curiosity killed the...camper

flyfisheraa573

New member
Just thinking around this...if this question has been asked, my sincere apologies, as I did not find it in my searches.

Why, could one not use a similar construction method to create a slide-in/pop-top camper as they do a tear drop? as in all wood construction (in some of them)

As far as finishes...why not gel coat over over fiberglass?

I was just thinking from the aspect of boat building. I know plenty of people that build wood boats to handle class 3 rapids, or bay boats to handle inshore bays with chop. The method is a tried and true form for that function. Could it also, or has it crossed over, to this before?

If this is an old topic...I'll be more than glad to kill this post.
 
I think you absolutely could build that way. Honestly, I think a lot of slide in builds are actually completed in a similar manner to boat builds, I think the biggest limiting factor of why you wouldn't is insulation and weight. If you need to insulate, you might as well build in a way that makes for a more efficient build. Also, fiberglass is heavy and gelcoat cracks and scratches easily. It works great for boats where weight isn't as much of a factor, but I would think there are better ways to build. An exception to that would be a one piece monocoque design. Now that would be cool :)
 

ersatzknarf

lost, but making time
I like your thinking ! ! ! :D

Found an absolutely awesome video on YouTube about this: http://www.clcboats.com/shop/boats/development-projects/clc-teardrop-trailer.html

https://youtu.be/Ref_JnT8QVY

It was really thought provoking...

As our interest is also winter camping, would like to hear thoughts about using these methods and adding insulation. From what was found, Chesapeake Light Craft have a good reputation for very light, very strong craft from kits and folks keep coming back to build other kits, too.

Have been thinking about how to do a light, simple, small camper attachment to put on our old Rover, at some point... Have been a bit overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to do a composite (non-wooden) box, for the insulation, but it seems very daunting, then you have to figure out how to make attachment points to the inside of the composite box and from what was read, lots of folks use wood...

This could become a quite interesting thread :)
 

flyfisheraa573

New member
givemethewillys...i agree the weight would be more, how much, I'm not sure. As far as the gel-coat cracking...I don't know. As I said, I have fiberglass drift boat, that is capable of class 3 rapids...no issues...take a look at the Grand Canyon dories...I also have a inshore flats/bay boat that is 20 years old...no issue and it has seen 2-4 chop. Please understand, I'm not arguing my point, I am thinking out loud. I had questions, that's why I came to you folks.

Oddly enough, I am in the metals industry, and I am considering alternatives to building my own, vs buying one with aluminum frame...why, namely cost. I understand that there is a cost involved with these campers, but I also understand that there is a significant markup, and an even healthier resale value. Even for a bare bones shell, pricing is high. So, why not build my own?
 

subterran

Adventurer
Flyfisheraa573: There is not one reason in the world you can't do that. I did not build mine, but it's made from plywood and aluminum siding, and I very easily could have built it myself. It is durable, and works great for me. I take it anywhere I want - on bad 4x4 roads and everywhere with no problems. It is a bit heavier than an aluminum framed camper, I suppose, but my Tacoma hauls it happily. I am also constantly modding it and losing weight. I am about to lose about 30 lbs. when I replace the lead-acid battery with a LifePo next week in fact, and when I replace the particle board countertop shortly, I will lose at least 10 more. All in all, my camper probably weighs very close to an aluminum one when fully loaded, and mine is bigger inside than any aluminum framed unit I have seen. There is precious little room for additional 'sports gear' in mine, so I can't imagine what some of these FWC Eagle guys are doing to carry anything more than camping gear.

To summarize: go for it - and make yourself enough room while you're at it.
 

flyfisheraa573

New member
subterran...I was thinking the aluminum siding over wood as well. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, but at the same time, I can not see why it would not work. I've even thought about a minimal steel frame for strength, wood as fill in, and then aluminum siding...maybe even an epoxy coating, or paint to seal the wood before adding the siding.
 

rruff

Explorer
Why, could one not use a similar construction method to create a slide-in/pop-top camper as they do a tear drop? as in all wood construction (in some of them)
As far as finishes...why not gel coat over over fiberglass?
I was just thinking from the aspect of boat building. I know plenty of people that build wood boats to handle class 3 rapids, or bay boats to handle inshore bays with chop. The method is a tried and true form for that function. Could it also, or has it crossed over, to this before?
If you are thinking about "stitch and glue" then I definitely considered that.

It wouldn't be heavy at all if you curve the surfaces like a boat. Minimal or no framing. Very aerodynamic. There are a few downsides, like no insulation (compared to a structural sandwich with foam), and the need to design your interior space around curves. Both of those took it out of the running for me. Flat panels and semi-rectangular spaces are much easier to deal with.

I still haven't started building mine, but I think I'm going to use a structural sandwich of 3mm Okoume ply on the inside, and 1" XPS (pink) foam in the middle with redwood frame and stringers, and a hand layup of epoxy fiberglass for the outer skin. I'll build panels on the ground then screw and glue them together, and fiberglass the seams.

Polyester fiberglass + gelcoat is a very good camper coating over wood. Better than aluminum or any siding that has seams IMO, less chance of water intrusion and rot.
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
You might try looking at this site: http://www.idacamper.com/. I think his name on this site is IdaSHO and he has a build thread of the custom camper he built.
Thanks Conagher

Yes, our current prototype is built using methods discussed in this thread.
VG fir frame, 6mm marine grade ply exterior, XPS foam insulation, luan skin interior, and everything bonded together with PL Premium, then epoxy coated, glassed joints, and painted.
This will be the 4th year of use, never seeing the underside of a cover, or the inside of a shop. The camper remains outside in the elements all day every day, year round.
The construction method has proven not only to be lightweight (prototype is the equivalent of a 10' 4-season truck camper) and weighs just 2100lbs dry, but it has proven to be extremely robust.
A simply industrial coating over a monoshell provides some serious protection against the elements.

I encourage anyone with the drive and desire, to build their own. It isn't difficult. But it does require some crazy levels of dedication and time.
Building this way simply takes time. Most of the quotes I've written in the past few months are calc'd at 450+ hours for actual build.
Those hours do not include the time you should spend working out the logistics.
It is completely possible to spend nearly that much time just to design, and spec out hardware, appliances, and materials.

So again, feel free to venture down that road, but be warned. There is good reason most do not build custom campers, let alone using these construction techniques.
It is crazy labor intensive. But the end result is hard to ignore. Lightweight, incredibly strong, mono-shell, and incredibly well insulated.

All that said, I'm always willing to help out in any way that I can. I try to keep active on this forum to help home builds along.
Plenty of cool builds going on, so its fun to keep track. :)

Again, any questions of simply need help with any part of your design or build, let me know.
 
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