Life in the back of a truck (part 3)

March 14th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

We still haven’t got the shiny pictures from Carlsbad uploaded, so I’ll go back to an old standby and bore you all with life in the back of a truck… again!

It’s a truck, you can carry anything, right?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Weight is a big concern for most fulltimers, but I think it is a much higher priority for truck campers. At first glance, you might think a class C would be heavier than a truck camper, and you’d probably be right… at least until you add the truck. They’re on similar sized chassis, so why would you worry about weight so much more in a truck camper? If you stop and think about the construction differences, I think you’ll get a pretty good idea of what causes the problem.

Class C’s are built on a bare chassis as a stand alone unit. A truck camper is separate from the truck and still needs to maintain structural integrity. Additionally, it’s sitting on a truck that hasn’t been gutted by the manufacturer to remove unneccessary (for camping) features. A truck camper and truck combo has a fair bit of redundant construction compared to a class A/B/C RV. The camper has to hold itself together both on and off the truck, which is more than you would ask of a standalone RV.

But, it’s still way smaller than the giant 5th wheels and trailers you see people towing, right? Sure, but there’s a big difference in the way the weight is carried. Trailers put the bulk of the weight on their own axles, which is why trucks can tow so much more than they can haul. Trucks have all sorts of weight ratings including GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, and tire load ranges.

Confused yet? Ok, let’s see if we can make some sense of these ratings and which ones will matter to you.

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Braking in the Timbrens

December 19th, 2007

Monday night we drove the camper back to the campground through the Orlando highway system; about 45 minutes if you skip interstates and toll roads. Between the new brakes and the timbrens, it drives like an entirely different vehicle.

Its not quite a sports car, but it does stop with a lot more firmness and a lot less noise. While it won’t be doing pace car work over in Daytona, it certainly deals with corners and uneven pavement a lot better than previously. It’s still top heavy and prone to lean a bit, but there is no side to side rocking to speak of.

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Give me a brake!

December 17th, 2007

It poured on us pretty good late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but by about 9:30 in the morning, the rain had stopped and the clouds were clearing out.

With great enthusiasm, we hopped out of the camper (well, after wearing out the snooze bar and having a cup of coffee) and started tearing off one of the front wheels and the brake caliper. We broke a couple of cheapo sockets breaking some nuts free and had to run out for replacements, but eventually we got the caliper off and got to the brake pads.

And then we had to run out for parts again. Apparently the last guy to work on the brakes couldn’t be bothered with putting things back together correctly. He left off one of the anti-rattle clips and BOTH of the V springs. Eventually, we found a auto store with a ‘brake kit’ that consisted of 4 V springs and 8 anti-rattle clips. A whopping $20 for about one ounce of cheap steel… but if you don’t have it… Anyway, we now had what should be all the parts and proceeded to try and pull this apart:

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Truck Maintenance

December 16th, 2007


Today was a work day as we try and get the truck ready for a trip to North Carolina over the Christmas holidays. We were hoping to change the air filter, fuel filter, oil, the front brakes and add a set of timbrens.

We managed to get everything except the brakes done today. Thankfully, the rain held off, but it should come in full force tonight. We’re hoping it will be over by tomorrow and we can get the brakes done as well.

There was some mild excitement during the proceedings. Mostly, myself cursing the engineer that decided to use fine threaded bolts in the timbrens as I tried to get them to line up without being able to see them. The other exciting bit involved screwing the fuel filter cap down too tightly, which caused the gasket to bunch up and allow diesel fuel to spray out. It was a very fine stream, but between the wind and the spray, it covered the entire front half of the truck.

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