Welcome to the eighth entry in June’s Mini Mod Contest. One Mini Mod will be published in every Email Alert in June. At the end of the month, we’ll hold a reader vote to determine June’s winner. Click here for information about the 2023 Mod Contest, including how to enter.
Albert Killackey, El Monte, California
Spare Me Removing My Camper To Remove My Spare
2019 Ram 3500
2012 Lance 825
My camper overhangs the rear of my truck more than two feet. After loading my camper, I attached my hitch extension.
While sitting under the rear overhang, I noticed the overhang also drops down lower than the truck bed. The drop down level is even with the top of the truck bumper and one inch below a small access hole located between the truck bed and the top of the bumper.
That access hole is where you insert the female end of an extension tube to connect to the male end of an otherwise identical tube inside the hole. Hereinafter, I will call it the inside tube.
These tubes connect to a lug wrench, which turns the spare tire winch, which lowers the spare tire. See the photo below and note where the tubes enter under the truck bed.
With the camper loaded, I realized that I might not able to insert and connect the extension tube to the inside tube. I did not want to be sitting under my rig in the wet mud or snow with my head next to the sewer drain finding out it couldn’t be done. I tried, but was unable to make the connection.
I drove to my tire dealer to ask for help. The shop manager sat under my camper for 15 minutes trying to connect the tubes and finally gave up. He said I would have to remove the camper to remove the spare. I called my local Lance dealer and asked if that was true. I was told that it depends on the year and model of the truck and the year and model of the camper.
I said, “I just can’t imagine being in the cold rain or snow and having to remove my camper to remove my spare.” I also doubt that my road service insurance would spare the extra time and wait for me to remove my camper to remove my spare. After that, I found some spare time and removed my camper to look into an extension tube.
To reveal the inside tube and winch, I had to remove my camper in order to remove the spare. Once my camper was unloaded and the spare was out, it became clear to me that – before I reloaded my camper – I needed to temporally attach an extension tube to the inside tube.
Also, I saw that when I thereafter remove the camper I will need to remove this attached extension tube because once the tailgate is replaced it may be damaged if it is lowered and comes in contact with the extension tube. The extension tube being in plain sight might also attract a spare tire thief who could quickly lower the spare.
Before I removed my camper, I measured the rear overhang area. The overhang drops lower than the truck bed, and extends far enough behind the bumper to allow me to connect and stub out one extension tube with a few inches to spare. I decided the best way to temporally attach the extension tube to the inside tube was to connect them together. I drilled a small hole through both tubes and bolted them together.
The extension tube already had one hole on its female end. That hole is for a ball spring plunger located on the male end of other extension tubes. This allows them to connect, thereby creating a set of tubes for cranking down the spare.
There is no ball spring plunger on the inside tube. I bought a drill bit close to the same size as the factory hole on the female end and drilled through both tubes. Then I used a stainless steel bolt and lock nut to temporally bolt the extension tube to the inside tube. I used stainless steel to protect against rusting. Then I cranked my spare tire back up under the truck bed.
The photo below shows one extension tube inserted through the hole.
This next photo shows the extension tube bolted together with the inside tube. At this point, the spare tire can be cranked back up into place.
After loading my camper, the stubbed-out extension tube was one inch above the bottom of the camper’s lower overhang. However, since it was bolted to the inside tube, I was able to pull it down and add two more extension tubes to it. Those three extension tubes made it past the rear of the camper and I was able to lower the spare.
Even if it was too tight, all I would need to do is raise the rear of my camper one inch to give it more clearance for the extension tube to attach to the stubbed-out tube. I was lucky that the extensions protruded out from the rear of the camper between the sewer drain and sewer hose container.
In the photos above and below, the grey/white area on top is the underside of the camper. Notice how the camper underside is actually one inch lower than the extension tube.
I have just returned from a 4,000-mile road trip on the West Coast. The extension tube was still there. I had no flat tire, but I was spared being concerned about having to remove my camper to remove my spare.
I bought the several items I needed at Ace Hardware. The drill bit cost $4. The stainless steel bolt and nut cost $2. The Spare Tire Jack Handle and Wheel Lug Wrench, which I did not need, would have cost me $24.14 on Amazon.
I am old and move slowly. With my Torklift Fastguns, it took me a little over an hour and a half to remove and reload my camper. It took almost another hour to remove and reset my spare tire. Truck tires are very heavy!
Drilling the hole through the extension tube when connected to the inside tube and then bolting them together took maybe 15 minutes. Overall this modification took me a little over three hours to complete and it cost me $6. Actually, it cost me more in fuel to drive to the hardware store. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is easy.
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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