Building our own camper

Sleepy425

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
For a while now my husband has been talking about building his own camper. I always laughed at him and told him to keep dreaming. In May his dad gave him some money for his birthday, and the next thing I know he comes home with this heap of junk:

The inside was falling apart, the frame was rusted, and it was infested with carpenter ants. To say I wasn't amused may be the understatement of the century. As I sat there in the driveway staring at this thing (honestly, I pulled up a chair and just stared at the disaster), I decided to see the silver lining. My husband saw the spark in my eye and instantly knew he was going to be in for it this time. I called Disney and booked us two weeks at Fort Wilderness at the end of August 2019. I told my husband he has a year to turn this heap of junk into something I can camp in.
I'm going to use this thread to post updates of the progress, and more importantly get everyone's opinion on what to do/where things should go. I used to camp tent as a teen with my parents, but never even saw the inside of a pop up until we went looking at some last summer. My parents always had a nice RV and would take us places in it (once to Fort Wilderness way back around 1993), but that was so long ago and I never had to know the ins and outs of using it.
Our idea as of now:
-The camper will be hard sided.
-No fridge, just a really good quality cooler (suggestions appreciated)
-Microwave/convection oven like in the Fort Wilderness Cabins
-Queen size bed with a hammock bed over it for a kid to sleep in (the whole family won't fit in this thing, when we all go camping we will also bring our 8 man tent that has been used a grand total of two times in the 5 years we've had it)
-Outside kitchen off the back
- No bathroom facilities
-air conditioning is a must
- If I get my way, it will look like a quaint little cabin like this, but much smaller:

I'm going to get the exact dimensions, and will update this post with them. Also, I'm going to start a running tally of how much everything costs to complete this project. My husband has more pictures on his phone, so when he gets home I will post some of the work he has done so far.
ETA: exact dimensions are 76'x106", Original gross weight according to my husband was 3500 pounds. He needs to keep it under 3000 pounds due to something about how it is registered in CT. It will be towed by a Ford Flex.
Cost of original popup: $150
Painting/rust removal supplies to date: $500
Plywood: $80
 

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Teamubr

Formerly racing around the country.
Joined
Nov 7, 2010
Thanks for starting this. I'll be watching over the next year. Good you set a dead line for him if he is anything like me. Things around the house get 90-95% done and I move on to the next project. A year sounds like a good time line and it gives you lots of time to plan your stay at the Fort.

j
 

Sleepy425

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Here are some photos so far.
First off, the ad for the hunk of junk (we ended up buying it for $150. And the person was definitely not moving. My husband said the backyard was just one big junkyard with random stuff. I'm just thrilled he didn't come home with anything else)
camper5.jpeg
This is from the day he opened it up and started ripping it apart:
camper 4.jpeg
Once it was down to the frame and the rest was safely at the dump, the kids got to work sanding. Eliza was very proud to help Daddy out.
IMG_0542.jpeg
Primed:
thumbnail_IMG_0613.jpg
Painted:
IMG_0628.jpeg
They got the plywood today and started priming that, so hopefully walls and such will be going up soon.
BTW - ignore my messy garage.
 

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  • JETS70

    Teardrop camping at the Fort
    Joined
    Jun 9, 2013
    @Sleepy425 Here is a link to a website dedicated to building small trailers, many of which are built on re-purposed pop up trailer frames. I built a teardrop a few years back on a 5x8 Northern Tool trailer frame. It has AC and a kitchen in the back. It also has a queen size mattress. With the size of the pop up frame, I'm sure that you could design a way to get that second kid bed incorporated. (hammock or bunk).

    Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers. The people on this site are very knowledge and more than willing to offer advice.
    http://www.tnttt.com/index.php?sid=3dd05c8831acdddf2821739144304e3a

    This is a link to my build journal on the TnTTT site.
    http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=53745

    Steve
     

    Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    @JETS70 thanks so much for the links. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a late night for me now - I’m so intrigued by what others have done with their tiny trailers! I’m going to start with checking out yours.
     

    Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    @JETS70 wow! Your build is much more luxurious than I was expecting! I made the mistake of showing my husband, and now he’s sad that he gave into me and agreed on a cottage looking trailer instead of like yours.
    I hope that my husband can make good time getting it done like you did. I want a couple of months to practice driving it locally before I hit the road to the Fort.
     
  • Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    We just got a new 12 year old foster son yesterday, and we each have a Disney trip in the next two weeks (me with the two girls and my mom, then him with the two boys and my dad- which makes me feel horrible that our new foster son can't go either time :sad1:), so updates may not happen for a little bit. But I promise when my husband gets a chance to do more work on it I will post updates!
     

    Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    It’s been a while with no updates, but the trailer is coming along nicely. My husband only has 3.5 weeks to finish it before I start driving😳. Next up will be the roof and siding. We are still debating the color of the siding. I bought an Oster convection oven/air fryer/ toaster to put in the outside kitchen.
    My husband talked to the scale guy at our local dump, and he agreed to let him bring it down to see how heavy it is getting. That will impact what materials get used for the siding and interior walls.
    Any recommendations on a good cooler to put in this? Our current one is cheap and the ice melts in less than a day.
    I ordered my Musket Mickey sign, and it should be done right before we leave (if it’s cutting close the artist has agreed to send it directly to the Fort). I’m hoping I’m ready for our adventure!
     

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    Teamubr

    Formerly racing around the country.
    Joined
    Nov 7, 2010
    Thanks for the update!

    That is really coming along and it looks pretty cute. Nothing like a looming deadline to get things moving. Good luck and have a great trip.

    j
     

    Tallis

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 1, 2019
    Looks really cute. Glad you are taking it to a scale. If the one at the dump is not large enough for the entire tow vehicle and camper, download the CAT Scale app to find one nearby. You can drive the whole thing onto one of their scales, get the weight on your phone, and never have to get out of your vehicle. Best to go by GVWR for the whole rig, rather than relying on the tow capacity number.

    Curious why you don't want a fridge since you have other electric and will be camping with hook-ups. I would rather throw in a dorm fridge than have to deal with water logged food in a cooler. Looking forward to seeing inside pics!
     
  • Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    Looks really cute. Glad you are taking it to a scale. If the one at the dump is not large enough for the entire tow vehicle and camper, download the CAT Scale app to find one nearby. You can drive the whole thing onto one of their scales, get the weight on your phone, and never have to get out of your vehicle. Best to go by GVWR for the whole rig, rather than relying on the tow capacity number.

    Curious why you don't want a fridge since you have other electric and will be camping with hook-ups. I would rather throw in a dorm fridge than have to deal with water logged food in a cooler. Looking forward to seeing inside pics!
    Thanks for the advice with the scale!
    The inside is just big enough for a queen sized bed. The area where the outside kitchen will be has a bunk above it inside. So the cooler needs to fit underneath in the outside kitchen. I would love a real fridge, but I doubt I can fit one anywhere. I will have a better idea once he starts completing the inside. Plus, he's hell bent that he will be using this all the time at sites with no hook ups (I will NOT be joining those trips). So he doesn't want to put much electrical stuff in it.
     

    kenthanson

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 17, 2013
    I would get a yeti cooler or a similar roto-moulded cooler. They’ll keep ice in southern us heat for 3-4 days. They are pricey and you lose interior space because the cooler walls are so thick but it will do the job.
     

    JETS70

    Teardrop camping at the Fort
    Joined
    Jun 9, 2013
    Looking good. :thumbsup2:thumbsup2 Get ready to answer lots of questions from curious onlookers. It's a lot of fun to meet other people and share about your camper.

    Steve
     

    tiggerdad

    I don't always get distracted but whe...SQUIRREL!
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2009
    You could also consider possibly using 12 volt coolers which could be used on sites run on battery or on solar panels. You could put a 12 volt outlet inside the camper as well as outside so you could let it ride inside the camper going down the road plugged up and simply move it outdoors once you get there.

    Yeti are nice coolers, but there is no way I can find to justify that price. You can purchase a lot of ice for that. Personally I have stuck with the higher end Igloo coolers and they keep ice a few days at a time and serve the purpose well without wasting a lot of money. For lots of folks coolers like Yeti are bought more for "social stance" than an actual practical use.
     

    PaHunter

    Photographer in need of training...
    Joined
    Oct 15, 2014
    You could also consider possibly using 12 volt coolers which could be used on sites run on battery or on solar panels. You could put a 12 volt outlet inside the camper as well as outside so you could let it ride inside the camper going down the road plugged up and simply move it outdoors once you get there.

    Yeti are nice coolers, but there is no way I can find to justify that price. You can purchase a lot of ice for that. Personally I have stuck with the higher end Igloo coolers and they keep ice a few days at a time and serve the purpose well without wasting a lot of money. For lots of folks coolers like Yeti are bought more for "social stance" than an actual practical use.
    You mean there is not a Yeti store at the outlet malls ???
     

    Sleepy425

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 11, 2011
    You could also consider possibly using 12 volt coolers which could be used on sites run on battery or on solar panels. You could put a 12 volt outlet inside the camper as well as outside so you could let it ride inside the camper going down the road plugged up and simply move it outdoors once you get there.

    Yeti are nice coolers, but there is no way I can find to justify that price. You can purchase a lot of ice for that. Personally I have stuck with the higher end Igloo coolers and they keep ice a few days at a time and serve the purpose well without wasting a lot of money. For lots of folks coolers like Yeti are bought more for "social stance" than an actual practical use.
    Thanks for the advice! We’ve been discussing it today and I think I finally got him to lean towards ditching the cooler idea.
     

    tiggerdad

    I don't always get distracted but whe...SQUIRREL!
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2009
    You mean there is not a Yeti store at the outlet malls ???
    Remember, I never go in the stores in the outlet malls. I refuse. My job is to carry the bags. I would rather sandpaper a bobcat's rearend than actually go in the stores.

    Sleepy,
    Is he now leaning more towards the small fridge or other idea?
     


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