Desert BRAT Microcamper

Last year I acquired a 1987 Subaru BRAT and a topper for it -- time to make a microcamper

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Microcamper - the first iteration is just going to be a raised deck in the covered bed of my BRAT, someplace to sleep with enough space underneath for storage. Future plans include a solar-charged auxiliary battery for power, among other things...

I've finally started this project, something I've been meaning to do for a while -- the BRAT has plenty of storage in the truck bed, but no place to sleep on road trips. Now that I've got a camper shell, time to fix that -- I know I can (and have) fit in the bed to sleep easily enough, but truck beds are pretty uncomfortable places to sleep, and I've usually got gear in the bed anyway. Setting up a tent every night on a weeklong roadtrip gets annoying (been there, done that), so it's time to make a microcamper! If you google around, you can find plenty of awesome builds, with gigantic drawers that pull out of trucks, everything and the kitchen sink -- I don't really have room for that, and I'd like to start simple, something I can complete in a weekend or so and then use, I can (and will) upgrade it later (the other advantage to simple is weight, I like getting good mileage).

The first iteration is going to be dead simple -- some supports to hold up reinforced plywood divided into three sections, this gives me a raised platform with storage underneath. A memory foam mattress on top, and the deck should be perfect for sleeping and light storage for whatever I can't fit under it.

Aside from the BRAT and the topper, almost everything in this project was free -- my landlord was trying to get rid of some lumber so I only had to buy a 2x8 and a 2x4, and the most expensive parts were 8 angle brackets to hold the supports/benches together -- I could have gone cheaper and made wooden triangles to support the benches, but the steel brackets maximize space.

  • 1 × 1987 Subaru BRAT 4WD micropickup made by Subaru in the 70's and 80's
  • 1 × Topper Aftermarket truck cap, painted to match the BRAT. Tall version.
  • 2 × 2x8 Dimensional lumber, 8' long, cut to make benches that fit over wheel wells
  • 8 × Steel angle brackets
  • 40 × 1-1/4" Screw I had 'em on hand... had to drill pockets to use them to secure the boards together before I put he brackets on...

View all 9 components

  • FPCU Rescue

    the.fedora03/11/2016 at 01:51 0 comments

    I've been having intermittent "driveablity" issues -- ie, the engine dies while driving and won't restart. Went through a series of diagnostics, and decided I needed to replace my ignition coil and fuel pump. It seemed to work, until I got back from out of town a few days ago and the BRAT wouldn't start. No gas going to the carb, but the fuel pump is all but brand new... backtracing the wiring diagram, the pump is connected to a "Fuel Pump Control Unit," which is sorta expensive and hard to find. So I pull it off and take it apart, there are three capacitors that look shot. $0.60 worth of new caps later, It seems to be fixed, though I still can't tell if the FPCU is properly priming the carb yet...if not, I'll just add an override switch for that...

  • Day 2

    the.fedora01/27/2015 at 03:34 0 comments

    Cut the plywood into 19" lengths 4' long, reinforcing with 2x4 attached with lag bolts. This leaves a few inches gap at the rear of the bed, necessary because I need to be able to reach into the bed to open the tailgate -- the outside handle doesn't currently work, and there are more interesting things to work on than fix that. Remaining to do for the first iteration, I need to upholster the deck panels with an old sheet, and trim the memory foam to fit (bonus, I can use the trimmings for pillows!)

  • Day 1

    the.fedora01/25/2015 at 01:42 0 comments

    Spent the morning finalizing the design in OpenSCAD (had rebuild it yesterday), and then sourced/bought lumber and hardware. Completed one bench in-the-rough. Tomorrow I'll check the fit and decide if I need to notch out spots for the tie-down points.

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frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 01/27/2015 at 08:18 point

but where will randy sleep?

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Wade Bortz wrote 01/27/2015 at 07:54 point

Sweet! I used to crash in the back of my old yoda on trips through Baja and elsewhere, and I always ended up wedged between collapsing piles of gear. Sometimes comfortable, sometimes not so much. I always wanted to build something like this, but never got around to it. I clearly remember there being a very fine line between just long enough, and 1" too short, in terms of sleeping comfortably. :)

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