Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nida-Core Honeycomb Composite Panels Arrived Today

It has been a little over a week since the order for 30mm Nida-Core H8PP Honeycomb Composite Panels was placed with Essential Composites down in Florida.  The 8 panels arrived today via transfer freight.  I was pleased, to say the least, on the very quick shipment.  Quite impressed with the turn around time; the order to in hand was so quick.

Essential Composites in Florida was a pleasure to do business with.  I spoke with Max, possibly the owner of the company, an extremely nice guy and was authentically concerned about making the end-user happy.  After speaking with him about what i needed, He got the ball rolling immediately and supplied me with 1.25" (30mm) H8PP 4x8 Nida Core Honeycomb Composite panels with fiberglass skin both sides, matte finish.

Prior to being forwarded to Essential Composites, I had looked all over the internet for a couple of weeks in an attempt to locate a distributor that sold the 30mm panels and simply could not locate anyone.  30mm is really close to 1.25" standard, but the thickest panels that a couple of the outfits sold were the 1" thick panels.

I mentioned "a couple of the outfits" because that is approximately all of the Nida-Core distributors that I could locate online using various keyword searches.  I was referred to Essential Composites by a third party non-distributor.

The fact that Max was such a highly concerned business man, courteous and actually cared about me the customer, I would highly recommend purchasing the panels from Essential.  Made for a very quick, smooth transaction and excellent communication regarding shipment dates,etc;  Just great people!  Thanks. 

Some of the other distributors that I had contacted regarding inquiries, never returned a confirmation phone call to inform me of any order availabilities as they stated they would.  However Essential Composites was excellent in the realm of customer service and communication.

Hey do yourself a huge favor if you do not have a business address, make appropriate arrangements ahead of time to have the panels shipped to a bona-fide, registered business address (friend's vehicular repair shop, woodworking business shop, boatbuilder's business, etc;).  This one move will save you almost half in shipping freight charges.

> These 30mm panels are some really nice quality panels I must add, rigid and extremely durable and chiming in at a minimal 32 pounds per 4x8 panel., 1 lb. per square foot.  These panels are definitely going to make a great custom camper I do believe.

"Let us go grab some iced tea for now."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Look at Truck Prior To Camper Addition

One last look at the ol' girl before the addition of the camper to come.  Wondering at this point what will she look like and whether or not she will be happy?

Brainstorming and Designing for Camper Shower

I just must have a shower inside of the camper so I have been brainstorming, plotting and planning on how I will build the shower and integrate the overall shower system into the available floor space of the camper.

Of course there are AutoCAD programs that would assist in some design models.  But, that requires sitting behind a monitor and does not allow you to 'feel' the project coming together.  It certainly does not allow one to actually stand and feel the 'room', that one needs inside of his/her personal shower.  Plus it removes some of the fun from pursuing such a venue in the first place.

So I constructed this contraption underneath my work shelter to ascertain the overall feel of headroom associated with a custom shower inside the camper.  After all, is not that what custom is all about, building  for a specific end-user?  So I played around with these strips of wood being clamped to the corner post simulating the ceiling height and angles that would be associated with the inside corner of the camper. 

My moment of stress relief worked out perfect, allowing me to obtain some crucial measurements.  Now, I have a very good understanding of how I will go about building the shower for the camper.

Now i'm just awaiting the arrival of panels, fiberglass, and resin...coming from the sunshine state.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Deciding on Camper Tie Down System

I have been brainstorming on the methods and means whereby I would mount my custom cabover truck camper in the bed of my pickup.  I had thought of engineering some type of custom connection however I understood all too well that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  And to be quite honest I simply do not have the time at present to delve into great depths on the engineering concepts regarding designing my own.

I know my camper dry weight is going to be significantly lighter than any manufactured unit one could find on the market today but I still needed to account for yaw, roll, lateral and longitudinal movements of the camper and began looking for different systems that have already been designed.

Some systems I ran across:
  1. Torklift system
  2. Happi Jac tie downs
  3. Brophy Stake Pocket tie downs 
I really like the Torklift system for it's engineering design concept, usage of pre-existing factory drilled bolt holes in chassis, ease of mounting and the overall understanding of implied forces that develop when truck marries camper.  But this is just overkill for my camper build that without amenities cashes in at approximately 400lbs.  The Torklift excels in its field of camper tie downs but the entire system is just a bit overkill and unsightly for what i am trying to achieve.

There is even an amazing story (when on page - scroll down, story w/ pics) of a guy that was hunting in sheep in Washington that had an accident and his camper remained in the pickup during a rollover, which was using Torklift tie downs.  The camper was even used as a leverage point to retrieve truck by wrecker crew.

Happi Jac camper tie downs seem to fit the bill for what the weight that i am dealing with, although you have to drill through the bed and bumper to mount the brackets, i believe it is more along the lines of the system that will work for me.

Heck, i even discovered Truck Stake Pocket Tie Downs for lighter versions of truck campers, mostly used with the lighter pop up truck style campers.  I had never even seen these on the market until just recently stumbling across them online.  "Wonder how they respond to the force incurred during movement of a camper?"

I really do not feel comfortable with just the Happi Jac tie downs usage without the torsion bar installed but the fact that so many claim they have used them successfully for much heavier campers with much success makes me a believer in their system.

I did however run across some individual camper owners online that had some truck bed damage when their attach points for the turnbuckles were bent.  I am not sure if these attachment points were of some given brand or were custom made but I should not have any issues with the given weight.  These individuals were loaded with copious amounts of weight I am certain.

I do worry about wind shear however due to the lighter weight of my camper design, this has long been the big issue with the Indy cars given their relatively lighter weights.  I plan on designing my camper with the cabover portion hugging relatively close to the top of the cab to minimize lift and design the nose of the camper with slant to increase downward pressure on the camper.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Help from Nida Core 3M Purchasing Department- Florida; in locating a Nida Core Distributor

Since I have been having so much difficulty in locating a distributor online to purchase Nida Core honeycomb composite panels from, I decided to contact Nida Core themselves.  I called Nida Core in Florida and discovered their staff to be extremely helpful, professional and authentically concerned for their customers.  This was above and beyond, what I can say about a few other composite manufacturers I have spoken with over the course of a few weeks.

I also discovered that the consumer and small business owner, could until just recently, purchase the panels from Nida Core directly.   They have recently changed this aspect of the business and those in need of Nida Core products must purchase such through one of their distributors.

So they assisted me with locating a distributor online that could handle my request.

Once again, I simply cannot say enough about Nida Core's friendly, courteous, professional staff.  They deserve a standing ovation.   This type of service is almost unfounded in this sometimes crude world we live in.  Our hats are off to you Nida Core for turning a stranger into a friend.

 As far as locating the appropriate distributors online for the products you are looking, if you run into difficulty I can almost assure you these great people would be glad to assist you in your efforts.

You can find their contact information here

When I decided to prepare this blog, I did so with the foresight of sharing my work with others of like mind that might appreciate the project at hand.  In the meanwhile I thought, "Heck, why not render the struggles, obstacles and the means of the way on the blog as well?", thus the reasoning behind these type posts.  Hopefully it will make someone's walk a little easier than mine was.  If I accomplish that, it makes my day better.

Take care, Chris

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Contact Chris


Please feel free to contact me, Chris. 

or use the form

Locating Nida Core Panels for purchase

I have determined from amongst the myriad of composite panels on the market that i would build my camper out of Nida-Core composite panels.  Locating the blog of another, that was successful in building a camper out of Nida Core panels was the confirmation I needed to pursue this purchase.  Consolidate this, with the fact I am extremely short on research time needed to make an educated decision from the myriad of available choices, so i went with Nida Core.

The fact that I witness such great reviews in regards to Nida Core panels and their workability has all the more confirmed the decision.  Plus, i really like the fact that you can use standard Polyester Resin to bond the panels together and to create structural corners.  The polyester resin does not hurt the polypropylene honeycomb inert.  So, anyone that is familiar with your everyday run-of-the-mill polyester resin, catalyst, cabosil, glass bubbles and chopped 1/4" glass strands used in fiberglass work, can work this Nida Core into a very durable, structurally sound and dependable project.

So the decision to purchase Nida Core panels has been made, now the obstacle to overcome is attempting to locate a distributor along the eastern seaboard that either stocks the sheets i need or is willing to special order panels needed.

Thus far, this has been one of the slight issues.  I have contacted numerous boat building suppliers and warehouses for the resin industry strung around the US and have not really received the news that i need to hear.  I am still working to locate a good supplier that does not mind ordering what it is that i need.

Most distributors want to deal in bulk and move large quantities of panels at one time to prevent having to absorb a lot of storage space by maintaining sheets in stock.  Plus let's face it, they see more green. 

It is just like all other business philosophy across America these days thus making it difficult for the end user to obtain what is so strongly sought after when it comes to specialty items, whether the items in question are being sought after by small business, non profits, educational sectors or the like.

But I am continuing to strike away at it....and i am certain 'where there is a will there is a way'.  So i shall keep you posted whenever i contact  a good source for supplying small orders of Nida Core panels.

until then take care, Chris

update:  Nida-Core 3M panels are still sold by various outlets but has been bought out by Composite Essential Materials now.  See my blog post regarding that news  which may help you locating your composite panels.