Replacing Rotten Truck Camper Floor DIY Camper Renovation
The State of the Floor Address
Ladies and gentlemen, the floor of the truck camper is not pretty. After years of patches and general neglect, it is literally falling apart. Try jumping on it. The experience is not unlike that of a trampoline. The concern is for the day that it does not bounce.
So, we are taking out the floor and starting again from scratch. In conducting this renovation, I talk with a lot of other truck camper owners about their floors. Many describe their truck camper floors as being minimally structural and only 3/4″ thick.
This is in stark contrast to our camper floor. The floor is the foundation that binds the arching aluminum walls and ceiling to a single firm base. Observing the placement of screws, nails, and staples, it is clear that it was the first part of any Avion truck camper build. Everything was composed from that base. As such, it is 1 1/2″ thick with 1/4″ plywood sandwiching 1″ of insulation in a design quite similar the the truck camper wings which we have already replaced.
Building the Floor
It ss a hotly contested debate. Will we mirror the floor design but replace the plywood with our favorite material of choice: a fiberglass foam composite that maintained the structural strength of plywood while lighter and rot resistant? Or, will we double down like the truck camper wings and replace the 1/4″ plywood with 1/2″ composite for additional strength. One solution is lighter. The other solution is stronger. In the end, I capitulate: we use the 1/2″ material. We both agree, though: we overbuilt.
The floor may be flat on the section that we walk on. But the part that supports the camper in the bed of the truck is built on rails. This serves a dual purpose. The rails lift the body up, better allowing for water drainage of the truck bed and minimizing the risk of rot. Rails also focus the weight of the camper at given points that can dig into a friction mat and decrease the risk of the camper sliding in the truck bed.
For our truck camper, we are reproducing the original three rail design but with the fiber glass composite. Once built and attached to the floor, I add a final layer of gritty spay-on truck bed liner to increase strength and friction.
Finishing the Floor
Like the truck camper wing, we epoxy the fiberglass composite for added strength and…it looks pretty!
Installing the Floor
Removing the floor is one of the scariest parts of this build yet. We are uncertain what will happen when we remove the foundation of the camper. Will the Avion pull itself apart in an explosion of aluminum? Will it implode, with no way to place the new floor and return normalcy to the situation?
We buy a couple loooong clamps to hold structural portions of the camper in place while the floor is removed. Next, we remove all the nails, screws, and assorted materials that hold the floor in place. Once we are ready, we simply jack up the camper. The floor sits, alone, on the blocks. We then make quick work of replacing the old floor with the new and jack the body back into position. We use a winch to snuggly pull the body back together around the floor and screw the floor back into place.
As an added good measure, I slather the edges in epoxy to fully seal and strengthen the bond between the camper walls and floor. Odds are, if I spill a glass of water in here, I’ll have to mop it up because it will not be sinking into the floor anymore.