Torklift International introduces aluminum Talon Camper tie downs. Less weight, rust free, but can the aluminum Talon handle the double and triple-slide big rigs? Torklift International says they’re stronger than steel.
The concept of taking a successful product and manufacturing it using new materials is nothing new. Even within the truck camper marketplace, we’ve seen wood frames move towards aluminum and composites. We’ve seen hung-wall construction move towards pinch roll lamination. We’ve even seen molded fiberglass replace TPO roofs and filon front noses.
Of course all of these changes come at a cost, and some of the advantages of the old material are lost as the strengths of the new material are embraced. In camper frames, aluminum offers superior strength to wood, but aluminum sweats and lacks wood’s natural insulation qualities. Aluminum is also more expensive than wood and, although recyclable, it’s not renewable. Then again, aluminum framing is what allows double and triple-slide truck campers to exist, and it doesn’t rot.
We get folks asking us why the industry doesn’t build carbon fiber truck campers with composite frames. The answer is simple; cost. While the industry certainly could build carbon fiber and composite truck campers, they would be $100,000, or more. Yes, they would be lighter and stronger than anything on the market, but would you buy a $100,000 truck camper? Not many people would.
One area we haven’t seen a lot of material advances is in truck camper tie-downs. They’ve been steel, steel, and more steel for decades. That’s about to change with Torklift International’s introduction of the Talon aluminum alloy tie-down system.
Upon hearing of the aluminum Talon tie-down system, a few questions immediately raced through our minds. How can it be strong enough? Does it have the same capacity as steel tie-downs? And, what are the advantages of aluminum tie-downs? Is it worth it?
To answer these questions and more, we talked to Jack Kay, President of Torklift International, Jay Taylor, Torklift’s General Manager, and Randy Fisher, Torklift International’s National Sales Manager.
TCM: Ford announced an aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 this past January. This introduction has sparked a fierce debate about the strength and durability of aluminum versus steel. What is Torklift’s position on this material debate?
Jay: We were getting ready to announce our all-new Torklift International Talon aluminum tie-down system and Ford grabs the spotlight with their aluminum F150. Obviously they were trying to scoop us.
Jack: In all seriousness, most people are probably not aware that critical high stress steering and front suspension components in cars and trucks have been made with aluminum for years. With Ford’s announcement, the public is beginning to realize that the technology of aluminum alloys go well beyond the pop can with automotive, aircraft, military and space craft applications being commonplace.
Jay: We have been using different alloys now for several years as we design, develop, and manufacture our bumper line. In addition to its remarkable strength, it greatly reduces weight.
TCM: The weight savings of aluminum, compared to steel, is obvious. Is that the reason Torklift International developed an aluminum tie-down system?
Jack: We actually started by challenging our engineering department to create a super high-performance tie-down system. By utilizing aluminum, we were able to develop a tie-down that is ultra light weight, corrosion resistant, and able to outperform everything currently available in the marketplace. The Talon tie-down line is nothing new for our engineers at Torklift International as the first aluminum tie-down design and testing began more than two years ago.
Jay: One of the biggest challenges to steel products is corrosion and rust. Aluminum directly addresses this challenge and improves durability, corrosion resistance, and weight.
TCM: Are you telling us that an aluminum tie-down can be stronger than a steel tie-down?
Jay: Based on how it’s designed and the type of aluminum used, aluminum products can be designed to be a lot stronger than steel. The military commonly uses different alloys for different applications. We are using a military grade 6,000-series aluminum alloy.
Above: Video of the Torklift International’s Talon camper tie downs
TCM: Are the Talon camper tie downs designed the same as the traditional steel tie downs?
Jay: All of the Talon camper tie downs are designed differently. They feature different reinforcements, gussets in the support structure, and inserts.