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Roof Top Tent - DIY Build

Discussion in 'New Members' started by marco221, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. Feb 3, 2019 at 8:40 PM
    #1
    marco221

    marco221 [OP] Member

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    Tl;dr updated 4/21/19

    Tl;dr updated 3/24/19:


    tl;dr updated 2/17/19: https://youtu.be/hTDLuA_OnoI

    Newish member, first post here. Spent all my money on an '18 TRD OR and shook at the prices of hardshell RTT's. Decided to give it a go. I'm by no means a professional carpenter - but know how to spend enough time on youtube to figure out what needs to happen. Major thank you to youtuber Patrick Remington who has an entire series on his builds. This entire plywood build is inspired by his series, which has given me enough information and confidence to try it on my own. bump: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCilXwlR2p4GvdzuFcHSpK7Q

    Spent approx. 8 hours on the bottom and top frames, brief summary for those who'd like to follow

    1. Wanted a larger foot print than a 4' plywood sheet. Rather than special order, using 3/4" tongue&groove subfloor for my base

    2. Using 1x4's to create the upper lip. Secured to sub base from the bottom, will provide the weather seal to the top frame

    3. Face glued and mechanically fastened more 1x4's to the upper lip. Overall lip is 1" for top frame to overlap. Eventually canvas will attach. Thinking about using button snaps on the canvas for easy removal. (2) 1x4's on the back where continuous hinge will attach

    4. Top frame perimeter assembled out of 1x3's. Didn't use enough screws here. Learned from my mistake that wood glue doesn't do well on end grains. Have since switched to gorilla glue. Using (2) 1x3's at back where continuous hinge will attach

    5. Cutting out joists for top frame skin. Used jigsaw to shape and cut out excess. Was trying to use as much of my scrap as possible, hence the (1) plywood and (2) composite joists. After notching out for the cross members, the composite joists snapped under moderate pressure. Corrected mistake and replaced everything with plywood

    6. Used pocket hole jig on cross members. One on each side of joists (two per connection). Worked great. Supplemented with gorilla glue. 1x2 cross members gorilla glued and fastened.

    7. Frame 95% complete. Next steps is adding some misc. diagonal members for the top skin to secure to. Using 1/4" plywood.

    8. Will be using marine epoxy to coat entire assembly, all surfaces. Remington advises using "epoxy fillets" to seal all gaps and provide extra strength. Excited to give it a try. Overall build has gone smoothly so far. Slightly concerned about weight, but planning on having a local steel fab shop build some bed bars that will be over engineered. Current plan is to mount above the bed to reduce wind resistance / highway noise. Overall length is 6'10", which will hang off the end of the short bed, but don't anticipate it being an issue.

    Updating original post for new readers, these are also posted later on in thread

    Update #1 (second weekend of build)

    1. Cut a few 1x2's and 1x square stock to size to create some diagonal members on the front and rear of the top frame. Provided some lateral support, but also additional points for the skin to secure to. Cut 1/4" plywood to size, spacing members to ensure all edges had a framing piece to secure to. Ended up needing another sheet of plywood since my overall surface area is > 32SF. Some joints had larger gaps than others, wasn't too precise - as the epoxy method described below corrected a few errors.

    2. Started the epoxy & wood fillet process: 1) apply stand alone epoxy to all joints, leave until tacky 2) mix stand alone epoxy, then stir in enough 'wood flour' to create a thick peanut butter texture (or fine saw dust, used a floor sieve to create more, as I ran out on the second day). Apply to all cracks, similar method to caulking. I used a simple plastic bag and cut off the tip, but there's other ways. This stuff gets everywhere, so I didn't take a bunch of pictures while I had gloves on, but the resulting mixture is a dark brown.

    3. Applied the epoxy and then wood fillet to the top side of the base and underside of the frame on day 1 (6 oz of straight epoxy, 24 oz of epoxy and 20 oz of wood flour for wood fillet)

    4. Applied the epoxy and then wood fillet to the underside of the base and topside of the frame on day 2 (6 oz of straight epoxy, 12 oz of epoxy and 10 oz of wood flour for wood fillet)

    5. This was my first experience with epoxy (and the wood fillet for that matter). Went fairly smoothly after doing a test batch just to get the process nailed down. Weather on day 1 was 30-40 deg, which slowed the cure times down to probably 5 hours until hard to the touch, wood fillet material was workable for 2+ hours (full cure 24 hrs +). Rained on day 2 so I was in the garage, which helped speed the cure time to probably 1-2 hours until hard to the touch. The wood fillet became unworkable at 45 min (approx 45-55 deg). Wood fillet saved one or two spots where I had 1/2" or more of a gap in the skin. If following, make sure to create a thick enough mixture to where the fillet will stay in place until cured.

    6. Next weekend: sanding wood fillets smooth, rounding out edges. Applying 2 coats of epoxy to the entire surface area. Installing continuous hinge & gas struts

    7. Look ahead - have ordered 1/2" x 1" t-slotted aluminum for bottom rails to secure the tent to the bed cross bars. Still looking for welders to fab truck bed cross bars (or find some from a shop within driving distance of Nashville). Have 600D Polyester Canvas shipped from Big Duck Canvas https://www.bigduckcanvas.com/600d-polyester-fabric-charcoal/, along with appropriate thread and zippers for doors from Sailrite https://www.sailrite.com/boat-canvaswork


    Update #2 (third weekend of build)


    1. Spent the day sanding and epoxying. Approx 3 hours sanding (that epoxy fillet is hard) w/ 60 grit. Didn’t go too fine on the finish given the entire surface gets coated with epoxy. (2) coats were applied (approx 18 oz ea.), second coat applied after 1st coat was tacky but firm. Got the heater on in the garage and hopefully will be cured enough to mount hinge and gas struts tomorrow afternoon


    2. Day 2 - Epoxy wasn't fully cured - but was not wet/tacky to the touch so decided to push forward. Positioned top and marked hinge location. Flipped top over and secured w/ a few screws. Got some extra hands to help hold the top up as the second side of the hinge was secured to the base. Hinge positioned slightly outside to prevent any binding. Will more than likely need to gasket the inside to prevent any drafts, not too concerned about water getting in as there's a secondary lip.


    3. Propped the top open w/ some scrap to the correct opening height. The fabric I've got is 60" so the clear diagonal opening is approximately 57" to account for some hemming. Using 60 lb struts (extended length 36" compressed 20.5") did some trigonometry to ensure struts would be fully closed when top was down. Bottom of tent already had (2) 1x's to secure hardware to, added a secondary piece to the top to buff up the connection, as well as align the top/bottoms of the struts. Since the hinge was straight, this part went pretty smoothly.


    Update #3 - 4th & 5th Weekends of Build

    1. Sewing has been the biggest hurdle of the project, as expected. First day working was figuring out the sewing machine and nervously cutting the first door. Started with the large rear door since it was a perfect square, and I had decided to not use netting on it. Hemmed top and bottom and then set snap rivets, fitting canvas tight to the frame. This took much longer than anticipated, and was all that happened that day.


    2. Second weekend, coming in more confident. Picked up some basting tape for canvas that made sewing the hems exponentially easier. A lot of going back and forth between the tent and the sewing machine to make sure all of the angles and hems were the right length. Left an overhang on the upper side of the zipper diaganal to hopefully help with shedding water away from the zippers. Took a challenge of sewing a functional netting door, where the canvas can be opened from the interior to allow ventilation but keep bugs out. The mesh had to wrap the overhang on the shorter zipper diagonal to maintain symmetry and function similar to the longer diagonal zipper. One side is done, will hit the next side next weekend. Should be able to use this side as a template and go quicker. Still need to do some miscellaneous trim out and zipper reinforcement as well. Zippers are very finicky at the moment.


    Update #4 - 6th Weekend of Build

    1. Pair of All-bro bed bars came through a couple weekends ago. Great product, company very responsive. Primed & Coated with spray can bed liner - will touch up scratches as needed.

    2. Thru-bolted 1/2” x 1” t-slot aluminum from 80/20. Spaced approx 15” - 30” - 15” on base. Dropped in enough t-nuts for the remainder of mounting to bed par + support posts

    3. Added two latches to keep top closed when moving. Mounted to bed bars using pole to pole alligator brackets. Will eventually trim bolts to size for cleaner fit. Goal was to keep the tent below the cab line, but results in a pretty big overhang at the rear. Aesthetically I know people may not like it, but it doesn’t bother me much. The cantilever is pretty sturdy without any additional support, but I’m planning on adding two support posts at the end. Tailgate will come down and I’ll slide two angle brackets to secure two posts, just for peace of mind.


    4. Did some test driving - slamming on brakes from 45 MPH - no movement. Took on interstate, got to 75 and went over some major bridge joints, very solid. Didn’t notice any deflection from downward wind pressure on the very rear of the tent. Will be monitoring - but I don’t expect to get above 70 MPH when driving this around.

    5. Next steps: sanding, epoxy touch-up, paint. Need to find a good ladder set up. First trip planned in mid-April, so got to wrap this thing up

    Update #5 - 7th & 8th Weekends of Build

    1. Using Rust-oleum 1-part epoxy primer, prepped and applied one coat during good weather

    2. Using Rust-oleum 1-part epoxy Topside paint, prepped and applied one coat during sub-par weather. (link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001001LUC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
    Had to force it in order to have a chance on taking it out this weekend. Slight drizzle didn't seem to cause any major issues, and was able to get it inside before the big rain drops starting hitting. Will be able to put a 2nd coat on at a later date, no need to rush waiting for a perfect day. The epoxy paint absorbed slightly different into the raw plywood interior vs the epoxy coated exterior, hence the discoloration. Will evaluate further once cured.

    3. Maiden voyage this weekend!

    Update #6 - Maiden Voyage


    1. Picked a doozy of a weekend to give the tent a first spin. Was pouring rain Friday when mounting, and when we got into camp for the night. But, the beauty of the hard shell was camp was ready in 10 sec. Epoxy coating worked perfectly, and canvas kept all the water out. 2+ hours driving in rain on the interstate, and a full night of rain, stayed completely dry

    2. Saturday/Sunday weather cleared up - was able to dry out and enjoy the lake a bit more. Overall very happy with the end product. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world - but function over form is the motto.

    3. Bonus pup pics. He’s already figured out the snaps on the bottom - so he can scout the area while up on the post. Also got pretty cold that Friday night.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  2. Feb 3, 2019 at 8:43 PM
    #2
    irayfz6

    irayfz6 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to TacomaWorld!

    Pretty sweet project!
     
  3. Feb 3, 2019 at 8:45 PM
    #3
    Bigdaddy4760

    Bigdaddy4760 Well traveled Older Than Dirt TTC # 059

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    Welcome to TW
    :hattip: :cheers:
    Kewl project.
     
  4. Feb 3, 2019 at 8:54 PM
    #4
    JaCado

    JaCado Professional Idget

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    Welcome to TW!
    What is the expected weight of completed rtt?
     
  5. Feb 3, 2019 at 8:58 PM
    #5
    saundern

    saundern Swerve for nothing

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    Is it going on the roof or over the bed? That SOB looks like it’s going to be heavy.
     
  6. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:00 PM
    #6
    marco221

    marco221 [OP] Member

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    It's going to be at least 120, can't be for sure until everything is assembled. Bulk of the weight is coming from the 3/4" sub floor. In my mind, the added weight was worth the peace of mind of having a guaranteed solid sleeping surface
     
  7. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:00 PM
    #7
    JaCado

    JaCado Professional Idget

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    Depends if it's done and just going to throw canvas over the top and sides. Or are adding more wood.
     
  8. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:01 PM
    #8
    Dawdaw808

    Dawdaw808 Well-Known Member

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    Ya I was going to say the same... awesome build but looks like it will be on the heavy side
     
  9. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:04 PM
    #9
    marco221

    marco221 [OP] Member

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    Agreed. Going over the bed. Worse case scenario I get some bed stiffeners and an extra bed cross bar
     
  10. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:31 PM
    #10
    buckhuntin-tacoma

    buckhuntin-tacoma Shed hunter

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  11. Feb 3, 2019 at 9:37 PM
    #11
    willhaman21

    willhaman21 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome, don't see lot's of custom RTT builds. Looks like a fun project. And welcome to TW!
     
  12. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:06 PM
    #12
    KkelX4

    KkelX4 Well-Known Member

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    Definitely looks like a project. I am a carpenter by trade, couple things to point out that could make your life easier in the future. Your lengthwise 1x2 ribs, beef them up by "T" bracing them with another 1x2 underneath them. It'll keep them from getting damaged when removing and storing the tent, Also, if it gets bashed by branches on a trail it will be better protected.

    You can marine epoxy everything or just pick up some fiberglass resin, coat all the wood and fiberglass the joints for some added rigidity. I used to kayak in a wooden kayak and compete in war canoe races. Fiberglass +resin does amazing things with wood.

    Lastly, I ran my RTT on an aluminum rack for two years with no issues. I highly recommend aluminum over steel if you can afford it. You can actually cut all the pieces yourself with a miter saw and bring it to a welder to weld. And it will never rust.
     
  13. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:10 PM
    #13
    Trouble_The_Tacoma

    Trouble_The_Tacoma KI5BWY

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    Subscribed for further updates.

    Who wants to place bets on final weight?
     
  14. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:17 PM
    #14
    El Duderino

    El Duderino Howzit \000/

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    Stuff, things, this, an ADS
    Can’t wait to see final product. Welcome
     
  15. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:40 PM
    #15
    crazysccrmd

    crazysccrmd Well-Known Member

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    I calculated he’s at 150lbs already using the dimensions and lumber types given, not including glue or fastener weights.
     
  16. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:45 PM
    #16
    AltaTacoma

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    Looks awesome! Excited to see your progress.
     
    irayfz6 and marco221 [OP] like this.
  17. Feb 3, 2019 at 11:57 PM
    #17
    BrownMike

    BrownMike Well-Known Member

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    I think I watched this series on youtube before too. Looking good so far!

    Im curious on how you are gonna do the canvas (I'm looking to build one soon similar to a GFC), and was thinking if it could be done with one sheet, cut to match the side angles (trapezoid kinda shape), then just "captured" in between pieces in each corner of the frame to create the vertical edges... hard to explain now that I write it out haha.
     
  18. Feb 4, 2019 at 4:14 AM
    #18
    Taco critter

    Taco critter Mall crawler and proud of it

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    Welcome to tw
     
    JaCado, irayfz6 and marco221 [OP] like this.
  19. Feb 4, 2019 at 8:20 AM
    #19
    mattgecko

    mattgecko The LED Lighting Guy. MattGeckoLEDs.com

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    Welcome!

    Subbed to see how your project turns out.
     
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  20. Feb 5, 2019 at 6:14 AM
    #20
    boogie3478

    boogie3478 Tacomaholic & Hollywood

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    Welcome to TW! Fun project.
     
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