We like to say that truck campers can go anywhere. That would be true if 71 percent of Earth wasn’t covered with water. It’s time for the amphi-camper.
Turn your way-back machine forty-eight years ago to 1961. You open your latest issue of Ford Times Magazine and read an article about Copeland Engineering’s new Pontoon Sports Body truck camper, the Cee Camper. That’s right, a truck camper that transforms into a boat and back again. An amphi-camper!
We think we’re state-of-the-art in 2009 with our multiple slide-outs, fancy floor plans, and advanced materials, but in 1961 people were literally cruising the waterways with their truck campers. Imagine the possibilities. No need to buy a truck camper and a boat. No need to tow. Now truck campers can truly go anywhere.
Back to Reality
We can’t find any evidence that these amphi-campers were actually successful, but the 1961 Ford Times photographs, article, and advertisement proves the Cee Campers were commercially available and marketed. The Ford Times article even reports that at least five were produced by Copeland Engineering in North Hollywood, California. Evidently anything is possible in Hollywood, even amphi-campers.
Hit the Water
Launching the Cee Camp was relatively straightforward. The owner would lower the pontoons and fix them into their down sea-going position. The truck carrying the Cee Camp would then back into about seven inches of water to allow the pontoons to become buoyant.
Once the Cee Camp was buoyant, the owner would release the Cee Camp from the truck and push it out onto the water. The pontoons could then be used as gangplanks to allow up to four people to board the Cee Camp for a cruise. Fishing anyone?
Remarkably, the Ford Times article reports that the Cee Camp could do thirty miles an hour on the water and could even support water skiing. Water skiing from a truck camper? Now you know TCM has gone nuts.
Mounting, Demounting, and Storing
When demounted on dry land, the Cee Camper was designed to rest on its pontoons in the down sea-going position. The pontoons would be supported by five-inch blocks allowing a truck to drive out from under the Cee Camper.
Mounting the Cee Camp is a matter of backing underneath the camper, removing the blocks, and attaching the camper with tie-downs. The pontoons are then swung onto the roof of the camper and secured with snap pins for travel. Very slick and aerodynamic to boot.
Cee Camp Construction
According to the Ford Times article, the ten-foot floor of the Cee Camp was a double-floor with nine airtight flotation compartments. The pontoons on the Cee Camp were made with fir frames with plywood and fiberglass exteriors. The pontoons measured 12’ long, 30.5” wide, and 14.5” deep.
The total weight of the Cee Camp was reported at about 1,000 pounds including the forty-horsepower outboard motor. Not bad.
Boat to the Future?
Maybe some brave camper manufacturer out there will take another crack at this idea with modern materials, manufacturing, and technology. A lot has changed in forty-eight years including tremendous leaps in material science and computer-aided design. Besides, how hard could it be if they did it almost fifty years ago?
Let us try it another way. We double-dog dare the truck camper manufacturers to try this. It looks like a great publicity stunt if nothing else. And you never know, it could be a huge hit and a wide-open market for the manufacturer that dares to be different.