Truck Camper Mods

January Mod Contest: Medium Mods

Dinettes have been changed, counter solutions constructed, bunk rails installed, camper stabilizers created, tank capacity increased, and more.  Pick your favorite, and vote.

monthly modifications january 2016

Welcome to the January 2016 Monthly Mod Contest.  Please review the following twelve Medium Mods and vote for your favorite.  We will announce the January 2016 Mod Contest winner next week.  For more information about the Monthly Mod Contest, including how to enter, click here.

This contest is now over.  To see the January winner, click here.

January 2016 Mod Contest Entries:

#1 Aaron Summers, Moorpark, California
2005 Nissan Titan
2003 Northstar TC650


Baby on board!  A camper that was previously only occupied by me and my dog, is now occupied by two adults, two dogs, and a toddler.  I needed to find a way for Owen, now one and a half years old, to play and sleep safely in the camper without rolling off of the dinette, which we keep folded down into a bed 100% of the time.

I researched many existing baby-security items but nothing would work well and stow away small enough when not being used.


Above: Dinette bed area with an without crib – click to enlarge

Using the tough canvas material from an old Slumberjack sleeping cot, a wood dowel, and closet rod mounts, I created a wall which closes off the dinette and creates a type of crib for Owen to sleep and play.  When not in use, the canvas rolls up and stows out of the way.  The mod doubles as a great place to store items while traveling, and keeps stuff from falling to the floor when off-roading.

Summers-Not getting out 2Summers-HappyCamper

Above: More pictures of Owen in the dinette crib area – click to enlarge

It’s been over a year and five successful trips since I installed the mod.  It’s a perfect little area for Owen to play while we are cooking or setting up camp.  And, when it’s nap time, my wife and I can enjoy being outside knowing that he is sleeping safely inside.


Above: Owen’s crib inside the camper – click to enlarge

It took me three hours to complete and cost about $10 for the wood dowel and closet rod mounts.  I already had the canvas.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#2 – Frank Niehus, Elbert, Colorado
2007 Ford 350
2007 Arctic Fox 1150


Above: The Arctic Fox 1150’s extra counter top extension – click to enlarge

The Arctic Fox 1150 has an extra counter top which is stored in the hanging closet.  It’s very hard to remove, and sometimes damages the door jambs and door.  Like most people, we never used it.  For us, it’s not worth getting it out and trying to put it back into a full clothes closet.


Above: Frank’s drawing of his solution – click to enlarge

I came up with a pair of hinges with a 3-inch pin so the hinge will slide three inches.  I put up the counter top like it’s designed.  Then on the right end I put a horizontal line on the wall with a light pencil mark for the height.  I cut a piece of 3/4-inch by 1-inch wood and glued it to the back to make counter top the same thickness as the other three sides.

I then fabricated a pair of hinges out of some scrap aluminum.  I used a 1/4-inch aluminum pin welded to the plates so that it could slide three inches.  Then I set the counter top on the end where I just glued the 3/4-inch piece of wood and screwed the pair of hinges to it.

I put the top in place by removing the rubber plug that aligns in the hole on the left and the two piece bracket which held up the right side of counter.  Having it in place and aligning with that horizontal mark I put on the wall, I screwed the other half of the hinge on the wall above the window all the way to the left three inches.


Above: The countertop is on a hinge so that it can be stored on the front wall of the camper – click to enlarge

Now I can slide the top to the right three inches to miss the step (for getting into bed) and the counter will now swing down in front of the window.  I can now slide it three inches to the left behind the step and I remove the chrome leg under the top because I don’t need it anymore.


Above: The countertop in storage mode – click to enlarge

In three seconds, I always have extra counter space and, in three seconds, I have it stored when going to bed.  I don’t have the leg in the way to keep me from getting into the floor storage compartment.  The slide will come within three-quarters of an inch of it, when it’s up or down.  I can leave it up while traveling if I want to view through the window.  I can’t think of any negatives.

It took me an hour except for the fabrication and welding of hinges.  It did not cost me anything because I used scrap material that was laying around.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#3 – Nolan Sturgeon, California
2001 Ford F350
2015 Wolf Creek 850


Above: The hinged bunk bed rail and rope ladder – click to enlarge

I installed a hinged bunk bed rail and rope ladder for my son, Brett, to access the top bunk and prevent him from rolling off.  Both of my kids helped stain the wood to match the cabinets.  I installed two hooks in the small cubby below the dinette that secures the bottom of the ladder.  Screws hold the top in place permanently.


Above: Folding up and in travel position – click to enlarge

The bed rail folds down and the rope ladder folds up to allow the cabinet to hinge in place when the bed is not in use.  We store all the bedding in the cabinet when traveling.

#4 – Russell and Gretchen Berquam, Livingston, Texas
2014 Ford F350
2015 Arctic Fox 1140

We like to remove the camper from the truck when we are in a location for several days. Without some way to support the camper I wouldn’t feel safe living in the camper off the truck.

When we take our camper off the, truck it wiggles and moves around a little, even when we lower it down to the low position.  That is not good for the jack mounts and it will eventually loosen and weaken the mounts or the jacks.

To stabilize the camper when off the truck, I made a stand to set the front onto.  The stand takes most of weight off of the legs.  With our camper on the stand, it is very stable doesn’t seem to wiggle at all.


The stand stabilizes the camper and takes most of the weight off of the legs.


The stand was made to fit our camper.  Since all manufacturers use their own dimensions for things, no specific sizes are included.


The support breaks down into four pieces for easy storing in the truck.  The two white cross pieces are bolted together.  The red uprights slide into the cross braces and are bolted at the desired height.


The support is stored in the bed of the truck alongside of the angles that keep the camper from moving around in the truck bed.


The cross brace has an angle support to keep the camper from wiggling side to side with adjustments for height.  The foot has angle braces to keep the camper from wiggling front and back.


The cross support is pinned together in the center with a 1/4-inch bolt.  The support was built with 1-inch square tubing with an 1/8-inch wall for the uprights and cross braces.

A 1¼-inch angle with an 1/8-inch thickness was used for the foot, the adjustable slides, and the center connector.


The support is adjustable for uneven ground and from 12-inches to 24-inches high.  I put a stop at the 12-inch position so the vertical posts could not impact the overhang of the camper.


The stand works like a champ and is very stable.

The materials cost $27 and the welding was about $10.  Not including design time, it took about three days to cut, weld, and fit all of the pieces together.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is hard.

#5 – Rick Bauman, Santa Rosa, California
2003 Ford F350
2000 Elkhorn 11X

I didn’t like the flimsy clamps on the rear camper jacks.  They put the clamp on the center of the jack. I wanted to improve the design and overall camper stability.


Above: The angle iron was bolted to the bumper and a clamp was put around the lower part of the jack – click to enlarge


I went to Home Depot and got a some angle iron, galvanized chain link brace bands, nuts, bolts, and washers.  I drilled three holes in the angle iron and drilled two holes in the camper’s bumper.  I bolted the angle iron to the bumper and put the clamp around the lower part of the jack.  Then, I bolted the clamp to the angle iron.


Above: The clamp up close – click to enlarge

I had to put the clamp on both sides of the angle iron.  Otherwise the clamp would be too tight on the jack.

Wow, what a difference in the stability of the camper!

It took me 1.5 hours to complete and cost $20.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#6 – Charles Coushaine, Punta Gorda, Florida
2001 Ford F350
2012 Chalet DS116RB


Above: Custom shelves in the kitchen for more storage – click to enlarge

We wanted to more efficiently utilize the entire space in the two kitchen cabinets so I built some custom shelves.  This was to allow for more space utilization and allow for easier and quicker access to the items stored here.


Above: No nails or screws were used in this modification – click to enlarge

Using no hardware (screws or nails), I installed two custom-fit wire rack shelving units into the two slide-out kitchen cabinets in our Chalet truck camper.


Watch the following video to see exactly how this was accomplished.

So far my wife has loved this modification!  She has commented several times that it is the best mod I have done, and allows her to organize her cups, plates, and bowls in such a way that it’s much easier than the cluttered stacked-on-each-other method of before.


It took me three to four hours to complete and cost $10 to $20.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium to hard.

#7 – Howard Bisco, Washington, Illinois
2015 Ford F250
2014 Palomino HS-6601


The wet bath floor in our camper flexed a little when we stepped on it.  To address the flex, I used leftover hardwood floor material and a 1×2 lumber that I had in the barn.  I cut the 1×2 lumber into three pieces, nailed and glued the hardwood to it, and made it to fit the shower pan.


It has worked extremely well.  The floor now feels very solid.  The only downside is that I lost a couple inches of headroom in the bathroom.  Now I can’t stand up straight with my head in the skylight.  I’m 6’3”, so the modification must be removed to take a shower.

It took me one hour to complete and cost nothing as I had the lumber and hardwood floor material.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is easy.

#8 – Bill Tex, Rhode Island
2006 Chevy Silverado
2013 Eagle Cap 850

The purpose of this mod was to increase holding tank capacity.  All components were purchased or on hand.  It was very easy to assemble and can be employed or disconnected as needed.  The only skill and tools required are drilling holes in the blue boy external holding tank for hose connections.


I often see the topic of increasing tank size or adding tanks for campers that do not have them.  Some folks come up with some elaborate ideas!


When we traveled cross-country with our previous camper, we wanted to increase our holding tank capacity so we could boondock and not have to worry about dumping so often.  I added a second holding tank with components I had on hand; a hitch rack, blue boy, and garden hose.


The system is easy to build and easy to use.  When the onboard tank is full, just drain it into the blue boy.  When both are full, it’s time to find a dump station.

Our previous truck camper had 36 gallons of fresh water, but only 15 gallons of grey.  By adding a 15 gallon blue boy on the hitch rack, we doubled our grey tank capacity.  The increased grey tank capacity nearly matched the fresh water tank and allowed us to stay on the road longer before having to dump.

It took me one hour to complete and cost $100.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#9 – Melissa and Shawn Hartman, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
2004 Chevy 3500
1983 Travel mate


Above: The Travel Mate before updating – click to enlarge

A few years ago my wife and I bought an older 1980s truck camper to try it out.  We were going on a trip out East to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia and didn’t want to pull a trailer.  I had already pulled one just about everyday for work being a carpenter/contractor.


Above: The Travel Mate after updating – click to enlarge


Above: The Travel Mate after updating – click to enlarge

Once we had our 1983 camper, we decided to update it a bit.  We painted up the interior and made some new curtains.  Those were just simple changes.


Above: The jacks were also changed to electric and an awning was added – click to enlarge

Using it in the years following, we still loved it, but loading and unloading was a small challenge with only three manual jack stands.  After some research and patience, I found some used power jacks with a remote.  I installed the power jacks on the old camper to make it more stable and easier to load and unload.

All in all, we love our older model truck camper and enjoy the ease of throwing it on the truck for a quick weekend away!  Our older model camper has new life, which I’m sure the other older campers a jealous of.  And a new awning to boot!

It took me one day to complete and cost $1,500 Canadian.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#10 – Ron Richardson, Costa Mesa, California
2000 GMC Sierra
2012 Wolf Creek


Above: Before picture of the cabover – click to enlarge

We are going the Yellowstone for three weeks next year and the four of us (husband, wife, and six and four-year old boys) need more storage for clothes.  The passenger’s side of the cabover was the best place for shelves.

The window was covered with reflective insulation.  A frame was constructed out of 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch poplar.  Two identical frames were built.  The first frame was put against the wall.  The same poplar was used for horizontal supports and 1/4-inch plywood was put on top of them.

Richardson-During Construction

Above: During construction – click to enlarge

The front frame was added.  More poplar was added to create a horizontal lip and keeps the bins from sliding out.  It’s hard to see in the picture, but the bottom two shelves have it and the top shelf does not.

Richardson-Final No Bins

Above: Shelves without bins – click to enlarge

The shelves give us six big bins that are 13-inches wide, by 16-inches deep, by 7-inches tall.  We use the shelves for clothes, a microwave, and miscellaneous storage.  The bins help us pack at home and are easy to take out when we need them.  The shelf system can also be easily removed in the future.

Richardson-Shelves with Bins

Above: Shelves with bins – click to enlarge

Next year will be the big test.

It took me 20 hours to complete.  The staining and finishing was done over several days.   The wood cost $120. The bins will cost another $70.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

#11 – Jim Bennett, Fayetteville, Arkansas
2014 Ram 3500
2011 Lance 1050S

Bennett-air dam 2

Above: The air dam in between the truck’s cab and the camper’s cabover – click to enlarge

I wanted to move air more efficiently around the cab of the truck and the under-cab area of the truck camper.  I also wanted to minimize bug splatter on the under-cab area of the truck camper.

This mod could possibly improve aerodynamics by preventing trapped air between the truck camper overhang and the cab of the truck with the hope of providing a small improvement in my rig’s miles per gallon.

I had researched other air foils from the website and wanted to build one a little sturdier than the plastic gutter material that other truck camper owners have used.

A close friend of mine works in a manufacturing facility that uses thin gauge stainless steel materials.  The facility has equipment for doing anything with the metal.

I drew up the plans with dimensions on my computer and carried them to the shop.  With his help, we cut and bent the stainless steel into the shape that I had drawn.

We measured the location of the screw holes in the truck camper where the cap joins the fiberglass sheet underneath the overhang and drilled holes in the now formed air dam.  I attached the air dam using the existing screws.

Bennett-air dam 1

Above: Click the picture to see the slots and their names cut into the air dam

I also had some slots and our names cut into the front of the air dam to reduce pressure variations that would form.  Large bugs that hit the slotted areas are made into smaller pieces that mostly do not stick to the truck camper.  The stainless steel air dam cleans up nicely.

The air dam has worked very well in reducing noise, reducing trapped air, and eliminated most all the bugs that accumulate on the frontal area underneath the truck camper overhang.

I did not do a before and after mile per gallon recording so I can only guess that there might be an improvement.

It took me three hours to complete and cost $250, which included water jet cutting of the slots and our names.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is hard.

#12 – Vern and Tracy Mowrey, Newburyport, Massachusetts
2005 Dodge Ram 2500
2007 Lance 845


Above: The steps going up to the overcab and coming down – click to enlarge

After both of us almost fell getting down from the cabover bed, we decided the access to our cabover in our Lance 845 needed to be easier and safer.

There were several considerations that we needed to work out.  We knew we needed the cabover entry angle to be less steep.  We also needed the refrigerator door to be able to open all the way with our modification.


Above: The steps can be raised and folded when not in use – click to enlarge

The following universal design is what we came up with.  The unit is a miniature extension ladder anchored at the top and can be pulled out and slid down when needed.  Then it can be raised and folded back when not needed.


On a scale of 1 to 10 we both agree that it’s a 10.  All we have to do now is scurry up the ladder and climb on the bed now.  Coming down we just swing our legs over the end of the mattress and the steps are right there.  Even in the dark it’s easy to find the steps.

It took me 20 hours to do the project comfortably, and cost $125.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

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.


Truck Camper Chooser
To Top