Constructing the Driver’s Side Storage & Fridge

In the Spring of 2015 we purchased a Four Wheel Camper Hawk shell model. We got the grey Silver Spur interior and the standard white exterior.

 

While we really liked the pre-finished models, they lacked two things that we desired:

-Storage. Most of the models came with installed sinks, ranges, and heaters, which were nice, but left precious little room for storage. We decided early on that we weren’t going to have a sink or built-in range as our cooking would be done primarily outside. We also had a portable heater that would be our main heat source (More on this later as we have subsequently decided to install a permanent diesel heater). Our goal was to take the camper off-road for extended periods of time, meaning that we had to be prepared to bring large amounts of equipment, food, and water. Thus the need for extensive storage.

-Sleeping berths for four people. We own a 2008 Toyota Tundra with a 6.5′ bed. The Four Wheel Camper model that fits this bed, the Hawk, only comes with three sleeping spaces: the cab-over bed (2) and a roll-over couch (1). This arrangement likely works for 98% of FWC buyers; however, we need space for our children, ages 5 and 2. They could potentially share the roll-over couch…but that would have led to a lot of arguments and grouchy parents.
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Here is the interior upon delivery. We promptly removed the carpeting on the side gunwales (^) and the two long hanging cabinets (under the window, below). IMG_0707

^ The view from the queen bed above the cab of the truck looking towards the rear. IMG_0339

Prior to the delivery of our camper, we spent some time sketching out possible configurations, including this to-scale version on our basement floor. Our challenge was fitting four people (two adults, two children) into a space that is traditionally designed for two (or, at most, three).

 

Here is how we proposed to sleep all occupants:

 

Truck Camper Sleeps 4

Hawk shell

The dark blue are lower additional boxes that we constructed. Due to the off-set door, most of the gross storage area is on the Driver’s side. IMG_1259

^We constructed lower cabinets in line with the battery storage closet (lower right) and ‘bathroom’ area (upper right).
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The challenge was maintaining access to the camper anchors (the two black doors on the side walls near the floor).

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We constructed our boxes with 1/2″ beech plywood, using L brackets and screws ranging in length from 1/4″ to 1″. The internal wooden supports (^) were constructed from 1″x4″ pine.

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The fridge required a special raised base which was added on prior to cabinet construction. I won’t lie: the fridge was pretty tricky as it required a precise opening and extensive ventilation.

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hawk camper build out

Following the construction of the lower storage compartments, we began on the upper shelving units and fridge cabinet. Hawk shell camper buildout

 

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We purchased a marine refrigerator (Nova Kool model: R3100). We were especially worried about air circulation for the fridge compressor so we installed a latticework framework.  The fridge cabinet is set off the wall by 2”, so ventilation can occur both out the back and from the side.

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The fridge housing was constructed of 3/4″ beech plywood.

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Power to the fridge was routed from the back

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Cleaning up the ventilation holes from the drill bit.
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Three large storage compartments were constructed to the left of the fridge. We used 1/4″ beech plus 1/2″ beech plywood to form this structure. In hindsight, this probably could have been done differently, without the use of the 1/4″ stuff.

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A wood support was drilled into the camper wall to help support the lid (not shown).

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Shelf detail. The 1/4″ is on the right, which has been glued and sandwiched to the 1/2″, on left.

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The finished compartment, with storage bins installed.

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This compartment was also the base for a bed for our 2 year-old daughter. We constructed a fold-out extension and bed rail to keep her firmly contained. (More on this in another post).

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It folds flat while traveling and extends for sleeping.

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Here is the extension and bed rail folded away for top-down traveling.

 

Here are all the posts in this series.

Truck Camper Build


The Empty Shell & Add-on Options 
Constructing the Driver Side
Constructing the Passenger Side
Constructing the table and floor compartment
Sleeping Arrangements
Construction Resources


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