Welcome to the fifth entry in November’s Mega Mod-Ster Contest. One Mega Mod will be published in every Email Alert in November. At the end of the month we’ll hold a reader vote to determine November’s winner. For information about the Mod-Ster Contest, including how to enter, click here.
Kevin Mooney, Nimpo Lake, British Columbia
Safer Entry Steps For A Truck Camper
2014 Ford F-350
2006 Okanagan UDB106
When we bought our latest camper, a 10.5-footer, it was too heavy for our current truck to haul. So, I went shopping for a compatible truck. I also wanted a flat bed. I eventually found a used Ford F-350 dually that would do the trick.
A truck sits higher than a standard pickup bed and put our camper higher for entry and exit. I’m 6’2” and found it was a stretch getting in. At 5’3”, my wife often needed assistance entering and exiting the camper. It was time to build a set of stairs.
From the factory, the camper had a folding bumper step which was not comfortable to use. The rise of the step was about 14-inches. A comfortable rise is about 7-inches.
The hardest part was figuring out how to accomplish the step from the bumper/landing into the camper door. I also wanted to have access to the basement compartment immediately under the entry door.
After a bit of head scratching, I realized that I could build one step on the bottom of the existing step. That would give me the 7-inch rise I wanted. This would also allow me to keep the original configuration if I chose not to use the stairs.
I found some corner brackets like you see on old farm trucks with removable panel sections in stake pockets. With these I am able to slide the wooden stairs down in one set of brackets, and easily remove them for transport.
Once I had the mounting system figured out, and the rise of my stair treads, it was a matter of measuring my height to calculate how many more risers I was going to need.
In normal stair construction you have a predetermined rise and run for your stairs. The run is the distance away from the camper’s bumper in this instance. The run or length of the stairs was critical for me since the stairs had to fit in the basement part of the camper. This way they were also protected from the elements.
One drawback of having a longer and further out set of stairs is not having anything to hold onto while going up and down. I borrowed an idea off another Truck Camper Magazine mod builder and just added a small handle to the existing handle. It works like a charm.
Once I had my measurements I was able to start building the stairs. I had some 3/4-inch pine around and was able to use that for the stringers and treads. The width is only 24-inches. I figured this would be adequate to handle our weights.
For ease of sliding the stairs in and out of the basement, I chose to keep the stringers solid and not cut notches in them. Instead I glued and screwed pieces of wood on either stringer to support the treads. Stairs are always a bit fussy to make and these were no exception. Measure twice and cut once as they say.
The new stairs are very comfortable to use and solid. I added stair tread grips made of plastic that you simply screw down. I got them at Ace Hardware and they have great traction. We have used these stairs in the winter with no problems.
I was going to get extra creative on some sort of adjustable leg system, but decided to keep it simple. We just use some plywood shims if the ground is uneven. I also screwed some 1/2-inch thick plastic on the bottom of the stringers to keep them out of the water, snow and mud.
So far so good. I have noticed that adding shims under the stairs is no problem at all, but occasionally we are parked in such away that the stairs are too long. There is a bit of play in the mounting brackets and this usually is enough to compensate. In a worst case scenario, we just use the old high step set up and a small collapsible foot stool on the ground.
It took me eight hours to complete this modification and cost me about 50 bucks. I had everything kicking around. 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.
Enter Your Mods Now!
If you’d like to enter a modification you’ve done on your truck camper, click here. You can enter as many mods as you want, at any time. Good luck mod makers!