Truck Camper Build #2

Welcome back for the second installation of how an F150 becomes a home! Last time we left with the basic bed and bedside table structure completed, and now I’ll finish up how I built a shelving unit and outfitted the camper with all kinds of wonderful amenities to make it feel like home. Also, stay tuned for the cost breakdown at the end of this post – let’s see if I break the bank!

First, to utilize the right side I drew out some plans for a shelving apparatus that would hold my water jug, miscellaneous items, and provide a flat surface. Technically, the shelf simply hangs off the side of the wall, anchored with two C-Clamps.

 

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The end product.

 

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A rough start in need of some refining.

The shelf started out with a simple 1×4 held down with the clamps, and then ¾ inch plywood sheeting for the top and bottom shelves and ½ plywood cut for the back. The top is screwed into the 1×4 and also wedged underneath the window frame, creating a solid fit. In addition, the bottom of the unit sits on the wheel well for added reinforcement. I used corner braces to attach both shelves rather than toenail the pieces together with screws. Since the bottom shelf will hold up to 3 gallons of water, I needed it to be extra reinforced, so I also applied longer braces to the bottom on the backside.

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A view of the bottom braces and the angle cut to utilize more space.

I cleaned up the cuts and added a little cupboard (which was very fun to make, and I’ll brag was completed using only screws, no corner braces, to piece together. I’m starting to feel professional!)

All pieces were sanded before the final assembly, then three coats of polyurethane applied and a magnetic cabinet clasp added for the door.

It always amazes me how projects like this look so simple, but actually take a long time to complete. I spent the better part of an afternoon and evening planning, measuring, brainstorming, talking to myself, correcting mistakes, cussing a few times, and eventually raising a glass in triumph when I created a workable item. I have thoroughly enjoyed this build project for the problem solving opportunities it has warranted and the sense of accomplishment I am left with after every little victory. I don’t think I’m going to run off and be a carpenter or a cabinet builder anytime soon though!

Also, I forgot to show my wonderful carpeted floor, which came together pretty quickly. I knew I wanted a flat surface since kneeling on those ribs on the floor are hell on the knees. I grabbed some lath and cut it into lengths to run down each rib. Then I measured and cut a piece of flooring underlayment. Each piece of lath got a healthy strip of wood glue and then we carefully placed the underlayment where we wanted and weighted it for the night (this is definitely a two person part of the project!).

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Of course I didn’t buy quite enough lath, but I made due.

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After the glue was set, I cut a piece of old carpeting I had in my garage to fit over the underlayment. The carpet isn’t glued or attached so it can easily be removed for cleaning.

I used the remaining bit of carpet to line underneath the left side as well.

Now that the back is feeling more comfortable, it’s time to find things to put in it! I shopped around both online and in brick and mortar stores for storage bins, tupperwares, etc., and eventually ended up buying a large wicker bin at Hobby Lobby, some drawer storage boxes from Amazon, curtains from Shopko, and 3 inch bed foam from Joann Fabric. I already had most everything else, including the soft sided cooler/table from REI, various Rubbermaid tubs, and lights.

Curtains proved to be a little troublesome, mainly because I was stubborn and wanted them all to be on rods so they could easily be pulled open and shut. However, topper sides are NOT vertical and move around a lot when driving, so good luck trying to get even the strongest spring rod to stay up! After a few failed attempts, I resorted to simply using velcro to stick a solid sheet of Sun Zero curtain material to the top and bottom of the window. When the curtains aren’t down, I can roll up and tie them or take them completely off. The road will determine which method becomes more practical.

Stick on Velcro works very well with the carpeted interior, but does have a tendency to slide off the plastic-y curtain backing in hot temps, so I actually hand-sewed each piece of Velcro to the curtain and then stuck it on. An easy project while watching the sunset/movie/cat antics on the lawn.

I made curtains for all windows since who knows what kind of creepers could be around on the road. I was able to rig up a rod for the front window since the topper sides were closer to vertical. I angle cut some dowel pieces and routered out a notch for the rod to sit in. A huge glob of hot glue and it is still up so far!

For bedding I found a great deal on a chunk of 3 inch foam. I had previously bought some 1 inch foam and doubled it, but a few nights proved it just wasn’t good enough for long term use. I decided I would splurge and spend some good money on foam, but I hit a 50% off sale at Joann’s and got this for $48! Definitely worth every penny. I threw a large, tight weave blanket around the mattress in hopes it will help keep it both clean and preserved. Plus, it looks sweet.

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I had an old down comforter which I folded up and added as a “pillow top”.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed following me on this journey and are perhaps inspired to start your own project. The options are endless and the payoff is great – I thoroughly enjoyed every step of the build and now have a sweet home on wheels to go exploring!

Cost breakdown:

*I had most of the lumber laying around my garage already, so I found average prices at Home Depot

Truck topper                     $675 (the biggest steal of the decade!)
1 sheet ¾ in. plywood       $35
1 sheet ½ in. plywood       $15
Underlayment                   $12
3 2x4x8                               $10
1 1x6x10                             $9
4 8’ lath strips                    $12
2 C-Clamps                         $14
4 Nuts/bolts/washers       $3
Woodglue                           $5
6 larger hinges                  $15
4 small hinges                   $7
1 in. speedbor bit              $6
2 ½ in. screws                    $6
Polyurethane                    $18
2 Magnetic clasps             $3
12 corner braces              $10
Velcro                                 $10
Curtains (side & back)    $17
Curtains (front)                $6
Curtain rod                       $6
3 in. foam (25″x70″)        $48
Large wicker basket       $20
Clothes organizer bins   $12
LED push light                 $5
DC to AC 100W inverter $18
Beer for unpaid help      $negligible

GRAND TOTAL                 $997

I was going into this project willing to pay up to $1,500 for a high quality topper alone, so to see the WHOLE project come in under a thousand…wow. Looking back, so many things just fell into place, from the build working smoothly to seemingly scoring deals every time I turned around. I think I have made the right decision and am SO excited to hit the road and enjoy a life of less “stuff” and more fulfillment (how hipster am I?!)

Biggest lesson learned: Just do it.

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4 thoughts on “Truck Camper Build #2

  1. Looks great! And yes, you did get a deal on the topper. We have a similar one and the rear door option alone was more than you spent on your entire top!!!

    My wife and I just got back from a trip to Montana and Alberta. Glad to hear that you are going to see other parts of the country. If you want any tips about the East or South, let us know.

    Safe travels — Morgan

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    1. Wow, I think I just happened to be I the right place at the right time on the topper! So far I really like the hatch. I will keep you in mind while I wind myself through the north and south east!

      Like

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