Pictorial :: Progress of Structural Fabrication

Over the past two months I’ve been steadily working on modifying the frame (and other associated parts) of our 16′ Fiber Stream camper. There have been many lessons learned so far – from grasping how certain tools work to realizing molten metal easily burns through my shoes – most importantly I’ve learned that with confidence and the right tools all things are possible.

The modifications began with a pretty simple task of flipping the axles to the bottom of the leaf springs. This gives us more clearance – a benefit when we’re boondocking off the beaten path.

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To compliment the added clearance, we upgraded to larger 13″ tires. The previous 12″ tires had small tread and a 55mph speed rating. Here’s what the camper looks like with the flipped axles and bigger tires.

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The next step was beefing up the steel structure underneath the camper shell. This began with adding two 10′ beams to the frame. These run from front to back and tie into the new tongue.

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I bolted these beams to the existing frame and began fabricating an awesomely sturdy tongue. The original camper tongue was bent on the passenger side and made out of thin 1″x 2″ steel. I upgraded to 2″ x 2″ steel tubing that is .25″ thick.

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Once the tongue was welded and cleaned I added a new coupler and jack. Both of these were bolted and welded into place. A quick shout-out to etrailer.com for having low prices and quick shipping!

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I used to drive an old, beat-up Landrover Discovery. It was always my dream to pimp it out with off road gear that I would never actually use. In the spirit of that dream, I bought an axe & shovel mounting bracket. My original plan was to bolt it horizontally on tongue. The area turned out to be too short and close to the ground, so I built a mount that would bolt into the back of the tongue.

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After all this fabrication, Olivia and I finally got to go shopping at Home Depot for a toolbox. The store had a pretty limited selection, but we were able to get a good idea of sizes that would work well. We bought a 44″ polymer “all purpose chest” made by Buyers. I made a simple steel cage to bolt the box in place – the cage will be tack welded to the tongue.

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And – at last – we can now put all the pieces into place!

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Here is a picture of the original tongue.

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Today I began fabricating a bumper. We’re going to add a spare tire mount to it and a hitch for towing some bicycles. Two rubber caps will seal the ends of the 3″ x 3″ steel tubing. We’ll store our metal tripod for campfire cooking inside the bumper. Here’s a picture of todays work.

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Many more hours of work to go. Thanks for checking out the progress we’ve made – we’re always accepting helping hands!

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