14 January 2015

Raise the Jacks and Disconnect the Stinky Slinky

Location: Rock Creek RV Resort, Naples, FL, USA

picture of Lance On A Ford (LOAFin Around) Truck Camper
... inspected, serviced, maintained, aired, cleaned, waxed, polished, updated.

It's a lot of work you know ... this business of offloading and then re-loading a truck camper. I suppose that's why this post became a bit of a diatribe ... and, I'm sorry about that!

We've been at this last site for a month. It was a convenient location to maintain, inspect and service all LOAF's systems.  That's been completed now and all mechanical equipment is in good working condition. The camper body exterior has been cleaned and polished. The Ford's exterior was washed, waxed and polished. The truck was due for a minor service. Tamiami Ford in Naples completed an oil - filter - lube and and an air / fuel intake injector cleanse. Because this is as a dedicated vehicle carrying a heavy load, we've chosen to follow a 'Severe Service' maintenance schedule. For us, this means more frequent oil changes, greater attention to U-joint and wheel bearing lubrication, premature fluid service on the transmission, coolant and drivetrain systems. 

Yesterday we started the process of reloading the camper, and repacking all our gear in preparation for the move to our next campsite. We made a quick trip to Home Depot for some fasteners and then to Publix for groceries and supply. 

We've come to the conclusion that, unless we spend more than a couple of weeks in any area, it's probably not worthwhile offloading the camper. Primarily, because this job takes time ... about 3 hours today. If a stay is short, we are better to just disconnect from the campsite services and do day trips with the camper loaded. 

All mechanical equipment gets disconnected from the Lance and moved out of the way... electrical, cable, water, sewer. Our body stabilizers are dismantled and stored. 

Camper slide is moved in. The Lance gets lifted on the jacks until it clears the Ford's bed ... this is a raise of about 4 feet (and, can be somewhat scary). The kayaks are offloaded from the Ford, our secondary set of Thule kayak bars are removed from the Ford's roof and secured in the truck bed for transport ... rollers and saddles taken off ... those will get re-installed on the camper's roof bars when we move the kayaks there.


This next step often attracts campground on-lookers, passer-bys, helpful neighbours and other truck camper owners. It will, inevitably involve abunchof unsolicited advice dispensing, some giggling, lotsa laughter and ridicule but rarely anything helpful. 

The tricky part of the whole procedure is backing squarely and accurately onto the camper's center-line. I have to maneuver the camper body squarely to a stabilizer bar at the front of the pickups bed. The bar has bump stops on each side that keep the camper from moving around during travel ... this is a critical step ... I have 1/4 inch of play at each of those stops. Unless, you've actually done this, ... you have absolutely no concept of how difficult this maneuver is! I use a laser level mounted on the Ford's dash that shoots a vertical beam back onto the centre of the camper body that helps me keep in line as I back up. I've also suspended 'dangly things' from the underside of the camper body, that line up to the inside of the truck bed at all 4 corners ... these help keep me square as I back up. Together, these two aids are invaluable.

                                                Laser Level                       Dangly Thing in the bed corner

First few times this took me a couple of dozen tries but now I'm able to load successfully ... usually in under 6 tries, without much adjustment between attempts.

Next, reconnect all the mechanicals, camper jacks back down and stabilized, turnbuckles on and locked (believe it, people steal these!), cabover struts connected. Then we washed the roof and scrubbed down the rear and slide awnings. 

That's it for today ... we deserve an early Happiness Hour!

Rear awning down and secured, rollers & saddles reinstalled on camper roof bars, boats loaded and secured.

Delta Kayaks on roof of Lance camper On A Ford truck

The crew cabs' back seat (this is our toy box) is emptied and all gear bags are layed out and opened on the ground ... general gear bag (accessories for paddling, hiking, cycling, fishing etc) dive bag (SCUBA, snorkelling), overnight hotel suitcase, paddle bag, (2) foldable bike bags, (2) day packs, (2) chair bags, table bag and beach chairs, cooler bag, axe/saw bag.

Check and repack all the gear, sweep out and clean the back seat, reload all bags and secure them to grab hooks (stop from rolling forwards). Rear seats take up a lot of valuable real-estate in a truck camper ... they'll be removed before our next extended trip. I'd rather fill this space with sports gear, equipment, miscellaneous supply and emergency 'boutielles de vinos blanco et tinto' ... than with metal, foam and upholstery.

... the passenger side of our Toy Box is just as full, in case you were wondering?

Raise the Jacks and Disconnect the Stinky Slinky ... We're Outta Here!

Crusty ... notice how I always get the shi#$y jobs!


Your comments, suggestions, observations and even opinions are welcome ... please leave some!
TEAM: LOAF, Crumby, Wry & Crusty