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Unread 02-27-2016, 01:04 PM
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AEV Dave AEV Dave is offline
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Default Dave's Custom 3500 Camper

Normally don’t do any build up threads, but since so many of you seem interested, I’m going to give it a try. I’ll update it as I can, but don’t expect too much or too many details, this is a project I’m doing on my own time and the point is to be a relaxing fun project, not a work project, so keep that in mind and please don’t view this as an AEV project where you might expect more timely and or detailed responses.

Background: Simple, I froze my butt off on a particularly fun trip with a bunch of friends, we had 3 ft of snow to deal with at times, temps as low as -15 and we were in tents. Decided I wanted to do a small camper based on the (at the time) new Brute DoubleCab.

Thought process:
  • I figured I would try to make it a single cab JK Brute on the DoubleCab chassis and build a box on the back with a simple heater and simple provisions. As the project rolled around in my head I decided while it could be done, adding that much weight to a JK was going to be tough.
  • I realized that I had just spent the last 10 years hauling around three, sometimes four Jeeps on a Cummins Ram, so if I could find the right truck I could just build a camper on that and just tow a Jeep, the Ram wouldn’t even notice the weight or the Jeep.
  • Ive been in a lot of campers and realized that 95% of the “offroad campers” (your Unimogs, Earthroamers, Sportsmobiles, GXV, even the bigger Unicats etc) are still only really comfortable for 2 people, which is great because that’s all I was planning for. That meant getting a four door truck was unnecessary and I could save a ton of wheelbase and keep it decent offroad. I ended up searching for a 2006 Ram 2500/3500 4WD Regular Cab with a manual trans.
  • Plan was to remove the bed, use off the shelf components to fit 37-40” tires and build a custom camper for the back. This would be a dedicated camper, so no flatbed or dual purpose worries.
  • I found the truck, absolutely ideal, manual windows/locks, but ac and cruise, 130K, 2006 (last year of the 5.9, minimal emissions, best stock fuel economy) with the manual transmission, NOT an easy truck to find!
  • I realized quickly that off the shelf Ram suspension components where pretty bad for my intended usage. Damn, that was a disappointment and discouraging. Kind of set the project aside for a bit while busy with work. One of those work things was a marketing trip to Iceland where I saw the Ram was quite popular for work on the glaciers. Standard tire for a Cummins Ram for snow use? 46”! That was too big for what I had planned even though it looked/worked awesome on the snow. After talking with the guys in Iceland, I decided the 42” Goodyear MTR was going to work very well for me. I also came away from there with some suspension ideas, one of which being to redesign all the axle mounting brackets and leave the truck alone. This provided what amounted to an axle tube drop and move forward kit, but everything stayed the same, combined with some bits off a Ford for steering and voila, another project that I needed like a hole in my head. However, this suspension came out fantastic, it ended up being 3 5/8” of lift, moved forward a bit and every angle was stock. I also swapped in some later model Powerwagon axles and swaybar at the same time. In 2010 the Ram’s went to a larger front Ujoint that I really wanted. The PW axles came with lockers and 4.56’s which all worked out perfectly. The only downside to the Powerwagon axles was pre 14 they have a smaller ring and pinion and so technically a downgrade, I had seen Fred Williams beat the tar out of his Cummins powered JK we build him years ago for the Ultimate Adventure with 42” tires and had plenty of confidence in the rear axle, especially considering I wouldn’t be towing 30K.
  • This suspension came out so good that it wasn’t too hard to make it into an official AEV project. So the suspension stuff eventually got handed over to our suspension guys to do the proper engineering for the new trucks and tuning was done to eventually become the heart of our production AEV Ram Dualsport kit only in a bolt on form.
  • So working with the reg cab long bed pickup quickly became a bit of an issue. The Reg cab long bed has essentially a 60” cab to axle measurement and the pickups frame is relatively wide, none of which is an issue at all if you want to go the camper mounted on a flatbed route. Since I wanted to go dedicated camper, in the years that had passed AEV came out with parts for the newer trucks, I decided to sell my 06 to a friend of mine, it was finished off like our 2014 SEMA truck with a traybed etc.
  • The replacement truck is a 2015 3500 Cab Chassis (not a pickup). The 3500 Cab Chassis is a bit of a hybrid between the 3500 pickup truck and the 4500/5500 Cab Chassis. In my opinion, it makes the perfect camper platform for a number of reasons.
    • Available in 60” and 84” cab to axle measurements
    • Uses 3500 pickup front suspension
    • Rear Frame is flat and narrower than pickup frame
    • Uses 3500 axles (lockers and gears available! 4500-5500 axles have no lockers available)
    • Can be ordered with a ton of options that are very helpful towards building a camper
    • Up to 74 gallons of fuel stock!
    • Aux fuel ports ready to plug in heaters/generators, hobs etc
    • Up to 440A alternators.
    • 14000 lb GVWR – gives about 6k of camper…that’s too much and a lot more than I had planned!
My New Truck:
So I found my truck at Daytona Dodge in Florida, it was a leftover 15 3500 cab chassis DRW and was the only truck I could find already build with most of the options I wanted. Key items I wanted:
  • 84" Cab to Axle - I want to put the camper door between the cab and the rear wheel, it could be done on the 60 but was tight. Decided to give up the off-road penalty for the added camper size. This is basically a four door long bed wheelbase but with a regular cab...or another way to think of it is a regular cab truck with an 11 foot bed.
  • Ambulance Prep – adds ports on the AC lines to connect an extra condenser for the box. Also blanks out the CHMSL and I think adds a bigger alternator, (but not the biggest which was fine, didn’t really need the 440s!)
  • Luxury package – call me a sissy, I wanted a heated steering wheel.
  • PTO prep – adds the ability to add a hardwired remote start button in the box.
  • Aux fuel – the 3500 CC comes with 52 gal stock, this is an additional 22 gallons in a midship tank

So…I had my guys at AEV build the truck up. And YES, you can order the same thing or something similar. Send Jeff Clark an email if you’re interested (jclark@aev-conversions.com)
The AEV parts list is as follows:
  • AEV 3” DualSport suspension
  • AEV 17x10 Katla Wheel (painted to match and machined to allow conversion to SRW)
  • AEV Flares
  • AEV Front Bumper with Warn 16.5 and VisionX lightbar, OE Fog lamps
  • AEV Heat Reduction Hood
  • 41x14.50R17 Interco IROK tires (might get changed depending on final weights)
  • ARB Differential Locks, 4.56 gears, AEV Diff Covers, ARB Twin compressor
  • Rear Wheel Arches are temporary while camper is being built
  • AEV Raised Air Intake with PreFilter (I know its not on in the pics, thanks)
  • PSC Hydro Assist steering
  • Custom Paint


This vehicle will be on display as is at NTEA next week in Indianapollis and at the Overland Expo show in Flagstaff this May. I’ll probably not start on the camper until May or June.

dh
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2015 Ram 3500 Cab Chassis SRW
2009 Brute DoubleCab 5.7VVT Supercharged, 37s
2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R
2013 KTM 450XC-W
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  #2  
Unread 02-27-2016, 01:49 PM
Tru-bicon Tru-bicon is offline
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Dave, I look forward to watching this build progress. Are you planning a short cab-over design for the camper or is there not enough space gained to make worthwhile?

Cheers
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  #3  
Unread 02-27-2016, 01:57 PM
Wapitihunter Wapitihunter is offline
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kick. Ass.

Which visionX light bar did you go with? 10deg, 40deg, or the combo beam one?
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2014 CCSB Tradesman 2500 -- G56 -- AEV dualsport -- AEV Katla -- 37x12.5r17 Toyo R/T -- 315/70r17 Nokian Hakkapeliitta -- AEV bumper -- VisionX 6.7" light cannon -- Warn 16.5TI -- Mopar flares -- 8.4" Uconnect swap w/ customtronix jailbreak (front/rear/trailer cam) -- 3.73 gears w/ ARB front and rear -- Switch-Pros 8100
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Unread 02-27-2016, 02:11 PM
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Ward Ward is offline
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Awesome build Dave. Looking forward to the camper portion of the build. Have you driven a 3500 with and without the large tires? Just wondering if I should plan on the hydro assist myself.
Ward
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Unread 02-27-2016, 02:40 PM
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James04 James04 is offline
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Great build Dave ! Look forward to this !
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  #6  
Unread 02-27-2016, 02:56 PM
Wapitihunter Wapitihunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward View Post
Awesome build Dave. Looking forward to the camper portion of the build. Have you driven a 3500 with and without the large tires? Just wondering if I should plan on the hydro assist myself.
Ward
my 2500 w/ 37"s needs hydro assist. Its not bad, but if on a high traction surface (blacktop) you have to have wheel spin to move the tires left and right. I know the 3500's used to have different steering setup, do they still? comment I heard from AEV rep on the SEMA truck was its a must with 40"s, but thats a 2500.
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2014 CCSB Tradesman 2500 -- G56 -- AEV dualsport -- AEV Katla -- 37x12.5r17 Toyo R/T -- 315/70r17 Nokian Hakkapeliitta -- AEV bumper -- VisionX 6.7" light cannon -- Warn 16.5TI -- Mopar flares -- 8.4" Uconnect swap w/ customtronix jailbreak (front/rear/trailer cam) -- 3.73 gears w/ ARB front and rear -- Switch-Pros 8100

Last edited by Wapitihunter; 02-27-2016 at 03:01 PM.
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  #7  
Unread 02-27-2016, 07:00 PM
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AEV Dave AEV Dave is offline
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  1. Haven't settled on a layout just yet. Working through the plus's and minus's of every design now.
  2. Not sure which light. Will have to ask.
  3. Keep in mind the 4500-5500 are probably different, but on the 2500-3500 with aired down 40's...hydro assist is mandatory for off-road use.

dh
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Unread 02-27-2016, 08:05 PM
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MPeckham MPeckham is offline
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I'm in Irok heaven right now. Maybe the 37" Toyo's need to find their way over to my highline LJ. I can hear my ball joints crying on that AAM front axle though! Beautiful truck Dave!
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2006 Highline LJ
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Unread 02-27-2016, 08:05 PM
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xjski03 xjski03 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEV Dave View Post
  1. Haven't settled on a layout just yet. Working through the plus's and minus's of every design now.
  2. Not sure which light. Will have to ask.
  3. Keep in mind the 4500-5500 are probably different, but on the 2500-3500 with aired down 40's...hydro assist is mandatory for off-road use.

dh

It's the 10deg beam.
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Unread 02-27-2016, 09:53 PM
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04Ram2500Hemi 04Ram2500Hemi is offline
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I look forward to following this build. Hopefully I can see this truck in person in Missoula sometime.
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2012 Ram Power Wagon
Truxedo Deuce Bed Cover with Bed Lights, Black Line-X Rocker Panel, Custom Built Rock Rails Sprayed with Line-X, Front & Rear Bumper and Grill sprayed with Line-X, Husky Mud Flaps, Four VisionX Xmitter Low Pro Prime XP LED Light Bars Behind the Grill, LED Lights Mounted in the Rear Bumper, Heated Seats, Interior LED Lighting, NAV-TV, Camera Mounted in Front Grill, Custom Headache Rack, AEV Raised Air Intake, Salta HD Wheels, 285/75/17 Toyo A/T II Tires
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