Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Truck Campers: Short box Camper Questions
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butters49

Alberta

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Posted: 03/16/22 11:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I just got an old GMC 3/4 ton with a 6' box and a headache rack.
I was reading that you can put a camper on it with the headache rack, so long as you move it back a few inches, and raise it a few inches with plywood or foam.

Now with this being said, how long a camper would I be able to put on this truck if I have to move it back a few inches?
Could I get a 9' camper with the tailgate down?

I am pretty unfamiliar with truck campers and how excess length affects the suspension of the truck. So any help would be appreciated!

WNYBob

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Posted: 03/17/22 06:07am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Keep the Center of gravity in front of the axle!

mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 03/17/22 07:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's not the truck suspension that you have to be concerned about.

You can't put just any 9' camper on a short bed truck.

First off, the tailgate is not a weight supporting part of the bed. It's not meant to have a 3000lb camper bouncing up and down on it. The flimsy cables that hold it up snap from people sitting on them. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.

Second off, UNLESS it is a specific "short bed camper," the camper itself is designed to be supported along its first 8'. It's not meant to bounce down the road with an extra 18" hanging off in open air. Even with the tailgate under it. This can break the camper's back, cause structural damage. Maybe not immediately but eventually.

When people point out issues, others will chime in dismissing the concern because they hung their camper off the back or used the tailgate and the wheels didn't immediately fall off the truck. These issues surface OVER TIME.

Ultimately you can do whatever you d*mn well please. There is no laws against it. Try it yourself. Prove us right. Prove us wrong.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

MORSNOW

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Posted: 03/17/22 07:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are plenty of short bed campers out there. However, the headache rack will be an issue as you will have to move the center of gravity behind the rear axle and also raise the camper to clear the top of the rack which will make you even more top heavy. Remove the headache rack would be the first thing to do, otherwise you may look and feel like a porpoise going down the road at a reduced speed. Most short bed campers are around 8' to 8-1/2' with about a 2' overhang.

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Bedlam

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Posted: 03/17/22 08:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A short bed camper will be different in two ways than long bed camper. As has already been posted, the floor is designed for less than 8' of truck bed support. However even more important, the camper was built with more weight biased to the front which allows you to keep center of gravity over or forward of the rear axle rather than behind it.

Removing the headache rack will be the best choice if you want carry a camper. You do not want to set the camper any father back or higher up than required. The rack will interfere unless you do just that.

Take a look at your rear axle and tire ratings. This is what will limit you on what weight can carry. Expect 2500-3000 lbs on the rear axle when the truck is empty, so that gives you an idea of how much weight you have left for a camper. I know some manufacturers made light duty 3/4 ton truck with semi-floating rear axle. If that GMC does not have 8 lugs on each wheel, it may be one of those. The LD versions are not suited for carrying heavy loads and you better off with a trailer or different truck.


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Lwiddis

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Posted: 03/17/22 09:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I dismiss none of mkirsch‘s concerns. I agree with him.


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Grit dog

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Posted: 03/17/22 04:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

butters49 wrote:



I am pretty unfamiliar with truck campers and how excess length affects the suspension of the truck. So any help would be appreciated!


There's no general "rule of thumb." There are shortbed compatible campers, long bed only compatible campers and those tht will work for both.
The longest ones that are SB compatible are close to 9' long. And some can be loaded with the tailgate on, some cant due to the design of the rear overhang.

One thing is for certain, ditch the headache rack if it will require you to raise or move the camper aft.
I'd suggest looking at a bunch of shortbed campers dimensions and configurations. It will help you understand.

Of course there are always some more obscure exceptions, but we're talking good practice and proper application.


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