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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > New F350 owner seeks TC information

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F-350shortBed

Natividad Medical Center

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Joined: 02/05/2021

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Posted: 02/05/21 01:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello everyone,

I recently purchased a 2000 F350, crew cab, shortbed in order to acquire a TC so that I can avoid the hour commute to and from work. I am an ICU nurse, things have been very busy lately so I have been picking up a lot of extra shifts. Also had a few mandated 16hour days and shifts.

I come seeking knowledge on selecting the appropriate camper which I would like to purchase used. I have been expanding my search since I recently learned a lot of people mount longer TC's on 1 ton shortbed trucks with airbags and beefier shocks/springs. This opens up my options, plus I have a family id like to take on the road someday and having more space would be nice.

The truck I bought has 6" lift, airbags, heavier springs, shocks, and lower gears. The guy i bought it from towed a 5th wheel with it. It also has a shift kit and it's a diesel.

I hope this topic isn't oppressively beat to death already, there are some dead posts I've read which still leave me with questions like:

How do i figure out the COG on certain models like: 2014 Arctic fox 811; 97' Bigfoot 3000 series; etc...?

Also, should I install tie down mounts now or after I find my TC? I kinda want to drive away with it the day I buy it, but who knows? I'm leaning towards torklift, i often camp down in Baja on 4x4 type roads (when there is no pandemic.)

And should I remove the tailgate now or wait? I guess i could leave it on then remove onsite if needed.

Thanks for reading this.

* This post was edited 02/05/21 03:41am by F-350shortBed *

joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 02/05/21 04:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi and welcome!
Sorry if you know any or all of this already:
You need to be aware of the payload and (rear-) axle capacity of your truck.
The official numbers can be found on two stickers that you can see when you open the driver's door. One contains the weights (Gross/GVWR, Front axle (FAWR), Rear Axle (RAWR).
The other one contains the payload.
I assume the truck is single rear wheel. The rear axle rating will probably be limited/determined by the load capacity of the two single rear tires.
The center of gravity of the camper determines where the camper's weight will be carried.
On a short bed truck, the weight of the camper will usually go all to the rear axle.
If the cog is in front of the axle, some of the weight goes to the front axle.
If the cog is behind the rear axle, some weight will be transferred from the front axle to the rear in addition to all of the camper weight.
The longer the camper is, the further back its cog usually is (depending on design decisions of the camper mfg).
The most reliable way to determine the available capacity of your truck: Take your truck to a scale and get the individual axle weights. The truck should be packed in the way that you usually travel, probably mostly empty, but with a full tank of gas.
The difference between the RAWR and the actual (empty) weight on the rear axle comes pretty close to the weight of the camper that you can safely carry in the back without modifications.
How far you can exceed this is a topic of hot discussion on this forum. I will not get into this. A few 100 lbs are likely not going to be a problem.
The stated dry weights of a truck camper are usually grossly underrated and do often not contain lpg, battery, a/c on the roof, sometimes not even the jacks. And they do not contain anything you load into the camper, such as water, food, all of your belongings. Only a scale can tell the actual weight. Assume that any camper will be a lot heavier than what the brochure states.

You say that your truck is lifted. This will not help with the handling of the rig. A TC is already top-heavy.

Your questions:

Camper cog: Some campers come with a cog marked on the side.
Some state the cog position somewhere in the specifications, usually as a distance from the front bulkhead.
The actual cog is obviously subject to the way the camper is loaded (and outfitted) and may be a bit fore or aft of the stated position. As a rule of thumb, it is usually around 1/3 back from the front bulkhead. If you need to know where exactly, you are probably pushing limits already.

Tie down mounts: Have them installed and ready before you pick up the camper. It will be stressful enough the first time, so get that out of the way.

Tailgate: If your first trip with the camper takes you home, you can certainly leave the tailgate in place and carry it home inside the camper (maybe wrapped in a blanket?). They are easy enough to remove, unless the PO has installed some anti-theft device, in which case you should know about this beforehand.

So much for initial information. I am sure there will be more coming. Do not worry, the truck will carry a camper just fine.

* This post was edited 02/05/21 05:02am by joerg68 *


2014 Ford F350 XLT 6.2 SCLB + 2017 Northstar Arrow


JIMNLIN

Oklahoma

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Posted: 02/05/21 05:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

The official numbers can be found on two stickers that you can see when you open the driver's door. One contains the weights (Gross/GVWR, Front axle (FAWR), Rear Axle (RAWR).
The other one contains the payload.

I doubt the older '00 truck has a payload sticker but will have a FAWR/RAWR.
Those GVWR based payload stickers didn't become mandatory industry wide till '06.

Back then we weighed the empty trucks rear axle. Subtract that number from the trucks RAWR for a in the bed payload.


"good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment" ............ Will Rogers

'03 2500 QC Dodge/Cummins HO 3.73 6 speed manual Jacobs Westach
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NRALIFR

Truck Camping Out West

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Posted: 02/05/21 06:54am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That 6” lift is going to make hauling a heavy and tall TC a miserable experience, I’m sorry to say. I would consider removing it, as it’s just going to make it harder to load, and put your loaded CG up higher which will make it wallow around more with the TC on it.

Lifted trucks typically don’t stick with the OE tires and wheels, so you should look at those first before loading any TC on it. You may not even have the load capacity listed on the door sticker. I can’t stress this enough. Overloading your tires and wheels is the quickest way to turn a fun TC trip onto a problem.

Tires and wheels chosen for lifted, off-road use aren’t always the best choice for hauling a TC, especially of the size you seem to be looking for. Make sure your wheels are rated for more than the load you intend to haul, and make sure they aren’t some after-market eye candy. The wheels need to be hub-centric like the OE wheels were, not lug-centric.

The best TC hauling tire is going to have a load rating that exceeds the weight of your load, and has the stiffest sidewalls available. If you can find tires with “all steel casing”, meaning the steel belts extend into the sidewalls like the Micheline XPS Traction tire, those would be best. I don’t think the XPS is made in a size for your truck, just using that as an example.

Voice of experience here, take it for what it’s worth. [emoticon]

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Geo*Boy

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Posted: 02/05/21 06:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Stay away from any TC with a slide out and yes, remove that lift kit.

MikeJinCO

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Posted: 02/05/21 08:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Stay with a camper built for a short bed truck. The 3000 Bigfoots are all for long beds and the structure on them is not all that great even then. Agree with the lift kit removal. For stock size wheels the factory ones are stronger than many aftermarket ones and with a camper that means a lot as you will be close to or over the GVW(we all are). Make sure you have E rated tires due to the load. The 7.3 Ford is still a great truck, motors run forever, transmissions good for 150-200k miles, a bit noisy, but not $80-90k like new ones. I think the 2000 had an improve transmission cooler setup, if not it is a great upgrade.

Grit dog

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Posted: 02/05/21 08:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Geo*Boy wrote:

Stay away from any TC with a slide out and yes, remove that lift kit.


No plausible basis for the first statement, but the second half is absolutely true.

OP, regarding camper size for your truck (or the same for virtually any shortbed 1 ton srw truck of the last 20 years), any sub 9' long "short bed capable" TC will fit from a structural and CoG point. Keep your search in that range, like the AF 811 or similar and nothing to worry about there. AF and virtually any TC with a slide will be on the heavy end of the spectrum and you need to decide if you're ok with that. Trucks in good shape with the right suspension mods will haul the heavy shortbed campers safely. (Note you will have plenty of naysayers, but many of us have been doing it for years with no issues, period.)

On to your truck, if it's in good mechanical condition, it's a good fit EXCEPT for the lift. Aside from the physical challenges of height over 12' with a big TC and loading/unloading, excessive stair height to get in, etc, it will not be stable.
"Removing" the lift kit and going back to OE height suspension is a good size project for someone who is prepared to do that work. It is also, I'm guessing, quite expensive if you have a shop do it. The one silver lining in that I can think of is you'd come out of the deal with brand new springs and shocks of your choice and could outfit it very well from a suspension standpoint for hauling the camper.

That said, unless there's something special about this truck (super low miles or your favorite truck of all time kind of thing), I think the smart move is to sell it and find a suitable truck that hasn't been lifted.

Then once you have the truck sorted out, tie downs and suspension are the 2 things you need to initially haul the camper. Torklift is the best, Happijacs will work.

Also, with the market like it is, if you know you'll be in a shortbed, whether this truck or a replacement, I wouldn't hesitate to continue camper shopping and be ready to buy if you find the right one at the right price. No sense limiting yourself there.
Unless you find one a long distance away, most people selling a TC have the truck to haul it and it's not a stretch to have them deliver and unload it.

Good luck in your search. And if using for a family, I would recommend a full wall slide out and the models with the biggest tanks, like AF. Idk tank size of other brands, but AF is one of if not the largest tanks in a short camper.


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29

bwlyon

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Posted: 02/05/21 12:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The quick and clean way to figure out how much camper you can put on your truck is figure out rear axle weight capacity, and tire capacity. Then go to a cat scale and weigh your truck with a full tank of fuel. Subtract the rear axle weight from the rear axle capacity, and subtract rear axle weight from tire capacity. Whichever is less is your actual payload capacity as a truck camper will not put but a few extra pounds on the steer axle if any at all. Example: rear axle weighs 3300, capacity is 6600, 3300 from 6600 = 3300 payload. Now go find a camper that weighs 2300lbs. The reason is you need to allow 1000 lbs for water, propane, gear, food and clothes. Trust me it all adds up!

F-350shortBed

Natividad Medical Center

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Posted: 02/05/21 12:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks guys-

I’ve lifted a truck many many years ago, but it was a Toyota. Unlifting this one could be quite a chore. I purchased it because the price was right. The price is related to a salvage title, the truck was stolen prior to PO. The previous owner owned it 15 years post theft, I think he got quite a deal too. That’s why he put so much into the suspension and took care of it very well. I’ll never find a 7.3 in this condition for $13,000. The mileage is 180,000, it doesn’t leak any fluids, and it’s got plenty of power. There is no fuel in the coolant.

So given that I have a gross vehicle weight rating of 9900lbs on a stock truck I can weigh the rig and go light. I believe the vehicle weighs 7000lbs.

What do you think of putting a super light TC on it and keeping the lift?


Keep in mind that there are after market beefier springs, airbags, sway bar and shocks, what are the opinions on a 2100lbs TC?

Also keep in mind that I’ve been camping for 35 years in the dirt in Mexico with multiple Subaru’s and a Toyota 4Runner, all grossly overloaded with water and weeks of food. So any truck camper is going to feel luxurious.

In regard to sleeping in the parking lot at work, I only need insulation and darkness, I work nights. I can shower and use toilet at work.

Thanks again for all the input, this really helps, I had not thought about the lift affecting so much before.

* This post was last edited 02/05/21 12:55pm by F-350shortBed *   View edit history

jimh425

Western MT

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Posted: 02/05/21 01:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A light camper should be fine.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Toyo M655 225/19.5 Gs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


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