Cab-over Camper for Pickup

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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!

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49 Comments

0
JessyM9
JessyM9

4 months ago

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

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0
HoboCamper
HoboCamper

5 months 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

6 months 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..

0
Jérôme BOSSERT
Jérôme BOSSERT

9 months ago

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

Thanks

0
csteinwc22
csteinwc22

Question 2 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 1 year 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 1 year ago

What size wood did you use for the frame work?

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 1 year 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.

0
csteinwc22
csteinwc22

Question 2 years ago on Introduction

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

0
Turtlekami
Turtlekami

Question 2 years ago

Approximately how much weight does the bed area hold?

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Answer 2 years ago

The truck capacity is 1000 pounds and the camper weighs less that 400. I haven't had any issues with the vehicle handling. I once carried a Bobcat scoop of gravel (about 3/4 ton) in the bed and it sat considerably lower, was a bit uncomfortable to drive.

0
csteinwc22
csteinwc22

Reply 2 years ago

She wants to know how many lbs the bed would hold

0
MikeK31
MikeK31

2 years ago

Great job! What year is your truck and how long is the portion over the cab? Also how do you get it on and off the truck?

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 2 years ago

The camper is bolted to the sides of the truck bed. It can easily be removed by just unbolting, provided there are 4 or more strong helpers. I have since sold the truck with the camper so I can no longer take measurements. I'm about 5'5" and the bed was about that long. A taller person could sleep diagonally though.

0
jfrywashB
jfrywashB

Question 2 years ago on Step 1

Do you have the plans to make the frame? I’m trying to make a similar project

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 2 years ago

I custom built the frame to fit the truck, so there were no plans. I used 16 inch centers for most of the framing just like in a house.

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Answer 2 years ago

I didn't make any plans when I constructed the camper, just built it to fit the truck bed. I used 3 inch screws to connect the frame members and with the plywood glued to both sides it was quite strong.

0
RoseQ1
RoseQ1

2 years ago on Introduction

I am missing something! In the pic with the a/c sitting on the tailgate, the bottom of the door seems to be missing. Does anyone have a clarification for this? I wonder if it is removable like the side pieces at each side of the door openings. ???

0
poohnopster
poohnopster

Reply 2 years ago

I made a panel to extend the door to the bed of the truck. It was attached to the door with wingnuts for easy removal. Sorry but I don't have any photos of that, and have since sold the truck and camper.

0
JessyM9
JessyM9

2 years ago on Introduction

This is a beautiful œuvre that you share with us and I thank you for that. I am Canadian and I am currently in Australia on a holiday visa/road trip around the country and this idea of building a camper with a 4x4 Vehicule like a pick up was something I was thinking about.

DIY and waaaay cheaper than buying a manufactured one, but I am concerned about the legality of this. As I sadly like to think, when it seems too good to be true or free for grabs, there’s always a law that awaits you with a so serious mind.

i have done some research and found a chart of sizes that we ought to respect in fonction of your Vehicule and this must of course change from country to country, but still, I am afraid this could be considered as more than a simple « load ».

anything to say about that? I might start this in the next weeks

cheers!