods8,

This is looking like a great project, I just noticed tonight. Love the computer generated drawings, and love your approach to renovating the frame. Also hats off to doing your own tig welding, you’ll definitely get it the way you want it doing your own work, wish I could have had that option.

Anyhow, attaching my build thread, and if I can offer any help, just let me know. My project took some time, and still things needing to be done, and upgrades to be made. But we’re getting to use it and enjoy some very exciting trips and experiences.

Regarding the port holes, I would keep them minimal either geometry you choose, but keep in mind reaching in to attach, adjust, and tighten turn buckles should be considered. Mine take some contorting to get to, and sometimes swallow your arm to the elbow.

Best wishes on your build!

Poky


https://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topic/12116-full-build-reconstructing-a-1981-grandby-into-a-custom-hawk/
 
PokyBro said:
Pods8,

This is looking like a great project, I just noticed tonight. Love the computer generated drawings, and love your approach to renovating the frame. Also hats off to doing your own tig welding, you’ll definitely get it the way you want it doing your own work, wish I could have had that option.

Anyhow, attaching my build thread, and if I can offer any help, just let me know. My project took some time, and still things needing to be done, and upgrades to be made. But we’re getting to use it and enjoy some very exciting trips and experiences.

Regarding the port holes, I would keep them minimal either geometry you choose, but keep in mind reaching in to attach, adjust, and tighten turn buckles should be considered. Mine take some contorting to get to, and sometimes swallow your arm to the elbow.

Best wishes on your build!

Poky


https://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topic/12116-full-build-reconstructing-a-1981-grandby-into-a-custom-hawk/
I've got your thread open in another tab and have been going back through it again (and others) for reminders and brain storming so I can keep moving along and not get stalled in indecision or sourcing materials. One perk is I have a bunch of camper components here from the composite build that didn't go so well, lol. Frankly I wish home sized inverter tig units were more on the scene all those years back when I embarked on that project, if I had spent all the cost and time I put into the composite project on an aluminum unit I'd have had a successful homebuilt truck camper a decade ago (wow been a while, ha!). Being I cut off all that flatbed aluminum I've just been reusing that material and beefing up this frame while its sitting here, I want to overbuild it in areas I've witnessed the old ones fail. IE frame welds. Another area I'll be going overboard on is the floor pack, I'll be sealing it in epoxy (esp. the edges), I may do a thin layer of fiberglass if I have enough left over from the composite project still, basically I don't want this thing rotting out like you see often on old units.

Port holes: I was thinking a ~6" sized hole. Being I'll be printing the cover out I can scale it as needed. The should give ample clearance around my arm to manipulate I think.

Some things rolling around in my head at the moment:
-Roof frame struts, I'm planning to make the center ones 1x2 and taper them down at the ends like the factory (I know the factory ones are 1x1.5"). Does anyone know how much arc is put into the factory struts? Should I even bother with the arc with having 1x2's in the center? I definitely am making the center 3 out of 1x2s but should I make the outer two (before the perimeter) 1x1.5 perhaps, if I can get it, to start tapering down to the sides? I need to go purchase some roof perimeter trim (I think I can get some from phoenix, its slightly different but same concept) to figure out my roof oversizing offset.

-Roofing. One piece with VHB? And if so does that present a problem with the tapers (side to side and front to back)? It seems like factory photos have VHB on the center struts till about 1' from the perimeter, then looks like there is foam on the rest of that framing (?) and then the roof is stapled on the perimeter? I presume the gap in the VHB is because its not needed there but also to allow some contouring for the tapers, foam is likely to dampen flexing? OR do I just go with a textured roof which TMC can do with a locked seam down the middle and screw it on, the texture allowing the roof more contouring... I see pros and cons to both.

-Roof weep holes? Do they still add those to the perimeter trim? I'm debating the merit of them, I presume the idea is any leaks or condensation in that outer framing will drain out when the roof is lowered vs weeping into the camper. Has that ever really been a thing?

-Roof insulation, I see both you an Tim ended up going with batting in the end vs board. Still happy with that decision? I'm not worried about weight but don't want squeaking.

-Siding, I need to go visit TMC and see what options and patters they offer. I'm in debate on smooth vs textured once again here. Smooth will be easier to install everything and seal it up well. Textured is more forgiving to dents/dings visually. I'm not in love with the idea of shooting a bunch of staples into the frame either since it tends to dent the aluminum too (at least the factory thickness, I haven't experimented on the 1/16" stuff I have, I should).

-Sideliner, I see folks referencing about the "new" way the window seams are done but I haven't seen an example yet of what folks are referring to, I got time but that's on my radar to investigate for consideration. One perk on this front is that in the years that have gone by I did a bunch of sewing on backpacks as a side gig, so I have an industrial sewing machine and experience using it. :)

-Lifts, I'll be doing a frame work version (like the EMT method) but I'll be welding up aluminum box tube version. I have some ideas rolling around in my head to experiment with in this area too.

Stuff like that. :)
 
The roof taper is nice for keeping water from pooling. I like the corrugated roof and screws. Less chance of "tin canning". I used rigid sheets for insulation and duct/foil taped it all to provide a real vapor barrier. No squeaking.

6" port holes seems awfully small, at least to this old and inflexible dude.
 
Well I will have some taper for sure just because I'll have center struts at 2" tall so across the width it'll drop to 1" at the perimeter. Question is about an arc the length and it so how much?

The roof taper is nice for keeping water from pooling. I like the corrugated roof and screws. Less chance of "tin canning". I used rigid sheets for insulation and duct/foil taped it all to provide a real vapor barrier. No squeaking.

6" port holes seems awfully small, at least to this old and inflexible dude.


The tin canning, is that wind driven or what? I power browsed your build, I forget did you use EPS (the white with foil) or XPS? Wonder if that makes any noise difference...

I though 6-7" sounded small till I printed some test pieces, its bigger than you'd mentally envision. How large are your factory ports?
 
factory ports look to be 7-8" x 10" or so? My Fasgun Derringers just barely fit in there.

Tin canning is wind driven. I have no issues with it, on my old fashioned screwed down roof

E/XPS? if you mean insulation, 1" (or maybe 1.5"?) rigid pink insulation. Plus some batting stuffed into small cracks, plus reflectix and the tape.
 
I used TMC last summer when I remodeled my camper, both siding and roof. Christine spent a bunch of time with me giving me a masterclass on sheet metal design and implementation. She and Greg are great vendors. I used a combo of smooth white and diamond-plate black for the siding and corrugated white for the roof. Came out really nice. TMC made that possible. If you're in the Denver area, hit me up. I have some tools I could lend.
 
I've started cutting up the plywood flooring and brain is in overdrive in the background thinking ahead about as many things as possible to account for right now because I really want to seal up holes/edges with epoxy before coating. So that means ideally drilling holes for everything I foresee now.
-holes for brackets
-propane ventilation out the bottom of the propane compartment
-turnbuckle ports

Am I forgetting anything off hand? I won't have a water drain since I'm not doing fixed water tank. My camper power connection I'll exit out the front wall I believe so nothing to do with the floorpack. If I'm doing running lights that connection might be out of the floor pack, I need to figure out if I have room to use the 5th wheel prep connection in the bed.

Serat said:
I used TMC last summer when I remodeled my camper, both siding and roof. Christine spent a bunch of time with me giving me a masterclass on sheet metal design and implementation. She and Greg are great vendors. I used a combo of smooth white and diamond-plate black for the siding and corrugated white for the roof. Came out really nice. TMC made that possible. If you're in the Denver area, hit me up. I have some tools I could lend.
In my combing of threads on siding I saw you mention that but didn't find any photos of your finished product, would love to see it. I can send you an email address or phone for text if that is an easier way to photo dump.

Yep I'm in Den area (Thornton). On the tool front I have a stapler (if I go that route) already and tin snips. etc. Are there other useful things?
 
Sounds like you’re getting things done correctly. You might rethink the water drain, but I’m thinking one above the floor pack. It’s a nice option to be able to drain dish water without going out to find a dump spot/station every time you do dishes. When Marty built my Cougar, I asked for Water fill and drain doors, and a shore power connection to be stubbed in. So far, I’ve only run an extension cord from the shore power, but may build it out further at a later date.

I am a big proponent of using the camper/fiver connection. I did that on both F350s.

The epoxy sealing is a great move… Keep up the good work!
 
Wandering Sagebrush said:
Sounds like you’re getting things done correctly. You might rethink the water drain, but I’m thinking one above the floor pack. It’s a nice option to be able to drain dish water without going out to find a dump spot/station every time you do dishes. When Marty built my Cougar, I asked for Water fill and drain doors, and a shore power connection to be stubbed in. So far, I’ve only run an extension cord from the shore power, but may build it out further at a later date.

I am a big proponent of using the camper/fiver connection. I did that on both F350s.

The epoxy sealing is a great move… Keep up the good work!
If I did a gray drain diversion it would be out the side wall, but thanks for that reminder because while I have that part already I forgot to consider a blanking plate for it on my frame which I can add now. :) I was referring to a fresh water drain from a fixed tank (which I won't have). I won't have a water fill because I'll not have a fixed tank (I always found the fixed tank filling a pain in the butt also). I will have a 15A shore power connection on the side somewhere.

The 5re connection at the moment would just be for running lights, I suppose I should review the wire gauges to it though before I dismiss it. I had figured I'd run dedicated power wires via an anderson connection for charging but I'll have a DC-DC charger so I could potentially use the 5re connection if its got reasonable gauge to it already.
 

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