Constructing the support frame

Posted 22 January 2020 by Vegard

Completed support frame during sandblasting

After deciding on the basic layout and size of the camper box it was time to tackle the process of actual building it. We made the support frame ourselves. Although there are companies out there offering complete kits for support frames, we just found them to be too pricey.

After making a 3D design in Autodesk Inventor, and running FEM strength analysis on it to verify its capabilities, we got started with the cutting and welding of the different steel profiles needed. Some of the plates where cut out using CNC plasma cutter, but most parts we cut and adjusted with simple tools and an angle grinder.

Early CAD version of the supportframe

We decided to stick with the same 3-point linkage system as was already mounted on the truck. But since the old support frame was so rusted out, the three pivoting bolts were so heavily corroded that they couldn’t be disassembled and reused. Therefore we had no other option than to build everything from scratch.

To prevent the pivoting bolts from getting stuck on our new frame, we opted for chromed bolts (same as used on hydraulic piston rods) with internal lubrication grooves. Aditionally, we installed brass bushings in the bolt holes, to prevent the steel from rubbing directly against eachother.

After finishing the welding, we sandblasted the frame before painting it with industry quality zinc primer and two-component epoxy paint. Ideally we would galvanize the whole thing, but the cost for this turned out too high for our budget.

With the frame ready painted, it was ready to be mounted on the truck, which was completed in no time with the help of a winch a a few good friends.

Support frame test fitted on the chassis