2022 Ford F550 - DIY - Adventure Expedition Vehicle Build Thread

Very ambitious build... looks like you are making great progress!

Do you have carbon/composite building experience? What weight/thickness of cloth did you use on your floor? What is the core foam?
Hey rruff.

Thanks for the questions. You beat me to the punch. I was just putting everything together as far as the floor materials. Please see the post I just sent out.

I do have experience, but mostly with fiberglass as opposed to carbon fiber. I make no claims of being a professional, I am more of a "pre-fessional". The sub frame and carbon fiber camper were/are the two elements of the build that were always going to be the most challenging for me. I was originally going to have a sub frame built by DDG Overland and order a box from Total Composites. In the end, their products would not work for my design. This put me in a position of having to alter my design, which I was not willing to do, or required me to design and build everything myself. Obviously I chose the latter. Hopefully it all pays off in the end 🤞.

Yes, this is a very ambitious build. I am reminded of that every day I am in the shop.

Lucky for me, this is my full-time project, so I can geek out on it as much as I need to, to make sure the entire build is solid. I'm also detail oriented, a bit OCD one might say, so this helps.
 
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highwest

Active member
Do you mind explaining why you chose plywood + foam core as opposed to foam core only? Or, did I miss it already?

The build looks amazing, I can’t wait to see where this goes.
 

rruff

Explorer
That should be very stout! And it appears that you know what you're doing... much more than me! I was wondering if you had a subframe, but it looks like the "floor" is doing double duty....? Mine is similar... only I have no plywood and no steel. I'm relying on epoxy... :oops: Much lighter build though. The top of the "floor" is 4x11oz carbon + 1808 FG, and 3x11oz carbon on the bottom. Core is 2" 4lb/ft^3 PVC with epoxy columns bridging the two layers at load points. It's sort of a 3 point with poly cab mounts on the centerline serving as a rear pivot. I only used carbon because I wanted the base to be stiff. The rest of the shell is FG (about 30oz cloth per side). The shell is done but it isn't mounted, and I have no idea if it will hold up...

Frankly, I don't see the point in using carbon unless high stiffness is needed (carbon is ~2.5x stiffer). FG is nearly is strong and better vs impact loads... at least in my experiments.

I built a camper 22 years ago where the floor/base (that was mounted to the frame) was just 1/4" ply skins with foam and a couple boards in the core, and it worked fine.

Your build looks awesome... hope it turns out great!

EDIT: Ya, I thought your earlier post was the reply, since you answered my questions! (y)
 
Do you mind explaining why you chose plywood + foam core as opposed to foam core only? Or, did I miss it already?

The build looks amazing, I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Thanks for your words of encouragement highwest!

I will kill two birds with one stone.

rruff's comment/question, in the post just after yours, about my floor doing double duty is correct. My floor is obviously acting as a floor, but it also needs to be strong enough to act as a structure that can span the distance between the rear pivot and two front outriggers of my sub frame. On my build/sub frame, this distance/span is roughly about 10'. Using CF for my floor, if I build it strong enough, allows me to eliminate a sub frame that spans the length of the factory chassis/camper shell floor.

To get a little more specific about the structure of the floor related to your question: I chose to use plywood in the bottom of the floor, in-between the CF outer skin and the foam core, so the steel bars inlaid in the floor are compressed against plywood, as opposed to the bottom layer of CF skin, when the camper shell is tightened down to the subframe. I did not want the steel bars compressing directly against the bottom skin of carbon fiber.

As far as the top layer of plywood, I could have replaced it with 1/2" Divinycell if I wanted to. This would have saved some weight, but this would have also come at a cost of 2.25 to 2.5 times in materials. Insulation value was also pretty negligible, in my opinion, and I will also have another 2" subfloor (2" foam with fiberglass skins) that sits on top of my floor in the center/isle of the camper, similar to Earth Roamers design. So, I will have plenty of R-value in the floor of the camper. (FYI: The additional 2" subfloor allows space for water lines to pass from one side of the camper to the other side without having to run the water lines outside of the camper, or up and overhead in the camper.) Lastly, I need the total floor core to be a minimum thickness/height of 2". This gives me the needed height on the side edges of the floor, where the CF wraps and will act as structural I-beams for the floor.

Thanks again for your support and question!
 
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That should be very stout! And it appears that you know what you're doing... much more than me! I was wondering if you had a subframe, but it looks like the "floor" is doing double duty....? Mine is similar... only I have no plywood and no steel. I'm relying on epoxy... :oops: Much lighter build though. The top of the "floor" is 4x11oz carbon + 1808 FG, and 3x11oz carbon on the bottom. Core is 2" 4lb/ft^3 PVC with epoxy columns bridging the two layers at load points. It's sort of a 3 point with poly cab mounts on the centerline serving as a rear pivot. I only used carbon because I wanted the base to be stiff. The rest of the shell is FG (about 30oz cloth per side). The shell is done but it isn't mounted, and I have no idea if it will hold up...

Frankly, I don't see the point in using carbon unless high stiffness is needed (carbon is ~2.5x stiffer). FG is nearly is strong and better vs impact loads... at least in my experiments.

I built a camper 22 years ago where the floor/base (that was mounted to the frame) was just 1/4" ply skins with foam and a couple boards in the core, and it worked fine.

Your build looks awesome... hope it turns out great!

EDIT: Ya, I thought your earlier post was the reply, since you answered my questions! (y)
Thanks for the reply rruff and for sharing info about your build and layup.

It sounds like you have practical experience and a past build that lends you plenty of knowledge. Good for you; I'm impressed! I hope your design does hold up. I think most people tend to overbuild just to be on the safe side, I know I'm doing a bit of that.

Do you have a thread going for your current build; I'd love to check it out if you do?

I replied to your comment/question about the floor doing double duty in conjunction with another question by (highwest).

Thanks for your positive comments and I'll keep plugging away on this beast!
 

rruff

Explorer
It sounds like you have practical experience and a past build that lends you plenty of knowledge.
Not really. I did throw a couple campers together in a hurry, and the 2nd one was better than the first, but they were mostly 2.7mm luan skins with a wood and xps core. The 2nd one I covered with fiberglass, which was a big improvement, and I didn't have a silly skylight that leaked! I had zero issues with the 2nd one but only about 1,000 days of use, so long term I don't know. This is the first time I've used wet layup over foam (PVC). No infusion, BTW... and I hope that's good enough. First time doing any kind of flex/pivot too. I did spend a good deal of time thinking and experimenting, but there are still a million ways to fail when you are building "prototypes" that will be the final product. At least this way if something breaks I'll know whose fault it is!

One thing I really hate is all the epoxy/fiberglass dust from sanding. I'm not picky about cosmetics at all, and I've done all my layups in one shot, but there is still a lot of sanding required. If I did it again I'd look hard to see if a stitch&glue style with curved and faceted ply could be made stiff enough and light enough for the main structure, with a sandwich base, sleeping berth, and rear door/hatch. Anyway, lots of ways to do it with different pros and cons.

No build thread... just laziness really. I've been working on this at such a slow pace, I sometimes wonder if I'll be too old to use it before it's done...

Here is what it looks like in the driveway atm:
Camper_06_2022.jpg
 
Not really. I did throw a couple campers together in a hurry, and the 2nd one was better than the first, but they were mostly 2.7mm luan skins with a wood and xps core. The 2nd one I covered with fiberglass, which was a big improvement, and I didn't have a silly skylight that leaked! I had zero issues with the 2nd one but only about 1,000 days of use, so long term I don't know. This is the first time I've used wet layup over foam (PVC). No infusion, BTW... and I hope that's good enough. First time doing any kind of flex/pivot too. I did spend a good deal of time thinking and experimenting, but there are still a million ways to fail when you are building "prototypes" that will be the final product. At least this way if something breaks I'll know whose fault it is!

One thing I really hate is all the epoxy/fiberglass dust from sanding. I'm not picky about cosmetics at all, and I've done all my layups in one shot, but there is still a lot of sanding required. If I did it again I'd look hard to see if a stitch&glue style with curved and faceted ply could be made stiff enough and light enough for the main structure, with a sandwich base, sleeping berth, and rear door/hatch. Anyway, lots of ways to do it with different pros and cons.

No build thread... just laziness really. I've been working on this at such a slow pace, I sometimes wonder if I'll be too old to use it before it's done...

Here is what it looks like in the driveway atm:
View attachment 727515
Thanks for the pic.

Slope on the roof, rounded off corners up front and a little overhang in the rear......, I like the details. Looks good from here.

SANDING, please don't remind about the amount of finish work required. I'm a detail guy, but the finish work is going to take some time.
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Not really. I did throw a couple campers together in a hurry, and the 2nd one was better than the first, but they were mostly 2.7mm luan skins with a wood and xps core. The 2nd one I covered with fiberglass, which was a big improvement, and I didn't have a silly skylight that leaked! I had zero issues with the 2nd one but only about 1,000 days of use, so long term I don't know. This is the first time I've used wet layup over foam (PVC). No infusion, BTW... and I hope that's good enough. First time doing any kind of flex/pivot too. I did spend a good deal of time thinking and experimenting, but there are still a million ways to fail when you are building "prototypes" that will be the final product. At least this way if something breaks I'll know whose fault it is!

One thing I really hate is all the epoxy/fiberglass dust from sanding. I'm not picky about cosmetics at all, and I've done all my layups in one shot, but there is still a lot of sanding required. If I did it again I'd look hard to see if a stitch&glue style with curved and faceted ply could be made stiff enough and light enough for the main structure, with a sandwich base, sleeping berth, and rear door/hatch. Anyway, lots of ways to do it with different pros and cons.

No build thread... just laziness really. I've been working on this at such a slow pace, I sometimes wonder if I'll be too old to use it before it's done...

Here is what it looks like in the driveway atm:
View attachment 727515
This is the first time I have actually seen a picture of your build. I like the look of it a lot. If I am being honest, I kind of felt like it didn't exist. We definitely need to see more pictures of it.

Sent from my Pixel 6 Pro using Tapatalk
 

rruff

Explorer
SANDING, please don't remind about the amount of finish work required. I'm a detail guy, but the finish work is going to take some time.
In that case you'll note that the cloth overlaps are clearly visible. I did fare them, but apparently not nearly enough... didn't think a .5mm difference in surface height would be so obvious!

If you are going for a perfectly smooth, flat wall then I think lots of micro-balloons and sanding will be in your future. I know the boat guys do it, but I don't know exactly how... I don't think I even want to know... 😜

This is the first time I have actually seen a picture of your build. I like the look of it a lot. If I am being honest, I kind of felt like it didn't exist. We definitely need to see more pictures of it.
I've felt like it didn't exist a lot too... even still! "Working on it when I feel like it" has been slow. I like the shape, but all those curves were a PITA.

Here are a couple more pics for your amusement. That big hatch in the back is my only door. Doubles as an awning and provides a great view.

Camper_06_2022_02.jpgCamper_06_2022_03.jpg
 

highwest

Active member
In that case you'll note that the cloth overlaps are clearly visible. I did fare them, but apparently not nearly enough... didn't think a .5mm difference in surface height would be so obvious!

If you are going for a perfectly smooth, flat wall then I think lots of micro-balloons and sanding will be in your future. I know the boat guys do it, but I don't know exactly how... I don't think I even want to know... 😜



I've felt like it didn't exist a lot too... even still! "Working on it when I feel like it" has been slow. I like the shape, but all those curves were a PITA.

Here are a couple more pics for your amusement. That big hatch in the back is my only door. Doubles as an awning and provides a great view.

View attachment 727686View attachment 727687
I also thought you were telling stories… build thread please! (I know you say you’re lazy, but these pics say otherwise)
 
In that case you'll note that the cloth overlaps are clearly visible. I did fare them, but apparently not nearly enough... didn't think a .5mm difference in surface height would be so obvious!

If you are going for a perfectly smooth, flat wall then I think lots of micro-balloons and sanding will be in your future. I know the boat guys do it, but I don't know exactly how... I don't think I even want to know... 😜



I've felt like it didn't exist a lot too... even still! "Working on it when I feel like it" has been slow. I like the shape, but all those curves were a PITA.

Here are a couple more pics for your amusement. That big hatch in the back is my only door. Doubles as an awning and provides a great view.

View attachment 727686View attachment 727687
Thanks for the additional pictures! I love seeing how others have designed and finished various areas/aspects of their camper and design.

It's crazy what shows up, no matter how small. For the corners on my build, I am going to layup the skins in three layers, the bottom layer will span the entire core and the second and third layers will be held back on all edges by say 1.5-2" and 3-4" respectively. This way, I will be able to wrap all the corners with the same material/thickness as the two top layers on the skin and they should be almost perfectly level/smooth after curing-and with hopefully minimal fairing 🤞. I'm shooting for no visible corner seems, just a smooth outside surface/wall all the way around. Certain visible interior walls will also have the same seamless finish.

I can imagine that all of the the corners and shapes were difficult and took some time. It looks good though 👍. As for me, I'm still on the fence as to a few aesthetic aspects for the camper: Rounding off the entire roof or just putting a slight pitch on it, 45-ing some corners on the front like E.R. does or keeping them square, tapering in the side walls of the front of the cabover section like you have, etc. It's a lot of work, but if you are going to take the time to custom build the camper, then it is a good idea to take advantage of the fact that you can basically make whatever you want. At least that is what I'm telling myself right now 🤔. I may regret it all when all of this detailed work starts adding 2-3 weeks onto the build schedule :mad:.

Did you do anything special for the curved roof, overhang in the rear, or rounded corners on the front of the cab over section (special layups, additional structural supports, or different/additional materials)? I'm not exactly familiar with the PVC core material you are using, wether you can mold it into shape, or if you have to build it up and shave it down.

The rear hatch is a nice double as an awning.
 

rruff

Explorer
If you manage to get it perfectly smooth, I'll certainly be impressed!

You can apparently heat-mold PVC foam (it's what Divinycell is made of, but I bought from Carbon Core), but I didn't do that. The flat parts are 1.5" thick, but I did the curved parts with two layers of .75". I had to build some temporary forms out of wood to attach the foam to. I'm a little fuzzy on the details but I think for the cabover... I cut the pieces to fit, then removed them and fiberglassed the inner surface while trying to keep the curvature about right, then mounted the pieces to the form, glued on the 2nd layer of foam, filled all the gaps, then fiberglassed the outside. Oh, the flat bottom piece was made first.

My current mood is that if I had it to do over again, I'd make everything flat.... with either a bevel or large radius on the top edges, and on the nose I'd just carve up a chunk of XPS foam to a nice aero shape and slap it on the front. If you want to get fancy you could carve out the interior of that piece also for more storage.

Isn't it hard for you to do infusion if you don't have a flat surface?

EDIT: Regarding the "aero nose", that's mostly about having a large radius on the edges. Most of that can be flat, so it doesn't need to be very thick... 6" maybe?
 
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