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So, which way do I go?


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#1 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 04:46 PM

A little about ourselves. I'll be 69 next month, and the wife was 68 yesterday. We use our pick up camper to travel for fishing with the ability to tow a boat. That said, the wife has had MS for 20 years now and our time camping and fishing is running short. I have a Travel Lite 770SL and carried it on my 1500 Dodge for a number of years. Overweight of course with a 1500. Bought a new truck last month, had intentions of a 2500, but balked thinking about maybe our time was short camping and didn't want a 2500 for everyday driving. The camper is supposed to be 1335#s, but on the scale without clothes and food it rings up 1700#s. I'm about 200#s over the GVW on my new Chevy 1500, but 500#s higher than the sticker inside the glove box. I'd like to get closer to the glove box weight, and if I get within a couple hundred I'll be happy. Lots of manufacturers advertise campers for 1/2 tons, but they greatly exaggerate. Maybe a 4wheel camper shell will do it, but not many others. I also want beds on the ground floor, so that eliminates almost all production campers. I'm down to 3 choices at present. Building my own from scratch to suit myself. Buying a project and rebuilding it to suit myself. Or tearing my present 2013 Travel Lite apart and making it the way I want. It may sound stupid tearing a 2013 camper apart, but I got a steal on it at $6500 when it was 6 months old. I bet I could go through $6500 building a new one or rebuilding an old one, in the blink of an eye. Add to the fact I had to rebuild the front bunk area and 1/3 of the roof due to leaks. I believe that would lessen the value quite a bit if I went to sell it. I don't need the propane, stove, heater, water tank and quite a few other things. The 770SL has a nice cubicle for the porta potty, so I'd like to leave that. I can get a short bunk on that side for the wife, and doing away with the propane compartment will give me a long bunk for myself. Next I'd like to give it a nose job by removing about 1/2 of the cabover as I won't be using it for a bed. What's left of it I can get a small electric fridge, microwave, coffee pot, electric fry pan and some other kitchen stuff up there. Not sure how many pounds I'll shed by cutting off half the nose, mattress, all the propane stuff including the tank, and most of the cabinetry. So, what's the opinion of the board?  In reality, I'd be cheaper just moteling it, but we like camping too much.



#2 OFFLINE   kayakin

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 04:54 PM

A guy put a homemade small camper on the classified ads the other day.  You might get some ideas for yourself looking at his.



#3 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 05:41 PM

I saw that on Craigslist when looking for a project. He really built that on the heavy side. Steel framing and wood plank interior. Certainly not cheap to build a light one though. Capri sells one that could work for me. One upper bunk for myself, and a lower for the wife. They build them as you want them. Modifying mine might be the cheapest way to go. Mostly basic materials that can be purchased local with exception to some aluminum skin panels to replace where the through wall propane acc. were.



#4 OFFLINE   Stan

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 07:07 PM

I think at one time Northstar made a basic camper. You might call them.
I have been a tent camper since my Boy Scout days long, long, ago. Now I need to get up off of the cold ground to get a good nights rest, a truck camper seems to be the best choice. I am here to learn as much as I can.

#5 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 05:40 AM

Northstar has a hardside with no cab over weighing in around 1200#s. Unfortunately it's loaded with a fridge, sink etc, etc. Sure wish a hardside manufacturer would sell one you could finish yourself.  4wheel has the shell model, but I don't want a pop up. Dread the though of another Travel Lite, but they have a light weight no cab over model, but it's build for the narrower bed size. That 6 inches makes a big deference. 



#6 OFFLINE   RichConley

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 06:00 AM

Time becomes more precious with it's passage.  Are you sure that you want a project?

I'd look at upgrading the truck tires and rims - tires are usually the weak point and limiting factor for payload - and tires are the bottleneck when manufacturers assign weight ratings.  Tire and rim upgrading would be the fastest way to get on the road.

 

If motel-ing it is a serious consideration for you, then perhaps trading the camper for a trailer would be another option to consider.

Your very competent truck could drag a trailer with all it's amenities quite easily.  And DW's might thank you for it as well.



#7 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 10:30 AM

Can't do a trailer, as I pull a boat on all trips. Here on the east coast you can't pull doubles. I have a CDL license with endorsements for doubles, but they still won't allow it. I wish the manufacturers would get real and built an honest 1/2 ton camper. They advertise for 1/2 ton with dry weights 1200 to 1800#'s. Probably most folks add 20% to that before they hit the road.  I think they dress them up with a fancy interiors, kitchens and baths to appeal to the ladies. The wife and I are still kind of old school. Just gave up on a tent 7 years ago. .We'd still be in one except for her MS. 



#8 OFFLINE   Bedlam

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 11:12 AM

Maybe a smaller boat on the truck while towing a camper trailer if you cannot find what you want in a truck camper? Have you looked at folding or inflatable boats? You could get a small Class C motor home to tow your boat. There are usually many choices to do the same, but you need to find which works best for you.


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#9 OFFLINE   Oliver

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 06:15 PM

Shellback, we are a few years ahead of you, and it is worth noting that mobility becomes an issue at some point, here. My wife has balance problems, and we are concerned about a fall with the height of the TC. If we were in a position to do it, I believe we would opt for a smaller class c. As it is, we will stay with our TC, and do some serious engineering on the entrance facilities. The boat poses no problem with the class c, and the access is much safer for those of us in our "Golden Years!" Good luck, whatever path you choose.

#10 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 04:42 AM

When we left the tent route, I went with a pop up T/C. That worked well with exception to the wife not liking the condensation on the fabric each morning. Bought a Born Free motor home, and that was sweet living, but a real PIA to break everything down to trailer the boat to a launch each morning. So it was back to the T/C. Unfortunately due to our special needs I think I need to either build one from scratch, or do some major mods on an existing unit.



#11 OFFLINE   Oliver

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 07:37 AM

It's all compromise, isn't it? My wife isn't into canvas, either. We had a couple popup tc's and that was as far as she would go in that direction. If it had been equipped with a bathroom, we'd probably still have the Starcraft. We really liked it, except for that one missing feature.

For some reason, I thought you had a home-built unit a while back. Is that right, or am I thinking of someone else?

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Safe travels!

#12 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 06:04 PM

Well the project begins! Bought an older 4 Wheel Granby that needs a  rebuild. From the wing walls up, it's aluminum construction and that's in good shape with exception to the canvas needs replacing. What's called the floor pack, below the wings, is all plywood construction, with exception to the fore and aft walls. They are aluminum down to the floor. So first day working, the interior is gutted and some of the paneling is off the walls.  Need a trash pick up Monday, and then I'll get busy with the rest of the paneling. Once that trash is on it's way to the landfill, I'll get busy on the floor pack. It's tough on these old bones, especially in the cold, but I can finish it out the way I want. Basically the interior should be brand new including cushions and bedding. The canvas will be new. Just the aluminum skin and roofing will be original, Probably a paint job to freshen the siding up. Here's a couple pictures from sellers ad.

 



#13 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 06:04 PM

Well the project begins! Bought an older 4 Wheel Granby that needs a  rebuild. From the wing walls up, it's aluminum construction and that's in good shape with exception to the canvas needs replacing. What's called the floor pack, below the wings, is all plywood construction, with exception to the fore and aft walls. They are aluminum down to the floor. So first day working, the interior is gutted and some of the paneling is off the walls.  Need a trash pick up Monday, and then I'll get busy with the rest of the paneling. Once that trash is on it's way to the landfill, I'll get busy on the floor pack. It's tough on these old bones, especially in the cold, but I can finish it out the way I want. Basically the interior should be brand new including cushions and bedding. The canvas will be new. Just the aluminum skin and roofing will be original, Probably a paint job to freshen the siding up. Here's a couple pictures from sellers ad.

 

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#14 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:07 PM

Well, from the original camper, I used the aluminum frame, roof, windows and the door. The complete interior and siding when to the dump. After it was stripped to the bones, It was off to the welder to have it narrowed for newer pickup beds, plus the corners reinforced for jacks. I then built a new floor pack.

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#15 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:11 PM

Next up was to reskin the camper. I used .032 white aluminum sheeting  and fastened it with VHB tape. Once the skin was on I insulated it with 1" foam board and put down a vinyl floor.

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#16 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:19 PM

On to sewing the vinyl sides for the pop up. In this picture I had some puckering at the windows. In the end I made 3 sets of panels with windows before I was satisfied. After the vinyl was down I needed to make the lift panels for the roof. As there were none in the camper when I bought it, I had to make a mock up set first before the final product. Here's a  the finished panel.

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#17 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:26 PM

I'll skip to the near finish as I have too many photos. Here's it on my truck the day I took it to the scale. 1100#'s including the tiedown kit. These doggone Iphone pictures always show up side ways,

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#18 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:31 PM

Last is a couple shots of the interior. I still have some cabinet doors and drawers to make. But it's ready for it's maiden voyage Oct 22nd. I did everything myself with exception to the welding. It's not first class, but it's built to accommodate the wife and I, plus I brought it in at a weight that's very close to target.

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#19 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:33 PM

Anybody have an idea how I can fix these photos?






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