Hardheaded to go hardsided

Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by Breezeymcg, Sep 27, 2017.

How much work would it be?

  1. Weekend warrior

  2. More than any rational person can chew

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Breezeymcg

    Breezeymcg New Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Can I pose a question to the forum:
    Has anyone converted from canvas to hardsided? Or have thoughts about it?
  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    If this camper was to remain parked it can be be converted to hard side fairly easy I'm sure. It's when you need to make it road Worthy you are going to run into a lot of problems. First problem is weight. The axel is rated to haul only so much. The second could it withstand the abuse of driving 60 mph down a road without turning into splinters. Then finally depending on your state would it be legal.
  3. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    I have seen one or two that have been converted to hard sides. Not the prettiest of jobs, mainly solid walls with a couple windows. I don't think they were used for travel though, more as stationary trailers (think deer lease, etc.).

    You could maybe do something similar to the Rockwood and Palomino fold a wall trailers - hinged solid panels on the sides with canvas over the bunks. I have no idea how hard or easy it would be to build, and would require some thought and modification.

    I think trying to make something like an Apache would be difficult, if not impossible unless you had access to industrial plastics. A solid wall bunk would be prohibitively heavy and overload the pup structure I think.

    Only other thing I could think of is something similar to the 2008 Fleetwood Tacoma, which was a one year hard side folding trailer with no bunks. Inside was a dinette and lounge that both converted into beds, but it had no slide out bunks.
  4. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Over the years that I've been a member or the Portal, there have been a few posts from folks thinking they would do this. I don't remember any successful reports, at least for mobile ones, as jmkay1 said.
    We did an extensive renovation on our first (1984) popup, and it would have required a lot of modification to handle hard sides.
    I have seen reference to converting a popup to a teardrop, though don't remember how may or where those were.
  5. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

    Echoing the above. Lots of talk about this, haven't seen a single report of success. There was one very long thread a couple years ago which documented a major reconstruction. All along I and others were very concerned about the weight being added, road-worthiness of the trailer, etc. Although there were some pretty pictures posted there was not a report of "yes we drove this and it's still here". much less a long-term longevity report.

    People complain that these trailers are built cheap. There's a couple reasons for that, and one is low weight. When you start building a camper like a shed it gets heavy VERY quickly. And the conversion attempts I've seen attempt to frame it like a shed.
  6. chambo

    chambo Active Member

    Apr 27, 2015
    Southern California
    Agree with the above. If the plan is to make it a stationary trailer and leave the bed ends canvas then I'll vote "maaaayybeeee???" You'll be adding a lot of strain to the lift system and axle. The door is going to represent a unique challenge. Waterproofing the hinged part of the panels might also be tricky.
    I suppose if I were to try it I might design wall panels that swing down from the roof. Opposite of what you see in an Aliner. That way the walls could be one solid piece and you don't have to accordion fold them when the room comes down.
    Love to follow the project if you decide to do it.
  7. parkerpawleys

    parkerpawleys New Member

    Dec 21, 2016
    I have successfully converted a 2000 Flagstaff pup to a hardsided traveler. It is 2100 lbs, and has been camping across the country and back this summer... 7900 miles so far. I started with a 7x12 base, discarded the lift, pull outs, canvas and top parts,(575 lbs) and replaced them with a shell made of 1x1.5 in studs, 1/4 inch exterior plywood, and fiberglas cloth and resin for strength and waterproofing. Insulated and light paneled interior.It is a gem and my wife and I and our small dog have enjoyed every one of the 40 or so nights in it so far. Increased the wheel and tire size, added a water pump, an ac unit, led lighting, smart converter/charger, windows and door recycled from Craigslist, 4 burner gas stove and a marine toilet. Retained the larger dinette area /bed combo and build a loft above it for storage. 6 feet or better height full length and a roof vent fan keeps things airy. Will post a few pics next
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  8. parkerpawleys

    parkerpawleys New Member

    Dec 21, 2016
    20170425_141500_resized.jpg 20170425_143452_resized.jpg 20170425_143503_resized.jpg 20170425_143511_resized.jpg 20170425_143519_resized.jpg IMG_0251.JPG
    Popiworks likes this.
  9. Popiworks

    Popiworks Paddle faster, I hear banjos!

    Jul 22, 2014
    Very nicely done! Would love to see some interior pics.
  10. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

    Well there's the exception that proves the rule ;) Very nicely done.

    You seem to have known exactly what you were doing. Nice job. I still would strongly recommend others not to try this because there's just so any variables that can be screwed up.
  11. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    That is some fine work.
  12. xvz12

    xvz12 Active Member

    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    That is indeed a good looking trailer! Kudos!
  13. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    Nice work, any pictures of it during construction.
  14. chambo

    chambo Active Member

    Apr 27, 2015
    Southern California
    You sir, have achieved the impossible.
  15. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    There were Apache campers that has hardsides that could work with roof being cranked down.

  16. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    I think that when most people think about making the camper permanently hard side , they want to use the existing roof and body of the camper and just add walls in between. The way that parkerpawleys did it is basically a whole new camper. I am not sure why he even used the body of the camper at all. Most people probably do not have his skill level.
    tfischer and bearman512 like this.
  17. bearman512

    bearman512 Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Albuquerque NM
    I agree you can get plans for single axle teardrops as well as larger. I would think it would have been the same price and IMO sturdier. This looks like a mini Casita that are all over the nation at very good prices and no work involved.
  18. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

    I think you can delete the 'probably' safely.
    bearman512 likes this.
  19. parkerpawleys

    parkerpawleys New Member

    Dec 21, 2016
    Thanks for the comments. The donor popup was in great shape inside, and was purchased as a distressed sale as the top lift was cooked and many folks tried to repair. I had planned to lose all those parts so that was what I was looking for. I built the camper in a $1500 budget total. The 2000 Flagstaff popup was on craigslist for $500, but when I drove to see it, in a snowstorm in New Hampshire with 6 inches of new snow on the ground, he gave me the unit and said good luck.
    DJS12354 likes this.

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