How does one go about buying a camper?
One simple word, research, research, research!
We will tell you how we decided to buy our camper and what choices you have in choosing the right one for you.
As you can remember about reading (Click here "About our RV"), you saw that we have a very unusual, one of a kind camper. As you recall we went to many camper dealers and saw many campers to choose from. One decision that we made was that we knew that we wanted something small, compact and yet had all the features that we wanted, along with a lot of storage.
We looked at the Lance Campers and thought about modifying it to fit our 25 horsepower outboard motor and all the gear that we need to take with us, but the cost to modify was quite expensive. We looked at other manufactures and most said that they could not change their campers to our specifications. Our only choice was to design and build a 8 foot camper that would suit us and our needs.
There are many campers out on the market, and if you go and look at them, and the quality of their construction, the storage and in the price range that you can afford, you can find something to fit your needs. Also, there are many people that have quit traveling and you can usually find a used camper that has been taken care of with many features that they have added on to their units for a good price.
When there is an RV show in town, we do go in occasionally and look at the new campers and trailers, most of the time to get ideas of what they are doing, and to see whether we want to add anything more to our unit. We both say as we walk out, that we are still happy with our unit and would not change a thing.
Back when we had our camper built, they never thought of adding a microwave, generator, built in TV, stereo system, and an air conditioner. The units of today have so much in them, it just depends on how much you want to spend. We have never seen a full size camper that has the space for a large outboard motor and that is why we designed our own. If we were to start today, we would do the same thing and have a camper built for us because of our needs.
We never considered to double tow that is, one person drives the truck and trailer and other person would drive another vehicle with the boat in tow. If we had to do it this way, we would have never been able to see all the states and stop and fish where we wanted to. What we have, we can unload our boat at anytime, put it on a collapsible boat trailer and tow it on the highway to a lake to fish and still have all the comforts of our trailer back at the campsite. We have seen triple towing, which is a truck and 5th wheel trailer with a boat towed behind the 5th wheel, and that works well, but then there is no camper on the truck for side trips.
Since we were towing a large 34 foot trailer behind the truck, we did not want the camper to stick out beyond the rear bumper, and we wanted the over all height to be from the ground to the top of the camper around 9 feet high. Since we were putting a large 15 foot car top boat on the roof, the camper had to be compact. As it is, loaded on top of the roof, our total height is 11 feet 6 inches.
This makes it exciting when we are going into gas stations or auto repair shops. What we mean to say is that with the height that we have, we have to be very careful and read the overhead signs. We carry a long stick that is stored in the front bumper of the truck, when we get to where the height is questionable, Bill pulls out a stick and holds it at the marked spot and then checks the height of the opening. If we have 6 inches to a foot, we then watch and go in slowly. So often the people at the shop say that the opening is high enough and to drive on in. We don't take their word, we check with our stick and yes, it has saved us from going into to a shop that they said was all right, when; in fact, we would have crunched the top of the boat! Although they try to be helpful, it is best to check yourself.
We have added many items to our camper as the years have passed. First, we added a television antenna that was mounted on the side of the camper so that it would not interfere with the boat on top of the roof. Then we put in a stereo cassette player, a 9" color television, and a Weingard DSS crank up satellite dish. We took out the old 110 volt convertor and installed a 1000 watt Heart Interface invertor/charger along with a larger Trojan group 34 battery. If we had the space we would have gotten two 6 volt golf cart batteries hooked in series, but since space was a problem we had to settle for the group 34 battery. When we use the camper for any extended trips, such as last summer for 3 months we take off of the trailer roof three Arco solar panels and install them in brackets that we already have mounted on the camper roof. This will give us up to 5 amps an hour on a sunny day going into our battery, this works out well and keeps the battery charged. We also carry with us for any extended trip a 650 watt Honda generator which goes into the compartment that the boat motor would normally go.
Inside our camper we have a three burner stove, furnace, 4 cubic foot refrigerator, porta potty along with a thermostatically controlled Fantastic fan. We installed a burglar alarm system that protects the truck doors as well as all the camper compartment doors. We found the need for more fresh water and added another 15 gallon water tank under the truck frame along with a 12 volt shurflo water pump to pump the water from the new water tank up, and into the camper fresh water fill spout. We just add a small piece of hose to go to the fill spout and turn on the 12 volt toggle switch, and water is transferred from one tank to the other. With the 12 gallon grey water tank that we installed, we found the need to install a small 12 volt pump that can pump the grey water tank when it's full over to the 30 gallon holding tank, this way if we are dry camping, which is all of the time with the camper we can stay longer without having to drive the truck/camper over to the dump station.
Because we designed our camper around our needs, we knew that we needed a lot of storage and so we have a large compartment behind the spare tire that holds the 25 horsepower motor and all the boat gear, along with another compartment that has a 5 gallon propane tank and above that compartment is a metal lined compartment that holds our 6 gallon boat gas tank along with many other items. We felt that this had to be sealed with sheet metal so that no fumes would enter the living area of the camper. Above the motor compartment is a 8 foot long compartment that can hold all our fishing poles, sunshade poles and miscellaneous items. When it came time to go snow skiing, we unloaded the fishing poles and put in four pairs of snow skis along with four pairs of ski poles with space to spare.
We know that you will never find a camper that can meet all your needs, we never did and that is why we had our camper custom built for us. As we said earlier, we would do the same thing if we were starting out, but for the average person that wants a comfortable camper for weekend trips or extended vacations, you can find the perfect one for you.
With proper research and shopping around you too can have the perfect rig.