One of a Kind 4x4 Live In Build

Howdy all, I am new to the forum but not new to the van life. I don’t typically use the internet for much but as far as I know this is one of only 2 suburbans like this in the world so I figured I would document it so that hopefully someone in the future might stumble across this thread through a google search and they’ll draw inspiration from it. This is the first camper top that I have built or installed. I will post interior photos as I finish it.

I created a sub frame out of birch 2x6”s, I then cut this frame to match the contour of the vehicle. It took 15 hours just to cut/sand this piece until I was satisfied.

I built individual wall frame sections that I would later attach to the sub frame that I made with the 2x6s.

Here the frame is almost finished but before I actually glue and screw the frame sections together, I used them as a template for my insulation, I marked the insulation with a sharpie so that it will fit into the frame perfectly.

Frame is completely done and I have covered it in 1/2” birch plywood. It is important that I used birch for this step as it barely warps when exposed to temperature change. I used AA Grade Baltic Birch Plywood, it is on the expensive side but it does not have any air pockets (that can expand when heated buy sunlight) and is made of solid veneer sheets. I used Bondo (an automotive body filler) to fill any gaps and then rounded the edges with a router and power sander.

I painted the whole thing with Hercu-liner Truck Bed Liner. Truck bed liner is 100% water proof, and is insanely durable which is why I used it. Be careful, if you get this stuff on you skin, it does not wash off, period… :pensive:

How to move a 300lb Camper Top all by myself? Well, I wasn’t all alone, I had the dog with me, but he’s no help. Good thing I have a come along, I can perform miracles with a come along. I used the ratchet straps to level the whole thing before setting it down on the Suburban.

i used butyl tape and asphalt shingle adhesive to create a water tight seal between the top and the suburban. Then I painted it again after it was installed.

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I Re-installed the original cargo rails and put in a Dometic Fan.

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The insulation was super easy to install, since I had used the frame sections to mark the sheet of insulation it made sure that each piece would fit perfectly. I will post more photos as I complete the build.

Greetings & Welcome!

Nice tutorial!

I curious what your inside dimensions are. I’m in a 1973 Dodge high top extended van, and I have 6.5’h x 6’w x 12’l behind the front seats.

Cheers!


"Opportunities are everywhere, but only action makes it happen." ~ Van_Dweller



Howdy, with the new top I am at 62” tall x 9’ long x 60” wide. It’s definitely not as spacious as a van but I have always had an affinity for these old suburbans. I am installing a swing down TV mount that has to be mounted above my ceiling so I will lose 5” of height, but it’s worth it.


Here is the TV box after it has been mounted. I will then install the ceiling below the box so that when it is closed, the box will be completely hidden by the ceiling.


I got the wall and ceiling panels for the camper top finished today, they still need to be trimmed a little bit but otherwise I am happy with how they turned out.


I am a Colorado native and we have a pretty bad Pine Beetle problem out here, so I thought that using reclaimed beetle kill would give the camper a perfect Colorado vibe.


I got the vapor barrier almost finished too. I have a dog and cat living with me in the Suburban which can cause some very high humidity inside the suburban on very cold nights. I am trying to completely waterproof the inside of the top so I don’t run into mold problems down the road (I unfortunately have already met Mr, Mold, and he sucks).