The Setup

The first question was whether we would do this year long trip in the camper we bought last summer, even with the leak and the number of issues prevalent with a 20 year old camper, or if we needed to upgrade to a nicer camper. The decision was easy for us. We had no reason to want to purchase a new and expensive camper just to put 30,000 miles of wear and tear on it, all the while learning what features we actually wanted in a new camper. We would make our $2,500 camper work for us for now, with full expectations that we would be willing to replace it if anything went wrong.

Similar story with our truck that Blake bought last spring, a 2001 F250 diesel turbo 7.3L Powerstroke that was used in the oil fields of Wyoming prior to us finding it. Blake found it on Craigslist for $3K with 420,000 miles (supposedly on it’s second engine), and we cleaned it out by taking our power washer directly to the interior of the cab. So we got the foundation of our entire truck/camper set up for $5,500, plus another couple grand for performance upgrades to better outfit the truck for hauling the camper around.

Our first big trip with the camper summer of 2017. The camper survived this hail storm in Pagosa Springs.

We dealt with a few issues on the camper in the last year. Our home fixes have been revolved around making this camper livable in the short term, because we have no idea how long the integrity of the camper is going to last.

  • The seal for the window by our bed was letting in water- causing the water damage we found when purchasing it. We bought some silicon and sealed it up- we’ve only had a couple drips of water sneak in since.
  • The extension over the cab where our mattress is is completely warped from water damage, making our mattress shaped like a boat. Without wanting to tear out all the paneling, we dealt with this by spraying anti-mold on the surface under the mattress, and leveling it with a couple sheets of packaging foam.
  • We put two different water filters into place, one between the fresh water tank and our sink, and one as the water comes out the kitchen sink. 
  • Replaced the thermocouple on the hot water heater.
  • Replaced the heater motor for the furnace.
  • One of the jacks was completely rotted – Blake and our friend Spencer did a full replacement of the wood paneling.
  • The warped extension over the cab smacks on the top of the cab everytime we go over a larger bump. We fixed this by bolting on a piece of plywood to the bottom of the camper so that it is more elevated when it sits in the bed of the truck.
  • Replaced a skylight in the bathroom- easiest fix of the year at $2! (Gotta love the ReStore)
  • We removed the satellite that the previous guy had on the roof. (What is satelite TV anyway?)
  • The bumper on the camper was just about falling off. Made stepping in pretty sketchy. Turned out the quick fix for this was simply adding a few extra bolts which got the bumper sturdy enough to stand on again.

 

We’ve added a few home touches to make the camper more livable. This involved putting everything in crates. Everything has to have a specific place and go back where it came from. We’ve added a knife holder, I was able to make one of the drawers in the kitchen into a spice drawer. We each have a small cabinet next to our bed for clothes, and we are using fabric storage cubes for additional clothing, which fit in next to our bedside. We are also using several drawstring bags stuffed into the space next to our bed for other loose articles of clothing. We are trying to use every inch of the camper efficiently. We’ve added touch LED lights into all cabinets that are USB rechargeable and remove-able. 

We have also decked out the camper with a slick solar system. We have 400 watts of flexible solar panels hooked up to our Battle Born Lithium Batteries and a Victron solar charge controller. We can monitor our current consumption and power generation by bluetooth on our iPhones. We are able to run our household appliances with solar- charge phones, computers, camera gear, as well as our microwave, crock pot, lights, etc. Its pretty awesome!

We also have three Home Depot 19 gallon tubs ratchet strapped to the top of our camper. These are able to fit all of our climbing gear, inflatable kayak and life vests, and spare camp gear. 

The truck also needed some repairs and improvements.

  • We installed an after market tune for the truck. A TS 6 position Programmer.
  • Blake installed a new Southbend clutch and a right leafspring (old one was cracked in two places, placed in the trash can at the old house, and quickly stolen by a neighbor… go figure.) 
  • We got a 2.5 inch hitch and extension to carry our dual dirt bike carrier and did some custom welding with our friend Shaun to reinforce it.
  • A wireless Airbags system to help reduce body roll and sway while driving while also helping us level the rv while camping. 
  • A gauge piller pod system to monitor our EGTs (exhaust gas temps). 
  • A back up camera that is controlled by the flip of a switch so we can monitor the bikes while driving down the highway. We also installed a touch screen deck in the truck for bluetooth music and also to link with the backup camera. 
  • Rugged Radio 25watt short wave radios for emergencies and for coordinating shots will filming between vehicles.
  • KC Hilites Flex Lightbar with 15k lumens.
  • Toyo Open Country R/T 285/75/16 tires wot ha 35000 mile tread-life warranty.

We’ve put in a lot of work, but we imagine we’ll need even more replacements/improvements once we actually get on the road.

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