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Factory Tours

Torklift Factory Tour

TCM visits Torklift International in Kent, Washington and gets hands on with a brand new Torklift product.  Brush up truck campers, it’s a sweeper!

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Several weeks before our arrival, Jessica May, Torklift’s Marketing Director, contacted us with the exciting news that Torklift was almost ready to debut an all-new product.  “What is it?” I asked Jessica.  She replied, “I can’t tell you yet, but we’ll have it ready when you arrive”.  Oh the tease.

At the time we were exploring the San Francisco area with our friends Heidi and Tom and we had great fun guessing what the creative minds at Torklift might have come up with.  Maybe magic hover jacks to levitate a camper?  Perhaps matter-to-energy turnbuckles to finally give truck campers Warp 9 capability?  Or could it be the holy grail, a fifty foot glow-in-the-dark SuperTruss?  Obviously that would be a huge hit.

When we finally arrived at Torklift about a month later, Jessica had been called to serve our country and wouldn’t be returning for another couple weeks.  While we were very thankful for Jessica’s service, we were more than ready to learn of what Torklift had in their new product lab.  You can’t just leave a magazine in suspense forever, right?

It wasn’t until we caught up with Jay Taylor, Torklift’s General Manager, that the mystery would finally be solved.  But first we had some familiar aluminum steps to build.  Oh the tease.

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We regularly hear from readers who are experiencing difficulty entering their truck campers and climbing into the overcab bedroom areas.  The message we hear from our readers is, “Help us with solutions to keep truck camping comfortably and we will buy”.  The good news is that the truck camper industry is well aware of this growing need and is hard at work on some solutions.

Last year Torklift took on the challenge of building a stronger, safer, and more comfortable scissor step solution when they debuted the Glow Step.  The Glow Step featured a robust double-hinged aluminum design, SureGrip surface on every extruded aluminum step, and aircraft grade glow elements for night time visibility.

According to Torklift, the public responded by making Glow Steps one of Torklift’s best selling products.  Pop-up manufacturer Outfitter has even made Glow Steps standard equipment for their campers.

LEFT AND CENTER:
While we were at the factory, we watched Torklift’s Glow Step team manufacture a set of GlowSteps.  Glow Step production begins when Alex Vigil punches the T6061 aluminum pieces.  These pieces connect the extruded aluminum steps together.

RIGHT: With the pieces cut, Matt Crass then places the extruded steps into a special jig designed in-house by Torklift.  On the top of the jig you can see the steps held into position with a set of clamps.  Torklift’s jig can make Glow Steps with up to six steps.

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LEFT: The next step is to build the scissor pattern that expands and contracts the completed steps.  In this photograph you can see the aluminum pieces cut by Alex in the previous photograph series.

CENTER: Here Matt has completed one aluminum scissor assembly.  Each Glow Step requires two of these assemblies, one for each side of the steps.

RIGHT: When a scissor assembly is completed, the jig lifts up ninety degrees to meet the aluminum extruded steps in the correctly aligned position.  Matt has completed and lifted one side and is now working on the second side.

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LEFT: With both sides of the scissor assembly completed, the whole jig turns on its side.  In this position, Matt checks that everything is correctly aligned and gets ready to weld the scissor assemblies to the extruded aluminum steps.

CENTER: Here Matt is welding the steps together.  Each step is individually welded for strength.  The welds are located under the extruded aluminum steps and will be invisible to the consumer during daily use.

RIGHT: When the welding is complete, the welds are dressed and the SureGrip side of the steps get their glow strips applied.  The glow strips are the same type used on aircraft to indicate emergency exits.  Once the glow strips are applied, the Glow Steps are complete and ready for shipping.

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And now for the big announcement.  During our visit, Torklift finally introduced us to their brand new product.  Drum roll please.  No seriously, a little drum roll on the nearest hard surface or cranium would really help set the mood here.  Are you drumming?  Okay, let’s end the suspense…

Introducing the all-new Torklift Glow Guide!  As a follow-up to the Glow Step’s success, Torklift has solved yet another problem with scissor steps, the lack of a hand rail.  The Torklift Glow Guide is a collapsable hand rail that compliments a set of Glow Steps.  And yes, it too glows in the dark.

LEFT: In it’s collapsed position, the Glow Guide secures to the outside wall into two cradles next to a truck camper’s entry door.  Here you can see the Glow Guide secured into the cradles on the right side of the entry door on Torklift’s demo camper.

CENTER AND RIGHT: To install the Glow Guide, the user gently pulls the Glow Guide from the cradles and extends the Glow Guide into position.  In these photographs, Casey Cotter, Product Developer, demonstrates the Glow Guide step up.  Casey also showed us how to adjust the angle of the Glow Guide to suit your preference.  Once you have the angle set, the Glow Guide tightens to stay at that angle for use.

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