UTE Camper

Converting my D-Max into a 4x4 Camper

Tent Frame Done

  Posted 27 August 2017

We've had good weather the past few days (well, it's summer after all) which is good news as bending 5m lengths of tube will be awkward in the garage! The tent frame came out quite well and just about ready for the tent.

Tent Frame

Lid temporarily suspended position

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Tent Frame 1

  Posted 21 August 2017

After experimenting with various bits of tube, about 20mm diameter seemed right. I got 2 samples of aluminium tube from Metals4U and 1.6mm wall thickness is stiff enough and easy to work with.

Tent Frame

I had ordered 4 lengths of 5m but unfortunately that's not what arrived, so I'll have to wait another week until that's sorted out. In the mean time I made the frame mountings. These are fixed to the corners and the tent frame hinges from it.

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Door, Table and More...

  Posted 07 August 2017

Apologies for the delayed update. There's been a lot going on with school holidays etc. I've got quite a bit done on the camper, just not been able to update the blog! Here's where I'm at...

Castor Wheels

I put some castor wheels onto the home-made wooden "pallet" I used to build the frame. It's so nice to able to move it around - wish I done it weeks ago!

Castor Wheels

It meant lifting the camper off the frame using ratchet straps so I could slide it out. It's not a good way of lifting anything as you cannot "jack" it back down easily. Pushing the buckle back simply releases the tension.

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Access Doors, Fridge

  Posted 16 July 2017

The access doors finally arrived from VWC. They look good and are well made.

But disaster struck when I fitted the first door, when for some reason I cut a square hole to fit a rounded shape 🙄. This and other howlers I'll add to a separate post of how not to do it!

After marking it out properly (the second door) and cutting the hole with a jigsaw the next problem is fixing it in. The door is close to the frame top and bottom, but not close enough to rivet to it. Luckily however there is a 6mm groove around the edge, enough to slide a piece of ply and lock it in place.

Access Door 1

I used a glue gun to cement them in. The finished result looks pretty neat.

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Making the Lid - 2

  Posted 07 July 2017

I had to spend some family time away last week, so little got done on the camper. The good news though is that the doors and fridge have arrived, so plently to keep me busy. Here's where I'm at:

The channel-section aluminium I bought to strengthen the lid of the camper (so it could support 2 people) proved too flexible when weight was applied. I doubled the size to 75x50mm (3"x2") and rivetted two lengths these across the top. You can stand on this now without fear of falling through!

Lid 1

Another advantage is that there will be plenty of room for the supporting legs that will extend to the floor when the lid is opened.

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Making the Lid - 1

  Posted 20 June 2017

Fathers Day weekend, a perfect excuse to hide away in the garage! Not too not comfortable given it's about 35C in there even with the doors open!

I mentioned the door last week and spent some time designing that. This will open from the top and have a piano hinge at the bottom. The door also functions as a ladder, which will be necessary given the camper will be about 1m above the ground when on the back of the truck.

Door with integrated steps

It was at this time I realised that the door would foul the lid of the camper when opened unless I reduced it's height by another 25mm - making it more difficult to get in and out. So to keep the door height I went back to Plan A which was to make the lid from 25mm box tubing. And hope it'll be strong enough. Here's how that went.

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Cooker, Lights, Switches

  Posted 13 June 2017

With the sunny weather we've had here at the weekend I was obliged to to take the kids out and tame the garden. Between all the mowing and strimming I managed to make some progress on the camper.

Testing the plumbing revealed a small leak in the waste water tank, so that was fixed with a larger seal at the waste tap. The quick-release connector for the cooker was fitted and a couple of anchor points so that the cooker itself won't move about when travelling.

Cooker Connector

Ye Olde Camping Stove

At the back is a quick-release connector so that the cooker can be used outside.

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More Draws and Electrics

  Posted 04 June 2017

I finally got a response from a company that makes aluminium radius doors: VWC up in Castleford. They can make these in any size you need. I went for two 352mm x 540mm lockers. One for the gas bottle, one to the right of the entrance door. Looking forward to receiving those!

On the camper this week I finished off the internal doors and nearly all the infils.

Drawer Panels

But this time folding the edges instead of using angled brackets. It takes a bit longer, but as I mentiioned last week it makes for a neater and stronger panel. If I have any Alu-panel left over I'll re-make the other doors this way.

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Worktop, Seats and Sink

  Posted 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday this weekend. A great excuse to hide away in the garage away from the kids and work on the camper 😉

Worktop and Seats

Lots of odds-and-ends have been done like water piping, wiring and fusebox. But also jobs that add a bit of colour: seating and worktop. Good thing too as it's looking less like a walk-in freezer now.

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External Panels Done (nearly)

  Posted 22 May 2017

A guy came over from Sevenoaks on Wednesday to pick up the trailer. Now it's gone I've reclaimed a load of space so working on the camper is a bit more comfortable. The sides are on now except for the front-facing (cab) side where the plumbing and electrics are. The entrance door and lid also need to be done, but I've decided to concentrate on the plumbing and electrics, just for a change.

Camper quarter view

I've put in the water tanks, but the decision to put the 60L fresh water tank upright has made for a shallow angle for filling. Testing it out with a container of water, it's hard to use without a funnel. So that may need rework.

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Fit External Panels

  Posted 16 May 2017

I've not been able to work on the camper much this week, but I've made the outside panels and fitted the back and one of the sides. This involved more work than planned as each panel needs folding over the top of the frame.

Folding Panel 1

This requires routing two "V"'s into each panel to allow the panel to fold. It needs to be accurate. I found (to my cost) that if you don't go deep enough the fold will not bend 90 degrees. Forcing it will split the aluminium skin. Too deep of course means you break through.

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Older posts are available in the archive.

Recent Posts
Tent Frame Done (27 August 2017)
Tent Frame 1 (21 August 2017)
Door, Table and More... (07 August 2017)
Access Doors, Fridge (16 July 2017)
Making the Lid - 2 (07 July 2017)
Making the Lid - 1 (20 June 2017)
Cooker, Lights, Switches (13 June 2017)
More Draws and Electrics (04 June 2017)
Worktop, Seats and Sink (29 May 2017)
External Panels Done (nearly) (22 May 2017)
Fit External Panels (16 May 2017)

About the Project

Twin Roof Tents

One of the joys of camping is reflecting on ways of doing it better. It's especially so for overlanding trips and more again if travelling with others.

In 1998 when I first got the bug for overlanding I had a Defender 90 with an Echo roof tent on top. I was single so it was all pretty easy back then. It was still comfortable in later years travelling with the wife, despite the extra bedding and bags of shoes. We could spend three weeks in a '90 and roof tent and still be on speaking terms.

Michelle and Landie

When the kids arrived, camping was more sedate: Devon and Cornwall in a family tent as opposed to long foreign trips. But they were good travellers and when the youngest got to four years old I started thinking about overlanding again. And how to fit everyone in. The reality was that the Land Rover was just too small. We were sorry to see the it go, but it was time to move on.

So why not just get a four-man ground tent?

When on an overlanding trip you're always on the move. Ideally you want to set up camp or pack away in a few minutes. Plus have easy access to your gear when stopping for a coffee or lunch and not rummaging around under tent bags and bedding! Ground tents of course suffer the usual downsides of cold uneven ground unless you bring more gear (for insulation) with you.

Why not stick with the roof tents?

A few reasons I've decided to move on from roof tents:

  • They're a bit cramped
  • They're not so comfortable to hang out in if the weather is bad. You don't have access to the cooker, fridge and can't make a coffee.
  • Everyone needs to remember to bring the next days clothes up into the tent. Forget and it's a cold trip down the ladder in your undies the following morning.
  • A night pee means clambering over everyone to get down the steps.

All the above is bearable with one or two people but takes discipline for four and that 'aint us! Must be a better way...

I'll be making regular updates here to share my experience. Please subscribe or check for updates and feel free to leave comments.

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