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Thread: The Open Air Camper build - Callen on Dodge Short Bed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Default The Open Air Camper build - Callen on Dodge Short Bed

    Having recently received my custom built Callen Camper, I'm finally at the modification stage! First a few pics, then I'll mention why I ended up with the Callen.
    Clicking on an image should display a larger picture.









    Specs:
    To fit the Dodge short bed - 75" bed
    Sidewall Height: 40"
    Cabover: 36" overhang, 13" interior height
    Double rear doors with standard windows 15"x29"
    2- Windoors: Door dim:60"x30" Window: 90 degree 54"x15" Black, horiz. sliders w/ screens
    Paneling
    Insulation
    1 Porch Light, 3 Dome Lights, 4 Clearance Lights
    Roof mounted crank ventilation dome
    weight: approx 550lbs


    Here's our (my wife's & my) criteria for a camper. One thing for sure, my criteria will not be your criteria.
    In no particular order:
    - Able to feel nature as much as possible (big windows and/or windoors/ large opening in rear). That's why we go camping, right? Privacy is not an issue where we camp but I could see it might be in the Eastern US.
    - 4x4able: not extreme roads but getting up Elephant Hill in Canyonlands shouldn't stop me. I routinely drag my hitch when crossing washes so I didn't want a camper extending past the back of my shortbed.
    - Able to pack up and leave within 10 minutes.
    - Fuel mileage has to be a consideration these days.
    - Need to have adequate headroom to situp - in bed or otherwise. Need to be able to lean comfortably against the side of the camper. Fiberglass toppers are angled inward making this difficult.
    - Room for 3 to comfortably sleep.
    - The more storage inside the better. Need room for camping gear and an extensive selection of climbing and canyoneering gear. Gear on the roof leads to a reduction in mileage.


    I strongly considered (and spent a lot of research on) the following:
    - Aluminum flatbed w/ some kind of custom camper. Something like this from Alumline ( http://alumline.com/cgi-bin/csvsearc...d=perfect&ID=1 ) might have worked out ok and the pricing was decent. I could had Alumline customize as needed but it would have required too much long distance interaction without visual inspection.
    - I talked extensively with Stan Kennedy at Four Wheel Campers. They couldn't do the windoors or double rear doors but they could build a shell model w/ a 36" wide rear door and big windows on EACH side for the Hawk model (which fits my short bed). Problem w/ a popup is that you lose storage over the cab and we don't want to sleep above the cab anyway because of no headroom. Despite this, we ALMOST went with the Hawk. Thanks for working w/ me on this, Stan!
    I also talked w/ A.R.E. & All Terrain Campers and visited the local popup companies: Litecraft, Outfitter and Hallmark.
    Briefly I considered a trailer but I do too much seaching for the perfect camp. Sometimes it's hard enough to back a truck out of a narrow forested road that's dead ended. I'd be hosed w/ a trailer.


    Cons:
    I tried to find someone to build a lighter aluminum frame custom camper but couldn't. In the end, my wife can't tell the difference driving w/ the Callen - at 80mph or on 4x4 terrain. So it's not a bad compromise.
    Also it's not a slide-in so it's not a slide out. I could remove it but I probably won't due to the hassle. I can get 4'x8's sheets of plywood inside so I'm good.
    Low tree limbs will catch on the rack. Luckily, the rack can be removed w/ 4 bolts per piece.

    So that's why I decided on a Callen Camper. Time will tell if it's a good choice. With 4 weekend trips under my belt, it's looking pretty good.

    Upcoming:
    bench / sleeping / storage platform build
    cargo net for cabover section (to keeps stuff from falling out)
    awning
    outside table
    inside table
    etc
    truck: 2005 3/4 ton, Dodge Cummins Quadcab, shortbed, 6speed, 5.9L
    camper: Callen built custom design
    off road package: air dam removed, xfer case & fuel tank skid plates, Line-X rockers, Warn 4x fender flares, Toyo A/T 285/75R17 E rated
    build thread: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=28099

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Roseville,Ca
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    I like it. Your requirements are about the same as mine. Very nice.
    02 F350 supercab,shortbed, 7.3
    94 toyota 4x4 ex.cab
    91 Isuzu Trooper
    09 Honda CRF450x

  3. #3
    Wow, thats REALLY nice. I love the lift up sides. I hate the cramped feeling of smaller campers and yours defiantely doesnt give that vibe. I have a flatbed and was considering a camper with the same requirements that you have. I look forward to seeing how it works out for you.
    This thread is about how snobby and elitist ExPo has become, not about EE's forum. Please stay on topic while bashing this forum on this forum.

  4. #4
    kcowyo's Avatar
    kcowyo is offline Expedition Portal Moderator ExPo Original
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    Very unique... You certainly did your homework. Good to hear you found something to work for your family.

    I like the open-ness. Looking forward to seeing more of this one.



    .
    '97 Toyota T100 - some stuff and some stories....
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    currently listening to - Michael Kiwanuka "Home Again"
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  5. #5
    Join Date
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    boulder, co
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    Default Bench / Sleeping Platform setup

    Thanks guys!

    Here's some pics of my benches / sleeping platform setup. This is nowhere near as cool as Sönke's hard-side popup camper setup but it's functional enough. I'll probably drill some holes at some point to save weight but I'm going camping this weekend and don't have time now.

    1st two pics show the setup outside the camper. It takes 5 minutes to put it in. Note the free-standing bench can easily be pulled outside for a table.

    Click on pics to display a larger size.





    And after clipping the side benches in place w/ 6 quicklinks (3 per side). The quicklinks are attached to a predrilled strap that I bent and screwed to the existing bolts (which attach the bed to the camper).



    This last pic has the board in place for sleeping. When not in place, this board can be a backrest for lounging. Also I anticipate using this board for an inside table - after I figure out the best way to do it.
    Covering all this are a number of 3" thick green foam slabs. Once I have everything dialed in, I'll get the foam pieces covered w/ fabric - like the professionals do.



    Also in the above pic is a 66 qt. Sterilte container for size. There is 14" space from the floor to the bottom of the benches.
    Last edited by theMec; 06-12-2009 at 04:20 AM.
    truck: 2005 3/4 ton, Dodge Cummins Quadcab, shortbed, 6speed, 5.9L
    camper: Callen built custom design
    off road package: air dam removed, xfer case & fuel tank skid plates, Line-X rockers, Warn 4x fender flares, Toyo A/T 285/75R17 E rated
    build thread: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=28099

  6. #6
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    Wow that looks great. Very versatile and practicle!!

    You could add some roll down screen side windows for buggy nights.

    If you put a 45 degree angle plate on the leading edge or your rack maybe some of the branches wouldn't get hung up??

    Maybe I should get a Power Wagon
    Desert Dan

    2006 Toyota 4-Runner SR 5/OME Suspension GY MTR's
    Jeep TJ Rubicon 2003/3.5" RE SF/Warn Winch 9500TI / BFG KM2's

    Gone - But- Not Forgotten 4x4's
    2006 Hummer H3
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Dan View Post
    You could add some roll down screen side windows for buggy nights.

    If you put a 45 degree angle plate on the leading edge or your rack maybe some of the branches wouldn't get hung up??
    Thanks Dan! Good idea about the roll down screen. I'll probably do something like that for the back doors. For the sides, I'll just close the windoors and slide open the screen window (in the windoors).

    I think I'll just pull the racks unless I have boats up there.

    I'll get some pics of my outside table and awning this weekend - when I'm camping!

    Any ideas are welcome.
    truck: 2005 3/4 ton, Dodge Cummins Quadcab, shortbed, 6speed, 5.9L
    camper: Callen built custom design
    off road package: air dam removed, xfer case & fuel tank skid plates, Line-X rockers, Warn 4x fender flares, Toyo A/T 285/75R17 E rated
    build thread: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=28099

  8. #8

    Default BRAVO! Great idea!

    I really dig the idea of a removeable bench. I'm going to do it in my Jeep too...If your cool with that.

    As far open air goes, i couldnt agree with you more! The 3 weeks I spent in Baja (Dec. 2006), solo "open air" camping in Mayahual is one of the best adventures of my adventure filled life.



    A couple of thoughts about open-air campers....

    First off, I'm of the belief that 99.999% percent of the people in the world are "good folks" and are not going to mess with your stuff, unless...

    You provide for a crime of opportunity...Like leaving an ice chest full of beer unattended on a crowded Baja beach (like below Mulege), or a tool box sitting in the back of your truck. If you are willing to take SIMPLE steps like throwing a tarp over your stuff, or putting your gear in non-descript dry-bags, I in my heart of hearts believe that that your stuff is perfectly safe.

    But to be the devils advocate...Bolt some cables (with nico-pressed loops on each end) to the front & side to your bed...And then combo lock your stuff to the cables (I have all my combo locks set to the same number).

    another thing that i found useful, leave just a rubber mat for the floor and have a dry-bag just dedicated to the "home-stuff", like a nice throw-rug (that can be easily shaken out), curtins, oil lamps, etc....That can instantly turn your open-air camper into a "place of luxury", but can be stowed in a moments notice.

    Build a lock-box vault in your cab somewhere and put everything of value in it. Who needs a wallet when your in the middle of no-where? I have the ignition key to the Jeep on a loop of 2mm Perlon that i wear as a neckless, everything else of value is accessable with a combination....Or is just sitting there. MAN, the feeling is so liberating!

    Here is a thought...its a little out of the box, but work with me here...

    You know in houses where they remove a window and replace it with greenhouse / solarioum expansion outward from the wall???
    Ok, so now think of opening the side windows of your camper, folding out sections on both sides...that would create a transverce bed & storage area?

    Don't laugh!...At least you didn't have me on retainer (like my clients when I come up wacky ideas for them!).

    Keep up the good work!
    The .1%

  9. #9
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    Great deal, Mec. You gotta lv it when a plan comes together. Luv the open air also.

    What type of "boats" do you refer too?

    Joaquin; seen your Jeep around Expo and dig it.
    Life is short, Paddle often
    '03 Chevy Astro w/ NP233C 4x4 electronic shift transfer case, 5" Overlandvans lift kit, 4:10's w/ Detroit Locker, Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks w/ in-dash remote & onboard air compressor, 245/75 16 Cooper Discoverer STMaxx, GTRV pop top w/ sleeper, Carefree Awning, Coleman Fridge, and tons of Thule

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  10. #10
    This is sort of what I was thinking about for your side doors/windows, except that the swing up door would make the roof when the tents are "folded" out.



    BTW: I just swipped this photo from a jeep thread...Thanks Lowenbrau!
    The .1%

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