Alaska Home Built Camper Tips

May this help someone

   Ah, the simple life. After many years of physical existence, I must say from all the experiences I've had, that from here on out, I'll take it simply please. Yes I indeed can complicate things, but I never stray from, or so I like to think - simply please.

   The following content are the tips and tricks that went into version two of the mothership project. A homebuilt camper on the back of a 1989 Toyota pickup. Version one resided on the same vehicle but only lasted two years, which involved a to and from and everything in between trip from Alaska and Mexico. Version one was very heavy and not very efficient, being mostly built with 3/4" plywood. Then again it did stand up against a vehicle roll over, where it proteced the truck side from the majority of the damage. Though the heavy structure could have been the cause of the roll over to begin with. Then again the driver at that time did decided to let go mid fish tail, letting god drive the vehicle, right into the ditch. Just for the record, I was at home playing on the computers.

   I'm not sure how to structure this content for others, so with the help of the following pictures, I'll just list the pros and cons of version one and two.

Version 1 notes


Learning experience which flowed into version two.

Need of a chainsaw or electric screw driver to break in.

A roof that you're not afraid to jump on with all your weight.

Such a sloppy job helps when in scary cities.

A good cushion for a vehicle roll over onto the side.

No need for a tent when traveling.

A surface for traveling friends to paint on.


Weighed WAY TO MUCH!

Leaked a little.

2 separate sections being overcab and main unit.

Overcab was absolutely useless.

Too many screws.

Sloppy cuts.

Unnecessary roof tie down metal loops.

Kept bumping our heads on the ceiling, far too low.

Only one window, it lacked crossdraft.

Wasted WAY TOO MUCH MONEY - $500.00!

Didn't file down all sharp blunt cut screws.

Version 2 notes


Used 3/8" plywood, so it was very light.

Used 1/2" plywood for door, added strength.

No unnecessary roof tiedowns.

Four outside shelves instead of just two.

Overcab and main unit are one piece.

Two properly placed windows.

Straight cuts with my own skill saw.

Far less screws used.

Better window sealing method.

Higher and lighter.

No leaks, bed and structure sealed better.

Better rear piece fastening method.

Better window latches.

Better insulation methods.

More usable storage space.

Trick bike rack idea.

Door makes a great rain fly.

Used old materials too, thus cheaper - $300!

Girlfriend and I worked as a team this time...


A little less secure due to thinner wood.

Placed 2x4s horizontal for roof DOH! BAD!

Flashing pissed me off, messy job...

Might need more sealent.

Might need more "grey stuff" on roof.

Didn't use flashing every where, maybe bad?

Version 1 pictures

Frontal view of useless overcab.
Side view from Squamish Canada.
Now that's security, lol.
Night time and notice the heavy door keeper too, lol.

Notice hanging object idea and
sharp bolts. The huge hinges (recommended) and
the snicker of a smile ;)

Shelves are very useful!
The friendly Henry, he was on the ceiling.

Version 2 pictures

Before the madness.
Truck bed fastening and sealing method, notice the thick garage door rubber seal.
Frame and first wall (first step also, notice clamps keeping first wall).
First side wall, notice it's one piece, also notice spacing from the truck roof to overcab.
Second side wall.
A climber using a skill saw, keeping them fingers safe if ya want to climb.
Rear view with both walls and overcab coming together.
Kept overcab front panels horizontal instead of vertical, angles are tricky for the 2x4s.
Rear view, bed in, door cut, final framing done, and notice the gaps at base.
Sealing method used on gaps at the base, it's high quality spray foam.
Two shelves per side, the keeping closed and locking method, and the rear is 1/2".
Roof bike rack method for forks of bike, notice wing nuts.
Security ring, through square 3/4" - 3/8" - 2x4, this is for chaining bikes.
Roof bike rack method for rear tire, notice also the "grey stuff" roofing sealant.
Calking used on the flashing, the plywood edges last longer.
Simple window latch, and a carabiner is used to keep it closed.
A good use of a shelf.
Spray foam at door, also notice it's important that wood sealant is used!
Window method is a 3/8" strip, wire netting and garage door rubber seal sandwich, also notice the hooks.
Blocking where wall and roof meet, length of wall.
Fabric over insulation, also notice framing methods.
Got pissed off at flashing.

How to keep things still in the overcab

Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5
The BIG mistake, keep ceiling 2x4s vertical! Notice string for hanging things.
Fabric is just stapled.
Finished rear, notice hooks for things.
Finished side.
Finished front.
Finished side, notice the carabiner.

   I was going to list supplies, but after thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to ruin your fun. Just remember these things - think water proof (stains, roofing goop, and garage door rubber seals), think weight, think security and comfort. The most important areas to seal besides the roof are where the walls meet the bed of the truck. Speaking of roof, keep the 2x4s vertical up there, even if it means bumping your head every now and then. Flashing keeps the edges of the plywood dry and clean, rot happens at those areas. We caulked these areas before applying the flashing. I don't recommend using 2x2s and thin plywood, use 2x4s with 3/8" and 1/2". Lot's of screws were used, short for plywood and long for 2x4s and try to keep the screw count low.

   Not bad for version two. Naturally the next version will be better. Well, happy travels.                                                Camperman