Bill Swails'
EarthRoaming Ram

Side view of new camper
Follow Bill at EarthRoamer.com as he travels around the world
 

A Ram based camper designed for a trip around the world - beginning this winter in New Zealand, then Australia..

After numerous short camping throughout the Rockies, Bill had thought that the fourwheel camper with a utility bed was the ultimate expedition camper. In 1999 Bill lived for four months in the pop-up camper and decided that it had numerous disadvantages under continuous use (old camper information). His main problem was that a pop-up was just too tight for continuous use. The pop-up was also difficult to heat and keep dry, and setup and teardown became tedious in wet or extremely cold weather conditions. Bill sold his old camper and utility body, and had Safari Vehicles build a new hard side camper on the frame of the Ram pickup.

Our schedules only overlapped by 5 hours, so these are photos taken quickly with my digital camera. More will be posted when film from my main camera has been developed. Side-by-side shots of our two trucks provides an idea of the relative size of Bill's camper.

This thing will attract attention  Got Gauges?  Rear View of camper  Bill giving the interior tour  Interior with view into cab 

This camper walls are constructed of plastic honeycombed panels, which are coated with fiberglass as in boat construction. This provides considerable strength with light weight and good insulation properties. Three inch aluminum angle or flat plate is used to join all panel edges. All aluminum ends are welded to form a cage around the structure, then the panels are riveted to the cage. The construction appears to be very rugged and durable. To prevent frame rack from damaging the camper under extreme conditions, the front of the camper body bolts to the frame rails and the rear of the body is attached to a pivot on an added frame crossmember.

The rear of the cab and the back of the quad cab seat were notched to create a pass-through between the camper and the cab. A synthetic bellows seal allows the cab and camper to move independently while keeping out the elements.

The camper features a DC to AC inverter, DC powered compressor-type refrigerator, a DC powered air conditioner, a diesel fired cooking stove, and a diesel fired space heater. Power comes from a huge 250AH battery that could start a D-8, which is charged by a 250 Amp alternator while the engine is running and 140 Watts of solar panels when it is not. 40 Gallons of fresh water is supplied under pressure by a DC pump. A dual stainless steel sink can be used for food preparation and dish washing. The hand sprayer from the sink can be extended to reach an ingenious shower that collapses into the floor. Hot water is generated by a DC water heater. Waste water is stored in a tank above the rear axle.

The single table is mounted to a swing arm and may be positioned both vertically and horizontally for many tasks. The over cab bed is queen size and features a ceiling hatch that opens to tripod platforms on the roof. Numerous light fixtures and 12 volt power outlets are located around the inside of the camper.

photo of original truck  Bill and the original Ram
photo of truck with new camper  Bill and the nearly completed Earthroamer

Original Truck Details: 
  • 1998 2500 HD 4X4 with the Cummins ISB TurboDiesel
  • Quad Cab / short bed
  • Automatic transmission
  • 3.54 gears
  • Tow package
Additions:  
  • Safari Vehicles camper built on the truck frame.
  • Denver Off Road 1/2" and 3/8" plate aluminum front bumper
  • Warn 12,000 lb. winch with winch cover
  • additional bumper brackets
  • Bumper shackle brackets
  • Denver Off Road 1/2" plate aluminum rear compartment bumper
  • Warn XD 9000 rear winch
  • Edelbrock IAS Performer Shocks
  • Micky Thompson 16x8 forged aluminum wheels.
  • 255/85R16D BFG Mud Terrain's.
  • Stull billet grill
  • Mag-Hytec rear differential cover and tranny pan
  • PIAA 80XT off road lights
  • PIAA 910 Driving light
  • PIAA 1500 fog lights
  • Warn winch cover
  • Dynamat hoodliner from Summit racing
  • Replaced the floor padding with Dynamat padding
  • OEM Vinyl floor carpet replacement
  • Husky floor mats
  • Xenon front fender flares
  • TST auto tranny kit (BD TC, Transgo Shift Kit and heavy duty rebuild kit)
  • BD Engine brake
  • 275 Injectors from BD
  • VanAken Performance engine computer add-on from BD
  • Horton fan clutch
  • Edelbrock IAS Performer Shocks (purchased/installed by Pep Boys)
  • Air Lift super duty 5,000 lb air springs (purchased/installed by Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers)
  • Skyjacker 4.5" lift
  • ARB air lockers front and rear, 3.73 gears
  • Tuffy security console
  • Full gauge set
  • Thompson Compressor, 1/3 HP, .95 CFM @ 100psi, continuous duty
  • QuickAir 2.5 gal air tank
  • Grover twin air horns (same as the big rigs use)
  • 20 gal Auxiliary Plastic Fuel tank
  • Additional factory electric lift pump to transfer fuel from the auxiliary tank to the main 34 gallon factory tank.
  • 2 battery Optima yellow top deep cycle batteries
  • Truck-Lite rectangular LED Tail and Brake lights
  • EGT, oil, tranny and diff temp gauges
  • Turbo boost pressure gauge
  • Auto meter gauges (9 gauges)
  • Painless wiring LEDs and switches
  • Battery holders for frame mounting
  • Aero tank rear seat storage tray
  • Recaro AM-55 heated/ventilated seats with integral seat belt and electronic shock absorber system

Modified: 

  • Removed the cup holder, ash tray and cigar lighter from the dash - where the switch/gauge cluster will be installed

Bill's Comments:

With the hoodliner and interior "dynamat/rubber bed mat/vinyl floor/husky floor mat" combo, the truck is noticeably quieter both inside and out. It's no luxury car, but a definite improvement. It would be nice to use a decibel meter to compare it with a stock truck. 

Added Xenon fender flares on the front. Great fit and much improved rock protection from the BFGs. 

I'm not sure the Air springs will be the final solution, but I'll give them a try. I like the idea of being able to level for camping, and jacking the rear up temporarily to improve breakover and departure angles.

Autometer ultralight gauges EGT, Boost Pressure, Oil Temp, Trans Temp, Water Temp, Oil Pressure, Air Tank Pressure, Voltmeter) mounted to a custom 1/4" plate aluminum gauge/switch panel

  Sources/Services:

Advanced Air Products, Denver Kenworth, Denver Off Road,  Denver Utility Trailer, Discount Tire, F&M Racing, 1400 Motors Dodge, Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers, Mag-Hytec, Scotty's Auto and Truck, Summit Racing, TST, Tuffy Security Products, BD Engine Brake


 I took this shot of Bill when Sue and I stopped to visit in November 1998. We parked our Rams with Fourwheel campers side by side and snapped photos as the light faded and the neighbors peered at us from their windows. A few weeks earlier Gary and Monica Wescott of the Turtle Expedition had visited with similar photo activity.

In October of 2000, Sue and I crossed paths with Bill again. We blocked 1/2 of the road in front of his new townhouse to take more side-by-side shots.

The neighbors probably wonder about Bill!  

A few of my side-by-side Ram photos from these two visits 

 
 

Bill has Plans for his Ram:
 
Bill is building this truck for an extended around-the-world expedition. He is a mountain climber, has 4X4 trail experience (remember boys and girls, if you haven't been stuck you are not trying hard enough!), and has personal contact with other travelers who have considerable expedition experience (recognize that couple with the F250?).
 

NOT your typical RV park!
All photos by Bill Swails
EarthRoamer@aol.com 


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This page, including all typo's, was posted by Dave Fritz

Last update: February 13, 2001