New camper ‘shakedown’ weekend – first night and morning

This past Friday I loaded my new Caribou 6.5 Lite camper with the essentials for a two-night test run to confirm everything is working correctly.

The new camper was collected last Thursday afternoon, 8 Jan. ’15, from Outfitter Manufacturing.  I arrived early but Lee saw me drive in and jumped right on the first task – installing Firestone Ride-Rite air bags (aka, air springs) on the Tundra.

The Firestone Ride-Rite air bag, or air spring, installed between the rear frame and leaf springs.

The Firestone Ride-Rite air bag, or air spring, installed between the rear frame and leaf springs.

Hookup for adjusting the pressure in the air bag.

Hookup for adjusting the pressure in the air bag.

About two hours later Bob and Lee put the camper on the truck, followed by Lee installing the TorkLift International tie downs for the front turnbuckles & HappiJac CA-UR Universal Rear Anchors on the bumper for the back turnbuckles.  The four turnbuckles are Happijac Original Turnbuckles.

The Torklift forward tie down.  This can be quickly removed when the camper isn't on the Trunda.

The Torklift forward tie down. This can be quickly removed when the camper isn’t on the Trunda.

Once the camper and truck were firmly connected together Lee lead me through an overview of the camper’s systems and how to adjust the Firestone Ride-Rite suspension upgrade.

Now to discuss ‘testing weekend’ –

After work I loaded the camper and hit the road.  I headed east of Denver to a Love’s Truck Stop.  Why a truck stop? Stopping at Love’s allows me to run the camper in ‘stand alone’ mode with no 110V, water or sewer.  Stopping in a truck stop is also FREE!

Upon arrival I went back where the semi-trucks are parked and found a location where the professional driver’s were not night-idling.  I put out the Lynx Levelers, the parking spot sloped a bit, and put up the pop-top.  It was cold, in the high-20s, so I fired up the Atwood furnace and made a late supper.

After eating I went about securing the camper and found a problem … the door’s dead bolt was miss-aligned with the jam.  I could not lock the door.  I tried to do a field repair with no success.  The sheet metal screws holding the jam plate in place were not budging.  With no other options I climbed into bed and quickly fell asleep.

the cab over full-sized bed.

The cab over full-sized bed.

I choose not to let the heater run overnight.  When I awoke, about 6:30AM, the inside temp was about 35 degrees; outside it was in the low 20s.  I kicked on the heater and in less than five minutes the camper was in the mid-60s.

Camping in Love's Truck Stop semi-truck parking.

Camping in Love’s Truck Stop semi-truck parking.

After morning tooth brushing I made coffee, tuned in NPR Weekend Edition – Saturday, and took a morning assessment of the camper –

  • the bed was comfortable, though I think I will get some ‘egg crate’ foam to make a pillow top.  I’ve left the ‘leaf extension’ at home and slept in the ‘full sized’ v. ‘queen sized’ bed.
  • the camper did retain some of my body heat and kept the inside temp about 10 degrees higher than outside.
  • heater works – though when in the forward dinette seat it islike sitting in front of a blast furnace.
  • the Dometic RM 2193, running in propane ‘mode’, was more of a freezer than a fridge.  The thermometer read 21 degrees. I need to dial in the correct setting for the current outside temperature.  The water bottles were simi-frozen, though nothing else seemed to have frozen.  Another possibility is I may need to figure out how accurate the Prime Products 12-3020 monitor is at reading the fridge temp.
  • the LED lights are plenty bright, though I wish there was one directly over the dinette to avoid shadows when reading.
  • I need to fix the door’s deadbolt.

Time for breakfast!  The three burner Suburban stove top made it easy to cook up sausage, eggs, hash browns and english muffins.  The burners worked very well with my backpacker’s GSI cook set, with no hot spots and excellent heat control.

A good hot breakfast for a cold morning.

A good hot breakfast for a cold morning.

As the food cooked the sun came up and the solar panel came alive.  The camper is equipped with a Go Power 30 Amp Digital Solar Controller giving details on battery charge (%), voltage and the amps being provided by the solar panel on the roof.  I now have a new game – how much power am I currently getting from the sun?

The solar controller showing amps being fed to the battery.

The solar controller showing amps being fed to the battery.

The 95 watt solar panel mounted on the camper's roof.

The 95 watt solar panel mounted on the camper’s roof.

After breakfast I settled down to read and continue to ‘get a feel’ for the camper.  At 10AM the outside temp had warmed to about 50 degrees, and the clear sky meant the camper was very comfortable without the heater running.  I opened the rear door and Momma Kitty enjoyed looking at the birds.

Momma Kitty enjoys the mid-morning sunshine.

Momma Kitty enjoys the mid-morning sunshine.

At 11AM I decided it is time to head down the road to a campground to test the camper with 110V, water and a sewer hookups.

I’ll cover how the ‘campground test’ went in my next post.

– Dave

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2 thoughts on “New camper ‘shakedown’ weekend – first night and morning

  1. Pingback: New camper ‘shakedown’ weekend – day one and second night | Adventures in a truck slide-in pop-up camper

  2. Pingback: New camper ‘shakedown’ weekend – day two | Adventures in a truck slide-in pop-up camper

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