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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dealing with camper "porpoising"

You've loaded up your truck camper and family for that wonderful time on the road. Mom's asleep in the passenger seat, and Junior is happily looking at the scenery passing by. Suddenly, your entire world view goes askew. At one moment your truck nose is pointing up at the sky, in the next it's looking down at the pavement. Your truck and camper bounces like, "a porpoise skimming the surface of the water going out of the water for a moment and then under the water."

"Porpoising" as truck camper owners call it, can be nuisance phenomenon at best, and at worst, can actually damage your truck, or even cause an accident. If you've experienced this nasty bit of misbehavior, you surely don't want to have it happen again. What's to be done?

First, let's talk about the cause. It's held that there are several possible causes. For the occasional event, it's often a case of road conditions. Concrete pavement, poured in pads with gaps between the pads, can occasionally set up a porpoise event. Often times, slowing down can take out the nasty up and down motion.

But if you find your rig porpoising more than just now and again, it's like more than just road structure is the problem. Overloading your truck or weight distribution are also faulted for creating this problem. Too much weight over the truck's rear axle can set you up for a problem. Running your truck across a scale and determining the weight distribution can help you to better relocate "stuff" in your rig. Of course, if your truck camper is heavier than the design limits of the truck, there's no real solution, short of changing your truck/camper combination.

Others have found that if their truck and camper setup includes towing a trailer, they may still be within weight limits, but by sticking the additional tongue weight on their truck, the distribution of that weight can throw them into a porpoise situation. You may need a longer truck to do a camper and trailer combo.

Other "fixes" come in with varying degrees of success. Some say that when they changed out their OEM truck shocks to aftermarket shocks like the Rancho brand, their bounce went away. Others (ourselves included) have found that Timbren suspension add-ons have helped. Still others have commented favorably on the addition of front camper struts that attach the cab-over portion of the camper to the front of the pickup. However, we've only seen struts designed for Lance Campers, not others.

There doesn't appear to be any "one size fits all" solution to truck camper porpoising. If you've got extreme problems, check out these possible solutions, and we'll post you with anything new on the subject.