Importer "Junior"

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Sam's ZIP
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Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2021 2:21 pm
Location: North Alabama

Importer "Junior"

Post by Sam's ZIP »

Having decided on a summer Utah road trip, I didn't see any point in driving five thousand miles with an empty pick-up bed. Even though the intent of the trip was not primarily camping, I wanted to have that option in addition to a dry place to store my stuff. The challenge was in finding a suitable, compact camper for my 1/2-ton F150 that wouldn't impact its drivability. I decided I would have to build what I had in mind so I purchased a set of Importer plans.

However, I didn't want a cab-over camper so the Importer went on a severe diet so it wouldn't detract from the lines of the F150. The project turned out very nicely and cost less than two miles per gallon over the length of the trip. Here are some photos in case anyone wants to do something similar.

The framing is pretty much standard Importer. I ripped 1x2's from spruce 2x4's for the studs and the walls are 5mm luan panels, light and inexpensive.


I didn't want to spend the dollars, weight and complexity for steel siding so went with an unconventional exterior for a camper, but very common for some the the aircraft I have built. The exterior is dacron aircraft fabric installed per conventional aircraft procedures with the edges and corners reinforced with fabric tape. The fabric was then primed with acrylic primer and finished with acrylic house paint with rollers. This results in a very lightweight, water-tight, semi-gloss finish that most folks mistake for fiberglass. This photo is before finish paint was applied.


And here it is finished out with paint, door, windows and trim.


Last edited by Sam's ZIP on Tue Oct 05, 2021 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sam Buchanan

Sam's ZIP
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2021 2:21 pm
Location: North Alabama

Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by Sam's ZIP »

The interior was finished with composite paneling from a big-box store and all lighting is LED. The bunk is 73" long and the camper has a sink with manual pump and 5-gallon fresh water tank. The 12v frig is opposite the sink along with the electrical load panel and onboard deep-cycle battery. A Fantastic powered vent and sliding windows provide a good amount of flow-through ventilation.


I estimate the total weight to be about 500 lbs, I use a pair of ATV ramps to slide it up and down to the truck bed. The biggest challenge to the construction was the door, it had to be scratch-built because I couldn't find any ready-made doors in the proper size. But it turned out nicely.


And.......I had a great trip touring the Big Five national parks in southern Utah!


The Importer "Junior" always gets many comments, most wanting know where I found a cool camper that small. :D
Sam Buchanan

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Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by Roberta »

That looks great! You have to be proud..

Roberta :D
Roberta "Queen of the Boat Builders"
Built Zip "Oliver IV", Super Spartan "Jimmy 70", and Torpedo "The Glen L".

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Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by hoodman »

Fantastic! I have considered something similar myself. The cost of the factory units is truly shocking. And they are usually way too big to be practical.

Building a Geronimo......!

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Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by vupilot »

Really nice! Thanks for posting. With the quality of campers these days building one seems to make a lot of sense.

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Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by Hercdrvr »

Beauty, nice work.
Matt B

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Re: Importer "Junior"

Post by JimmY »

Very nice work!
Nothing says poor craftsmanship like wrinkles in your duct tape!

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