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practical stuff ... chassis and bed modifications


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chassis modification flat-bed conversion suspension upgrades


Chassis modification
The idea of modifying the pickup chassis or of adding a supplementary axle is not new - the 1970s Born Free, the 1990s PRV Wildmoor, and the current Bimobil are examples - but, in that so many demountable camper bodies are back heavy, it is perhaps surprising that there are so few innovations aimed at addressing the subsequent problems. These are some of them.

  'No Sag Tag' - an interesting idea from Coach Masters RV but the only information I can find about it is this YouTube clip. The CM Haulmore 'No Sag Tag' (cool name!) is a removable tag axle designed specifically to offer extra support to the rear end of a truck carrying a demountable camper. The clip was posted in December 2009 so it's not particularly old but, strangely, there is no mention of it at all on Coach Masters own website at www.coachmastersrv.com. There are contact details there if you wish to pursue it.

  Quick Hitch Systems - Quick Hitch Systems is an Australian company offering interchangeable bodywork for light trucks utilising their unique mounting system. For lengthy bodies it can incorporate an undriven tag axle which could be a great system for demountable campers which can easily overload single, rear axles.

  Truck Transformer - Truck Transformer is a "truck body swapping system" built by Simpson Innovations Inc. One of the suggested applications of their system is for a demountable "hybrid motorhome" which, presumably, could be based around your own camper should you so wish.

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Flatbed conversion
Australia's been doing it for a long time, but there seems to be a growing interest elsewhere in running demountable campers on flat-bed rather than pickup trucks. The opportunities to increase storage and living space and to vary internal layout by utilising a side entrance are obvious advantages.

  3W Truck & Equipment - 3W manufacture flat-bed conversions (and other bodywork) for any US truck. Built to custom order only.

  Batari - Harald Batari, who have manufactured demountables for some time, have recently added aluminium flatbed conversions to their range.

  CPD bodies - CPD Bodies undertake all kinds and sizes of vehicle body conversions including the conversion of pickups to steel or aluminium flatbeds.

  Dieselwerx - among other products, Dieselwerx manufacture and fit flat-bed conversions in both steel and aluminium to a wide range of US trucks.

  Highway Products - Highway Products manufacture a wide variety of truck-related items such as toolboxes, racks, etc. but they also make the 'Strongback' range of flatbed bodies. They look as though they are well named.

  Northstar - Northstar has been building flat-bed demountables for the Australian market for some years but is the first manufacturer to introduce them into their US range. They have two models for 2011. You can see and read about the 'Escape Pod' here and the larger 'American Hero' here.

  Siamax Contracting - Siamax produce aluminium flatbed bodies for all the common pickups available in the UK. Most can be d-i-y fitted.

  Ute Ltd. - borrowing both the name and concept from Australia, Seattle-based Ute Ltd produce a range of aluminium flat beds, and other accessories, for one-ton trucks.

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Suspension
Air-assisted suspension is a real 'must-have' for any combination of truck and demountable camper. It can make an enormous improvement to the way that it drives and handles. There's a lot on offer in the market, the problem is that everybody and their grandmother seems to use the words air, ride and rite, in various permutations, to describe themselves or what they're selling! It can be very difficult to know whether you're looking at the same product on a different site, or at a different site for the same company, or what. These links will either help or confuse you further.

  Airide - Airide (with one 'r' or with two 'r's and a hyphen, i.e. Air-ride - they have two websites) build and sell air suspension systems based around Firestone's airbags. They include a comprehensive list of motorhome applications as well as all common leaf-sprung pickups.

  Airride - Airride (two 'r's, no hyphen) has a rather confusing blog-based website which offers air suspension systems for a wide variety of cars. I'm pretty sure that variety must include the most common pickups but it's not obvious from the site. Contact details are available if you want to check.

  AS Air Suspension - AS is another UK supplier of air suspension systems. Aimed primarily at the motorhome market, their list of applications also includes a number of pickups.

  Drive-Rite Ltd - Dublin-based Drive-Rite are the European distributors of Firestone's range of air suspension kits including 'semi-air' systems for virtually all of the 4x4 pickups available across Europe.

  Dunlop - the website of Dunlop (who incidentally use the name 'Air Ride' - two words, capital 'A', capital 'R'). It contains some useful background information about its air suspension systems and their application. The site directs would-be purchasers to Marcle Leisure (see below).

  Firestone - the European light vehicle section of Firestone's extensive website. 'Airide','Air-Rite' and 'Ride-Rite' are all Firestone trademarks, as are 'Sport-Rite', 'Coil-Rite', and 'Level-Rite'.

  Hellwig Products - Hellwig make a large range of stabilisers, sway bars and other suspension assisters, some aimed specifically at the truck camper market.

  Mad Suspension - among other suspension systems, Mad offer 'Progressive/Helper' auxiliary coil springs and 'Air Helper' kits.

  Marcle Leisure - Marcle Leisure sell Dunlop air suspension systems for most available pickups and motorhomes, among many other accessories.

  Midland Motor Springs - the alternative to fitting air-assisted suspension is to beef up your existing springs. Midland Motor Springs offer a comprehensive range of suspension services including repair, replacement and up-rating of all spring types.

  Torklift - Torklift claims that its 'Stable Load' can be fitted as an alternative or as a supplement to air-assisted suspension.

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WHAT'S ON THIS PAGE

Demountable campers travel best on modified vehicles - at the very least some sort of assisted suspension is required. This page lists various companies who can modify your vehicle chassis, your pickup bed or your suspension for you, or can sell you the bits so that you can do it yourself if you prefer.

If you find dud links here, please let me know.

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