Building The Skills Needed

A project log for DIY Truck Camper

Open source truck bed camper for the masses.

DustinDustin 08/01/2020 at 15:410 Comments

I logged in to look and see if there are any projects I can update or work on here. The truck camper hasn't been touched in over  year, so it's time for at least a status update. 

I've been building an off grid camper or the past few months with the lady, and it's been going very well. This curent camper project is going to teach me all the skills needed to design and build a better camper than I could have when I started this project, or even as recently as a month ago. I've moved a few more times since I updated this project, and it's helped me lighten my load. So far I've installed a solar system, DC electrical system, and am working on plumbing. I've replaced wooden floors and stripped walls to the frame and rebuilt them. I discovered fasteners I'd never known before, like the ones to mount wood to steel, with sellf drilling and tapping tips. I'm learning how NOT to do things, which I find very valuable.

The changes I think I would make to this design, based on what I know now:

  1. Using "underlayment" board for interior panels and cabinets. It's about 5mm thick, plywood, and has one surprisingly good looking side. It's meant to go under floorboards or something and deisgned to be really stable. It's also incredibly cheap.
  2. Using FRP(fiberglass reinforced plastic) panels, or plastic panels in general. Ants destroyed all the old foam and wood inside the walls of the camper I'm rebuilding so I don't want to give critters anything organic to munch on.
  3. Using the nice, rigid foam insulation with the fiberglass in it. This stuff is strong enough to add significant structure to the camper walls, is light, and I suspect bugs and critters won't want to chew on or tunnel through foam with little glass daggers in it. The stuff is awesome. 
  4. Avoiding using power inverters wherever possible. Inverters ca be expensive, and they waste energy when convertng DC power to AC power. I've found that there are many DC appliances out there for the RV and Marine industries that work very well. Its also not impossible to convert things to DC either. For example, I built a 12 volt DC furnace out of a pair of gint dump load resistors and a bilge pump fan. It actually heats the entire camper straight from the batteries, with no extra power loss. A standard 120 volt AC water heater can be converted to DC as wel, which is what I did for our camper instead of spending $1,000USD or more on a new propane water heater.
  5. I'll likely still include a propane system as I am getting into wood gas generation and storage, which makes flammable gas from wood. It can be compressed into propane tanks and used instead of propane. It can also run large engines and fuel vehicles directly.
  6. I'll be planning to build as light as possible to enable smaller vehicles to use it, as well as make it easier on fuel. I was thinking of using wood studs for the walls, but I may just use steel studs as they are far lighter and more consistent. They're still pretty easy to work with as well.

There are a ton of thoughts in my head right now, but I have to get back to work on moving in and getting the camper up and running.