Cabover Camper Chat - II

meredithmeredith Member Posts: 575
This topic is a continuation of Topic 891....

Cabover Camper Chat. Please continue these
discussions here.

Front Porch Philosopher
SUV, Pickups, & Aftermarket and Accessories Host


  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Wow, we made it. Cabover Camper Chat - II. Early on I thought this topic would get zapped for lack of interest. Glad I was wrong.
  • jraskejraske Member Posts: 131
    I don't think we'll have a problem with lack of interest, with the amount of people that buy these
    rigs for hauling campers around I am sure someone will always be interested in the information that can be found here.
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    Plus, for those of us in snow country, the days are getting longer and warmer. Spring is in the air and the season of "load em up, move em out" Friday at 5pm every weekend is just around the corner. Lots of new experiences to relate and conversations with other truck camper owners on the hwy, many of whom will be tourist who drove up from the lower 48.

    Of course, the Iditarod sled dog race (The Last Great Race - 1,100+ miles from Anchorage to Nome) starts this weekend, so I guess there is still a little winter left, but I'll probably dewinterize for the season in mid-April. That's not too far off.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    It's funny for me to read your posts about winter. My idea of de-winterizing the camper is to take the heavy sleeping bag out and put a pair of shorts in. I do absolutely nothing different year round since it doesn't freeze here. I guess that's a little boring but it's also very convenient.

    So what do I do? I drive 5 hours so I can get snowed on. Go figure.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Mike L and I and co. went for a weekend camping trip to the snow at Kings Canyon National Park which is near Fresno, California. The campground we stayed in is at about 6500 feet. They plow to keep it open year round. We wanted to go into an out of the way little place Mike visited last summer and came ready with shovel and tow strap just in case. But when we arrived we were faced with a 5 foot wall of snow that used to be the road. For some reason Mike wasn't willing to blaze the trial for us!

    Here is Mike's truck in it's overnight home

    Then I arrived

    We didn't get any snow the first night, just a little rain. Unfortunately Mike didn't stay the second night, look what he missed. This was the view out my camper door the next morning

    We got about 5-6 inches overnight. The morning was very pretty with clear skys and bright sun. My truck somehow looked different though

    Dusty dog loved the snow all weekend even though she got high-centered more than once

    But alas, they were Johnny-on-the-spot with the plow so I never got the chance to put the truck to the test. Otherwise a very pleasant trip.
  • tganleytganley Member Posts: 15
    I'm still lurking this topic and happy to see it go 500+.

    Vince, I now have a digital camera and if you are still interested in the ground connect point for the aux. battery let me know and I'll take a picture and email it to you.

    Mike, how is your rig performing with the lance 820 and towing the boat?

    I think the 820 is heavier than I want to go. Also, I like the design of the bigfoot/northern lite with no roof, or framing issues to deal with. I've almost decided on the Northern Lite, mostly because I can get a good price on it here in my area. But I cannot find anyone that has owned one, although several people have asked the question both on this forum and happycamper. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
  • jraskejraske Member Posts: 131
    Well I finally got to try out my truck with the camper and towing my Jeep Wrangler, Went on a four day trip to Vegas about a about a 1300 mi round trip. Came home broke of course. Who goes to Vegas to win money?
    The truck did great,love that diesel, only wish I got a little better mileage. Got a average of about 9 mpg, oh well I didn,t by the truck for mileage I guess.
    I am going to have to get those air bags on my rig before I try towing my boat with the camper, I already had a few people flashing there lights at me with the jeep.I towed the Jeep with a tow bar so there was no tongue weight to worry about, with the boat I will have about 200 lb of tongue weight with a three foot hitch extension so I am sure I will really be blinding people with my lights then with out the air bags.
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    Thanks for the photos. I saw you out there with the camera, but never thought the pictures would show up here.

    You guys had a real nice snow, I'm jealous. Was the new snow as heavy as the stuff on the ground? That was the heaviest snow I've ever encountered. Made great snowballs and snowmen. But, very difficult to walk through.

    Even at 6000+ feet it was quite warm while I was there. 40-45 in the daytime and 32-34 at night. Too warm for the sleeping bag I brought. I had the heater set at 35 but it only got down to 40 in the camper. Next time I'll just give up and open the vent over the bed.

    Either this weekend or next, my wife and I will go back to Azelea campground. She's still suffering from jetlag. She's falls asleep around 6pm and for some reason when she wakes up we both wake up.

    Off to work,

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Thanks for the offer of a picture but I don't need it. I couldn't find the point you described so I grounded the battery to the side of the engine block under a bolt used to hold a bracket for a dipstick if I remember correctly. The two batteries are working great. The heater and lights were on for a few days in the snow and the battery still read out as fair to good.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Go for the air bags. They not only help the headlights but make your rig look like it's not dragging the ground. I'll be interested to hear if you notice a handling difference. Since some of the weight is shifted to the front it should help. Beyond blinding other drivers, another thing that bothered me on my old truck was when I needed the high beams they hardly did anything because they were pointing too high.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Yes Mike, the snow was pretty wet. That didn't stop the day players though, there was a bunch of kids sliding down the hills and such. The clouds started getting thick toward noon so it wasn't as pretty as early morning. (Well early for me that is.)
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    It looks like I will return to the snow this weekend with my wife. With the rain down here, should be another 2' of snow up there.

    Maybe we can get lucky and catch some snow while we are there.

    This time I will bring some firewood.

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Gee, where are you going to get your hands on firewood? I bet you can find some for less than $6 a box!
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    I've got plenty of firewood and snow you can have. Swing by anytime and pick some up for free.....
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    When Vince and I were up in Kings Canyon we both forgot to bring wood. We bought some wood at the general store that was maked $6/box. But he had a larger broken box that he would sell us for the same price as the small boxes. So, we took one of each and the total price was $6. We still don't understand.

    Anyway, I just had a 100' tree cut down in our front yard. I gave Vince about 1/2 cord of wood and have far too much left. I have to take a cord up to my daughter's house (two trips with the pickup) and see how much I have left.

    The log splitter broke with just 10 pieces left to split. It is amazing that 1/2" steel plate can bend like that. That is another weekend project to add to the list.

    Hang on the firewood and snow. Next time I'm in Alaska I'll stop by and pick up some.

    Mike L
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    Wood splitter? Up here in Anchorage, they have these new fangled things. I think they are called chain saws. Just kidding, of course.

    About 15 years ago, my folks bought a recreational bluff lot down on the Kenai Peninsula overlooking Cook Inlet with a view of Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Illiamna and, on a clear day, a view of Mt. St. Augustine. Real nice place, but no road. I learned the benefits of a chain saw over a three day period when my dad, former-brother-in-law, and I wielded the chain saw for three days to clear the road and they both stacked the logs. I cut it down to reasonable size logs so they could be split with an axe in a season or two after they weren't so green. We used that wood for many years and I only almost got pancaked by one extra large tree that I got my saw stuck in.

    Next time anyone comes up, feel free to give a call. I can point you in the direction of the fishing holes. As I mentioned, I planned to get a website up and running around April when camping season starts getting warmed up. My goal is to post some pictures of camping/fishing trips.
  • nasvikingnasviking Member Posts: 43
    Finally got an allocation for my 2500 Silverado, so I will be increasing J.C. Whitneys stock price all on my own!
    Camper is 2,395 pounds loaded, ordering 2500 pound capacity Hellwig progressive helper springs. Sound ok? Also, the Hellwig rear anti-sway bar for the rear. As I look now it looks like that is for 1/2 ton only, the 3/4 doesn't come with one does it?
    And an idea I had was to mount Chevy truck style mirrors on the camper at the over hang, think that would work good? I would like that better than extending truck mirrors.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    I think you have been reading this topic for some time haven't you? If so then you've read the discussion about Hellwig overload springs and stabilizer bar. I don't want to rehash the topics in total, if you haven't been reading along then I suggest you look in the Cabover Camper Chat original topic and spend some time reading.

    For the springs, basically everyone with direct experience prefers air bags. My last truck had the Hellwig overload leafs and they were fine but I would never own them again. The air bags cost a little more but give you total flexibility for load compensation and don't affect the unloaded ride.

    The Hellwig bar is also okay but not great. They may have fixed it by now but probably not. The problem is that it barely fits the truck. I ended up modifying the truck just a little and twisting the bar on the axle. It works so I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it, just allow extra time for installation and don't expect it to be perfect. As far as I know it is the least expensive bar on the market and the quality otherwise is good. If you care to, I can give you the name and number of a guy to call at Hellwig so you can see if they have changed the bar. If you do end up buying it send me an e-mail if you want some installation tips. And no, the 3/4 (or 1/2) doesn't come with a rear bar. It's amazing to me that GM doesn't even offer it as an option.

    You can buy mirrors meant for mounting under the camper overhang. I thought about doing that but then GM came out with the extendible camper mirrors so I ordered those instead. They aren't as nice as the normal mirrors otherwise though. Adding mirrors to the camper is logical since you only need them when it's on. My concern would be how much they vibrate and whether I would have a good view from the passenger side mirror since it's pretty far away. Give it a try, if you don't like them you can always fall back to add-on extension mirrors to the factory mirrors.
  • nasvikingnasviking Member Posts: 43
    I do read all the posts and now remember your posts about installation problems with the Hellwig. I would appreciate that name at Hellwig to find out if there is a difference between the 1/2 and 3/4 ton bar.I'm at the point where shipping's free now, so I might as well get as much as I can in this catalog.
    I used to tow a 22' camper with a short wheel base ford van and I remember the anti-sway bar made a world of difference,once I put it on.
    Sorry, if I cause you to much typing, I figured you have nothing better to do than my questions! Thanks
  • oltroll1oltroll1 Member Posts: 46
    Is your new truck a 4x4 extended cab? Gas? How much does it weigh without the camper?
  • oltroll1oltroll1 Member Posts: 46
    Once again a 5 min. job has taken a half-a-day. I just put heat strips in my NEW factory installed roof AC unit.I had only checked to make sure the unit ran when I bought the camper. After installing the heat strips I discovered the inside plate on the unit had been installed backward and all the air was going through the return vent. Had to take it apart re wire it and put it back. Oh well thats my luck. Thanks SUN-LITE!
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Last summer I bought a free-standing evaporative cooler for my house. Get it home, fill it up with water, turn it on high with great anticipation...

    Could barely feel it! Eventually I figured out the motor was turning backwards and blowing the air out the back! A return trip to Costco solved the problem but they did look at me a little funny when I said it was running backwards.
  • stabburstabbur Member Posts: 75
    A coworker bought a new house. First hot day he turned on the air conditioner and the circuit breaker popped. The repair man found the instruction manual for the conditioner inside the unit where it had jammed the rotation of the fan thereby tripping the breaker.

    Oltroll, glad to learn of another Sunlite out there. Good luck with it. Looks like our summer trip is going to happen. Six weeks on the road, four in the camper and two on two different rivers (Utah and Idaho) in our canoe and tent. We'll think of you as we drive by Bristol, Indiana and the Sunlite factory.
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    My wife was not happy to have missed the previous snow trip with Vince and Terri and Dusty, so we went back to Azalea campground in Kings Canyon National Park.

    Pulled in Sat around 12:30 (same as last trip). Found a campsite and walked around. They have had 4' of snow in the last 2 weeks (since last visit). Most of that new snow has melted, but there is new snow. Walked down to and around the General Grant tree, etc.

    Made a campfire, had a hard time getting it going, but when we retired into the camper it took off great guns.

    Woke up around 6 am to heavy snow coming down. In 1/2 hour we got 2", but the more it came down, the more it compacted the bottom layer. So in 2 1/2 hours we had 6" on the ground and more coming down. It was kind of neat walking down the road and the only marks in the snow are our footprints.

    A couple camped at the end of the road where Vince and I had camped 2 weeks ago were in a tent. 3 other vehicles included two SUV's and a big motorhome.

    The ranger warned us about city folks that would be coming up to play in the fresh snow. They have lots of accidents, and it was getting deep and the wet stuff underneath had frozen, so we packed it in and left. We actually needed the 4wd to get out of the campground and chains or 4wd were required on the highway. A good 2" on the road even though the snowplow had been through.

    When we saw the jeep stuffed into the embankment on the way down we were glad to be driving slowly.

    The popup is insulated, but it still gets cold inside. 35 in the morning before we fired up the furnace. 33 in the cab and frozen outside - maybe 28. Don't mind the cold so much - the down comforter works great. But, the condensation inside is terrible. I remember reading about how much moisture humans exhale during the night, and the water on every hard surface tells me it is alot. It drips off the metal roof supports, and runs off the windows. I guess running the heater would reduce that.

    We found out that snow makes the roof much heavier. Our manual roof was difficult to lower, it just wanted to fall down. And snow buildup in the 15 minutes since I had cleaned it off made it difficult to latch the top. Next time I will get everthing ready inside, then go out and clean the snow off and then lower the top immediately.

    All in all, a great weekend.


    Mike L
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    I use to be a boy scout and could launch into a million ways to start a fire in cold, wet weather, but the truth is that I cheat. I'm a pretty outdoorsy person, but a little lighter fluid or gasoline goes a long way towards starting a fire, especially in non-ideal conditions.

    My tent camping friend and his family are closing on a used Class C Motorhome this evening, so it looks like I will have more company than usual this camping season.....and less people using my camper and filling my holding tanks.
  • oltroll1oltroll1 Member Posts: 46
    I have the eagle sb.I have finally finished the first round of modifications and spent my first night in it.Ahh--The brisk night air;the peace and quite and the sounds of nature. Maybe next time I'll go further than the front yard!! :)
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123

    I found another fan called 'Super Fan' in the Camping World catalog. It seems similar to the Fantastic Fan, but not reversible.

    You could call the Camping World people and talk to them about the fans. They've been willing to talk when I have called them.

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    So you did it! I've been tempted to stay in mine in the front yard but never actually did it. I thought I'd feel kind of stupid. But when it's a new toy you just want to get out there and try it. Anyway to need to test it to make sure it works before actually going on the road, right?
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    My favorite method for starting a fire uses gasoline. Pour some over the wood, wait 10 minutes for it to soak in and light. Works great without the big fireball you get if you light too soon. But modern vehicles with fuel injection make it difficult to get gas out of your truck.

    Nowdays I try to carry a small container of kerosene. It will start most fires easily. But, this time I didn't bring it. I brought dry wood from home, and I found some nice looking wood in the campground. The found wood was the problem. Once our wood got it going, all was OK.

    Mike L
  • mictromictro Member Posts: 29
    I'm not sure if this topic has been previously addressed or not. My apologies if it has. Does anyone have any good advice/experience installing a battery isolator?

    I have a 2000 Dodge Ram (Gas Engine). It has the tow package and HD service group (i.e. 136-Amp alternator). I have an 8 ft Western Wilderness Camper to go on it. My truck came wired with a lead already in place to charge my camper battery. However, there is no battery isolator on the truck so I would run the risk of my camper battery pulling on and draining my truck battery.

    Any information and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    Check the camper lead for power with the key off. If you have no power on that wire then you will not run down your main battery.

    If you don't have a meter to check it with, use a car light bulb. It doesn't matter if it is a parking light bulb or a headlight. Wrap a wire around one terminal or the body of the bulb and run it to ground. Turn the key on, touch the camper lead to the other terminal of the bulb and verify that it goes on. If it does not, you may have a bad ground or a bad bulb. Make this part work first.

    Once the above is working, turn the key off and repeat. The light should not light. If it does, you will have to add a relay to turn it off when the key is off. Probably it will not light and this wire will be isolated already.

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    No Mike, I disagree. If the truck came with camper wiring but no aux battery then it likely doesn't have an isolator. For GM the relay comes with the aux battery option. My truck didn't have that and the camper wiring went direct to the battery.

    Wow, too many Mikes! I guess we have Mike3 now. Well Mike3, listen to the voice of experience: you must have an isolator or will find yourself in the campground with jumper cables in your hand.

    There are two approaches, a relay or a solid state isolator. I've had both and think either way is fine. The solid state types are basically just 2 huge diodes. They are more expensive (~$50) and a little harder to wire because you have to interrupt the alternator output. Not a big deal really. On the other hand you don't need a switched signal voltage like relays need. These do cause the alternator to run about 0.7V higher output voltage at the alternator (same at the battery still) but I don't think that bothers anything.

    The relays run around $15 and simply connect the two batteries in parallel when the engine is running. GM uses this method. The only problem is that eventually the relay contacts wear out. One thing I learned, if you use a relay be sure to locate it in a dry location under the hood because they are not necessarily sealed. You may very well already have a switched power lead in the engine compartment if Dodge offers a aux battery option. GM has the connector as part of the wiring harness for all trucks. If not then you have to find a line that's high when the key is on.

    However you do it be sure to include a 30 amp circuit breaker in the line from the power source to the camper battery. Locate the breaker near the source end. You can buy those for a few bucks at the RV or auto store. The other stuff is available at an RV store like

    I use the relay method because it is simple. I like simple. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me.
  • oltroll1oltroll1 Member Posts: 46
    Your right on both
    cases. Had to make sure
    everything worked and didn't win any points with my wifes opinion on my sanity.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    That weight sounds low for an 11.5 model. The new ones are more like 3000.

    The camper wiring is a harness that is tapped off the trailer wiring. It has power, ground, and all the lights plus an extra heavy blue wire. That wire is for the trailer brakes so you don't use it unless you have some clever idea for who knows what. The harness comes with unfinished wire ends and is tucked between the cab and box on the driver's side. You have to get it into the box yourself. It's not too long, if you stretched it out it may go 6-12" above the top of the box.

    I ran mine into the box through a slotted drain hole they have on each side of the front of the bed. First I lined the hole with plastic edging to protect the wire. Then I ran it behind my drop-in bedliner up the side of the box and put a receptacle in the wall of the bedliner. I wouldn't do it this way if I didn't have the bedliner because the wire would be exposed in the bed. In that case I would have tried to put the connector right in the wall of the bed. There are other choices as well.

    You will receive a wire harness and 30 amp fuse in the glove box. It is for a trailer brake controller which it doesn't sound like you will need. The fuse goes under the hood and connects +12V to the trailer brake controller, which then powers the big blue wire.

    I learned all this while adding the aux battery option myself since I didn't order it with the truck. If you didn't order it either and want detail on how to wire an underhood battery with relay (or just the relay) let me know and I'll e-mail you my story.
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    Anybody know why my previous post shows up "Hidden Response... 19 lines"???

    I posted just like any other post. Or so I thought.

    Mike L
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    I think it hides it when you reference a link and the link address is wider than the normal place the text wraps to the next line. If you look at your photo links, the address extends farther to the right than the normal margin. That would be my guess.

    Awesome day up here in Anchorage. Still a bit cool with temps around 30, but Spring is definitely in the air. Not a cloud in the sky. We have over 11 hours of daylight now. Two moose, a mama and her baby, just walked up to my window and started eating off the tree outside. They are so close, they actually bump the window while they are eating. I'd guess the mom stands over seven tall. Very healthy looking with good coats. They have obviously been eating good this winter.
  • jraskejraske Member Posts: 131
    Boy Mike it sure must be nice to have all that free time to make those trips to the snow, I can't seem to find enough time to get away much lately. Hopefully I will find more time after I get my boat fixed so I can get out and do some fishing.
    Just curious do you load and unload your camper for every trip, or do you leave it on your truck all the time?
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    Mike, you were successful getting your pictures on finally, congratulations. Brutus is correct about the hidden thing, it always does that for long links.

    Brutus, your moose story is a trip. It's good for us city folk to read your stories to keep us in touch with reality just a bit. Is that moose seven feet high at the shoulder? I've heard they are big but wow, that's the size of a horse.
  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    Yeah, there as big as a horse. I'd say the tops of their backs are about six feet tall. Add the neck and head to that. With a big bull, you add the racks to that. None of the moose hanging out around my office have been adult males, so no racks. Last week when there were four of them, there was a minor confrontation. One of the mamas decided she liked the tree that the other mother was eating on. The one that was eating took about half a dozen quick paces forward towards the other mother and both stopped about 10 feet from each other. Then they both got on their hind legs. When they dropped back down on all fours, the one that had been eating off the tree ran across the street with her calf close behind and started eating off another tree. She didn't seem phased. She just acknowledged the superiority of the other moose. I've never seen anything like that before except on tv. They never came close to touching each other. I guess the moose who stands the tallest wins.

    I am changing jobs on Monday and don't expect to see many moose at work. I'm going to work for the State DOT as a Leasing Officer at Anchorage International airport. Planes and moose don't mix. Looking forward to the new job with much enthusiasm except for one thing. At my current job, we work four 10s from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It's five day weeks at DOT, so I lose my weekly three day camping weekends.
  • jraskejraske Member Posts: 131
    Good luck on your new job, too bad about not having three day weekends any longer but I am sure you will get used to that.
    What does a leasing officer do? sounds interesting.
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    I don't have that much time off. I just go on weekends. 4-5 hours up to Kings Canyon. Arrive around noon. Have all afternoon to hike, play, sightsee. Get up at 6 (sleep in on weekends) have all morning play. Leave before noon and I'm home at reasonable hour.

    I leave my camper on most of the time. It's been off twice since returning from Alaska. I only take it off if I want to use the truck for something else. I have to store it somewhere, and on the truck works for me. Besides, I intend to use it at least once a month. I do use a little more gas with it on (16 loaded vs 20 empty).

  • BrutusBrutus Member Posts: 1,113
    I'll be working on a team with four other leasing officers. Our job is to do all the leasing of the space inside the airport (restaurants, bars, rental car companies, concessions, ticket areas, etc.). One of my tenants will be Cheers! I've been working for the University of Alaska in the Land Managment Office since early last year. Prior to that I worked for the FDIC (closing banks and liquidating assets). I started working for the FDIC in 1990 up here, then spent 4.5 years with them in Southern CA from 93-97 and then I spent a little over a year in Dallas. I was offered a job as a Bank Examiner, but chose to quit and return to Alaska. The job market was tighter than anticipated up here. The current job is a nice work atmosphere, but not very challenging and it was about a 50% cut in pay. The new job remedies both of those issues, although I'm still not touching my FDIC salary....yet. Sorry to get off subject.

    A typical weekend for me is having the camper packed and tanks full when I head to work on Friday. I change in the camper in the office parking lot and I'm on the road, usually headed south on the Kenai Peninsula. The shortest trip is Seward (about 125 miles one way) and the longest is Homer (225 miles one way. When I head to Homer, I'm usually pulling in around 10:30pm. If it's Seward, I'm usually there by 8pm. I don't have a set time to head home at the end of the weekend. It's usually nice to be home by 5pm.

    My prep for camping is almost non-existent. The camper pretty much stays loaded. It's basically just laundry and food in and then laundry and food out. I dump tanks after work the night after the trip. I can dump for free at the gas station where I fillup. It takes me about 10 minutes to dump both tanks. On Thursday night when I'm loading the food and clothes, I drain what lefts in the fresh water tank and refill it.

    As far as taking the camper on and off, if I know I'm going out the next weekend, I'll keep it on. Otherwise, it comes off. I lose 2-3mpg with it on, plus it's nice to give the truck a break from hauling the 4,000 pounds in the bed when I can. I loaded it and unloaded it quite often last summer. It takes me about 45 minutes to load and 35 minutes to unload. I can unload at lunch in coat and tie without getting dirty.

    15 degrees this morning, but another gorgeous, sunny day. The high will be near 30. It's been a mild winter. Only one subzero cold snap and that was back in December.
  • ahollowellahollowell Member Posts: 14
    The Dodge feed to the trailer connector is hot all the time. I installed an isolator in the engine compartment on the driver's side fenderwell. I also removed the fuse for the trailer power cable, and rewired this from the fuse block, through a 30 amp breaker, and onto the second post of the isolator. This allows the trailer power connector to be hot only when the engine is running. Once I install the second battery, it will connect to the same post, so then the trailer power connector will always be hot, and charging when the engine is running. This will allow the camper and secondary truck battery to discharge without affecting the truck's main battery, but all three will be charging when the motor is running.
    I used the isolator only because it is a sealed unit with no moving parts. I've used them for years, and have only had one fail, after about four years of use.
    I will try to get some photos and a schematic drawn up this weekend and posted on my web page for you to reference. I'll let you know when they are out there.
  • mictromictro Member Posts: 29
    ahollowell (and to the others who posted information)-

    Thanks. I'd like to see your schematic. The concept behind the isolator is quite simple, but when you open the hood to these brand new vehicles, it can sometimes be a little intimidating!

    I've located all of the parts I will need. According to Sure Power and a local RV place, they recommended the isolator #1602 with a 120-Amp breaker. The isoaltor runs about $75 and the breaker is about $55! One place I checked actually wanted more money for the breaker ($95)than the isolator. Crazy.

    Once again, thanks and I'll keeping checking back for your information.

    -Mike T. (mictro)
  • ahollowellahollowell Member Posts: 14
    Sorry about all the dulpicate postings. My computer seems to have a mind of it's own. time to reboot!
  • mictromictro Member Posts: 29
    Does anyone know what happened to #'s 47 & 48?
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    He deleted them. You can always delete your own posts, just click on the post number and choose Scribble.
  • stabburstabbur Member Posts: 75
    I've ordered a 2001 Dodge Quad Cab diesel with the camper and trailer packages to replace our '95 Ford. On my Ford it was easy since turning the key disconnected the camper battery. The Ford has been extremely faithful, (F250 4x2 351 V8, only repair being a clutch slave cylinder replaced under warranty). I would have bought the Ford SD PS except for extra hump on the transmission dog house that projected into the passenger foot room. The diesel choice was the result of those long grades at high altitude. The Dodge bumper is a little too high to clear the gray water tank, so to put the camper as far forward as possible I will put in a 1/2 inch mat. The club cab will give us more room on those long cross country drives and will hold some of the canoeing stuff that we have to remove from the camper each night (and put under the rig if it is raining.)

    In looking over the wiring info for the isolator I have a question for ahollowell and mictro. I note that mictro has priced a 120 amp breaker. To deliver 120 amps at 12 volts to a camper battery it seems to me that you will require a cable about the diameter of a standard battery cable. The wire in the harness is unlikely to be much larger than 10 or 12 gauge. Depending on a 120 amp breaker to flip if you have a short in the harness with this diameter of wire is asking a lot - even it it does flip the wire will sure will be hot and maybe on fire before it happens.

    Although your alternator may deliver 130 plus amps not all that is going to be available for charging and the battery, if it is not completely flat will not accept a charge at this rate. If the hot wire is currently fused for 30 amps I wouldn't put a breaker for more than 30 amps in the downstream side.

    I will be installing my aux battery on a carrier alongside the frame just in front of the rear wheel (the Chevy "side mounted" gas tank location) where I currently have the one in my Ford. This has worked just fine for the five years I've owned it. My Sun Lite camper doesn't have a battery box. (Even it it had one I would probably put something else in it.) The disadvantage is that when I remove the camper from the truck I don't have a battery. Usually when it is off, I can plug it in to 120V, though.

    I will put a fusible link in the feed from the battery to the camper of 30 amps in case of a short between the battery and the Magnetek in the camper and will plan to put another link between the isolator and the aux battery. These are a lot less expensive than the circuit breaker that mictro describes. Apart from a bit of inconvenience if it blows, does anyone see any problems with this approach?

    Brutus, best wishes on the new job. We have a photo of our little rig parked next to all the big ones down on the Kenai. We had pulled in to dig some Razor clams, and we looked so insignifcant that I just had to get the photo.
  • vince4vince4 Member Posts: 1,268
    I agree with your method. You should have a breaker near the battery for the camper feed and another breaker for the battery charge line near the isolator. You always want to put protection devices near the source in case a short occurs between the source and the end point.

    I don't know about that 120 amp breaker. I've not heard of one so expensive nor do you want one with such a high rating. The little 30 amp jobs are about $3 and seem to work fine, although I've never really put one to the test. A better choice for a super high current rating is a fusible link like the manufacturers use. It is just a smaller gauge wire in the path that will vaporize safely if needed.
  • ahollowellahollowell Member Posts: 14
    I am using a 30-amp circiut breaker located right next to my isolator to support the feed to the trailer connectoer, and another one between the camper battery and the camper main wiring feed. i don't understand what the 120 amp breaker was either. My isolator is rated 120 amps, so it can support my 136 amp alternator no problem.
    I will try to post my schematic and a few pictures tonight.

    PS: sorry for the deleted messages, but I had some duplicate messages, and thought I would be polite and clean them up.
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