Tag Archives: living the dream

Lean-to Campers Hideaway

Camping is great fun all year around. By the ocean/beach is nice during summer and just as good in the bush throughout winter.

This post is about a little place in the woods me and my mate like to visit in the colder months, get away, turn our phones off and enjoy cooking dinner over the fire and a few cold beers.

Since we visit this area often we decided one weekend to build a little lean-to out of mostly natural resources. This is our story.

IMG_0656With breakfast cooking over the fire we chose this location. Its quite flat, accessible by 4WD, bush/trees not too thick and a semi-running stream nearby.

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IMG_0661From locally sourced trees, we scoured the property for the straightest ones we could find.

IMG_0660This spot looks good.

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IMG_0662Took us all day in the  trusty truck to find enough for the job.

IMG_0663Starting with these two forked pieces just to give a bit of room inside and to keep the lengths off the ground.

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IMG_0666Getting there.

IMG_0667So she’s starting to take shape now and the sun is starting to set.

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IMG_0670Here we attached a tarp to the roof for rain purposes.

IMG_0673With a little gutter set up at the back using a log and a bucket for catchment.

IMG_0723All in a days work. Time to light the fire and crack a cold one.

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Slide on Camper

 

 

Hi!

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!

I hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to subscribe by pressing the follow button at the bottom right of this page!


 

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Slide on Camper 150714Here 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.

 

Slide on Camper Frame only 180714This is the skeletal frame. The chassis to what defines the shape and everything is going to be bolted to. Here goes….


 

Skeletal FrameFabricating the skeletal frame to the dimensions in the pic above.


 

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IMG_4979Folding some of the sheet metal external panels.


 

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photo 3Attaching the external sheet metal panels

IMG_5072Not a very good pic but here I am installing the floor panel.

photo 7Installing the new MSA Drop fridge slide. Had to make a 50mm rising spacer so it can open over the lip of the door way.

photo 8Expensive piece of gear but well worth it. Drops the fridge down about 350mm so its easy to access.

photo 9Another ute load of folded pieces including the stairs!

photo 11Installing the stairs and stair stringers before the back wall panel goes on.

photo 12Just a progress shot.

photo 13Working out where and how to mount the gas hot water heater.

photo 14Hot water heater mounted, stairs and back wall completed.

photo 15Front wall  and skin also done.

photo 20A box was fabricated and welded next to the water heater. This will house the shower hose accessible from the outside.

photo 16Machining the receivers for the removable side-winder jacks.  More on that later on.


 

photo 21Now 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.


 

photo 24Water tank temporarily in,  just laying things out trying to work out the design of the kitchen.

fghDevider 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.


 

tyhStainless 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.

hjmDigital water level sender is mounted before install. A lot easier to do it now.

gfjhAnd 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.

IMG_6543Sorry 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.


 

IMG_6458Next 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.

IMG_6490So 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.

IMG_6494Here 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.

IMG_6492View from the outside. Will probably put a louvred vent over that in case come kids fingers get inquisitive.


 

IMG_6503Next 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.

IMG_6522Here 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.


 

IMG_6520Next 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.

IMG_6523After 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.

IMG_6596Now the gas bottle compartment is in I have fitted the water pump on top.

IMG_6597Plumbing 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.


 

UntitledHere’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.

UntitledsHere is  a newer screenshot of the parts in action. It seems to be working on screen so I guess its time to start fabricating!


 

IMG_6598Here 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:

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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!

IMG_6632A short time later! done! Now to wire them up.

IMG_6633Here 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.

IMG_6623The basic mud map.

IMG_6624The start of the electrical cabinet. The size of this box was determined on how many components are going inside and leaving room for extras.


IMG_6711Here’s me starting the wiring. Bit of a mess at the moment but I’m in the zone!

IMG_6702Here is a little alloy box I fabbed up to house the water level sender unit, and also the switches for the kitchen.

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Here it is installed. (below the fire extinguisher) Happy as a pig in shit.


 

 

 

IMG_6723Next 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.

FullSizeRenderThere she is. Easy as that.

FullSizeRenderNow for a carbon fibre wrap to finish it off.

IMG_6813Here 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.

IMG_6811More wiring pics. I love doing this stuff. Very tedius trying to do it neat but I enjoy it.

IMG_6807Here 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.


 

 

 

FullSizeRender (1)Making the pop-top lid.

FullSizeRenderAll the ribs are riveted using things called huck bolts. Basically like an aircraft design, lightweight ribs but stiff.

FullSizeRender (2)Getting there. All these pockets will then be packed with 40mm insulation then sheeted on the inside.

FullSizeRender (4)Well it works!

FullSizeRender (3)Smiles all around. very happy.

 


 

Here’s a few photos of where i’m at now (march 2015)

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IMG_7286A shot of some of the plumbing we have done. Before it all gets hidden away by the kitchen draw.

IMG_7288A work of art really.

FullSizeRender (3)Back to working on the kitchen. Stove draw in with draw front.

IMG_7296Massive draw, This will be for food storage and bits and pieces

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FullSizeRender (4)Testing the new stove.

IMG_7295Kitchen 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.

 


IMG_7408IMG_7409Thought 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.

IMG_7453Trying out my new Supapeg awning. Great piece of gear. Cant wait to use it properly.

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IMG_7503Back 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.

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IMG_7511Next was to install the polystyrene insulation. I am using 40mm thick panels glued down.

IMG_7513All gaps filled!

IMG_7514Once the insulating is done, we have glued 1.5mm alloy sheet over that finishing the roof.

IMG_7525Next 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)

IMG_7533Here we are attaching the roof back onto the camper! Even got the boy in on a Saturday!

IMG_7540And here we are! done. The bottom sail track is attached using M5 countersunk bolts in-case it ever has to be removed.

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IMG_7536So 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!


IMG_7543Here I am working out how to fit the solar panels. A great way to spend my Sundays.

IMG_7545Attaching the solar panel brackets


 

IMG_7562So here we go! Time to put it on!

IMG_7563The dog looks as happy as me.

IMG_7567For 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.

IMG_7569As doors are on and working great. just some final adjustments and we’re off!

IMG_7573Electrical management box all done. Solar working a treat.

IMG_7579Beer 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.

 

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IMG_7610Made it to Forster, time to unwind and set up the awning!.

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IMG_7613Pretty 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.

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IMG_7595Couldn’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.

Thanks for reading and please subscribe and leave a comment below!

Click on the photos for a better look.!

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Beer Keg Roasting Oven

Cooking a good roast is probably my favourite meal to cook. There are a million ways to do it, like in the kitchen on gas/electricity to out in the bush in a camp oven over a fire.  Stainless beer kegs have long been known to be the platform for many cooking devices and contraptions,  there is something very Australian about it and is right up my alley.  I have made plenty of things from kegs and this is one of them.

I hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to subscribe by pressing the follow button at the bottom right of this page!

P1010966There she is, doesn’t look like much from the outside.

P1010969The inside mechanics. Notice the sliding vents top and bottom used for controlling fresh air flow and heat retention.

P1010993 P1010992Another shot of the vents.

P1010973First, place the the perforated base in.  Obviously removable for easy cleaning.

P1010974Then add the optional fat trap. This is also used for indirect heat cooking which I will explain later.P1010976P1010978Here’s a shot with the grill inserted.  She’s a beauty. Every part custom made from stainless steel.

P1010987 P1010989Now the coal. In these two photo’s I am using the fat catcher, great for keeping the juices for making gravy aka ‘the jus’ haha.  For cleaning purposes I have found it easier to wrap it in foil before use.

P1010990 P1010991Or depending on what you’re cooking, leave it out.

P1010985Oh, thought id mention this beautiful handle for easy carrying. Special thanks to Mark for modelling this shoot. ta.

P1010996Ok, so she’s ready to light. How does one light the coals without any fuss? With the custom coal lighter of course! Just place 9 Jiffy lighters on something non-flammable,  fill the coal lighter with coal and place over the lit Jiffy lighters.

P1010997 P1010998 P1010999Give it about 2 beers and the coal will be ready.

P1020003The rosy coal ready and waiting – in a small, safe,  carry-able container to pour into the keg oven.

P1020007Mix with a few cold coals to add to the cooking time.

P1020009Today I’m cooking a juicy pork butterfly leg.  Now just close the lid.

P1020015 P10200141.5 hrs later and its ready to eat.  yum. There’s no limit to what you can cook in this keg. Pizza, bread, fish, veggies, meat whatever.

The beauty of this invention is the added function of being able to control the heat through the vents. The bottom on controls the air flow to the coals and the top vent controls the rate to which the heat escapes.


UPDATE!!!!

This blog post was picked up by an editor named Ildar Sadykov working for a Russian DIY magazine in Moscow called CAM – A DIY mag for home handyman and the like,  to which he asked if it could be featured in is next issue, needless to say I said yes.

A top bloke he is, even sent me a copy!! Many thanks Ildar. Ill pop over for a beer one day and bring it with me and we can cook up some shashlyik . 🙂

Have a read guys! just use your smartphone and the google translate app and hover the camera over the text for instant conversion to English.

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Camper Trailer

From the passion of camping and being outdoors it was time i built myself a camper trailer. The concept was to basically have a 4wd style trailer, big wheels, lots of clearance and have everything on it imaginable. The thought of just being able to hitch it on and know straight up you’ve packed everything. No need to fumble around packing this and that, just get it and go. And when you have arrived at your camping spot, everything is accessible easily and quick- beds already made, kitchen already set up. no unpacking or setting up tents etc.  Here is my story.

I hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to subscribe by pressing the follow button at the bottom right of this page!

Canopy FrameWhat originally  was the canopy and tray off my 4wd ute, I was contemplating building a longer tray so thought about making this tray into a trailer..

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IMG_0968And like that, the tray was off.  Now for the fun part…

IMG_1096 IMG_1101First the chassis was built, all suspension and wheels fitted.  After these shots, i decided to change the hubs to electric drums.

IMG_1115 IMG_1114Completed chassis with draw bar done, so are the tray mounts.

IMG_1174A few coats of paint and the tray is fitted.

IMG_1241All new Alco 4wd hitch, heavy duty jockey wheel, handbrake set up and the wiring loom.

IMG_1250IMG_1251Next to build was the two stainless steel tanks. One a 160 liter water tank and a 180L diesel tank. All made from 316 stainless fully TIG welded. I make these sort of things at work all the time so no guess work here.

P1040153The finished tanks.  Ready for install.

IMG_1289The tanks fitted. Note the rear tank is angled for a good exit angle when 4wding. After this shot the rubber strips were inserted between the stainless steel hangers.

IMG_1553 Here we have the aluminium removable false floor, It was made to store 6 of these huge storage containers and still be able to sleep up top.

IMG_1618 IMG_1434Next was the custom box made with duel fridge slides. One side was for a food fridge, the other beer. The top box was a toolbox i had lying around. It worked well as the shape would be good for the wind deflection and this was now going to be the home for the duel batteries.

IMG_2580The duel 12v 75AH sealed gel batteries & switch panel. This is wired to the plug at the hitch. My battery management in my 4wd will register when i plug in the trailer and charge these when we are on the road. I was going to add solar to this project but never got around to it.

IMG_2481Next was the kitchen. I knew what i wanted before i started so this one went pretty smooth. We make boxes and all sorts at work so basically like a toolbox with fold down front. All made from 3mm alloy tread plate with weather & dust seals.

IMG_2581The kitchen finished and installed onto the draw bar.  The taps there are hot (from the gas hot water heater) cold in the middle and the third is to fill the water tank.

IMG_2591The draw finished in the kitchen. There is enough plates bowls pots pans etc for 2 people comfortably.

IMG_2582Next is the gas hot water heater. Running off a 9kg bbq gas bottle this pumps out piping hot water on demand. The stone guard also serves purpose to hold the shower hose and give a little privacy/wind protection.

IMG_2583The water heater cover/stone guard closed.

P1040337The water pump and filter hidden away safely with good access if needed.  All plumbing is done using BSP pipe threaded fittings and Auspex pipe. No hose clamps here!

P1040338Here is the diesel high-flow transfer pump and bowser. works a treat.

P1040342The switch panel which hides and protects the two batteries.

P1040341My dog Jake sitting on the false floor.

P1040310The trundle tray which holds all tent poles, ropes, pegs, awning canvas, hammock and the like..

Now the finished photos!P1040333 P1040327 P1040325 P1040320 P1040318 P1040314 P1040309 P1040299

After this project was finished we drove from Sydney to Byron Bay via Coonabarrabran/Narrabri , mostly dirt roads for our end of year holiday. The trailer didn’t miss a beat and did everything and much more. Oh, besides a flat tyre. Ill add a few pics of our trip below.

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I hope you enjoyed the read. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below and ill try and reply asap. Cheers.

 

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