Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Solar Upgrade

Our solar system has been upgraded to 255 watts; wired in series, almost tripling our initial capacity of 95 watts and we've added a 3000 watt modified sine wave inverter. A 50 amp transfer switch automatically disengages the inverter if shore power is detected. We can now power all A/C plugs and our microwave. 

LED lights, water pump, furnace fan and our entertainment system were already on the campers 12V system, so this upgrade allows the batteries to be topped up faster when using these systems. Our HW heater is 2-way - 120V/propane. Our furnace is 1-way propane (with 12V used to power the fan). Our refrigerator is 3-way - 12V/120V/propane.

LOAF is truly capable of off-grid travel now ... the only item or appliance that is not able to be powered while dry camping or boondocking is our air conditioner. We rarely use it and have found that our MAGIC Fan, which runs off 12V works well to draw air through the camper.

In the future, we may add another roof panel (small). We have a couple of options for locating additional batteries and when the time comes to replace the AGM's we now have, we may do that. By that time, Lithium batteries may have come down enough in price and that could be another option for us.

New XANTREX 190 watt solar kit (foreground)
JIAWEI 95 watt solar kit (upper right)

New 50 amp transfer switch (lower left)
(2) EXIDE AGM Group 31C batteries, total 200 amp hrs (top)

New GOPOWER 3000 watt modified sine wave inverter.


Glad we didn't go the noisy generator route!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Keeping The Weight Of A Truck Camper DOWN

Updated: March 10, 2018

WHAT    WE    DO

We pay attention to staying as trim as possible. Depending on what we carry, the wet weight of our truck camper may vary from 500 - 1000 pounds. Some items are always necessary, some items may not be.

'Unnecessary weight will have a significant affect on the drive-ability, safety and fuel consumption of our rig. '



crewcab seat: 125# (est), removed 60/40 seat and replaced with a (25# est) storage platform 
rear receiver hitch: 90# (OEM), Reese Class V, only needed with cargo carrier
rear cargo carrier: 30# (est), Curt tray
220 pounds


Friday, January 19, 2018

Building UP The Suspension Of An Adventure Truck


Regardless of the truck and camper combination that we own, many of us who do, will modify and upgrade our suspensions ... eventually. 

Our rigs are often unique. Choices of both truck and camper manufacturers; the weights, specifications, configurations and layouts of those selections and finally the gear and equipment each of us travel with; will contribute to how different our rigs are from all others and consequently, effect 'how' we build safety and improved drive-ability into our suspensions.


What we drive ...

TRUCK            2011 F350 4x4 6.2l gas Lariat CC SB SRW
                             Registered Gross Weight: 7716 pounds 

CAMPER         2013 Lance 855S hard-side, 4-season
                             Registered Dry Weight: 2984 pounds

GEAR (major)    Roof: 2 kayaks
                             Crew Seat: 2 bikes, paddling duffel, scuba duffel, recovery pack
                             Garages: tools and supply, bbq, spare fuel
                             Estimated Weight Range: 500 1000 pounds

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In The Boondocks

An Old Post Re-written As The BOONDOCKING Page

Page Updated: February 2, 2018



Boondocking (wild camping) is essentially camping without electrical, water or sewer hookups. 
A good analogy would be, an off-grid home; that does not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, the electrical power grid, or similar utility services. '

As North American travellers and road trippers, we are all fortunate to be able to choose camping in government or privately operated campgrounds. These locations, provide all the amenities that most RV'ers would ever want, just by plugging in ... but, with a little creativity and a willingness to modify some of our rig's systems ... 

... we don't always have to stay in those places. 

We've always been somewhat adverse to 'car camping'. We've been spoiled! We come from a background of back-country wilderness camping where privacy, peace, quiet and solitude are the standard ... the high density, noisy, parking lot styled sites that RV campgrounds typically feature can be unappealing. Boondocking is as close as you'll ever get to back-country camping while travelling in an RV. 
Canoe Trip: Mountain River YT 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Re-building The Rear Suspension

Supersprings model ss13, were installed in June 2014, in an attempt to strengthen LOAF's rear suspension. After driving an additional 50,000 kms, we noticed they 'appeared to have lost their effectiveness' and we weren't sure why?


Contributing technical author for this post, Shane Hanthorn, has been LOAF's passionate, lead mechanic since June of 2015.


Monday, August 8, 2016

HW Tank Repair

We have wrestled with a hot water tank leak since the drive on the Trans-Labrador Highway in the Fall of 2015. It initially became apparent as a pump that cycled when it shouldn't have needed to. In hindsight, I suspect now that a minor leak in a plumbing fitting at the tank was the reason for the pump coming on. A small amount of water collecting in the HW tank cabinet became a larger amount and then a significant leak. Attempts at sealing the leak with epoxy, in a confined, tight, restricted area were unsucsessful. 

Eventually, we called in the professionals at Philmar RV Repair in Whitehorse. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dishes, Paint, Decals, Batteries, Wires, Covers

In addition to the installation of new PIAA Auxiliary Lights and AGM Batteries, we also completed the following improvements to the TC for this season ...
Camper Rooftop Dishes
... by WINEGARD and JACK
We don't watch TV while we travel and the 2 dishes that were on the roof were taking up valuable space. We may install additional solar panels in their place eventually. They also got in the way, when drawing a canoe or kayaks up to the roof for transport. I've located and marked the wiring rough-ins and retained the hardware. Any future owners will be able to reinstall the equipment if they choose to. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Auxiliary Driving Lights & AGM Batteries

TOOK the truck camper back to Cannifton Garage in Belleville for some minor service and a couple of new items. Great shop to deal with. Because we're moving, I've sold or packed away all my tools, so at the moment, I need to hire out almost everything that needs to get done ...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Upholstery, Storage, Communication

WE completed several more upgrades to some components and systems in our TC recently. These are areas that we had identified for improvement after our 2014/2015 trip to the SE USA and wished to see finished prior to our next road trip.

Here's what our dinette cushions looked like after about 200 days usage.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Controlling Sway

Truck and camper combinations and eventual suspension configurations are often unique. 

Each requires a different package. For ours, BF Goodrich, E-rated, 10+2 ply, A/T 275/70R/18 tires establish the suspension base; ours are rated for 3594# each. We have installed Lance cab-over struts to address 'porpoising', Model SS13 Supersprings to establish a loaded level ride and Bilstein Series 5100 RV grade shocks to control suspension flex and rebound. 

Presently, all of these suspension upgrades have made a significant improvement to the safe drive-ability of our truck & camper combination. However, there is still a minor amount of body sway apparent under certain driving conditions. The Hellwig Big Wig anti-sway bar (rear) has been designed specifically to address the body roll that can occur with trucks that haul top heavy slide-in campers.

The Install:
Technician Riley Paddock, at Cannifton Garage in Cannifton removes the Fords rear anti-sway bar. 
The stock bar was installed below and behind the rear differential.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Transforming A Crew Seat Into A Gear Closet

Truck Campers are notoriously inadequate at providing storage ...

... and, any of us who owns one, knows that! Because of the locations we sometimes travel to, it's important we keep our vehicle as short as possible ... a utility gear trailer is not an option for us. We pursue and enjoy several outdoor activities and each of those needs to be supported with gear. Therefore, we look to the haul vehicle for our storage solutions and specificially to its' rear seat. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shock Absorbers

... w e l l ... almost!

The original, factory Ranchero shocks on the Ford were past their serviceable life. They were done, no dampening capability whatsoever. I now know what it feels like to drive a 6 ton truck that doesn't have shock absorbers. 

Fosters Garage in Gananoque installed heavy duty Bilstein Series 5100 shocks all around. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Websites Logo

Well actually three ... but they're all the same, a large one on the rear-end and one smaller tat on each cheek.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Exterior Body and Equipment Protection

The Body and Equipment Protection phase of our rig build is now complete.

We'll sometimes be travelling in areas where roadways aren't always paved. The vehicles body and lighting and several important components like the radiator, transmission cooler, brake lines and various low mounted hoses need to be protected. We travelled the Yukon's Dempster Highway a number of years ago in our first truck camper setup. Flying gravel and small rocks from passing tractor trailers and other vehicle traffic resulted in a cracked windshield, a drivers side mirror and no draft window glass both smashed and the camper door's glass cracked. That truck had a full stone & bush guard across the front ... given the peppered markings on the guard's mesh, had we not had it, I know we would have probably lost headlights and possibly a rad or tranny cooler. The Dempster is remote, service is available but you could be stranded for several days waiting for a tow truck to haul you to Eagle Plains or Inuvik for repair. Getting a critical part like a transmission cooler delivered could takes upwards of a couple of weeks. I prefer to be proactive, to protect important gear in advance and hopefully avert extended downtime later on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Storage, Paint, Reflectors, Rubber Protectors, Gaskets

I've been busy finishing a number of the projects that got started but were never finished, prior to our trip to Utah and in the process I've added a few new ones. All of these items address our on-going requirement to 'build' a travel vehicle that is comfortable and convenient on the inside for LIVING ... and also bulletproof, sturdy and comfortable to TRAVEL in. We also need to rely on the vehicle's durability and reliability under potentially adverse driving conditions.

Remember, this is the back of a pickup truck and we will be living here for extended periods of time. Of interest, we have approximately 134 sqft of liveable space in the Lance 855s Camper ... I believe that qualifies us for living in a small, environmentally friendly footprint and places us in the catagory of a 'Really - REALLY Tiny House'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Installation O Rear Supersprings

The rear suspension has been upgraded to address a minor sag and some noticeable body sway with the installation of a Super Spring Kit SS13.  Each spring is rated for 5000 pounds of constant, heavy loading. The springs have been set at the lowest position so potentially, could be set stiffer by raising the through bolts to the middle or upper holes. The right hand side of the spring bracket is fixed but the left (rear) is set on upper and lower rollers that allow the spring to automatically adjust to different hauling loads and to varying weights from side to side. Centre of mass can be different and the suspension stays level regardless. The condition of the shocks and factory anti-sway bar were also evaluated and found to be in good condition. 

I'll reload the camper soon and test the capability of this suspension upgrade. The sag issue has certainly been resolved. If this does not completely resolve the swaying problem the next step may be to replace the 2 rear shocks with 4 rv quality shocks.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stone & Brush Guard

The LATEST UPGRADE: Body Protection

Ranch Hand builds a good product. Their bumpers are available in the southern USA (Texas, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana), and also Alberta, Canada but, up here, you have to search around.

I had a custom built brush & stone guard made in Ontario just prior to an earlier trip north (1994) with an older 1994 Ford F350 diesel & a 1988 Maple Leaf camper. When we returned from that trip, after 20000 + kms and a lot of it on loose gravel roads, we had ....  a cracked windshield, the drivers side mirror and no-draft glass were both smashed and the campers rear entry door glass was cracked ... all from flying clouds of gravel. The face of that bumper was so badly marked with stone damage that, I know, had I not installed it, we would probably have lost an oil or transmission cooler, a radiator and possibly a headlight or two.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Build Goal

Building a vehicle that combines the characteristics of these two, and utilizing some ideas of my own.

Crusty ... reporting.

Cabover Struts and a Canoe Bar

We have an appointment at Trailica in Limoges to have both these items installed sometime in late March. The canoe bar has been fabricated and is ready for installation. The Lance 'cabover to truck cowl' struts are in stock. We'll need the canoe bar for our trip to the Green River and the struts are a necessary suspension upgrade.


Front Canoe Bar