In search of the "perfect" camper frame


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I am currently building a 12 foot long camper with cab over for mounting on F550. Frame is aluminum. Wall skins are aluminum. Interior lined with fiberglass composite panels. Total wall thickness-3" . Subframe is made from carbon steel and houses water tanks which produces a low center of gravity. Body is super rigid and shows no sag at corners when supported by three jacks.


New member
@IdaSHO curious how you ended up attaching the camper to the flatbed. I couldn't find images of this on the pirate forum or expedition portal.
I was thinking maybe bolts through the floor and into the 2x on your flatbed, but that seems a bit silly as I know you're cold weather camping and those bolts could cause condensation to travel to the interior of your living space.

As you know I'm in the process of planning my build right now. Currently following your design closely as it encompasses my personal goals for simplicity of design and materials. I'd like my camper to reflect something that one could build with "hand tools" if they needed to.

Thank you for your guidance and advise. We appreciate it immensely.



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I used pockets that are integrated into the bed for locating and securing the camper

Ill get some better photos for you later, but here is the bed side.
The camper side has portions that slip into the pockets, and secure with single bolt in each pocket (4 total)

Ah yes, thank you for this photo! Wonderful idea. I can see the design of the pocket limits motion in all directions and would take a lot of stress off the bolt used for securing everything together. Is that the idea?

It would be great to see the camper side of this "joint" when you have time, I'm assuming you welded the receiving shape onto the camper box, but is this a new added feature for 3.0 or was this the way with 2.0 as well?

Either way, it's a great idea of course!

Thanks again

almost forgot, the paint looks great as well, awesome job, truly.


The pockets help locate the camper to the bed when loading, as well as takes all left-right and front-back movements.
The only thing the bolts are doing is "holding it down". Camper weighs 2200 lbs though, gravity pretty well does it all.... bolts do very little.

The camper side is a 1/4" plate, thru bolted to the bottom of the camper, with a section that matches the profile of the pockets.
The entire camper-side bracket is bolted and sealed to the camper with NP150.
So it is 100% weathertight.

A 1/4" rubber pad is then inserted between the plate and the aluminum surface of the bed, providing a 1/2" gap between the camper and the bed.
The camper essentially floats above the bed, on the 4-mounts. Only thing left to install here is a rubber gasket to take up that space.



New member
@IdaSHO I'm curious, why didn't you weld the entire frame of the camper and process the wood in the same way, sealing with urethane and glassing corners. Any reason specifically? Would you really save much weight using a stick frame over a full metal frame? I don't mean to be rude or anything, really just curious, is it a structural thing? Tools thing? style thing?


Mostly for efficiency/heat transfer.

Wood is far from the best insulator, but it is LOADS better than steel.
Wood-Wood connections will also be considerably stronger than Steel-Wood.

Knowing what I know now about how robust this wood unit is, if I ever did it again, I would use less steel.

Id embed steel into the corners for jack attachments, and that's it. (y)


New member
wow, that' seriously good to know. I'm hoping to start my build soon. I'll essentially be following your design so thanks in advance for all the awesome documentation and sharing you did with the build here and on Pirate.

You really think the overhang where the bed portion is would be stable enough if the frame was all wood? It just looks like such a big cantilever to me that I'd be nervous of it breaking where it joins the larger structure if it was made of wood and not resting on something more sturdy.

I noticed with your new flatbed (seriously awesome work on that btw) that the section of the camper which runs over the truck cab appears to be supported from underneath by aforementioned new flat bed design. Do you think something similar would be necessary if it were to be made of all wood?

I've attached my very quick mockup of the overall shape of the design I'm hoping to achieve. Like I said, I'll definitely be working from your plans (should probably give you some money haha what's your paypal?), but I'd like to pitch the walls at 80 degrees to lower the COG a bit and give a bit of "flair" to the design. I wouldn't mind living in a box style, but I think this will add a bit of uniqueness to the build.

I wish Pirate 4x4 held on to all the images you uploaded over the years on your build thread! It's missing from like pg6 to pg40 haha, oh well.


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