Mark: Doris and I are working in a remote area of Idaho this summer. We will literally be seventy-five to eighty miles from shopping. The rangers told us the volunteers usually go shopping only once a month.
The service body provides a lot more exterior storage so we can stock up for extended periods. Fortunately, the place where we’re going does provide a storage shed, refrigerator, and freezer. With the Northern Lite 10-2 dry bath and Ford F-550, we’ll be in good shape.
The Ford F-550 was only about $800 more than an identically specified F-450. The custom service body was $12,000, but I got $1,000 off for the up-fit. Instead of getting a Lariot, I got an XL. With the extra money from not getting the Lariot, I got the storage body. It works for us.
Above: The center of gravy sticker is forward of the rear axle by a couple inches. The truck cab is to the right.
TCM: How did you get $1,000 off the storage bed?
Mark: My Ford dealer had the truck drop shipped directly to Auto Port in New Castle, Delaware. A sales representative actually came to our house and measured the Northern Lite. They had to make the service body lower and narrower because of the shape of the camper. They also needed to make sure the wings of the camper would fit the service body.
The Reading storage body is nine feet long. The base of the camper is eight feet long. They had to build a bulk head one foot off the front of the truck so the camper would rest against the bulk head. Since the wheel base on a Ford F-550 is one-foot longer than a standard pickup truck, the center of gravity remained two inches forward of the rear axle. They did a great job of telling us exactly what they were going to do before they built the service bed.
I got the discount because my Ford dealer had the truck drop shipped to Auto Port. That allowed us to get a $1,000 up-fit rebate from Ford. If I had only bought the cab and chassis, I would not of received the rebate.
TCM: How much does the service body weigh?
Mark: Reading said it weighs about 800 pounds. It’s made from diamond plate aluminum.
Above: Auto Port carefully measured the camper to make sure the storage body would fit right on the truck. Click to enlarge photos.
TCM: How did the service body affect loading and unloading the camper?
Mark: It’s a slow process to load the camper on the truck. They left a quarter of an inch on each side, so it is a tight squeeze.
The combination of the Ford F-550 and the service bed also makes the camper very high. The bed of the service body is seven inches higher than a standard pickup. When loaded, my rig is 12’ 5” tall. Living on the East Coast this means I need to be especially careful about overpasses and railroad tunnels.
They make GPS units that you can enter in the height of the RV and it will tell you where you can go. I’m eventually going to get one of those.
Above: The Bluth’s custom made tie-downs and Torklift Fastgun turnbuckles. Click to enlarge photos.
TCM: What tie-downs and turnbuckles are you using?
Mark: Auto Port had to fabricate four tie-downs for my Torklift Fastguns to attach to. I couldn’t use the regular Torklfit tie-downs because the service body would be in the way.