DIY Spotlight: Fred Lewis’ SpaceKap Diablo Truck Camper Build

Looking for some inspiration for your very own DIY build? Then you’ve come to the right place. Truck Camper Adventure is always on the lookout for such builds. The latest DIY build comes from Arizona-native Fred Lewis who built two homemade truck campers including one using a SpaceKap Diablo camper service body. If the SpaceKap looks familiar, there’s a good reason. Loki Basecamp uses the SpaceKap Diablo fiberglass shell in all of its Icarus campers. Based out of Quebec, Canada, SpaceKap was launched in 1992 and is now building its fourth generation of campers. The company actually opened its doors in 1972 as a manufacturer of ARE truck caps which are no longer being offered. Today, commercial companies comprise a good 98 percent of SpaceKap’s business, yet the last five years has seen a huge increase in DIY/OEM purchases.

Available in two lengths—6.5 feet and 8 feet—the SpaceKap Diablo weighs only 725 and 825 pounds respectively, making it the perfect starting point for any DIY/OEM truck camper build. Aside from the standard “Millennium Falcon” front windows, the SpaceKap Diablo comes with heavy-duty ribbing system inside to install steel shelving and cabinets. The only options offered are side windows, a roof vent, and a roof-mounted air conditioner, the rest is up to the DIY/OEM builder. Perhaps the most popular feature is that the SpaceKap Diablo is 100 percent waterproof and dust proof. The lightweight and aerodynamic properties make the Diablo perfect for any full-size truck including most half-ton trucks like the ever-popular Ford F-150.

With this impressive track record, to say nothing of the Diablo’s good looks, Fred Lewis’ decision to go with SpaceKap makes total sense. To learn more about his SpaceKap DIY build, Fred was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Thanks, Fred, for talking with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Fred Lewis: My name is Fred Lewis. I am a retired teacher living in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I taught high school industrial arts and building trades for many years in Arizona and Texas before eventually becoming a high school CTE counselor and librarian. I grew up in central Texas and worked as a stonemason while working my way through college. I have lived in Arizona since 1989. Being a teacher gave me many summers to roam. I have traveled extensively, especially through the western parts of the US. I have a deep passion for travel and building things. I have had several vans I have customized during my lifetime. I have also built two DIY truck campers.

Can you tell us about your DIY builds?

Fred Lewis: I wanted to buy a SpaceKap and build a truck camper out of one many years ago, but I decided it was too expensive and I would just build my own from scratch. So in 2014, I built one entirely from scratch out of plywood. Since then I’ve gone through my first homemade truck camper from scratch and three store-bought truck campers. In 2022, I decided to bite the bullet and order a SpaceKap and build it. I even toured the SpaceKap factory in Canada and showed them my homemade wooden truck camper on one of my cross country trips back in 2016. So they knew me at the factory when I called them to tell them I was ready to buy one and make my own truck camper.

Fred’s first DIY build

Can you tell us about your SpaceKap DIY build and why you chose that particular make and model?

Fred Lewis: My truck camper is a customized SpaceKap Diablo 6.5 fiberglass slide-in service body. I chose this unit for its simplicity, sleek design, light weight and durability.

What drew you to a SpaceKap camper? Was it the Millennium Falcon front windows?

Fred Lewis: The camper is completely unique. There isn’t another camper exactly like it on planet Earth. The front windows are pretty cool too!

Fred and his DIY SpaceKap at the 2024 Truck Camper Adventure Quartzsite Rally

What are your favorite SpaceKap DIY features?

Fred Lewis: My two favorite features are my simple water system, which consists of a water cooler mounted above the simple plastic removable sink. The other is the custom rear end I built with a RV door installed; replacing the stock double doors that come with the SpaceKap unit.

Can you tell us more about the truck?

Fred Lewis: I put the camper on a new 2022 Ram 1500 Bighorn 4WD half-ton truck.

Can you tell us about your camper’s electrical system including your solar power and DC-to-DC charger system?

Fred Lewis: I have a shore plug on the back of the camper for AC, and a power bar inside above the counter. I  have not finished wiring the DC portion of the camper yet. When completed, it will plug into a standard 7-pin plug. I use a small Jackery 300 power station for my onboard battery. I charge it off the truck while driving. I do not currently have solar but would like to install it in the near future.

Have you made any modifications to your truck to carry your camper or improve its ride?

Fred Lewis: I replaced the stock rear coil springs with heavier duty springs and added Air Lift 5000 helper air bags. This modification strengthened the rear suspension while maintaining good ride quality. The unit remains below its GVWR.

Do you have any plans for future upgrades or modifications?

Fred Lewis: Yes. I plan to add some cool decals, curtains and someday solar.

Do you have any regrets in your choices? Anything you wished that you had done differently?

Fred Lewis: Sometimes I wish I had not bought a new half-ton Ram 1500 truck and would have put my camper on my old 3/4-ton 2012 Chevy Silverado 2500HD.

What kind of mileage do you get when hauling your SpaceKap camper?

Fred Lewis: Depending on conditions I get between 16 and 20 mpg on the highway. Usually around 18 mpg.

Nice! What tires do you have on your truck and what inflation values do you typically run when driving on and off-road?

Fred Lewis: I’m rolling with stock factory tires: 275/65R18s.

Fred’s DIY custom rear step.

Where have you taken your rig thus far?

Fred Lewis: So far it has traveled large portions of Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

Where are you planning to take your rig in the future?

Fred Lewis: I have a big cross country trip planned in October 2023 from Arizona to Florida. I’ll be going through Atlanta,  Nashville and Kansas City on the way back.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your SpaceKap rig that would interest our readers?

Fred Lewis: It’s been a fun project for an old retired shop teacher. The rig draws lots of attention. People are constantly coming up to me and telling me how cool the rig is and wanting to know more about it. It is simple, light, fast and gets great gas mileage for a truck camper. I drive very conservatively but the rig will absolutely haul ass if I want it too. I would venture to bet it’s the fastest truck camper rig in the country. It has a 5.7L Hemi and is relatively light and aerodynamic. If they start a class for truck camper drag races I will be a competitor.

This has been great talking to you. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us. Do you have any final advice for our readers?

Fred Lewis: Thanks, Mike, for giving me the opportunity to showcase my rig. I really like and enjoy your e-magazine. I am thrilled to be a part of it.

About Mello Mike 908 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply (You Must Be Logged In)