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M1088 camper conversion

chucky

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Looking good and when you can leave the tools in the truck and close the locked door behind ya it seems to all start falling in place and not so much up and down the stairs ! I should have built my box on the ground and when finished then set it up on the truck !
 

ckouba

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Last weekend, we had our first "real" trip in the camper. The interior is still unfinished, water is still unplumbed, many other things remain to be done... but we had a mobile bedroom, bathroom, dining room, and galley and we got out to use it. In short, it was delightful.

There were a few things on the to-do list for the trip. One of the most important was proof of concept for the composting toilet. I couldn't bring myself to spend ~$1k on a Sea Head or other one so we went with this one, as a $115 DIY kit. Based on recommendation from another user, we used Arm & Hammer kitty litter (their Naturals version with corn fibers) as the medium, and as an ensemble, everything worked out very well. My biggest concern was my wife's ability to be comfortable with it, and it passed with flying colors.

The other very important evaluation was how the truck did with the Eco hubs. I just put this post on the MTV forum about my experience, but they are well worth doing in my opinion. The truck just rumbles down the freeway without issue on the flats and is no slower on the hills than it was with the bevels installed. I don't know yet exactly what it did for my mileage but I believe there is a significant bump there (see other thread for details).

Beyond that, I knew that we'd get some pinstriping due to living in the NW, with all the trees and shrubbery. I didn't expect it to all come within (literally) the first mile of driving off pavement. We were going to a lake in the woods via a FS road which I found on the internet. We turned onto it in a meadow, and everything was fine crossing the meadow. Leaving the meadow, the "road" turned to the north and narrowed. Significantly. Which I thought would be temporary. Because it was a road I found on a map on the internet...

I was wrong.

Turns out it was actually an OHV trail and sized more for SxS's and ATV's. It even had some small rock gardens which we just rolled through with incredible ease. It was fantastic, but there was no turning around until a junction. We eventually got to one, and the road we found was actually wider, but unmarked. It was pointed the right way, so we took it back to the more developed area and found a spot at a different lake. I accepted the fact we'd get pinstripes, I just thought it'd take a while longer.

We had a great three days in all, and everything worked like a charm. Our fridge is HUGE, the solar charges in an instant, interior lighting is great (didn't have any on our first trip), the bed is comfy, it's awesome having windows(!!!!), and we again had a kayak and inflatable boat with us to paddle around in. The other great observation was the work I did to insulate the box seems to have really paid off. Some have a tendency to heat up like an oven, but ours remained quite comfortable in direct sunlight all day. I wasn't sure it was going to be worth the effort, but it sure feels like it was now.

Still on the high priority to-do list: sink with running water, fully wire up the inverter with 110V to the camper, complete the bathroom/shower, and provision for an outdoor shower.

I only took 2 pics, as we didn't even get out of the truck when we were running down the trail, but it at least proves we were out there somewhere (Santiam Pass if you're wondering).





 

lylefk

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Maui, HI
Great build, thank you for taking all the time to share it for others. Much appreciated, I've read it front to back twice now and I'm sure it won't be the last time. Documentation like this really help make it possible for many of us who would otherwise be too adrift and uninformed to make it a reality.

Think I could trouble you with a couple of questions?

How are you finding the length of the rear overhang when it comes to driving around town? Do you notice it swinging out a lot/too much? I'm scouring another nice build with 6' back there and a single spare underneath (via Scott George/Endless Atlas) . In my quest for max habitat length, I'm learning that it's all a balancing act between rear overhang, turning radius (by going with a longer frame/wheelbase 1084/1085/1096) and departure angle (with spare location). I've heard from multiple folks that the general consensus is 48" max, but it's certainly useful longer for good spare locations and maxing out that habitat length.

You mentioned that you were able to gain about 14" forward and that seems to be limited by the air filters/intake setup you went with. I can certainly appreciate using a tried and true method (I'm of that mindset as well), but am wondering how that could be increased. I'm not planning on a pass-through or fording any rivers lol. Have you or anyone come across any documented builds squeezing more out of there? I'm planning on going strictly to the manual hand pump for the cab as well there ala 'rronmar' (haven't quite drawn all those lines on who's who here vs youtube). I'd love any resources, thoughts or links you might have for that area.

My very preliminary (from hundreds of hours of research and learning and ruling out Transits, F550's, cargo trailers and more) idea is a 1084/85/96 with a 23' habitat. Not against stretching a frame on an 83/88/93 etc. Shooting for 29.9999' for optimal national park access. Single spare underneath the rear overhang. We could make do with 22', but 23' gives us a little breathing room. 24'+ would be luxury. We'll be living in it for 3-5+ years, both full time artists so we need some elbow room and storage, and the wife insists on being coooomfortable :rolleyes:.

Thanks again, so much!

Lyle
 

coachgeo

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.....Shooting for 29.9999' for optimal national park access....
be aware..... word is many parks for insurance reasons will NOT ALLOW any self built campers. So if you plan to stay in a "campground" with full hook up like RV sites... your rig better look like it came from an RV manufacture. Rigs from a certified manufacture have to follow RV electrical wiring codes etc... in the manufacture process in order to be a "certified" manufacture..... Camp grounds require this cause their insurance company demand there be no rigs allowed that involve in an increased risk beyond certified ones. Their is more risk with a homemade one since there is no knowledge if it may or may not be more liable to catch on fire, leak sewage etc.

BLM / national land etc. where you are set up off grid....(open camping? ) that is little different it appears.
 

ckouba

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Hi Lyle,

Absolutely. No worries!

I just took a tape measure to it for some general dimensions. The top of the box is just over 22' long and ends ~12' from the center of the rear axles (where twin axles will physically pivot), or another way of looking at it is ~7.5' beyond the end of the frame rails. You are absolutely correct that this is all a balancing act of compromises and objectives. We wanted as much space and storage as possible, and you can see where I made compromises.

How does it drive? This is my first experience with anything of this magnitude, so my view will be biased toward the newbie side of the spectrum. I tend to think I am a bit hyper-aware of the size, more so because I am not used to anything like this than because of the specific dimensions. I am constantly thinking about swing arc, tree clearance, turning radius, etc... just because I am new to the game. Does is swing out a lot? Yeah, a bit more than something in the usual sizes, but I think it's a liveable compromise for the mission profile when considered with the benefits.

When I think about the longer wheelbase chassis, I am actually glad I went with the shorter. It is actually reasonably maneuverable in a parking lot. Having ridden around in Rick's 1079 (GeneralDisorder), I might get a little jealous when it comes to parking lots and drive-thru's, but I get over that once I step back into our habitat. The space is delightful... I have developed the opinion (based on no direct experience though) that one of the longer wheelbase chassis might be more of a handful to maneuver than dealing with the overhang. I want to be able to negotiate tight switchbacks encountered in backcountry climbs and clear them without reversing. The turning radius of the 1088 feel like it's on par with my crew cab long bed pickup, which to me is quite impressive for something of this size. It's all a balance of priorities.

There is about 10" more between the back of the cab and the front of the box, and the clearance around my intakes is pretty minimal. Staring at it, I can see getting the last 10" (or maybe just 9"?) back without a passthrough. Thinking creatively, there are other ways to work the intake (putting both snorkels on ones side, non-symmetric front end of the box, an older intake with the filter down low), but each has their compromise. I am not familiar enough with the other platforms, but the space behind the front left tire is ideal to mount one of the OEM air filters from an older truck if you wanted to run it low- but again it's a compromise with dust and dirt (and possibly water/mud) exposure.

The pump I have can be relocated with the OE hoses if you wanted to use that area. It was convenient for me and I went with it. I actually may be moving it before all is said and done, but I have other hills to fight for presently. I am quite content with its operation as the AOH pump seemed a little too complex and tempermental.

Beyond that, it sounds like you're looking into and thinking about all the right things. It's easy to change stuff when it exists only in your mind. Much harder when you're at the stage I am now. Not sure if I answered all your questions, but I am happy to further expound if you want more thought. Just drop a line right here or PM me.

Chris
 

lylefk

New member
5
15
3
Location
Maui, HI
be aware..... word is many parks for insurance reasons will NOT ALLOW any self built campers. So if you plan to stay in a "campground" with full hook up like RV sites... your rig better look like it came from an RV manufacture. Rigs from a certified manufacture have to follow RV electrical wiring codes etc... in the manufacture process in order to be a "certified" manufacture..... Camp grounds require this cause their insurance company demand there be no rigs allowed that involve in an increased risk beyond certified ones. Their is more risk with a homemade one since there is no knowledge if it may or may not be more liable to catch on fire, leak sewage etc.

BLM / national land etc. where you are set up off grid....(open camping? ) that is little different it appears.
I've heard grumblings about this, mostly in the cargo trailer conversion community. They seem to get it a lot in KOA campgrounds, but I don't recall any problems in NP's. I'll have to look into this thoroughly because if that's the case we may as well go to 35', enjoy the extra space and commute into the parks in the Tacoma we'll be pulling. Thanks for bringing this up! I do intend for it to look pretty polished, my plan at the moment is to paint the truck to match the Tacoma's cement grey and do some matching graphics up onto the habitat with cement and black. No intentions of being an 'influencer', but some attention on the vehicle probably wouldn't be bad for business :) Thanks, I've learned a lot from your previous posts as well.
 

serpico760

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San Diego, CA
Great build, thank you for taking all the time to share it for others. Much appreciated, I've read it front to back twice now and I'm sure it won't be the last time. Documentation like this really help make it possible for many of us who would otherwise be too adrift and uninformed to make it a reality.

Think I could trouble you with a couple of questions?

How are you finding the length of the rear overhang when it comes to driving around town? Do you notice it swinging out a lot/too much? I'm scouring another nice build with 6' back there and a single spare underneath (via Scott George/Endless Atlas) . In my quest for max habitat length, I'm learning that it's all a balancing act between rear overhang, turning radius (by going with a longer frame/wheelbase 1084/1085/1096) and departure angle (with spare location). I've heard from multiple folks that the general consensus is 48" max, but it's certainly useful longer for good spare locations and maxing out that habitat length.

You mentioned that you were able to gain about 14" forward and that seems to be limited by the air filters/intake setup you went with. I can certainly appreciate using a tried and true method (I'm of that mindset as well), but am wondering how that could be increased. I'm not planning on a pass-through or fording any rivers lol. Have you or anyone come across any documented builds squeezing more out of there? I'm planning on going strictly to the manual hand pump for the cab as well there ala 'rronmar' (haven't quite drawn all those lines on who's who here vs youtube). I'd love any resources, thoughts or links you might have for that area.

My very preliminary (from hundreds of hours of research and learning and ruling out Transits, F550's, cargo trailers and more) idea is a 1084/85/96 with a 23' habitat. Not against stretching a frame on an 83/88/93 etc. Shooting for 29.9999' for optimal national park access. Single spare underneath the rear overhang. We could make do with 22', but 23' gives us a little breathing room. 24'+ would be luxury. We'll be living in it for 3-5+ years, both full time artists so we need some elbow room and storage, and the wife insists on being coooomfortable :rolleyes:.

Thanks again, so much!

Lyle
There's always the option of the added length being tapered back. You could go on a big dirt area somewhere and drive in the tightest circle that it will drive in and measure it if you're unsure of your turning circle. Make a note of how far the outer edge of the circle is from your rearmost tire Then make a drawing of your habitat from above with that circle tangent to the front tire and rear measurements. For example anything past 4 ft taper it at somewhere between 30° and 45° yes it will get narrower but it won't stick out when you turn the corner. If you have Booth seating in the back with rounded edges that might actually fit nicely into that corner.
 

lylefk

New member
5
15
3
Location
Maui, HI
Hi Lyle,

Absolutely. No worries!

I just took a tape measure to it for some general dimensions. The top of the box is just over 22' long and ends ~12' from the center of the rear axles (where twin axles will physically pivot), or another way of looking at it is ~7.5' beyond the end of the frame rails. You are absolutely correct that this is all a balancing act of compromises and objectives. We wanted as much space and storage as possible, and you can see where I made compromises.
Appreciate that! So it seems like the mid wb length 84/85/96 could be a 22' box with 6' beyond the rear, maybe a little more with some massaging up front. Seems like that is in the ballpark enough for me to finalize once I'm actually in it. Seems (for me) to be the platform to provide a reasonable compromise between all three things. 6' overhang comes in just under 30' as well.

When I think about the longer wheelbase chassis, I am actually glad I went with the shorter. It is actually reasonably maneuverable in a parking lot. Having ridden around in Rick's 1079 (GeneralDisorder), I might get a little jealous when it comes to parking lots and drive-thru's, but I get over that once I step back into our habitat. The space is delightful... I have developed the opinion (based on no direct experience though) that one of the longer wheelbase chassis might be more of a handful to maneuver than dealing with the overhang. I want to be able to negotiate tight switchbacks encountered in backcountry climbs and clear them without reversing. The turning radius of the 1088 feel like it's on par with my crew cab long bed pickup, which to me is quite impressive for something of this size. It's all a balance of priorities.
I tend to agree that space is king for us as well. We need two beds (visiting daughter once she's in college) and two desk areas to work. Combine that with detesting spaces that have to be transformed for multiple uses we end up wanting quite a bit of space. People are going to laugh at the amount of stuff we'll have along, between my camera gear and my wife's art, plus the necessities and comforts of full time living. As an example she does a lot of large custom paintings on wood panels, so we'll need to be able to break down a sheet of plywood, make frames etc and then I'm sure store finished pieces safely until they sell/ship. It's going to be absurd and an ongoing problem lol. I do want to be able to get further afield than a typical skoolie or fifth wheel, otherwise what's the benefit of going this route? I laid out a 28' gooseneck plan that would be epic for space, but then we couldn't really stay anywhere remote. What's the fun in that?

There is about 10" more between the back of the cab and the front of the box, and the clearance around my intakes is pretty minimal. Staring at it, I can see getting the last 10" (or maybe just 9"?) back without a passthrough. Thinking creatively, there are other ways to work the intake (putting both snorkels on ones side, non-symmetric front end of the box, an older intake with the filter down low), but each has their compromise. I am not familiar enough with the other platforms, but the space behind the front left tire is ideal to mount one of the OEM air filters from an older truck if you wanted to run it low- but again it's a compromise with dust and dirt (and possibly water/mud) exposure.
I've seen some grumblings about using an air filter assembly from an m939(?) and mounting it down low. I think my split a/c will be down low in a box on the frame as well, so I think that's another worthwhile tradeoff. In keeping the OAL under 30', getting the spare underneath the rear and the ac off the back is all gained habitat space. I'll take 18" of home in back and another even 6" gained up front with the tradeoff being not going in deeper water than 2' or going mudding somewhere. Not likely to get into that even if it was an option lol.

Beyond that, it sounds like you're looking into and thinking about all the right things. It's easy to change stuff when it exists only in your mind. Much harder when you're at the stage I am now. Not sure if I answered all your questions, but I am happy to further expound if you want more thought. Just drop a line right here or PM me.
Appreciate your experience and you taking the time to help me wrap my head around it, thanks so much!

Lyle
 

ckouba

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Logged about 300 more miles this past week, mostly over-the-road, out to Astoria and back with my dad. Stuffed some boats and bikes in the big box and had a great week of paddling, riding, taking pics, hiking, and puttering around Ft Stevens State Park. Took lots of pics of sunsets and a handful of the rig.

While we were there, I pulled a rental adventure van with fully inflated highway tires out of powder-soft sand. Didn't even select "Mode" for it... Pulled it straight out and didn't really even feel like it was there. As a reminder, this is with the highway gears and ECO hubs.

I was nervous about venturing out on the super soft sand without a wingman or two, but I managed to dabble a little bit in it and developed some confidence with what the rig should be able to do. I still didn't venture far, but I did go far enough to grab a few Insta-worthy pics.

All in all, the rig ran like a top again. My dad seemed seriously impressed. No issues, started on the button, drove like a champ, camped like a hotel. LOVE IT!

I know, didn't happen if there aren't pics.... Careful what you wish for!

























 
Last edited:

Mullaney

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Logged about 300 more miles this past week, mostly over-the-road, out to Astoria and back with my dad. Stuffed some boats and bikes in the big box and had a great week of paddling, riding, taking pics, hiking, and puttering around Ft Stevens State Park. Took lots of pics of sunsets and a handful of the rig.

While we were there, I pulled a rental adventure van with fully inflated highway tires out of powder-soft sand. Didn't even select "Mode" for it... Pulled it straight out and didn't really even feel like it was there. As a reminder, this is with the highway gears and ECO hubs.

I was nervous about venturing out on the super soft sand without a wingman or two, but I managed to dabble a little bit in it and developed some confidence with what the rig should be able to do. I still didn't venture far, but I did go far enough to grab a few Insta-worthy pics.

All in all, the rig ran like a top again. My dad seemed seriously impressed. No issues, started on the button, drove like a champ, camped like a hotel. LOVE IT!

I know, didn't happen if there aren't pics.... Careful what you wish for!

























.
Looks like fun was had.
Nice looking scenery too...

And a good turn was done as well.
 

ckouba

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Engine heated hot water should now be functional

Redirected the flow to the expansion tank:


Made a bulkhead fitting:


Interior side of bulkhead fitting:


Hook up to coil #1 of 2 on the dual coil water heater:


Haven't heat cycled the truck yet, but it is back together and able to be driven. This gave us days of hot water on the two boats we've had, looking forward to seeing how well it works out on the camper.

Coil #2 will be part of the hydronic heating system loop and powered with diesel.
 

TechnoWeenie

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Engine heated hot water should now be functional

Redirected the flow to the expansion tank:


Made a bulkhead fitting:


Interior side of bulkhead fitting:


Hook up to coil #1 of 2 on the dual coil water heater:


Haven't heat cycled the truck yet, but it is back together and able to be driven. This gave us days of hot water on the two boats we've had, looking forward to seeing how well it works out on the camper.

Coil #2 will be part of the hydronic heating system loop and powered with diesel.
I keep bouncing back and forth if I wanna do that.. and I keep thinking it just adds complexity and is another point of failure. There's a few things an engine can run without but coolant isn't one of them.
 

ckouba

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To me, it's a no-brainer. A few connections, no moving parts, and if anything in the added loop fails, the OE hose can get moved back to its original connection point and bypass the heater. If I'm in survival mode, I'll add some water back in and keep rolling.

It's basically effortless hot water (and it's **HOT** from the ~200° coolant). We would have warm water for upwards of 3+ days in our boats with a similar set up.
 

ckouba

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And BTW, there is no overflow tank on this cooling system. The ~1/4" line which comes off beneath the radiator cap just runs back behind the expansion tank and... ends. Any overflow is just purged out and not collected.
 

ckouba

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Ok, so don't do what I did. This doesn't work:



After a long drive yesterday, I still had no heat in the hoses to my habitat water heater. This was disapppointing. I knew there was flow through the hose I tapped into, but it was clearly not enough. I ended up talking to Rick about it and then tracing the hose. Turns out it wasn't the flow I thought it was and I was only getting whatever bubbled out of the top tank of the radiator (not much at all).

Today, I reattached that hose to the expansion tank, returning it to the OEM configuration. I then spliced in a line to the lines to the heater core and ran them back to the water heater. After a system cycle, I had hot hoses to and from my water heater. When I get it out for a longer drive sometime, I will see how long it takes to heat up my hot tank. I am pretty pleased with it now though, and I know the wifey will be too!
 

coachgeo

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Ok, so don't do what I did. This doesn't work:



After a long drive yesterday, I still had no heat in the hoses to my habitat water heater. This was disapppointing. I knew there was flow through the hose I tapped into, but it was clearly not enough. ...(cause it is just an overflow ..)
can you snap a shot or two of where you tapped your hot water from now? I've got to tap in a diesel coolant heater eventually so am curious.
 
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