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FoxRoo Build

FoxRoo - Mitsubishi Canter 4x4 FG649 SWB (Short Wheel Base) 2003 model. Bare chassis weight is 2600kg.

Specs: Wheel base 2780mm (compare to Prado 2790mm & Ford F150 3,109mm i.e. Canter wheel base is shorter than both Toyota Prado & Ford 4x4 trucks). Overall length front to back is <6 meter. Height is 3.05 meter (camper roof solar panels).

4 Cyl diesel, Turbo, Inter cooler, Fuel consumption between 14-19L/100km depending on speed & low 4WD. E.g. Simpson Desert fuel consumption 18.50L/100km

GVM 4495kgs. Tyres BFG LT315/75R16 127R All Terrain.

Camper box is made from FRP panels (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic from Vanglass in Yandina) which are 2 exterior fibreglass skins with polyurethane foam core. Total thickness is 23mm. These panels are tough, water-resistant and light at 6.50kg/m2. Camper box weight is around 260kg when empty. Panels are CNC cut to give precise dimensions.

Setup is very basic to keep it simple throughout (on KISS formula - Keep It Simple Stupid).


July 2015

Truck in its previous life in a farm at Caboolture (near Brisbane). It had fixed steel tray on the chasis, stock steel rims with dual wheels at the back.

Both tray & stock rims will have to go - to be replaced with spring mounted subframe, alloy rims and 35" tyres for offroad driving and to reduce overall weight.

After some horse trading, truck was acquired. Its GVM already de-rated to <4500kg from 6000Kg so it can be driven on car license and avoid yearly truck's pit inspection.

So here how it will look like in near future (though always evolving).

Photo taken at Oodnadatta track near Marree.

And here is the camper floor plan that would be translated into reality. To increase the living space, fridge goes under the front seat and entry passage double as shower stall & toilet.


And now the first thing, new boots for FoxRoo. Alloy 16" wheels and BFG tyres all around. Dual wheels/tyres at the back replaced by super single.

Tyres with high shoulder looks baggy type. It makes ride comfortable onroad and offroad.

TPSM tyre pressure sensor system installed. Sensors are fitted outside of air valve & send wireless signal to a LCD dispaly in the driving cabin. It shows real time tyre pressure on the move. It is one of the must item to have when driving offroad to monitor & tells when to adjust the right pressure according to road condition.

A spring mounted subframe made from RHS 75x50mm. It should withstand weight of at least 2 ton. A primer coat on subframe before it is coated with main paint.

Subframe is spring mounted on chassis with 3 sets of springs on each side of chassis.

A spring mounted subframe (& with a pivot) is neccessary for corrugated, gravel, sandy roads etc. Camper box mounted on subframe under these conditions moves independent to chassis to cancel torsional tension on chassis otherwise chassis rails can twist.

There is a pivot in the rear (just above the rego number plate) for sideways movement of the subframe.

Looking from this angle, on corrugated road, subframe would move up and down on 2 long sides.

105L steel water tank is fitted within the 2 rails of chassis. Tool boxes will also be installed at the back of rear wheels.

Time to build the camper box at the back.

FRP Panels were pre-ordered and precisely cut by CNC machine at Vanglass (Yandina, Sunshine Coast) Panels will be glued together to make the camper on the subframe. The glue is WURTH brand (Germany of course) which is heavy duty elastic hybrid structural adhesive.

No screws are needed anywhere in building the camper box.

First the floor panel is glued on. Lots of weight is needed on the floor panel to make a permanent bond with the subframe. It is not coming off anytime.

Then the front wall goes up.

A proper alignments of panels to each other is very important at this stage. Any mistake, camper box will look crooked.

And then the side walls are glued in. Several 2m long clamps and wooden planks are used to keep pressure on the bottom of side walls with the floor panel.

All side corners/joints are taped on to keep the pressure on glue. Again, no screws are used.

Finally the roof panel goes on the top. Left the camper for couple of days for glue to set in.

5mm aluminium angles are glued on all corners (and taped on for pressure - no screws).

Then windows, entry door (from Aussie Travel) and hatch doors are fitted.

Next kitting inside. But before that aluminium angles are also glued on all inside corners as well to give the box extra strenth. Then rear cupboard is built.

Panels used inside the camper box for cupboards, bench etc are left overs from the main panels when they were cut to size by CNC machine. This saved weight and the cost.

Then cupboards & partitions in the front of camper are built.

View of entry door. The niche will hold composite toilet. While entry will also double as shower stall.

Cupboard covers/doors are made from lightweight 3mm thick ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) panel. These are flat panels consisting of two very thin Alu sheets with Polyurethane honeycomb in between.

ACM panels are frequently used for external cladding or facades of buildings, insulation, and signage
A double bed in the rear is in making. It is in 2 parts, rear & front - both with storage underneath. (shown in this photo only the rear part at the moment)

The top of rear bed part is fixed, while the front part can be lifted up to reach the storage underneath. These tops are made from FRP cut pieces (left overs!!).

Only the partition wall between front & rear storages is plywood, a left over from another job at home. I didn't have left over FRP panel for that size.

Storage underneath the rear portion of bed can be accessed from via hatch door at the back of the truck. This will store camp chairs, table, jerrries, spare wheel, tools, sand tracks etc etc.

Storage under the front part of bed will be used for beddings, a 50 litre fresh water PVC tank (drinking water grade) and etc, etc. This storage is accessed from inside by lifting the front top side of the bed.
Kitchen bench with a sink, couple of drawers and cupboard underneath. Top is made from same 23mm FRP panel while drawers & cupboards are made from 10mm thick Celuka panel.

Celuka panel or boards are light weight PVC foam sheet used in place of Plywood (though expensive). It is lighter, stronger and behave like plywood when drilling, nailing, gluing etc but are fire resistance, water-proof and doesn't rot.

(In this photo front part of bed can be seen - this can be lifted up to access storage underneath)

Under one seat, a 65L Waeco fridge is fitted (next to house battery box).

A low watt small fan sucks out any heat from fridge condenser. This increase the efficiency of fridge while reducing power consumption.

This seat sides opens from side, front and above, so that fridge can be slide in/out easily when needed to take out of camper.

Dining table between the 2 seats. It folds down when not in use. It is made from same 23mm FRP panel - another left over from a window cut.

2x Seats are made from Celuka sheet - like above same material as kitchen bench drawers/underneath cupboards.

2x seats are topped by 120mm thick foam base and cushions. A tough upholstry is sewn on.

Second seat has a storage underneath for various purposes including dirty linens.

Double bed at the background have 15cm thick heavy duty foam mattress. It was used in our last camper for years and still comfortable and going strong as new - haven't sag a bit.
Looking from bed side - view of 2 seats and foldable dining table.
Looking from bed side - view of kitchen bench and entry door.

Sink tap draws water from either of water tanks (105L or 55L) with the help of small 12v pump. Water is chlorinated about 4ppm and there is carbon inline filter before the tap.

Water line setup is under the kitchen bench at the rear. A small display shows water level on both the tanks.

Front side of kitchen bench cupboards are for food storage in various wire baskets.

The entry door also used as makeshift shower stall and have composting toilet on the side.

Composting toilet though expensive, are virtually smell less, needs no water or chemicals and needs least maintenance. They have been successfully used in boating industry for many years now.

A 150mm PVC pipe on the corner holds about 15L water for shower (though each shower usage is merely 5L. Luke warm water is poured in the PVC pipe manually, a simple setup as intended).

12V electrical setup diagram. Plan is to charge house batteries while driving via alternator. And when stationary, batteries will be charged via solar panels.

The electrical requirement is minimum at one 12v fridge and its exhaust fan, 2x LED lights, sink pump, TV on some occasions, fan on some very warm days, few 12V sockets for USB or laptop charging.

There is room for expanding the setup if we find need for electric induction stove in future.

Battery compartment (with fuse box) next to fridge box, houses 2 AGM 120Amp batteries. These are charged by truck alternator when moving and by 2x solar panels (400W total) when stationary.

Redarc VSR (voltage sensing relay) to charge house battries from alternator. When truck dual starter batteries are fully charged, it then starts charging the 2x house battries.

2x solar panels on the roof generate about 400W electricity at peak time.

A Victron MPPT controller manage the charge from Solar panles to the house batteries. MPPT controllers are more efficient than normal regulator when charging the batteries.

There is bluetooth dongle attached to MPPT Controller which shows the Solar panel charging rate and battery SOC (State of Charge) on mobile phone by Victron App.

Different views in a nutshell.

A 12V TV & a fan are fixed above the bed.

A telescopic boat ladder for accessing the camper. It is slim, un/folds quickly and takes least amout of space underneath the subframe.

An outside kitchen box which stores some pots and a lunch box stove. When windy, inside kitchen bench top is in use for cooking.


A foldable table next to outside kitchen box. Very useful for quick stops in fresh air while admiring the nature.

Table top has the same material like camper - another left over 23mm FRP panel cut piece from windows cutout.

A 2.5m x 3m awning for quick shade.

Front leaf springs are extended by 10cm so they hang slightly backward from hanger on the rear side. This was done at Carrolls Suspension Solutions in Brisbane.

Though suspension leaves are slightly longer but it makes difference in soft riding for driver & passenger. This is in addition to heavy duty shockers and baggy tyres.

Original 4 shockers on the corner need to be replaced. They are not very useful for offroad.

New heavy duty Fireflex shockers are in (Carrolls Suspension Solutions).

FoxRoo is christened.

A ladder is attached on the side to access solar panels on the roof.

Wind deflector in making. It was added a little bit later on.

Wind deflector looks simple but helps a lot especially when huge road trains are coming from opposite direction at a speed.

Feb 2016

Time to take out FoxRoo for a test run. First place was Tooloom falls near Urbanville (NSW).

And then a quick run in the bush nearby.

Next day, woke up with a million dollar view from inside camper bed.

For FoxRoo other journeys click here FoxRoo Travels


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