Posted by: Steve and Bethany | January 26, 2009



Been a while, lots to talk about, & the last post was getting long as it was.

I picked up the ceiling from STAN’s UPHOLSTERY in Eugene last friday @ about 4:00 pm, I rented a trailer to get it back to the shop, then hoisted it up off the trailer, pulled the trailer out, backed the bullet in & got my first look at the new ceiling in its home. Well worth the wait, STAN’s did a great job working with my tight radius’ & little or no finger room.

the roof/ceiling suspended in the shop

floating over the bullet

I also picked up, from the powder coater, some storage cages I welded up, to go behind the lower storage doors for dirty things like firewood etc. on the passenger side, & protection for the air tanks on the driver’s side These mount just to the rear of the storage boxes on the pivot frame. The reason I didn’t have them made with the pivot frame was that I didn’t know the exact shape of the wheel well, & I wanted these cages to follow the shape of the wheel well pretty tight, to maximize storage, so I picked up the storage doors a couple of weeks ago, mounted them, got the latches working properly, then traced the angles & dimensions to build these cages

steel cages powder coated

the lower storage doors installed, defining the wheel well. If you look back at my first sketches of the bullet, the area of wall, below the floor was originally drawn as a fixed wall panel with a storage compartment door within it. This evolved into a fully hinged wall panel to allow full access to the storage area, & room for this extra 'dirty storage' space as well.

dry & 'dirty' storage compartments

inside the firewood storage cage

the air tank protection cage

First thing saturday morning I hit it hard, installing the cages, riveting them to the rear of the storage boxes, & to the underside of the floorboards, finished running the wires & airlines from the on-board compressor up to the dashboard for the air pressure switch/ gage, then began dropping the roof/ceiling onto the four lifting posts.

Let me start by saying one thing.. …WIRES.. … PRE-THINK YOUR WIRES!, I thought I’d be slick as a designer & run the wires to the roof /ceiling up inside of one of the lifting pipes (we have to do this somehow, when we have a pop up roof), so months ago, when I designed the lifting system, I thought I’d have wires for the lighting & fans up there, hence, four or six 14 gauge wires,  so my 1 5/8″ pipes (1 1/4″ inside diameter) was more than plenty. Well.. …when I wired the roof, I ran two wires for the lights, two for the fans,  two eight gauge wires for the front three upper spotlights, two wires each for the front & rear roof video cameras (to keep an eye on my roof clearances going down dirt roads with low hung branches etc.) both with RCA plugs on the ends, two eight gauge wires for a future solar system, two wires for the perimeter clearance lights, & three wires for the back upper directional lights!.. … A TOTAL OF EIGHTEEN WIRES!. Needles to say I’d been worried about this morning for the last three weeks. I realized that the lifting pipes, at the three 90 bends were cut & welded, more importantly ‘cut’ so the likelyhood of sharp edges inside was great, I confirmed this while trying to pull a lead wire through, so I quickly ran to a recycle center nearby & found a roll of truck tarp type vinyl with only like 4″ left on the roll, perfect. I went back to the shop, rolled the vinyl up into a 1 1/8″ tube, cut the excess, then taped it together forming a sleeve. I pulled this sleeve over the wires , attached my pull wire, & began. Within minutes I knew this wasn’t a one person job, Bethany came by ready for sweat, & it took the both of us, armed with a quart of wire lube, two hours to simultaneously push & pull the wires through about 5′ of pipe with three 90 degree bends. we got it done however, & the roof/ceiling was now resting on the lifting pipes.

two hours & lots of lube!

I then riveted the roof to the lifting pipe flanges with 12 rivets each (48 total)

permanently fastening the roof to the lifting pipes, man I love rivets!

The whole roof lifting system seems to be working perfectly, I lifted it on level ground first, 30 second to go up, 18 seconds to go down, I then tested it on the slope in front of my home, no problems or grinding sounds at all! the linear bearings seem to be working great.

the linear bearings & equalizing cables working great

I should also mention that before lifting it over the bullet, I weighed the roof/ceiling as a complete assembly, 300 lbs.

Of course I had to wire up the love lights to ‘make sure they worked’, oh yeahhh!

nothing more need be said!


I did work on the bullet this past weekend doing stuff that wasn’t ‘pretty’!.. months ago I bought a cheap, used, junk yard, old,  car battery to temporarily power the steps & hydraulic pump while I built the roof & interior cabinets. (mind you I have purchased the permanent battery & had it sitting in its future spot inside the camper, while designing the bench cabinet, just a few feet away!) this past week my precious old purchase decided to have a heart attack & die, not before boiling over while I drove the bullet back from having the cameras installed, so sulfuric acid spilled all over the basement floor, causing amperage to drop to a point where the fluid locks wouldn’t open up, but the pump seemed to work fine, this sent hydraulic fluid pumping out the pressure relief valve into my too small drip pan & onto the basement floor along with the acid, sorry no pictures, I think the steam coming out my ears would’ve fogged the shot anyway. (you didn’t think everything was going to go perfectly did you)!

so it was time to clean up the mess, sand down the acid etched basement floor, raise the sides of the drip pan to preclude any future messes, add a drain hole in the drip pan to the outside with a 1/4″ hose that directed any fluid to the ground just behind the driver’s door (so I can see if there’s a problem in the future), weld the permanent battery base & strap down, remove all my temporary wiring & rewire to the real battery in its permanent location, install gas struts on the two storage compartment doors to hold them up, & take Bethany white water kayaking. To be honest, all this needed to be done soon, I just thought I’d build the bench cabinet first.

all in all, really not a big deal, & I’m better prepared for any future problems. Now, just a couple more small things & repeated testings on the revised hydraulic system, then I’ll start on the cabinets.. ..


Worked this past weekend on yet more small steps getting closer to getting the basement permanently closed-in so I can start on cabinets, plus some other stuff. I installed both skylights, wired them & installed the interior trim, caulked the wire coming out of the roof for future solar & installed a waterproof box on the roof to protect it, installed the weather-stripping on the underside of the roof where it meets the wall cap, so the roof is now done, waterproof, & when down, air (or wind)-proof. I started to plumb the water tank, only to learn I forgot to have the manufacturer put in the port for the vent, so I’ll have that done in town this week, cut a second access into the basement from above (in Malibu’s bed area), to give me two options of getting into this area if I need to replace or work on anything (it’s sure nice getting at things from above),

the new upper access into the basement

tried out my rear winch/spare tire lifting system & installed the spare in its permanent spot,

See how the winch runs up over the top two pulley rods, then down & around the spare, this system lifted up the 170 lb spare tire just fine. Notice the pivot frame twist between the bumper & the box (the bumper is fixed to the truck frame, the box pivots)

& kept putting the roof up & down obsessively, to look & listen for any problems.. .. so far so good, i think the old battery was the problem but I’m still keeping a close eye on it.

All the wiring & lines are now permanent, the hydraulic pump drip pan's been made taller, ready for fresh water tank plumbing


So far the new battery is working great, tons of power, & not a problem at all with the hydraulic pump or lifting system as a whole. The new port for the vent in the water tank was put in, the tank permanently put in & plumbed, tested & retested, the lid on the basement permanently installed, fill hoses mounted up high & out-of-the-way, all wires mounted to the walls, a rubber non-slip mat put into the basement to keep things from sliding around, aluminum angle riveted down to protect the pumps & compressor from anything inside from sliding into them (remember this side of the basement will also store tools, fill hoses, extension chords & such), & permanently mounted the fill hoses to the fill door.(these will be behind one of the two dressers)

basement floor down for good

the gravity fill hoses (yes with a vent hose) mounted to the fill door

The space you see aft of the water tank is under the dog step & connects to the storage compartment on the other side of the basement, this gives me storage 7′ long for sandladders, poles, long shovel handles, etc.

access into the basement is now through the side or top access only

The basement is officially done & I am now mounting ledgers on the inside of the walls in spots to mount the cabinets to. Next will be to cut rigid insulation to fit between the ledgers & put on the 1/4″ wall panels before I start on the cabinets. I’ve been researching woods for the cabinets & gently migrated from a teak with stainless accents to Afromosia, a similar look, similar properties to teak (used in boatbuilding) but a little more predictable for my use, as I’m going to need to buy veneers & press it to both 1/4″  & 1/2″ plywood for the various applications I’ve got. I’ll be refining the cabinet designs next week.

Also next week, I’ll be installing the softwalls, as Stans upholstery shop called & they’re ready for the first fitting before the final seam is sewn. I’ve changed the design a bit removing the outer storm flap as the bullet’s just too tall to feasibly reach all five windows to put the flaps up & down from the exterior. On the four wheel camper I’ve got a handle I mounted at the top of the solid walls & I can stand on the rear wheel & reach both window flaps, but on the bullet, the wheel is not centered between the windows, & there really wasn’t a good spot to put wall steps, as the lower storage compartment doors occupy the whole bottom wall panel, so I’d be fighting it forever. instead, I designed an altered version of four wheel’s newer flapless window design (thanks to stan @ four wheel camper sending me some great photos & details of how they work to shed water). My design is similar, but also has an outer window trim that both covers the screen, window material, & inner flap which would have shown across the bottom of the window, but also acts as a channel to hold the bungees at the right height (top & bottom of window) to suck the wall in as the roof goes down (I hope!).


The wall ledgers are going on now, I’ve ripped some 2×4’s down to 1 1/2″ x 1″ to plane out with the 1″ rigid foam insulation, & am placing them in locations to mount the cabinets to. After meeting with larry @ NOVA WOODWORKS, regarding applying veneer to my wall panels & curving cabinets (he has a vacume press), I thought long about the chronology of how to do the interior, &  I’ve decided to install the 1/4″ plywood wall panels plus build all the cabinets (designed to come apart) refine all the pieces as needed, then dismantle the whole interior, & have everything veneered at the same time. While that is being done, I’ll install the insulation between the ledgers, & apply any ledgers necessary around utility openings cut for the fridge, water & space heaters vents, outdoor shower & power hookup doors. (as I’ll cut them in as the cabinets are built). This should allow for any changes required before the veneer goes on.

ledgers for mounting cabinets

the dog pass-thru, scribed & ledgered


Drawing the lines of the cabinets on the floor to finally lock in exact dimensions & locate my driver’s side ledgers,

starting to layout the cabinets on the floor, (you have to look close)

I’m getting more confident about cutting the vent holes in the driver’s side wall, now that the cabinets are becoming more real in my mind.

driver's side ledgers

I went to Stan’s upholstery for the first fitting of the softwalls, all five windows were fully sewn in with all the ‘window’, screen & interior storm flaps, as well as the exterior trim/bungee channels to suck the thing in as the roof lowers, everything looked great & my perimeter circumference dimension (42′-3/4″) was within 1/8″ of true, we temporarily mounted it up to verify the overall length, & marked the last seam, plus marked where to place some ‘D’ rings on the exterior to hold the bungee at the right height in the corners. The material we used, is a heavy trucking tarp vinyl, similar to what four wheel uses in their softwalls, but a slightly thicker ‘window’ plastic & screen.

first fitting

the rear window (something the four wheel doesn't have)

We didn’t mount the bottom for this fitting, so in the pictures it is just hanging loose, but will be taught when permanently installed.

By the time I write this, Stan’s is done with the last seam & ‘D’ rings, & it’s ready to be picked up on monday, I probably won’t install the softwalls for a bit as I continue on the walls & cabinets, plus I have to fully wire all the roof lights before putting the material & mounting trim on, as my access to the inside corners for pulling wires will be greatly reduced. I have already picked up the flat insert trim for mounting the vinyl, (off white with off white accent for the upper interior trim, to match the ceiling, aluminum with black accent for the lower exterior trim)



  1. looks like it’s coming along great! Can’t wait to see it Thanksgiving. Nice job pal.

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