Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New light weight tie-down system debuts

Having had several truck campers over the years, we – like the rest of the truck camping community – had to learn about tie-downs. OK, that was after our very first truck camper, when we were young and dumb, and didn't know anything at all about tie-downs, so we didn't use any. Thank goodness we came out of that period of our life alive.

Most recently we tied down our 11 footer with Torklift tie downs. We confess, we hired somebody to actually do the dirty work of mounting the receiving hardware under the truck. It was tough enough for us to tote around the tie downs and shove them into their receivers. Something about whimpiness and age.

So it was something of a welcome shock when we read that Torklift has rolled out a new version of camper tie downs that are only 25 pounds PER SET. No, I'm not sipping the sauce, nor slipping on the keyboard here, I did say "twenty-five" pounds. You may wonder how that's all possible, and still have the chutzpah required to keep your camper from blundering around in the truck bed like a drunken mackerel. The answer: Military-grade aluminum. Strong, but light.

These new critters are called Talon Tie Downs, as in, claw of the eagle. Maybe that takes us back to the drunken mackerel. Once in the fist of the eagle, the mackerel (or other unfortunate piscatorial prey) isn't going anywhere soon. The same is true for the Talon tie down – it grips to keep your rig from slips.

Adding to the allure of a lightweight system, the company offers lifetime warranty on both the tie down system itself, but also on coating that keeps the system from corrosion. A company release spells this out: “This simply means that we will re-powder coat the tie down at no cost for the customer (freight prepaid) in the event of corrosion.”

For an extra level of protection, the system comes down with a tie down finishing kit. Read that, a set of plugs and vinyl caps that stick on the end of the tie down openings to prevent environmental damage caused by weather and road grime.

The visible part of the Talon Tie Down is powder-coated silver to maintain the aluminum look and to identify it as a special edition tie down. The bullet plate of the tie down where the turnbuckle attaches is specially designed to accommodate an eagle themed decal.

For those not familiar with the Torklift tie down design, it is the one tie-down system that doesn't tie to the truck bed, but rather to the frame. In an earlier truck camper experience, we used a tie-down system that required blasting holes through the bed walls. If you're as handy with tools as the 'man in this family,' you know that any time an electric drill is pulled out, life, limb, and beauty are all at peril. Notwithstanding, by tying the truck camper to the truck frame, handling is definitely enhanced.

Talon Tie Downs are available for the most popular Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge trucks. All applications are no-drill and all are built custom to the truck model. Check out Torklift's web site for more information.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Turn your truck into a snowmobile in 15 minutes!

AD Boivin Inc., in Quebec, Canada, is a company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets products for the motorsports industry and for other vehicles on snow, including high-end snowmobiles.  After several years of research and development, their Track N Go system for trucks is finally available for consumers. You can install four tracks on a vehicle in 15 minutes, while keeping the tires on and without any modifications of the vehicle. A little pricey at $25,000, but the practical and fun possibilities are priceless! Like snowshoes-on-steroids for your truck! Check out their website for specifics and more videos.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Add an auxiliary fuel tank without using your truck bed space

Expanding your available distance between fuel stops can be an attractive proposition. In an area where fuel prices are low? Pump in as many gallons as you can to get you through those 'higher than a cat's back' fuel price areas (Can you spell CALIFORNIA?). Not every truck has a tank as big as you'd like, and adding on an "extra" tank is great – provided you've got room in the bed. For the truck camper set, it's an impossibility – until now.

If your diesel pickup is American built, and newer than 1999, you may have room for that spare tank – look down under. No, you don't need to head off to Australia (although we'd love to check out that continent!). Nope, according to Titan, come this December you can put an extra fuel tank under your truck – right where you spare tire currently lives.

A 'one-size-for-all' tank uses that space under the bed to tuck away 30 more gallons of diesel. The system is said to be designed for the average owner to be able to install on their own, and includes all the needed parts to get the job done. Once installed, an in-cab electronic control allows you to transfer your engine's fuel needs from the OEM tank to the new Titan auxiliary.

How's it go? First, you'll need to purchase the tank specifically designed for your rig. That'll ensure you have all the proper mounting brackets and hardware. After your spare tire is out of the way, the new, lightweight tank lifts up and into place, attaching to your rig's cross members. No need for welding, drilling, or cutting. A mounting stud runs through the middle of the new tank, much like the one that held the spare in place.

The tank itself is built from polymer, and the company says the material is well designed to alleviate the problems some have seen with additives corroding ordinary steel tank walls. The polyethylene material is 200 times less thermal conductive than steel, and its insulating properties eliminate condensation, boosting mileage efficiency by keeping fuel cooler and closer to optimal combustion temperatures than metallic tanks, according to a press release. All Titan fuel tanks come with a limited five-year warranty.

You may wonder about safety, after all a little rear-ender could ruin your whole day if a tank ruptured. Titan notes that the company has done extensive analysis doing "virtual" testing for impacts, off-road conditions, and accelerated aging. But to cover all the bases, the company requires that your truck be equipped with a heavy class-5 hitch, which they are quick to note, are "standard on most full-sized diesels."

Of course, if you take your spare tire out to install this extra fuel bucket, where will you end up putting the spare? Well, that's another issue. Their suggestion is to take advantage of their new spare tire mounting system that goes – where else – in the truck bed.

Titan dealers will have the new tank system available come December 1. That gives you a while to look for a front bumper mount spare rack, or figure out how to stick your spare on your camper roof. Meantime, here's a link to the manufacturer's web site.