Posted by: Steve and Bethany | January 27, 2009



Now that the roof lifting system is tuned & working fine, I pulled the roof back off, to start the ceiling treatment. This is where I’m gonna pull away from the pack a bit, most expedition interiors, with some definite exceptions, are pretty ‘store- bought- camper’ ish, or ‘wooden-cabinets-built-by-a-welder’ esk, but I’m doing this more as a challenge to myself, and, when I built my home, I thought I really enjoyed the challenge of framing, so I designed a pretty complicated frame, but when I got to the interiors, I really had fun, so I’m gonna milk this for all it’s worth. This, plus Bethany & I plan to be camping into our retirement in this, so it’s gotta be nice.

I’ve designed the ceiling to have a center ‘raised’ portion to allow for some indirect ‘love’ lighting, & a perimeter lowered area that houses the task lighting. As much as I tried, I could not find any good recessed lighting bright enough for task lighting, I looked into LED lights, not impressed with the brightness vs. the pain of looking directly at them, & halogen just wasn’t bright enough either, so I conceded back to ceiling mount lights, not as ‘cool’ as I wanted, but good lighting is essential. I also have to wire for two fantastic fans, the front roof spotlights, the perimeter clearance lights, & two roof mount camera’s, to scout out low flying branches front & rear, & although the ceiling mount lights have switches right on them, the ‘love’ lighting will have two three way switches mounted at two points on the ceiling.

I started by installing 1″ R-max rigid insulation between the ribs,then cut out the center love ceiling & traced its outline to show me where to run wires (or where not to). Because the roof has a camber or curve to it, I had to be pretty specific on my ceiling heights to get all ceiling levels to meet properly, no matter where along the curve they meet. one area that confused me at the beginning of this design was how to accommodate the lifting pipe mounts which connect directly to the roof perimeter, which are higher, but the ceiling at this point wanted to be lower, so I designed a recessed lifting pipe mount ceiling accent that enabled all the heights to be where they wanted to be, & at the same time accented the lifting mechanism. I did fur down the center ceiling 1/4″ below the aluminum ribs to reduce thermal bridging.

the lifting pipe surrounds, with a vinyl surface to compliment the ceiling (i hope)

ran the wiring around the center raised ceiling (except to the fans)

Next, I verified the drop in between the ceilings at 1  5/16″, just enough for the indirect lighting & lip to cover it, ripped some composite 1×2 trimboards I found at a local hardware store made for the purpose of cheap interior trim, but it had a property I needed, it bends great, in the store I was grabbing everything I could reach & pulling it down & bending it as much as it would bend. This stuff, I could bend 180 degrees in a four-foot radius, just what I needed. The outer, lower ceiling will be a little harder to cut as I have to follow the curves of the center ceiling pretty accurately. I also plan to add yet another layer of insulation to fill the additional cavity above the lowered ceiling (solar gain is pretty tough in the summer) . All this, while wiring in a manner that the roof can be removed again for the ceiling treatment (hopefully only one more time).

the center 'love' ceiling (i just like saying that!)


This past weekend, I finished the construction of the ceiling, involving completing & checking all the wiring, cutting out the lower ceiling plywood to follow the curves of the upper ceiling with a 1″ ‘shelf’ for the indirect lighting, as well as the lifting pipe accents & holes for wiring & switches, added my second layer of 1 1/2″ rockwool batt insulation between the two ceiling heights, pre-sprayed the plywood edges with glue to help with the installation of the upholstery, & put in about 500 screws & rivets to hold it all up. upholstery’s lined up for later this week.

started cutting out the curves on the lower ceiling plywood

installed the second layer of insulation

the finished ceiling, ready for upholstery


The ceiling upholstery got put back 1 week (the shop got swamped) not a problem, I spent the time going back to the lifting system, & added my pressure equalizing cables across the front wall, now connecting the two sides together, so now all four cylinders go up at exactly the same speed (no 1″ deviation from side to side) I’m really glad I did this, as now the four corners go up perfectly together, I mean perfectly, they have to, as it is geometrically impossible not to (unless a cable breaks or stretches, but 1/16″ aircraft cable-standard cable- is good for 500 lbs of tension, so my 5 or 10 lbs will never even stretch them). Now in my case, I didn’t design for these cables beforehand, so my space for the pulleys & cables was really tight, but I got ’em all in with, in some cases, 1/8″ clearance. WELL WORTH IT. The other nice aspect of this type of lifting/equalizing system, is hydraulic can take way more weight than an a roof, so you can put roof racks on & carry stuff on the roof, & the cables will still equalize the pressure between the cylinders, so it won’t matter if you load the roof all on 1 side or 1 corner, the roof will still raise perfectly even.

The custom front wall double pulley mount, the upper pulleys mount behind the wall cap

I did have to custom make the pulley mounts, as each of the double pulley mounting conditions differed, the easiest way I found to do this was to get rectangle tubing just the right width for two pulleys, & enough height to drill a hole for the center of the pulley, & cut the remainder away. Not hard to do at all, & I’m glad I chose steel, as I had to weld a plate to the back to mount it to the bullet’s front post, somewhat offset from the pulley as the post radius’, & I couldn’t  drill too close to the front.

the cables running across the top of the front wall

the double pulleys up behind the wall cap

all three sets of double pulley behind the wall cap, you better have nimble fingers to put this all together

you can see that I had to build out the wall to get the right clearance for the double pulleys, as I designed the wall cap to be 1 1/4″ away from the wall panels (1″ insulation, 1/4″ finish plywood) I only needed 9/16″ for the pulleys. These pulleys are 1″ in dia. with a bearing in the center, so I’m not just rubbing on the center screw.


The ceiling’s still across town, (sounds wierd ehh) I’m STILL waiting for the LED tape lights, AKA ‘ the love lighting’  (I like my name better) through a series of wrong shipments, I still don’t have the right lighting, & the raised ceiling has to be upholstered, then I have to install the lighting & indirect edging, before the lower/outer ceiling can be upholstered, so I got onto working inside, permanently mounting the air compressor & the water pump in the basement, but haven’t done wiring or plumbing yet, as the chronology is a bit complex, because I want to do as much as I can without the lid on the basement, but can’t go too far without putting the lid on, then working on top of it.

water pump & compressor mounted (pre-thinking pipes & wiring) & slid the temporary battery out-of-the-way

I also cut out & permanently mounted the front (or rear) of the basement,

yup, I'm still using up the old UHAUL wall panels (the white fiberglass is the perfect material for inside the basement & storage, as it reflects light, is durable & moisture proof

then layed down 6 mil poly over the metal UHAUL floor boards & riveted 1/4″ birch ply over the floor to start laying out the cabinets in full size plan. (I was carefull to locate the rivets within the 1″x1″ closed channel in the floor boards, so as not to compromise my waterproof-ness)

the 1/4" plywood floor planes out perfectly with the lip on the step

After I finalize design of the cabinet layout & appliance locations horizontally & vertically, I’ll furr out the walls providing 1x ‘ledgers’ where needed for cabinet attachment & insulate the walls with 1″ rigid foam insulation.



  1. Hi, Guess I need to leave a comment to subscibe to your site which I’ve been reading for quite awhile but missed the last couple of updates.

    It’s looking great and I’m learning a lot from your build.


    Les Lampman
    Whidbey Island, WA

  2. Enjoyed reading your build. I’ve been dreaming of building something like this for some time. Thanks for sharing!

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