2020 Ram 5500 DIY Composite Panel Camper Build Thread

john61ct

Adventurer
No matter the vendor, sources and meters need to be adjusted by a knowledgeable owner.

Every single vendor uses specs by default that are **not** conducive to optimizing for longevity.

Following the official data sheet specs might result in say 3000 - 4000 cycle lifespans.

Whereas LFP can reach 8000 - 10,000 with better coddling, avoiding the shoulders at both ends, higher avg DoD%, etc.

No manufacturer of LFP batteries nor meters, charging gear acknowledges this info nor funds testing along those lines.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Or simply rely on a good battery management system, for instance the Victron BMS with a Victron shunt, etc.

It makes sense that Victron’s integration will manage battery charging effectively and to ensure a reliable system that extends battery life within the serviceable life they position their batteries for.

That’s why I believe it’s worth using a Victron MPPT with a Victron inverter/charger, with a Victron chassis charging solution (BtB charger or Cyrix battery combiner) and Victron LiPo battery.

It’s also fair to accept that Victron (or another reputable manufacturer of equipment) will properly support batteries from other reputable manufacturers.
Exactly my thoughts sir!

One could have an anuerism worrying about such minutia in the grand scheme of things really
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
No matter the vendor, sources and meters need to be adjusted by a knowledgeable owner.

Every single vendor uses specs by default that are **not** conducive to optimizing for longevity.

Following the official data sheet specs might result in say 3000 - 4000 cycle lifespans.

Whereas LFP can reach 8000 - 10,000 with better coddling, avoiding the shoulders at both ends, higher avg DoD%, etc.

No manufacturer of LFP batteries nor meters, charging gear acknowledges this info nor funds testing along those lines.
So i should trust "Some Dude On The Intraweb" over one of the world leaders in Solar Technology for RVs?

Ok... Ill get right on that

[insert facepalm]
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
For anyone interested... (posting here before the classifieds section, which is a comedy show i dont have time or patience to deal with)

I am selling a basically new Tern Overland aka Arctic Tern 300x700mm window...

I installed it, wanted a bigger window, and removed it. Its basically new, no scratches, has all the hardward, and shade/screen etc...

It is for the 45mm-54mm wall thickness

All the exact specs and measurements can be found on their site: https://www.ternoverland.com/arctic-tern-window

They sell for $446 plus shipping

I want $350 picked up in San Diego.

I WILL NOT ship this... Dont care if youre buddy works at UPS, you can use your companies UPS account, etc...

NO SHIPPING, DON'T ASK [insert smiling middle finger emoji]
 

svinyard

Active member
@RAM5500 CAMPERTHING How's the Airhead working out so far now? I got ours installed (same JR vent) and our family of 4 using it (2 adults and 2 boys). It was great until it wasn't lol. I think we got some of the liquids into the solids bucket or not dry enough Coco Coir so it had a sewer smell. Thankfully it was just an overnight trip. I identified that most of the smell was coming out near the ceiling cowl. It has a rubber gasket but the fan wiring sticking out prevents a perfect seal and those hose connection isn't sealed. I just put some silicon around the edge of of the cowl gasket and also near where the hose screws into that cowl. It made a huge, immediate improvement on keeping the stank out of the camper. Obviously I need to get the solids bucket in new stinky shape, but at least sealing it keeps that smell out if it does happen.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
@RAM5500 CAMPERTHING How's the Airhead working out so far now? I got ours installed (same JR vent) and our family of 4 using it (2 adults and 2 boys). It was great until it wasn't lol. I think we got some of the liquids into the solids bucket or not dry enough Coco Coir so it had a sewer smell. Thankfully it was just an overnight trip. I identified that most of the smell was coming out near the ceiling cowl. It has a rubber gasket but the fan wiring sticking out prevents a perfect seal and those hose connection isn't sealed. I just put some silicon around the edge of of the cowl gasket and also near where the hose screws into that cowl. It made a huge, immediate improvement on keeping the stank out of the camper. Obviously I need to get the solids bucket in new stinky shape, but at least sealing it keeps that smell out if it does happen.
@svinyard I’ve used it a lot now, so my feedback is from real world now.

I’m a big fat guy that drinks a lot of beer and eats crappy food. My turds are bigger and stinkier than most.

With that said, I am baffled and super happy with the fact I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO stink whatsoever. I even let the camper sit it in the sun for 2 weeks after recent trip without touching the toilet and not even a remote smell whatsoever. Yes, I was diligent in the sealing of the fan and the gasket and made sure it was perfect.

Also, what’s very important is to have a piece of PVC or something between the inside roof and the outside roof and that has to be sealed also, or the stank will go into the insulation.

On the #2 end, I’m super super happy and impressed

On the #1 end though... I guess I never realized how much pee actually pee. Stayed at a campground (rare) recently and within 2 days the pee bottle was full. Normally I just Pee outside whenever I need to go, but there was kids everywhere and I was too lazy to walk to the bathroom.

Under my usual circumstances of remote camping and peeing outside, I probably wouldn’t have issues.

But if used even somewhat frequently, the pee bottle fills up FAST.

I may at some point reroute the pee into a gray tank, and just use the poo feature. Will see.

But so far, I still feel the AirHead is well worth it personally
 

svinyard

Active member
@RAM5500 CAMPERTHING Nice to hear its working. I wondered about the composite getting fumes leaked into. I'm not sure how permeable to that it is but nevertheless I took your advice and applied a solid layer of that sealant all over the exposed hole. Yeah our pee bucket fills up in a day and half more or less. I expected that and so far its been fine.
 

danneskjold

Active member
No one asked me...but I installed an Airhead back in August and have been living in my camper roughly 1/3 of the time since then and I’ve never once had to empty the compost area. It’s remarkable how even a couple week break totally changes the composition of the “compost” and allows the actual composting process to work. It’s really the perfect option for weekend warriors or people who aren’t true full timers, and for full timers it still kicks the ******** out of having a black tank or cassette toilet I think.

Personally, I almost never use the pee container and if I have to go inside I just use a bottle as I feel it’s easier to empty.
 

Vance Vanz

New member
Hi,

I’ve been following the thread for a bit and wanted to start by saying great job on your build and thanks so much for taking the time to share your journey. Your hard work is noticed and appreciated!!!!

I'm about to pull the trigger on a fully loaded F550 custom cab over build, basically EarthRoamer style without the ¾ of a million-price tag. We will be traveling from AK to the tip of South America and back, IF............... COVID permits.

My build is pretty much all mapped out and ready to go except for one major aspect, the subframe between the Ford chassis and the Total Composite shell. I know this was originally an issue earlier in this thread, trying to find a competent and available shop. I also know this is something you are still tweaking on in your build and have not completely dialed in yet.

I've already been down a list of 6-8 trailer/custom metal fab shops that supposedly specialize in these subframes, that were all recommended by other reputable shops in the overland industry. I also started calling any and all trailer/fab shops I could find, but I am striking out big time. Some of these shops were also noted early in the thread.

Either the shop has no idea what I'm talking about, they want 25K to reinvent a subframe they already have that might work, or they just don't want to touch it. A couple of these trailer/fab shops that were recommended supposedly have standard 3-point subframes on the shelf for an F550, that other customers have apparently bought from them, but I can't get a phone call back or a straight answer from anyone.

Any info or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm located in Denver, CO

Thanks in advance!
 
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StenchRV

New member
I have been following your thread for quite some time, just about the beginning, and have watched all of your videos at least twice. THANK YOU for the great information you have provided and sources to get parts that WORK.

My wife and I just custom ordered a 2022 (Wanted a 2021 but too late) Ram SLT 5500 84" CA 4X4 Regular Cab. Your information will be put to good use, along with the other 2 Ram 5500's being build on the forum that we are also following. The end product will look very similar to your rig.

I have the same subframe question as Vance Vanz. We used to live in NM but have relocated to GA and I am looking for an East coast subframe builder. We have contacted a builder out West, the only one we know of, and we are waiting for a response. I can build the subframe if necessary, I have plenty of fabrication experience and a pretty complete machine shop and fab tools and space in the aircraft hanger I call home. We are exploring the idea of having someone fabricate the subframe to save time and allow us to put our efforts elsewhere in the build process.

ANY information, including things you would change on your subframe, or do differently next time, would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thank you again for taking the time to document your build and sharing it with the Overlanding community.

CHEERS!
 
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