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Discussion Starter #1
I'm kicking around the idea of building a truck camper for my RL. Yes, I know the manual specifically says, "Do not use your Ridgeline to carry a slide-in camper". I think they are just covering their tails, I have carried quite a few similar loads on my lumber rack without any drama.

The RL unfortunately doesn't have the oomph to pull our small travel trailer up some of the steep forest roads we would like to travel. Motor turns but wheels do not, transmission overheats.

One way I could keep the RL is to build a truck camper that would replace the trailer. It would have to be very lightweight, I'm guessing under 700 lbs dry to allow us to carry water, gear, toys, oh and a family of 4. That's probably a difficult goal if it includes a galley and 2 beds.

The other option is to buy a new half-ton truck and call it a day, but we would prefer to spend that money on a new house. The RL already has close to 130,000 miles, so there is a new truck coming in the next couple of years anyway.
 

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What is your skill set like?

Best as I tell, to keep things lightweight will involve steel / aluminum / fiberglass materials. Custom fabrication is always an incredibly time consuming process. You will need to address all the issues of space utilization, plumbing, electrical, weather tightness, aesthetics etc etc.

I do construction / carpentry for a living but would find the task of building a small lightweight "house" to fit in the back of my ridge a daunting task, particularly with a 5ft long platform to build it on.

I am surprised that the Ridge isn't up to the task of towing a small travel trailer but will take your word for it. Overall, the easier route would probably be to get a larger vehicle to tow your existing camper. Maybe get something older that is just good enough for this task and keep the Ridge for daily use?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This would be my third camper build, it's sort of a hobby of mine. I own a custom cabinet shop with a CNC router, so as long as the construction is wood (still common in commercial truck campers) it's a piece of cake.

I've been looking at F150s, and the thought of a car payment is really unappealing. My RL runs great, it's paid for, it's nice to drive and I know its history. Oh, and I don't have to explain to my wife why I need a new truck. I'm leaning toward bird-in-the-hand at this point.

I'm pretty confident that the RL can handle the load. Anybody think strongly otherwise? I bought a pair of these SuperSprings, they are the only thing I can find anywhere to beef up the suspension.

I did a quick sketchup of the shell, it's designed to cover the tailgate so we actually get over 6' of floor length. I'm thinking about locating the fresh water tank in the trunk, which becomes unusable anyway, and it will keep the center of gravity low. Other heavy stuff like batteries will be located as far forward as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That thing is awesome, I finally scoured enough threads to find the builder's email. I can't afford one but I emailed him to see how it handled on the truck. Would love to see the floorplan too. At least I got a few good ideas off the photo.
 

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2006 Ridgeline RTS in Steel Blue
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Just a thought, you may want to source a 2nd trunk lid, and I'd consider both fresh water tank & gray water tank in the trunk. The existing drain can allow you a place to put the gray water drain out to.

Although a far more ambitious than any goal for my Ridgeline, I wish you luck, and will be following your posts.

Good Luck
 

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Just a thought, you may want to source a 2nd trunk lid, and I'd consider both fresh water tank & gray water tank in the trunk. The existing drain can allow you a place to put the gray water drain out to.

Although a far more ambitious than any goal for my Ridgeline, I wish you luck, and will be following your posts.

Good Luck
I'd be checking the load carrying capacity of that trunk area before considering any liquid tanks in there. I suspect that may be beyond it's safe weight capacity. (I don't really know, but it's something I would certainly check)
 

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How exactly is he going to find the carrying capacity for the trunk? Is it in the owners manual?

I carry a good 3-500lbs of tools in my trunk all the time. What would the expected weight of the tanks be?

Dustboy,

Will the camper unit come on and off the truck regularly? What will that process be like?
 

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I think you'd be better off sheltering under a tent.
 

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I'd be checking the load carrying capacity of that trunk area before considering any liquid tanks in there. I suspect that may be beyond it's safe weight capacity. (I don't really know, but it's something I would certainly check)
Well, two tanks one empties the other fills, would weigh 1/2 what honda originally advertised that space for a cooler. I have actually done this multiple times, my only complaint is the area isn't insulated so the ice melts really fast.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We just drain the gray water into a pan under the truck. I'd like to carry close to 30 gallons which weighs about 250 lbs, as the trunk is integral to the bed there should be no problem with the weight. Looks like there are tanks that will fit with room to spare. Maybe even enough for the house battery.

I could put a marine deck plate in the top of the trunk to allow hoses/wires to pass through. The camper will come on/off regularly, I imagine it will be a process of place tank & battery in trunk, run hoses through deck plate. Slide camper into bed, fasten to bed, connect hoses and go.

Got an email back from the Ridgerider builder/owner, really nice guy. He got the weight down to 975 lbs dry, said the RL handles the load well. Given that our rig would be built with off-grid camping in mind, our water and solar requirements add another 300+ lbs to his number.

I don't think the RL chassis and drivetrain has any problem going over the GVWR, but the springs are too soft. I haven't found any real solution on the market besides the SuperSprings which are a bandaid at best. Airbags would normally be the answer but there is no space to mount them.
 

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I don't think the RL chassis and drivetrain has any problem going over the GVWR

As I believe the Honda engineering team knows much better than us users -I would disagree with your hopeful observation.
 
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