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Old 08-04-2009, 07:07 AM   #1
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etkeeny
Need advice for a new camper owner

I just picked up a 1989 M-1150 sportser, so far it looks like it has been taken care of pretty well, it needs some TLC, but not too much, the biggest problem area is the jacks and jack mounts, the jacks themselves are bent and the mounts are loose and bent. The next problem is my truck which is an 07 GMC 3500 crew cab diesel dually sits higher than the jacks can raise the camper, and the front jacks don't clear the dually fenders. I would like to install remote control electric jacks and would like some input as to everyones experience with them. I haven't had alot of time to look the camper over completely yet, but it does not look like it has a blackwater tank on it, this is something i definatly need to add. I will post some pics as soon as i can, but for now I just need some advice from anyone who has replaced thier jack mounts and what was involved.
Thanks,
Eric
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:21 PM   #2
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Here are some pics of the new camper, I got to look it over pretty good today after work, It does have both a grey and black water holding tank. All of the appliances work great except the heater, I was unable to light the pilot with the ignigter, but that can wait until another day, the fridge is a newer Norcold unit and is AC and LPG only and is cooling down at the moment, overall I only need to do some minor work to make it ready to go camping.










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Old 08-04-2009, 10:07 PM   #3
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Eric

WOW... that camper is in nice looking shape from the pics. Some one must of had it indoors all these years.

The "bike" in the back door must be fun too...

A double stainless sink??? Is that metal or plastic? The new ones are plastic, look stainless, however yours looks like the real think.

I'm not much truck camper construction on what they did but we have a few folks here that are. Some starting over from scratch...

Thanks for posting the pics. Very enjoyable viewing

OK, how did you get it on the truck past the duals?

Happy camping

John
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:50 AM   #4
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She's a beast! Thanks much for the pictures. It does look to be in pretty decent shape.

I had the same situation when I bought mine and ended up using cribbing blocks under the jack feet to get the height. I don't have the dually's in the rear of my F350 so it made it a bit easier, but it was still really tight and I wasn't at all at ease with the whole process. The original design for a long time was only 3 jacks!!! If it's teetering, be aware that a rolling 2,000lbs+ is pretty dangerous.

The wearing out of the area around the jack mounts seems to be a common thing with the older sunny truck campers. Do the best your can to reinforce into the structure of the camper so that you're distributing the weight from the lifting points. Hard to tell you exactly what you're up against without seeing it up close.

My plan (eventually when I get my newly constructed truck camper finished) is to build a set of 'gallows', one for the front and one for the rear end and lift off the camper from the truck. My vision is basically two very tall and wide swing sets without the swings. Once I'm out from under it I'll lower it onto the dolly I've built and wheel it to the corner of the garage here to store it. Walmart or Northern tool sell lifting winches that will be mounted on the gallows at around $50-$80/each. I'll put my new 'jack points' (probably heavy duty eye hooks) up on the top edge of the camper just below the roofline and reinforce accordingly during construction. I'm also shooting for a modular design of the lifting structure so that I can tear it down and get it out of the way once I'm done mounting or unmounting the camper.

What kind of plans do you have for storing your camper?

Installing electric jacks is certainly an option but is going to be pretty expensive having to buy 4. Conservatively I'd say around $150/each. There are systems sold for upwards of $1500!

Here's something designed for your application to add additional width for getting it on and off a dually.
http://www.towshop.com/store/pc/view...?idproduct=432

Also I'd look into having a mounting set up installed on the truck. Happijac is a good product to look into. It'll get your away from the ratchet straps and add turnbuckles and chains and secure mounting points that will tie into the frame of your truck. You want that thing rigid! Adding that top weight adds a ton of 'roll' the truck when you're cornering, as you probably well know by now. If those lashing straps are exposed to any friction at all they'll wear out super fast and break.

Hope all that helps. Glad to see another truck camper member. Happy fixing! Any questions, feel free.

Take care,
Lode
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Old 08-05-2009, 05:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB

WOW... that camper is in nice looking shape from the pics. Some one must of had it indoors all these years.
Thanks, I don't think it was indoors but it was pretty well taken care of, so far everything works inside, just a few of the marker lights on the outside need to be fixed


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
The "bike" in the back door must be fun too...
Yea, just one of the toys. It will be nice to take the bike in the trailer behind the camper for some trips

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
A double stainless sink??? Is that metal or plastic? The new ones are plastic, look stainless, however yours looks like the real think.
It's a real stainless double sink, no plastic here

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
OK, how did you get it on the truck past the duals?
That was quite a process, to start with the jacks wouldn't raise the camper high enough to clear the bed of the truck, so I had to raise it all the way up and then set up concrete blocks topped with wood to set the camper on, then raise the jacks to crib underneath the legs then raise it again just high enough to clear the bed, It was quite unstable that high and I thought for a moment it might go over as 3 of the 4 jacks were bent badly, I was able to get the truck under it enough so the front jacks were just about touching the dually fenders, then I lowered the front of the camper until the weight was off the jacks and removed the front jacks, at this point the camper was almost level but I didn't want to move the truck as I fearesd the rear jacks would crumble, so I built up enough cribbing, under the frame of the camper in the drop down section in the back, so the majority of the weight was on the cribbing and not on the jacks, then ever so slowly I backed the truck under the camper letting the front of the camper slide on the bedliner. It took about 2 hrs to do it, I kept stopping and checking the cribbing to make sure nothing had shifted. It was definatly not how I would recomend loading a camper but the jacks were way too unstable and they wouldn't clear the fenders anyway. I don't care what the label says on those old Rieco jacks, they do not support 1000lbs each. The replacement set I found is rated for 2000lbs per jack and has 8" more lift.
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
She's a beast! Thanks much for the pictures. It does look to be in pretty decent shape.
Overall I'd say it's in very good shape for being 20 years old, at some point it was hit from behind or was backed into something and repaired, the diamond plate covers the crinkled siding. If it weren't for the jacks it would be ready to go as is

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
The wearing out of the area around the jack mounts seems to be a common thing with the older sunny truck campers. Do the best your can to reinforce into the structure of the camper so that you're distributing the weight from the lifting points. Hard to tell you exactly what you're up against without seeing it up close.
I think the previous owner stored the camper on the jacks and not on some kind of stand or dolly, and that allowed the wieght of the camper over time to bend the mounts and pull the wood apart underneath, here are some pics of the damage, most of the damage is to the front jack mounts, the drivers rear mount is just slightly loose and the passenger rear mount is fine, still straight and tight.






Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
My plan (eventually when I get my newly constructed truck camper finished) is to build a set of 'gallows', one for the front and one for the rear end and lift off the camper from the truck. My vision is basically two very tall and wide swing sets without the swings. Once I'm out from under it I'll lower it onto the dolly I've built and wheel it to the corner of the garage here to store it. Walmart or Northern tool sell lifting winches that will be mounted on the gallows at around $50-$80/each. I'll put my new 'jack points' (probably heavy duty eye hooks) up on the top edge of the camper just below the roofline and reinforce accordingly during construction. I'm also shooting for a modular design of the lifting structure so that I can tear it down and get it out of the way once I'm done mounting or unmounting the camper.
Does that mean that you wont have any jacks on your camper or that you will have both but use the hoist for loading onto the dolly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
What kind of plans do you have for storing your camper?
I was planning on building a dolly that I can roll it around on, but it will have to have pneumatic tires on it as my driveway isn't paved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
Installing electric jacks is certainly an option but is going to be pretty expensive having to buy 4. Conservatively I'd say around $150/each. There are systems sold for upwards of $1500!
After doing alittle research last night I have decided to just go with manual jacks for now, although I will not put the same ones on that were on it, I will be putting the HD version that can handle 2000lbs per jack, with the extended dually brackets for the front, the electric ones are nice but I don't like the look of the jack hanging down on the side of the rig when it's not in use, it's to easy to catch it on something when I'm off road, plus I just don't think I need to put 4 times what I paid for the camper into the jacks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lode
Also I'd look into having a mounting set up installed on the truck. Happijac is a good product to look into. It'll get your away from the ratchet straps and add turnbuckles and chains and secure mounting points that will tie into the frame of your truck. You want that thing rigid! Adding that top weight adds a ton of 'roll' the truck when you're cornering, as you probably well know by now. If those lashing straps are exposed to any friction at all they'll wear out super fast and break.
The straps were just temporary to get it home, and I was very nervous going around the first couple of turns with just those straps holding her in place, I was looking at the Torklift brackets and the Happijac ones, but they are so expensive for something I can build myself with a little fabrication and my welder I think I can make a similar system for way less money
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:52 PM   #7
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Restoration / Upgrade Project

So here is what I would like to do after I fix the jacks:

1 - I want to add a couple of deep cell RV batteries to the camper to make it self sufficient when it's not hooked to the trucks 12vdc power

2 - a solar panel recharge system for the batteries

3 - an accumulator in the water system to stop the anoying pulsation in the water system

4 - since the unit is prewired for a rooftop a/c unit I might as well put one in

5 - as you can see by the pictures the rear of the camper is pretty high off the ground, I would like to make a basement / rear step to increase the storage capacity and make it easier to get into the camper

6 - I would like to increase the size of the water tank to make extended trips easier

I'm sure there will be more as time goes on, but these are the first things I want to tackle, I'll be posting updates and pics as the project progresses.

Stay Tuned
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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Eric,

You sure fit right in with this group You haven't had your TC long, and already you have a great list of "MODS" planned. We are a bunch of busy folks on here. One idea from someone sparks yet another idea for some else. No wonder we are always so busy.

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Old 08-06-2009, 09:26 AM   #9
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"Does that mean that you wont have any jacks on your camper or that you will have both but use the hoist for loading onto the dolly?"

I won't use jacks at all, just the hoists.

I had the same experience as you with it taking 2 hours to load it up and as long to safely get it off. The whole time I was terrified of it scratching or denting my truck or it falling over and hurting me... mine only had the 3 jack points to get the camper up.

As far as your jack points and your truck tie down points... my 78' had the same so they didn't redesign anything in the 21 years difference in the age of our campers.

If you've got a welder/fabricator at your disposal.... bonus!

I'm planning on taking a custom made right angled 'L' tab of 1/4" metal plating about 4" wide (reinforced at the right angle, similar to the original jack mounts) that runs underneath the wing and down the sidewall of the camper to the point where the camper body meets the bed of the truck. Probably a bit of overkill but I'm a firm believer in doing something once and doing it right and not having to mess with it ever again.

Here's a link to all the pics I've got of the old one before it got 'recycled' and the new one in construction. Might give you an better idea as to how they built em.
http://s276.photobucket.com/albums/k...SDR/?start=all

Any batteries in the camper now or does it just run off the truck?
If you're adding another plan on buying 2 so they're identical. Mixing/matching batteries of different ages and strength can trash both of them. Unless you want to go crazy on glass mat batteries, the gels seem to be the best choice at this point as far as reliability, longevity and maintenance.

There's some good guides on the board here regarding making your own solar panels.
http://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/ph...cells&start=15

I'd start looking around for a rooftop ac for it used. You're probably not going to want to take the 'new' route... $$$$

I'd type more but I've got to crawl under my house and cut out some plumbing, then probably 3-4 trips to Lowes.

Take care,
Lode
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:09 PM   #10
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Thanks for the links to the pics Lode, Looks like you have taken on quite a project, The scary part is that your camper looks like it's in pretty good shape in the pictures with it on your truck. I'm almost afraid to start ripping into mine now....

I've got a couple of questions for you though, is the picture of what looks like a dolly the new floor and you have just mounted some castors on it to move it around during construction? Also what were you planning on using for siding and roofing material?

the design itself seems to be the problem for the jacking areas, if the wing areas are just framed with some plywood and 2x3's and the entire weight of the camper is lifted by that area it has got to flex, I am thinking that when I rip mine apart I might use some aluminum box tubing to replace the two cross members at the front of the camper, these would be the two that are at the top of the compartment that the water tank is in, at least that way they would extend all the way across the camper and become the base for the jacks to mount to.

When I was looking for a camper over the last couple of weeks I debated buying a new unit, but I just couldn't see paying $50,000 for a slide in. Now after looking at your project I'm wondering if I can't just build exactly what I want. That was one of the issues that I found, none of the floor plans were exactly what I was looking for. I'm wondering if I framed the entire thing from aluiminum and Tig welded everything together what the weight difference would be over wood construction.

You've given me a bunch of ideas, and since I'm a mechanic and a fabricator I can see that this is going to be a fun winter...
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:57 PM   #11
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Wow, I love the pics, nice looking camper. I'm glad to see that it will live on maybe for another 20 years.
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:49 AM   #12
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I'm almost afraid to start ripping into mine now....

I was pretty disappointed but was fortunate enough to email a picture to the guy I bought it off of with the overcab bed on my shop floor and he refunded me some cash!

the picture of what looks like a dolly the new floor and you have just mounted some castors on it to move it around during construction?

That's an independent 3K capacity dolly I built before taking the camper off the truck for the 1st time that the camper floor set onto perfectly, both being 4x8. I can use if if the camper is on the truck for projects like motor work, etc and have the capacity to wheel it out of the way.

The floor of the camper right now is just 1" OSB. In my dreams I'll install a heated subfloor on top of it. At very least it'll have the blue panel insulation like the rest of the body to prevent leeching of the cold through the truck bed.

Also what were you planning on using for siding and roofing material?


The roof will be aluminum (I love the sound of rain on aluminum!!!), I'm undecided as of yet for the siding material. My quandry, I love aluminum siding on trailers... it's lighter, and more durable but it's more labor intensive and expensive to install. In the same breath I like the look of fiberglass sheeting more than that of aluminum siding. I also think it'll be much easier to install. The only difference is the fiberglass requires a thin OSB shell vs the siding attaching directly to the studs. I'm not looking forward to the cost on this... the material and trim is going to be, by far, the biggest out of pocket to get her finish.


the design itself seems to be the problem for the jacking areas

I couldn't agree more. It's an area that I'm taking special care to reinforce for both the stress of being pulled downward 'tieing it' to the truck and the squeeze it'll take when it's on the hoist.

when I rip mine apart I might use some aluminum box tubing to replace the two cross members at the front of the camper, these would be the two that are at the top of the compartment that the water tank is in, at least that way they would extend all the way across the camper and become the base for the jacks to mount to.

Whatever you can do to get the support distrubuted across the frame is a bonus and will add longevity to the camper. The stresses it takes being rigid on the truck, but not so tight you're pulling the camper apart leaves the rest of the 'give' when you're cornering in the camper frame itself. If that's weak, you're going to feel like you're walking around with a water buffalo on your back no matter how you're tied down.


When I was looking for a camper over the last couple of weeks I debated buying a new unit, but I just couldn't see paying $50,000 for a slide in.
I can't believe how much new ones go for... and weigh!

Now after looking at your project I'm wondering if I can't just build exactly what I want.

That's was what made me decide to start from scratch on it. We have a 21' Sunny trailer we use in the spring/summer/fall so I wanted a 'cold weather' camper without having to drag a trailer around in the snow and ice. With the redesign off the original dimensions I was able to lose some windows, the fridge, bathroom sink, and range and add a bigger heater and a gray water tank. I'll have what I want in the end.


none of the floor plans were exactly what I was looking for.

If I had it to do over again I'd build something much smaller without the overcab bed and add a nicer sleeper dinette but I still look forward to the old 78 Sunline 'classic' appearance it'll have... it's just been a lot more work than I anticipated but that's the story of my life.


I'm wondering if I framed the entire thing from aluiminum and Tig welded everything together what the weight difference would be over wood construction.

I think the weight will be a little lighter but the biggest difference is in the structural integrity you'd get from box aluminum vs stick building it. Cost of materials is also going to soar with going aluminum.

You've given me a bunch of ideas, and since I'm a mechanic and a fabricator I can see that this is going to be a fun winter...

... the wheels are turning... Anything I can lend a hand with, I'm happy to help.

Take care,
Lode
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:31 PM   #13
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Updates

So i've started to work on the repairs to the camper, I've decided that I don't like the look of the aluminum siding and I will be upgrading to the newer Plastic reinforced fiberglass siding, I will also be replacing all of the Jalosy windows with new thermal pane tinted windows, and lastly I will be removing the aluminum roof and replacing it with fiberglass as well. I've ordered new HD jacks from Reico-Titan basically what was on the camper but the HD model with a 2000lb per jack capacity, I've also ordered a set of torklift tie towns for the truck. Here are some of the first pictures of the demo phase.


in this first pic that green hose is the water fill hose just tucked up out of the way, the LPG compartment liner was also removed before the pic was taken

when I cut the aluminum away the jack mount just fell off, it was only being held in place by the aluminum skin underneath and the bolts that ran through the LPG compartment floor

Water damage around the electrical plug, my truck does not have wiring at the front of the bed so I will be moving this plug to the back of the camper, when I rewire the circuit box

this is whats left of the jack mount

the tie down point fell off when i removed the siding



Here is the rear jack mount on the drivers side, its obvious why the jack points fail, I can't believe that an engineer would design the mounting point like this, you can see the butt joints on either side of the jack mount, there is nothing tieng it together except for the luan.

I cant believe that the only thing the jack plates were bolted to were some pieces of one by sadwiched between 2 pieces of 1/8" luan, this will all be replaced with 3/4 inch marine grade plywood, reinforced with some 1" square tubing across the front jack mounts.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:13 PM   #14
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Eric

WOW

This is interesting. Thanks for posting the pics.

I think it is safe now to add you to the Sunline reconstruction artists list we have here on SOC. You are among an elite group!

I myself may be in the mod happy group… but have not had to on a Sunline do a major rebuild, yet, thank goodness….. Did however do a total reconstruct on a 1978 Starcraft PU but son did a lot of that too.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

John
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:55 AM   #15
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Looks like you've gotten into a similar mess as I had a year ago.

It's amazing what destruction you can find hiding in the walls behind the shell and the lack of foresight to building it stronger. Don't get too frustrated!

Keep us posted, thanks for the pics.

Take care,
Lode
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:47 AM   #16
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Re: Updates

Quote:
Originally Posted by etkeeny
So i've started to work on the repairs to the camper, I've decided that I don't like the look of the aluminum siding and I will be upgrading to the newer Plastic reinforced fiberglass siding, I will also be replacing all of the Jalosy windows with new thermal pane tinted windows, and lastly I will be removing the aluminum roof and replacing it with fiberglass as well.
For your siding, are you referring to filon? Got a local source for it? I could possibly use some myself but haven't found a local supplier yet. To be fair, I haven't looked that hard either.

- Frank
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:06 AM   #17
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I havent found a local source yet but I did find this one in Indiana, and yes it is called Filon.

http://rvsurplussalvage.rtrk.com/?sc..._id=4213993833
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etkeeny
I havent found a local source yet but I did find this one in Indiana, and yes it is called Filon.

http://rvsurplussalvage.rtrk.com/?sc..._id=4213993833
Hi All

I have been to this RV Surplus store. Was there about 3 to 4 weeks ago. Talk about a pile of stuff.... WOW. I picked up a number of things including a new stainless steel camper kitchen sink for $20. My find for the trip.

They have a little bit of everything. Doors, windows, decals, alum diamond plate for the rock guards (wanted one of them but no room)

They go around and acquire new overstocks etc from RV makers. Being right in Elkhart they have a supply of this.

Think of this place like an Army Surplus depot. Rows of stuff.... One of a kind finds.... Watch the pricing. Some things are real cheap, others are full price like anywhere else.

Black tanks, fresh tanks etc. These had rows and rows of them for $75 to $100. ….

Wish they where closer. They could help with my mod habit…

Hope this helps

John
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Old 09-07-2009, 08:31 AM   #19
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Here's a link someone here on the board passed on to me a while back. They also have the Filon.

http://www.cranecomposites.com/RV/index.asp

Take care,
Lode
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