Can't find what I want so the build begins.







A bit darker than I pictured but it's what the wife wants.
She's doing a great job. And best of all I'm not having to do it.....


While the wife proceeds with the finish work. ( she is in full on decorator mode.)
I thought I'd move on to the final fit out of the exterior.
I have a bit to do before I can add insulation and skin.
I have to fit a rear door for the generator / storage bay. Wire for exterior LED, clearance and driving lights. Fabricate the ladder and storage rack mounts .And fabricate the camper jack system .
I will start by fabricating a set of telescopic , swing away camper jacks. And getting the system mounted on the chassis.
The jacks will be manual ( acme threaded ) 27" fully collapsed - 65 " fully extended . 44" of total drop.
When collapsed they will swing horizontal for storage. Or, for that matter, could be easily removed for off the camper storage. 1 - 5/8"" John Deer pin will detach them from the coach..
I will post pics of the final assembly once fitted out. If it works as well in practice as on paper.....


A few shots of the jacks and mounts.
I nixed the folding jack Idea.
Ended up being to wide and unstable.
Opted to use the same jacks in a fixed vertical mount.

A huge advantage to steel framing is the ability to use welded bungs for the jack mounts....


The mounts.



The jacks simply bolt through the mounts with a wing plate.



I will be replacing the cranks with new socketed shaft's once I can get some time in my machine shop.


New member
BoxCar... It's been really fun to watch this process. I've been thinking about a similar build for a while and gathering as much information as I can. There are so many things to consider!

I am wondering a few things:
- Why you chose steel over aluminum for the frame
- How you plan to prevent rust on the interior framing should there be water, moisture, condensation, etc.
- What kind of siding you plan to use

I am a fairly competent steel welder, but haven't done any aluminum and had been thinking that this might be an excuse to purchase a good aluminum welder and develop that skill. Watching your project has me thinking that perhaps I should consider steel.

I've been going back and forth for months on building VS. buying a Four Wheel shell or an old camper and refurbishing it.



Good questions.
I chose steel over aluminum for strength. Weight and rigidity.
My chassis came in at 320 lbs. and is 100% welded . No tech screws.
An all aluminum chassis with the same strength would not have been any lighter.
Rigidity is the key as I see it. Flex causes leaks.....
Steel is a much more forgiving material to work with and much more durable. ( Aluminum welds tend to crack over time ) .
Steel is far less than half the cost of aluminum.
The chassis is cold galvanized, then shot with etching primer prier to adding the interior panels. It was then sealed with clear polyurethane, once the panels were installed, by fogging the entire exterior. ( wood and chassis are now encapsulated in polyurethane. )
Once the insulation is installed all seams will be taped over with membrane tape .
This solves 2 problems. #1 it completely seals the chassis from exposer to moisture . #2 it will act as a buffer between the steel chassis and the aluminum skin.
Finally the coach will be rapped in .023 aluminum skin from All-Rite supplies.
All-Rite can supply aluminum sheathing in 8.5' width by what ever length you need. This will allow for a seamless siding job. No seams, no flex, no leaks.

Hope this helps.... Good luck with your project.

My choice to build over re-building an existing rig was due to several things.
I will be using this in some very sketchy environments. ( OFF road. )
Weight: Even the lightest pop tops seem to come in at nearly 1500lbs dry. ( for no good reason that I can discover )
Longevity : I never want to buy another camper........
I will have exactly what I want and need for my style of camping. ( I truly do 4 season camp, and not in Florida )
It will not suffer all of the draw backs and failings of a factory built unit.
The damn thing will undoubtedly be willed to my Kid after my demise.
And mostly: Because I can.
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That looks great. I always wanted to build from scratch and would use steel of course, because I can.
I am repairing a truck camper now and am amazed at how poorly constructed it is. The framing is 1x1 strips of wood, where yours is steel, and mine has paneling on the walls inside and sheet aluminum siding on the outside. That is the structure. But. It has managed to hold up all these years even with the dry rot I am repairing. Even some of the cabinetry is paneling.
I am guessing the the interior build is considered part of the structure and is helping to hold it together and give ti strength too.
I'm tempted to make the repairs with angle iron, but had to talk myself out of it and use wood because in a few years I will sell this anyway, and apparently the wood is good enough.
Do you think your 320 pound frame will yield a lighter over-all camper since you don't have to beef it up at all?

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Yes I actually do think it will be lighter over all.
I just finished adding the second heaviest system components to the camper.
The camper jacks. The system came in at just under 100lbs total
The coach is still under 1000 lbs .
I am preparing to start adding the R-Tech insulated panels and then the Aluminum skin to the coach.
At this point I think I will be over the target weight once completed. I'm guessing by less than 100 lbs. But still over.
Only time and a state calibrated truck scale will tell.

The jacks:






lost, but making time
I added provisions for a solar panel or to while wiring the overhead.
To be honest , I haven't even thought about that aspect yet.
As I have no experience with them , any advice would be appreciated....
Sir ! WOW ! ! ! What a fantastic project and great work !
Just found this thread and read the whole thing with great enjoyment.


Very impressed with your engineering and choice of materials. Very speedy work, too.


Steel gets an underserved bad rep and your work is disproving a lot of popular thought :D


If you are interested in solar, then here is the place to go:


Thank you for the good words and advice ERSATZKNARF.
Just a bit of an update. I haven't got a bunch of time, as I am off to pick up the aluminum skin today.
I did manage to get the passenger side and the front sealed up yesterday.




The blue around the windows is the Ice Shield .


Damn thing looks like a space capsule...
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Or a jiffy-pop :snorkel:

Looks great.

Are you bonding the skins to the insulation and framing, or just fastening?