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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone had any experience building their own camper shells? I've seen a couple interesting designs online similar to this one, but was curious if anyone has had any experience trying this for their Frontier.
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I have been looking on CL for months and can't find anything for the crew cab, although there are plenty of shells for the king cab :crying:
That being said, I started building the frame for mine earlier this week. I just can't justify $1400 for a fiberglass shell right now when I can build something that will fit the purpose for <$250. Will post regular updates as I move through construction. I'd love some feedback throughout the process!
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I'm in the same boat but have given up on this for now. I'm going to guess the DIY one is going to be a ton heavier than the fiberglass one.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm not entirely sure, actually. I can lift the frame really easily already. I'm going to us 11/32' pine plywood w/ 3/4' cedar boards, which will keep the total weight under 120 lbs. I won't be lining it with dense construction pine 2x8 boards, which would make it significantly heavier.
 

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Interesting idea. Why not use cedar for the frame as well, as it appears you're going with pine 2x4s?
What's your plan on waterproofing where it touches the bed sides?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Street sweeper: I'm in Houston
I'd prefer a more dense wood for the frame. The frame won't be getting soaked so I figure pine will suffice just fine. The whole completed frame weighs less than 40 lbs at the moment. I still need to do some research, but I'm thinking of using insulation sheathing boards to cover the entire shell, then cover in cedar boards and apply looooads of epoxy and sealant. If not insulation sheathing, I'll just use a really thin plywood and glue the cedar panels to it, then seal like a crazy person.

Bed sides- just like the fiberglass campers, the cedar panels will hang over the edge of the truck bed just a bit. I'll also stick some of that sticky foam liner on the bottom of the boards that seal against the truck bed.
 

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Street sweeper: I'm in Houston
I'd prefer a more dense wood for the frame. The frame won't be getting soaked so I figure pine will suffice just fine. The whole completed frame weighs less than 40 lbs at the moment. I still need to do some research, but I'm thinking of using insulation sheathing boards to cover the entire shell, then cover in cedar boards and apply looooads of epoxy and sealant. If not insulation sheathing, I'll just use a really thin plywood and glue the cedar panels to it, then seal like a crazy person.

Bed sides- just like the fiberglass campers, the cedar panels will hang over the edge of the truck bed just a bit. I'll also stick some of that sticky foam liner on the bottom of the boards that seal against the truck bed.
I'd be interested in the cost of sheet aluminum and then only seal the corners...
Keep us updated though. I'm interested in cost and weight!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Frame is completely done. Just picked up and cut my inner shell material. All I'm going to do is douse it in Spar urethane. With the panels attached it all weighs <100lbs. I was able to put it over my head and balance it. The interior shell isn't supposed to be incredibly sturdy. I'll glue the cedar boards to this shell and bold them through the frame, which will add a lot of support and stability. I took the frame to Home Depot today and it was pretty study. I made a few modifications to the frame to help everything seal better. This week I'll be coating the 5mm boards of the interior shell with spar. I'll screw them back onto the frame then start getting cedar panels measured and bolted in. Finally I'll build doors/windows and seal the entire exterior.
 

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Discussion Starter #10

I fixed these supports and cut them at an angle so the inner shell plywood will get a better seal once screwed in.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Did you complete this? If so, how is it holding up? Changes or things you'd do different?
 

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I built this little camper on a light 4 x 8 trailer. I used cheap 1x f urring boards and under layment. It is light weight but strong enough to survive thousands of miles of rough roads at 70+ mph. Hints and tips.
Use PL 3x or 8x to assemble everything. It is polyurethane glue. Waterproof and hell for strong. I ended up using it like caulk. Also I used polyurethane caulk. Get white elastomeric roof coating and use it liberally for the top. It turned out to be very water proof and the white reflecs the sun to keep the inside cool. I used solvent based.
I don't know how far along you are but a bit of slope/ bend on the roof goes a long way to keep water from puddling.

Tt
 

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Thank you for the reply!
I Haven't done anything yet. I'm "exploring all options". All I know at the moment is, I want something to cover the bed. I see the pros and cons to all. The great debate !
 

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What would be really cool would be a camper shell that folds in and acts as a tonneau cover. That way you could pop it up when you needed it and lay it down when you did not. I had a fiberglass one a while back and got tired of it and sold it.
 

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I built this little camper on a light 4 x 8 trailer. I used cheap 1x f urring boards and under layment. It is light weight but strong enough to survive thousands of miles of rough roads at 70+ mph. Hints and tips.
Use PL 3x or 8x to assemble everything. It is polyurethane glue. Waterproof and hell for strong. I ended up using it like caulk. Also I used polyurethane caulk. Get white elastomeric roof coating and use it liberally for the top. It turned out to be very water proof and the white reflecs the sun to keep the inside cool. I used solvent based.
I don't know how far along you are but a bit of slope/ bend on the roof goes a long way to keep water from puddling.

Tt
Looks great Tom. I'd love to see a build thread on that or some pics if you get the time!
 

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I see them pretty often around here. Being that we are in a mountain town alot of Mt folk seem to come through. To tell you the truth, most don't look that good. Like a dog house thrown into the bed. There are a few that are built as campers; like live in type. Some are pretty good looking. Bed foot print and tall enough to maybe stand in.

I have considered building a cab over camper out of a lumber rack. i think the siding you choice really makes the look. Use plywood look pretty gehto. Stake siding, weird retro. White plastic sheeting: pro.
 
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