Posted by: Steve and Bethany | March 24, 2009


date; 3/10/09

Alright, I know there are plenty of expedition vehicle builds & camper conversion websites out there, it seems like all of which I’ve visited over the last year. All of these vehicles do a great job & creatively perform perfectly, for their purposes, but none seemed to solve all of the requirements I have for our particular needs. What I’ve decided to do is document the process of design, decision-making & construction of our ultimate expedition vehicle, with the hopes that this info catapults the next person closer toward their project. Many solutions have been solved for me by other campers built in other websites, & are well worth looking into:

the most amazing vehicle modifications of them all

not a custom owner-build, but one of the most well thought out

& of course, the grandfather of them all:

but at the same time, many other of my specific design challenges have not been solved & by the end of this blog, will be.
Let me start by saying two things:
1- I’m coming into this, an architectural designer, artist, & builder, so I have plenty of building experience, but no automotive experience whatsoever. The last time I regularly worked on my car was in high school, when I spent every afternoon fixing what broke the day before! (I’m 42 now) so I really am learning this all from scratch.
2- I tend to write in run-on sentences, I just get exited when I talk about something I like, & I write just like I talk, & my talking tries to follow my thinking, & my thoughts tend to float around..   …! so please understand I’m no English major!

you’ll also notice I’m altering the order of these posts to go from first to last instead of most recent first, (how un-blog-like) this is so people will see how this whole thing started, & follow the order of events, as opposed to just seeing the finished product first. This whole thing is really about the project not the product. If you want to see the most current posting, click on whatever’s at the bottom of the column on the right. this also means at the bottom of the page, clicking on “older posts” will actually get you to newer posts & vice versa… …..(yeah,I know, I have to live with myself all the time!)

I have also started a thread on ‘Expedition Portal’, to get feedback on questions I have, from people alot more rehearsed in this area, it’s worth checking out as well

signing in will allow you to see all the photos (it doesn’t cost anything)



  1. Hi,
    Looks like a great project. We started in exactly the same way (mattress in the back traveling for 2 months)

    Thanks for the link to our EcoRoamer site, it’s really not as big as it looks…

    Good luck, be sure to share your project on – we got a lot of amazing feedback and suggestions there.


  2. Steve,
    I am doing a very similar build. I looked through all of your notes and almost all of my thinking is validated by your work.

    One quick question: Was 3″ enough for the rear pivot teter-toter? You mention that you lifted the rear wheel 14″ and had plenty of clearance. Would you do less, if you were doing it again?

    • John,
      to be honest, I wouldn’t do a thing differently.
      i have gotten close to the two frames touching, but they never touched, so 3″ is just the right amount.
      now, the length of your frame may make a difference, as well as the stiffness of the truck frame you’re building it on, but for my application (Bullet 5500) it was perfect. at first i thought i may have overbuilt the camper & truck connection, but 5 years & 50,000 hard & playful miles in, I’ve had absolutely no problems at all with my design, the truck or the camper, I have read of many other custom camper builds having sometimes major structural failure, so i feel validated.

  3. Steve,
    Great site and a great build! I’m an architect as well, 54 and looking at custom campers, specifically popups. Love the design and admire your drive to get it done. I too like Toyotas, and have to ask if you were building today what platform would you go with? Does Toyota have something today they didn’t in 2009?
    Thanks! Rick

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