C5500 TopKick 4x4 Crew Cab Build

NeverEnough

Adventurer
Hi!

Just re-read the entire thread for the third time, it took a week...
Still an amazing build and log, with excellent info, thanks!

Are you still using it, or have you moved forward on your new designs?

Any update on long term use of different components and durability would be highly appreciated, like did the brush seals hold up? are the slides still as good? all your thoughts on cabinet doors, are you still satisfied with your choices? what is your biggest mistake or regret in your design?

Thanks again for sharing your adventure in both build and use!
Thanks Christian, glad it's still worthwhile reading. I still use it frequently, and overall it's held up very well. The brush seals have done OK, but I should've chosen a finer fiber so it would have less memory. I have to "fluff" the fibers at camp sometimes. The slides have held up decent as well. The side slides, which use the LCI mechanisms have jammed a few times, I think from getting off track when bouncing down super rough roads. Some prodding gets the teeth back in the tracks. The big custom rams that drive the big slide room continue to work just fine, but I'm probably going to take them apart this winter and check the acme drive components.

I used Reico Titan motors for those rams, as well as for the corner lifting jacks, and I've had to replace three of the six units in 6 years. I'll also be rebuilding the corner lifting jacks this winter, with beefier screws with less pitch (will require less lifting force with more revolutions, slower lift).

The cabinets have done fine, a few of the plastic catches from the locking knobs have either worn down from use and vibration or cracked, but they're easy to replace.

I've repaired cracks in my black water tank three times, so I finally just had a new one built using 3/8" material with more internal baffles and support, as well as several external support ribs to remove stress on the area where it kept failing.

As for the biggest mistake in my design? Probably just a bit too tall. But from a design perspective, I'm still very happy with the rig and its super functional. My mistakes were more on the engineering and construction side, but that just lends to the "personality" of a one-off!

My next rig has been built in CAD, I'm finalizing infrastructure component decisions and hoping to get the work started on the chassis in October. The body is designed to fit on a flat bed. The big difference in the new build is size and maneuverability- My needs are way different now, so I need something that can travel fast and light, yet still be comfortable in camp. In travel mode, the "camper" box is 7.5' wide, 6' tall, and 12' long. It expands to almost 200 sqft of living space with 6'10" ceiling height in about 45 seconds using a single actuator. On a NPR crew cab (converted to 4x4) chassis, curb weight will be just about 5 tons fully loaded. Should be a fun project, looking forward to starting a new build thread soon.

16? Kid has a career!

Bravo! (Oh, and the camper ain't too shabby either.)
Thanks! He's now 18 and doing amazing work. Hopefully he can support me one day!
 
Last edited:

Christian

Adventurer
Thanks Christian, glad it's still worthwhile reading. I still use it frequently, and overall it's held up very well. The brush seals have done OK, but I should've chosen a finer fiber so it would have less memory. I have to "fluff" the fibers at camp sometimes. The slides have held up decent as well. The side slides, which use the LCI mechanisms have jammed a few times, I think from getting off track when bouncing down super rough roads. Some prodding gets the teeth back in the tracks. The big custom rams that drive the big slide room continue to work just fine, but I'm probably going to take them apart this winter and check the acme drive components.

I used Reico Titan motors for those rams, as well as for the corner lifting jacks, and I've had to replace three of the six units in 6 years. I'll also be rebuilding the corner lifting jacks this winter, with beefier screws with less pitch (will require less lifting force with more revolutions, slower lift).

The cabinets have done fine, a few of the plastic catches from the locking knobs have either worn down from use and vibration or cracked, but they're easy to replace.

I've repaired cracks in my black water tank three times, so I finally just had a new one built using 3/8" material with more internal baffles and support, as well as several external support ribs to remove stress on the area where it kept failing.

As for the biggest mistake in my design? Probably just a bit too tall. But from a design perspective, I'm still very happy with the rig and its super functional. My mistakes were more on the engineering and construction side, but that just lends to the "personality" of a one-off!

My next rig has been built in CAD, I'm finalizing infrastructure component decisions and hoping to get the work started on the chassis in October. The body is designed to fit on a flat bed. The big difference in the new build is size and maneuverability- My needs are way different now, so I need something that can travel fast and light, yet still be comfortable in camp. In travel mode, the "camper" box is 7.5' wide, 6' tall, and 12' long. It expands to almost 200 sqft of living space with 6'10" ceiling height in about 45 seconds using a single actuator. On a NPR crew cab (converted to 4x4) chassis, curb weight will be just about 5 tons fully loaded. Should be a fun project, looking forward to starting a new build thread soon.



Thanks! He's now 18 and doing amazing work. Hopefully he can support me one day!
Thanks for the reply, and great to hear your are still using it.
It seems your attention to detail and reluctance to cut corners in the build has payed of big time. Kind of ironic that the bought items has a bigger tendence to fail than your custom work, but I suppose that of-the-shelf stuff for RV's are not meant for off-roading, and I could suspect not even meant to have that long a life anyway... It would be interesting to have an actual count on how many circulations the Titans have gone through before failing, all in all it can't be that many times. a $/lift calculation could be downright scary!

Your build has been a big inspiration. And like you, my own needs and plans have changed since I read it the first time. I read it first when it was just the wife and me, and our needs and dreams were more in the good old Supercamper category. We have two kids now, a pair of girls, 4 and 8. So It's time to get going, if we want to get them interested in this lifestyle. So I have bought an old Mercedes Bullnose 4X4 I'll start a build on this winter. It's a double cab with a flat floor, so the cab reminds me of a Great Banks yacht trawler (reminds me, not even close in reality ;-))

So your new plan must be a two person rig? Any chance of sharing a sneak peek? The NPR's are great, but too expensive here, and registration would be a very costly pain here, but a great base vehicle! I hope you will let us follow your build a progress again, it's still one of the best build threads both here and compared to other forums!

Thanks again for sharing!
 

Ramdough

Adventurer
I am curious how you are achieving the square footage increase from driving to camping. Please elaborate.

Loved the last build. Looking forward to the next one.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
I am curious how you are achieving the square footage increase from driving to camping. Please elaborate.

Loved the last build. Looking forward to the next one.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Nested volumes are the key, like in my previous build, but I've come up with some fun new methods. It'll be clear once once the build thread starts. I've done a couple of 3D prints, including all the moving parts, to test the concept, so far so good. Design accommodates up to four, but really focusing on something that can be comfortable for extended trips for two.
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
Well, 9 years of twisting and tweaking and never had an issue with my chassis, subframe, or box- until about two weeks ago. Turns out that getting hit broadside by a +100mph microburst in eastern utah was too much for my aluminum tube subframe. Interesting sound when aluminum tubing snaps! So took it off the truck this week to do repairs. Needed to replace the brace over the wheel well anyway from my first and only tire blow out last September (scary......). I circled the where the subframe cracked and where the tire shrapnel literally blew the brace off. Hope to have her reassembled in a few days. Oh, stripping powder coat sucks!subframe_LI.jpgsubframe crack.jpg
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
Back on the road, Uinta Mountains, Utah. Everything was fine until I sheared the coupler pin on one of my leveling jacks getting ready to leave. I've been putting off installing hydraulic leveling jacks on the chassis since I bought it, but it's long over due. The electric jacks just can't get the job done on uneven terrain.campermoonlake.jpg
 
Back on the road, Uinta Mountains, Utah. Everything was fine until I sheared the coupler pin on one of my leveling jacks getting ready to leave. I've been putting off installing hydraulic leveling jacks on the chassis since I bought it, but it's long over due. The electric jacks just can't get the job done on uneven terrain.View attachment 600014
Hi there, like many others this thread inspired me to pursue a somewhat similar route. I'm new to the whole heavy duty truck game, but not so new to the overlanding/offroad camping game. I noticed you had custom wheel spacers made for the rear wheels to give you the correct offset in this "super single" configuration. Is there an off the shelf option for 7300/7400s as far as super single wheel setups go. Also where do most guys on here source their military wheels from, google wasnt much help as far as I could tell.

Youre rig is awesome, looks like youre really putting it to good use!
 

NeverEnough

Adventurer
I got my wheels and spacers from Stazworks. He knows the military wheels and tires as well as anybody. Since I'm in Utah, I've sourced replacement tires from Boyce Equipment.

BUT, news flash..... After my 3rd blowout in 2 years, I switched to standard 24.5" commercial wheels and DRW. I've done three trips since the switch, all involving off-road, and I really don't notice a difference. Then again, I'm not pushing the limits. On the other hand, I've never understood the logic of pushing the limits in a truck that weighs almost 25,000lbs. It's scary to change a tire, let alone attempt a recovery.

Switching back to DRW has made driving on the highway (where all three blowouts occurred at sub 65mph) a better experience. The truck tracks better, especially in the right lane "grooves". I'm far less stressed about carrying highway speeds, and I get a replacement tire/wheel just about anywhere. In addition, I had to replace the bushings on the front axle last fall. When looking at the worn bushings with the mechanic, we theorized that the extreme early wear could have been brought on by running the Hutchinson/MichXZL combo up front. I've developed an opinion that it's best to stick with a wheel and tire setup that adheres to the truck's specifications.

I'll be the first to admit that the big military wheels and tires look super cool. I'll also be the first to admit that I'm just too lazy to air up and air down tires of this size without a CTIS. It takes at least an hour to air back up from 50-60PSI to 105PSI. And my confidence in the surplus tires has diminished greatly. I tried to get the freshest ones available, but despite the specs on the XZLs indicating they'd be fine for SRW, I had one too many bad experiences. I was afraid every time put the chuck to the valve stem!

PS- I have 5 Stazworks wheels and 4 low miles XZLs that need a new home.....
 
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