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ale_capone
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PostWed Mar 21, 2018 3:59 am 
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Heh, missed your post joker...

Picture or your van?

I'll post up a side by side comparison shot of a vw synchro and ford van later.
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DIYSteve
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PostWed Mar 21, 2018 6:25 am 
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ale, I hope to see your DIY rig when you finish the project

ale_capone wrote:
What's some good brands for 4 season steve?

For a 3/4-ton or 1-ton truck, Bigfoot and Northern Lite are the best winter hard side campers: fiberglass outer shell with high density foam insulation. Contrast studwall camper walls, which can get and perpetually stay damp from condensation. Damp interior walls is eventual death to camping rigs. Norseman on TGR has a Northern Lite on a Tundra with beefed up suspension, reports fine handling.

For a 1/2-ton truck, Four Wheel Camper (FWC) pop-ups work well for winter use with the optional thermal pack liner, which velcros in, creating a dead air insulating space between the liner and the canvas wall. The liner can be quickly stripped each day or 2 or 3 to allow the walls to dry. All Terrain Campers (ATC) are similar to FWCs from 10+ years prior. ATC is operated by former FWC employees. Our first FWC, 2000 Hawk, is very similar to a 2012 ATC. ATC is an option if money is tight, although get the FWC if you can afford it: better floor plans, better/more durable lift panels, one-piece roof, etc. FWC/ATC campers average less than half the weight of most hardsides and are smaller inside than most hardsides. They are designed to be flexible for true off-roading.

ETA: Our 2014 FWC Hawk is loaded: high efficiency furnace, queen (slide out) bed, 2-way compressor refrigerator (much better than 3-way reverse osmosis), stove, Fantastic Fan, smart charger, 2 cabin batteries, wired for solar panels (panels not installed), sink w/faucet. No toilet. It weights 1130 lbs. dry, carries fine in any 1/2-ton pickup. I remove the water pump for winter use and blow out the water lines with compressed air each fall. It's a great 2-person rig for hanging out. It comfortably sleeps 3, although 3 handing out is too much. As with all smaller camping rigs, a key is to hang out and cook outside when weather permits. When weather does not allow that (e.g., mid-winter ski trips in stormy conditions), 2 of us are fine hanging inside for extended periods (when we aren't skiing).
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pcg
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PostWed Mar 21, 2018 6:58 am 
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DIYSteve wrote:
the extra money for FWC is worth it: better floor plans

I've had campers on 4x4 F250s for over 40 years, and for the last 20 years it's been a custom-built FWC. Thousand of miles off-road (rough two-track) and hundreds of nights occupied and I am happier ever time I use it. I can provide more details via PM is anyone is interested, but don't want to hijack thread about camper vans.
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bobbi
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PostWed Mar 21, 2018 8:44 am 
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Hiker Mama ... sprinter van, that's what we own  up.gif

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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ale_capone
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PostThu Mar 22, 2018 4:49 am 
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Side by side.. camped several nights like this style over the winter. We use the ford as the dining car, and the vw for the cocktail lounge. Best possible setup


There is an obvious size difference. But the smaller van has it's plus points as well. Plus it's so much cooler!

A few of the unfinished van... and I was one off. It was 9 hitchhikers... it was also blue tag half off day at goodwill, so 10$. wink.gif. I bought the sleeper off Craigslist. Big buddy heater... propane tank.. not as plus as your rig Steve wink.gif.. Some good ideas to look into when I upgrade though.

I'm just getting a feel for how I like this layout before I commit. Still torn on the sleeper setup.

Also curious about jokers hardtop. Replacing or reparing my roof is the first project of the summer. Debating a fiberglass shell vrs pop top.

I seen them for about 3-4 thousand in Oregon, with every style imaginable. Some with overhead sleepers. The van is already tall though. I don't want it to look like it's going to fall over. Mostly just want the head room to stand up.

Pop up would be great, but not so good in the winter, which is it's primary use.

And thanks for the truck camper tips. It's a 1 ton... I've seen norsemans in pictures. Have to hunt that guy down some day.
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Slugman
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Slower than ever
PostThu Apr 12, 2018 9:35 pm 
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Dodge Ram 3500 with the 318 V8. All the motorhome amenities.

Parked near the Giant Crack
Parked near the Giant Crack
Just before Big Sandy trailhead, Wind river range, Wyoming. Elevation 9,100 ft. Caution: moose in the bushes at night!
Just before Big Sandy trailhead, Wind river range, Wyoming. Elevation 9,100 ft. Caution: moose in the bushes at night!

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"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but nature more..."  Childe Harold
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joker
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PostThu Apr 12, 2018 11:20 pm 
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ale_capone wrote:
Also curious about jokers hardtop. Replacing or reparing my roof is the first project of the summer. Debating a fiberglass shell vrs pop top

I'll take and  post a few shots. Other  than having to avoid parking garages and  not being  stealthy for  city camping it's great. Very nice to just be able to walk in the van at any time. I've heard that  the  pop-ups use a spring mechanism that can be noisy on  the  road, especially when it ages and the  springs slacken a bit. Our top did not drop gas mileage much if  at all btw.

Steve - have you found batteries sufficient for the compressor fridge? I  hear they're a must for hot weather camping (where the  propane/electric ones just won't  keep up), and in that  case I've also  heard that  solar+batteries suffices to  keep them  running when  boondocking. I've wondered how they'd  do  around here w/o  a generator or hook-up... Our propane fridge has done fine in temps up into the 90's but it did seem to flag on the day when I drove across the Mojave desert, which must have been  up into the  low 100s.
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Gregory
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 4:34 am 
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http://inkaoutdoor.com/


http://www.oregontrailer.net/terradrop.html


https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/post-favorite-pics-of-your-rig-and-trailer.31599/

https://expeditionportal.com/forum/forums/4wd-and-2wd-camper-vans-a-k-a-vanlife.58/

https://expeditionportal.com/forum/forums/pop-up-truck-campers.75/
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Schroder
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 9:24 am 
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My rig will go up any road I dare to get my SUV up and I have plenty of head room


Now if I only had time to use it...
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DIYSteve
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 10:23 am 
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joker wrote:
I've heard that the pop-ups use a spring mechanism

confused.gif Where did you hear that? I'm not aware of any pop-ups with springs or that make noise while driving. FWC, ATC and others use folding lift panels. Alaskan uses hydraulic jacks. ETA: I sorta remember some rattling in my old Westy pop-top system.

joker wrote:
Steve - have you found batteries sufficient for the compressor fridge?

Yes, although note: Our refrigerator is the smallest offered by FWC, Dometic 1.7 cu. ft., max 40W draw. We always get it very cold before the trip using shore power at max cold setting, turn the setting down when we arrive at camp, turn it up while driving between camps (using truck alternator), turn it down at next camp, repeat. We have two cabin batteries (2 x 12V in parallel) and we do not use the furnace while sleeping.

Furnace fan is by far the biggest drain on battery. The furnace in our 2014 FWC Hawk is much more efficient than that in our 2000 Hawk. We prefer sleeping in sleeping bags without the furnace, even in cold temps. (Record low for us is -12F.) I get up first, start the furnace and coffee while Honey sleeps in.

We have a Honda eu1000i generator (small, 28 lbs., nearly silent, very fuel efficient) to bump the battery charge, use it almost exclusively in winter on multi-day camps (e.g., ski area RV lot). Typical charging time is 1/2 hour per day on an extended winter trip if we don't drive that day. I've gotten by without charging for 3 days on a winter trip, although I avoid doing that because lead acid batteries last longer if you don't run them down <50%.
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joker
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 10:56 am 
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I heard it from some guys who convert vans to campers, ambulances, etc. I think they were referring to Westfalia tops. They likely had a bit of bias based on what jobs they preferred doing.
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pcg
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 11:18 am 
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DIYSteve wrote:
joker wrote:
I've heard that the pop-ups use a spring mechanism

confused.gif Where did you hear that? I'm not aware of any pop-ups with springs or that make noise while driving. FWC, ATC and others use folding lift panels. Alaskan uses hydraulic jacks.

My 20 y.o. FWC makes no noise and has no lift assist (other than the leverage supplied by the front and rear folding lift panels) for the pop-up roof. I believe the newer FWCs have hydraulic lift-assist.

joker wrote:
... compressor fridge? I  hear they're a must for hot weather camping (where the  propane/electric ones just won't  keep up)...

I have a 3-way (non-compressor) refrigerator and love the propane option. I've never noticed a problem with it not being cold enough in hot weather, but rarely use it in temps above 90 F. I'm on my second Dometic RM4223. Unless you are going to be camping primarily in the desert in the summer, I would think long and hard before going with a compressor refrigerator and foregoing the advantages of propane. I can run the refrigerator for two weeks on five gallons of propane, thus I can leave it on while parked at a trailhead. When I come back five days later, my perishable food is preserved and I have cold drinks waiting. If I turn it past the mid-point on the thermostat it will freeze everything inside (eggs, lettuce, meat, water) in about 24 hours.

I also have a portable solar panel with a 30' cable. This allows me to park in the shade while the panel is in the sun. I have built-in voltmeter and ammeter to monitor elec use and charging. Like DIYSteve I don't run the furnace at night so most of my draw is from lights and ventilation fan. If the days are sunny, I can park indefinitely without running the battery low. My limitation then becomes how long the propane will last.
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DIYSteve
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 11:30 am 
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pcg wrote:
I believe the newer FWCs have hydraulic lift-assist.

Optional (external) struts are available. They do not directly assist the lift -- i.e., the same amount of force is required -- but they help hold the roof while you give it an extra umph, which helps. (Ask my wife.) The struts assist quite a bit when lowering, very nice when you have a snow load. (We pack a short step ladder and snow rake if the forecast calls for significant snow.)

For those looking to order a new FWC, I recommend getting struts.

IMO, the 2-way (compressor) is a huge improvement over 3-way (reverse osmosis). 2-way temperature control is far better in all conditions vs. 3-way which is hit and miss, depending on humidity and ambient temperature. Also, there's no concern re operating on too big a slope, which can ruin the 3-way membrane, resulting in stinky ammonia smell and necessitating rebuild or new refrigerator. (I know.) We've left our 2-way for a week, had frosty cold beers on our return and lost only one bar or less on our battery meter.
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pcg
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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 11:45 am 
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DIYSteve wrote:
...We've left our 2-way for a week, had frosty cold beers on our return and lost only one bar or less on our battery meter.

That's impressive.
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



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PostFri Apr 13, 2018 11:56 am 
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FTR, it was actually 5 days, not a full week, and it was an experiment. Before parking, I had driven a full day at the coldest setting, thus had the interior of the refrigerator and contents as cold as possible and full charge on dual cabin batteries. Also, I parked it in a place that was shady nearly all day. I too was surprised how little current it had used.

Don't get me wrong re 3-way reverse osmosis units. They work fine, although IME temp control is not nearly as reliable as 2-way compressor units. Be sure your rig is relatively level before turning on. I learned about that the hard way. Fortunately, I found a brand new unit for sale on Craigslist. The seller was a a guy rebuilding an Airstream Bambi who had abandoned his project due to a divorce. His loss was my win!  tongue.gif
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