C5500 TopKick 4x4 Crew Cab Build

Lynn

Expedition Leader
Loving it. Really looking good.

I've been really curious, though. Did you go with that bi-fold wall on the back of the pop-up section, like we talked about back about post 50? I'd love to hear how that worked out.

Sorry if I missed it somewhere...
 

Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
Good for shallow compartments. With a deep compartment it would be harder to reach the back.
Well the idea is that the table portion can hang down flat against the truck when not in use as a table.


Because I'm over budget on both time and money on this project,
If it is any consolation for you, that seems to be a very common refrain on this forum. Building a dream, one-off, custom expedition vehicle never seems to come in on budget nor as fast as we seem to think it will.
 
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NeverEnough

Adventurer
Loving it. Really looking good.

I've been really curious, though. Did you go with that bi-fold wall on the back of the pop-up section, like we talked about back about post 50? I'd love to hear how that worked out.

Sorry if I missed it somewhere...
You haven't missed it because it's still undecided! It's another detail that I'm having a hard time with. Using a bi-fold wall (instead of the fold down wall) makes for an easier deployment and better weather seal. However, it removes the ability to use a screen wall for the pop-up room when the weather allows. And it makes the roof-access door a bit more tricky. I'm about ready to flip a coin on this one.

Ford Prefect said:
Well the idea is that the table portion can hang down flat against the truck when not in use as a table.
I thought about this idea a lot when I did my recon on Saturday, and I think it works for a lot of rigs. But with my layout, it would be redundant. Between the slide-out "porch" on the front passenger side and the 6' table that slides out of the passenger side storage bay behind the rear wheel, I think I'm covered for work space.
 
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NeverEnough

Adventurer
There are times during this project when progress seems to slow to a snail's pace. Work responsibilities, helpers taking time off, and technical challenges make it tough to move quickly. But I'm doing what I can, when I can.

One of my older brothers used to own a cabinet shop, so he dropped by last weekend to lend a hand and some coaching on laminating the cabinet surfaces.



One of my sons got in on the action:



All of the wiring and insulation is wrapped up. Here's a shot of the Aerogel up close:



It then gets covered with a 3/16" radiant/reflective insulation:



Both are applied with spray adhesive. The composite ceiling and wall paneling are tongue and groove, and in order for the reflective insulation to do it's job better, a small air gap is needed between in the insulation and the paneling. I used 5/8" plywood strips (just about the only wood in the entire build) to create the gap, as well as provide a suitable substrate to screw in the paneling.



The ceiling paneling is a 12" wide plank, 3/8" thick (mostly air). We used a hole saw to make the cutouts for the LED puck lights.



I didn't have much data to go on to determine how many pucks to use for good illumination, so I decided to err on the side of too much. Once I hooked them up, that became obvious.......



I finally got around to testing the generator. It worked, so it was time to get it permantly mounted. Step one was to fill gaps that wouldn't be accessible without removing the generator housing. I've been doing my best to make sure that every component is properly nested and anchored to protect against the constant vibrations of the road.



In an effort to isolate the generator's vibration as much as possible, I decided to use a dual rubber mount setup. The first set of mounts are for the generator's fire-resistant enclosure. The holes in the compartment floor are for the generator's ventilation and exhaust ports.



Fire blanket insulation was then foil-taped in place to create a "gasket" between the compartment floor and the generator enclosure.



The enclosure is made from 3/4" marine-grade plywood, lined with galvanized steel inside and Scorpion on the outside. You can see the end of the fuel tank on the left, with a quick-connect coupler. The compartment door will have a gasket that will match up with the enclosure in an effort to keep fumes and noise from the inside of the compartment.



The generator is mounted with rubber vibration isolation feet to a steel frame. I started with the Generac generic chassis mounting frame, did some serious surgery, and then mounted the frame to two 500lb. Accuride slides. The generator can be slid in and out of the enclosure for servicing or removal (the slip-on exhaust has to be removed, since it extends below the compartment floor).



I also finished up the filler the neck assembly installation for the generator/toy tank. I ended up using a diesel neck because it fit better than the other choices. I'll have to paint the cap! I'm also going to replace the hatch door with something beefier. You can also see the texture of the exterior coating.



I picked up all of the upholstered items this week and they all fit! Business travel will keep me from spending much time at the shop this week, but I've got my cousin working full-time on the inside finish work. It's always tempting to cut corners at this stage, but I'm going to try to maintain discipline and make sure we don't scrimp on the finishing touches.
 
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jayshapiro

Adventurer
Congratulations on the progress you're making. It's a huge project so don't be discouraged by the times when it feels slow. If I have one biggest regret about the EcoRoamer build it is that we rushed at times. Inevitably anything in the truck that breaks our was done wrong, was done during those times...

I like the gen mount. We hardly ever use ours (the solar and alternators get us through) but when we do I find myself wishing we had better vibration damping.

Congratulations, it's looking great!

Jay.
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
That lighting isnt too much if you're creating a Mobile Operating Room....
That's EXACTLY what I said when I threw the switch! I ordered up a dimmer today...

jayshapiro said:
Congratulations on the progress you're making. It's a huge project so don't be discouraged by the times when it feels slow. If I have one biggest regret about the EcoRoamer build it is that we rushed at times. Inevitably anything in the truck that breaks our was done wrong, was done during those times...

I like the gen mount. We hardly ever use ours (the solar and alternators get us through) but when we do I find myself wishing we had better vibration damping.
Thanks, Jay. Hope all is well with you and your rig. I'm hoping I won't have to use the genset much either, which is why I didn't buy a pricier unit. I'm still trying to decide if I need to add an alternator charging option. Right now my only umbilical is for the running lights and front axle leveling jacks (they also have their own "brain" when the camper is detached). And I wonder if a second alternator would be the best option, as you did with the EcoRoamer.
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
Trying to get stuff done when I can. After searching high and low for a TV mount that would work, I gave up and decided to make my own. I've got a ton of other details that are more important, BUT, since the TV is mounted in one of the slides, I had to test the HDMI signal before going any further, since the best wiring path for the HDMI was bundled with the rest of the DC and AC wiring. SO.... First I fab'd up an aluminum mounting "box" and made sure the holes matched the VESA standard pattern on the back of the 32" TV.



The mounting box got married up with an Accuride heavy-duty slide and a beefy mount assembly attached to the ceiling of the driver's side slide-out.



The slide allows the TV to move 24" towards the center of the room when the slides are out.



Despite having the HDMI run parallel to all sorts of stuff....



I was relieved to see that the signal was fine, even with every circuit powered up.



Yes, that's MJ. Don't ask.

The ceiling and wall paneling are going in throughout the rig.



Here's shot showing the basic wall structure from outside to inside: 1-Scorpion coating;2-PPE honeycomb panel (1.75"); 3-aerogel insulation; 4-1/8" double-side radiant/reflective insulation; 5-composite paneling. The paneling is screwed to plywood firing strips, which also help creat an air gap.



The bed/bench/storage units are just about wrapped up and look good. They are built into each side slide. Here's how the passenger side unit looks in the travel position without its cushions:



To convert it to a bed, the whole storage cabinet move out like a giant drawer on a pair of 500lb-rated Accuride slides.



Here's what it looks like with the cushions in place:



The seat cushion is a bi-fold, with one of the flaps being 1" thicker than the other. It folds over to create a perfectly smooth full-size bed. Glad I went with decent foam, it's very comfortable.



The back cushion is a tri-fold and will do double duty as the optional bunk mattress above the slide-out bed (not finished yet).

Each cabinet has four storage bays behind the sliding doors. Each bay was sized to fit a standard tote to allow for easy removal of food, bedding, and supplies. That's a total of 8 totes, in addition to all of the other on-board storage!





My cousin Gerard showing off his handy work. He's been a laminating fool the past few weeks. I've never met anyone who can make parts fit together like he can. Never too big or too small- always just right. The fascia for each slide is padded and upholstered. I went with a very tough vinyl.



Tomorrow we'll start putting the windows in....
 

Ford Prefect

Expedition Leader
Yeah, that is what I was thinking too, and about the TV as well. I am sure you thought of that already, so I will just say the TV and bed looks great! Congrats on a very nice looking rig so far!
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
First, Happy Thanksgiving to all! And in the spirit of the day, I'm extremely thankful for all of the help, ideas, inspiration, and support provided by the EP forum members on my project. It would be so much more difficult without your help.

Bed/couch looks really nice. Are the sliders locking so it does not slide open while on the road?
Ford Prefect said:
Yeah, that is what I was thinking too, and about the TV as well.
Thanks. The sofa "drawers" lock with a spring bolt latch. They'll also be locked in place while traveling by the dining table leg assembly, which hasn't been built yet. Accuride makes a version of the slide that locks, but the fascia of the slide-out makes that feature inaccessible.

The TV mount will have a fold down bracket in the rear of the assembly that acts as both a lock preventing slide movement and stabilizer against fore and aft movement of the bottom of the TV (since it's mounted to the ceiling).

I didn't want to build either the table leg assembly or the TV's fold-down bracket (along with a pile of other stuff!) until the inside finish was far enough along to make sure I could nail the dimensions. I've already made too many expensive and time consuming mistakes by getting in front of my headlights on various components. It's not like I haven't had experience with building projects before, so you'd think I know better. But I underestimated the the tight tolerances in a mobile build. A quarter inch change is relatively easy to deal with in a large structure, but the domino effect of that type of change in this project can create huge problems. Add to that the assumption that everything will be subjected to countless hours of vibration, moisture, dirt, temperature extremes and it makes my head swim sometimes. Live and learn...:)
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
The cabinets are moving along, but tonight was "install the awning" night. I chose Freedom motorized units from CareFree for both the trailer and the camper. It's a pretty easy process.

Step one is to install the mounting brackets:



The awning is 13' long and requires 3 brackets.



Each of the brackets is held by two 1/4" bolts that pass through the entire body wall. Fortunately, the mounting location lines up with the 2"x4" wiring "chase", so the nuts won't impact the interior wall treatments.



Next, a 1/4" hole is drilled for the 12VDC power connection.



The power connection is fed through the hole, along with some sealant (same thing with the bolts). Then the awning unit is lifted and snapped onto the brackets.



Two set screws anchor the awning case to the bottom of each bracket to lock it in place. I hooked up the wires and it works like a charm. Unfortunately, things are so pinched in the shop right now that I won't be able to fully deploy it until I get the rig outside.

 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
What is that big square black thing on the top of the rig?
There's one on each side and they serve several purposes, with the primary one being the outer tube of the slide-out room linear actuators. The inner tubes pull the room in and out. The 100" travel stroke and resulting cantilevered load required something beefy. I went with 4" square steel tube for the outer and 3.5" square steel tube for the inner. Each contains an inner tube driven out by a 120" ACME screw on a bearing assembly, powered by some Reico Titan motor heads. But they also:

1) Support the PV array's aluminum mounting setup, which also moves with the slide out room;
2) Serve as "nerf bar" for the roof, which should reduce the adverse effects of tree branches on the roof edge, vents and A/C unit;
3) Provide a mounting surface for the folding railing so the roof can be used as an observation deck/patio;
4) The inner tubes will also support a winch to lift stuff onto the rear cargo platform when needed.

They look outrageously big up close, but actually scale nicely with the rig overall and match the roof proflie of the cabover section.
 
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