practical stuff ... loading and unloading a camper
• Happijac's "golden rules" - a clear and well presented page from the Happijac website giving the essential dos and don'ts of loading and unloading. Sadly not all jack manufacturers follow the Happijac example of imprinting the jack leg with a 'ruler' which clearly shows how far the leg is extended and where the limit of extension is.
When loading a demountable, aligning the the pickup centrally with the camper is essential as is keeping the pickup parallel with the camper as it is reversed towards and under it. Neither task is as easy as it sounds and most demountable owners will develop some sort of technique that is appropriate to their particular combination of pickup and camper. The following owners are happy to share their ideas.
• String's Wizzo Camper Alignment Technique - a long page from Teresa Petrykowski and Sterling Udell's blog (see 'where-rv-now.com' on the odds, sods and blogs page). You'll need to scroll down to about the middle of the page to find "String's Wizzo Camper Alignment Technique" - Sterling's low-tech but reliable and accurate system for getting it right.
• Do-It-Yourself Laser Loading System - a page from Russ and Tina De Maris' blog describes their higher-tech approach to the same problem using a laser pointer from their local office supplies store.
• D.U.H loading system - another variation on the theme from FarcticOx on the RV.net forum, sadly without the images which were originally posted but the description is clear enough if you want to give it a go.
• 'Truck Camper Loading, Marital Bliss and Why I Own a Dog' - also from RV.net, BradW's delightful, tongue-in-cheek description of the camper loading process.
• ehow.com - I've made disparaging remarks about the contributions on eHow.com elsewhere (see odds, sods and blogs or self-builders' information) and Michael Monet's effort on "how to install a truck camper" does nothing to make me change my mind but I include it here in the interests of balance and inclusivity. He claims, among other things, that the process requires a team of at least five people (!) and closes with the tip "If you find this process too difficult or do not have at least four helpers, you can take your camper and truck to an RV shop to have it installed by professionals". He doesn't explain how you're supposed to do that given that the problem you're having is getting the camper onto the truck. Doh!
• expeditionportal.com - 'One man camper loading' is a thread from the Expedition Portal, initiated by someone calling themselves Prybry, that describes and illustrates their approach to overcoming the difficulties of loading by fitting casters to the bottom of their camper's jacking legs. Nice idea but some of the cautions in subsequent postings are worth taking note of.
• leeroysramblings.com - LeeRoy Wisner describes a similar approach in his lengthy rambling "Ideas That Can Make a Pickup Camper Life a Bit Easier". Scroll down through the first few paragraphs until you come to the sub-heading 'Loading'. The rest of the page is less useful.
• United States Patent: 7891692 - 'Alignment unit for campers' - sadly not everybody is so happy to share their ideas for nothing. I presume the people who took out this patent in February 2011 are expecting to make some money out of it.
Once the camper is loaded of course it needs to be held in place by turnbuckles, ratchet straps, chains, or what have you. The important thing is that, whatever tie-down system is used, it is capable of coping with all of the forces that the camper will be subjected to as it travels. If you have a demountable camper and you don't know what they are, you should. This will tell you:
• Magleby report - although this report by mechanical engineer Spencer Magleby was sponsored by Happijac and, not surprisingly therefore, finds Happijac products to be beyond reproach, it nonetheless explains in detail the nature of the stresses that a camper, and its fixings, has to withstand. If you ignore the Happijac dimension it's a thorough and informative article. (You'll need Adobe Reader to read it. If you haven't already got it, you can download it free here .)
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Loading and unloading a demountable camper undoubtedly gets easier the more often you do it but, even for those with experience, it can be a daunting challenge and, if it goes wrong, it can be a disaster.
Here are a few links to sites offering technical tips and guidance to ensure safety and success.