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Old 04-24-2015, 12:42 PM   #21
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The cramped/expensive thing isn't true? Well, maybe not the cramped thing, considering the size of those class A's I see everywhere, with those numerous bump-out things. But I can't imagine those being anywhere near "not expensive". Driving a van with DW and I 26 mpg and a full set of tires at $600, name-brand hotels for $80/night seems hard to beat. Especially when a campground with hookups (you tell me) runs $30/night. I love the idea of not carrying suitcases to the room, but thats a lot easier than doing the hookups and filling with water and dumping tanks. But I certainly understand it if you just like the lifestyle, then the cost is a distant second. For instance, Im not going to stop for the night end-up buddies with someone I just met at the hotel. That can not be said for the campground.
I guess it is partly a lifestyle choice. We built our RV custom so we do not always need a campground with full hookups. It has 1100 watts of solar, a 4kW pure sine inverter, 9.3cuft compressor fridge, propane furnace, water heater, stove with capacity to carry 80 pounds of propane. It also has a full garage workshop on the same platform, which houses two dual sport motorcycles, a couple of mountain bikes, tools, and a built in workbench. On the roof of that is a 10 foot by 8 foot wide rack which holds a canoe, kayak and paddleboard. Sometimes we also pull our 17 foot trailer sailboat (when not going to the woods or desert).

Overall length is only 26 feet, including the 10 foot garage unit. Both the living pod and garage pod are removable using quick connect jackstands (stored under truck) and then you have a 20 foot flatbed truck to use for other purposes.

This is the camper on the truck, the garage pod is still in our garage getting final paint (this weekend!) then I have to do some final wiring on it.

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Old 04-24-2015, 12:53 PM   #22
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THAT is really cool! And you seem like the kind that enjoys the doing as much as the done...a perfect attitude for an active lifestlye. I bet your idea of hell is spending an eternity where you had to do nothing but accept umbrella drinks, with no access to even a screwdriver.
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:23 PM   #23
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This is really interesting Fermion. Maybe show us what it looks like on the jack stands?


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Old 04-24-2015, 01:28 PM   #24
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Beautiful work, Fermion, would love to see several pictures when you are completed with it.
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Old 04-24-2015, 03:09 PM   #25
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This is really interesting Fermion. Maybe show us what it looks like on the jack stands?


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Sure thing. It takes about 30 seconds to install the jacks, then a minute or two to crank them up a couple inches and drive out the flatbed truck. I am quite proud of the jackstand mount....came up with it myself and made a fixture so I could weld up all eight exactly the same (4 for camper pod, 4 for garage pod).

Here is the camper pod on the jacks:



Here is a close up of how the jack mounts were welded to the steel frame (they aren't going ANYWHERE!)

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Old 04-24-2015, 03:27 PM   #26
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Fermion: WOW!!!!
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Old 04-24-2015, 03:38 PM   #27
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Any inside pictures?
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RV conversion
Old 04-24-2015, 03:52 PM   #28
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RV conversion

That is awesome. When you stay somewhere do you just take both pods off the truck and use them at ground level or leave them on the truck and climb up stairs?

You should sell this design and make millions.
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Old 04-24-2015, 04:16 PM   #29
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That is awesome. When you stay somewhere do you just take both pods off the truck and use them at ground level or leave them on the truck and climb up stairs?

You should sell this design and make millions.
Either way. I guess it depends how long we are staying in a location and if we have some need of the flatbed truck for hauling. It is a neat design but built around us, so not really mass market. For example, we designed the living space to have 8 feet of headroom (because I am 6'7" and also to have sitting up room in the loft bed). Most RVs of this style have only 6'6" of headroom. It is still a small living area though...but that was the sacrifice to have a 8 foot wide, 10 foot long garage unit on the same truck and still be under 26 feet in length (makes parking and turning around easier).

I do have some shots of the interior, but in a more unfinished state than it is now. The kitchen area is kind of neat. Instead of fake particle board countertop, we bought a solid walnut butcher block style counter and cut it to fit. It is a nicer kitchen counter than I have ever owned in a home. We went with Appleply and solid maple for the cabinets, with oak frames.



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Old 04-24-2015, 05:28 PM   #30
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Wow!

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Old 04-24-2015, 05:49 PM   #31
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That is fabulous Fermion. Very inspiring.
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Old 04-24-2015, 07:16 PM   #32
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I want one! I want one!

I'm guessing you bought the flatbed used? Any specs you can provide as well as possible cost?

What an awesome project result!
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Old 04-24-2015, 08:05 PM   #33
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Well done, Fermion! And I love that you can still use the truck as a truck if you want to.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:56 PM   #34
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Hey thanks for the nice comments. I didn't mean to thread jack but I guess the original post was on a similar vehicle.

Looking4Ward, the truck isn't anything special. It is a 2006 Isuzu NRR 5.2L diesel with a 20 foot long flatbed. GVWR is 19,500 (no CDL needed) and the dry weight is 8600 pounds. This leaves nearly 11,000 pounds of cargo on the flatbed for the camper and garage pod. Both pods are constructed of a welded steel frame with 1/16" aluminum siding, then 2 inches of polyiso foam board (R13). The roof is probably the best feature. We bought a continuous coil of 0.040 aluminum from a tractor trailer supplier and used it to form a seamless roof with zero openings or holes. For further protection we coated the roof with 2 part epoxy truck bed liner (about 20 mils thick). One of the big problems with RVs is leaky roofs, leaky roof vents, or failure in rubber roofs. Hopefully we will avoid this.

Here is a picture of the camper roof with four 270 watt solar panels mounted. I used my cnc machine to cut out brackets that bolt into the sides of the camper and made a frame out of 1.5x1.5x 3/16" aluminum angle to hold the panels, with rubber block feet to support against the roof in the middle part. This kept from needing any holes drilled in the roof. I am doing a similar mount on the garage pod for its roof rack.

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Old 04-25-2015, 04:13 AM   #35
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I think when one of our own does something this awesome, it is worth a thread hijack.

I dream about doing what Fermion is doing as a retirement project. But man, you went "all in." I was thinking of creating my own class B, perhaps doing a simple outfit of a used Ford Transit, or something like that. But my fear about that it will be too cramped. Fermion fixed that problem! Very nice.
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Old 04-25-2015, 06:10 AM   #36
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Nice job on cool project!

I can see your freshwater tank located under the kitchen sink in the cabinets. How and where are the black and gray water tanks? I can see the challenge you would face with locating them because poop still runs down hill! usually they are mounted under the chassis but with your removable pod idea that wouldn't be easily done.

With no holes through the roof how do you air condition the area?

Do you have an onboard generator or just a portable unit or is the solar panel system with an inverter enough power to operate the loads in the unit?

Sorry I am full of questions.....

The truck bed looks like its about 40" high When you lift the pods off the truck bed is it pretty wobbly until you get it closer to the ground? I could see how you wouldn't want to remove it on a windy day out in the open range!

Do the pods electrically hook together so you have power in each unit or does it have its own solar system so you could use them independently?


I have a bunch more questions but I will force myself to stop there!
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:03 AM   #37
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deadshort, wow, amazingly good questions!

The freshwater tank (37 gallons) is below the gray water tank (37 gallons) and both are under the sink area as you noted. There is a table of 1-1/8" thick plywood between the tanks on oak legs

For poop we decided to go with a Thetford cassette toilet, popular in Europe/Australia. It isn't your standard camping toilet but rather looks more like a traditional toilet with a 6 gallon cassette you remove from a hatch outside the camper. We purchased an extra 6 gallon cassette for extended stays. This is probably the show stopper for some people as they would want a larger pump out tank, but the cassette is easier to dump and isn't messy at all.

For air conditioning we have a 6000 BTU ultra small wall mount unit. I built an aluminum duct system to allow it to be totally inside the camper and just a flush mount air grill on the outside of the camper (on the side). It has an aluminum pan to catch condensation and a drain system. Last summer it cooled the well insulated camper down from 90F to 70F in under 45 min. It draws about 450 to 500 watts.

We do have a Honda EU2000 portable gen which we carry but also have Lifeline AGM batteries for use with the 4kW inverter. It is my hope that gen use will be minimal in most areas. The garage pod has a separate smaller pure sine inverter/charger and a single Lifeline 125AH battery. The two units connect with a 115VAC cable (socketed and fused) and the main pod charges the garage pod when excess power is available from either solar or gen. In this manner the garage pod can be offloaded and still have power (sparingly) for the interior LED lights and the dual winch system which raises/lowers the ramp door.

Bang on correct about 40" high bed...amazing. Yes, it is a little bit wobbly on the jacks but not unsafe. I would probably NOT unload in high winds and I would not leave it at max height for longer than needed to get the truck out from under it. The mounts are sturdy, it is just the extended jack legs that have a little play in them.

Here are a couple more pics that show these answers:




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Old 04-25-2015, 09:24 AM   #38
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Great answers!

if you keep answering I will keep asking!

I can see the seams in the aluminum siding but I cant tell how you fastened the sheeting onto the steel frame work. Is it taped with that 3M hostile duty tape or is it screwed? If its screwed are you concerned at all with the galvanic action of the dissimilar metals?

How do you fasten the pods onto the truck bed? I am assuming you use some type of over center type latch.

If you wanted to upgrade to little nicer truck what would be involved? It looks like your only concern would be the height of the cab compared to your existing truck.

I have been sizing up a similar project for a couple years now but I haven't started yet because work keeps cutting into my days! I plan to use a small freightliner or something along the lines of a GMC Kodiak but I want to be able t update the truck as needed.

What was your biggest problem you had to solve while building it?

Tell me about parts availability too.
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:26 AM   #39
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Still great questions.

The aluminum siding is fastened to the steel frame with a moisture cure adhesive called Sikaflex 252. We used small nylon spacers (cut up tiewraps!) embedded in the wet Sikaflex to make sure it was not all squeezed out. To hold the panels in place while drying, we made use of some rare earth 1" square 1/2" thick ebay magnets (55 pound pull). These worked amazingly well. I did a test panel first on a test steel frame and was not able to remove the aluminum panels even with a sledge hammer.

On the roof we folded down the continuous roof coil along the edges with a mallet and did use screws + Sika 252 there along the top side. We used screws with a hard rubber washer and then it all got coated with truck bed liner.

The pods attach to the truck with Torklift springs and turnbuckles.

We can easily switch to a different truck as we designed the over cab section of the living pod to allow plenty of clearance on the Isuzu. I am actually halfway looking for a GMC T7500 which has a GVWR of 25,950 (still under CDL) and would give us another 3000 pounds of cargo capacity plus a bit stronger engine. It would just take a couple of days to transfer the diamond plate truck boxes from one flatbed to the other and make some mounting points on the new flatbed truck. I like cabover design because of the great visibility, maneuverability and shorter overall length. I could see a traditional cab being quite nice too and have considered Freightliner.

The biggest problem we had in building it was staying focused over the 2 year build period. I also had some issues spending money because I kept weighing the costs against ER.org saving mentality. It definitely was not cheaper than a traditional truck camper but I believe is much higher quality.

Here is how I did the aluminum roof edge on the curve section. I slotted the roof aluminum into tabs and bent it around the curve, then screwed each tab in and coated with bedliner.





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Old 04-26-2015, 07:43 AM   #40
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Splendid design and truly masterful execution. Congrats.
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