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Old 05-13-2014, 04:31 PM   #1
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Designing a camper - sleep 6, under 20' length

My curiosity got the best of me after my tent camping trip this past spring. It was cold and miserably wet packing up (30-35 degrees, rain, sleet then snow). I tent camped because I can't get the big camper into this particular state park. The big camper is fine as my wife, family, and I are travelers- not necessarily campers. We use the camper as our mobile apartment while using the Thousand Trails RV parks and my ability to work remotely from my office.

We've joked a time or two that we really look forward to the couple of weekends a year where we legitimately camp - cooking outside, spending all of our waking time outside, etc. So my curiosity sent me down the route of trying to find a camper that fit our wants:
  1. Under 20' (tip to tip- everything included (coupler, bumper, etc.)) due to storage lot constraints
  2. No tent/canvas (ruling out hybrids for the most part)
  3. Sleep 6 (4 adults and 2 kids); murphy bed is fine
  4. Has toilet (even a cassette toilet is fine); needs to be in its own room- it won't fly to have to use a port-a-pot pulled into a hallway or something (my wife/mother-in-law were about at their limit w/ our pop-up and a shower curtain for walls around the toilet)
  5. Sink (and water heater)
  6. Furnace
  7. A/C (roof mounted)
  8. Microwave (convection would be cool)
  9. Fridge w/ freezer that's NOT on the floor (my pop-up was on the floor and I hated it)
  10. Stove top is a nice to have, but not required as we camp with Coleman/propane stoves and over the fire

The sleeps 6 part is a curious one- we often times have just 4 of us (wife + me, our 2 kids (ages 10 and 2)). Often times we have 6 of us when my in-laws join us (2 couples; 2 kids). And the other use of the camper is when going camping with my Dad and friends- (3-4 adults who don't necessarily want to share beds and 1-2 kids).

Two campers came close:
  1. Vibe 6504
    - The Vibe is 5" too long at 20' 5" (assuming that's tip to tail)
    - IMO, Vibe seems to sleep 5
    - I was never crazy about having to climb over my bedmate to potty in the middle of the night/early morning
  2. Lance 2185
    - Too long at 25' 8"
    - Does sleep 6 (or 7 if you squeeze 2 on the dinette)
  3. Rockwood Mini Lite 2306
    - Too long at 23' 8"
    - Very low cargo carrying capacity at 956 lbs.
    - Sleeps 5 unless dinette can sleep 1

I posted this on that other angry RVing forum and someone said it was impossible and challenged me to cut out a bunch of paper or do a chalk outline in my driveway. Basically that I was trying to fit 10 lbs. of potatoes in a 5 lb. sack.

Since I'm a geek, Visio is my tool of choice. I started with a 17' x 8' box drawn to a scale of 1 inch equals 2 feet (1/24). I then started drawing shapes. I used an Excel spreadsheet to convert my original measurements to my scale measurements (e.g. 3 real inches = 0.125 scale inches). For the shower, toilet, sinks, oven, fridge, and beds- all were taken from measurements of products online.



I took what I thought were the positives of each model:
  • Bunks across the back for space saving and easy wardrobe
  • Not stressing that the bathroom sink isn't in the bathroom
  • Using a murphy bed to magically make the camper usable during the day
  • Incorporating the dinette/slide/bunk bed idea from the Vibe
  • Flip-up countertop from one model and my current camper for extra prep space

I accepted a few negatives:
  • Fridge is completely inaccessible when the slide is closed
  • Fridge and dinette access are tight when the murphy bed is down
  • Murphy bed has to travel in upright position to close slides (is this OK?)
  • Appliances are in a slide (TBD if this is good or bad)

I accepted that I know nothing about trailer design:
  • I have made no provisions for where the axles/wheels/tires will be nor any intrusion into the living area for them
  • I have made the assumption that 3' is enough for the tongue w/ propane, batteries, jack foot and coupler
  • Very little thought was put into inside cabinets
  • No thought was put into exterior accessible storage
  • Very little thought was put into things like water heater, furnace and water pump placement (though, the wardrobe and linen closet would be my first two suspects)

I accept that this is purely an exercise in creativity:
  • I can only imagine that there is exactly 1 person who would be willing to have a significant enough tow vehicle for such a small trailer (2 slides have to weight a lot).

It was fun to play with though.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:38 PM   #2
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Think about it - Are you sure you would be OK with a cassette toilet for 6 people?
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:41 PM   #3
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Not a bad design. You'd get a lot more room from the murphy bed like that. Growing up my Dad had a little 16 or 18 foot trailer that was a lot more cramped, but could technically sleep 6 with no slides and no canvas. I should fire up Visio and see if I can recreate the floor plan for it.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terier View Post
Think about it - Are you sure you would be OK with a cassette toilet for 6 people?
Good point, Terier, good point!

Maybe for the pees and not the poos. I definitely would expect the "guys' trip which isn't just guys anymore" trip to only be the kids and only for nighttime visits.

Our "camping trips" would be limited to long weekends. Much more than that, we'd expect the comforts of home and take the big mobile.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
Not a bad design. You'd get a lot more room from the murphy bed like that. Growing up my Dad had a little 16 or 18 foot trailer that was a lot more cramped, but could technically sleep 6 with no slides and no canvas. I should fire up Visio and see if I can recreate the floor plan for it.
If nothing else, it is a fun exercise. I literally just used the flowchart blocks for everything but the sink and that was only because I got curious what other stencils I have (apparently, a crap ton).

I actually want to play around with Google SketchUp now that I've gone this far.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:57 PM   #6
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I am curious to any ideas, comments and criticisms people have of the design. I have a heck of a lot of respect for RV designers now!
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
If nothing else, it is a fun exercise. I literally just used the flowchart blocks for everything but the sink and that was only because I got curious what other stencils I have (apparently, a crap ton).

I actually want to play around with Google SketchUp now that I've gone this far.
Ok, so since I'm in a hurry to wrap up for the day, but I'm also curious, I threw together a "not to scale" crappy mockup in paint as my starting point.



This is working off of an ~ 30 year old memory but generally, that was the layout we had growing up. Mom and Dad on the dinette, 2 kids on the bottom bunk, one on the top, but both were big enough for 2 adults if necessary. No Shower, no bathroom sink (you used the kitchen one) and pretty much no storage what so ever.

When I first discussed getting a trailer with DW this was generally what I had in mind. After letting DW look, we ended up with:

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Old 05-13-2014, 05:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaadk View Post
When I first discussed getting a trailer with DW this was generally what I had in mind. After letting DW look, we ended up with:

LOL, so true. So true. I started with simple ambitions when we talked about RVing after our pop-up and it quickly turned into a monster!

That layout seems pretty common even still. I did want a dedicated bed for me- even if it was a murphy bed. I can just never get comfortable on dinettes.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:33 PM   #9
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When our son was small (say, 30 years ago), we had a small TT that we had on a permanent site at the lake. It was great for the 3 of us, even 4 when his buddy came along. It had a dinette in the front, to the right of the door. Directly in front of the door was the fridge on the back wall with a small sink and then a stove. There was counter space above the fridge...only.

The dinette made a bed and above it was a cabinet-like compartment that was really a bed. You unlocked it from the roof and the bed and mattress fell down. Two small children or one adult could sleep there. It had about 18" of room to maneuver around up there.

There was a couch that ran along the wall to the left of the door. It slid apart and made a full size bed. (We slept on that). Beside the fridge in the back corner was the bathroom that had a regular RV commode, shower stall and a small - 12" sink. That was it and it was 18' long. It was a great little camper and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am on my laptop, so I can't sketch out anything for you to look at. I hope I have explained it well enough.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:25 PM   #10
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Click image for larger version

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This is in a 24' length (Jayco)...actually found this layout as the family was discussing a similar approach to more off the trail, dry camp scenarios vs dragging the larger 5th wheel...for a family of four like us, it'll work
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