Ken “Bear” Iddins of Buffalo Hats reveals his unique eight-foot custom Six-Pac shell model with an extremely custom, tricked-out, and modified interior. Are those really stained glass windows?
Many of us have dreamed of designing and building our own truck camper. One moment you’re sitting in your dinette looking at the kitchen thinking, “Why didn’t they put another cabinet right there?” and the next you’re drawing a truck camper floor plan on a napkin. We have certainly inked a few ideas this way over the years. Then the reality the of cost and time involved in such an endeavor hit us. If truck campers could be built in Photoshop, we would make the world’s greatest truck camper. Until then, we’re probably just dreaming.
Then again, what if we could buy a shell and then have it custom up-fitted to our exact specifications? That eliminates the need to design and build the exterior structure and allows us to focus on the interior we’ve always wanted. That feels more possible. In fact, it seems down right doable.
As it turns out, this is exactly what someone did seventeen years ago. In 1997, an eight-foot Six-Pac truck camper was ordered as a shell model. The customer planned on taking the shell back to his home in Montana where he would have a completely custom interior installed. He did, and then later sold his Six-Pac to Ken “Bear” Iddins.
If you’ve already read part 1 about Ken “Bear” Iddins, “A Man of Many Hats”, you can probably guess what happened next. As a hands-on creative with a unique flair for western aesthetic, Ken went to work further customizing the Six-Pac to be exactly what he needed. Now the 1997 Six-Pac that started as a shell model is anything but. In fact, it may be the most customized truck camper we’ve ever seen.
Above: Bear’s 1996 Ford F-350, 1997 Six-Pac, and 1977 Merhow horse trailer
TCM: Tell us about your Six-Pac’s custom interior.
Bear: The Six-Pac was originally built as a one-of-a-kind shell in 1997. The original owner took the camper to Montana and had a custom interior built. The floor plan is not like standard off the lot camper models. Since buying the camper in 2002 I’ve made some additional modifications to the interior.
Around 2005, the original floor began showing signs of deterioration. As the shell had interior walls added after it was built, the floor could be dropped away from the interior walls to change the floor.
The new floor consists of one sheet of half-inch exterior plywood and one sheet of three-quarter inch exterior plywood. These sheets were glue-laminated and screwed together. Glued on top of the plywood is a 4’ by 8’ fiberglass pebble surfaced white shower panel making the interior camper floor surface. A second 4’ by 8’ fiberglass shower panel was glued to the bottom of the plywood to make the bottom of the camper (where the camper meets the truck bed).
The new floor materials provide the same thickness as the factory floor, so everything fit back together tight. I applied clear silicone around the edge of the floor and raised it back into position. Stainless steel screws hold everything in place. The new floor is a a bit heavy, but will last long after this camper is out of action! For roof and side wall insulation, the original owner had three-quarter inch foam board installed during construction.
Installation of a roof mounted flexible solar panel mat charges the camper batteries, assisted by charging from the truck alternator when traveling. The company that made the solar panel system has been out of business for three years now. Unfortunately, they are no longer available.
Above: The cabover area on the driver side. Bear painted the ceiling oatmeal color, and then used wide oak trim as a separation board between the oatmeal color and the original white ceiling. Bear used garmet trim rope to fill in the gaps between the plastic speaker case and ceiling. Bear left the entertainment center pretty much as is.
Above: The cabover area on the passenger side. Bear added another board to the overhead shelf. Oak boards now trim the window. Bear also hand painted the leafy greens on the pre-pressed pattern trim pieces from Home Depot. Bear said he splurged and added a Levolor pull-down blinds setup, which has dark-lightproof backing.
The cab over area is a double bed-size bunk. After building a cabinet above the foot of the bed there is now storage for clothing. Above the head area I built a loft for holding magazines or books. Oak is used for the woodwork I’ve done in the interior of the camper.
Several years ago, I came across an AM/FM/cassette radio unit in a wrecked travel trailer. I mounted it into the wall above the refrigerator. The AM/FM/cassette radio system and a portable DVD player make up the entertainment center.