How to Build Your Own Toy Hauler Camperby John Cagney Nash
Toy haulers are a style of recreational vehicle, or RV, that open completely at one end to allow the entry, interior storage and exit of motorized leisure equipment such as four wheelers and motorcycles. The opposite end of a toy hauler is typically given over to residential space, often fairly basic in provision, that allows camping when and where the leisure equipment is being used. Because of these particular requirements, the building of a toy hauler camper must start with a platform that allows form to follow function.
Determine the style of vehicle best suited to your purposes. To function effectively a toy hauler will need a rear wall that can be entirely opened up, so the platform will need to be fitted with a roller door or hinged doors. The front part of the toy hauler, set aside for cooking, sleeping and living spaces, will need a separate entrance so that the main doors do not need to be opened for errands not involving the leisure equipment. Used cargo trucks available for sale from rental companies meet these requirements, and many have extendable ramps built into their floors for trolleys that allow vehicles to be driven inside.
Measure the internal dimensions of your chosen vehicle and sketch the space you have to work with onto graph paper. Draw in the space which must be set aside for the leisure equipment; simple storage will require only enough room around the four wheelers or motorcycles for you to get on and off, while servicing, mending and cleaning the machines will require a great deal more space.
Mark on the diagram where you can build a partition wall to divide the residential space from that set aside for the machinery. If a personnel door does not open from the outside into this area, plan to install one. There should be at least one roof vent above each area, and you may want to install windows to let in natural light.
Visit some RV dealerships or attend a trade show to learn what options other toy hauler builders install, then design your interiors and mark all the fixtures and fittings on your plan. Locate storage closets for tools and specialist clothing in the back bay, and a galley in the residential space. Decide whether you want a toilet or shower, then draw in cabinets and shelves. If the vehicle has a storage space above the cab, think about using it for a full-size bed, or plan to hang collapsible bunk beds from the walls.
Photocopy the plans, then draw in electrical systems to power lighting circuits, appliances and outlets. A basic 12-volt system may be adequate, or you may chose to install a 120-volt system so you can use household electrical equipment and appliances such as entertainment units and air conditioners. The plumbing should incorporate a freshwater storage tank for remote camping, and a city water connection for hooking up in campsites.
- Although such conversions typically cost more than purchasing a comparable purpose-built unit, building your own toy hauler camper means it can be made to exactly suit your requirements and tastes.
- Your toy hauler camper must be legally compliant if you intend it for road use. Many states have Change of Use requirements that involve weight restrictions and formal Department of Transport inspections.
Items you will need
- Vehicle for conversion
- Measuring tape
- Graph paper and pens
- rv image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com