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VOTE: 2017 Truck Camper Mod of the Year

Check out the winning truck camper modifications of 2017 and vote for the best of the best.  Before we begin, we explain why there are 13 mods in the running, and why we added second and third place prizes.  Vote now!

2017 Super Cup Mod Vote

Voting for the 2017 Truck Camper Mod of the Year starts today and ends at 11:59pm PST next Thursday, December 14th.  The winner will be announced the following day; Friday, December 15th.  Who will be the 2017 World Champion Truck Camper Mod Maker?  It’s time to vote.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR YOUR 3 FAVORITE MODS

How We Got To 13 Monthly Winners

When we were putting together the 2017 Super Mod Cup World Series vote, we counted not 12, but 13 monthly winners.  We counted again and again, and kept coming up with one extra mod contest winner.  What happened?

The Ninja Cats made us do it!  No, that’s not going to work.

The truth is we ran one monthly mod contest too many.  We started the Super Mod Cup contest last November and should have stopped the monthly contests in October.

Instead we ran one more mod contest in November, making 13.  We apologize to the contestants for the additional contest as this added one more competitor to the mix.

To help make things right for the contestants, we are adding second and third place prizes.  Prior to the miscount there was only one prize, the Grand Prize.

The Grand Prize is still a Truck Camper Magazine Super Mod Cup Trophy and a $250 gift certificate to Home Depot, Lowes, or the big box hardware store of your choosing.

Second Place will now be a $100 gift certificate to Home Depot, Lowes, or the big box hardware store of your choosing.  Third Place will now be a 2018 TCM Calendar and a TCM T-Shirt of your choosing.

Again, we apologize for the additional month.  Obviously we love truck camper mods with the mod contest we got ahead of ourselves.  When it comes to truck camper mods, we always want more.

Congratulations to Tracy and Steve Schuster (first place), Wes Hargreaves (second place) and Arlyn Verlo (third place) for winning the 2017 Super Mod Contest!

1. Tracy and Steve Schuster, Superior, Colorado
Moveable Dinette Table With Storage
2015 GMC 3500
2012 Lance 992

Our dining table was a bit too low, especially after adding memory foam to the seat cushions.  The table edge was also too far away from me to work or eat comfortably.

I needed a solution that would not only raise the table, but also make it closer when I needed it to be without making it impossible to get in to and out of the dinette seat.

We created a box for the base of the table that is about 1 ¾ inches deep, and the approximate size of the original table (24-inches by 30-inches).

Drawer slides for expandable dinette table

We then ordered two sets of 8-inch long drawer slides and attached them to the sides of the table base box.  For the top, we used two 30-inch by 12-inch boards and attached side skirts that serve as attachments for the outer half of the drawer slides.

Latches on edges to keep table from moving

Finally, we cut a 10-inch and a 12-inch leaf.  We have found we don’t use the 12-inch leaf as much.  To the leafs we installed rubber bumpers to make them the exact same height as the table top when placed over the box top.  To hold the table and leaf in place when in use and traveling, we put latches on all of the edges.

Dinette table storage

This modification turned out better than we expected!  I can put the table as close to me as I need, and my husband is still comfortable on his side.  We have much more table space, and the storage created under the table top in the box is perfect for phones, tablets, chargers, placements, and other items.

Dinette table small

When we want to watch a movie on the iPad on the table, we just take out the leaf and have tons of room to sit and put our legs up on the benches of the U-shaped dinette.

Dinette table leaf storage

Each leaf stores nicely under the dinette.  You’d really never know they are there.

It took me at least twenty hours (including problem solving and actual construction) to complete this modification and cost me $125.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

2. Wes Hargreaves, Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Multi-Purpose Bumper With Storage and Steps
2016 Ford F-450
2006 Snowbird 108DS

As we all know truck campers usually lack a few things because of the limited space available. I wanted to address three main things: (1) more stuff storage, (2) more grey tank storage, and (3) a better, safer, and more user friendly way to enter and exit the camper.

This camper had a tunnel in the basement area where an aluminum stair system was stored. This tunnel and stair system was accessed from under the door. Every time you needed to get in the camper, out it came.

Before stair bumper was added

Above: Camper before the modification

This stair system was much too narrow, especially when we are being pulled by Madi, our Pointer. We are explorers and do not usually spend more than a night in one location. Also, we have many stops on our travels. The stair situation was a real pain.

Grey storage is an issue for most of us. Having a dry bathroom with a walk-in shower was one of the features we were looking for. However, the height of the drain in the shower meant that the shower water went into the black tank at the rear of the camper in the basement.

The black tank in our camper is small, which is fine for toilet use, but two short showers and you may get something you don’t want between your toes as the tank over fills. Adding some piping in the rear step mod for grey water storage (shower) was a must.

Stuff storage can be an issue, especially on a long haul. Some things don’t take up much space, but you don’t want them inside (fluids for the truck, sewer hose extension and fittings). These can be stored in the exterior compartments.

Storage in Snowriver floor

The now unused tunnel where the old stair system was stored can now be a large secure storage area for seldom used items.

Floor storage compartment door

Above: Interior hatch, and access to the old stair tunnel is now storage

I cut a hatch through the floor inside the camper to access this area.

A large rear step storage unit was constructed to deal with our wants. A three step set of RV stairs was installed that folds down with minimal effort and provides 24-inches of wide, non-slip footing.

In the largest of the storage cavities, 4-inch ABS piping was installed for grey water storage from the shower. I managed to add about 14 gallons of grey storage, which is plenty for two quick showers. The remaining cavities are for dirty item storage.

More grey water storage in overhang of camper

Above: 4″ ABS pipes for grey storage for the shower

Under overhang, grey tank storage

Above: Under side is closed in, but removable with vents

The unit is made of exterior spruce plywood. All construction assembly was made with fasteners and waterproof adhesives.

plywood step system construction

Plywood step system bumper being built

Before any paint was applied, the entire unit was coated with two coats of thickened fiberglass resin, hopefully to stabilize the wood work before the final finish of a few coats of marine enamel.

Storage bumper with grey tank integration

Above: Driver’s side dump and sewer pipe storage

The entire unit was bolted to framing under the camper, sealed with caulk, and non-slip tape was applied to horizontal surfaces.

Tank pull exterior camper

Above: Final dump gate valve on driver’s side

Previously, the camper had a rear facing dump outlet.  It now dumps from the side with a gate valve I installed.  It’s accessed through one of the small rear storage compartments.

installed high enough for hitch extension if ever needed

Above: Installed high enough for hitch extension if ever needed

We have been on two trips so far since the modification and are very pleased to say we are very happy with the results. Stopping and having quick access to the camper is no hassle. We no longer have any surprises in the shower.

New storage step bumper on Snowriver camper

Having extra storage has made the camper just what we were looking for. Also, the new basement storage is low. Heavy items (we are rock hounds) can be stored in this area with out adversely effecting the way the truck camper handles.

The step and storage system is heavy with the RV steps installed. We dump daily if possible so we keep that weight to a minimum, but the right size truck is important.

It took me 30 hours hours to complete this modification and cost me $750.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is hard to very hard.

3. Brian Sibbles, Garden Hill, Ontario
Swing-Away BBQ Grill Stand
2015 Ram 1500
2012 Travel Lite 800

We love to BBQ when we’re on the road camping, but it was a pain when we didn’t have a picnic table handy to place it on.

Barbecue connected to camper

At a RV show, we saw a lot of trailers with outside rails that would hold a BBQ.  The problem with truck campers is the height of where that rail is may change from time to time (loaded or unloaded) so you’re either BBQing too low or too high.

Swinging BBQ arms closed Swinging BBQ arms from camper jacks

 
We came up with a solution that allows for adjustability.  Using a piece of steel, we welded on the rods that slide into the BBQ.  Then we took a piece of pipe slightly larger than our jack legs, cut it in half, and welded a hinge on one side to allow the pipe to become a clamp.

BBQ brackets for camper BBQ brackets for truck camper

 
Next we coated the inside with a rubber floor mat, made a wing nut from a bolt, and created a completely adjustable swinging arm.  Now we can place the BBQ at the perfect height on any jack.

Brian Sibbles using the barbecue

In over 7,500 kilometers, the BBQ has been used almost every day.  The adjustable arm works perfect.

It took me two hours to complete this modification and cost me $30.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

4. Roland and Kate Goetz, Westbank, British Columbia
False Bottom Kitchen Drawers
2008 Ford F-350
2016 Northern Lite Special Edition

We wanted extra space in some our drawers.  The drawers were quite deep and Kate felt the space was being wasted.

I installed false bottoms in the drawers and created extra space for things we don’t use on a regular basis.  I used 1/4-inch good-one-side plywood for the false bottoms and then cut the same plywood into strips for the braces the false bottoms sit on.

False drawer braces

The above photo is a shot of the rails (or braces) that the false bottom sits on inside the drawer.  They are made out of plywood cut into strips for strength.

The braces are screwed into the drawer sides using 1/2-inch roundhead screws.

False drawer brace attachment

I used a 1¼-inch saw attachment on a drill to make finger holes for ease of opening.

Lift-out False Bottom

Extra Storage Underneath

For the wider cutlery drawer, I put a piece of 1-inch by 4-inch pine as a brace in the middle of the drawer and cut the false bottom into two halves so that we only need to lift up the side we need.

Added Silverware drawer

This modification has served us extremely well in the five months we’ve been on the road.

It took me two hours to complete this modification and cost me $30.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

5. John Tseka, Hartland, Connecticut
Bubble Levels In Cab Of Truck
2004 Chevy Silverado 3500
2012 Lance 850

I wanted to simplify leveling the rig.  I started by purchasing a set of those small bubble levels.  Then I parked my rig with the camper loaded up for a trip on a flat level surface.  I checked the level at the kitchen counter surface in the camper.

levels on dash of truck

Then I installed a stick on each of the bubble levels and placed one on the center of the dash and the other on the foremost part of passenger’s side door.  The driver must be able to see both levels easily.

Level on center of the dash

Level on passenger side of truck

This mod has been excellent.  I have about eight 16-inch pieces of rough 2x6s for leveling blocks.  I just glance at the cab levels and place a few blocks on the ground.  I drive up on the blocks and it’s done.

It took me ten minutes to complete this modification and it cost me $8.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is easy.

6. Mark McVicker, Oregon, Ohio
Extra Storage in the Rear Camper Overhang
2005 Ford F-250
2014 CampLite 11 S

Before the storage compartments were added

Above: Before the storage compartments were added

I wanted to make about 12 cubic feet available of unused storage space under the black water tank.

unused storage space

Above and below: Unused space in the back of the camper

12 cubic feet of unused storage

I first checked with the camper factory about the modification.  They approved the mod, and gave me the name of the door company that made the original doors.

I then measured the openings that I needed for the two doors and called Challenger Door company in Indiana to order the doors.

CampLite exterior storage doors added CampLite exterior storage doors added

 
I used a Roto-Zip with a drywall bit to cut the openings in the outside aluminum skin. Then I cleaned up the openings and fit tested the doors.

Long exterior storage area

I predrilled all the screw holes using the doors as a template.  Before screwing the doors in place, I applied a healthy bead of black silicone to seal them in with screws.

Close up of exterior storage on CampLite camper

The doors look like they were installed at the factory.  They have allowed storage space for both a 25-foot and a 50-foot water hose, two 25-foot 30 amp power cords, a 28-inch by 60-inch folding table, two 12-foot extending flag polls, and the long hook for the awning.

CampLite camper exterior storage added

I am thrilled that I was able utilize this space.  Our last trailer was a 25-foot Airstream, so we had the bed of our truck for storage.  Having this additional storage certainly helps to make up the difference.

CampLite camper exterior storage added

It took me six hours to complete this modification and cost me $200.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is hard.

7. Charles Coushaine, Punta Gorda, Florida
Refrigerator Cooling Fans Added
2001 Ford F350
2012 Chalet DS116RB

 

My truck camper has a refrigerator in a slide-out.  Refrigerators installed in slide-outs require a side-mounted side fan for ventilation.  The factory-installed computer-style fan ran at a high speed creating an annoying high-pitch noise.  That noise made it hard to sleep!

Refrigerator Cooling Fans attached to vent cover

I have replaced the single high speed fan with two larger, slower, fans that achieve the same air flow.  These new AeroCool Silent Master 200mm Blue LED Cooling Fans were attached to the inside of the upper exhaust vent cover and angled to maximize air flow out of the refrigerator compartment.

Side profile of refrigerator cooling fan attachment

I then took the wiring off the old fan and wired in the new ones allowing the existing temperature switch to turn the fans on when needed.

Refrigerator Cooling Fans to vent cover

I have been using this new fan modification for multiple months and it has been working great!  The fans are so quiet that I cannot tell they are running.  The only way I know that they are working is from the glow of blue light coming out of my compartment cover at night (the fans came with blue LEDs).

It took me four hours to complete this modification and cost me $50.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

8. Russ Sherratt, Las Vegas, Nevada
Foam Floor Installation
2016 Ford F250
2017 ATC Cougar

Foam camper floor

I wanted to soften the tile with something that is easy to install, clean, and would not damage the factory floor.

Foam camper floor puzzle piece

I decided to purchase a foam floor.  Harbor Freight sells anti-fatigue mats.  Two packages were plenty for our camper.  Measure and mark it.  Then make a square cut with a box knife.

Installing a foam camper floor

It’s warm and soft to stand on.  Charlie, our American Bulldog, finds it easy to walk on.  It’s worked out great.  We like it.

It took me one hour to complete this modification and cost me $18.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is easy.

9. Martin Spriggs, Calgary, Alberta
Storage Cage In Truck
2007 Ford Ranger
2014 Four Wheel Camper Eagle

Being an amateur wildlife photographer, speed and ease of access to photography equipment is a requirement when I pack my gear.  Building a storage container purposely built with these requirements in mind seemed a logical step in the evolution of my truck camper.

Rear Seat Storage Compartment

Small trucks have limitations when it comes to storage but, if you utilize space well, there is ample room to store equipment and gear.  For example, the space behind the seats of an extended cab is well suited for storage purposes.

I designed and built a metal cage to house camera gear, road safety gear, and survival equipment – including winch accessories for my Ford Ranger.  It’s not your average Ford Ranger, but that’s another story.

The cage is made from one-inch metal stock custom bent to align with the rise of the seat and fit the space in the extended cab behind the driver’s seat.

The stock fold up seats and tire jack mount were removed from the extended cab to maximize available space for the cage.  The driver’s seat no longer leans back for a road side nap with the cage in place, but that’s not a problem because I have a Four Wheel Camper for that purpose.

The cage extends two-thirds of the way across the extended cab allowing for a fold-up kayak to be packed on the opposite end of the cage, behind the passenger’s seat.  The cage is bolted to the floor of the truck and is enclosed on three sides and the top with wire mesh.  All joints are welded.  The cage is so solid that you can actually rock the truck by pushing and pulling the cage.

Box slides out of back of truck

Storage trays slide out

The cage features a pull out drawer from a heavy duty tool box, purposely positioned for rapid access to a camera with a telescopic lens.  One shelf above the drawer neatly holds the bulk of the gear.  The space on the floor of the cab below the shelf is also utilized, holding a tool set.  Even the space above the top is utilized with a fire extinguisher mount.

Storage Tray from Cookie Sheet

The coup des gras was the portable shelf I made out of a twenty-five dollar cooking sheet from Sears.  This sheet fastens onto the cage shelf and extends out of the truck.  Now I have a place to boil water and make my tea when I am in the back country.

Storage tray in truck

In hindsight, the one-inch tubing was overkill.  Half-inch tubing would be more than enough and I would certainly consider using aluminum in future builds to save weight.

Storage compartment organizes back of truck

An added and unforeseen bonus was the security aspect that such a cage delivers.  I now run a wire lock through the handles of my cases and through the front of the shelf which secures all my camera gear safely in the cage should a thief break into the cab.

Welding the cage puts the modification into the moderate to expert range, but everything else is relatively easy to construct.

The build took approximate 20 hours to complete and materials cost about $300.  The drawer was expensive!  At the end of the day, the result was a purposely built for housing road safety equipment and rapid access to photography gear, perfect for the minimalist wildlife photographer with a light truck.

10. Les Sage, Joplin, Missouri
Aluminum Tip Up Rear Deck
2015 GMC 3500
2015 Lance 855S

The main issue for us was safely entering and exiting our camper with the stock eight-inch rear bumper.  We generally had to exit the camper backwards to be safe.

Rear deck step for Lance 855S

I wanted the deck to look professional and clean.  My first thought was to use the aluminum panels often utilized for picnic tables.  As I researched where to purchase aluminum panels, I discovered a company that made boat docks.

The boat dock company offered all kinds of decking material.  When I contacted them, they and told about their deck material with white powder coat.  I had them cut it to the exact length I needed and ship it with pieces of trim for the end caps.

Aluminum deck driving position

Before designing our rear deck, I studied how others installed various decks on the back of their truck campers.  I pull a boat, so I designed our deck to tip up.  The boat I pull only works with the deck secured in the up position.  The deck is also a place to sit when we are boondocking.

Aluminum rear deck material

The deck framing is made out of 1½-inch square aluminum tubing.  1½-inch square aluminum tubing is the perfect diameter to fit inside the receivers on the bottom of the Lance Camper.

Welds for deck step

I used aluminum tubing to reduce weight.

Using original step brackets for deck

When lowered, the deck stops when it is perpendicular to the vertical portion of the rear bumper and parallel to the ground.  This design does not need chains or supports.  It can support itself.  I added the aluminum straps for more rigidity.  I started with chains and they were too flexible.

The deck is very easy to remove.  I drilled holes into the tubing so it can slide in and bolt into the channeled receivers the same way the camper step attaches.  The deck can fold up when I drive, but I usually keep it in the down position.

At first, I was going to use a plastic step stool with the deck.  Then I realized that the existing Lance swing step would attach to the outer edge.  That eliminated the need for a plastic step stool.  The Lance swing step folds up onto the deck in the same manor it did on the original Lance bumper.

I originally wanted deck mounted at same level as bumper.  I opted not to do that because we would need more steps to get into the camper.  Using the Lance swing step eliminated that problem.  The deck and step are pretty low to the ground.

Rear deck step made with boat dock material

I also added a big assist handle to the camper.  I’m thinking of adding a box underneath the overhang for hoses and other exterior items.

I’ve done over a hundred modifications, and over everything, we have the most enjoyment from the rear deck mod.  We put our shoes on it, we sit on it, and we have a carpet to wipe shoes on.

The rear deck took me an entire day, plus months of design considerations.  I took the design to a professional metal fabrication shop for the welding part of the bottom of the deck.

The deck materials cost $150, plus the welding labor of $150.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is hard due to the required aluminum welding.

11. Arlyn Verlo, West Branch, Iowa
Stairs Into Camper Using Carrier And Tool Box
2011 Chevy 2500HD
2011 Northstar 8.5 Adventurer

I never liked the fold-up stairs that came with our truck camper.  I wanted stairs that would not stick out when we needed to get into the camper on the road.

I looked at several hitch-mounted cargo carriers and found one at our local hardware store.  I also found a tool box that would give the right height to step up into the camper.

Step system

I purchased the cargo carrier and added cedar deck material to support the toolbox that made the step.  We also use a small step to reach the carrier while we’re at a campground.  The carrier is less work than the fold-up stairs were.

Toolbox step system completed

The tool box is used to store water, drain hoses, tool bags, and other supplies that may be needed on a trip.  The whole unit can be removed when you have to get to the spare tire or remove the truck camper.

Toolbox step system

It took me ten hours to complete this modification and cost me about $300.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

12. Kim Ragoza, Granby, Massachusetts
Dinette to Thomas Payne Sofa
2009 Chevy Silverado 2500
2012 Lance 1050

The dinette in our 2012 Lance 1050 was not user friendly.  It was uncomfortable and too low for us to get out of comfortably.

Original dinette in Lance 1050

We took out the dinette and replaced it with a 72-inch Thomas Payne sofa.  Thomas Payne is made by Lippert Components as RV furniture.  We got the sofa at Camping World.

New Thomas Payne Sofa in camper dinette area

First, we removed the cushions from the original dinette.  Then we attached the sofa to the wing with lag bolts.  No modifications were needed for it to fit properly.

Thomas Payne Sofa in truck camper

We left the original floor plan of the dinette alone just in case we sell the camper.  This modification is wonderful!  We love it.

It took me four hours to complete this modification and cost me $730.  In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.

13. Ed Kuivinen, Canal Fulton, Ohio
Bunk Storage Using Shoebox Sized Drawers
2009 Ford F250
2016 Lance 850

One of the many reasons we purchased a Lance 850 truck camper was for the bunk space over the dinette.  From the beginning my wife and I planned to use this for storage but weren’t quite sure how to maximize the space.

Overhead drawer unit open

After a lot of thought, we decided to make a storage unit out of individual plastic shoebox-size drawers purchased at Walmart.  The depth of the boxes was perfect and allowed us to put the face of the bunk up in the locked position when traveling.  That holds the drawers in place.

Overhead drawer unit closed

The finished unit is three drawers high by eight drawers long.  I made eight separate units, each of which is three drawers high.  I attached each plastic frame together at the front and back.  Then I attached the eight separate units together.  The bottom drawer frames were then screwed directly into the bunk.

Overhead drawer unit close up

So far it’s working great and my wife is happy!  It took several hours to complete this modification and cost $120.  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.

Enter Your Mods Now!

We are starting to gather mods for our 2018 Mod Contests.  If you’d like to enter mods into TCM’s Monthly Mod Contest, click here. You can enter as many mods as you want, at any time. Good luck mod makers!

 

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