Building a new canopy - what have you done?

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bison bloke
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Joined: December 30th, 2015, 2:10 pm

Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by bison bloke » December 30th, 2015, 2:22 pm

Hey everyone, I'm just about to start building a new canopy for a twin cab '07 ranger. I've never camped out of a canopy before and I'm wondering if people have got one, could they post pics and advice?

I'll be using a roof top tent that I want on the canopy, and I have an ARB roof rack for the front.

I've got a lot of experience in fabrication, and access to a folder, guillotine, MIG, etc., but not a lot of experience in Aluminium welding. Should I go with steel? Does the weight really matter?

My plan at the moment is to build drawers 240 mm deep along the whole bottom of the canopy, gull wings on top of that, with room for 2 (do I need two?) fridges inside.

I'm wondering has anyone got ideas for water storage? What about firearms? I'd like to have a lockable firearm drawer at the bottom next to the drawers. Where do you put batteries?

Any pics of what you've done would be good.

Any advice on what not to do is also good!

Thanks heaps in advance!

Les - PK Ranger
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Joined: December 5th, 2011, 8:39 pm

Re: Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by Les - PK Ranger » December 30th, 2015, 6:47 pm

Great to custom build such a canopy bb.
Are you working from cab chassis or does it have a tub you are placing a canopy on ?
(A lot will have to do with which option you're doing . . .)

If doing a cab chassis build, you have an opportunity to really design well and get yourself better departure angle at the rear too.
Don't be tempted to go too far back, the more weight behind the rear wheel line, the more chance you could bend the chassis out on tracks.

I have a '10 PK dual cab, tub with ARB liner and canopy, roof bars with internal supports, and modded roof rack cage 1600 x 1200 fors 2nd spare and then other light storage (double swag, Maxtrax).

If the RTT can be recessed into the roof line for aerodynamics, that would be a lot less interuption to fuel econ than it sticking up higher than the cab roof.

Steel should be ok, putting light X folds in larger sides / roof sheet will help stop any drumming, along with a good coach & body sealer to adhere to the frame.
Weight matters, I guess for most price too, guess if you did use ali you would learn pretty quick with welding it ?

I'm planning building 2 drawers back to my aux diesel and water tanks in the tub, to the same level which is the height of the tub wheel arches, so I can get the double swag in there for trips I do with the missus (most of them).
My 58lt diesel aux, and 58lt water tank are Dolium / Boab poly, sit up front of the tub on the floor, strapped down well.
If you are doing a cab chassis full rear canopy build, you could easily fit a couple of custom tanks in sneakily, keep em low, and forward of rear diff, in fact when building or loading for trips, keep everything heavy forward of rear diff.

I have my 2nd battery for my (one) 45t fridge (both) in the cabin, rear seat removed.
I'd love a small 2nd fridge / freezer to use as a freezer on big tours, we could easily manage 4 weeks then !!
There are some neat dual zone (twin lid) fridge freezer combos, a 60lt might be a good size with a average split of ~ 30lt frisge / 26lt freezer like this one a Techniice model ... -6hdr.html

There are plenty of threads on custom canopy builds on various forums, Google search is worht a go, or visit sites like this and search, this one, 4x4 Earth, any others you find online with a google search for 4x4 forums.
I find for this site, the internal search is crap, go to google and search > custom canopy 4WD action forum < that sort of thing.

Do what you're doing, research, get ideas, plan your perfect setup, make it and enjoy.

bison bloke
I'm new, be nice!
Posts: 2
Joined: December 30th, 2015, 2:10 pm

Re: Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by bison bloke » January 2nd, 2016, 5:45 pm

Thanks Les, that's helpful.

I'm working with a tray (is this called a cab chassis? it always seemed that a cab chassis would have a bare chassis, not a tray), so that does make a few things easier.

How far back is too far? I was thinking of going past the rear of the tray a little, with an angle cut out off the bottom like this: Image

It just seems like a great way to grab a little extra space without killing departure angles.

I wasn't sure whether to make a space for a second spare or not. I thought a tube and a puncture repair kit should get me out of a lot of trouble.

I was hoping not to put cross folds in the sides, as I think they look bad. I was just going to weld some folded 'top hat' gussets in behind them or put a bit of rhs in as a frame.

I'm not sure about recessing the RTT, I'm wanting as much space inside as I can seeing as I only have a small tray. I was thinking of a wind deflector up top, maybe to be replaced by a solar panel one day when the cash comes in.

The skill in welding isn't really a problem, it's the setup of my welder that might be difficult, as well as the time spent in preparation of the surfaces before welding. I've seen some good welders have their welds break quickly - it's often difficult to know why. Anyone with any advice on this?

Is 58: of water enough? I've got a wife and two small kids - I'm not sure how far it is between stops. Is there usually room for water underneath the tray, or does this just get too tricky? Is that what you meant by keeping it low, or were you just thinking but it directly on the tray? I can't really put anything in the back seat, as the kids will be sitting there.

Have you got any pics of your rig? I like the sound of what you're doing, are you able to post something?

Thanks heaps!

Here and there
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Joined: November 11th, 2008, 8:02 pm

Re: Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by opindown » February 4th, 2016, 12:50 pm

few guys doing their own on the Aussie Ute Campers Page on FB. Might help and give you a few ideas

Here and there
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Joined: November 11th, 2008, 8:02 pm

Re: Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by opindown » July 7th, 2016, 3:15 pm

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Re: Building a new canopy - what have you done?

Unread post by hoyks » July 7th, 2016, 6:39 pm

A cab chassis is what it is before it becomes a tray back.

I built a steel framed box and skinned it with aluminium, the height was determined by the height of a spare tyre and so I could slide the fridge in and out because I didn't want it too high. I thought about putting a rear door in it, but am glad i didn't as that seems to be where dust gets in, this thing is clean and dry inside, regardless of the roads or weather.

Unfortunately all the magic smoke escaped from my TIG when I was almost finished, so some bits are not finished as well as I would like.
It was also built to fit a dual cab D22 Navara, but then I drove one again.... and bought a BT50.

It did sort of work out though. The box is too small for the BT50 tray, but I pushed it 250mm back from the headboard and that is where I can fit 5 (or more) jerry cans and it is a handy place to stack firewood. The fridge and battery are at the front of the box and lighter stuff toward the back.

On the tray headboard is a Anderson plug and the canopy has a short umbilical that I plug in to connect the 2 batteries. There is also a plug for solar, but it doesn't get used much.

The height of the side doors is a bit low for me, but more than adequate for normal sized humans.
I ran a plywood divider down the middle, so one side is fridge and cooking gear in plastic boxes, the other is everything else and that seems to work too.

The roof top tent is bolted to 2 roof rack cross bars on top of the box, so the whole thing can be removed as a module.

On my old ute I put a 100L water tank between the tray frame rails, this was great way to carry it as it was as low as it could practically go and took up no load space. Filling was easy as I'd just plug a hose onto the tap and push the water in. If I was doing it again then I'd look at a poly tank like these.

Image ... tank-only/

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