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What do I need to do to my truck to take a camper

PostPosted: December 2nd, 2017, 3:59 pm
by marcusspeer
Hi there everyone and although have had motorhomes for years, I'm entirely new to demountable campers - have just left the UK for a while to "do" Chile and other parts of South America with my partner and our five year old son - Yippee!
However ... I am not an engineer or mechanic (although have the brain to handle that kind of stuff if explained well to me) and I need to know what I need to do to the newly purchased Mitsubishi L200 / Navara CRT 4x4 to have it take a small three birth demountable camper.
I have so far worked out that for full time and gentle off road 4x4 use, I may need to find someone here in Chile who will change somehow the suspension / shock absorbers and also have some brackets fitted so the camper can be secured. And also, of course have a cable from the engine similar to a caravan towing cable that will work the campers brake and night lights and to charge up a leisure battery from the alternator - how does this sound so far - can anyone give me more advice on these aspects and any other things I need to consider before I go hunting for a second hand demountable in Chile.
Thanks for any advice folk. I've seen a post elsewhere on the net that suggests an L200 shouldn't be used at all for a full time, off-road demountable camper truck.

Re: What do I need to do to my truck to take a camper

PostPosted: December 2nd, 2017, 5:00 pm
by zildjian
Hello & welcome,
take a look through 'popular questions' here for some ideas but there's no reason why your L200 shouldn't take a camper.

Your questions are all valid and sensible and nothing any of us haven't asked ourselves,
I'm not sure what degree of off-road you anticipate, unpaved roads I expect which shouldn't be a problem tackled sensibly but if you intend to go overland everywhere you might want to narrow your search down to a pop top camper as that would minimise height as well as weight (something becoming more appreciated these days) also in terms of shipping the combo would likely containerize whereas a 'hardside' camper would be too high.

Re: What do I need to do to my truck to take a camper

PostPosted: December 2nd, 2017, 6:04 pm
by sabconsulting
Hi Marcus and welcome.

The camper will put a lot of weight over the back axle. For safety the first thing to consider is therefore tyres. I use BF Goodrich All Terrains, they are very tough and rated for a much higher load than the tyres that were originally fitted to my truck. I bought the BF Goodrichs to do the desert in Morocco. They would probably be a pretty good match for Chile too.

Some of us have fitted after-market airbag kits to beef up the rear suspension. These have the advantage that they are adjustable and add a degree of belt-and-braces. You can switch to heavier duty rear springs, but if you intend to use the truck with the camper off then this will likely make the rear suspension far too stiff.

Campers generally come with the same caravan electrical wiring, so you can just get the same sort of towbar electrics fitted you would have for a caravan. Once you have your camper solar power is a good addition to the electrical hookup from the truck. If your truck is brand new then the alternator might be one of those whose engagement is controlled by the vehicle ECU so it only comes on occasionally to reduce fuel consumption - I don't think these are as useful for keeping your camper battery charged.

Select your camper carefully for your truck. Campers are designed for different lengths of load bed associated with single, extended and double cabs.

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Get a camper that is too long and you will have way too much weight behind the rear axle which can lead to chassis failure. Look at the camper side-on on the same configuration of truck and try to visualise where the camper's centre of gravity would be, and where that point is compared to the rear axle (how much of the camper is behind the axle, how much in front). Centre of gravity on or forward of the rear axle is good. The further the centre of gravity is behind the rear axle the more you are trying to bend the chassis in a direction it probably wasn't designed to bend.

Yes, you will need some brackets to secure the camper to the truck, but you can wait until you get the camper to have those fabricated / fitted since they may vary depending on what camper you get. In my case I used ratchet straps from the camper's tie-down points to the rail that runs along the top of the truck's load bed until I got around to fabricating proper brackets. But I would be careful about using the camper too much / over too rugged terrain with ratchet straps. Too tight and you could pull out the tie-down points, any slack and the camper can bounce around and yank on the straps causing a lot of stress on the mountings - but ratchet straps will get you home and do for a short while.

The biggest thing to consider when shopping for a 2nd hand camper is water damage. This depends upon construction, but older campers, although clothed in an aluminium skin, will usually be timber underneath. The sealant on the joints doesn't last forever and can get damaged, people neglect to replace it and water gets in. Such water isn't always visible inside the camper but soaks into the timberwork between the inner and outer skins rotting it. So avoid anything with even the tiniest sign of water ingress (damp patches, sunken ceiling, discolouration, musty / damp smell). If buying again I would get fibreglass, but there aren't as many campers available. It is strong, doesn't rot and is easily repaired if damaged by anyone who knows how to repair boats. Modern campers often have highly thermally efficient sandwich construction walls - combinations of foam, aluminium, fibreglass, etc. Very effective, but you need to consider where you would find a company that could fix it if damaged where you will be travelling.

Enjoy South America, and good luck finding a camper.


Re: What do I need to do to my truck to take a camper

PostPosted: December 3rd, 2017, 1:10 pm
by zildjian
Useful illustrations there Steve so I've also reposted those in our popular questions section for newcomers

Amarok fitment (eyebolts)

PostPosted: October 10th, 2018, 8:53 pm
by zildjian