I have a passion for camping and love camping projects. I have decided to build a slide on camper for my 4wd ute.
Made all from aluminium to keep it light, when it’s completed it’s going to have a pop up double bed up top, canvas wrap around side awning, full kitchen with gas stove, gas hot water with water storage, triple gel batteries with solar to name a few. I have until Anzac Day 2015 to finish it so here we go!
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Here is my design drawings I drew on Google Sketchup. Nothing is actually built from these drawings it more of a concept to see what fits where and if its going to work.
From here i will have to draw it again in AutoCAD with accurate dimensions and cross-sections for each piece i need to make. More on that later.
This is the skeletal frame. The chassis to what defines the shape and everything is going to be bolted to. Here goes….
Fabricating the skeletal frame to the dimensions in the pic above.
Folding some of the sheet metal external panels.
Attaching the external sheet metal panels
Not a very good pic but here I am installing the floor panel.
Installing the new MSA Drop fridge slide. Had to make a 50mm rising spacer so it can open over the lip of the door way.
Expensive piece of gear but well worth it. Drops the fridge down about 350mm so its easy to access.
Another ute load of folded pieces including the stairs!
Installing the stairs and stair stringers before the back wall panel goes on.
Just a progress shot.
Working out where and how to mount the gas hot water heater.
Hot water heater mounted, stairs and back wall completed.
Front wall and skin also done.
A box was fabricated and welded next to the water heater. This will house the shower hose accessible from the outside.
Machining the receivers for the removable side-winder jacks. More on that later on.
Now to build the stainless steel water tank. I have designed this to be mid-mounted and also act as a divider from the kitchen to the storage area, also keeping the weight over the axle. It will be 155 L.
Water tank temporarily in, just laying things out trying to work out the design of the kitchen.
Devider wall goes in. This is a shot from the storage (drivers) side. When completed this will store the beer esky, camping chairs, clothes compartment and a tool box for 4wd recovery gear and what ever else.
Stainless water tank is finished. Before it goes in, we do a 40PSI compressed air test, leave it for 2 days and see if the gauge moves. After it passes, its then acid washed and polished.
Digital water level sender is mounted before install. A lot easier to do it now.
And the fun begins! $350 worth of brass plumbing fittings. All plumbing in this build will be done with BSP threaded fittings and Auspex system to guarantee no leaks or problems later.
Sorry for the shit night shot but here’s a bit of the plumbing done. Water heater on the left, up top is a 3way valve to direct the hot water to either the external shower compartment (right box) or the kitchen sink/tap. More on that later.
Next is an idea I’ve had for some time, which is a filtered air intake box to supply filtered dust free air into the camper.
This serves multiple reasons. First is while driving, the fans will force fresh air into the camper so it positively pressurizes the cabin making it impossible for dust to enter through any door seals.
Second is the hot water heater. Like any household, they are meant to be mounted outside due to the carbon monoxide produced from the gas burner. The water heater i am using has an exhaust flu on top of the unit. I am going to duct this vent to the dirty air side of the filter unit using a one-way valve so when the unit is running the flap opens exhausting the carbon monoxide to the outside of the camper bypassing the filter. But when the heater is not in use, the flap shuts again keeping the dust out.
So here is my brainchild after birth. Not much to look at yet but its beginning to take shape. The bigger box will house the fans, the hole you can see is for the heater exhaust, the big square hole is for the filter and the other box goes over the filter. Hope this makes sense. The white thing is a water excess drain should the fans suck in rain water.
Here it is installed. I have also added a viewing window into the side, so i can see if the filter is getting dirty or full of dust/rain etc.
View from the outside. Will probably put a louvred vent over that in case come kids fingers get inquisitive.
Next are the batteries. I have here 3 x 100ah deep cycle heavy duty gel batteries. They are made for electric wheelchairs so one could assume they can take a beating.
Here are the batteries all wired up and bolted down. Better to do this now as next the kitchen is going in and will be not as easily accessible.
Next I have cut a hole in the back for the gas bottle storage. Its under the stairs out of the way but must be separated from the cabin in a ventilated area.
After the compartment was made and welded in. Just needs a vented door now. Note all the welds are sanded off. When the campers finished I’m going to paint it.
Now the gas bottle compartment is in I have fitted the water pump on top.
Plumbing for the hot water heater is complete. Just need to connect the exhaust to the top to the filter box and its ready to rock. Note all this plumbing will be covered by the kitchen sink draw slide.
Here’s a screenshot of me designing the pop top on AutoCAD. I’m pretty much starting from scratch with no prior knowledge on how to make it, I’m just going to have a crack and hope for the best. I have tried a few different designs and the only way I can come up with to have the lid lift 1800mm high to stand upstairs is this way.
Here is a newer screenshot of the parts in action. It seems to be working on screen so I guess its time to start fabricating!
Here is a shot of me designing the adjustable sidewinder jacks which will lift the camper off my ute tray. This will enable me to level the camper, set it to the desired height and also free up my ute for 4wding, hunting , collecting firewood and more beer. Because my ute tray is so high (1200 off ground) I am having to go to great lengths to get the jacks to function at this height. More on that later. Here you can see the stainless steel machined shaft I have welded to the top of the jack which will insert into the opposing machined receiver welded to the camper.
Another problem I have came across is the hot water heater’s ignition source. Its normally powdered by two ‘D’ size batteries which are inserted under unit but where I have mounted the unit I won’t be able to access the batteries, not to mention the hassle should the batteries go flat out in the bush somewhere. So I came up with this:
My latest invention to overcome the battery problem. The concept is to make two replica batteries, same dimensions out of nylon which will have button head screws for terminals which will be wired through a 12 to 3v DC regulator and then I can connect the power to the campers battery system. Sounds good in theory, time to give it a crack!
A short time later! done! Now to wire them up.
Here is the finished product! Worked out exactly how I wanted. The top end is tapped M6 then the screw inserted, then the electrical terminal is connected to the base of the screw and fixed with a nut. There is a larger hole in the bottom for the wire and machined out to the size of the insulation i will be adding later. Very happy!
Now its time to start thinking about the electrical system. There are a few circuits to run and I want to know how its going to work, and where the wires are going to go before i even start. I have found it much neater and professional by mapping out what goes where before I hit the tools.
The basic mud map.
The start of the electrical cabinet. The size of this box was determined on how many components are going inside and leaving room for extras.
Here’s me starting the wiring. Bit of a mess at the moment but I’m in the zone!
Here is a little alloy box I fabbed up to house the water level sender unit, and also the switches for the kitchen.
Here it is installed. (below the fire extinguisher) Happy as a pig in shit.
Next is to design a dash for all the electrical goodies. Drawn on AutoCAD i will now send this file to my friends who have a CNC turret punch.
There she is. Easy as that.
Now for a carbon fibre wrap to finish it off.
Here is the dash semi-installed. This dash will display the battery management and power consumption and charge state. Behind the dash will be the fuse box and solar regulator unit. I have also installed an hour meter to know how long the camper has been used for, mostly for resale use i guess. For example I might own it for 2 years but only use it several times.
More wiring pics. I love doing this stuff. Very tedius trying to do it neat but I enjoy it.
Here are the main switches located at the batteries under the stairs. Here you can see the switch on the left which can isolate the power from the solar panels. the right switch isolates the batteries from basically everything for when the camper is not in use, The anderson plug is for external charging from a car charger for example via the dash which displays the rate of charge etc.
Making the pop-top lid.
All the ribs are riveted using things called huck bolts. Basically like an aircraft design, lightweight ribs but stiff.
Getting there. All these pockets will then be packed with 40mm insulation then sheeted on the inside.
Well it works!
Smiles all around. very happy.
Here’s a few photos of where i’m at now (march 2015)
A shot of some of the plumbing we have done. Before it all gets hidden away by the kitchen draw.
A work of art really.
Back to working on the kitchen. Stove draw in with draw front.
Massive draw, This will be for food storage and bits and pieces
Testing the new stove.
Kitchen bench in. The bench top i have decided to use is a piece of 20mm solid nylon like a chopping board. Wont stain or rot and can use it to cut and prepare food like you would anywhere else.
That’s the kitchen basically finished.
Thought id better try it on my truck. First time on, fits like a glove. Its still sitting on wooden sluts in this pic but the suspension is handling it well.
Trying out my new Supapeg awning. Great piece of gear. Cant wait to use it properly.
Back on to working on the roof. Quite a big task building this thing as it needs lots of rib support, all riveted together using huck bolts.
Next was to install the polystyrene insulation. I am using 40mm thick panels glued down.
All gaps filled!
Once the insulating is done, we have glued 1.5mm alloy sheet over that finishing the roof.
Next was to insert the sail track to the freshly sewn custom canvas and attach it to the roof. ( a lot easier doing it up-side down)
Here we are attaching the roof back onto the camper! Even got the boy in on a Saturday!
And here we are! done. The bottom sail track is attached using M5 countersunk bolts in-case it ever has to be removed.
So happy right now. Looks bloody awesome. Plenty of head room and ventilation as there are windows on all sides. Will be so good in summer!
Here I am working out how to fit the solar panels. A great way to spend my Sundays.
Attaching the solar panel brackets
So here we go! Time to put it on!
The dog looks as happy as me.
For the trip i will be using the sidewinder jacks to take the weight off the suspension when I’m parked up. Also to get it nice and level when cooking the eggs in the pan. haha.
As doors are on and working great. just some final adjustments and we’re off!
Electrical management box all done. Solar working a treat.
Beer fridge to the right in front of the storage box i made for storage of tools and recovery gear. To the left i have mounted these storage boxes for clothes and what not.
Now for the big trip. Heading up to Forster for 4-5 days then over the Barrington Tops heading West. No real plans just more of an NSW exploration with no deadlines or destination, just see where we end up and test out the rig.
Made it to Forster, time to unwind and set up the awning!.
Pretty bloody happy to say the least. Only downside so far is my truck ute tray is so high making it difficult to use the kitchen. I packed a milk crate to stand on so we have adapted.
Couldn’t be happier with upstairs. So much room, very airy and spacious. Heaps of head room and a nice bed-side passage to walk down or store clothes or whatever.
Next i have just added a few photos of our trip and some of the beautiful places we visited.
As soon as we left Forster we made it our mission to stay off the tar and experience the road less traveled.
Its been a fun journey keeping me out of trouble and my weekends busy. Id hate to add up the hours I’ve spent over the last 9 months it taken me to build. I will be adding up the expenses later on but for now its time to put this project to rest and hang up the boots for a while.
I will continue with it later on and finish the legs and give it a paint job but i need a break and to concentrate on work.
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