UTE Camper

Converting my Pick-up into a 4x4 Camper


  Posted 18 March 2018

Having got it on the back of the truck I thought it best to have the means to take it off again. For this, four tall jacks - one on each corner - was needed to lift it a couple of inches. Just enough to be able to drive away, leaving the camper in place.

Jacks 14

Another dump of snow here

It's more conventient to work on it here and refit the interior before taking out properly. Here's how that went.

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Camper Mounted

  Posted 04 March 2018

A week of snow and sub-zero temperatures here in the UK it's not been ideal working outside but getting it finally on the back of the truck is a milestone.

Camper Mounted 1

A dark, cold, muddy driveway. An ideal camping backdrop! 🙄

To prepare I took off the lid and everything inside to make it light enough to lift by hand. I then slid a couple of box-section tubes through for easy lifting. And it was certainly lighter than the old tub and canopy it replaced.

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Legs and Struts

  Posted 10 February 2018

The materials arrived this week and I was able to get on with making the supporting legs and gas struts for the lid of the camper.

Support Legs

Supporting Legs

This was a fun job. The aluminium channel on the lid furthest from the hinge has two telescopic legs that fold down and support the lid when open. I drilled a 10mm hole at each end for the M10x80mm cap screws where the legs attach.

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Bits and Pieces

  Posted 03 February 2018

This weekend I spent time on a few small jobs while waiting for parts and materials to arrive.

Gas Struts

These are the gas struts to assist lifting the lid, one on each side. Much time was spent standing and looking, trying to visualise the best position to mount them. I eventually come up with a drawing using off-the shelf struts from SGS engineering.

Lid Strut Drawing

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Making the Tent - 3

  Posted 27 January 2018

The tent is finally done, save a few ties or toggles to keep the windows up.

Tent One Side

It looks OK. Not perfect, but it fits and should keep out the worst of the weather. Even if it's not water-tight, any moisture should run down the inside and then outside of the camper. It can't collect water like a regular tent (i.e. with groundsheet).

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Making the Tent - 2

  Posted 04 January 2018

Second stage, and I have one side of the tent with windows and mesh. It's taking longer than first thought (as always).

Windows One Side

If I were to do it again I'd make the sides of the window straight with a zip either side. It's hard sewing zips around corners. Anyway, here's how that went...

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Making the Tent - 1

  Posted 30 December 2017

It's been a few months since my last post, however work steadily continues. Here's how it's currently looking:

Tent 1

Just needs windows

The tent is finally made with the exception of the side windows. The zips for those are on order. Here's what's happened in the last few weeks...

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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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Older posts are available in the archive.

What are you doing?

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! There must be a better way.

I finally decided to create something similar to the Trayon slide-on camper. Looks a simple design, how hard can it be?


Trayon's slide-on camper

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

Mounted Camper

Recent Posts
Legs/Jacks (18 March 2018)
Camper Mounted (04 March 2018)
Legs and Struts (10 February 2018)
Bits and Pieces (03 February 2018)
Making the Tent - 3 (27 January 2018)
Making the Tent - 2 (04 January 2018)
Making the Tent - 1 (30 December 2017)
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)
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