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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brit builds own -- er -- truck camper

Leave it to the Brits. We say "po-tay-toe," they say, "po-tot-oh." We say, "truck camper," they say -- oh, for heavens sakes, "demountable motorhome." Huh? Sure enough, a British do-it-yourselfer has come up with we here in the states have been using for decades, an RV that rides on the back of your pickup truck and comes off when you don't want to carry it about.

A bit rustic by our manufactured standards, there are some interesting wrinkles (if you will) to this one. But the price? Something tells us that American ingenuity can beat the dollar cost estimates on this one!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stop that annoying camper wobble

If you're anything like we are, you may want to "drop off" the camper and use the truck for exploration, leaving the camper as a home base. For some, that unsettling feeling of walking about in the camper is just too much – "It just doesn't feel secure!" is a complaint we've heard. Now TC equipment manufacturer, Torklift, has come up with a way to banish that insecurity: FastGun Wobble Stopper.

The new product acts as a temporary brace that runs between the camper body and each jack leg. A clever "FastGun" trigger activated feature tightens up the brace, stopping that wobbling side-to-side motion that can not only be disconcerting, but actually physically damaging to the camper. In addition to 'quelling the queesies,' the new device acts as a theft deterrent as well. With the Wobble Stopper in place, add a padlock to prevent its removal, and a would-be thief can't back a truck under the unit and make off with it.

The FastGun Wobble Stopper comes in high impact powder coat white and is composed of aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel. It also features a newly designed jack attachment for round and square jacks making installation easier.

Wobble Stopper – just don't try saying it several times fast.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to heavy wire your camper batteries -- without emptying your wallet

If you and your truck camper like to spend time away from civilization (what else is a truck camper made for?) you may have run into that old aggravating problem: Not enough power for the trip. We're not talking about engine power getting you back in the boonies, it's the problem of not enough battery power to keep the lights on, the water pump going, and the choice electronics on-line.

One of the biggest problems we've seen in this area is the wiring that runs from the truck alternator to the camper "house" batteries. You can have excellent storage batteries in your camper, and a heavy alternator under the hood of the truck, but if you skimp on the wiring that connects the two, you're bound for disappointment. It's the old, "The chain is only as strong as the weakest link," story. If your wiring is too small, the voltage loss in the wire will slow your charge rate down, even stop charging altogether.

How big should the wire be? It all depends on the how much current (amps) you'll be pushing through the wire, and the distance it needs to travel. Here's an example: Let's say you want to run 50 amps from your alternator back to your truck camper battery--and the distance is 15 feet. Technically speaking, you should do your figures based on double the distance--because the voltage flows two directions--to the battery and back. If you use the frame of the truck as a conductor (typically for the negative side of the circuit), you can use just the one way distance. Of course you still need to get to the frame of the truck.
So here's our hypothetical: 15 feet from the alternator to the camper battery, and five feet from the negative side of the camper battery to the truck frame. Total distance, 20 feet. Total current, ideally 50 amps. For a 12-volt circuit, you're looking at using 6 gauge wire. That's BIG stuff, and pretty costly, too. Here's a cheap trick: Shumacher makes a heavy, 18' set of jumper cables, made with 6 gauge wire. You can buy a set of those jumper cables on Amazon for less than $22.00. Shopping around on the web, bulk 6-gauge wire runs $2.50 per foot and more.

Of course, you'll need to use an appropriately heavy plug system so you don't have to "hardwire" the camper to the truck. Hit the local welding supply house and buy yourself a pair of welding cable plugs and matching jacks. Color code them with electrical flagging tape (red and black as an example) so you don't goof up the polarity. To keep our "male" plugs for shorting out against camper or truck when disconnected, we built a sheath to cover the "business end" of the plug out of appropriately sized plastic hose from the bulk section at the hardware store. Figure your wire gauge by using a table from the internet. Try for a starting point.