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DIY - My Pop-Up Camper Modifications (lots of pics & a video)

Discussion in 'Do-It-Yourself & Gear Modifications' started by bruner, Aug 25, 2008.

    bruner Loaded Pockets

    Although this has nothing to do with EDC, it has everything to do with "do it yourself". I thought the best place to post about it was in the DIY forum. I wanted to share some fun ideas that I came up with in modifying our pop-up camper. It's a Fleetwood Cobalt (last year's model, IIRC). I don't think they make them any more. It was just about the smallest pop-up we could find. Small enough that my little 2002 Ford Ranger can pull without much trouble.

    Anyhow, I learned a couple of these mods from another great forum called PUX Forum (aka Pop-Up Explorer Message Forum). This is where I learned how to make the galley shelf system and to replace my chain link with spring loaded hooks. The other stuff is what I came up with on my own.

    The first thing that I wanted to do was to modify how our canopy works. Our camper came with a canopy that rolls up and is held inside a long zippered back above the door side of the camper. Normally, you have to use string to tie down the two ends of the canopy where the vertical poles are installed. I got pretty tired of trying to find something to tie off too and trying to drive spikes into the ground only to find unmovable stones. So, I figured out a way to run the two vertical poles back to the camper's frame. This is something that you normally see on larger hard-bodied campers. What I thought was clever about my idea was to used two metal adjustable flag pole holders bolted to the frame. This way, when they are not in use than can be folded up to be flush with the camper body. When I need to use them, I open them up and rotate them out about 4 notches.

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

    The black metal flag pole holders are from Lowe's. In order to bolt them to the frame I had to use a small piece of 2 x 4. I decided to used treated lumber so that it has better resistance to the elements. I also spray painted it black so that it would blend in with the color of the frame. I only used a piece of the 2 x 4 that was tall enough to match the height of the mounting bracket. I drilled and countersunk two holes for the bolts that would go thru the center of the frame. I then drilled 4 pilot holes for the four wood screws needed to attach the flag pole holder to the block. I think the pictures will describe it best...

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

    In order to make this work I needed longer poles. The poles that came with the canopy extend and snap into various lengths by means of a spring loaded button and drilled holes. I needed to keep the top portion of the poles that had the built in spring loaded button but find a new longer bottom part for it to snap into. Took a pole with me to Lowe's and soon found the answer. First I looked at copper pipes, but nothing had the right inside diameter to accept the top pole with the button. Then looked at the PVC pipe and found the same thing, nothing would quite fit. Looked around a bit more and found a special type of pipe that looks like PVC, but is not. It's called FlowGuard Gold and is made from CPVC. I found a ten foot piece and had it cut in half to fit in my truck. Turns out that five feet was the perfect length. I drilled two holes towards one end, the first one is 5 inches in and the second is 10 inches in. Works great, but pipe diameters, pipe lengths and the drilled hole dimensions will almost certainly vary from camper to camper, so I won't go into those details. Some more pics to help explain...

    [IMG] [IMG]

    Now, here are two quick and simple mods. I found a plastic cutting board at my local Target that was almost the perfect size to cover the sink when the sink is not in use providing extra table space. I had to cut the board down to size on one end and add rubber feet (again from Target). The rubber feet had to be located in exactly the right spot, so that when the cutting board was placed on the sink, they would act as a way to line up with the sink and keep the board from sliding around. This was done with a combination square and trial and error. I placed the rubber feet "lightly" (they are adhesive backed) so that I could move them until the final position was determined. The next fast and easy mod was to add chain clips instead of using the threaded chain link to attach the safety chains to the towing hitch. Make sure you get clips that are rated for the proper strength. Found those at Lowe's too.

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

    Next mod is the wire shelves made from shower curtain rods. I learned this from the PUX forum. Several people have done the exact same mod. It's easy, it's brilliant and everyting collapses down to a size that fits under either of the dining room seats. I used the same style of locater cap (see second photo) on top as I did on bottom. This required that I purchase 4 sets of curtain rod locator's. They come in packs of two, but one of each set is not a "full" locater cap, it is open on one side. I wanted to completely capture the shower poles to insure that there would be no way for it to wiggle loose and fail. Some pics...

    [IMG] [IMG]

    If it isn't obvious yet, let me tell you that my wife and I like to camp in comfort. We did the tent thing for many many years and I feel have "earned" these little privileges. I don't have heat or air conditioning in the camper. We opted not to include them when we purchased the camper. Living in the NorthEast allows us to do this. We have a tiny ceramic heater that we can plug in when it's too cold and we have fans above our bunk to keep things cool in the summer. We also like to watch TV and movies and it's always good to be able to catch the local news and weather. So, I came up with this. The two fans are from Walmart (I think, it's been a while). The TV was a closeout special at my local Circuit City. The fans are clamp on oscillating models. I don't think I paid more than $10 each for them, but they had to be modified. I wanted them to clamp on to the pole above the bunk and oscillate in such a way as to fan you from head to toe. This means I had to rotate the fan on it's clamp 90 degrees. It was not easy (I did not have the best tools for the job), but I managed to make it work. The TV is an LCD model with a built in DVD player. I used Velcro straps to hang it right between the two fans. Both fans and the TV run off of 12v, so I changed the plugs on them to 1/4" and they plug right into the over head lighting on both sides of the camper. The last pic shows a closeup of the fan clamp. I used some double sided foam tape to adhere the fan switch to the clamp. Fan oscillation can also be turned on/off. Some pics...

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

    HERE is a short video on YouTube that shows the fans and TV in operation.

    Finally, not so much mods as they are fun additions, we found some great lights to string up at our campground this last weekend. Also, I made a little sign that says who we are and where we are from.

    [IMG] [IMG] [IMG]

    Any questions, I'll be happy to try and answer as soon as possible.

    Thanks for looking,
    Dan

    :)

    bruner Loaded Pockets

    Imageshack wasn't showing some of my pics last evening, but it looks like the problem has cleared itself up.

    Dan

    speedmaster Loaded Pockets

    Very cool!!!

    MandM Loaded Pockets

    A little ingineuity goes a loooooooooong way!

    Nice job! Alll those mods certainly make it more comfy. O0

    Patrick T Empty Pockets

    Awesome!
    O0

    Patrick

    bruner Loaded Pockets

    Thanks for the kind words :)

    One fellow on another forum told me to keep an eye on those fans. He said he used something similar, and it had a meltdown after about 3 hours. He was asleep. He said that is when he realized that he didn't have a smoke detector in his camper. I'm going to keep a close eye on them next time we're out to make sure they don't heat up, but it's probably nothing to worry about.

    Incidentally one of the mods that I forgot to take pictures of or mention is that I DID install a smoke/fire alarm. It's almost odd... The camper comes with a gas alarm for the propain and a carbon monoxide alarm, but not smoke/fire alarm...

    Dan
    Riley454 likes this.

    bartsdad Loaded Pockets

    Nice job on the mods. :cheers: Everything looks good. I'm curious if they don't install smoke/fire alarms because smoke from your camp fire keeps setting them off. :burn:
    I imagine most of the time it isn't a problem,you don't usually want smoke going into camper, but many campsites are prearranged and you often don't have a choice where the fire ring and parking stalls are located. I would definitely err on the side of safety. Campers are basically made out of tinder and burn faster than you can say fire extinguisher.I'm curious to see how the smoke alarm does on future trips. Again, looks good and keep up the nice work.

    Chris

    hawkeye Loaded Pockets

    Nice work, Dan. Nothing like making something your own...

    I imagine when you have other campers take a look at your rig, they are awed by your ingenuity. Very cool!

    bruner Loaded Pockets

    bartsdad,

    I wonder that too. Though camp smoke has never set off my alram yet. I should say that we haven't ever used the stove in the galley yet. Never hurts to be prepared (of course that's falling on deaf ears here on the most prepared forum around).

    ;)

    Yep hawkeye,

    Nothing like solving your own problems. We haven't had many visitors, but then again, we haven't had the camper out all that much this summer. I hope to get more camping in before the snow flies.

    Dan

    :)

    lightsandknives Empty Pockets

    O0

    Great mods Dan! We've been thinking about getting a pop-up camper for some time now. You're pushing me closer.........

    How long does it take you to set it up from the time you unhook it from the truck?

    bruner Loaded Pockets

    lightsandknives,

    Thanks :)

    Actually, it only takes a few minutes. Truly the hardest part is backing in the camper. They say it gets easier with practice, but I've done it many times now and it is still ALWAYS a challenge.

    Funny you should ask though... With my new digi-cam I was able to do a stop-motion movie of me putting up the camper in our driveway. I had it set up to take a photo about once every second. It was very funny to watch, but I must have deleted it, otherwise I would have posted a link for you.

    My wife and I have put in countless tent camping trips and I can tell you that upgrading to the pop-up has been nothing less than joyful.

    Dan

    :)

    DandyDanOH Empty Pockets

    Camper modifications

    I have completed my camper modifications on the awning, it was so easy to do! I will post pics as soon as I can so everyone can see how nice it turned out. It only takes me and my wife about 7 minutes to set the new awning up. I will try to post some pics on here if I can figure out how to do it.
    • In Omnia Paratus

    billybag Loaded Pockets

    Nice Mods. From PA also here.
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Gnarly Loaded Pockets

    Just found this.
    Excellent modifications,by the way!
    We worked our way up the camper line to a 32-footer,but now starting to downsize.
    Great use of locally-found stuff + brainpower,Dan!

    ~Gnarly

    locknload223 Loaded Pockets

    Great work! Feels good to do it all yourself doesn't it?

    We picked up a 31 footer last fall and were able to take it out three times before winterization. After being out a few times, I now I have a small list of mods to start on pretty soon. I can't leave anything alone!

    indigo Loaded Pockets

    I love that shelf system. I need to try that with my own pop-up! Thanks for the idea and the link to the pup forum.

    themadplumbarian Loaded Pockets

    Nice Pop-Up, nice little setup. love the diamond plate and colors, i want to get a tear-drop..