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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rare tag-axle truck camper -- alive and well in Pennsylvania

Here's another for your, "Haven't seen one of those in years," file. No, it's not some sort of photoshop joke, this is a for-real truck camper with a tag axle, a Born Free.

Back in 1947 Dodgen Industries started building feed and grain handling equipment in the Mid West. Feed trucks eventually branched out because in 1969, Dodgen built their first slide-in camper with a tag axle, "which allowed standard pickup trucks to carry larger and heavier campers." The company eventually branched out farther into the RV field with the introduction of a Class C motorhome.

You don't see too many of these original tag-axle rigs, but reader Bruce Badger spotted one out in Pennsylvania and was kind enough to send us pictures. Got a spare $5,000 in your pocket? You can pick up this classic oddity – and a pickup truck to haul it.

As of press time, the rig was still for sale. Ken at (570) 878-2674 is the seller.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do you "dismount" your camper when camping?

Call it the truck camper dilemma: Do you, or do you not, dismount the camper from the truck when you're out camping? In the main, the answer is a vague: "That depends!" And the depends? The answer there ranges from, "If I have some other form of transportation (ATV, towed car, buddy's vehicle) I'll leave it on the truck," to "If I'm going to be in one spot for more than 2 or 3 days, then I'll take it off," to the "If I'm towing my boat with me, I take it off, because it's so much easier to launch the boat with the camper off the truck."

There are some who'd much rather leave the camper right where it is, and it sometimes seems to have something to do with the loading and unloading process. Newbies to the TC world often seem to have "separation anxiety," as does the distaff side in our family. Admittedly, it does take some amount of effort to off-board and re-board that big old camper. Seems like the older we get, the less inclined we are to go through the motions of driving out from under our big camper.

We did hear one that caused us a bit of a smile: One couple, presumably new to truck camping, was not open to the thought of staying in their truck camper when off the truck: They were afraid that somehow their weight in the "cabover" bed would cause the whole works to topple over on its nose. We have fifth-wheeling friends who are the same way--won't "live" in the trailer unless a tripod is set up under the kingpin. Well, let's put your mind at rest: It would take a very big amount of weight to ever "tip over" a truck camper. My unproven theory is that the amount of weight required to tip over a truck camper would probably "go through the floor" of the cabover section before the rig ever tipped.

What about us? We'll, I guess we fall into the, "That depends," category. The photos are out of our archives. At Bryce Canyon we camped next door in the national forest, but since we weren't too sure about our research plans, we simply left the rig on the truck. Worked out well for us, we had our "home" with us when we needed to rest from the rigors of high elevations. The lower photo finds us unloaded along the Oregon Coast. We could beat around the countryside to our heart's content.

To round out the picture, we have encountered situations where even if we'd wanted (and were so inclined) to de-camper the truck, "house rules" would have precluded it. How so? Some RV parks (don't laugh) prohibit truck camper users from taking their camper off the truck while staying on. Why such a rule? Maybe it goes back to a 'trailer trash' mentality, or perhaps they fear some sort of liability issue if someone goofs up the job while unloading and drops the unit on the ground. 

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!