... And bean counters with tunnel vision who think it is great that they are saving a few $ per unit......I used to work for a company that was great til bean counters replaced all the people who actually knew what was going on.In my opinion, the older the company, the greater the probability this is true. It is not unique to RVs.
Bob, many of those companies do what I call, " LOOSING THE RECIPE"...
Many examples of this.... Just look at the auto mfg recalls!
Most are related to lack of engineering experience.....
Bean counters and upper non-experienced in the trades management look at folks with experience as not needed... Engineers out of school are cheap and they know what to do...
"O" rings on the shuttle, a primary example... no need for further discussion.
Never had my camper move forward after it has settled against my front bed stop.
Shift to the rear? NEVER. I do not accelerate nor brake hard going backwards to know if this will happen.
Shift left and right at the front. At the most 1/4 inch.
Shift at the rear.... At the most 1/4 inch..
Driven in 40+mi wind, no shift.
Stationary in 60-70 mi gusts from head on, sides or rear, no shift.
How do I know? My camper sits on 3/4 plywood. The plywood sits tight in the bed, does not shift. The screws that attach the bottom camper inspection, water tank black and gray, plate have worn into the plywood. so I can see that there is no movement.
Have I bounced to the point of airborne going down the road and being tossed hard to one side or the other YES... Just finished an 8000 mi trip to Alaska/ Prudhoe bay. Towing a trailer and camper on the truck... We hit a couple of Frost heaves that were not visible or I missed them (unmarked).... And the road to Prudhoe bay rough in spots... and the list goes on... Back rock/dirt roads.... My camper has never shifted... My Happijac tiedowns are always a bit loose... I have never bent my back stock ford bumper which the rear Hjac's are attached..
The flexing of the frame/bed like Reddog1 describes I have witnessed on potholed/big rocks when driving SLOW... I can see the camper actually rocking a bit, independent of the truck bed. I do not become alarmed, my tiedowns are angled in the front, not pulling straight down... I sure as heck do not want my camper TWISTING with the frame... Hell it might pull out my camper tie down anchors.
Almost 200,000 mi in 14 years...
I was hesitant in making my post. I accept I am not an engineer, and do not claim to be. I have had so many TCs since 1967, I have lost count. I have a strong professional background in building construction, weld fabrication, and have worked in moving buildings and fabricated the equipment used for that purpose. I have rebuilt every TC I have owned and repaired several tie down points that were ripped out (previous owners) or damaged in someway. My point is, I do not believe tying a TC to a truck is is as difficult as most make it out to be. How do you convince someone of something if they first have to view credentials? What engineering school teaches Camper tie downs? I will also add, what engineering school teaches TC building?
joeshmoe, I tend to believe Nolan did improperly adjust his turnbuckles. I do not base this on his having owned four other TC's and a good many years experience using the same system. In no way is my intent to discredit Nolan or takeaway his experience. However, with that said, does that mean my having owned several TCs for over 45 years make me all knowing? I think not. What I am comfortable with is that I have never had the tie down problem, but have repaired several that have. At a glance, I think Nolan's TC tie down points could have very well been inferior in strength compared to his previous TCs.
mkuzmuk, in my opinion, it is very important that the TC owner really understand the expectations of tie downs. What should they be expected to accomplish. I challenge anyone to show the manual on tie downs. I am a bit hesitant to say, commonsense goes a long way. The problem is, what common sense?
I believe careful thought should be given to the following:
1 The role of tie downs is not to hold the TC on the truck. It is to prevent the minute vibrations from allowing the TC to slide forward or backward in the truck bed. Most of the tie downs are spring loaded, which provides some movement. Ridged tie downs put more stress on the TC in general and the tie down points in particular.
2 Have you ever considered how much it would take to blow a 4000 pound TC out of a truck bed? Keep in mind, the wind it gets is from the front, about 8 feet wide and 3 feet high.
3 If you are of the belief the tie downs literally hold the TC on the truck, do you believe you could turn the truck upside down, and the TC would stay attached?
I am of the belief, you cannot pre-adjust your tie downs, and use that adjustment every time you load and unload your TC. If you have very tight side to side guides, it could work. Most TCs can load off center as much as 2-inches.
I am of the belief, the tie downs create less damage if they are too lose than too tight. Too loose, the TC moves a little. Too tight, puts unnecessary stress on the tie down points.
I could offer more, but probably posted too much already. I apologize if I have offended anyone, that is not my intent.
I agree 100%.
I am also very saddened by what has happened to all of you that are dealing or have dealt with this issue....
Instead of using an extension, I have seen RVers extend the trailer tongue, to the needed length. Recently I was looking at a posted blog where a couple took their TC round trip from Michigan to Alaska, pulling an enclosed cargo trailer with a motorcycle in the trailer. He had the trailer tongue extended and said it all work fine for the trip.
Did the same as you for our recent trip to Alaska. 8000+ miles.
I can totally jack knife this trailer 90 deg and not touch the camper.
We added 1.5 ft. Basically duplicated the tongue on a Uhaul 5x8 single axle trailer except for the bend upward. 3/8" 2x3 tubing.
I understand what you're saying, but this comes straight from the NW factory. Not me. They recommend only Torklift tie downs for their campers. This is what they told Nolan after his incident. And when I said it was a "bad design," I was referring to the Wolf Creek 850 long-bed front tie down points not the Happijacs. However, in both incidents involving front tie down failures, Happijac turnbuckles were used not Torklift's. A small sample size, yes, but it's something that can't be ignored either.
C'mon, Mike. Lets be honest. Northwood also claims to have the anchor points attached to the frame. This is a lie. 1/4" screws into wood and cardboard are not a good design for either long or short bed. I don't care what the factory says. NW also claims to have "reinforced" the 2015+ Wolf Creeks the same way that they do the AF's. This is also untrue, yet it "comes from the factory". Have you stopped to think that they might a vested, financial interest to not be exactly forthright? At least not until more failures happen. How many have occurred that we don't know about? The poor souls that don't frequent internet forums, but just go to a dealer load up?
At this point, I'm little tired of the conjecture of the long bed vs short bed design. As far as I'm concerned, they have the exact same dimensions save for the enclosed area at the rear of the shorts. I have yet to be convinced that there is any difference. They ARE the same in length. Are the compartments open or empty on the topside? What material is in there?
The only way to know for sure would be for someone with a short bed to post up pics under the kitchen sink and behind the furnace vent. You can't tell any other way. THAT would put this long vs. short bed design argument to rest. Again, comes from the factory and what is are two very different things. This design flaw needs to be addressed figured out BEFORE someone gets injured or worse. They never even got back with Nolan after his repeated attempts. What kind of respectable RV company does that?
Agree Joe.. Along with that show me where the gray/black holding tanks are located.. At the rear of the camper usually.
If that is true:
39 gallons of gray and black when full= 300+ lbs... Locate that behind CG. Couple that with the loss of 300lbs in the water tanks and tell me that the long bed camper on a short bed truck is not rear heavy at times...
Here's a couple of points, and the engineer in me coming out...
A longbed camper on a short bed truck, will only be an issue if the corresponding Center of Gravity is too rearward for the short bed's axle position. The only difference between the longed and shortbed "models" of the WC850 is whether storage boxes are installed at the back or not. The floor layout is the same, as is the CG. Total length of the camper is the same, but because a shortbed doesn't stick as far back towards the bumper, NW uses the open space between the taillights and camper bumper for the generator.
Yes - Your turnbuckles will most likely never be the same overall total length each and every time you load the camper. However, the hack mark is on the hook section, which extends out of the turnbuckle body as the spring compresses. How far that hack mark will be from the body of the turnbuckle will represent how much compression that spring is under... Nothing to do with how threaded or unthreaded the other end of the turnbuckle is.
So the WC850 is made to fit on either a long or short bed truck. Was not aware of that, so a mute point. I did read on the WC web that is what they did to make the camper work on long and short.
Guess I can deal with that 2ft hang over of the camper on a short bed as long as the mfg has structurally compensated for that... Like many of the 10.6+ campers on a long bed.
As for the length of the tiedowns from hook to hook is the same every time? And the compression is the same even though the camper may not be in the same position?
Attachment method. I attach em like the dealer said to. We used a hacksaw to notch the front turnbuckle at zero load. I snug them up, then tighten 1/4" to 3/8" past the hatch mark. Supposedly this sets the correct pre-load.
I have probably 6-7K miles on the camper.
This worries me...
When I remove and put my camper back on the truck, which I do a LOT It will never settle in the same spot.. The HJ's will never tightened down the same... I'm talking about only a couple of turns either way and sometimes even more.
So I do not see how you can reference the same point each time you put the camper on.
Although with the Tlift method of straight down and you reference the camper forward at exactly the same point each time then maybe you will be ok. But 1/2 inch back from the front of the bed and you will be tightening the HJ'sj too tight trying to get the reference point that you hacksawed in.
I do believe that Wolfcreek has a problem though...
I can almost lift my truck with my HJ's when raising the camper with the tiedowns still attached.
We have almost 200,000 miles on our camper over the 14 years we have had it. We just finished an 8,000+mi trip with it all the way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.. On some roads so rough, rocking and bouncing and I know the truck and camper went airborne on one of the Frost heaves I missed.
We have been on rock trails with all our campers over the years.... Not one issue with tiedowns.
I know there are thousands of camper folks over the years with the same stories, no tiedown issues.
The other issue of a long bed camper on a short bed truck is worrisome.
How to deal with the camper's Center of Gravity... Tail heavy on the bed will have a tendency to want to raise the front of the camper and truck, actually removing the front axle weight. My camper adds 300lbs to the front of the truck which is about average for most TC's on trucks.
Your camper's weight on the front of the bed is going to be minimal because CG is either on top of the rear axle or behind... This is not good.. The front of the camper is able to bounce really easy.
The Happijac has a tendency to pull forward and pull this splice out. Bad design? Yes, but again this design issue is only found on the long-bed version.
I disagree with this statement. From the early 70's I have had 3 campers with tiedowns in the front that were just turnbuckles and chains not Happijac's. They were mounted the same way HJ's are done in the front. On an angle to "HOLD" the camper forward, not "PULL".
That is the way it is suppose to be done in my book. Primarily not held "DOWN" but held "FORWARD" to keep the camper from shifting rearward.
Thousands of campers survived this method of tiedown from the 60's to date.
We have seen many tiedown mounts damaged by the straight down method over the years.
I had 2 and a friend had 1... they will not boost nor put out any amps. The electronics (capacitors in the primary of the switcher have dried out... A common problem after 3+ years. I nor my friend elected to fix or replace with like... I replaced mine with a Progressive Dynamics 9260. Have had it for 10+ years and it still works...
Dak the anticipation is going to drive you nuts.... Time is going to stand still, just like when we were kids waiting for Christmas... Anticipating a major event makes time crawl!
The main reason time flys' for us old folks is that we have nothing to anticipate.
Your going to love that camper!
Some of you will find it hard to get clear to the beginning of this trip and blog...
This picture pretty well sums up the whole thing.... If you are shy about getting your rig really dirty then you should not think about doing the Dalton HWY to Prudhoe Bay or other dirt parts of the Alaska adventure when it is raining!
This is the inside of the trailer rims after the round trip to Prudhoe Bay:
This is after we washed the TC and trailer once:
And if that is not enough to discourage anyone here's what I call a mess:
Today I just finished 3 hrs of pressure washing the undercarriage of the truck...then another couple cleaning the truck body... Camper yet to go.
Janet and I enjoyed all of your beautiful pictures and narrative...
The first comment that Janet made was "Where is Molly?" We have never seen you without her being close by.
Thanks for sharing your adventure... Seth added a new dimension to our trip reports. It's the only time I've ever looked at a blog.
This blog "Tumblr" was a choice that I was not really happy about because the first part is the end.
It really takes a bit of work viewing clear to the last picture which is really the beginning of the trip... I had no vote...hahahaaaa, oh these girls in our life's.
Tumblr is great for telling friends that you are beginning and to view each day or so to track. But in our case, travel through Canada is difficult for Cell data services and much of the trip was without any service what so ever. When you get cell service and start updating there is not enough bandwidth to really do a good catch up.. AS YOU and JANET already know.
Molly left us for the great dog heaven about 1 year ago... We have not yet decided what to do.... DOG BOOT CAMP is about 1 year in duration... Training a dog to be well mannered and 100% obedient under all circumstances is difficult... She was one of those as you know.
Thanks for the post.
.............Thank you for all those great pics ! I only have one comment , were I planning on riding a bike to Ak , I would pick one with a driveshaft ! How a chain can function with all the road grime on it is a miracle . , jf
Son's been riding dirt bikes for pleasure and competition for many years.. 37 years young.
He did carry a spare, never needed it and rode it all the way home on I5. Let me tell ya though that bike got real dirty! Chains have rubber "O" rings to keep the gunk from getting inside the rollers. He did spray lube the chain every time he filled with gas. He averaged 70MPG with that Honda.
He did change gears and chain when he got home.
Lots of great pics. Thanks. Looks like the motorcycle would be more fun than the truck and camper until it is time to go to sleep.
When our son was in camp he slept very comfy in the trailer. We had it all set up for that. It was great for him.. Air mattress and sleeping bag....Lots of room for drying clothes, dressing...
Even had his own empty milk bottle latrine....
Have not posted a trip report in quite a while so although this will not be a posted on rv.net report it will be a link to our blog. The picture sequence starts with the end of the trip and as you move down through the pictures and comments you will finally get to the beginning of the trip.
Look at the pictures of the trailer, camper and bike after the Dalton Hwy to Prudhoe bay on page 2 of this thread.
The blog starts here:
Bigfootfords Alaska trip
In March during a family BBQ the topic of Alaska and a trip up the ensued. Seth, our youngest son wanted to ride his Motorcycle up there and back but could not take the necessary time off. Then we discussed how we could join him during his ride with the TC.
The plan vacillated around transporting his bike up there shipping it various ways.
In the end, we purchased a 5X8 enclosed trailer and the work started modifying it for our truck/camper etc. We extended the tongue about 2 ft instead of extensions and weight distribution. Adding tiedowns on the floor/into the frame and rows of E-track on the walls along with shelves.
We carried 2 spares for the truck and a set of spare tires for Seth's Motorcycle. Along with that we carried 4 empty cans for gas... In anticipation of running the Dalton Highway all the way to Prudhoe Bay. With only 2 gas stations along the almost 500mi I wanted to be able to make it back to Civilization if the stations had trouble delivering gas.
Seth bought a brand new Honda NC700x and modified it for dual sport. Skid plates, foot rests for distance riding, cruise control, saddle bags, luggage rack and the list goes on. When he was done it looked like a loaded for bear BMW for 1/2 the price.
Finally we were all loaded up and off we went toting the Motorcycle and all the equipment and tools needed for camping/fixing/oil changes and the list goes on.
Two weeks travel to Anchorage, then Seth flew up and joined us then the real adventure began.
Seth did over 2000 miles of dirt road extra on his Honda. Canol Road to Ross River (monster) then Ross river to Watson Lake. Denali Hwy and every side miners trail he could find. Top of the world (with us), Mayo to Keno ( we stayed in Keno). Along with these there were many short trips he made. He did many 1-2 day over night camping along the way... His bike was equipped with food, cooking utensils, clothes (warm and water proof), tools etc.
So here's the link to our blog.... enjoy, get ideas for your trip!
Bigfootfords Alaska trip
Jeffeeeee thanks for providing the link to the interview and Mello Mike for taking the time to present it. Although I have first hand knowledge of Bryan's setup I am still impressed with what he has accomplished with his rig.
The words of what he has accomplished to me is flexibility and comfort for his style of full timing.
Unless you spend time with him and "discover" his routines one would not begin to understand what he has accomplished.
Some of us actually perform the same patterns of full timing although not up to
He actually carries his own washing machine and dryer! Buckets and a clothes line.
Wife and I have had many 6+week trips and both of us agree, we could continue for as long as we want. We are comfortable with our rig and we tow a VW Baja or a trailer with bikes, motorcycle(s) and equipment specific for a given trip...
I would say that Solar is the best freedom maker that we can apply to our portable cabins that there is. We just finished 6+week 8,000+ mi trip from home clear to Alaska Prudhoe Bay and back..... Never attached to shore power and only ran the Honda 2000i for the Microwave.... Battery charging is out of sight out of mind! Solar charge controller said we used well over 1000ah on the trip.
If you put a thin rubber mat on the bed of the truck, then the plywood with another rubber mat on top of the plywood for the camper to set on, it won't move. Remember, though, that unless the rubber is fairly thin, it'll be heavy. Check McMaster-Carr for thin rubber sheets.
This will still stress the cover that is over the tanks.
Note the small bottom section of the camper body. It is cut away to allow access to the tanks. There is no support across the bottom of the tanks. Any medium that is soft will give and cause the thin cover 1/16 in fiberglass plate to give, causing the plate to bend upward into the tank area. Mounting screw threads will suffer as will the screws and will give or the holes in the plate will elongate. I have had screws break/shear.
In this picture you can see the body frame of the camper. It is cut out to allow for the tanks. The tanks are suspended by straps... A 1 inch foam pad is under the tanks and then the bottom plate is attached.
Just so I clearly understand you put your camper directly on the plywood and not on the rubber mat.
Correct. The rubber gets drilled by the screw heads and the perimeter of the camper that offers access to the water and holding tanks. The rubber will actually be ate away by the camper moving around.. The plywood does not seem to do that. Had the same Plywood down for about 5 years. It does have several patterns from different positions the camper was lowered in to.
Keep in mind, we have had our camper for 14 years, on 2 trucks... Plywood has been the best medium I have found.
Thanks for all the replys. Today I decided to try a 1 inch sheet of foam instead of plywood.
I believe I will put the foam on the truck bed and the rubber on top of it, with the camper on the rubber mat.
Hopefully this will work.
Paul, I did the foam thing. What you will find is the camper will compress the foam along the areas where the water tank access plate is attached to the outer perimeter of the camper. All the weight on the front and drivers side of the camper is supported by about 2-3 inches of fiberglass around the perimeter.
That will put stress on the screws and thin fiberglass plate thus elongating the holes and if not corrected will cause the screws etc to become loose and the glass to wear to the point of not being functional.
Along with this issue the camper will finally sit low on the flattened side and will have a tendency to rock.
I did the rubber pad thing. The same issue the camper ate into the pad around the same area I described to you..
Best I have found is the 3/4 plywood cut to fit tight in my bed. 5 individual sections. My camper does not move around. the screws have made impressions in the plywood and you can see that the camper is not scooting around.
Using the plywood you can not make the camper sit in the exact spot each time you unload it so you will have many screw impressions after a couple of years but who cares.
Just my experience.