After 40 years in the auto body business and a change in lifestyle, Steve Torp converted his Lance 1172 double-slide into a non-slide camper. Here’s why he did it, how he did it, and the remarkable results.
When a fellow truck camper owner asks, “Should I get a new camper?” our immediate response is always, “What’s wrong with the camper you have?” This question quickly reveals what they’re looking for in a new camper. It also begs an often overlooked perspective; can their current camper be upgraded or modified to better suit what they need or want?
A good example happened at an RV show a few years ago when a fellow camper owner said, “I want a camper with more black tank capacity. The cassette toilet capacity in our camper is too small for us.” To which we answered, “Have you considered buying additional cassettes?”
Earthroamer owners often have more than one cassette and store them in a rear compartment. We suggested it would be far easier, and less expensive, to find a safe place to store a cassette (or two) than to buy a new camper. They had not considered this solution.
This story (and countless others) came back to us when Steve Torp contacted us about removing the slide-outs from his Lance 1172. His truck camping lifestyle radically changed, as did the places he now wanted to go (less pavement, more off-road). Rather than selling his camper and buying a brand new one, he changed the camper he had.
A lot of readers will undoubtedly think turning a double-slide into a non-slide is nuts. To that I’d ask, “Does selling a double-slide at a considerable loss and then buying a new non-slide at great expense make any more sense?” If you have endless resources, maybe. Otherwise, after considerable surgery, Steve now has the camper he needs at a minimal cost. And much of what he loves about his 1172 is still intact. Now that makes sense!
What follows is the story behind Steve’s double-slide to non-slide conversion, and the step-by-step process he went through. No more slide-out wait for Steve. He’s slide-free.
Above: Steve’s 1172 before it became a non-slide
You have a Lance 1172, which is a double-slide, dry bath truck camper. Why did you turn your double-slide into a non-slide?
There are several reasons why I converted our 2014 Lance 1172 into a non-slide. The first reason was a big change to our truck camping lifestyle. When I bought my 1172, I was mostly going to racetracks and camping on level asphalt. The 1172 was perfect for that. If I was still going to the race track, I would have kept the camper as a double-slide.
Our new truck camping lifestyle consists of fishing adventures and weekend trips with my wife. We simply don’t need the interior room we required at the racetrack when we frequently hosted people in our camper. The desire to downsize was an important reason we converted to a non-slide.
Another reason we converted the camper to a non-slide is that we experienced intermittent issues with slides binding on uneven ground. This was never a problem at the racetrack, but we are now camping a lot more at unlevel and uneven campsites.
The third reason is efficiency. When you’re on the road with two slides and want to quickly get into the camper, you have to wait until both slides are out. Before we were traveling to the track, opening the two slides and we were done. Now that we’re traveling more and stopping more, we want to easily get in and out of the camper without waiting for the slides every time.
Before you converted the 1172, did you consider purchasing a non-slide camper?
Yes. I liked the Northstar 12STC, but I couldn’t see one in person because of the pandemic and the resulting high camper demand. That’s when I came up with the idea of turning the 1172 into a non-slide camper.
Overall, I still liked the design of my camper. The side entry is ideal for towing a trailer or car. The kitchen and cabover are really nice. The size of the bathroom is wonderful. If I removed the slides, I could retain all of these features, shed some weight, eliminate the need to wait for the slides to go out, and save money compared to buying a new camper.
How did you go about removing the slide rooms?
I rented a material lift with a hand crank forklift designed for building materials. I supported the slide-rooms with the material lift and lowered them down with the hand crank. That was a one-day job with my son’s help.
Before I removed the slides, I took out everything from the slide-out rooms. The couch and cabinet were removed from the rear slide and then that room was removed.
Then the dinette and refrigerator were removed from the rear opening. That was easier than getting them through the door. If you have your refrigerator in a slide-out, be aware that there’s a flex-hose containing the wires and gas line.
Once the driver’s side slide items were out, I removed the inside flange. That process damaged the foam wood around the opening, but it wasn’t needed for the remodel. After that, the slide-out was free and we were able to take the side slide-out as a whole piece.
With the slide-out rooms in my driveway, I literally cut off the outer walls of the slides to use as the new rear and side walls of my camper.
With the slide mechanisms and seals removed, the slide opening was about 4-inches bigger than the cut-out slide-room walls. On a stock 1172, this gap is overlapped by an aluminum flange and the slide-out’s seals. I screwed the wall right through the outer aluminum flange into the aluminum frame of the camper. This acts as a sheer wall. Then I caulked the seams. The wall is flush against the camper’s body and blends in well. On the inside, I filled the 2-inch gap with siding material then trimmed it with 1×4 composite and painted it.
What was your plan after the slide-outs were removed and the new sidewalls installed?
That’s a tough question to answer. I had a vision, but no real plan. I knew I wanted to repurpose everything in the original two slide rooms as much as possible. I started by cutting the dinette in half. The resulting two-top encroaches the hallway slightly more than it did before, but it’s still comfortable.
Next, I completely reconfigured the fold-down bunk over the dinette. I used aluminum removed from the slide rooms to reinforce the bunk.
I created angled cantilevered supports and added deadbolts that lock the bunk into place. You get into the bunk by using the bench and counter as a step. It’s much stronger now. At 6’3”, I can literally climb up and sleep on it.
I have two buddies that I’ve fished and camped with over the years. Three guys were tight in the 1172; one in the cabover, one in the dinette converted into a bed, and one on the couch. With this new configuration, the converted dinette bed is smaller, but the overhead bunk is a little wider. Overall it’s a more comfortable arrangement.
I didn’t want to relocate the refrigerator. When taking the side-slide room apart, I realized that there was a void around the refrigerator to accommodate the slide. I took advantage of this space and fit the cabinet from the rear slide between the bed and the refrigerator. In the end, the refrigerator’s location moved less than an inch, even with the cabinet there.
The cabinet is a little more shallow than it was. The new location also narrowed access to the cabover bedroom a little, but there’s still plenty of room to get up there. Having the cabinet in that location has worked out well.
What did you do with the rear wall area?
The rear wall area has been completely redesigned. The countertop in the corner is actually half of the dinette table. It’s supported with angled aluminum from one of the slide-out rooms. The bench and the bulkhead are siding material, with more angle aluminum, and wall material. I trimmed it with mahogany.
Under the bench is storage that goes to the wall. There’s also a cubby, and above that is a counter space that is counter height. That area fits our garbage can underneath.
Slide-out rooms often have deeper storage than non-slide walls can offer. Did you lose any storage?
Yes, I lost some storage. The dinette drawers were shortened when I cut the dinette in half. The little exterior compartment is also gone. On the rear cabinet that was relocated by the refrigerator, the drawer had to be shortened to fit the new space. I lost some storage under the couch but added the other storage area. I still have tons of storage on the outside and more than enough for what I need on the inside.
It sounds like nearly everything you did was repurposed from the original slides. Did you have to buy any parts or materials?
I had to buy some hardware, the mahogany trim, and some upholstery for the cushions. It was an adventure finding the parts and materials I needed from the original slide rooms. Some parts had glued carpet but still worked. Plus, everything from the original slide rooms was lightweight.
I attempted to salvage the original upholstery but it didn’t work out, so we had new cushions made. The new cushions are more plain and masculine. We had the bunk cushion cut in half lengthwise so it can be folded and stored with the bunk when it’s closed.
I still have a pile of extra stuff, but I used quite a bit. I need to find a home for the Lippert slide mechanisms. I want to try to utilize everything that’s extra in future projects. It’s good material that I can use.
Do you think a chair or recliner could fit in the back area where you put the bench and storage?
I suppose you could fit a single recliner in that space. I didn’t want to buy anything extra, and I wanted more counter space. That little counter works out well. I like to cook, so that provides us with a little more workspace and a charging station.
Did you make any other changes to your 1172?
Some time ago I changed the kitchen sink from a double bowl sink to a single bowl. Lance has also changed to single bowl sinks. I put in a residential faucet as well, which makes a huge difference. After reading TCM, I changed to an aerated shower head in the bathroom. That works well.
I relocated the television because I kept bumping into the one installed in the middle of the camper. I moved the television above the entry door. I also have a small television in the bedroom. I have a Direct TV dish and DVD player.
On the roof, I added a 300-watt solar Renergy kit. The 1172 was already pre-wired for solar. I like how that worked out. Finally, I added a cellular signal amplifier.
How long did this project take?
I retired from the body shop industry in 2019. I have a shop set up at my house. All of my tools and woodworking materials are set up in my shop. I worked on this project full-time for six weeks. It was so nice to work on the camper, have lunch on the porch, and go back to work. It was my first project since I’ve built my shop. Now that the camper project is done I’m working on a Porsche.
A project like this is not for the faint of heart. I have 40-years of experience in the body shop industry and I’m handy. I also enjoy woodworking. I can do every aspect of metal fabrication. If I can’t do it myself, I know someone who can.
Are you happy with how it turned out?
Yes, I’m pleased with the results. I had the time to do this project and I like a challenge. I’ve made a lot of stuff over the years and enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I now have the camper dialed in the way I want. I really do like the camper. I just didn’t like the slides.
With the slides removed, I can go more places off-road. Years ago I took the camper places I probably shouldn’t have. I go places where the roads are bad and you can’t always find a perfectly level spot to have lunch or camp.
Above: Usal Beach, Lost Coast, Northern California
If you’re an off-road enthusiast like me, a slide-out truck camper is probably not a good idea. Now I can go off-road without worry and have a Polaris for more rutted roads.