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Basic Truck Top Camper Built From Lumber Yard Materials

Arguably the simplest dedicated RV – other than using van space to camp in – is the truck back camper. Commercially made versions sell for thousands, even used. If you are looking for a DIY camper build project, this might be the right one. We have seen a few, but this example by imgur user nomadichabitat1234 promises affordability and simplicity of build. The entire camper is built from materials readily available at just about any lumber yard or home improvement center.

Here is the finished product complete with vinyl siding – yep, vinyl siding!

finished camper
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The frame was first, built from two-by lumber. Nomadic chose to build his frame in sections, starting with the sides of the camper. The front end was designed for a sleeping loft that extends out over the cab of the truck, and so was built from heavier lumber, including two-by-six and two-by-ten, to ensure this cantilevered section maintained its stability.

Side frame sections ready for installation.

side frame sections
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Frame in the truck bed and assembled.

truck bed frame
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Inside the bed, a framed leg system positions the sides correctly in relation to the side rails and wheel wells. This will give the builder something to attach the heavy side sections to. The interior frame also has framing for a bench seat as well. Once this frame is in place, spars are added between the sides of the camper to build out the roof and stabilize the sides.

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Profile view, with and without skin and house wrap.

side view without skin
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side view with housewrap
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Insulation was the next factor and sheet Styrofoam was the product of choice. It’s simple to work with, easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. The foam not only makes the interior temperature more stable, allowing for effective climate control, it also deadens sound, helping to isolate the camper from outside noise. For windows, Nomadic chose simple, small, vinyl frame windows. They allow excellent ventilation, and are relatively cheap and easy to install.

Window installed with insulation in the frame.

window inside camper
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The sub-exterior was then wrapped with chipboard and plastic house wrap. The interior is coated with a thin layer of paneling to seal in the insulation and provide an interior wall surface. Frinally, the outside is covered with inexpensive vinyl siding planks. You will need to make sure you install these securely, since wind at highway speeds amounts to over 70 mph, enough to do damage to most houses.

Completed interior frame with plywood.

interior frame
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This provides you with an excellent shell with a room interior that can be built out to your specifications. Nomadic doesn’t provide much detail on the interior. Small, lightweight cabinets and RV components and appliances work well for building out RV interiors. You will also want to find out what kind of marker lights and reflectors are required to make your camper street legal.

Enjoying a job well done.

finished bunk with campers



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