[Amateur hour] Classic wooden truck camper resto


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TLDR scroll down for pictures of an idiot building a truck camper

First off this is going to be something a little different... I originally built this camper because I wanted a way to dodge rent while working, and eventually go and travel the America’s with. I’m a 25 year old software engineer with no dependents so was able to rough things quite a bit during this process. No fancy composites..no big budgets. Just an unskilled laborer and way too much energy.

I started this project 2.5 years ago when I was 22. I had just landed my first big boy job and was desperate for an outlet that would push me towards my goals of overlanding the world. I was terrified that this was the beginning of the end for my adventures (boy was I wrong :)).

I started to check craigslist for vans, and small trucks I could live in. Lucky for me, my dad gave me his old Ford F-250. With close to 240,000 miles I was a little I apprehensive but the truck behaved mostly flawlessly. Now I just needed a camper.

Unfortunately the Ford has a 6.5 foot bed. So my options were slightly limited.

Enter this... Ugly duck


I somewhat rashly decided it was the one. Mind you at this point I don’t think I’d ever set foot in a truck camper. Maybe only been in trailers just a handful of times. I never did get the year or model of the camper from the guy. There was a Vacationeer logo on the front, but I think the company is long since defunct. Inside you can imagine the mold and rotted-wood smell. It came complete with a faux gold inlayed mirror, that-70s-orange shag carpet, and a ceiling that I knew needed to be replaced. As we were loading it up, one of the jacks felt like it could have ripped out of the side of the camper. I think I paid 700 bucks for it. That afternoon I drove home with the camper mostly unattached in the bed of the truck. The bed rail inserts didn’t quite seat right so I went pretty slow….

If at this point you’re yelling at me you're definitely smart. This project had plenty of warning signs….

Before I get into the build...let me explain my idea. I was living in ultra expensive San Luis Obispo California. Rent was 1200/mo for a room in a 3br/1ba that was built in 1910. So I had 2 goals, create a bedroom in the camper to save money on rent, and use it to travel around for a year or two.

Anyways here goes…

First step was disassembly. I slowly took things apart so I would have an idea how to put them back together.


At some point, it dawned on me how much of the camper was dry rotted

Fast forward a few weeks of occasionally backbreaking but mostly super dusty work and the camper was fully stripped down to the walls, with the roof gone. No aluminum siding, no windows, no cabinets, no interior walls. Just the wooden structure. I decided to scrap the old aluminum because it had a variety of cutouts and holes I didn’t want, needed to be repainted, and i wanted to change the geometry of the front of the camper anyway.

This is where the restomod started. Whatever that is. I should probably mention this is my first project..of any sort? Anyways, pretty simple. Remove old rotted wood. Replace with new Home Depot wood. Simple right? I used mostly standard 1x2s except in high stress areas like the corners, and cab over.

Next step was to repanel the interior walls. I used 4x8 3/16” plywood. I ripped all the cuts with a sawzall cause I’m cheap and dumb.


Once that was done I set about building a roof. I guess I should admit I was living in a tent in the yard at this point. Once I had a roof I could start camping in my camper :). Figured I could start putting all that rent money into the camper. I used a sandwich of the interior ply, 2x2’s and some half inch weather grade ply. This way I could place foam panels inside for insulation, and have a surface to stand on up top.

I started with the same interior plywood I skinned my walls with. First step was to lay 2x2s that were 8 foot long every 16 inches as rafters, on top of the interior ply. In between the 2x2s I sandwiched 1.5 inch foam insulation panels. Then I glued and screwed CDX half inch plywood on top.

Once the roof was roughed in I had a couple hard days of straightening and aligning all the walls and overhang. Then the process of affixing the roof to the walls began. Nothing interesting here, just more glue and screws.

The old campers front end was abrupt and smaller than my liking. I spent a day or two prototyping and cutting out plywood in the shape of the nose section.

Once this was done most I was finished with structural wood work and could begin siding the exterior with aluminum. I ended up purchasing about 3 grand in RV aluminum siding, and a roof roll from Hemet valley. In all I had a good experience with Steve, everything came packaged nicely and he politely handled my unprofessional schematics.

Fast forward 3 weeks of cutting out every single piece of aluminum by hand with some shitty harbor freight tin snips.


Once the walls were in I installed the roof. Basically it’s a continuous roll of aluminum that I trimmed to size, and overlapped so it overhung my walls everywhere. All the aluminum was installed with a combination of stapes and screws. No magic there.


After the roof came the windows. I should have been better with checking the window cut outs beforehand. I ended up spending lots of time fiddling with the window frames as they mostly came out too tight. Basically clean the windows, then pre apply putty tape to the seals.


The interior flanges didn’t fit quite right so my dad helped make some new interior window frames out of some old growth redwood he’s been stockpiling.

Eventually laid down a roll of vinyl flooring, on top of a new plywood subfloor.

My grandma sewed me some cushions.

Added some cabinets for storage.

And now I’m in Patagonia with only a bike



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Anyways, Im making this post on some real sketchy WiFi in southern Chile. Didn’t know bout the 10 attachment limit.

couple more in progress shots below as well as some up to date..


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I ultimately decided to travel the America’s by bicycle.. and thus am going to see if anyones interested in this camper project. I have over 7000 in receipts but will settle for a small fraction of that. Camper is in Oregon.
Well that was a rollercoaster of a thread. Gut and redo old camper, decide to travel by bike lol. Maybe do a gas motor/electric assist on the bike so pedaling isn't always needed?