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From Hard Side to Pop Up – A Four Wheel Camper Experience

All of this is much more difficult to write about than it is to actually do it.  After practicing a couple of times at the Four Wheel Camper factory, we were able to raise or lower the Grandby roof in a couple of minutes.  The lift mechanism is very refined and works so well, it’s actually fun to use.  Just don’t forget the SIX latches.

Grandby’s Missing Parts

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Before we got Grandby, Tom and Chicali, Four Wheel Camper’s Foreman, took off Grandby’s mechanical Rieco-Titan jacks.  Tom explained that removing the jacks made the camper lighter, gave the rig more side-to-side and bottom clearance, and improved visibility.  Of course it also meant that we couldn’t remove the camper, but that wasn’t in the plans.

Before we left, I noticed that something else was missing.  Where were the turnbuckles?  Little did I know that Four Wheel Campers uses aluminum turnbuckles that bolt into the truck inside the truck bed.  Since the turnbuckles are inside the bed, you can’t see them from the outside of the rig; they’re invisible!  Four Wheel Campers have access doors that allow you to tighten or loosen these turnbuckles from inside of the camper.

No jacks and invisible turnbuckles?  The differences between our Adventurer hard-side and the Four Wheel Grandby kept piling up.

Low Clearance in Fun Places

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Ever since we met Joyce and Ben, the owners of our local UPS Store in Pennsylvania, they have been telling us about In-N-Out Burger.  Joyce and Ben used to live in California and told us again and again that we had to go to this amazing fast food restaurant.  When we finally drove by an In-N-Out Burger in Napa, California, we just had to go.

First we ate dinner outside at their circle tables.  And yes Joyce and Ben, it was delicious. Then we wanted chocolate milk shakes and I suggested that we go through the drive through with Grandby.  Heidi and I drove up to the drive through window while Gordon and Tom, acting like paparazzi, took photos of us inch by inch as we drove through to get our chocolate fix.  This is definitely something you could never do in a hard-side camper.

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Speaking of things you could never do in a hard-side camper, we also took the rig through the Tunnel Log in Sequoia National Park.  In the Giant Forest area of the park, there is a drive-through tree, called the Tunnel Log, where people drive their cars through a fallen tree.  You heard me right; they drive their cars through.  It’s an auto tree.  Not a truck tree or a truck camper tree.  And we took Grandby, by the skin of his aluminum, through the tree.  How cool it was to have Grandby at that moment.  Even the bears were impressed.

Maneuverability

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ABOVE: If you look carefully at the middle and right photos, you’ll see that we spotted a deer on a trail and another Four Wheel Camper as we explored Sequoia National Park.

With a nine-foot long, twelve foot high, hard-side truck camper, we are able to maneuver in and out of tight parking lots, through crowded gas stations, and make U-turns at traffic lights, which is way more than most RVs can do.  Naturally we were able to do all of these things in the Four Wheel Camper as well.

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With the pop-up camper, we found that we could do even more.  For example, on the way to Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park, there was a sign that said, “Vehicles over twenty-two feet not advised beyond Potwisha”.  The rangers had told us about the extremely twisty and steep roads that would descend 2,000 feet in elevation.

Our hard-side camper rig is just over twenty-two feet so we might have had a problem.  With the significantly lower clearance, lower center of gravity, and lighter weight, the Four Wheel Camper rig drives like a car.  By that point I didn’t even think about it.  On the return trip up and out of the cave area, climbing in elevation was easy.  By the time our adventure with the Four Wheel Camper was over, we were talking about all the off-road places a pop-up rig like that could go.  The new possibilities were very exciting.

Everyday Life in Grandby

Most of all of the major systems of Grandby worked the same as any other truck camper we’ve used.  The hot water heated up in a hot water heater.  The two-way RV refrigerator kept our food and drinks cold.  And the 12-volt water pump moved water through the faucets.  These systems and appliances were familiar to us and easy to use.

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There were a few ways we used the Four Wheel Camper that were different.  For example, we would often use the camper with the top down if we weren’t staying in a place for very long.  The roof was low, but the camper was still surprisingly usable.  When we were in Napa Valley exploring vineyards, it was Father’s Day.  Gordon went into the camper with the pop-up down, sat in the dinette, and called his dad.  It’s not exactly ideal to do all the time, but we realized that we could function with the pop-up down sitting in the dinette area.

Sleeping in Grandby was also different.  The sleeping configuration of the bed was east-to-west instead of north-to-south.  You can extend the bed to queen size like our hard-side camper, but we kept the bed at it’s non-extended full-size.  Keeping the bed at full-size allowed me to get down easier and keep the dinette table in tact.  It also allowed us to keep the bed made all the time.

Storage is limited.  But, even with limited storage, Gordon and I were able to bring a fair amount of clothes, food, toiletries, computers, and things we needed for a week.  Four Wheel Campers has made it so that there are a lot of tucked away areas to put your things.  One of these tucked places that we found was under one of the dinette cushions.  There was a huge amount of storage there for us to stack our jeans and t-shirts.

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