I mainly daily drive it then use it to haul my rockcrawler (jeep in sig on a bumerpull car hauler) and am adding the TC in on that as well. I'm trying to prespend my xmas loot. :B
So far I've debated added supersprings and a swaybar to the existing mods. And a pass thru rear window on the truck.
Background: I had been debating getting a larger truck and making it a mix of a homebuilt class c and a truck camper then decided that'd be a lot of work to end up with exactly what I have now. So I decided to improve upon the existing setup. And I like conversations that allow me to daydream about improvements.
I see that you have a Dodge, But I went through the same process when outfitting my F350 for my TC. My sequence went like this:
Torque-Lift frame-mounted Tie-Downs
Rancho RS-9000 Shocks
All this before buying the TC
Vision Aluminum 19.5 Rims and Michelin 265--70-19.5 Load Range G tires
That was it for a while, then decided I wanted to tow ATV's etc. :
Super-Hitch and 30" Super-truss
Ride-Rite Air Bags
Still to come:
Front mounted Hitch/Rack
Supercharged 5.4L out of a Shelby Cobra:B
Garry in Kodiak, AK
Truck is fixed. I'm headed back to the dealer in a little bit to pick it up. Extended warranty covered the repair.
After I get the truck, then I'm headed to another shop to get the DOT inspection completed.
What requires you to get WA DOT to inspect your truck?
The reason I ask, is that I am moving back to WA state in a few years, and don't want to be surprised by some new requirement....
Thank you for the best TR I've read in a long time. Your photos and thoroughly engaging narrative left me wanting more - surely for a trip of 3000 miles you could write volumes! How about a little wrap-up? Did you buy any property, and will you be going back to Marfa anytime soon?
Thanks again - it was well worth the time to read.
And Us avion guys want to hear more about how the camper worked out. Anything that you are wanting to change??
FIRST... HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am so thankful for my family, and for another year of work, and a warm home, plenty of dry firewood for the winter. I am thankful for a great fall trip in the camper, and spending time with friends. It is cool this AM. 29F with windchill of 18F.
As for the shower pan, I have nothing to start with, but just like my son welded up a 14gal grey water tank, I hope to have him weld up an aluminum shower pan, and a second 14 gal grey water tank. This would result in 40 gal fresh, 28+ gallon gray (probably closer to 30 gal due to all the piping) and 7 gal black. But before you criticize the black, there is no flushing water used to flush. Just the initial charge of 3 gallons water and chemical. We have gone a whole week with our family of 6 before needing a dump. But that is using other facilities during the day as they are available.
Two things to consider on grey water. Unless you have rebuilt the rear wings and floor, you may need additional support to carry a tank and the water weight. Remember 8 lbs per gallon static weight. Additionally that us all weight behind the rear axle if you are squeezing it in the rear 2-3 ft. The other thought is to consider building a sub-frame under the camper. It does add some weight, but the PO of my TC replaced the entire floor, and used 3/4" plywood, but under that are 2x4's on edge. This was great to allow the C10 to clear my F350 Superduty roof. This is why I can include 2 14gal tanks in the void under the floor all forward of the rear axle! It is tight, and it adds some piping runs, but it works!
Just a few ore ideas to throw into the mix...
Can you tell us specifically why you like these chains so much?
Also, I didn't spot the V -bar ice grips. Where do you buy them?
I have bought them off e-bay and I have bought them locally.
Here is a You Tube video of them being installed on a Fire Truck. On my F350, I can lean over the top of the tire, after draping the chains over, hook the back hook, then come to the front and clasp the front, then just go around tightening the CAMS and I do not have to use any rubber bungees, or the spring thing that the firetruck uses in the video. and they are a piece of cake to install, and if they are a bit loose when you drive forward, all you have to do is tighten one more cam, or loosen them all, go one more link and then tighten as many CAMS as possible till they are really tight.
Cam Chain INstall
You can order them for any size tire, with or without V-Bar Ice links.
Let me know if there are any other questions!
It is snowing as I type here in Kodiak. Only about 1/2" so far, but expecting 3 to 6 inches by tomorrow AM.
I have been using this type of chain in Alaska now for about 5 years. I will never go back to cables or plain old chains again!
Cam style chains
Both my F350 and my Excursion I run a 235x85x16 studded mud and snow tire on here in Alaska. There have been several times I have had to chain up, and since I have pre-fit these chains, it takes me less that 10 minutes to install them. My F350, I also plow with, not commercially, but friends and family, and many times, chains have been the only way to keep going with the Ice and Snow. The ones I bought also have the "V" bar Ice grips.
With these Cam style chains, once you have them cinched up tight, I have been able to get up to 35 to 40 mph for short periods as road conditions allow. They are that good. I would recommed then to anyone that needs a good heavy duty chain for just their truck or with a truck and camper!
On a separate subject, I've taken the original Dometic refrigerator out; it's a three way type. I plan to replace it with an all-electric Norcold, no propane. Based on my reading of the Norcold users manual, this seems to eliminate the need for the roof vent, as the grill in the access door would adequate for ventilation As a boat builder, I'm always keen to avoid or get rid of holes in the hull - in this case, the shell. Anyone have experience installing/using the Norcold? How about sealing up the roof vent for the original three way refrigerator?
By the way, I have spec'd the aluminum tubing and other materials needed to construct the frames to replace the plywood in the chassis. Weather permitting, I hope to lift the camper up from the roof vents and drop the chassis out to start the rebuild over the next few days. Lots of pics coming in this process.
As a boat builder, you could do what I did, reorganize the interior... And go with a chest style compressor fridge. The Engle is great, and very easy on the Battery.
Hope this helps other go to LED's. I just wish I had gone LED on the inside from the get-go... Still working on it!
Garry, Kodiak, Alaska
I don't have to replace wiring do I. Just replace all the fixtures right?
Yes, just replace the lights!
Here are the red lights
Red clearance lights
And the amber
Amber clearance lights
And here are the tail lights I used.
Red STT 7"
I hope that this helps!
I have a Superhitch and a short Torklift extension. I would recommend the Torklift parts if money is not a concern. The system works very well and I don't have to worry about the hitch failing and injuring someone. I tow about 7,000 lbs.
I also Have a SuperHitch/Truss running the 30" extension with chains. If you watch Craigslist and teh papers, and have patience, I was able to get both the hitch and extension for $300 and another $200 to ship it from Washington state to Kodiak, Alaska. A little wire-wheel action to clean them up and some fresh paint, and I was all set!!
Eventually I will "u-bolt" this rack on top of the hitch so that I can store gasoline and a generator down under the overhang...
LED's are the way to go for visibility!
This pic was taken in a near blizzard condition, after plowing and driving in the driving snow. Some of the lights are partially covered, yet still very bright!
Here they are again, in a snow storm but at night, and they are even brighter!
Without snow they are even brighter, though when it is very dark in Alaska, the camera doesn't like to focus too well, or it may just be operator error...
This is before I finished fixing up the C-10, but right after I installed the LED's.
Taillights I purchased off E-bay, and are the 7" Truck STT. The Clearance are surface (two screw) mount that I purchased off Amazon.
Hope this helps other go to LED's. I just wish I had gone LED on the inside from the get-go... Still working on it!
Garry, Kodiak, Alaska
That means it will be very dangerous to drive, will violate the factory Ford load guidelines and all of that boring safety stuff. So no, the camper won`t fit safely on that truck.
Actually, it is not that cut and dried.
To further complicate things, we have no qualms about hanging a 1000lb trailer tongue off the receiver at the rear of an F350, with NO WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION HITCH.
1000lbs at the receiver has the same effect on the front wheels as around 5000lbs at 12" behind the rear axle. So why is it okay for a trailer and not okay for a camper?
I still say NO, but only because of the fact that the camper's floor may not be able to take the stress. However, being educated as to WHY will help you understand.
I would not so quickly say no. Only because, I have a 10 ft TC on my 2002 F350 CCSB 4x4. As mkirsch states so eloquently, we do not hesitate to add significant weight behind out Trucks and TC's with tongue-weights nearing 1500lbs, and some on hitch extensions up to 48" long. You need to definitely support the floor. You can also relocate weight shifting much of your weight forward. If the TC is well within your gross weight numbers, then build a platform and see if the buddy will let you load it long enough for a test drive, and a session at the local scales. The scales will tell you alot. I know if I drive my TC without water in the front tank, it handles very differently than when I have the full 40 gallons in the tank. Neither situation has the truck felt unsafe. But also realizing the characteristics of a particular truck and TC, will help you not only select a truck and camper combo, but will help with upgrade selections such as air-bags, sway-bars, 19.9 rims and tires etc.
Just food for thought. Especially with older TC's. My 10 ft TC had an entirely new floor installed by the PO that is 3/4" plywood over a framework of 2x4 brown-treat lumber on edge. This makes for a very solid floor and also gained the clearance necessary for the Ford's roof.
The bed will be about 80" so extending around 32".
I'm going to polish so I have not looked for anodized aluminum. I have some 2024 alclad on hand that I will be using. I have it and it will make polishing easier. So it's what I will use. Don't have enough, maybe half enough.
Making the ribs... Not sure yet. Salvage, have them rolled... We will see.
I put the camper on hold as I have been rebuilding a 4' shear and an 8' pan and box brake. They have ended up being very labor intensive to rebuild. aka major time consumers.
I understand those time consumers. I have too many myself. That is why we are using the Avion as-is, and just tweaking as we go to make it better. Still fighting the front window leaking when driving in down pours. Having a wet mattress really sucks...
Keep us all posted as you make progress, as I am really interested. I own a welded aluminum boat, and have done some welding on it myself, as well as I have had it extended, where I get a good chance to see how it is worked with.
My son has been talking welding and boat building at our high school, and holds several State of Alaska Welding Certificates already. So he has some good ideas too!
Garry in AK.
Update, When I use my turn signal it works but its blinking to fast, Both of them do this. I guess its a short somewhere, But I noticed that when I use the right signal I see the left just barely trying to blink with it, and Visa Versa, Does this sound like a short Garry.
Do what Dodgeavion said, check for corroded sockets. It sounds like the turn signals are trying to use the running lights for ground, which would show a faint lighting of the opposite side. Check for clean sockets and then verify you have a good solid ground. If the opposite side stops blinking, but the rapid blinking continues, you may need a heavy duty flasher. But the rapid flashing is probably due to bad ground or some bleed over between running and turn.
In simple terms I plan to lower the floor of the bed and wings ~12 inches to compensate for the basement. Unfortunately in reality it will be far from simple. Form new ribs 14"taller, reskin etc. I'm 6'5" so I actually plan to add a couple of inches to overall interior ht. the bed will gain 14" of headroom.
What you are doing is what I was trying to explain. Did you find the correct thickness anodized skin? Or are you doing something else?
How much are you extending the cabover, and how are you building the new ribs for that?
Sorry for all the questions, but I plan to one day do what you're doing, or something very similar. And love to hear all the nitty-gritty details, problems concerns etc...
Thanks again, and keep us up to date with pics and any other info!
Curious minds want to know....
What do you estimate the weight of the shell as it is right now in the picture?
What do you estimate the old base weighs as shown in the picture?
What is your plan for the base/basement?
It seems to me that perhaps removing the entire floor, wings, the vertical sides of the wings, and the bulkhead at the front of the camper and replacing all those parts with an aluminum floor, wings, sides and bulkhead might be a particularly effective way to both eliminate the concern about rotted wood, to stabilize the entire structure, and, when all seams are recaulked, to eliminate or minimize leaks.
To not have any wood in the rig except cabinets would be a boon; water might get in but wouldn't cause any damage. The rig would be rigid on the new metal foundation and thus more easily and effectively sealed. I'm imagining aluminum tube/pipe could be used for the outer frame to accommodate the curved lower edge of the body. The original horizontal panels could be reinstalled over the new frame to restore the classic look.
I'm certain I'm not the first Avion owner to come to this. I would welcome observations/ideas/suggestions on this approach.
Hi! And Welcome to the Forum/Thread. I looked alot of places when I bought my 1966 C-10, but rapidly found this the best place for Truck Camper info. There are a few other places that are more active, but primarily for trailers. When this thread started a while ago, it was deemed that an Avion Camper thread would be a great way to preserve ideas and information in a one-stop-shopping arena. I don't think any of us expected it to grow this large!
As to you question of the All Aluminum "Tub", I personally thing that this is the only way to go. But when I bought my gutted out C-10, the floor and wings and bunk were already completely re-done in wood. And for Cabinetry, all I had were the two overhead side cabinets and doors. So from pictures here and other sites, I was able to rebuild mine close to a stock configuration, but altered to fit my needs.
If you have the time, money and patience, I would say to go for it!!! I know that when my wood goes away the next time that that is what I'll do. Then I can make a basement model with holding tanks under the floor up front and add some storage to the rear!
Just some ideas!
Garry in Alaska
Garry, I am seriously pursuing the idea of an all-aluminum tub. It raises a number if interesting issues. Foremost at the moment is how to lift the upper part of the camper off the existing tub and suspend it so the original tub can be duplicated in aluminum before being set back down and (presumably) welded together. What do you think of the idea of putting a broad nylon sling strap under the sleeper, back against the main body, and putting a 2x12, suitably padded, through the back set of windows and hoisting the body up enough to free the original tub? Without any interior cabinetry or appliances, it seems the upper body would be less than 1000#...?
And does welding the new tub to the sides, that is, the ribs, seem a good solution?
Grateful for your -and any other's - suggestions. I've pretty much convinced myself it's the way to go, but I really need to discuss it with a competent aluminum fabricator.
I too have contemplated the best way to do this. If you have it indoors, I would consider removing the vents and other items on the ceiling then placing a sheet of plywood with a 2x12 bolted to the plywood down the center with lifting eyes. Then use chain falls to take a strain but not lift.. Then start peeling away all the wood. Obviously before dismantling take lots of measurements and pictures for the reassembly. Try to remove the wood base as much as a unit as possible including the overhead bunk floor. This will require opening up the front wall as it is just a simple sheet of plywood with aluminum skin and a window. As others have said, this is a major undertaking, but would mean that you would be done once and for all. Personally I would weld a tub together and a new front wall and bunk floor all at once, then lower the shell on top and rivet the upper shell to the tub, ensuring the tub tucked up under the shell to minimize the chance of water intrusion.
Personally I would like to build the tub and bunk 4 to 6 inches up around the sides. By either having someone rolling the sides, where they meet the horizontals, or using 4" aluminum pipe quartered to use as the 90 degree radius, it would take care of the difficulty with the existing transition from the wood to the aluminum, then a flat ledge could be formed that would support the ribs. Below the ledge down to the horizontals could then have box tubing ribs to correspond with the shell ribs. This would allow 2" foam insulation in the cabover, and still allow either a thicker mattress, or a standard mattress with more headroom. For the rest of the camper a false floor could them be built to form a basement for holding tanks, plumbing etc. this would also allow for more insulation, and if you are against an aluminum floor, you could do a plywood interior floor with your choice of flooring. By taking lots of measurements from a basement model Lance or Bigfoot or similar, you could keep the cab and bed clearance standard so the truck will fit any PU or just your pickup. I'd you raised the tub by the height of your wheel wells, it allows a wider flat floor space with lots of storage beneath. I don't think you would have much problem with COG, even raising the overall height 8 inches.
But if you don't have the equipment to do this sort of thing, it could get real difficult, or real expensive in a hurry. My goal down the road is to keep using my C10 as is with minor tweaks, and then find a another C10 to slowly build to the C10 Deluxe all aluminum version. Then I would outfit it similar to my current C10 and ensure it is ready for boon docking.
Good luck! It can turn in to an obsession, but it is very fun!
Garry in AK
The constant hot is the battery charging circuit.
I converted all my lights to LED's that are of similar size and shape to the originals. This allowed me to seal the lights well too, to ensure no leaks.
Keep up the good work! You'll get it, eventually.
What size fuse should I need for my backup lights on the avion? Its blowing fuses when I connect backup lights. That's usually means something is drawing more juice than the fuse can handle right? My guess is its these Old backup lights on back of avion camper, No doubt they were made long before these new fuses were invented. Im searching the thread but if anyone reads this and knows the answer please post it.
Lights, even the old ones, don't normally draw enough current to blow fuses. What size fuse do you have?
Also, may I suggest that you use an ohm meter with a buzzer to check the continuity of your backup lights. I would take the backup light circuit and see if it is shorted out somewhere to the other wires on your camper plug. Also, check inside the camper plug to see if it is shorted out there.
X2 on the meter.
Also the fast blinking indicates a short. Or incomplete circuit. Especially if you are getting a different light blinking when the correct one is blinking too, it can be a poor ground. The one light is using another as its ground. I have chased electrical woes for as many years as I have been driving and before, in trailers, RV's and cars. And what you described sounds all too like a poor ground. Try Pulling the fixture that is acting up, and provide a solid ground, and then see if the positive wire has 12V when you think it should with a meter. If both are good, then it might be the fixture, but it usually ends up to be either a bad ground, a grounded positive, or an open in the positive.
Good luck. Just be systematic.
Garry in AK