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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Truck Camper Modifications….Generator & Bikes

Generator Frame Mount in the Works
When one travels with a truck camper or anything else one keeps his eyes open for ways to make life easier. This philosophy is what I’ve been doing this past year as we traveled from Alaska to Florida. This is not to say that life was not easy. We had a comfortable ride and living quarters. The need to improve things comes from my military training. It’s called position improvement.
Well, enough on philosophy! Here’s what I’ve been up too. On the road everything ran as it should and we were able to have electricity for the day and night demands. The problem encountered was when we stayed put for a couple of weeks in Key West at a Coast Guard RV campground.
The bug cover should help!
They had everything except electrical hookups. Our 50 watt solar panel wouldn't keep up with our heavy demand at night. With two laptops running, camera batteries, cell phones charging and camper lights it was a little much for the one camper battery and solar panel. Our generous neighbor (Lauren) graciously aloud us to plug into his Honda Eu2000i generator at night. This would be my "must have unit" addition for the camper. I spent a couple of weeks thinking…would I store this 46 pound generator on the roof? Would it fit on a bracket somewhere in the outside rear of the camper. I was thinking that would add additional weight which I didn’t need aft of the rear axle. I noticed that all of the other campers had there generators secured on the ground to there RV in one way or another. No, the way for us to go was  to mount the beast in the front of the truck.
Trial fit with mountain bikes
I already had fabricated a removable front hitch receiver which mounted on the existing Fisher Snow Plow mount. This receiver hitch mount is secured with two padlocks and two 1-1/4x8 inch harden nuts and bolts. The hitch was created for our two mountain bikes. I  wasn't impressed with bike racks in the rear of the camper. Back there the bikes get full of dust, dirt and they are always in the way when entering the camper. I have no problem wiping off an occasional dead bug. Back to the generator bracket. I had to design the location so it wouldn't interfere with the headlights and the bikes. I came up with a solution! It is strong, sits above the bumper and clears the bikes. The generator is secured to the truck frame and can stay in place at night. I just need to walk the camper electrical cable around to the front of the truck, plug in, set the choke pull the cord once and turn on the lights.

Well there is always a little more to the story! Remember position improvement. The existing bike rack worked flawlessly all the way to Alaska and back, but as I watched it on bumpy roads the bikes would yaw and roll gently fore and aft. (maybe I don’t have the proper naval wording) I discovered this movement was caused by an Aluminum H beam I used in the original fabrication to save weight (actually it was because I had the beam in the shop). This was the excuse to redo the bike rack and eliminate the roll. I would also move the bikes forward three to four inches further away from the truck. This made me think of possible additional stress on the hitch receiver. Ah! if the bike tube extended further back into the plow super structure it would double the strength and further prevent up and down movement.

I finally rebuilt the whole thing using thicker angle iron. Luckily I had all of the materials laying around the shop. Of course there is my time, but when your semi-retired you are suppose to do the things you want to do right?Light bulbI’ve had the pieces on and off the truck a dozen times. Everything fits perfectly. One of the last things to accomplish is to spray paint the works with Hammer Rite paint to protect the project.
That is what I did!

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