2022 Ford F550 - DIY - Adventure Expedition Vehicle Build Thread

Vance Vanz

Well-known member
30 years ago I used to build and repair patterns for foundry sand casting. There was a lot of Bondo work involved. All those swept and sanded fillets. Woof! Getting them right in the corners is tricky business.
Glad somebody can relate to the process and pain ;):LOL:!

It did take a ton of time to get all of the corners/radiused fillets transitioned into the walls-ever so smoothly. I had to make various length 7/16" diameter dowels and wrap them in adhesive-backed-sand paper as my sanding tool. Sanding with a 7/16" diameter object for 4-5 days, gives the fingers a great workout and they even start to go numb a bit. The inside back corners, where all the corners of the cabinet meet......., Woof!, you just have to sand those with the tip of a finger. I burnt through about 12 pairs of work gloves doing all this.

Good times (y)🙂!
 

Vance Vanz

Well-known member
I've been living in it! Part time... did a couple extended trips last winter. Working on the underbody boxes now. I'm not particular like you, but it still takes a lot of time. My fillets are not sanded at all! Yesterday I had to break out the angle grinder and flap disc and get covered in fiberglass/epoxy dust. It's been awhile since I've had the "pleasure" of that... I'm using 5mm EPVC as a core material with fiberglass layup, and carbon for the door to keep it stiff.
That's great rruff! I'm glad you're up and running enough to be taking trips in it. Awesome and congrats on all your hard work thus far 😃!

Wishing you well in getting those underbody boxes dialed in and finished. Another project that can take some time. I still have a few CF pieces to fabricate on mine, in order to finish out the underbody before it heads to paint/coating.

I agree; no matter what your level of detail, building these things takes time. So many parts and pieces that you have to custom build, or buy and somehow modify.

I feel you about having to dive back into composite/glass work. I can't wait until all of it is in my review mirror.
 

rruff

Explorer
Wishing you well in getting those underbody boxes dialed in and finished. Another project that can take some time.
Lot's of fillets! But one of the rear ones is almost done and it wasn't terrible.

I've noticed that a lot of people make these quite small. Mine are 38" long, 17" high and 14.5" deep, and I don't see why it would be a problem. I still have 21" ground clearance and a 27 deg departure angle. I guess I'll find out...

Here are a couple pics from Jan near Terlingua:
 

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Vance Vanz

Well-known member
Lot's of fillets! But one of the rear ones is almost done and it wasn't terrible.

I've noticed that a lot of people make these quite small. Mine are 38" long, 17" high and 14.5" deep, and I don't see why it would be a problem. I still have 21" ground clearance and a 27 deg departure angle. I guess I'll find out...

Here are a couple pics from Jan near Terlingua:
Looking tough out there in the South West rruff 💪😁!

I still love the sleek contoured lines on the front/top of your camper.

As far as underbody boxes, I guess it is really up to you/the builder. As long as you/someone is OK with all of their clearances, that is all that matters.

Since all of my storage is internal, and I only had to cover up/hide the CF floor drop-in boxes and make room for my grey water tank inside of the D.S. rear fairing/skirt, I was more concerned with matching the lines/rockers on the truck. The very bottom of my rockers on the truck/camper currently sit at about 28-3/4", the back is a little higher since this thing isn't finished/wet yet. The bottom of my electric steps are currently at about 25-1/2" ground clearance and should not see any lower than 22", max 21", when this thing is fully loaded.

The only thing that I have run into so far related having slightly shorter in height fairing/underbody skirts is my grey water tank ended up being a little smaller than I wanted, about 28 gallons instead of 32. This isn't that big of a deal to me as I never really have my grey water tank closed and never really stay/freedom camp in a city (and in one location within a city without moving) for longer than 3-4 days. I could have sacrificed some other internal aesthetic items on the inside of the camper to get to a 32 gallon tank, but they were not worth four more gallons of grey water.

To each their own!

I'm currently scratching the noggin trying to finalize the designs for the custom: shower pan, grey water tank and fresh water tank, so I can get them fabricated. Sooooo many items and details to consider as to not miss something 😳o_O🫠.
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
Looking tough out there in the South West rruff 💪😁!

I still love the sleek contoured lines on the front/top of your camper.

As far as underbody boxes, I guess it is really up to you/the builder. As long as you/someone is OK with all of their clearances, that is all that matters.

Since all of my storage is internal, and I only had to cover up/hide the CF floor drop-in boxes and make room for my grey water tank inside of the D.S. rear fairing/skirt, I was more concerned with matching the lines/rockers on the truck. The very bottom of my rockers on the truck/camper currently sit at about 28-3/4", the back is a little higher since this thing isn't finished/wet yet. The bottom of my electric steps are currently at about 25-1/2" ground clearance and should not see any lower than 22", max 21", when this thing is fully loaded.

The only thing that I have run into so far related having slightly shorter in height fairing/underbody skirts is my grey water tank ended up being a little smaller than I wanted, about 28 gallons instead of 32. This isn't that big of a deal to me as I never really have my grey water tank closed and never really stay/freedom camp in a city (and in one location within a city without moving) for longer than 3-4 days. I could have sacrificed some other internal aesthetic items on the inside of the camper to get to a 32 gallon tank, but they were not worth four more gallons of grey water.

To each their own!

I'm currently scratching the noggin trying to finalize the designs for the custom: shower pan, grey water tank and fresh water tank, so I can get them fabricated. Sooooo many items and details to consider as to not miss something 😳o_O🫠.
Yeah I agree. The full width rear door is pretty cool as well. Too bad @rruff didn't share the build.
 

rruff

Explorer
Too bad @rruff didn't share the build.
... his comedy of how not to do things... 🤪

Regarding the "full width door" it's quite stiff and strong being mostly carbon and weighing 70 lbs. Unfortunately it's also warped a bit (~0.25" out of plane?) plus I compounded the issue by not having the top where the hinges attach, perfectly in line with the mating surface at the bottom. At the time I thought a big bulb seal would cover all my sins, but I couldn't find any large ones that were wimpy enough to span the irregularity, so I used two where I still had a gap (the right bottom area in the photo).

Another problem was that a box with one end open lacks lateral stability... especially with a 70 lb door hanging off the top. So it wants to rack a bit... not much, a few mm, but it's enough that the door latch and seals rub, and will wear out sooner. I could "solve" that with heavier duty hinges and a pair of heavier duty latches that would basically clamp it all more solidly. I could also add an aluminum angle to the top (already have them on the sides) and add corner braces... but I think I'll leave it be.

Making panels perfectly flat requires a perfectly flat table to start with, plus a way to "clamp" the panel to that surface while the epoxy is curing. So either vacuum infusion as VV is doing, or a weighted perfectly flat panel to put on top. I only had a not-flat surface to build on... actually a wall panel from my earlier experiment, that wasn't quite flat either. The challenges of building and storing and moving things around, alone in a 2-car garage, reduced any ambition I might have had for perfect surfaces. Plus a lot of the pieces are curved, which is a whole nother challenge...

If I had it to do again, I think I'd buy flat panels already made from someone and arrange them with facets kinda like the Attera camper. Or just do a box and carve a nice aero nose to glue on the front...
 

Vance Vanz

Well-known member
... his comedy of how not to do things... 🤪

Regarding the "full width door" it's quite stiff and strong being mostly carbon and weighing 70 lbs. Unfortunately it's also warped a bit (~0.25" out of plane?) plus I compounded the issue by not having the top where the hinges attach, perfectly in line with the mating surface at the bottom. At the time I thought a big bulb seal would cover all my sins, but I couldn't find any large ones that were wimpy enough to span the irregularity, so I used two where I still had a gap (the right bottom area in the photo).

Another problem was that a box with one end open lacks lateral stability... especially with a 70 lb door hanging off the top. So it wants to rack a bit... not much, a few mm, but it's enough that the door latch and seals rub, and will wear out sooner. I could "solve" that with heavier duty hinges and a pair of heavier duty latches that would basically clamp it all more solidly. I could also add an aluminum angle to the top (already have them on the sides) and add corner braces... but I think I'll leave it be.

Making panels perfectly flat requires a perfectly flat table to start with, plus a way to "clamp" the panel to that surface while the epoxy is curing. So either vacuum infusion as VV is doing, or a weighted perfectly flat panel to put on top. I only had a not-flat surface to build on... actually a wall panel from my earlier experiment, that wasn't quite flat either. The challenges of building and storing and moving things around, alone in a 2-car garage, reduced any ambition I might have had for perfect surfaces. Plus a lot of the pieces are curved, which is a whole nother challenge...

If I had it to do again, I think I'd buy flat panels already made from someone and arrange them with facets kinda like the Attera camper. Or just do a box and carve a nice aero nose to glue on the front...
Hey rruff,

Thanks for your transparency in some of the structural and alignment elements on your build. The main thing I'm hearing is straight/flat panels from the get go. I can't stress this enough and I'll only speak from my own personal build, and build experience.

Composite work, DIY style, can take a long time. H(smiley face)ell, to do composite work well takes time, period. If you don't build a completely level and flat layup table/mold from the get go, you are going to pay for it every step of the way moving forward. And if you fail to address this, everything just keeps getting exponentially off/worse as you move forward through the build process. As you mentioned, if you don't resin infuse, or vacuum bag the part, you are going to have variations in a wet layup. It is/can be surprising how much variation will occur in a wet layup.

It took me a long time to build my larger layup table, get everything perfectly level, and I wish I would have also biscuitted all of my butt joints in the table. I didn't and I paid for it with additional body work-getting all those pesky little variations perfectly flat/smooth. This is also why I completely dialed in all of my body work, especially on the inside of the camper. It wasn't just for aesthetic purposes, it was also for final/finish alignment of the composite work-to get everything more: squared, straight, level, perpendicular, etc. If I didn't, all of my finish work would have been that much harder, including: hinges, door locks, latches, drawer slides, cabinet/drawer/door alignment, 🤨😣😫🤬🤯........., etc.

It's also why I roll my eyes when some people say "just do this", or "just do that", related to glassing/composite work. As if you are working with straight and flat materials. You can't simply "just" do anything related to composite work, It takes time and unfortunately quite a bit of it.

Enough said, I'm getting off my soap box and getting back to work (y)!
 

rruff

Explorer
The main thing I'm hearing is straight/flat panels from the get go.
Yes. I will say that the door was the only place I had an issue caused from a panel being out of plane, though all of them are warped similarly. And I could have made the door fit very well if I'd simply glued the bottom piece of aluminum angle to match... but unfortunately I had a lapse in forethought. The angle that forms the seals on the sides *was* positioned after the door was attached, so those fit well.

It's mostly just visual imperfections on the surface. In my case I didn't care about getting an "automotive" finish, but I was still amazed that a mere 0.5mm discontinuity (1700 FG cloth overlap) was so incredibly visibly obvious... even after I thought I'd done quite a bit of faring on the joint! Plus there was no way I could get the cabover nose-piece perfectly matched to the roof and sides, which were all built separately, and the layers of FG at every joint are obvious as well. I know with lots of filler and work that can be made to look non-obvious, but I don't have the patience for a show piece or work of art like yours! A bedliner finish would have helped, but I used shiny paint. It definitely looks home made!
 

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