SRW 450 Mountain Build


Suggestion: modify your spare tire carrier to carry 2.
335/80R20 is not a common size.
In theory I could have multiple tire racks with different features and swap them out when needed as long as I had a place to store them. I'm not sure if I'll ever do this though.

This rig really isn't that big so adding another spare on the back would be a challenge! I think for our purposes one spare is enough. I hope I never actually need to use it. I do know how to patch tires so maybe it's probably not a bad idea to keep a patch kit in with my emergency stuff so that I could have one blow out and one flat and still be okay. If we end up doing more international travel, my opinion on the matter might change!


Still waiting on parts to arrive so I can get my coolant heater installed... maybe it'll come in handy next season!

In the mean time I added some extra insulation in our pop up material for winters. When the camper was being built, I had phoenix pop up sow some velcro into the soft pop up material so that I could do this which made it a lot easier than my old set up. I put velcro on the top and the bottom of the panels and also along the windows. I cut out the windows so that you can still use them. The whole thing can stay on the camper while I put the top up and down so I probably won't remove it until Spring.


It's nice that we won't have to keep putting it on and taking it off.

The windows still work!



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Awesome! I'm looking to get a 5500 and do a similar conversion. I'll have to to check out Dusty Dog Garage.

Where are you located? I'd love to check out your truck. I'm in Lone Tree.


Updates on our crazy build!

We added some cabover struts, a coolant heater, did some testing on the A/C unit and our water recycler.

The coolant heater took forever to arrive, but it's finally installed and working. It'll be really nice next winter. This replaces our electric block heater which I never really had that much luck with, even on shore power. This heater will bring the engine up to 140F and keep it there without having to idle. Without it, it takes a very long time to get going when it's below 0F outside. Dusty dog garage did the install and it's working great.


Our coolant heater is mounted under the frame of the truck and it's enclosed in a metal case to keep debris from damaging it.

We mounted the display (little box with the orange screen) in the camper with the other controls. It has an option to schedule when you want the coolant heater to kick on so if we want to get up and just start driving, we can.

Since I've been home a lot with the covid-19 thing going on, and warmer weather, I've been experimenting with our shower water recycler. We two separate wanter tanks, one for drinking and one for showering. Our goal is to get to a point where we can take multiple showers on the same water by filtering it and pumping it back into the tank. The thought is that since we're not drinking it, it doesn't need to be potable, but showerable.

It took a while to start testing this because we first picked up the camper in October and we were hit with snow storms right away so I attempted to winterize it and I failed. I cracked a copper pipe in the heater itself and it was shooting water everywhere, so I called phoenix pop up and explained the situation. They walked me through exactly what I did wrong and installed a new heater for me. I definitely was at fault, but they still installed a new one for me without charging for the labor so that was really nice of them. My second attempt at winterization worked :) I'll try very hard not to screw that up again.

So I was finally able to give this thing a real test.

To save space, my shower system uses a bladder that fills on side and drains on the other. It rolls up and tucks away in a very small space. The green hose is connected to the water outlet for the shower drain, and the clear hose is hooked up to our recycler system. The idea is that water is recycling while someone is showering, but they don't have to operate at the same rate. I have a 40 gallon (150L) shower water tank. The bladder can hold 60 gallon so you can shower into the whole tank and recycle later if needed. The black blocks don't do anything, they're just there. The bladder is pretty easy to get out and put away.

The shower itself pop ups up from under the counter. It doubles as our bathroom when it's not a shower, or extra counter space when it's not either.
We use a tankless girard water heater that runs on propane and it was a great shower. You can easily take a 20 minute hot shower with no worries about running out of water or hot water with the water running on full pressure continuously. Very nice!

So did the recycler work? Sort of. Yes at first. The very first shower was impressive. The water recycled quickly. I let the shower run for a minute or two while the water was getting hot, then I turned on the recycler and started my shower. The water was pumped back into the camper within just a few minutes after I stopped showering. The recycler was running a little slower than the shower but not by a whole lot. It was impressive. The second shower had clean water for the whole shower. Unfortunately the water recycler made it about a third of the way through the second shower before the filters were clogged up with soap. So I the concept works, but it still needs a bit of fine tuning.

About the filter system that clogged...
Right now our filter system is one 10 inch big blue filter with a 20 micron sediment filter and then we have a cool knight ultrafilter. The cool knight filter is a relatively cheap under-the-counter water filter. It claims to be a reverse osmosis filter, but if you read the specs, it's actually an ultrafilter (0.01 microns nominal). Inside it has 4 stages: 5 micron PPF, 5 micron activated carbon filter, 0.01 micron hollow fiber membrane, monocrystalline carbon composite filter. These cartridges are all pretty small, and it seems like filter is designed to polish off water in your house where you start with relatively clean tap water.

On to the new system!
My thought is that since I'm starting with dirty water that has soap and dirt in it from showering (I'm not going to drink it), I should be looking into well water purification systems. I bought three more 10 inch big blue filters to replace the cool knight system. I wanted to stay with a 5 stage filter system but I wanted something that can handle dirtier water.
Stage 1: the same 20 micron sediment filter
Stage 2: Pureplus 5 micron pleated polypropylene sediment water filter (3-5gpm)
Stage 3: Aquaboon 5 micron activated carbon block filter (2-7gpm depending on age)
Stage 4: Pentek 0.5 micron carbon block filter (2gpm)
That water will go into the camper shower tank.

Bonus shower head filter: Aqua earth 15 stage shower head filter (2.5gpm) for anything that may have been missed.

I do plan to add some UVC sterilization into this just to be safe, but that doesn't actually filter anything, it just keeps the water from growing bacteria. Bacteria and cysts are around 1 micron in size so hopefully none of that is remaining after the 0.5 micron filter at stage 4 anyway.

With the big blue filters I should be able to fine tune my filter system with different types of filters without having to replace the whole system, so I'll probably experiment with different combinations and see how well everything works. I'll post an update once my big blue filter housings arrive. I'm new to water filtration so it might take a few tries!
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While I have no personal experience building one of these, I have done quite a bit of research, speaking with several water quality experts and a biologist. You can't give yourself anything that you don't already have, e.g. you can't get Giardia or Polio from shower water. Neither are there, so there is no need to attempt to filter them out.

Get a mesh filter to catch dirt, hair, dead skin and some soap suds and install that first, 20 microns is too small for your first filter. A few hundred microns is still pretty small on the scale at which we are operating.

Don't use soap or use much less of it. It may sound gross, but there is quite a bit of science behind it. Your skin is the largest organ "in" your body and it absorbs much of that to which it is exposed. As a first line of defence, it contains oils, beneficial bacteria and other microscopic organisms that you routinely kill and flush away when using soaps, especially harsh detergent soaps.

Have you ever wondered why you feel, "squeaky clean" after showering? You have washed off all of the natural protective oils. To get 'clean' you don't need much, unless you have been rebuilding your truck engine, just minutes before your shower. A stiff bristled brush works wonders to scrub off dead skin and remove any loose dirt, without flushing oils away. Your skin will be healthier, as will the rest of your body, for several reasons that I won't go into here.

If you have oil or grease that needs to be removed, either use a natural oil such as almond or coconut, or use a natural, citrus based degreaser. Commercially produced dish soaps and body soaps are full of toxic chemicals that most people put into their bodies daily for decades; not a great idea IMO.


Interesting. The soap thing makes perfect sense. My go-to body soap is a charcoal based bar soap that seems pretty good but my shampoo has a lot of chemicals for sure.

I wonder what I could use before the first filter. Maybe a mesh filter on one of the hose attachments?

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Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
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Do you have a weight for your rear axle? Have been thinking about a similar build using a F350 Cab and chassis SRW.
Can you share a general price range for what Phoenix did for you?
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Do you have a weight for your rear axle? Have been thinking about a similar build using a F350 Cab and chassis SRW.
Can you share a general price range for what Phoenix did for you?
My rear axle weight is about 7250lbs with all my gear in it and with the water tanks full. Keep in mind that the scale weighs the tires too which are extremely heavy by themselves, so the actual weight on the axle is less that this by probably 500lbs or so.

The pricing with Phoenix has a very large range depending on what you want build. Mine is a chassis mount build. The way this works is you have a staring price for just the bare bones camper body and you can and remove features which all come at various prices. If you add a ton of additional features, you can easily have a very expensive build. Fewer features, or more simple ones and you can keep it reasonably cheap. I've been to their factory many times both before and after my build and I've a pretty big range from really simple builds to really complex ones like mine.

I would recommend emailing Cari at and setting up a call or a factory tour (I guess a tour would have to be after the world goes back to normal). They can talk to you about what your interested in and give you an idea on what you might be looking at in terms of price more accurately that I can.

Here's what I can tell you though... The most expensive thing I added to my camper was the passthrough to the truck. They had to cut a giant hole in the back of the truck get everything attached in such a way that the camper and truck can move independently from each other while the passthrough is connecting the two. To me, it was worth it! We use that passthrough. Most of the Phoenix pop up builds I've seen don't have it, probably due to the price.

Also, flat bed builds are significantly cheaper compared to chassis mount builds, so that could be something to consider as well. I've seen a few of the flatbed builds they've done and they're pretty impressive!
Here's a link to their 2020-2021 brochure which has a little bit more detail:


We upgraded our shower filtration system!

On a recent post I had talked about how our original shower water recycler was using a pre-filter and an under-the-sink 4 stage filter, but it wasn't handling the dirty water too well before it got blocked. We upgraded this to a well water system and the difference has been night and day!

Our new set (slightly changed from my described in plan in my previous post):
Stage 1: 100 mesh garden hose filter
Stage 2: Brita 15-30 micron pleated filter
Stage 3: Pureplus 5 micron pleated polypropylene sediment water filter
Stage 4: Aquaboon 5 micron activated carbon block filter
Stage 5: Pentek 0.5 micron carbon block filter
Then water goes into the storage tank.
We added an Aqua earth 15 stage shower shower head filter just to take care of anything possibly left behind.

So far I've been pretty impressed. My wife and I have been testing it and we've managed 5 showers so far and the water is still clean and the filters are operating at least as fast as the shower head, so you the showers are quite literally endless right now. I imagine that as the filters get dirtier the rate of flow will slow down some, but so far the reserve bladder has been empty as soon as the shower turns off :) We've been using a lot of soap. A lot more than we would normally use in a shower, and a whole lot more that we intend to use when we start taking this on trips for real, but we're really trying to put our filter system to the test and see what it can handle. We'll see how many we can get in before either the water or the filters need to be replaced. Seems like so far so good.

We plan to secure them down once we finish testing, but they fit nicely back there. We kept them all in a straight line to try to reduce the amount of resistence.

My only regret with this setup is that I didn't pay close enough attention to the openings and fittings between these filters when I was buying parts, so the water pump has a 1/2 inch ID tube which goes into the mesh filter with a 3/4 inch garden hose thread which goes to a dupont 10x2.5 filter with a standard 3/4 inch thread which goes into the 3 10x4.5inch big blues which have a 1 inch housing. Needless to say it would have been a little more efficient if I had everything on a 3/4inch opening. I ended up running all the tubing as 1/2inch ID tube to match the water pump and and a reducer coupling on each filter connection.

I need a better way to mount the shower head, but this is working for now.

Behind all this madness is a flojet water pump. This thing seems to have no problem raising the water 4ft from the ground into the camper and pushing the water through all these filters.

We have another one of these power the shower, so we have two running while we shower.

We'll keep testing and when we're satisfied we have enough info we'll secure them down. I'm pretty happy with it. I build the camper without a greywater shower tank with the idea of finding a way to get this thing to work. It was sort of a moonshot idea and I wasn't 100% convinced that it would work, but now things are looking very good!
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Interesting on the shower. I guess I would be really curious how it works long term and if I find it worth it in the end. I could see it being expensive to run if you end up having to change the filters often, and also a pain in ass too, but if it works? Absolutely awesome. Please keep us updated, it sounds like a pretty big commitment and risk, for a potential huge reward since shower water is always at a premium while off grid.


Well-known member
Have you ever wondered why you feel, "squeaky clean" after showering? You have washed off all of the natural protective oils. To get 'clean' you don't need much, unless you have been rebuilding your truck engine, just minutes before your shower. A stiff bristled brush works wonders to scrub off dead skin and remove any loose dirt, without flushing oils away. Your skin will be healthier, as will the rest of your body, for several reasons that I won't go into here.
Actually that isn't completely true. Soap does have a part in it but the bigger culprit is hard water. You can test this yourself by using the same soap in soft water. Guess what, you are slippery when done. No squeekiness at all. No matter how hard you scrub. You can also shower in a hard water system without using soap. Eventually you will get a little squeeky.

Try your test with surfactant free soap. This should help and may completely resolve the issue. Surfactants love oil and is probably the main culprit in clogging, second would be particulates, ie dirt.

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