Homemade Truck Capby Steve Smith
A truck cap is most often placed over the back of the pickup and used to keep materials inside dry and protected from the elements. Some people take the concept one step further and create a cap that is also a camper. Either way, with a homemade truck cap, you will add additional covered storage to your pickup and provide a convenient way to transport materials in the rain, store or during any kind of weather.
There are several ways to build frames for a truck cap. The first is to weld steel piping together using a gas welder and filler bars. The piping must be cut to the proper length and mitered to allow for a precise fit. This is accomplished by using a steel pipe cutter, or pipe saw. Two-inch diameter pipe is plenty thick for this part of the project. Even 1-inch pipe or 1.5-inch channel steel will suffice. The frame is built in a trapezoidal shape with the top frame just slightly smaller than the bottom. Diagonal vertical supports connect the two square frames for the top and bottom. Cross braces that run horizontally across the top frame should also be used to reinforce the structure, but they are not used on the bottom section of the frame.
Materials for Siding
The siding of the cap is chosen for its durability and weight. Fiberglass sheeting, corrugated fiberglass (similar to the kind used in outdoor fences) and plywood are options. Decide on one based on where you will be taking the cap and how durable you want it to be. Fiberglass is less durable than wood. However, it is much lighter. This means more miles per gallon and easier removal and installation. For campers, it is wise to choose plywood, since the walls need to weather the elements and provide shelter.
Once you have chosen a material for the siding, it is time to install it. Fiberglass sheeting can be installed with rivets to the frame. You may also use bolts or brackets and screws. Plywood sheeting is screwed directly to the frame with metal screws using a power driver. Pilot holes must be drilled into the metal frame before you attempt the installation, however. This is the fastest and most secure way to install plywood walls.
To build a cap door, cut out a section of siding the fit into the back portion of the truck cap. Then reinforce this section with rubber gaskets or molding and attach it with a hinge to the frame of the cap, not to the side walls. This provides a more stable and secure door. It will be opened several times, so make sure the welds are perfect. Use filler bars and a gas welder on this step. Hardware for the door handle and a lock are available at a hardware store, or truck accessory store.
Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.