Pro-Rig V2.0 - Home Built Compact Composite Pop-up

Well, I'm about six months in to this build and progress has been slow but steady. Here's how it looks as of about a week ago:

It's (obviously) a slide in. It will be a double pop-up - the structure on the foreground in the photos is the hard-sided part of the pop-up (upside down). It will slide up vertically giving about 5 feet of headroom. The second part of the pop up will be a Westfalia-style hinged roof with canvas sides. The idea is, if the weather is bad we can close the canvas part and still do everything inside (except stand up straight). In the "down" mode for travel, it should be just a couple inches taller than the cab of the truck (Nissan Frontier 4-door short bed).

The building material is a honeycomb core with 2.7mm plywood skins (more on this later). I went with the plywood composite over a fiberglass composite primarily due to the fact that I'm building this in my garage and the thought of all that fiberglass dust all over everything was a deal breaker. Most of the camper exterior will then get a layer of fiberglass to give it some extra impact resistance. Aluminum angle is bonded on with 3m 5200 to protect/strengthen the outside corners. Joints are mostly butt joints - I fill the honeycomb with thickened epoxy and then clamp the joint together (usually overnight at least). The inside corners then get a fillet and 3" fiberglass tape. Outside corners get 6" tape where they don't get aluminum.

Since I don't have one of those cool 3-D graphics that others manage to do, you'll have to see the design unfold as it comes together.

The interior as it sits:

The interior is made of composites too, making the whole thing (hopefully) really strong. My floor plan prioritized getting the heavy stuff forward and including the "must-haves" that my girlfriend requested - inside shower, porta potty, 2-burner stove, fridge with freezer, battery-that-doesn't-go-dead-all-the-time, queen size bed with sit-up headroom, dinette seating, hot water, heater and, most importantly, "I don't want it to look home made". Well, that's a lot to cram in to a small camper and a tall order for someone with no experience in building this type of thing. Never mind, it's worth a try!

Lots or work yet to go. Currently working on getting the electrical, water and propane systems installed and still lots to do on painting and finishing construction of the roof.

Updates to follow!

Thanks all!

Good looking! I am in the middle of a build. Mine is more permanent than a slide in. But, I need to get a lot of the same stuff inside.
Been watching your build ski_bike_camp - super cool. I toyed with the ideal of making my own panels like you're doing. Ultimately I took a chance on these panels from CarbonCore. They are working fine for me but I wouldn't recommend them. Long story short, they skimp on the adhesive between the core and the plywood. Every once in a while I'd drill a hole with a hole saw and the core and one piece of plywood would come out to reveal that the other ply was not stuck. You can see an example here:

There's a good recent discussion here with someone else using the same panels (I think he's having bigger problems than I did with delamination). I pulled a few pieces apart and found decent adhesion over maybe 80% of the area. Obviously not ideal. "Name brand" panels (costing three times as much) are surely much stronger but would have blown me out of my budget in a hurry.

Anyway, I attempted a low-tech visual of what it should look like on the truck:

Details to follow...
First piece of kit to get installed is the heater. We went with the Propex HS2000.

Expensive little bugger. Doesn't take up too much space though and it's light and doesn't draw much current when running. Saving space and weight was a constant theme in choosing what stuff to use on the interior.

Fresh combustion air comes in through the black tube which is routed through the outer wall under the parts of the camper that overhangs the bed rails of the truck. Hoping this location will help keep stuff from getting sucked in. The exhaust vent for the combustion air comes out the bottom and is wrapped in thick insulation to keep it from melting things. The stainless hose goes through the outside storage space and will exit via a double-walled thru-wall fitting thingy (another expensive little bugger).

Hot air out hole at right, in through hole at upper left.

Ducting for the hot air, thermostat and wiring still to come.

Next came the water system. The water tank (a generous 25 gallons) is all the way forward and built in - i.e., if it ever needs to come out, there will need to be a big hole cut in the outside wall of the camper. Lets hope that tank lasts a long time.

Worked on getting the hot water heater plumbed today but was thwarted by not having the right connectors on hand. That will have to wait a couple days now.

Tomorrow it's back to painting the interior...

The details really are awesome. Where did you purchase the aluminum angle? Exact size? Cost? Having trouble finding a light gauge aluminum angle. The build looks great, please keep the pictures coming. I am very interested to get your thoughts on the proper heater once you get it fired up. Thanks.
Sweet build :ylsmoke:

Are you doing the fab work for the aluminum corners/trims?
Thanks! Yeah, but "fab work" might be a strong term. Just cutting with a miter saw and gluing it in:p. No welding.

The details really are awesome. Where did you purchase the aluminum angle? Exact size? Cost? Having trouble finding a light gauge aluminum angle. The build looks great, please keep the pictures coming. I am very interested to get your thoughts on the proper heater once you get it fired up. Thanks.
That aluminum is from a place called "Online Metals". They have a great selection and prices are good. Shipping isn't cheap though. Mostly on the outside I used 2" X 2" X 1/8" in a 6063 alloy. I'm using some 2" X 2" X 1/16" too and I actually wish I had gone that way for all the corners. Should be plenty strong and it's half the weight (but oddly costs more than the 1/8"). Before gluing it in with the 5200 I sanded with 80 grit and then wiped down with acetone. Seems to be sticking really well to the bare wood and to the areas that have a layer of fiberglass.

Also check out "Orange Aluminum" - I ordered some angle and channel from them with their anodized finish for some of the interior corners and edges - nice finished look. Pretty good prices, less selection but cheaper shipping.
Are you getting the composite online also?
Yep. Place called CarbonCore. They have a bunch of different options - foam and honeycomb cores and plywood and FRP skins to choose from. Bunch of different thicknesses. Prices are good but the quality might not be. Read through Gunner207's thread in this forum that I linked to earlier - lots of interesting discussion on the CarbonCore panels there.

Shipping to California (sixteen 4' X 8' panels) was ridiculously cheap $120.