My Truck Camper Build
Welcome to my truck camper build....
Truck Gets a Mory Master 75 Slide-in Topper
In the spring of 2018, I purchased a Mory Master 75 Slide-in Topper for the Dodg Grl with the plan to turn the inside into a homemade camper. I had no building experience when I started this project, I just knew I would need it completed before I headed to New Brunswick to check out the land I bought for my new homestead. What little building experience I had involved helping others out and building a deck with rails for my travel trailer, but I was determined.
I decided to purchase this brand new, as this way I was ensured it had no leaks and I could use it for years to come, as it can be removed and placed on a new truck when it came time to purchase one. I spent about a month drafting up the layout and went through a large amount of graph paper trying to get what I needed inside the shell. Unlike other people, I have two dogs and a cat that needed to be accomodated as well. My animals ride in strapped in pens on the backseat of the truck so I can see them at all times, but I needed a space for the cat litter and cat to lay, as well as a space for the two dogs to sleep at night. All my animals are crate trained.
With the plan in place, the build began. I used 2" x 2" framing to create the boxes with supports in the center where needed, non-leaching real 3/4" columbian plywood for the top of the box for the lower bunk and for over the dog and cat crates, and pine boards for the finishing touches. All the wood used for this build was refurbished from a construction site where new homes were being built. I asked the foreman and he said take what I need from the pile, so I did. I have always been frugal...this was right up my alley!
Pictured below is the dog and cat area.
The small box on the top works as a step to get into the top bunk and as storage for the animal food and treats.
After completing this area, I moved on to create the lower sleeping bunk. Yep, this camper has two beds. Under the sleeping bunk, I created an open storage area for cloth storage bins which house clothing and all electronic and electrical cables, including two tickle charge solar panels, extension cords, tent fans, flashlights, and assorted other things. The trick with building this area was to create the back wall and shelve, so the bed would not move around when travelling. This is visible in on of the last pictures.
See the underbed storage below
After the bed and underbed storage was complete it was time to move onto the kitchen and storage. Again, in order to stop this set of cupboards from moving the backwall and washroom had to be built and all the parts tied together. You will note that all storage spaces under the kitchen cupboard and the dogs and cats enclosures are made out of an old dog pen that I cut to size, filed, and installed on slotted shelve brackets, so they could move back and forth. On the upper kitchen shelve are baskets that contain the pots and pans, the dishpans with all supplies stored inside, and a basket for can storage. The kitchen counter top is 21" wide and was purchased at the restore for $5.00.
The bottom storage area was designed to hold 5 - 4L jugs of water. The jugs are small and easier to pour, as well as easier to fill at a gas station or any other place that supplies water. The jugs only fill the lower half of the storage area, so two narrow tall baskets were placed on top with all the tea towels, discloths, steel mixing bowls. and serviing bowls for soups.
See the kitchen storage below:
Now it was time to move onto finishing the washroom area. Inside the washroom area, I placed two shelves along the side wall with 3" slide out protection boards on the front. On the shelves, I placed several baskets that were filled with assorted bathroom products, towels and washcloths, and the first aid kit, rain gear, and flip flops for showering. A friend who used to be a trucker supplied me with a trucker's toilet which is a little smaller than most 12" x 13" and 16" high. This slide into the space and left room on the right side for a garbage pail, and on the left side for a square plastic basket containing all the chemicals for the toilet. The beauty of this toilet is you can use a water flush to keep the bowl clean, plus the bottom cassette can be carried drip free and emptied in any toilet or outhouse. Since this picture was taken, I have installed a short board across the front of the toilet to stop it from walking out of the washroom....works wonderful!
Washroom pictures below
Once the washroom was complete it was time to complete the rear section of the camper. The rear walls lined up perfectly, but there was a 8" space between the rear wall and the back of the topper, which meant everyting could slide backwards in a sudden stop. One of the challenges with this build was the wheel wells, as the fiberglass body indented in 15" all the way along both sides. Taking this into account, I decided that before I closed the rear wall in, I needed to find a way to stablize this, which I did by building two small shelves, one on each side with spongy foam against the topper wall. On each shelve I added a 3" upright piece of pine to prevent anything from falling off the shelves. I also decided it needed support near the top, so I purchased two steel bars and attached them to the top of the door latch bar removing the bolts and nuts, and replacing them in the same spot....yep I used a marker before to mark the exact location they needed to return to. With that done, I used several screws to attach the other end of the steel bars, holes drilled out first, to the top of the rear wall.
The next problem turned out to be the ceiling. It has a number of indents, dips and dives, to make the topper aerodynamic. Using a piece of cardboard, I trimmed and trimmed until I had created a shape that would work. It is not perfect, but close enough for me. I had already decided that I need to be able to let some light in so the idea of plexiglass came to be. My landlord just happened to have a couple thick pieces stored in the barn....yep another freebie, even through they had a few scratches, they let the light in! Using the table saw, I put masking tape over the cut lines, flipped it over, and cut the pattern out. Two terrific plexiglass windows that I predrilled to screw to the wall, one on each side.
With that complete, I cut all the 4" pine boards and screwed them onto the back wall to complete the stablization and finish of the rear wall.
I decided since this was in the boot of the camper, it would be a great place to put hooks for cords and coats, plus mounting room for the Coleman stove and a BBQ. I actually use the BBQ more than the Coleman, but the Coleman is handy when it is raining outside. I can use the Coleman inside when the back doors are open as it vents nicely....even through the screen door which you'll see in the last picture. lol
See picture of finished back wall below
Truck Camper - Finishing Touches...Continued
In the picture above you will see the rear storage shelve, between the rear wall and the topper wall. This is the right side and where we installed the house batteries. There are two that were wired from the wiring that powers the roof LED light strip, the on and off panel is square box below. You will note that the house batteries charge off the truck battery; therefore, we installed an on and off switch, so that when the truck is not running, the house batteries do not pull power from it. We also installed a solar cable for the two trickle charger solar panels to plug into. The solar panels sit nicely on the flat part of the topper roof above when we are stationery and keep the batteries charging.
A twelve volt cigarette lighter plug is installed inside as I needed to keep my 12v cooler plugged into it when sitting in one location; although, I rarely used it. When moving, I popped the cooler into the front to charge seat to charge.
Before leaving on my first trip, I picked up a bunch of restaurant packets of ketchup, mustard, relish, jams, peanut butter, mayonnaise, and butter...as well as a few other things and found that since I don't drink much milk, the only thing I used the cooler for was eggs. Most of the meats I took were freeze dried or canned and worked out nicely. For milk, I picked up skim milk powder, as they only time I use it is in oatmeal, so add a little water and you are good to go.
Because I wanted to keep my battery usage low, I purchased two solar lights used on porch steps for lighting up inside the camper. During the day while travelling they sat velcrosed to the dash, and at night I just moved them into the camper. The last project for this part of the finishing was creating a screen for across the camper window behind the truck's rear window and installing 3 screened 3" vents in the pop outs provided at the back of the camper. This allowed fresh air to circulate between the front of the camper and the back at all times. When it is cool, the front window can be closed but fresh air can still come in the vents. You have to remember that without the venting system, this is an air tight and water tight cap. Currently the inside covers are over the vents to prevent dampness on those dewy mornings... it is fall!
With the lighting, charging, and venting systems complete, it was time to move onto installing the overhead shelves, over the kitchen/bathroom, and the lower bunk, and to put the wood slide out rail up. Once this was complete, I emptied a few plastic baskets in the house and slipped them onto the shelves for more store; even though, I found out when loaded, I really didn't need to many of them. I used these baskets to put all the packaged food in and only used three of the baskets. I then installed the two beds, which are 26" wide and made out of 4" foam. These I removed from the top bunks in the travel trailer as they were never used...all that has ever been in the top bunks was storage. I recovered the beds with different materials in the same colour pattern and added a white board, pen holder, and key hook to the inside back wall. Sorry guys, I am a writer and that board came in real handy, as did the pens for writing down contact information in the book I stored above on the shelve.
The other installation involved not being locked out of the truck. I took my spare key fob and strung it on a colourful round shoe lace which I wore the entire trip. At night, the necklace was hung on the key hook along with my normal set of keys. This way, each morning, I had to put it on before I could take my regular keys off of the hook using the last on/first off principle. The spare keys for the camper, my house, and electronic lockup (yep, hidden in their somewhere) were stashed in a hiding spot inside the truck.
I was not about to be locked out 3,000 miles from home lol
My next project was to design some sort of storage system for my utensils, plates, cutting boards, plastic ziplocs and measuring systems. Because I had recently shut down part of my business and had spare office supplies, I designed a system using magazine storage racks and pen and pencil holders that were now no longer used. I attached a piece of wood between the two magazine racks to hand all the measuring utensils on, as well as a funnel and drilled two holes in the bottom of the racks to screw them tight to the wood. Inside the two racks, I mounted a elongated pen and pencil holder and drilled and screwed it down. Once these were secure, I mounted the two round pen and pencil holders by drilling them and screwing them down. These containers hold an amazing amount of items. The white basket I mounted in front of the utensil rack hold the awkward things like the can opener, the wine opener, wine stoppers, bbq lighters, etc.
I think this worked out really well and it didn't cost me a cent.....bonus!
After the utensils had been looked after, it was time to use the wall on the kitchen side of the bathroom. This is where I installed an old wire shelve I had in the basement. Been there so long, I don't remember what I used it for. It was too tall, so I cut off the bottom shelve and used the bottom shelve in front of the magazine racks that hold the utensils...an amazing match. lol After installing the spice rack...yes I could have put them in baskets but I hate having to root when I am cookiing, I installed hooks behind it to hang all my camping cups on. They fit snuggly and even after 3,000 miles, not a single cup fell off. The last thing I did in this area, was install a towel rack standing upright, instead of flat, so on those rainy days when something gets wet, like socks, there was someplace to hang them to dry. It also worked amazingly well for towels after a shower and with the breeze passing from the front window through the rear vents, it didn't take them long to dry out as we travelled.
With all the lower level areas complete, it was time to work on the cabover part of the cap. At this stage I should mention that the cap stand height is 76' high and the width is 67". So, needless to say because I am 5'4", I can comfortable sleep in that space, which actually has an amazing amount of room.
Initially, I needed two sleeping areas as a guest was to travel with me, but unfortunately her plans changed, so I only sleep up in that area when I have a guest...other than that it is storage. Behind the bed, I placed two cloth storage baskets... one for dirty laundry and one with entertainment items like crossword, books, etc. Between the two storage baskets, I had enough room to place to cloth under the bed storage bags, which held the spare blankets, a clean set of sheets, and clean pillow cases. The under the bed storage bags sit in a shallow plastic tub that I use when I need a shower. The plastic tub keeps the water inside and can be tipped out the rear door afterwards.
Once this was complete I tested out the bed and rolled over. As an adult I could feel the edge of the drop, but I worried that another may not, so I purchased a couple pieces of hardware and mounted them one on the end of each upper shelve. I then purchased a tension rod and placed it on the mounts to prevent anyone sleeping up there from rolling out. It is good and sturdy.
Because the cabover takes a lot of pressure from the wind when driving it was important to keep anything stored in the second bunk area lightweight.
To finish off the camper, I added a screen door and a nice butterfly mat to cover the standard commercial rubber truck mat that came installed in the cap. I chose not to put different flooring down with the animals, as this is a quick sweep out and wash; not to mention, it prevents things from sliding very far. It is very serviceable. Might not be pretty, but it works and is black.
Since completing this build, the dogs and I have taken it out several times. In more than 4,000 miles, I have only had to make one adjustment to the build. I removed the wall between the dog and cat area. The cat's litter box is now located above the toilet on a shelve and cannot move....let's keep all the smells in one place, and as the cat always sleeps with me anyway, I didn't figure she'd miss the space. With this summer being so hot, I was not surprised the dogs needed more room.
You may have noticed there is no fan on the roof, nor will there be one. Amazingly, the camper was comfortable even when it was 30C outside. I ran two battery operated tent fans that I purchased at Canadian Tire for a whopping $20.00. They take 4 D batteries each and I ran them almost 24/7. They ran for ten days and nights straight. A good deal.
The other accessory I took was a screen dining tent, although we really never stopped long enough to make it worth while putting up. My last installation was a peek hole in the back rear door, so I could see anyone out here with a flick of my key fob.
Before leaving for the east coast, long and bumpy ride, I put a lift with air bags on the truck, as well as 10 ply truck tires. I still want the capability of going off-road for back country camping. I have been extremely happy with this build and although it was a real challenge, it will do me for years to come. Other than screws, nuts and bolts, the costs, not including the cap, were extremely minimal.
Oh and no, I have no intention of painting this nice pine lumber. lol
Truck Camper - Finishing Touches....
Welcome to the boot storage area at the back of the rear wall. It is not really big, but it serves my purposes. This is where my shower accessories are stored. It contains a 2 gallon sprayer (which has been painted black), shower curtains and hooks, and a slide line which can be mounted outside in the trees or inside over the bathroom door way. Oh yeah and it works for rubber boot storage and small tank propane storage, which is above where anyone might hit you and push in the back end....transports excluded.