Thanks so much for the great report! It feels good to hear from you, even though you are just an imaginary person who lives in my computer. And while it sounds like you could be doing better, it seems like you had a good time. Like in that lemons and lemonade saying.
Janina & Joerg
I don't know how anyone can use the john in a popup TC with the roof down! You would have to be a contortionist midget with a flip-top head.
We do that all the time, thankyouverymuch. By no means is it an artistic performance in our Apex 8. It is not very comfortable, but it (usually) beats the alternatives.
Like others said in this thread, the smallish popup manufactureres do not have a dealer network and usually build to order. You may not be able to negotiate much as far as the price goes, but you can certainly have them incorporate most specific changes into the design of your camper. They are well worth the visit when you are in the area.
Go to Truck Camper University, Section "Storing Camper / stands, dollies, carports" for more info - that's where the linked posting comes from.
We have these:
(link goes to the german amazon site; I don't know if the same chair is available elsewhere)
Very rugged and durable, yet lightweight and (relatively) comfortable. Small packing size, too. I haven't found a better chair yet. Has held up 5 camping seasons so far without signs of wear.
If the ground is fairly level, hard and dry and not saturated with water I don't see an issue driving on the lawn slowly. We do it all the time in various campgrounds - see where we were parked last week:
No harm done. Just take it very slowly, and make sure the criteria listed above are met.
I think an insect web can be ruled out as the reason as well since the furnace apparently stopped working during the night. I'd think the issue is around the thermocouple or the board.
My furnace cut out in a cold (below freezing) night, and the reason was that there was only Butane in the bottle which doesn't evaporate at that temperature. I don't think this could apply to the OP, though.
The price of anything is whatever sum the seller and the buyer can agree upon.
In the used car market, there are usually many vehicles on the market of the same model and year, very similar options, and similar mileage. To compare them and find a market price is easy.
But the TC market is very small by comparison. Even if you are in a better position than most of us as you have a comparatively large community of TCers in WA. When you follow this forum for a while you will see that the state of a used camper can vary greatly, and that rot or water damage are frequent problems that are not always easy to spot. The condition of the individual camper can be more important in finding the right price than the model, year or manufacturer. And that is probably why it is so hard to find any reliable pricing information.
This album has lots of pictures of our Outfitter:
We have the electric roof lift, a north-south bed, a full wet bath with shower, and all sorts of amenities.
Just for the record: I don't get paid by Outfittermfg. There are many companies that make a good product. We chose our TC not for the manufacturer, but for the specific features that were important to us.
I had a hardside (2002 Lance 915) and switched to a Popup (2011 Outfitter Apex 8). So here is my personal take on your question. You may find that it is not of much help, as most of it comes down to the specific truck/tc combo and your personal preference:
Q1. Did you notice a big difference in gas mileage, handling?
A: Yes, the popup is actually somewhat less fuel-efficient. I attribute that to the cabover design of the Outfitter. Personally, I think there are bigger factors than the simple difference popup/hardside.
Q2. How about off road handling? I'm not talking serious off road, but the occasional dirt road off the beaten path to mountain lakes and sort. Does the hard side TC rock and roll a lot compared to the pop-up?
A: The difference was very noticeable on my 2500 truck. When we went from the Lance to the Outfitter I could tell on the first few feet that the ride was much better; less sway. But there was almost a 1000lbs difference, and with the Lance I was close to the GVWR. And the Lance was almost a foot wider, so we can now fit into much tighter spaces.
Q3. Is the comfort, convenience and warmth you get in a hard side worth the extra cost in fuel or handling?
A: the single most important feature for me would be the ability to stealth-camp in a hardside. You just pull up to some place and there you go. With the popup, you have to raise the roof first, and then everybody can see you are camped. Other than that, it comes down to personal preference. The heat in our popup is just as good, we have a full bathroom, but the airy/roomy feel in the popup is much nicer - at least in good weather.
Q4. Are all these points moot if I have a 1 ton diesel truck that can carry the extra load with ease?
A: I have a 2500 gasser and it carried the heavier camper with ease, but the handling was worse. But this is best answered by people who have actually tried it.
Q5. If you were to do it again, which would you choose, hard side or pop-up, and why?
A: I would go for the popup again. But... we are here in Europe. Many roads are quite narrow. Parking space is more limited. Old villages are difficult to drive in with wide and high vehicles. What I can say, though, is that the popup matches the load abilities of our truck much better, and it is much more at ease driving with the lighter TC. But you have more reserves on your truck I would think. The main reason, however, is that we feel much more at home in the popup. With different campers, I might feel different.
The four cylinder cars were cruising without difficulty at highway speeds, and they seemed to be handling the aerodynamic drag of their trailers without a problem.
You mean like this?
Never mind, I couldn't resist. I have been following the thread for a while. Over here in Germany, the Escape would be considered a fairly large vehicle, and would definitely be used by families to pull their trailer for the summer vacation. The towing capacity for a Maverick (which is what I think how the Escape was marketed here) was given at 1500kgs; around 3300lbs. That is not really all that much.
As mentioned above, most pull vehicles are smaller 4-bangers, because that is mostly what people got. And most trailers are for summer use in these scenarios. And I can not really compare european trailers with american ones as I don't have much personal experience with either.
The automatic transmissions in the smallish cars do not like that sort of work much and will not last very long. A manual shifter probably fares better; at least you can replace the clutch, which may wear out sooner. Anyway, an auto trans is pretty rare over here anyway in a passenger car.
Have you personally pulled a trailer before? For me, it helped to make up my mind and get a truck camper instead, as I didn't like it much.
If all works well, the separator will switch on when it senses a specific voltage (for instance 13.4V), and off when the voltage it senses falls below a certain value (for instance, 12.5V - note these values are arbitary examples and the documentation of the separator should tell the actual values). That way, the camper is connected to the truck when the truck batteries are being charged, and disconnected when they are not. Which is a good idea because it prevents your camper from draining the truck batteries.
Can you measure the voltage at the entry (truck) side of the separator with the truck running? You should see it going up and down as the separator turns off and on.
One guess is that there is a bad connection along the way which lets the voltage break down as soon as a significant current goes through it. I'd check the wiring from the truck to the camper; especially at all connectors along the way. And do not forget to check the ground, too - which may be the primary culprit. Did you encounter a lot of rain in Newfoundland? Something may have corroded there.
Another guess is that the truck's charging system (alternator / regulator) is going out and doesn't handle the load properly any more.
ETA: and there may be some huge load which is alway present on the camper side of the separator (e.g. a short). In that case, the voltage delivered from the truck side would go down due to the load, separator switches off; w/o load the voltage goes up again and so on). You migth try to disconnect everything on the camper side from the separator and see if it switches correctly then.
I have used foam under my old Lance, and I currently use it again under the new Outfitter. I need about 2 extra inches to clear the tailgate opening which is rounded at the bottom on the newer Chevys.
For ease of assembly I created a simple rectangular wood frame the same size of the camper floor. I filled that frame with foam boards and secured them with long screws drilled from the outside of the wood frame into the foam. I also used simple duct tape to secure them along all seams from both sides.
Then I hung the whole thing underneath the camper with aluminum brackets (simple homemade 2-3 inch long tabs with a hole at each end) using screws already present at the bottom sides of the camper.
That way, the riser hangs from the floor of the camper when the camper is off the truck, and I don't need to handle or store it separately. The whole project is inexpensive, very lightweight, and can be done in one afternoon without special tools (a saw, a drill and a knife to cut the foamboards is all you need).
The foam had no problem to support either camper. In the old Lance, It made a significant difference in floor isolation - the camper floor felt warmer in cool weather. The Outfitter has a basement, so I cannot feel a difference there.
Be sure to use XPS foam boards, not Styrofoam which is a lot softer and will draw water. There are boards with a smooth surface and boards with a slightly corrugated surface. The smooth board worked better as far as securing the camper in place is concerned. I guess that is because it has more contact area with the truck bed. It may also be because the Lance it carried was a lot heavier.
Sorry, I have no pictures handy and the camper is on the truck so I can't really get any at this time.
I get 8 pages with results when searching for "Lance dry rot". There certainly have been a number of threads on the issue (and not just for Lance campers); notably I can remember user "88Lover" posting his ordeal with the cabover repair.
Here is what I did:
Go to "advanced search"
Enter "Keywords" = "Lance dry rot"
Keyword Match = Find posts with all of the words in any order
Date Posted = Archive - over 1 year ago
Forum(s) = Truck Campers
There are also several topics in the Truck Camper university.