I think leveling with air shocks will result in a spongy feel in the camper. I vote for the remote controlled jacks. When we use our jacks to level, it is often just a corner of the camper that lifts off the bed of the truck. You'll find that the truck follows the camper up quite a ways before any separation occurs.
Truck: 2006 Dodge 3500 Dually
Camper: 2007 Eagle Cap 850
Boat: 2003 Jetcraft 2125 - Yamaha 150 HP & 8 HP Kicker
You'll find that the truck follows the camper up quite a ways before any separation occurs.
For exactly this reason I never disconnect the tiedowns when using the jacks to simply stabilize. The jacks are not lifting the truck, the truck is still partially lifting the camper. A flat tire will not result in a truck hanging from the camper; it will just have the suspension compressed less.
I use blocks to get close to level so the jacks only provide enough ressure to remove the wiggle.
Sometimes it is easy to overthink something, that is really pretty simple. If cost is an issue, I suggest going simple.
I simply use some 2X8s to level the truck, by using some 95 cent stick on bubble levels, stuck to the overhang of my LANCE TC.
Over the years, I can pretty much SWAG a site, as I drive up to it. This is meaning I can figure out whether I will need a single 2X8 or two, under the left dually wheels, or right, or maybe on the front two wheels, verified by the bubble levels.
You also already have a great leveling device, by your own comment, air bags. I use my air bags, for leveling my TC, side to side. By driving up on the 2X8/s I then fine tune to pretty much perfect level, with my air bags, by deflating one side and increasing the pressure to the opposite side.
Good luck and congrats to making a great decision to get a Truck Camper and welcome to the TC Forum.
The problem with putting air shocks on your truck is that they are meant for "low riders," passenger cars, or lightweight offroad buggies.
These systems are typically not designed for a 7000lb pickup truck with a 3000-4000lb camper in the back. They're meant for 3000-4000lb vehicles.
You'd have to come up with a custom one-off system, possibly starting from scratch, definitely working with components normally not used for this purpose.
Also, the shock mounts on your truck are not meant to be load-bearing. Those would need to be reinforced before you could start playing Carlos Santana CDs in your TC.
Not saying it can't be done, just that such a feature is not often called for on a TC. You'd be on your own.
2002 Chevy 3500 DRW 8.1L/Allison
2000 Palomino B1500
...and the reason why I need a DRW to haul a Palomino:
2004 United 7x14 tandem axle enclosed toy trailer
2011 PJ 8x20 7-ton deckover equipment trailer
...I have a Lance 900 (11.3 ft) with Atwood manual jacks, on a F-350 Dually diesel that has air bags...
I have nearly the same thing only my Lance is a 990. I have an onboard controller for the air bags so my method is to start with the most level spot, use one or two 2x12's under the rear tires then use the air bags to fine tune. To find level I open the camper door halfway and let go, if it stays there I call it good.
Finally I use a cordless drill with an adapter to run the rear jacks down for stabilization and also to hold the corners of my fake lawn so it won't blow away. You can get maybe another half inch or so of leveling with the jacks but don't overload them. If you use a 12 volt cordless drill it will not overload the jack as it will stop before lifting the camper off of the suspension.
Another thing I do is to use a pair of tall sawhorses at home for storage. They keep the camper stable at loading height so there is never any reason to lower it after removing it from the truck. Because of this I have never felt a need to have remote controlled electric jacks and I've been doing this for 18 years now.
1994 Lance 990 on 1997 F350 PSD Dually "Rhino Haunches"
Wow! I am most impressed with the number of responses and the quality of the friendly advice I have received to this thread. Obviously, truck campers are a congenial, intelligent, and mature group. I learned several things, and got a couple of clues that led to interesting research, which has taught me even more. Thanks to all, and I suspect I'll like it hereabouts.
Some of you missed the intent of my project. My comment about my proclivity for afternoon naps, was meant as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek example of a reason to desire to level the rig while parked in an urban environment. If one thinks about it, it is often easier to find a reasonably level parking spot out in nature, because paved surfaces must be designed for rapid drainage in a storm.
Perhaps a better example would explain why finding a level spot to begin with, is not always an option. McDonalds, Starbucks, public libraries, et al, offer free wifi service, which is accessible from one's vehicle, if parked close enough to the building. While I love my iPad, which can easily be taken inside, I still like my hopped-up quad-core Windows machine, with its dual large monitors, multi-button wheel mouse, and full size keyboard for much of what I do online.
Thus, since I travel alone, I have converted the otherwise wasted space of the booth area, into a very functional counter height workbench / computer station / lunch counter, which I can use standing or seated on a nifty folding stool. I took the back seat out of the super cab and installed three 8D Prevailer gel cells, driving a 3KW inverter/charger. With 675 ah of reserve capacity and a HD alternator, I can run my computer, charge various tools and toys, grind and brew a thermos of coffee with a Bunn (I take my coffee seriously), and occasionally use the microwave for several days before needing to plug into shore power to top them up. If frugal, even during extended boon-docking, I can replace a day's usage with an hour of idling the diesel.
Such mods explain my inability to follow the sage advice regarding trading for a newer model. This is a very personalized solo rig, where (internally) function trumps form, which would undoubtedly attract vanishingly few buyers. One of my considerations for downsizing to the TC, was the ability to squeeze into a standard parking space, yet the available ones close enough to the wifi for a solid fast connection, seem rarely to be level. My last Class A MH may not have been as maneuverable or stealthy; but I was definitely spoiled by the hydraulic leveling system.
As to some of the comments, I had no intention of lifting the truck with the jacks. Just as others pointed out, I would have just been unloading the suspension a bit, which would still be less weight on the jacks than actually lifting the camper off the truck completely. For my purposes, if I had to drive up on blocks or unhook the tie-downs, it wouldn't be worth the effort and would negate the desired ability to do it somewhat surreptitiously. I can't imagine both tires on one side of the duals losing their air at the same time while the rear jacks are down, so I suspect that would be a minuscule risk worth taking.
However, the suggestion of using the airbags alone to achieve adequate rough level hadn't occurred to me. Currently I don't have a controller system for them; they are just plumbed to a couple of tire-like valve stems mounted in my running boards. Rectifying this will be phase one of my project. Then, I will experiment with it and if the airbags alone handle most of the situations where I would want to use it, I will call it good.
When actually camping, I can manually lower the rear jacks enough to stabilize it. They will lower by themselves and I already use an electric drill for retracting them; but I wouldn't want the hassle or attention of doing so in a parking lot. If I can't stand the wobble, I can invest in just two electric jacks for the back corners. Meanwhile, if the existing airbags are inadequate and I want to adjust the front end, I have discovered air springs instead of air shocks. It turns out that most larger commercial rigs already ride on air springs instead of steal, front and rear!
I found a wealth of information on the website airbagit.com, especially under what they call 'towing kits.' They sell big, large diameter, air bags that work like adjustable coil springs with 8" of adjustment, allowing one to raise or lower any corner by 4" with surprisingly low air pressure, and still use one's preferred shock absorbers. They even have a cadillac 'plug & play' system with a computerized controller, which will return all four bags to preset pressures with one touch. For an old techie / nerd like myself, it is to die for; but there is no way to justify it to my budget.
It does give me some intriguing ideas to play with, however. I will post updates on the progress of this project here, in case there is any interest. Further suggestions and/or discussion will be appreciated. Thanks to all. ?Dave?
Welcome to the forum and to truck camping, for all the reasons you mentioned. As you get to know this group too, you will find many are versed in just what you are doing, so you are in good company here.
I full time and pretty much, never, plug in anywhere and don't move my vehicle often, so I don't have the luxury of charging my large battery bank from these two methods, as you do. I use almost exclusively, solar to keep things charged.
Like you, I like to stop and Nap, surf, TV watch, lunch and read in temporary locations. For me, finding an appropriately semi level location for these serendipitous stops has been easy for me. I will often stop at public libraries for multiple hours of research and reading. Often the camber of road side parking (curb & gutter drainage) causes my truck and camper to lean considerably. Due to the issue of the Fridge needing to be level and my books/laptop sliding off my table, I will slip some 2X8 blocks (as posted earlier in this thread) under my wheels, which takes only a couple of minutes.
Also, I don't have any fancy "controller" to run my air bags and my Camper Jacks were removed long ago. I have my left and right valve located in the same place and use a high tech instrument to level my camper, letting out air. By using an air pressure gauge, a $1.75 Torpedo level, or $1.00 Wal-Mart Bubble Level and some years of experience doing it, I can level my Rig in a minute or two. For me, I just like standing or sitting in a level truck camper. I have an auxiliary air compressor, that I use to air up truck tires, Kayak Dolly wheels, Motorcycle tires, bicycle tires and float tubes, so I use that to supplement my air bags with air. I have watched others use those handy little compressed air bottles (they use to use them for air rifles and now for pumping up bike tires), a bicycle pump, in lei of an air compressor.
Welcome to the forum, your description of yourself and uses demonstrate you are good addition to this group.
Just to add a point - air bags do not take a great volume of air and a small bicycle pump works fine. I used mine like that for about ten years before installing the controller (which I think was only a bit over $100)