Camperizing the truck from the wood shop. #2: Truck prep, and some design thoughts...

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 08-26-2013 04:46 PM 1926 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The design process... Part 2 of Camperizing the truck from the wood shop. series Part 3: More work on prepping the truck for the camper... »

Long overdue, the truck took up WAY too much of my time this weekend, and reminded me I am no longer a twenty something fit guy… Those 35” mud tires really beat you up pulling them off, and worse, putting them back on to the truck! But I got it done…

At the 40K mark, my OEM disk brakes were worn thin, probably from the stop and go driving I had done when I worked the Energy corridor of Houston and commuted too stinking far every day in gridlock… Shortly after the brake job was done, the rear rotors warped. And my wife got laid off, so I have been due to budget reasons, dealing with a pulsing brake pedal for far too long!

Well I finally got it fixed. A well recommended set of slotted / drilled rotors and semi metallic pads from Powerstop were an easy enough install. I sure wish I had a vehicle lift though, would have made the work MUCH easier!

All that is left to prep for tripping with the truck is a maintenance fluid change. I am going to hire that job out… Going to go with full on synthetics, Transmission, transfer case, both differentials. Then a fresh set of tires, alignment, and new belts / hoses, and of course clean and re-oil the K&N air filter…

Now back to the woodworking part of all of this activity…

After reviewing the collapsible truck camper video I had linked, I like it, but it isn’t 100% right for me…

I am thinking about maybe some way to have fold down insulated tent sides , such that I can create a large, well supported platform, to hold a King Size air bed.

The inside of the truck bed, under the sleeping platform doesn’t need to be fancy, but it DOES need to be organized. It should be tall enough to stand up next to the mattress and get dressed. And there should be a port / support for an air conditioner. Organized storage for the kitchen, and privy tent should be a priority, as should security…

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but the purpose of this is to be able to endure ROUGH trail usage down 4×4 trails on Padre Island, Guadalupe Mountains, and, well points undecided yet…

I keep contemplating what I need to do here, and I am coming up with some interesting ideas, my biggest concern is the weight handling capacity.

I admit it, I am a fat man… Crestor didn’t help that at all, what Crestor made me gain in 1 month has taken my 2+ months of kicking up excersize and dieting to get half off of me… While I deal with these issues, I don’t want to break through thin plywood… Before I get fussed at by anyone over the health issues blah blah blah… I AM under a doctors care for this and some other issues that prior PCPs just wouldn’t listen to, and things are starting to go the right way. I have lost probably 45lbs in the last year, sadly though 40 of it came back when the Dr. wanted me on Crestor. if your doc puts you on some meds… work with them if you are getting odd effects, speak up for your own health!

Yes, that is another reason I am not wanting to go with a factory built camper. There are some really nice units out there in our budget range, but I am afraid they won’t support my weight…

I am somewhat considering using a combination of wood / foam insulation sandwich panels similar to teardrop trailer construction, and skinning with fiberglass. Again the big trick is going to be the ability to knock it down and stow when not in use, and to support my weight… I have ideas, just wish I had better relationships with engineers…

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5 comments so far

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


937 posts in 2536 days

#1 posted 08-26-2013 10:24 PM

Hey this sounds like a fun project. When I was 20 something I used my 4×4 truck long box with a canopy and away I went. Hope you are able to enjoy your completed project. How about some pictures?

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4187 posts in 3219 days

#2 posted 08-27-2013 06:48 AM

Remember the advantages of torsion box construction, be it a relatively thin bed support or something thicker. When you have a shop, you can design things differently than a factory would. Although I have never tackled a project like this one, I have “beefed up” a number of commercial products with added pieces of plywood and metal and got good service out of them.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#3 posted 08-27-2013 03:07 PM


Sort of what I had in mind, however I have a second with me now, and I am a pretty big guy. My truck is only a 6.5’ foot box as well (full size standard bed… I remember when the standard bed was the 8 footer!)

At his phase, I am mulling ideas, trying to come up with a concept to build on.

Since you want pics. The truck this is going to go on is this one… (FYI, the toolbox has been removed…)

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View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3140 days

#4 posted 08-27-2013 03:09 PM

While you are looking at tires and the camper build, check the load rating on those big tires. A lot of those
tires were built mainly to get fairly light rigs through mud, sand and muck, and not to haul heavy loads. I am
sure you would not want to build the camper and find out that the tires would not handle the weight. You
might have to go with a different tire to carry the weight you will have.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#5 posted 08-27-2013 03:35 PM

I have actually considered that, and it is one of the reasons for picking the Hercules Tires…

The Trail Digger MT in 35×12.50/17LT carries a load range E rating. Max load 3K lbs per tire. Total vehicle load capacity of 12K lbs.

Curb weight of FX4 model (actually heavier than my XLT) 5600lbs,

For comparison, a Palomino Bronco B1200 with an 8’ floor length (fits my truck with the tailgate down) is 1300lbs. That brings the gross vehicle weight to 6900lbs. Well within the capacity of the tires…

There are a LOT of other tires on the market that wouldn’t take this, particularly the DC tires, Intercos etc… I found the Hercules, BFGoodrich MT KM2, and Cooper Discoverer STT to be my best options for load rating, road manners, and getting my family through nasty conditions after a hurricane, or out at the deer lease…

Yeah the 35s are big, and honestly not exactly what I was aiming for. I wanted 305/70R17s, but they are VERY hard to come by for less than $300.00 a tire…

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