DIY camper curtain brackets

Like everything else in the RV/trailer/vanlife world, everyone has their own opinion about what works best for window coverings. Tie-dye bandannas held up with pushpins. Custom sewn $500 etsy drapes. Reflectix wedged in the window frame. Hmm.

In Rocinante v1, I sewed up some screens and blackout curtains that were held in place with velcro. They worked well, but the velcro rips up your carpet headliner when they’re moved around, and they were kind of a pain to store when fully taken down. This time I’m going with the popular “curtains on a string” method, using 550 paracord to hang my DIY bug liner and privacy curtains.

Materials for installing the curtain cord brackets

I’m trying to minimize the number of holes I drill through the shell, so I hunted around at the hardware store in search of a cord-holder bracket that could be glued into the headliner. These awesome clamps from the electrical section seemed to fit the bill. They’re low profile, have a nice flat side for gluing, and can hold two separate cords if I want to hang the bug liner and curtains separately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After deciding where I needed each clip to go, I cut a small hole in the carpet headliner so I could glue the clip directly to the fiberglass. I used this super stinky rubber cement style glue to attach the brackets, then let them cure overnight before installing the paracord.

So stinky, so sticky

Next step, curtain creation. Off to the fabric store!

Camper Shell experiment

We really liked the camping setup in Rocinante 1.0, so I started looking for a shell to fit the new truck right away. My main requirement was the high-rise top, which has a huge impact on comfort and usability in the sleeping area. Just a few inches of head room makes the all difference between slithering into your coffin each night or cozily propping up in bed with a book.

My local camper shell dealer quoted me $2000-$2700 for a brand new shell, and said he rarely sees used shells in the size I need. They’re certainly snapped up fast on craigslist for $500-$700, if they’re available at all. I decided to pick up a super cheap shell and try refurbishing it, because why spend $$$ to get something new and perfect when you can spend something more valuable (weekend hours) on something that will mostly kinda probably work? Project time!

Here she is, in all her $60, chipped-and-cracked, missing window glory. One point in her favor: we bought her during a rare downpour and she’s watertight. Plus, now I get to have a second camping-related toy on cinderblocks in my driveway.

Camper shell: before

The general plan for refurbishing:

  • Remove and repair the windows
  • Figure out replacements for the missing large side window and the rear door window
  • Repair the cracked fiberglass. Really nothing too horrible here.
  • Paint
  • Replace all the windows

Most of the windows are screwed in from the inside, so they came out with a small offering of time and knuckle skin. The existing large side window is held in with a locking gasket, and I’ve gone back and forth on whether to attempt removal and installation. As of now, I’m planning to just paint around it.

I’ve also sanded and patched the cracks with marine fiberglass filler, which is possibly the smelliest product produced by man. I used it outside with a fan blowing the fumes away, and it was still pungent like KAPOW. The filler went on easily though, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it sands down and takes paint.

Ready for paint