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Cabover Campers & Camper Trailers (pickups)

meredithmeredith Posts: 577
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
This topic is a continuation of Topic 1637....

Cabover Camper Chat - II. Please continue these
discussions here. Thanks!

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


  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    Who would have thought this topic would carry through so far.

    1063 posts so far.

    I look forward to this topic being more active in the fall and winter, when we are home and posting more.

    Post your trips, where you went and what happened - you know, like grade school when you had to write "My summmer Vacation".

    Mike L
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    I wanted to congratulate all of you on a great discussion group.

    No name calling, no ranting, just good discussion towards a common goal of enjoying our campers. Even if we don't agree on which is the right camper (they are all the right one - just for different purposes).

    May the sun be at your back as you travel,

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    And away we go!

    Mike, you are feeling rather philosophical today. How are your termites? Nice and healthy still I guess.

    I've been redoing the wood trim around my upstairs windows because I had the windows replaced and the new ones are a bit smaller. So no camping trips for quite a while. But I'll fix that this weekend. I'm not sure where to go, I have to pick somewhere away from the "last chance before school starts" crowd. Anyone ever heard of Hull Creek in California?
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    You can't go that far in California - no one can escape that crowd!

    I give up, where is Hull Creek? No, wait, I'll do a web search. It's is probably in one of those obscure camping guides isn't it?

    The little wood eaters have 7 days to live, and they don't even know it!


  • erikf2erikf2 Posts: 100
    Just got my camper last Saturday; the Norcold refrigerator manual says it needs to be within 6 degrees of level front-to-back (side-to-side as mounted in the camper) and within 3 degrees side-to-side (front-to-back as mounted).

    What do you folks use to level your campers (chunks o' wood, "big lego blocks", etc.), and how do you tell you're "level enough"?
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    I started by putting a level on the refrig. Kept adding wood (2x6's) until the refrig was level. I then took a couple of small stick on levels and mounted them on the outside of the camper, one side to side, and the other front to back.

    I can now look at the exterior levels and guess how much wood to add where and get the camper level. It's only partly for the refrig, mostly for me - I don't sleep well when not level.

    Mike L
  • jraskejraske Posts: 133
    I have always dug holes to level my truck, but if you have air bags with on board controls you can use those to help level it.
    As far as being able to tell when I am level I put a center level in the frige,it is a level with a bubble in the middle that shows you level on on four sides. They work great and only cost a buck or two.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    I put the small levels on the outside of the camper so I can check the level without going into the camper.

    Also, since I have a popup camper, I would have to raise the top to see a level on the refrig or counter top. So I do it from the outside.

    I also have dug holes, but I carry 6 pieces of 2x6 for leveling and use them when I can. I've also used the airbags to raise the back when it is low and that is useful, but slow with my cheap little compressor. I can't convince myself to buy a real compressor for leveling.

    I have also used the camper jacks to raise the back of the camper. I don't have to lift the weight of the truck, just the camper. The back end will go up 3-4" before the camper lifts off the truck. Again, only useful when the back is low.

    Mike L
  • jraskejraske Posts: 133
    I have never had the problem of getting in and out of my camper to see if it was level,(WHAT THE HECK ARE WIFES FOR ANYWAY?)The only thing I don't like about the blocks besides the room they take up, is I don't most of the time they give enough ajustment to level your truck.
    My last trip to lake Powel for instance, they would never have worked. I had to dig some deep holes there to level my my truck. Thank my wife for suggesting we get the 4X4 option or we would have really had a hard time.

  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    I use 2x4 cut about 18 inches long. I use them like a ramp, placing one or two perpindular and in front of the tire and then place another one under the tire and on top of the perpendilar ones and drive up it. I carry six with me, but sometimes come up short since I have six tires (duallys). I try to park so the back end is lower if the ground is not level. That way, I will block the front and use less wood. I confess that I don't worry about getting it completely level, only close enough to be comfortable. My friend has a level mounted on the outside of his camper as recommended above. I think I'll do the same.

    Just got back from an extended four day weekend. I had a friend fly up from Seattle. We camped at the Russian River on Friday night. Clear night, lots of stars. Temp on Saturday morning was a brisk 35 degrees. The sun was out all day and the temps warmed up to close to 70. We met up with another friend of mine and floated the upper Kenai, catching dolly varden, rainbow trout, and some old red salmon who were on their last legs. They put up a decent fight, but definitely were too bruised up for keeping. The keepers were out of the river several weeks ago. We were only planning to catch and release on the float. My friend is an avid fly fisher and had a lot of fun.

    We drove over to Seward on Saturday evening. On Sunday, we hooked up with another friend and went out on a boat in Resurrection Bay. The water was calm in the Bay, but we couldn't get out of the Bay because there were 4-7 foot seas. We had hoped for a chance at some halibut, but got skunked. My friend and I walked to the Yukon Bar in Seward and watched Hobo Jim. He's the Alaskan Jimmy Buffet. Great show. Late night, as we closed the bar. Severe headache Monday morning.

    Despite the late night, we were fishing by 9am. We decided to try our luck from the banks of the beaches in Seward. Resurrection Bay is salt water and snagging is not only legal, it's the mode of catching fish. I had never been a big snagging fan, but what a blast. The limit is six silvers per day.

    This was one of those days when Lady Luck was smiling on us. The fish were in thick. Still, I only saw a few fish on the banks.....until my friend and I dropped our lines. He caught two and then I caught four before he caught another one. He lost three of our four snag hooks, so we started filleting our fish, figuring we'd go grab breakfast, buy some hooks and fish some more.

    While my friend was cleaning his fish, I decided to drop my line. Within 15 minutes, I had my final two fish and was done for the day in less than two hours of fishing. My friend caught his two a few hours later. We probably spent more time cleaning and packaging the fish than we did fishing for them. These were big silvers. I had a scale and they all weighed 13-14 pounds. Most of the ones I catch up north are in the 8-10 pound range. Needless to say, a dozen fish that size is a nice amount of fish.

    We headed back to Anchorage Monday afternoon, put the fish in the freezer and headed north to Sheep Creek. We tried our luck there on Tuesday morning, but the water was lower than I have ever seen it and we didn't see any fish. We headed back to town and got him packed.

    Around 7pm, we headed up to Portgage Glacier and Alyeska Ski Resort and then on to the airport a little after midnight. He caught the red eye back to Seattle with a cooler full of frozen salmon, including a red and some king I gave him that I had caught earlier in the season. My freezer has a comfortable amount of salmon to get me through the winter.

    It was a great weekend, albeit an exhausting one. I had to come back to work to get some rest. I wouldn't trade it for anything. You know the saying, a bad day fishing is better than the best day at work.
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    Boy Brutus, you do keep busy. That was one full weekend. What is snagging?
  • erikf2erikf2 Posts: 100
    When I was a kid, my dad took me fishing at Chilko Lake up in B.C. I seem to remember that the Dolly Varden in that lake were extremely efficient at busting people's 15 and 20 lb. lines.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    Just wanted to let you know we are all green with envy.

    Were you at the public beach/campground in Seward? The place with 5000 RVs side by side? That was the one place we didn't like in Alaska.

    Glad you are enjoying the summer.


    Mike L
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    I located Hull Creek via the internet. 38 spaces with paved road access.

    I tried to talk Dorothy into going to the Los Padres Nat'l Forest for some 'find a spot off the road' camping, but it looks like we are going up to Eagle Lake (by Susanville) to visit her aunt and uncle.

    Still want to go primitive camping in the LPNF, but it will be later. Maybe next weekend. The tent will come off the house on Friday next and Dorothy doesn't want to go back into the house until it airs out over the weekend.

    I'm going to take off at noon on Friday and head up to Eagle Lake via Reno. Should be about 6 hours or so. Come back late on Sunday so we can move all the stuff out to the garage before the tenters show up.

    Mike L
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    I thought you were going to order Tom's California Camping book. It has Hull Creek and everyone else. Hull is a nice little place if you get one of the two rear most spots. Both are creekside and very private but I think the creek is dry this time of year.

    I'd love to join you in LPNF but I'm trying to finish a project on my house and I need one more weekend. Hmm, maybe I'll put it off one more weekend. Do you go up fire roads? Will the monster fit?
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    The Seward beaches are city run, but I'm sure they are what you are referring to. Much of the camping is gravel pit camping, side by side. I don't like that either, although I have been forced to do it on occasion. If the fish are in, you make sacrifices. However, there is one place that is about half way between the small boat harbor and the Sea Life Center that has grass, picnic tables and fire pits in each camp site. I've been lucky enough to get a place in there the last two times I was in Seward.

    Snagging is a form a fishing that I use to scoff it. It's just what it sounds like. No bait. No lure. You put a large weighted treble hook on your line, cast out and jerk and reel, hoping to hit a fish with the hook. I prefer to have a fish bite, but this was actually fun since they were biting. They fight pretty good since you've got them in the tail or the back as oppossed to the mouth.

    Snagging is 100% legal in salt water and 100% illegal in freshwater, so once they enter the streams to spawn, you can't snag. Actually, they often get more restrictive in the rivers and won't allow bait. I fish many streams that are single hook, artifical lure only. In Seward, the runs are plentiful, which is why the limit is six fish and snagging is legal. In the streams, the limit is three silvers per day and only two in the rivers on the Parks Hwy up north.

    Fish and Game actively monitors escapement for spawning and will close rivers or put additional restrictions on fishing if escapement goals are not met. There is a constant battle up here between commercial fishermen and sports fishermen, which is pretty common in coastal fishing communities around the US.

    I'm not sure exactly what a Dolly Varden is, but the ones we were catching were probably 3-5 pounds. They are similar in size to the rainbow trout, although we have some 30+ inch rainbows up here. On the river float, I was using 17 pound test, but that's because I was using my silver and red salmon fishing pole. My friends were using lighter tackle.

    When we went to Seward, I was using my king salmon pole since we were snagging in saltwater, so I knew the silvers were bigger and would fight more. I was using 30 pound test line. My friend didn't use his fly rod, but he was using one of his own reels and it only had 15 pound test on it. He was able to get the fish to beach, although he couldn't horse them as much as I did.

    There is a wide variety of fishing up here in Alaska, and they often come with different types of camping. If you can drive your camper to a place where the salmon are running, you will almost certainly be combat fishing and camping. It's a necessary evil when you need to make a fish run to stock the freezer for winter. The good news is that if you choose to camp where the fish aren't, you get more seclusion and a more enjoyable camping experience since most people are where the fish are. This gives you an opportunity to camp in the peak season with some comfort zone if you camp where the salmon are not running.

    The combat camping is generally only a factor from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Some of the best camping in Alaska is in May and September, before and after the crowds invade the campgrounds. Of course, you need to bring your coats. Temps are already cooling down. We've hit upper 30s for a lows a couple of nights, although average nightly lows are in the mid 40s. Highs are only in the 60s. We've been losing about five minutes of sunlight per day since 6/21 and are down to around 14.5 hours, on our way to about 4.5 hours on 12/21. Fall is in the air......
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123

    Yes, that't the city campground I was referring to. We went north out of town about 5 miles and found a little campground that we felt much better about. We did enjoy the Sealife Center before we left Seward.


    I have Tom's book, but it is home and I didn't think about it until I was back at work. Then the internet worked quite nicely.

    The LPNF requires an 'Adventure Pass'. You buy it in advance and then punch out the date you are using it. $5 for the pass and $100 fine if the ranger finds you stopped and not in possession of a punched pass. Interesting way to do business. We bought a pass last year and haven't used it yet. The place I really want to go is a campground north of Ft. Hunter Ligget and the mission. The road is paved up to a campground called 'Indian Camp' or something like that. Then a few more miles in is a couple of other campgrounds and primitive camping anywhere. The monster would clearly fit up to the first campground and all the camping up to there. I haven't been past there because the road has been closed everytime I've been there because of fire or rain.

    It has also been very empty when I've been there, possibly because the road was closed and no one wanted to go there and not go through.

    That was the place that was so quiet that a bird looking for bugs in the leaves scared the wits out of my wife. I must admit it sounded bigger that a sparrow, but that's what it was. Almost as quiet as Death Valley. Death Valley - maybe between Christmas and New Year.

    So, you need to get the house all fixed up so you can sell it and move to the high rent distric?

    Well, 5 more hours of work and then I'm off to Eagle Lake to visit the inlaws. Dorothy's aunt and uncle aren't so bad. They drive a Ford F350 crew cab dually diesel and pull a 34' trailer 7-8 months a year. Sept 15th they leave Eagle Lake to head up to BC. Later they'll be in Arizona. They seem quite happy traveling.

    Ok, now I have to go to work,


    Mike L
  • I'm considering buying a 8' cabover to put on a shortbed 3/4 ton. Besides hanging out 1 1/2' is there anything else I need to think about?
    How heavy trailer and tongue weight can I tow with the hitch extended 1 1/2'?
    Thanks for the info.
  • In '95 I watched as one of the four people on our charter hauled in a nice king salmon, the only one we got. Feeling depressed I drove the camper down to Homer the next day where I heard that the salmon fishing was good in the lagoon out on the spit. Jean went off for a horseback ride and I arrived at the lagoon to find it ringed with people hauling in salmon left and right. I ran down to a guy who was putting a big fish in an overflowing cooler and asked him what he was using for bait. "Gray Lead"

    "Gray Lead" I never heard of that lure.

    "It's just a chunk of lead around a treble hook. We're snagging. The lagoon is full. The hatchery has all they need, and we're hauling them out before they die."

    "Where do I buy one of these gray leads?"

    "Here, take mine. I've got my limit!"

    So that's how I caught my first salmon.

    Congratulations to everyone for making this site so useful, civil, and fun. No wonder it is into phase III.

    When necessary, we level our camper with 2x6 pieces cut with a 45 degree angle at one end. We carry them in nested stacks on a 6" module, the longest piece being 24" the next 18", etc. In use, we put the long piece at the bottom of the pile and if necessary 18, 12, and 6 on top in that order. They live in a box attached to the trailer hitch receiver that also contains the jack, misc. tools, etc. A bit of a pain to get out, but better than hauling the sometimes muddy things elsewhere.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    I've seen many 8' campers on 6 1/2' trucks. Most leave the tailgate down to support the camper. You will have more effective weight on the rear axle, so air lifts and heavy duty shocks are almost mandatory for that application.

    I don't think extending the hitch is a good idea. Mostly, I see trailers that have enough tongue length to permit towing with the tailgate down. Check your truck and trailer, and you'll probably find it is not a problem. It is closer than it was, but you still have a foot or so of clearance. It will make hookups a pain, but much safer than extending the hitch.

    Mike L
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    Lots of driving, but I like to drive so that is not a problem. 350+miles up on Friday, and the same back on Sunday.

    The 'Getaway' traffic on Friday was the worst!! The 2 hour trip to Sacremento took 4 hours. We spent more time in stop and go traffic than we did moving. After Sacremento the traffic opened up and flowed well into Reno. Then north on 395 to Susanville. The drive up through the Sierras into Reno is always one of the prettiest drives I know of. We didn't see much of the mountains this time because it rained continuously from the time we left until we got back. OK, not continously, but over 90% of the time.

    When we go across country, we seen some very spectacular scenery, but returning to the Sierras is always the best mountains. The mountains in Alaska are impressive, as are the Rockies in Colorado. But, the Sierras are mountains you can actually drive into. The highways have sheer mountainsides on one side and sheer dropoffs on the other. Solid granite and trees.

    By comparison, the mountains in Alaska are distant and the mountains in Colorado are gentle hills that you can drive up. With small lakes and rolling hills at 14,000 feet, the Colorado mountains are best viewed from a distance. The mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire come close, but the Sierras are my favorite.

    Eagle Lake is the 2nd largest natural lake in CA. And a fisherman's paradise. 1/2 the campground is up a 5 and on the water by 6. We really enjoy the fact that not just us, but everyone goes to bed early and it is quiet, so we can sleep. Not like some party campgrounds. A lot of fish were taken on the weekend (not by us, we don't fish). Rumor has it that the state is going to ban fishing at the lake and make it into a hatchery lake. Property value are dropping and about 25% of the homes and properties are for sale just from this rumor.

    The drive from Eagle Lake west to 395 is just you typical drive through the forest, with nothing but trees and an occasional deer for distraction. That and the rain. Everyone was happy to see the rain, as it is really cutting the forest fires down. It even cleared the air of the smoke, and only once did we even smell the fires from the Feather River Canyon.

    We averaged 14.5 mpg for the weekend, about what we always average for this truck.

    I have to go and work on my HoneyDo list.

    Mike L
  • That's a good point about the trailer having a tongue long enough to clear the tailgate. I would do that if I could.
    Are there compartments that I would not be able to use with a 8' cabover on a 6 1/2' bed, or water tanks, or anything that would have to be moved?
    I live in the Bay Area and drive to the Sierras very often. Interesting comparison to Alaska and Colorado. Never been to Alaska.
    Only 4 hours to Sacamento instead of 2....I think we could use some more people in Calif., then we won't be able to get out of our own driveways!!!!!!!!!!
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    Where in the Bay Area are you? I'm in Santa Clara and Vince is in Milpitas but looking at moving up to the Westside.

    What kind of truck do you have? Do you have airlifts for the rear suspension? Or a sway bar? Those two items may be needed when you install your camper. See archived topics 891 and 1637 for previous discussions from this group. Both topics have been discussed at length.

    An 8' camper fits completely inside the bed. The tailgate is the same level as the bed. The wheelwells are further forward in a 6 1/2' bed, so that is not an issue.

    Watertanks, storage, everything fits between the wheelwells and inside the bed. And you won't have any interference with any of that on a shortbed.

    Now, if you are talking about a 9' camper with an overhang on a shortbed, I would start to get worried. It would still fit, but the overhang would take a lot of weight off the front end and add it to the rearend. You would probably overload the rear axle and really mess up the handling of the truck.

    Mike L
  • I haul a 8.5 ft Lance on my shortbed, it's not a problem. The math tells you a 6 and 1/2 foot bed will not completely contain an 8 ft camper, so you end up with overhang. Depending on manufacturer, it may be flat out the bed or hang down past your rear bumper.

    I pull a boat and have a standard 18" extension, commercially made by Curt, Reese etc. that are made of solid 2" stock. It has a stamp stating to reduce your hitch towing capacity by 1/3 when using.
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    The decision to use an extenstion to tow depends on how far you stick out and what you're towing. You need to be able to make a turn without the camper and trailer hitting one another. I have an 8' bed and a 10'11" camper, so I stick out about 3'. I haven't towed with the camper on yet, but I would definitely need an extension.

    I've got a Class IV hitch, but I've been told that I may need a Class V since I need a long extension. I'm no hitch expert, but from what I can tell, the difference between a Class IV and Class V is that the Class V bolts farther to the front of the truck thereby shifting more the tongue weight to the center of the frame. An extension also limits the weights you can tow. My recommendation would be to go talk to a shop that installs hitches and get some info from them.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    Also has a 2.5" receiver tube, not a 2" er.

    I have a concern on the short bed with a long bed camper. If you get your CG too far back, near the rear axle, your stability will go to heck. Most manufacturers of Campers and all truck manufactureres have specifications for this. I would check on it before I buy.
  • I've got the Class IV hitch also, what you need to consider is that a standard drop bar gives you approximately 6" of extension, so combined with a standard 18" extension you gain two feet. I know in previous posts you talked about towing a couple of snowmobiles at some time, if that's all you're going to be doing there's no need to go to a Class V. Basically those are for the horse trailer, work trailer, car haulers, or big boat people as far as camper haulers are concerned. I stated in a previous post that an 18" extension lowers my Class IV capability by 1/3, so I'm still left with about 3300 lbs capacity, more than most smaller boats or even a four place sled trailer. I can only guess that the commercially available 24" extension would cut your capacity by about 50%, still leaving you 2500. Save your money and go on a good fishing trip. I'll be up there most of next summer, maybe we'll cross paths.
  • mledtje.......I live in Castro Valley, make many trips to Tahoe in both summer and winter, (I don't even steer my truck anymore, it knows the way!!) I have a GMC 2500 extended cab 4x4 shortbed, 8600 gvw on order, with a production date the week of 9-24, (need to have my old truck teach the new one how to steer without me!!!) I don't own a cabover at this time, just doing my homework.
    I ordered the shortbed because I currently own a '86 ford extended cab longbed. The GMC in the longbed would be a few inches longer than the ford. The ford is already too long, so I went with the shortbed and will make things work. I use this truck for my everyday vehicle. If needed I will put airlifts and sway bars.

    Pistolero..... sounds like your doing what I'm thinking of doing.
    The trailer I may tow with a cabover is a 12' aluminum boat with trailer, so not much weight there. I do own a 22' cuddy that weights about 5000-6000 lbs. but I don't plan on towing it with a cabover.
    I want to thank all of you for the information, it helps alot.
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    I wouldn't run out and buy that 8' camper. If you can locate one made for a shortbed truck you'd be better off I believe. The center of gravity being toward the rear may reduce the stability of the truck. More minor things to consider: it would look funny, the rear tie down eye bolt would be behind the rear bumper, and the rear bed access door may be useless. As people here have stated, it will work. But a camper made to fit would work better.

    I used to live in Castro Valley long ago. I lived on Brookdale Ave., do you know where that is? There was a secret Nike missile base in the hills above my house. Once we saw them raise the missiles for a test I guess. Kind of weird. I spent many a hour hiking around in the hills between there and Lake Chabot.
  • vince4vince4 Posts: 1,272
    I got caught in the same traffic Mike did trying to get out of the valley last Friday evening. But it was worth it to get an early jump on the long weekend.

    I took the camper up to the mountains above Yosemite Park. The highest pass we went over was 9600 feet. The truck did great although this was the first time it really had to work to keep up. I ended up on highway 108 and found some great places for another trip. It turns out the area up there has miles of state sanctioned off-road vehicle trails. Also you can camp anywhere in the wilderness if you get a campfire permit first (free). I drove a few miles down a good dirt road and found a nice "campground" where the only development was fire rings of river rock. I dropped the camper and spent an afternoon 4-wheeling on the OHV trails. What fun, I'm going back as soon as I can. Anyone interested?

    From there we went on to Mono Lake just outside of Lee Vining. I bought gas in town at the cheaper of the two stations: $2.35/gallon. Ouch. Then I came back on 120 through Yosemite and had the pleasure of paying $20 just to use the road! I think they jacked up the price to penalize you for bringing a car into the park. It was a very pretty drive though.

    I posted some pictures on my web page if you are interested.
This discussion has been closed.