Sunrader fantasies... - Fiberglass RV

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Old 11-30-2018, 10:06 PM   #1
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Name: Breezy
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Question Sunrader fantasies...

So, I own a 2011 TRD Off Road Tacoma, short bed, V6, skid plate, all the goodness. I have a 2017 Palomino Pop Up Camper (SS500) that I lived in for 6 months pretty comfortably, however, as a pop up, it is not suitable for winter/ski trip camping. I have an airbag suspension kit installed that my camper dealership installed for the Palomino.

Then. I saw the Toyota Sunrader.

From living in my camper without electricity for six months, I realized how great the Sunrader was in comparison. Not a pop up, the regular bed space seems luxurious. I am a minimalist who does not need a fridge (I use them as closets), I don't even really need a sink or a stove. So, having a sweet little space I can stand up in and don't have to pop a top to sleep in is honestly perfect.

However, in looking at the Toyota Sunraders, while I realize that they can be converted into 4wd, most of them are not only 2wd, but rear wheel drive... The thought of a 1980s standard 4 cylinder, 2wd rear wheel truck doesn't seem as capable as a 4wd, TRD, off road tacoma, short bed or not... So, I have been looking at slide in Sunrader campers...and am wondering if I should sell my truck and get a toyota sunrader, or keep my truck, and even though it's maybe a little heavy, taxing, and not tacoma specific, overall, better than an old setup, and opt for a sunrader slide in for more comfort and livability, to have the cabover/sitting area/sink/etc and be more roadworthy than a 1980s rv? While it is never ideal to put any load on a truck, let alone a 1,300 lb camper, suspension airbag kit or not, am I wrong in thinking that putting that on a newer truck makes for a more reliable setup??

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Old 11-30-2018, 10:24 PM   #2
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I think you need one of these!

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Old 11-30-2018, 11:13 PM   #3
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It’s a tough one. The old Toyota RVs are great. I used to own 78 Chinook. I definitely dreamed of taking it off that old truck and putting it on something newer. People do it. But they have to make the truck a one-ton first.

No way a Tacoma can handle that much weight without being heavily modified. The older Toyota’s were built to carry more weight, but I’d go so far as to say every Toyota motorhome ever built was way overloaded.

I got a lot of great places with that little 2wd Chinook, but they are OLD...

There are options for a slide-in for your truck, but you’ll have a hard time finding something under your payload limit.
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:27 PM   #4
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This guy did a ridiculous awesome build. Check it out on Instagram.Click image for larger version

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2003 Casita SD 17'
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:30 PM   #5
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British Columbia
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Why not buy a truck and a truck camper? It might not be as aesthetically pleasing, but it's a whole lot more practical.
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
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Old 12-01-2018, 12:51 AM   #6
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
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Another option is the Northern Lite Truck Campers, it is two piece molded fiberglass. That will be a whole lot newer option made with better types of insulation.

The Sunrader interior cabinets are made of particle board. That is not off-road friendly stuff and it will quickly come apart. The wrap around front windows are also an issue. In addition they have another common problem. Their is a metal trim screwed in along the join line. Unfortunately the shop people in the factory often put in overly long screws that penetrated all the way through the shell. Water gets trapped inside that metal channel. Eventually a lot of those screws develop rust. Then you have lots of small leaks all the way around the join. That also causes the cabinets to fall apart as particle board and water don't mix.

Having owned one I can testify that they are not trouble free. Get something more recently made that does not contain particle board cabinets.
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Old 12-01-2018, 07:25 AM   #7
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Particle board, pretty hard to find anything that hasn't received the particle board upgrade!
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Old 12-01-2018, 08:49 AM   #8
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The molded fiberglass truck campers are far too heavy for your Tacoma, and the old Sunraders mean giving up a reliable modern drivetrain for one that is 40 years old. Vintage motorhomes often become an end in themselves rather than a means to another end.

The options I see in decreasing order of cost: (1) a 3/4T truck and a BF or NL molded slide-in, (2) a molded towable with a raised suspension behind your Tacoma (means you can leave the trailer at a base camp while you do your backcountry exploration, which is kinder to any RV not hardened for off-road use), or (3) keep what you have and get a better sleeping bag. Reflectix on the windows and inside the pop-up fabric would help a lot.

I recall reading an article somewhere (, maybe?) about a competitive snowboarder who lived out of a 17' Bigfoot trailer.
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Old 12-01-2018, 10:23 AM   #9
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Yeah someone posted that article here. I remember falling briefly in love with a professional snowboarder living out of a 17' Bigfoot, pulled by a Toyota Landcruiser 5-speed, parking out in the Utah desert. My kind of woman...

Anyway in the end people want what they want, and there's no reason that the most rational thing has to be what you do.

You just need to know what you're getting into, because it's a labor of love, with stress on the labor part. Owning an old Toyota RV, or transplanting one onto a newer truck, is a huge and constant project. Like I mentioned, people do it, but they're people with either a lot of fabrication expertise, a lot of money, or often both.

People also happily overload their trucks, and so can you. But it's a good idea to find your payload limit, add up all your weight, and see how much more you can actually safely add to your truck, and compare that to Sunrader or Northern Lite or Bigfoot slide-in weights, just so that if you are going to overload your truck, you know how much you're overloading it by.

For example, I know I'm over my payload limit by 100-200lbs. I'm ok with that, and I drive cautiously as a result. Your truck may have a higher payload than my earlier model Tacoma, but be aware that I'm over my limit just with a fiberglass topper, some camping gear and the ~300# tongue weight of my trailer.

Now, if you've never gotten into this stuff before, you can have fun learning the difference between tow limits and payload limits, then figure out what your actual payload limits are.

Easiest way I've found to think about/understand the difference:

Think of strong man competitions. Guys can pull a loaded semi truck behind them on flat ground. But how much weight can they actually load on their back and support? A tiny, tiny fraction of that weight.

Tow limit is what you can pull behind you. Payload limit is how much you can actually support on your back (or truck frame/suspension in this case). I'll bet you could pull a car behind you with a strap attached to your waist. But can only carry a couple hundred pounds in a backpack.

You may be able to tow 7,000 pounds, but can only put 600 pounds of additional weight on your truck after accounting for yourself, your gear etc.
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Old 12-01-2018, 12:29 PM   #10
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The Sunrader is cool. But you describe yourself as a minimalist "who does not need a fridge" or "even really need a sink or a stove.." So, I guess you basically just need a bed and storage. Why not get fiberglass cargo trailer and build it. Would be cheaper... or perhaps you really want the Sunrader because of the 'cool' factor...
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Old 12-01-2018, 02:18 PM   #11
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Another option are today's tall vans New Dodge/Fiat tall vans are $30ish. Used are less, but get snapped up fast. Alternatives are Sprinters, Fords, possibly Nissans, and I think I see GM will offer one.

By the time you modify it, but check Wayfarer out of Co. Springs...

Best bet moneywise might be towing an egg. Donna has a good idea. - Cargo trailer.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:21 AM   #12
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The cool factor counts for a lot. Sunraders are pretty cool.

Minimalist gets thrown around a lot today and the meaning is unclear. I'm sure there are people living in mansions out there who call themselves minimalists because relative to their wealthy friends who also have yachts, private planes and a dozen packages from Amazon showing up on their porch every day, they feel like they actually are...
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:46 AM   #13
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Name: Doug
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I had two Sunrader motorhomes in the past. I liked them except for the low seating position in the cab. Way too uncomfortable for me on long trips. The first one I had was a 4 cylinder, 4 speed. Geared so low it really needed a fifth gear. The second one was a V-6 with automatic. Much nicer drive train and about the same fuel mileage. It did surprisingly well on hills. Much better than a later Safari Trek I had with the peewee Izusu diesel. We got personalized plates "WAY POKY" for that one.

Putting a truck camper on an undersized truck is a bad idea. You are almost guaranteed axle problems and you may not have the braking power you need in emergencies. Been there, done that.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:13 PM   #14
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There was a posting a couple of years ago where someone took a 1940 Ford Coupe and transplanted a 13 foot Boler on the back of it. It was incredible!

The same could be done with an old Scamp. Just start with a 13 foot project.

A friend of mine is doing something similar with a 1940s cab over truck and a vintage tin can camper.

Here is the Ford/Boler combo:

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