Welcome to the first entry in February’s Mega Mod Contest. One Mega Mod will be published in every Email Alert in February. At the end of the month, we’ll hold a reader vote to determine February’s winner. Click here for information about the 2022 Mod Contest, including how to enter.
Forrest Renslow, Greenacres, Washington
The Dolly Modda
2017 Ford F-350
2021 Northern Lite 9-6 LE
In my shop, I can store my camper and boat in-line, in a single bay. However, if I want to access my boat I would have to load the camper on the truck to get to the boat. Or visa-versa. If the boat is out in front, I would have to move the boat out to access the camper. I needed to be able to easily move the camper around inside the shop to have options for accessing my boat or camper at will.
I decided to build a stout camper dolly that I could set and store the camper on.
I started by welding a 3×3-inch steel tube frame to carry the weight of the camper. Then I decked the welded frame with 3/4-inch plywood. The plywood deck and the storage shelf were attached to the metal frame by using self-tapping metal screws.
After getting the dolly all assembled, I put a few coats of white Rustoleum on the dolly.
The size of the dolly platform is 4-foot by 9.5-foot which allows it to entirely support the camper’s base with 1.5-feet left for storing camper items. The bottom storage area is 4-foot by 5.5-foot long, which is handy for storing all other camper-related items.
For moving the camper around inside the shop, I fabricated some T-hooks made out of 1/2-inch round stock. I bent a hook on one end and welded a cross T on the other. I can pull the camper around with the hooks. It does take some effort, or I can also just push on the camper to move the dolly around.
I did find that with the castors I purchased, all four were of the swivel type, that sometimes the wheels were going the opposite way I wanted the camper to go. To help in moving the camper, I added a bolt to the castor that would lock in the castor to move only side-to-side.
Then, if I need it to move in all directions, I can still back the bolt off to allow for full rotation of the swivel wheels. It makes the dolly much easier to move when the wheels are locked-in for side-to-side movement. This dolly is only set up for use on concrete and would not work on a gravel or dirt surface.
My Northern Lite camper on my Ford F-350 truck requires a 1 1/8-inch sheet of plywood and also a 3/8-inch rubber mat to get the proper clearance between the camper and the truck cab.
The dolly is also a very stable platform for us to be inside the camper without feeling like we are in a boat rocking around.
As you can see in the picture above, the dolly has space for camper accessory storage, so that I can keep all my camper items in one neat location.
I built the dolly even before we received our new Northern Lite. I believed it would work out well, but I was not positive.
I have been using the dolly and it is working out very well. I can arrange the camper out of the way to access the boat as needed. My wife really likes how stable the camper is sitting on the dolly for cleaning and working on.
In the picture below, you can see handles that I made to pull it around. We are still moving around 3,000-pounds of weight, so it takes some effort to get it moving. Once moving, the camper moves very easily.
Heavy Duty castors; $280 at Northern Tool
3-inch by 3-inch square steel tube; $675 at the local steel yard
3/4-inch plywood (3 sheets); $120 Home Depot
1-gallon of white paint; $20 Home Depot
It took me 30 to 40-hours to complete this modification and cost me $1,095, not including labor. That is for materials only! In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is extremely hard because you have to be able to weld.
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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