Cab-over Camper for Pickup

113,068

173

53

Introduction: Cab-over Camper for Pickup

I wanted to build a Teardrop camper but I just don't have a place to park another vehicle\trailer in my driveway. So I decided to build a cab-over camper for my pickup instead. I also wanted to be able to haul my kayaks in it as needed without having to remove the camper. My design would need to be able to drive the truck with the tailgate up but when camping the tailgate would be lowered allowing for a full size door in the back. The door would have a bottom section that would fold down in use. I wanted the camper to be as light as possible but still sturdy so I elected to use 1/8" hardwood plywood covered with "Poor Man's Fiberglass". More on that later....

The frame is 2 X 2 pine lumber. It's about half the cost if you buy 2 X 4's and rip them with a table saw. Some of them I was able to rip 3 or 4 times for thinner framing as needed.

Step 1: The Frame

The frame is glued with Titebond II and screwed together with 3 inch drywall screws. The 1/8" hardwood plywood is glued and stapled to the frame. After the glue dries the staples are no longer needed and can be removed before covering. I started to leave the staples in but discovered they show through the covering.

Step 2: Covering

The camper is covered with fabric and paint, otherwise known as "Poor Man's Fiberglass". It's lightweight, durable, and waterproof.

1. The glue is applied to the plywood with paint rollers or brushes. I use Titebond II and thin it about 50% with water.

2. You can use canvas, bed-sheets, most any kind of fabric. I used cotton sheets that I no longer needed.

3. Cut the fabric to fit the area being covered allowing a small overlap at the corners. Apply the fabric to the surface and smooth out the wrinkles.

4. Make sure to overlap all the sections of cloth, no plywood should be left uncovered.

5. After the glue dries paint the fabric with 3 coats of latex paint.

More info here: Poor Man's Fiberglass on Instructables

Step 3: Windows

To keep cost at a minimum I decided to use fixed glass for the side windows. I placed a bead of silicone caulk around the inside of the frame before installing the glass, which is held in place with 3/8" square trim. The front window is a vinyl slider. I have since removed the front window to provide better access to the cab of the truck. I cut pieces of closed cell foam and placed around the opening between the camper and the cab.

Step 4: First Time on the Truck

Finally got it out of the garage and on the truck. I'm estimating the total weight at this time is under 200 pounds. I've bolted it down to the sides of the truck bed with 10 - 3/8" X 4" bolts.

Step 5: Removable Rear Panels

I made removable panels for each side of the door when the tailgate is open. The tailgate will close when they're installed but they can be removed if I want to load my kayaks.

Step 6: Interior, Cabinets, and Electrical.

I used 1/4" plywood under the mattress, the rest of the interior is 1/8". Styrofoam was used to fill all the spaces between the framing members. Interior panels were glued to frame, held with clamps and staples. All staples were later removed.

Rather than use a single panel for the electrical I decided to use plastic electrical boxes for a modular approach. The lighting and USB ports all run off the 12 volt system and the receptacles are wired to a plug under the truck bed. All of the interior lighting is LED strips.

Step 7: Trial Run...

We decided to take it out on a one night trial run. It was a hot day and the air conditioner is temporarily just sitting in the tailgate (I haven't actually decided on a permanent location for it yet). The microwave is just sitting on top of the refrigerator, the first thing I did when we returned was to mount in in a side cabinet.

Step 8: Summary

I've spent $454 for the camper so far, although I probably used another 50 to 100 dollars worth of screws, nails, electrical parts, etc that were left over from other projects. So I can safely say the camper cost less than $600. If you want to add in the air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator, and mattress it's still under $1000.

2 People Made This Project!

Recommendations

  • Anything Goes Contest

    Anything Goes Contest
  • Make it Glow Contest

    Make it Glow Contest
  • Crafts For Kids Challenge

    Crafts For Kids Challenge

53 Comments

0
JonahM7
JonahM7

Question 10 months ago on Step 3

I'd love some more details about the windows. What material did you use?

0
JonahM7
JonahM7

Question 10 months ago on Step 1

How many panels is the roof made of?

0
jargonaut
jargonaut

Question 10 months ago on Step 4

Can you add some more detail on how you bolted it down to the truck? Did you drill through your plywood and PMF?

0
MichaelT177
MichaelT177

5 years ago

Who the hell uses fabric? Seriously where did you get off the turnip truck? I dont care how much latex paint you put on that in the first heavy rain storm it will still soak up the water and the fabric will hold in the moisture to long and everything you did will be water damaged and your plywood is going to buckle. Why didnt you just go out and cover it with aluminum panelling and seal your seams with exterior chaulk and paint it. That would be the best to weatherproof it. After I spend that kind of money to build something like this I sure as hell wouldnt cover it with fabric. LMAO

0
David Hoskins
David Hoskins

Reply 11 months ago

That would be news to the people who use this same method to cover the control surfaces on their ultralight AIRCRAFT.

0
kadidlehopper
kadidlehopper

Reply 5 years ago

someones lack of historical reference is showing. People have been using paint and canvas for homemade boats for over half a century.

0
earl tb
earl tb

Reply 5 years ago

Yeah really, latex/acrylic paint is what houses and vehicles and watercraft are painted with are painted with and it is well known that they leak like sieves. Thanks for the heads up....

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 5 years ago

It's been well over a year since the camper was constructed, no leaks have occurred. The fabric is still tightly glued to the plywood and the paint has no cracks. It's never been under any kind of cover has endured many rainstorms that are frequent here in North Alabama. There are many articles on the web about "Poor Man's Fiberglass", just do a Google search.

1
TeresaM7
TeresaM7

Reply 5 years ago

I think it's great. Only short sighted people reject something without research. Don't worry about the trolls. Great job, poohnopster!

0
Sam'sS
Sam'sS

Reply 5 years ago

here's the link to the idea, https://www.instructables.com/id/Poor-Mans-Fiberglass-make-nearly-anything-weatherp/

0
JessyM9
JessyM9

1 year ago

You inspired my designed during my year in Australia 3 years ago. Here is the share :)

3CE38CDB-6367-4FC3-AF84-A391A4F95C42.png174EA36D-E92F-43F3-B045-B9FD1E37067A.png508E93B2-AEC6-40A7-8A39-A9B0ECF176D6.pngE0DE591C-1970-42A5-AA04-81CCF3CF7C86.png707043FA-7A21-496C-9374-28212F547D34.png92ED7ECD-8020-4B91-83F8-2E97D4F2C078.pngB4516A06-72D4-45F7-8A89-2D4D363BD3C9.png7240C03E-A1D3-4587-BDA9-C684CDD78D44.pngA14B187F-9A02-42A1-9F9B-B1E363295385.png00672348-C4D9-45BE-9E81-4E7AA07EB446.png
0
HoboCamper
HoboCamper

1 year ago

Hi, there! Might be a dumb question, but here goes...

I suffered a stroke last year, and I'm not in good physical shape. Nor am I handy. Would you consider building one of these if the price was right?

Note sure where you are, but I'm located in NJ. If you're up for something like this, we'd of course work all of the details out prior to build. Thanks - Joe

0
Virtualnorm
Virtualnorm

1 year ago

Nice build, i know im late to the game but did have a question. Any sag when 2 people are in the sleeping area? I am thinking about 2x4 for the bottom support and could use the feedback. Thanks..

2
Jérôme BOSSERT
Jérôme BOSSERT

2 years ago

Hey, very nice post. Just wondering how it is holding up after 5 years ? any water damage ?

Thanks

0
csteinwc22
csteinwc22

Question 3 years ago on Introduction

Where did you buy the styrofoam from? And you really use fabric to cover the outside panels

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 2 years ago

I was able to find all the styrofoam I needed from construction dumpsters. Furniture stores also throw a lot of it away. And yes, I used fabric, Titebond glue and paint for the outer covering. There are lots of how-to for that, just Google "poor man's fiberglass".

0
Mammyboy
Mammyboy

Question 2 years ago

What size wood did you use for the frame work?

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 2 years ago

I used 2 x 2's. But it's much cheaper to rip your own with 2 x 4's and a table saw.

4
csteinwc22
csteinwc22

Question 3 years ago on Introduction

Do you have a plan or instructions on how to build this

2
Turtlekami
Turtlekami

Question 4 years ago

Approximately how much weight does the bed area hold?