2020 Ram 5500 DIY Composite Panel Camper Build Thread

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Hey All

It FINALLY arrived after a 9 week wait. I am itching to get started on it!

Its POURING out now, so can't get many pics, but ill be adding a ton soon and on my YouTube and IG (links in my sig). Ill add pics here too as time allows and the process progresses.
  1. 2020 Ram 5500
  2. CA84 Regular Cab 4x4
  3. 167.5" Wheelbase
  4. 6.7L Cummins Diesel
  5. 6-Spd Aisin AS69RC HD Trans
  6. SLT Trim (only because I wanted OEM LED headlights)
  7. 4.89 Gears (rear limited slip)
  8. Dual Fuel Tanks (Total of 74 Gallon Capacity)
  9. Dual Alternators (Total of 440amps)
  10. TPIS System to monitor tire pressure but not give the annoying alerts when i air down like TPMS does.
  11. GVWR 19,500lbs
  12. Fancy 5 Camera System that I havent quite figured out yet! :)
  13. Gob of hideous chrome i will be removing ASAP

Estimated camper weight will be around 6500-7k or so, and will be documented all throughout the process.

Could i have gotten away with a 3500? Maybe/Probably... Does ride like a sherman tank, and will until i get the camper box done, and suspension dialed? Most Definitely!

Why did i get such a big truck when i wont be near the weight limit? That's kind of a long story, and there's many reasons, some not popular but here we go...

Durability! Bigger axles, bigger brakes, bigger suspension, wider track width, better turning radius (by a lot), etc...

Many folks buy and build their trucks so be just under, or at GVWR. Well... GVWR is measured assuming paved driving, smooth roads, stock center of gravity, etc... You start going off road, or down trails, with all that jarring, raised center of gravity, and suspension working, it's putting a TON more stress and wear on the suspension, brake, frame components than if you are driving down the freeway in a stock vehicle. I've seen many suspension parts ripped right off of frames of heavy, overloaded maxed out trucks.

You take a 9500lb rig with a 10k GVWR down some dirt roads or on some rougher trails, you are more than maxing out the limits of the ratings, and beating the crap out of the chassis in the process.

So in short, I want a lot more of a buffer between the rated limits, and my actual weight to put less stress and wear on everything. That's my reasoning!

I had originally ordered the gas version, but SOOOO many folks (diesel owners and unbiased mechanics) I trust convinced me the diesel was the better option for this build. I was originally scared off of all the new emissions stuff that everyone has hyped up enough as being satan, gonna get stuck and die type scenarios. 4 good friends have the new Rams with not a single issue, one is close to 75k on it. Unbiased mechanic friends both said all the emissions stuff is pretty dang reliable until you start trying to tune it and such and then its a can of worms issue and gets very pricey very quick. I NEVER mess with the motors on any of my builds, so thats a non-issue for me.

This is my first Domestic Vehicle ever, and my first diesel ever, so there is obviously going to be a learning curve! :)

Ford "vs" Ram... Why'd i go Ram?

I went back and forth between this and the F550. Both about the same price, specs, features, etc... Basically came down to 2 things. The Ram was considerably quieter inside the cabin on the freeway, and me just HATINGGGG the interior on the Fords, personal preference. Other than that, either is a good option.

I am using the Buckstop super single wheels to convert it. I know some folks rant and rave about the flat plate steel wheels being weak... But Buckstop has been in business 20+ years and not a single failure, ever. Some competitors say otherwise, but cant provide any proof or photos, sooooo.... I've only found one company (Stazworks) producing super single steel wheels that has had some wheels break, and several photos of their stuff broken on the web, and those are the only “failures” I’ve seen proof of. Im confident the Buckstop wheels will serve me well.

The wheels will have the standard 41" (330/80-20) MPT81s mounted to them for the load rating. I know the Goodyears are more road friendly, but they are even bigger, and harder to source. I don’t want to run hard to source tires on a rig that will spend a lot of time in the back country.

I'm working with a company developing/testing a complete 3" suspension kit for the 5500, and more details will be posted about that very soon!

As for which panels, and torsion free subframe design i am going with, that is still up in the air, and looking at various options.

Buckstop "Outback" bumper currently on order and waiting.

Flares will most likely be custom, as i don't care for whats currently offered.

Yeah, this probably won’t “Fit on the trails you do” but chances are, I’ve already done those **********

The madness begins!!!! :p

brandnewsmall.jpgwheelssmall.jpg
 
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Adventurous

Explorer
Congrats! I did a doubletake and had to see who posted this when I read the diesel, but alas, my eyes had not fooled me.

As someone who got his first diesel (CTD) a few years ago and has since put 43K, trouble free miles on it all over North America, my experience says you should have few problems. I never encountered any issues finding fuel or DEF, nor did I experience any problems with the emissions systems. Also, you will LOVE the turbo brake, it is tops for controlling speed with all of that weight rolling down the road.

Looking forward to seeing this build progress, and I think you'll be happy choosing the 5500 over a 3500. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
 

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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
What will this new build do and go that your Tundra FWC would not?
2 part answer..

“Where will it go my Tundra didn’t?”
No where. In fact, less places due to size and such. I’m perfectly fine with that and now that I’m older, I’m not doing the more extreme trails and such.. I don’t need to compete with the “that won’t fit where I go” types, been there, probably went there” :)

“What will it do your Tundra didn’t?”
-More comfortable living quarters in camper
-Easier/Quicker setup, important when doing my twice a year monthly road trips
-Better in hotter or colder climates
-Have good quality appliances I’m not spending half my trip dicking with
-Won’t need any propane
-Hopefully get more than 9mpg loaded 😂
-Estimating it to have almost double the range between fuel stops, which can save a decent chunk of change depending on areas
-Obviously a lot more storage

Those and once the tundra and FWC was done and i used it, I got bored and wanted to build something new.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later...
 

LandCruiserPhil

Expedition Leader
2 part answer..

“Where will it go my Tundra didn’t?”
No where. In fact, less places due to size and such. I’m perfectly fine with that and now that I’m older, I’m not doing the more extreme trails and such.. I don’t need to compete with the “that won’t fit where I go” types, been there, probably went there” :)

“What will it do your Tundra didn’t?”
-More comfortable living quarters in camper
-Easier/Quicker setup, important when doing my twice a year monthly road trips
-Better in hotter or colder climates
-Have good quality appliances I’m not spending half my trip dicking with
-Won’t need any propane
-Hopefully get more than 9mpg loaded 😂
-Estimating it to have almost double the range between fuel stops, which can save a decent chunk of change depending on areas
-Obviously a lot more storage

Those and once the tundra and FWC was done and i used it, I got bored and wanted to build something new.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later...
If I didnt read the title it would sound like need a diesel pusher 😊
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
This will be awesome! Our partner ITB in Canada is just working on a F350. These platforms are becoming very popular. In my mind they make more sense than a big semi truck.
Thanks @Victorian thats very similar to what i am going with. Focusing on the truck setup first, suspension, wheels, tires, bla bla bla, and then will focus on the camper portion.

TC makes some impressive stuff and looking like one of my options! Thanks
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Looking forward to seeing this progress.

How thick is the flat plate on those wheels. I have never seen any like that but not around heavy duty trucks at all.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
Awesome. I share your beliefs about having a truck that is operating well within its limits and how offroad adds stresses that are rarely contemplated when people load their vehicles. Looking forward to this!
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Awesome. I share your beliefs about having a truck that is operating well within its limits and how off-road adds stresses that are rarely contemplated when people load their vehicles. Looking forward to this!
Thanks man! Seems fairly rare folks agree on this. Glad i'm not completely losing my mind! :)
 

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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Looking forward to seeing this progress.

How thick is the flat plate on those wheels. I have never seen any like that but not around heavy duty trucks at all.

Sent from my Pixel 3a XL using Tapatalk
Its about 1/2" thick.

Whether its the adapter for the MRAP wheels, or this style design, its usually just a flat plate like this.

I had a set of the nice Hutchinson aluminum MRAP wheels and adapters. After messing with the adapters and the 1" hardware needed, i determined it was WAYYY too much of a pain in the ass for me to deal with that in the field to put on a spare tire, or to simply rotate the tires.

The advantage of the Buckstop wheels is they are interchangeable front to rear by being reversible. Making tire rotations, and putting on the spare tire a crap load easier
 
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