DIY Composite Flatbed Camper Build

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Thanks, we are definitely enjoying it! Didn't seem like hard work at the time, until I start thinking about another build:)

The 12v Kalori combined with the lithium batteries has worked out well. I too considered the residential mini-splits, but as soon as you add an inverter all efficiency is gone.
Kalori makes a 12v split too. Almost went this route to keep it off the roof.

Not sure what happened to Stark, hopefully us customers will have a long trouble free experience with their batteries.
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Seems that a dedicated vent for the compost toilet works best, at least in my configuration.
Originally I vented this through the propane compartment. However, the propex heater was able to draw some of this
air and well...………
Thought the compartment was air tight but found a small gap in the corner cover. So I sealed the gap and decided to open up more air volume
for the heater to draw from. Also direct vented outside and made another vent for the propane. No more smell.
 

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Terra Ops

Adventurer
Very impressed with how well the vent on the C-head works. http://c-head.com/
For those interested, it works better than a residential vent simply because it's drawing from
the source. It does double "dooty", keeps smell out when in use and not in use.
After owning a cassette and black tank type, I definitely prefer the convenience and no odor
of a compost toilet.
On a suspension note; decided to swap out my 4600 Bilsteins for the 5100. Just turned 60k on the odometer and thought it may provide a ride
improvement since 95% of the miles had a much heavier camper loaded. I had also installed a leveling kit a while back. The new 5100's are longer in the front
to accommodate the increased height of the leveling kit.
Before swapping out the shocks I performed my "rocking test". Nothing fancy, just pushing on the back side of the camper to rock it back and forth to see how much dampening the shocks
are providing. First I replaced the rear and didn't notice that much change. Not too surprising as this is where the weight is and supported by air bags.
Replacing the front made a difference on the overall dampening. This was a pleasant surprise.
 

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Terra Ops

Adventurer
I've been noticing mpg dropping off and wasn't sure what to think. Turns out it was the alignment. I always thought the vehicle would drift to the left or right if it was out.
I did have some slight outside tire wear, but with regular rotation it was difficult to recognize. Turns out the tow was off creating a plow effect. Picked up 3 to 4 mpg.

Found this and decided to try it--- https://www.farmandfleet.com/products/1148374-ride-effex-2-h-shape-round-coil-booster.html
http://stage.acrotechinc.com/high-performance-applications/
I've always been a little suspect of rear coil springs vs leaf springs when carrying a heavy load. Air bags make a huge difference but they lift the truck adding height which in turn creates
that rocking/wobble effect on uneven terrain. I've thought about stiffer springs but that would make a rougher ride with the camper off. These coil boosters did the trick. With the camper off, I didn't notice any difference. With the camper on, I reduced air bag psi from 60 to 25. If an air bag were to go out, I feel the boosters would compensate. I'm thinking about purchasing another set for increased support. Anybody have experience or knowledge on this?
 

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Terra Ops

Adventurer
Took a day trip to Mount Mitchell N.C. to further test the coil boosters. I can definitely notice a difference in ride stability.
Went ahead and ordered two more for a total of two for each rear coil.

 

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ATCws

New member
More pics of panel lamination
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Lamination is fairly easy. First step is to lightly but thoroughly sand both foam and frp skin. Accurately mix epoxy and resin. I used a paint brush and applied to frp skin, then laid on foam. The skin is fairly rigid
so it lays flat, however weight still needs to be applied evenly on the entire panel. It also needs to be level.
I used a slow cure epoxy for maximum strength. It takes about 12 hours before you can handle the panel. Full cure is about 7 days. Temp also needs to be above 80. I covered with tarp to create a "blanket" and used a space heater. Also need to be sure and not allow over run to come in contact with surfaces other than plastic. Epoxy will not bond to plastic.
I looks like the skins went on with no seams. Is that correct? You found skins large enough to cover without a seam? Project looks great! Have a 2015 RAM 3500 I want to do something similar to except make it a pop top.
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Finally got around to adjusting the flatbed. When initially installed it was off 1/2" to the right. May not seem like much, but 1/2" translates into a crooked camper.
Also had it lowered 1.5" while it was off.
Installed another set of coil boosters in the rear. They really make a difference, wish I knew about these earlier.
On another note, anybody have a link to a DIY pop up similar to the Alu-Cab "wedge shape"? I've been thinking about another build using a combination of wood
and composites. The pop top would give a lower profile and weigh less.
 

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Terra Ops

Adventurer
Thought I'd try something different for seeing around the camper at night. My son bought and installed these
led strips for me. Have to admit, I like them better than I thought I would.
 

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b63215b

Adventurer
Great build and inspiring for my upcoming build. How did you mount stuff to wall, glue a wood furring strip to the wall?
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
For cabinetry, bathroom walls and dinette base, this is glued with Sikaflex 252 and also riveted.
The wood face is held on with sikaflex 521 and screws. Some of this can be seen in post #37.
The TV mount has sika flex 252 and screws going directly into the bathroom wall panel. It has held up great.
Other light weight objects like the netting is 3m double sided tape, coat rack is riveted.
Good luck with your build!
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Just did a quick week at the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota. Probably one of my favorite places so far.
On the way we stopped over in St Louis at the in laws. Hot, humid and a perfect time to see how long the 12v AC
would run before depleting the lithium's. At 10PM I set the thermostat to around 78 degrees, the batteries were at 100% SOC.
Throughout the night I would check the level of charge. At 7AM the AC was still running with the batteries at 27% SOC.
With a couple hours of driving and solar assist while parked, we were at 100% by the end of the day.
Some Badland pics
 

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