Welcome to the first entry in October’s Medium Mod Contest. One Medium Mod will be published in every Email Alert in October. At the end of the month, we’ll hold a reader vote to determine October’s winner. Click here for information about the 2020 Mod Contest, including how to enter.
Charles Spray, Bryson City, North Carolina
Adapting a Torklift Fox Landing Step System
2002 Ford F-350
2016 Travelite Illusion 1100
We realized early that our factory camper step was not safe for older people. To fix this, I ordered the Torklift International Fox Landing step system to upgrade our unit.
Above: Before installing the Fox Landing step system
The step arrived in July of 2019. We had a camping and boating trip planned for August. Since there was no way to have the step installed prior to the trip, we decided to start the project afterward.
As luck would have it, I slipped on the small factory step, fell off, and landed on my right shoulder. I immediately knew my injuries were severe. However, I was breathing okay and wasn’t bleeding anywhere. I denied injuries to the crowd that gathered. I’m a registered nurse and, like doctors, we self-diagnose and make horrible patients!
I figured that if I admitted how much it hurt, they would call an ambulance. Then it would have been a nightmare trying to find someone who could break down the campsite, hitch up the boat trailer, load the boat, and drive the whole thing 60-miles to our home. I don’t let very many people drive my stuff.
Ideally, my wife, Rhena, would have driven our rig home. However, at 4-feet 10-inches tall, she is unable to push the clutch pedal down on our manual transmission F-350 truck. She was, however, able to help with loading our boat.
Our boat has a big block Chevy V8. It’s loud, powerful, fast, and touchy. Rhena is new to boating and our beast of a boat intimidates her. Thankfully, she was able to bring it from the campground to the ramp where I met her with the truck, camper, and boat trailer.
I told her to ease the throttle just a smidge, and the boat will go nice and slow. She did it. She was as proud of herself as if she had piloted the Starship Enterprise at warp 9.5 across the universe. I was proud of her as well! She has turned out to be a very competent and safe boat driver.
Then I drove our truck, camper, and boat home. I had to steer and shift gears with my left hand. Sometimes one just has to man up, or just be stubbornly stupid!
After returning home, I owned up to just how bad my injuries were. Rhena glared at me and said, “I knew you were full of it!” My right arm was useless.
After multiple trips to an orthopedic surgeon, X-rays, and an MRI, the verdict was in. I had suffered a complete rotator cuff tear and a double biceps tendon tear. Everything was totally torn off. There were no partial tears for me. The doctor said that it was the worst one he had ever seen.
Surgery happened this past February, and I’m still in physical therapy with a frozen shoulder, so I may be facing more surgery.
Getting back to the Fox Landing, I had to adapt it for our 2016 Travel Lite Illusion 1100. Specifically, I needed to make camper modifications to provide enough strength to support the folding step system, plus the weight of a person.
Since I weigh the most, at 265-pounds, I braced the structure to accommodate 300-pounds with ease. We tested it with 500-pounds to ensure safety.
The Fox Landing arrived as a kit. The amount of bracing required will vary from camper to camper. I used two-inch thin-walled square galvanized tubing to brace the structure of my truck camper. I utilized stainless hardware and fasteners to prevent rust and save weight. It has worked well while keeping the added weight minimal.
I can literally jump up and down on the Fox Landing step making the truck bounce on the overload springs with zero give on the Fox Landing or the rear of the camper.
Best of all, the Fox Landing clears our trailers and can be folded down to use with the trailers hitched up. I tried five different trailers; two boat trailers, an open car trailer, an enclosed race car trailer, and a commercial dump trailer. All clear the Fox Landing without any issues!
Since our truck is a 4×4, it sits high. We also added a folding Camco step that we place on the ground for the first step. For added safety, I also added an extra grab bar with a brace that connects to the right rear jack for stability. The bar can also be used as an additional handrail.
Another reason this modification was added so that my 82 year old mother-in-law can now enter and exit the camper safely. We often travel with the truck and camper so we have our own bathroom on the road. Public toilets, grandchildren, and little old ladies don’t go well together!
The Fox Landing is of exquisite quality, like all Torklift products. The price is quite reasonable, especially when you compare it to the cost of rotator cuff surgery!
The tools required in addition to hand tools are a metal saw and a drill. I used a Sawzall. Everything is bolted or screwed together.
We love our Fox Landing set-up. As you can see, it presents like a staircase and adds a large measure of safety to our truck camper.
It took me 25-hours to complete this modification and cost me $1,500. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is hard.
Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.
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