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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Ten Steps to Truck Camper Success - For the Newbie

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tamaratrav

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Posted: 06/20/12 11:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

(Original Post Has Been Updated with input from many)

1)Take Note - Truck Campers and their options + full tanks of water/propane WEIGH ALOT. Putting a camper on your truck (if you have one) is a BIG DEAL; with potential safety (and liability) issues for you, your family and your fellow Road Travelers. If you have a truck, check your GVWR "how much will the truck safely haul" - and go weigh your truck empty, to see what it weighs, then subtract that weight from the GVWR. That number is the maximum recommended weight you can safely carry in your truck.

2) Find camper that suits your needs for next X years and verify the ACTUAL weight of the camper with all options installed with full water tank and full propane.

3)A Find truck that will carry the camper/passengers/gear below the GVWR and GAWR; and with center of gravity in front of rear wheel. Measure to make sure camper cab-over clears the cab or you'll have to place camper on wood / plywood to increase height (which increases weight and decreases stability). Take other measurements as needed to ensure the camper fits in and on the truck bed.

3)B With all other considerations - get a 1 Ton 350/3500 Truck to ensure all current and future truck/camper/people/stuff weights are within GVWR. For big campers - go Dual wheel 1 Ton 350/3500 (or beyond). Any camper that's not a pop-up needs at minimum a 250/2500. And that's bare-bones minimum (sleeps 2, no bathroom/shower).

4) Buy Truck.

5) Install 6 or 7 pin wiring in bed, if needed (may already come on a dually or a truck with Camper Package.)

6) Install frame mounted tie downs with extensions. Get turnbuckles or Fast Guns. (These all add weight)

7) Buy the camper.

8) Load Up and Take Test Drive. Get total weight; and front and rear axel weights for peace of mind. If over-weight, DO NOT go to step 9 - Re-start at Step 3A with New Truck.

9) Upgrade as needed for stability to E or better tires; wheels; better suspension; sway bars or air bags. Step 9 Does NOT remedy overweight on GVWR or GAWR. (Note -changing tires/wheels and/or adding suspension may add to total weight - so repeat Step 8 after modifications.)

10) Head Out and Report Back on this forum with trip reports and photos.

* This post was last edited 06/28/12 09:21pm by tamaratrav *   View edit history

Golden_HVAC

Fulltime, CA, USA

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Posted: 06/21/12 12:17am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I guess I was really lucky in 1987, I found a 1975 F-350 supercab with a 1970's camper on it, 10' long, with a portapotty already in it! All for $3,500, no need for a loan. Sure the truck was 12 years old, and the camper was "Given" to me with the truck.

Tie downs to the frame where still in development back then.

I did have to make one huge improvement, the chrome rims where rated at 2,200 pounds each, I only saw the weight sticker after the old tires came off the rims. I put on 3,400 pound rated aluminum rims, and later found the 3,400 pound rated LT 9.5R16.5E tires at a Costco in Oregon.

Then I sold the old camper in 92 and bought a 1972 Coachman camper with forward wet bath! It was nice to have both a furnace and refrigerator! It had a raised floor, with a black tank under the dinette seat, I guess one of the first basement storage campers out there. No gray tank, 20 gallon fresh tank was under the forward section of the camper, so the bath was raised up about 6" due to the tank being under the floor.

Thanks for the great memories of that camper, it went on many fun camping trips - I even met my wife while camping in that camper!

Fred.

SoCalDesertRider

Arizona desert

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Posted: 06/21/12 08:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

tamaratrav wrote:

1) Find camper that suits needs for next X years

2) Find truck that will carry the camper/passengers/gear below the GVWR and GAWR; and with center of gravity in front of rear wheel.

3) Buy Truck.

4) Upgrade to E or better tires/suspension/sway bars/air bags as needed.

5) Install 7 pin wiring in bed.

6) Install frame mounted tie downs with extensions

7) Get correct turnbuckles or Fast Guns

8) Buy the camper.

9) Load Up

10) Head Out
That's a very well thought-out plan.

Except for #4.
If you truly buy the right truck for the job, you shouldn't have to do much of anything in #4.


05E350 6.0PSD
97F350DRW 7.3PSD 4x4 4.10 11' flatbed
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92F350 CrewCab 4x4 351/C6
B&W TurnoverBall, Curt Magnum V
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285/75-16E BFG AT on 16x8 Stocktons
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bjbear

Cold Lake, AB, Can

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Posted: 06/21/12 08:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

tamaratrav wrote:

1) Find camper that suits needs for next X years

2) Find truck that will carry the camper/passengers/gear below the GVWR and GAWR; and with center of gravity in front of rear wheel.

3) Buy Truck.

4) Upgrade to E or better tires/suspension/sway bars/air bags as needed.

5) Install 7 pin wiring in bed.

6) Install frame mounted tie downs with extensions

7) Get correct turnbuckles or Fast Guns

8) Buy the camper.

9) Load Up

10) Head Out


Great list. If people followed your advice, there would be a lot fewer people asking about upgrades after the fact ... and the roads would be just a bit safer!! For myself, I would add one item:

1a - Verify the ACTUAL weight of the camper with all options installed, full water tank, full propane, and best guess on what you are intending to normally carry (clothes, food, beer and other essentials). P.S. Don't believe the manufacturers brochures or labels unless you have some way of verifying it ... or can get the dealer to guarantee the weight as a condition of sale.

P.S. I would leave #4 as is since in this case, because you have made sure that you are under GVWR & GAWR, it would be done for ride quality and comfort and NOT for safety reasons.

* This post was edited 06/21/12 09:16am by bjbear *


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JumboJet

Tontitown Arkansas

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Posted: 06/21/12 12:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bjbear wrote:



Great list. If people followed your advice, there would be a lot fewer people asking about upgrades after the fact ... and the roads would be just a bit safer!! For myself, I would add one item:


Please define safer.

I read all this BS about 2500 and F250's not being big enough to haul ANY TC. It is a bunch of BS!

And as far as safer, how many accidents have you personally witnessed where a 250/2500 and a TC were involved?

How many times have you been run off the road by a 250/2500 hauling a TC that could not maintain control?

How many times have you been rear ended by a 250/2500 with a TC?

There are TCs built for the owners of 250/2500 trucks.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! ....and it is raining broken down 250/2500 trucks!

Give me a break!

========================
...and it is a good list.

tamaratrav

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Posted: 06/21/12 12:20am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fred,

How was the camper attached to the truck, without the frame-mounted tie downs?

TJ

SoCalDesertRider

Arizona desert

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Posted: 06/21/12 12:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't recall reading any BS here about a 3/4-ton not being able to haul ANY truck camper.

There have been many posts about folks trying to haul WAY TOO MUCH truck camper with a 3/4-ton. Many of those campers should be on duallys. A 3/4-ton can haul many campers, just not the bigger, heavier ones.

seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 06/21/12 01:57pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ten Step Method employed by many entering TC World:

1) Buy truck for hauling landscape materials/helping friends move/just to look cool

2) Notice that neighbors have triple slide TC; envy builds after walk through

3) Search classifieds/street corners looking at TCs for sale

4) Buy TC that: a) fits budget, b) will accommodate wife, kids, dog(s) and the occasional mother-in-law

5) Take ownership of TC, haul home using ratchet straps as temporary tiedowns

6) Buy turnbuckles and chain to mount TC, load with water, food, gear.

7) While looking at TC in driveway wonder why nose is pointing skyward and rear springs are flat

8) Add airbags, supersprings, timbrens, and e range tires - squint while looking at TC/truck to minimize squat.

9) Load family and head for campground/favorite boondocking site. Discover belatedly that water pump no workee and that 2 of the 4 jacks have significant rot and won't support camper off the truck.

10) While researching fixes to the problems on the internet stumble upon the RV.Net TC forum for answers to all of your questions.


The Road Goes Ever On



2008 F250 SD 4x4 Supercab, Detroit TrueTrac, Hellwig LP 35, 2006 Outfitter Caribou 6.5


97Ford97Lance

Puyallup, WA

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Posted: 06/21/12 02:01pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What about "Make sure enough beer can be held in the wheel wells to keep you hydrated for a few days."

17oaks

17 Oaks Ranch

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Posted: 06/21/12 01:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SoCalDesertRider wrote:

I don't recall reading any BS here about a 3/4-ton not being able to haul ANY truck camper.

There have been many posts about folks trying to haul WAY TOO MUCH truck camper with a 3/4-ton. Many of those campers should be on duallys. A 3/4-ton can haul many campers, just not the bigger, heavier ones.

I am with you. I am on several forums (TC) and its common for folks to posts 'how do I fix/what is my problem?' and the answer frequently is OVERLOADED truck. And how many post asking what they can do to make their 250 a 350 series.

This is not to say that 250's cannot haul the load but you really need to know your truck limitations...AND DO NOT TRUST RV dealers or car salesmen to tell you. Do your own research.

The RV dealer where I was shopping swore that a F 350 SRW was ALL I needed to haul a AF 1150...so I bought one. OMG, no and hell no! This is scary and dangerous. I weighted at on a CAT scale and was well beyond my max.

The good news was I traded that '09 F 350 in on a '12 F 350 DRW model and the dealer gave me $500 MORE than I paid for the '09 I had bought in May (this was Oct). So all ended well. Luckly the dealer I bought from did a MAJOR business in trucks and I told him I wanted a F450. He told/showed me the F450 does NOT have a payload capacity of the F350...which was a WTH???? moment. But the Ford specs are there and my payload is better than a F450...


Don
17 Oaks Ranch, Texas
US Army (RET)
'11 F350 4x4, CC, LWB, DRW, Lariat
AF 1150, solar, satellite
Vietnam Combat Veteran


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