Do it yourself truck camper project

The travel trailer we have had for the last 6 years is gone and we will not be purchasing a different one for a while. We still want to camp but we are too old for the tent routine. I decided many years ago, no more sleeping on the ground. Because I am a retired carpenter and I have wood working skills, I have decided to build a cab over camper for the pick-up truck we own.

The truck is a 2000 Chevrolet 1500 model so it is a half ton with a box that is approximately 6’9″ long. I have taken a lot of measurements and decided to build an 8′ camper with a 4′ extension over the cab.

This is going to be a very basic unit. It will basically be a plywood shell with comfortable bed over the cab and a dinette that will convert to another bed. There will be storage for clothing, cooking stuff and a large cooler.  It will be just my wife, the two dogs and me using the camper. It will be a few steps up from a tent both in amenities and off the ground.

The camper will have a portable cassette toilet. It may have a built-in two burner propane stove and a sink but we will carry water in portable containers for washing and dishes. I have thought of just using a portable propane camp stove on the interior counter and plastic dish pans for dishes, that way we can cook outside when the weather is good. This will keep the mess out of the tight quarters of the camper.

The door and the windows will be from RV salvage so I will wait until I get those to do the final design. We want a door with a screen, at least two opening windows and a roof vent. Nights can be cold in the shoulder seasons so I will want some heat, perhaps a portable buddy heater.

The interior of the camper will be unfinished generally just the wood framing members and the exterior plywood visible on the inside.

There are two reasons that I am keeping this very spartan, just a nicely finished wood box.

1. It has got to be light. I want to keep the weight in the back of the truck to a minimum. This will help when we are off-roading to get to the camping areas we like. The other positive about lightweight is better gas mileage.

2. Cheap, inexpensive. frugal, minimalist whatever you want to call it. We are living on a very tight budget and I want to build this thing complete for $1000.00. If I can find the salvage parts in good condition for a good price I am sure I can do it. Special rv parts are expensive; a new door and three windows would be nearly $700.00 which would really blow my budget. Jacks are other thing that I will have to find used or use my ingenuity to make something cheap work, they are over $400. for a set of four, yikes!

I have a simple floor plan and am working on building a scale model so I can try out some of my lightweight building methods on a smaller scale.

More to follow.

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