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Rebuilding my SUV Camper | Ripping Out the Old and Starting Fresh!

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

The time has come for a total re-build of Ruby, my 2014 Subaru Forester that I’ve been living out of since May 2021. While I have loved many things about car life, there are also a number of projects that have been floating around my head for a while. Now, I finally have the time and space to do them!

Over the next several weeks I’ll be gutting Ruby, and basically starting from scratch. While this is a bit daunting, I’m mostly excited to fine-tune everything to my needs and build it exactly how I want it. Plus, I’ll get to learn a ton along the way! I am by no means experienced with building, carpentry, car work, etc. but I have done several modifications to Ruby on my own, and I enjoy trying to DIY as much as possible (for fun, and for budget reasons).

So, let’s get into it!

If you prefer watching videos, you can watch how I took everything out to get a stripped-down base to work with below. Otherwise, keep scrolling…

I started by removing all my *stuff* and squeezing it into my little room on the ranch. Then, I took out my kitchen/storage box. I will be taking it apart later to repurpose as much of the materials as possible, but for now I’ll just keep it covered with a tarp nearby.

Next, I took out the side panels. You’ll also notice that the headliner is hanging down a bit–I pulled out a few of the plastic clips that hold it in place so I could peek in and get an idea of how much space was there. More on that later!

For the side panels, there’s just a couple screws on each side to take out, then it’s a matter of carefully running a flat-head screwdriver or trim tool along all the plastic edges to pop out the clips. Knowing that these pieces wouldn’t be going back up, I wasn’t very cautious and didn’t keep track of any clips that may have fallen out. *But if you think you might put the panels back up, make sure you go slow so that you don’t break any of the plastic and watch those clips!*

Once the plastic was out, I removed the seat belt hardware. An impact driver would have been helpful here as these were VERY tight, but since I couldn’t find one in the shop, I called on a couple friends for some muscle and we were able to finally get those bolts loose.

Look at all that space!!

Now for the headliner. This part made me nervous because I knew once I did this, there was no turning back. But the benefits of added headroom and insulation seemed to outweigh the potential consequence of having an ugly exposed roof.

*Before starting work up here, I disconnected the car battery for at least an hour.*

I made a chalk outline to follow with the box cutter, and made sure that I wouldn’t be cutting into any wires. Then I just carefully cut it out and removed it! Later on, I’ll add a custom ceiling and lighting.

With a clean slate to work from, I can now get into finalizing designs, creating cardboard templates, and building!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow my progress, and follow me on Instagram @roadlifewithruby

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