The aluminum frame has now been fully assembled. It is bolted to the chassis of the truck with some sort of fancy spacers in between each point of contact. The frame on the truck looks fantastic and it is ready to hold the camper. So we line everything up, and back up carefully. We have to be very cautious, as the frame is just barely narrower than the legs that are currently supporting the camper! With several helpers, we lined it up and began to lower the camper on to the new frame. It is almost in place. And things are lining up well. The cab clearance is perfect as the camper settles into position! Before we raise up the legs, lets take a look at this chassis mounted, aluminum frame from both sides of the Northstar Arrow camper. The camper is now solidly on the new frame and we begin raising the legs/jacks. Working alongside us at ATOverland was a couple of travelers from England. Their trailer was receiving a full suspension rebuild by the design and fabrication team. These guys at ATOverland are amazing! But, just so you know…….. the parts you see in a couple of these photos are from their project, not ours. Sorry for any confusion. That photo shows the camper fully in position. The truck is not impacted by the dry weight of the camper and the frame is holding it just as designed and planned. Holes are drilled in the upright piece of aluminum, and through the sidewall of the lower box of the camper. Now the bolting begins!
A series of bolts are attached into the side of the lower box. The bracket is then welded to the aluminum frame. Additional bolts come up from underneath the floor of the camper at various points in the grid work of the frame. There are 13 bolts holding the camper to the frame. This camper looks awesome in the lineup of campers and units that are parked at the ATOverland shop in Prescott, AZ.
Ready to drive away as we head off to the desert for a few days of mud, rain and 4×4 fun with the new system. Let’s test those welds and bolts to see how it does!
19 thoughts on “On the frame!”
Did you guys look into buying a flatbed truck instead of custom building the frame? I suppose the flatbed would add a little more weight. Great build! Along the same ideas I’ve had but haven’t found anyone that has done it.
Thomas- you are right, there was trouble where the rear tire contacted the frame. In the next post ( https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2017/01/13/first-camping-trip-test-run/ ) you will see that we had to cut away a section of the frame.
Keep reviewing the posts to see what the camper looked like with the boxes made by AT Overland!
I don’t see any room for the rear axle to articulate or flex upwards. Besides that, you did what what we could not do, because we couldn’t find any of the shelve products do do it. So nice to see that someone realized it to show it can be done and it total makes sense. Good luck with your upcoming adventures.
Johnoot- Thanks for asking! The Vanagon gets about 18 mpg. It is running a Ford Zetece DOHC 4 cylinder motor. And it is tall and heavy. The truck unit is getting about 8.5 mpg at this point. But we have more weight to put on. We will be watching it closely to see how that changes. I guess mpg is the price we will pay for an onboard bathroom and full-time bed area!
Looks great. What mileage did you get in your Vanagon, and what are your estimates with this new rig and setup?
LOL!! There is not support for that. And you are right- it looks precarious. The factory assures us (and zillions of other cabover owners) that it is sufficiently reinforced. However, there will not be 5 of us up there…. ever. Some dogs do not sleep on the bed. Some dogs do!
Is there support for the overhang to the cab? Looks like quite the overhang, what if the five of you are up there? lol
YES!! Previous post mentions that the dealer bought the bed back from us! We lucked out.
Thanks. The dogs seem to enjoy it so far. Especially the large window above the “couch” where they can watch the parking lot!
Looks like you’re doing a great job of creating a custom rig. Is there a market for the removed pickup bed?
Yes- we are trying to build the beast we could not easily locate or afford. XP, Tiger and a few others are doing something similar, but at a price that is out of our range. We are hoping for a hybrid customization that will suite our needs.
We think the original bed, bumper and tailgate weighed about 500 lbs, possibly more. Subsequent posts will show removal of unnecessary weight in items such as Happijacs, huge refrigerator, microwave, etc. There is a weigh-in scheduled in the near future. I will keep you updated! Water, fuel, batteries are all very real considerations. (Light beer – LOL)
Really looks great. I hope it works out well for you. Definitely more room. wonder what the doggies will think. Happy New Year
Thanks. That makes perfect sense. You essentially now have a 4WD Class C motorhome (w/o the passage between the cab and the camper, of course) which is a rare beast indeed. Totally understand the weight trade-off. We have a 4-cylinder Toyota Dolphin motorhome and weight is a constant worry (Should I fill the extra gas tank? Should we carry a full 15 gallons of water? Maybe we should buy light beer (Gotta be lighter, right? It says so right on the box.)? Etc. Any idea how many lbs of potential storage you gained?
Thanks John Lupien. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Keep watching as we develop the storage features, interior changes and aesthetics. And as always, we welcome suggestions and ideas!
Excellent question Syroder- In one of recent posts we showed the removal of the bed, tailgate, bumper. That was a significant amount of weight! Going this route allows us to use that weight for long-term gear and equipment. This method also reduces the center of gravity by several inches. We do not plan to disassemble this unit, so this permanent mounting solution makes it stable, lighter and more robust than a bed mounted camper.
Yes, custom boxes are being built by ATOverland, which will fill those spaces, provide additional storage and complete the look. Boxes in that location will help us keep our weight down low, also! Keep watching for more developments! Thanks for commenting, we love hearing from folks.
Curious as to why you decided to go this route rather than just leave it as a camper and pickup. Are you going to build utility boxes on the sides to fill the space between the frame and the camper?
Beautiful workmanship. You should enjoy this camper.