After reading through quite a few posts on the forum I have yet to find what I am looking for.
I recently purchased a 2nd hand Travel Lite 890 SBRX truck camper. My first camper. This I plonked on the back of my 2006 extra cab short bed Ford F-350. The truck has a few mods to make it "better", but nothing radical. Suspension is stock, tyres are 37x12.5R18 BF Goodrich AT, diff ratio is 4.56 and ARB Air Lockers added. Then there is slight tweaking to the engine for better performance.
Basically, now almost 3.000 km later, I love the camper and I love the truck, but the method by which the two are joined is c**p.
A lot of my driving has been on very bad roads with corrugation, pot holes and inclines up to 18%. As if that wasn't bad enough, I also drove a fair distance on very rough trails, that in hindsight I would not attempt without a more robust mounting system as the camper was sliding around, banging against the wheel wells and possibly even damaged in the process.
On one occasion, traversing a very steep trail with washouts, the right front tie-down loop pulled into a straight pin, fortunately not tearing the mounting out of the camper, but warranting an outcry from the better half who thought the camper was now on a private journey down the mountainside.
I have been in email contact with someone at Travel Lite, Larry Johns email@example.com. While my enquiries were general I received courteous replies, four in all. When I sent my ideas of a torsion free cradle mount, asking for an engineering contact, all contact was lost. I have followed up three times at the time of this writing, but to no avail. This, truth be told, pisses me off.
I have made a significant investment in a product from Travel Lite and have discovered that the insubstantial way in which the manufacturer expects the product to be affixed to my vehicle (any moving vehicle) makes the camper and vehicle prone to damage. I am trying to improve on this aspect of the design and am asking for information that can only be reasonably expected to come from the manufacturer.
Following is the original email regarding my cradle mount idea:
I have been designing a three point, torsion free cradle mount for my TL 890SBRX truck camper. What I now need is a contact within Travel Lite that can give me advice on camper structure and mounting possibilities.
I have included a simple view of what I have conceived. The design is in Google Sketchup, so I can send it to your engineer to turn and twist if so desired.
From left to right in the attachment:
The cradle, based on a heavy gauge tube spine. Total weight estimated around 250lb.
A simple diagram of the frame rails with fixed transverse mounts over rear overload spring seat and swivelling front mount (truck bed omitted for simplicity).
The cradle on frame.
Finally with camper in place.
This solution requires that four holes be cut in the truck bed to gain access to frame mounted attachment points, one behind each wheel well and two right at the front of the bed.
The questions I have pertain to the camper structure, such as:
Should I place the forward outriggers at the front of the camper tub instead of in line with the stock tie-downs?
What is the best way to fix the camper to the cradle to prevent it from sliding off the back, i.e. are the four tie-downs strong enough to handle this task?
Is there anything that I am obviously overlooking? (Nope, I don’t have the cash for a Unicat modded Unimog).
Look forward to your reply.
A month has passed without a reply. I have followed up twice with emails to "Larry" and copied firstname.lastname@example.org to no avail. My conspiracy theories is that company policy bans replies to these kinds of queries as this could expose the company to lawsuits.
So, here I am, fully aware of my personal responsibility for any and all designs that I conjure, but pissed off because I could be headed for a very expensive mistake that a short email from the manufacturer could prevent. Needless to say, I will never buy another Travel Lite camper.
That said, I am trying to make the most of what I got. I have a camper that I just paid $17,500 for. I can´t afford a Tisher, let alone a Unicat dream mobile, but I can justify some time and money to protect what I have and make it better suited for my needs.
In short, my idea is basically a boat trailer for my slide in camper, based on a three point Unimog mounting concept.
I have sketched the basic idea up in Google SketchUp, but would appreciate any feedback from forum members. My biggest problem is lack of structural info on the camper, due to sudden muteness of my contact there.
I can utilise tie down points to stop transverse movement, but my gut tells me that the leg mounts are stronger. I can use the front leg mounts, but not the rear. I have no idea what would be the best way to stop front/back movement.
There you have it. Please share your thoughts.
With advanced thanks,
Link to SketchUp drawing: