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 > TC and real off-roading

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kohldad

Goose Creek, SC

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Joined: 07/20/2004

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Posted: 01/21/19 03:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Go to the Trip Report Sticky 3.0 then search for Jefe or "White Rim". Will give you some good idea of the limits, especially if you add in a rear locker.


2015 Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SRW 6.4 Hemi LB 3.73 (12.4 hand calc avg mpg after 66,000 miles with camper)
2004 Lance 815 (prev: 2004 FW 35'; 1994 TT 30'; Tents)


jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 01/23/19 02:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Who has taken a full-height TC down some nasty roads, or Jeep roads where the truck leans and is at the limits of tipping the camper off or something of the sort?"

According to your join date you've been on here as long as I have.
In my time i've "taken a full-height TC down some nasty roads" as you call them. The real question is, "how did i get there"; what was the narrow path; and what preparation and decisions were made along the way?
My experience was with 13, 4WD's from grocery getters to extreme rock crawler, and covering about 1.4 million miles. Here are rigs 1, 2, and 3: still 10 more to come.
[image]

[image]

[image]
The best, most complete way to come to the XTC (extreme truck camper) school is to have been a hard core, rock crawling, gnarly path, four wheel driver at one time as excellent preparation. You can get there by other means, but when you have experience welding up new driveshafts on the trail, patching broken frames; and re attaching leaf spring hangers, replacing leaf springs on the trail, you definitely obtain much of the education you need. I have stories. One time out with my home jeeper group, The (4) Beater Boys, we were in some big rocks at the Hammers, when one of the two built CJ-8's' starter gave up right in the middle of a "V" shaped rock outcropping and with the rocker panels firmly ensconced in V stone. It was impossible to winch him up and out of the obstacle. No manner of 60 inch high lifts; 2 ton come alongs; 12 ton hydraulic jacks made much difference. Those were in the mix, but he needed to get out on his own power. My CJ-8's battery had given up a few hours before so I was not wanting to turn off my engine off for any reason. The starter less CJ-8 needed MY starter to get off the obstacle. So,, what to do? I pushed my idle up a few pops and we took my starter off the rig while it was running, quickly attaching it to the other CJ-8. Everyone had full Detroit or ARB locking diffs on both ends. The final drive in low/low and the 2 that had 2 transfer cases: low/low/low were: mine @ 130:1; 142:1; 274:1; and the winner: 335:1 with 2 t. cases. Everyone had a winch and had slow rolled their rigs from 6-19 times, over time. It was a long day, and by default was full of experiences that tested and added to your ability to keep going. You face the same problems, to a lesser degree, when you attempt to off-road a 10K pound, 2650 pound loaded camper, 20 foot long,10 foot high, 86 inch wide rig where it barely fits, and you are living on the edge of sanity, which is now a lot closer than it was with a small 4bye. This final point is movable as to your experience. As far as tipping? All of the heavy stuff in my rig is as low as we can make it. Plus the 1000 pound Cummins, 360 pound transmission, 225 pound winch and bumper with heavy axles keep us upright, kind of like the low weight in a sailboat. So that big, high box full of air, which looks as if you are going to capsize on a 15 degree angle is far from the tipping over stage:
[image]
[image]
My brother John (JR on the Pirate Page) and I revel in getting as close the edge as we can. It's kind of a wierd high; a game. So the preparation for XTC-ing, as I call it, began a long time ago with a lot of trial and error with builds and technique.
I purchased the 1998 Lance in 2001 having been used 3 times for $6500. The whole transaction took place in one afternoon-cash. Serendipitously, it was the lightest (1842 pounds, wet), least wide (86 inches), least tall (with a 6 foot 4 inch ceiling), full featured, wood framed, short bed, hard side camper that Lance produced. The guy I bought it from used it on his Dodge 1500 with air bags with no complaints. I had just bought the short bed, extended cab 4X4 Dodge 2500 to flat tow my 4bye junk to the trailhead, so the Lance was a shoe in.
As time passed we started to go down the, "roads of no return" finding ways to conquer the terra not-so-firma, taking a new look at the suspension, ride height, traction devices, and tie down system for the camper itself. Ride height without the Lance on the back:
[image]
This is a narrow band of goodness. Too tall and it's too tall. Not enough ground clearance; approach angle, break over angle, or departure angle and it's not enough. It's always a trade off. You need enough; but not too much. You job is to find the line, the cross hairs of the best solution. This is usually with experience. To my bullet proof drive train I added a 3 inch lift; super single steel rear wheels and 35 inch tires; upgrading to Tru Trac, torque biasing, all gear driven limited slips (also called Thorsen diffs), front and rear to go with my new homemade "super 60" front diff using mostly Dana 70 parts with Dana 70 locking hubs. After some bad experience combining a TC with air bags, I added 2 leaves to my existing 1 thicker leaf in my upper overload pack that came with the camper package from the factory at the time. This not being enough, I added 2 leaves to the main pack giving me 8 leaves in the rear spring packs. This has worked out well, but would have never come to pass without my doing a dozen springs over axle upgrades to various jeeps in the past. You develop a feel for how many and what rate the springs need to be and are all purpose built.
I have a short bed truck, which was expedient when I worked downtown L.A. at the Music Center and needed something with a short w.b. to corkscrew down into the subterranean parking structure. Little did I know that a short bed truck is ideal for snaking around trails made by short, narrow jeeps.
As to the wood frame camper: there are plusses and minuses. Wood does not 'sweat' or transmit cold like aluminum. Wood is not as strong nor lasting as is aluminum. However, I've got what I've got and this may be my one and only truck camper. Maybe. The only time you need to worry about pulling your camper apart is when you twist up the axles on undulating surfaces. This transmits a twisting torque to the frame of the truck and in extreme cases will actually deform and bend your truck bed. IF....the tie downs are too tight, the TC will follow this twisting and will eventually pull your camper apart. Older Fords are the worst candidates for twisting as a lot of twisting is built in at the factory. I also use Lance centering brackets which keep the tie downs from a too tight position when the box shifts from side to side or rearward. These keep the box in check at the bottom. Many homemade centering brackets made by folks on this site are much better that the factory Lance's i have. Another secret is to off-road with no jacks: narrower; loose 75 pounds; nothing to drag over rocky terrain: better visibility with side mirrors. I never take the jacks anyway and leave them at home.
I've developed a technique of keeping a close eye on the undulation and tightening or loosening the tension on the tie downs as needed, PRN. Has my camper been pulled apart with all this crazy business? Not yet, and shows no signs.
I've had to replace some dry rot sticks on the TC; replaced the converter with the latest and greatest; keep the caulking current; and add a lot of insulation; added 200watts of solar and this was basically upkeep. This year, the plunger attached to the starting scratcher for the 3-way fridge stopped coming back up, so my RV guru had a look at it and said the fridge needs to be taken out to replace the parts. That's it! I can still light the fridge from the outside by removing the vent, so that's the way we will make it work until it's salvage. All the rest of the appliances work fine.
For the past decade, the camper has lived on the truck, so it is well ensconced like an old shoe. I've made a lot of mis calculations with 4WD's in the past and am always happy to change course and make it work. My time with the TC is waning so it's time for some of you younger off roaders to take on the XTC mantle.
jefe

* This post was last edited 01/24/19 12:12am by jefe 4x4 *   View edit history


'01.5 Dodge 2500 4x4, CTD, Qcab, SB, NV5600, 241HD, 4.10's, Dana 70/TruTrac; Dana 80/ TruTrac, Spintec hub conversion, H.D. susp, 315/75R16's on 7.5" and 10" wide steel wheels, Vulcan big line, Warn M15K winch '98 Lance Lite 165s, 8' 6" X-cab, 200w Solar

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 01/24/19 05:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cool. I got the jefe4x4 link and will read now. Just looked at few pics.
I have had one TC, but was 900 lb pop up. This years is a fiberglass full height. The sides lean in, like a car, so the roof is smaller than the floor, maybe this helps, no upper cabinets as I said so this Roamer is probably the least top heavy of any I have seen.

I would never take my truck down too extreme of a road even unloaded. CTD just too much money for me in the truck. I do like to see others go down extreme trails or roads to help me know I am within boundaries that they have pushed.

The mid west mountain and deserts have plenty of BLM land for camping and exploring. I have a mountain bike for getting really crazy.
Even on tame dirt roads getting over the hump to the camping spot on the side of the road can get extreme with a camper along.

36guy

Princeton

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Posted: 01/24/19 05:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've done it with a TC, and with my fifth, no damage to either. I packed a 10 foot Kit camper years ago into the bush with my wife and kids, dog included for five years, then stepped up to a cougar 244 fifth, it spent thirteen years going places you're not supposed to go.
In bc, if you're not going up, you're going down, off road its all rough, just go slow through the really bad stuff, take your time, the unit will be fine.

whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 01/25/19 07:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No reason to post, not being a hard side and all.

* This post was edited 01/25/19 10:35am by whazoo *

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 01/25/19 08:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wahooz, A pop-up camper is cheating, isn't it?

Hey, side note, your solar panel look like it would get shaded (is shaded now) on the rocket box end most of the time. Does this reduce the voltage?

Make some videos next time.There are none of regular TCs off-road. All I can find are the true, and super light, off-road campers doing this..

My camper is all fiberglass. One big shell.
I was thinking to help keep it from sliding sideways to put boards beside the fenders and extend them to the front of the bed, secured. This would be a snug fit. Anyone done this? I am wondering if when the camper wobbles if it will put too much stress on the fiberglass sides of camper a t the top of the inserted board. The top of board would become the fulcrum, not the bottom side edge of camper.

whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 01/25/19 08:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well I have a full size door! And hey my weight is that of a full size hard side, I’ve heard loaded around 2400#. I only lack a few inches of height but still have 44 gal of water. Anyway, the loss of solar to inches of overhang doesn’t concern me, why does it concern you? It was all the real estate I have so don’t we use what we have and be happy? And I’ll make vids if and when I like, thanks for the orders. Geez...

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 01/25/19 09:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

orders?
nevermind. good luck with the internet…

whazoo

Idahome

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Posted: 01/25/19 09:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

“Make some videos next time.” Sounds like orders to me, sorry. Must be my two cups of coffee, caffeine is not my friend.

jaycocreek

Idaho

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Posted: 01/25/19 11:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ajriding wrote:

Who has taken a full-height TC down some nasty roads, or Jeep roads where the truck leans and is at the limits of tipping the camper off or something of the sort?

I searched internet (never google), but find nothing.

I used to have a slide-in pop-up, but that does not count - light, low, and quite a useless unit for living in.
But, with a full height camper, and a desire to take the 4x4 to pristine camping spots I am curious to see what others have done.

My camper is supposed to be only 1,900lbs empty. No high interior cabinets or anything in the top 18 inches of the space except the shower head and the closet hanger. AC is currently in garage right now. So, very un-top-heavy for a TC.

I know the behemoth TCs that push 4,000lbs probably should not consider trails, but lighter models can


It all depends where your going..Most of what you see on this forum is desert camping,not high mountain camping..There is a big difference when it comes to truck campers for each..

I do virtually all my camping in the mountains of Idaho where with a truck camper, the biggest concerns is clearance for the dips and rocks,height for the trees and width also for the tree's etc and ofcourse,the leaning on the uneven terrain where height is your enemy.

DJ did a write up on the Maruder road here with a full size TC on a dually, that is a semi tough journey but with many side roads that will test any vehicle.I use my Yamaha Rhino for those types..

When choosing mine I took all this into consideration because this type of camping is all I do...Mine is 10 ft to the top of the ladder rack and I chose a heavy duty(more than I need for this camper) pickup for the least sway and tipping on the narrow heavily treed roads.

Everything said,there is alot of room for error and damage if one chose the wrong path just like in a jet boat on a rough river like the Salmon river here in Idaho..

So in answer to your question,it depends on your usage area..In my opinion desert terrain is more forgiving,others may disagree.


'94 Ford DRW/460
Lance 9.6
Yamaha Rhino in tow
Elk hunt'n Idaho

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