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  7. Making the Truck Camper Connection
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  7. Making the Truck Camper Connection
Towing
from the issue

Making the Truck Camper Connection

Installing Torklift Talon tie-downs and FastGun turnbuckles ensures that your truck and RV stay securely united.

Image Caption: Image: Emily Fagan

After living full-time in our fifth-wheel for 13 years, we recently sold the fiver, settled into a sticks-and-bricks home, and resumed our RV adventures part-time in an Arctic Fox truck camper. Matching a camper to a truck requires some adjustments, and the most important of which is to ensure that the camper is tied securely to the truck so it can’t slide around in the bed while underway.

Before loading a truck camper into a truck bed, you have to remove the truck’s tailgate. With the tailgate removed, if you head up a steep incline, make a sudden stop, or get into a bad accident, the camper could slide around in the truck bed or fall right out of it unless it is securely attached to the truck.

Our truck camper is a new-to-us, a 2005 Arctic Fox 860 with a single slideout. It rides in the bed of our 2016 RAM 3500 long bed dually truck. Our truck had never carried a camper before, so it had no legacy anchor points installed on it for carrying a camper.

However, the camper’s previous owner had carried the Arctic Fox 860 in the bed of his Ford F-350 single-rear-wheel truck. He had used a lower-end tie-down system that relied on chains and was not user-friendly. He recommended we install a better setup, and we’re so glad we did.

Mind if I Join You?

We installed a Torklift suite of truck camper tie-downs that are a connection bridge between the camper’s anchor points and the strongest part of the truck—the frame. They are connected to each other using the Torklift FastGun Spring Loaded Lever-Action Turnbuckle system and Torklift Talon Frame-Mounted Tie Downs. The extremely strong and secure system has been a breeze to operate.

The camper’s anchor points for the tie-downs are located near the four corners at the bottom of the camper. Since our truck is a dually, the two existing aft anchor points on the camper needed to be repositioned further aft to ensure the FastGun turnbuckles wouldn’t hit the wide hips of the dually’s fenders.

To relocate the camper’s aft anchor points, we bolted the long adjustable bar called the Camper Anchor Repair/Relocation Kit by Torklift onto the bottom of the camper’s frame.  During the installation, the camper was sitting in the truck bed and all the bolt-hole positions were easily accessible.

We decided to repurpose the two old aft anchor points to become additional bolt holes for mounting the Relocation Kit bar onto the camper frame. This required drilling a matching bolt hole in the Relocation Kit bar and using a large washer, but the end result was a very solid installation of the four new tie-down anchor points on the camper.

Next, we installed the four Talon Camper Tie Downs on the truck. Each Talon tie-down has a mounting bracket that is bolted to the frame of the truck. It took a little crawling around under the truck to find the mounting locations. Once the brackets were mounted, each Talon tie-down slid into its own bracket sleeve and was held in place with a D-ring.

These tie-downs can easily be removed when the truck isn’t carrying the camper. Each tie-down has two anchor positions, on the left and right sides, so you have some flexibility in choosing where to attach the lower hooks of the FastGuns.

The last step was to assemble the FastGun turnbuckles. These have a long, threaded rod that goes inside a square steel tube and provides the spring-loaded tensioning. Once assembled, a FastGun turnbuckle was positioned in each corner of the rig with the handle at the top. The upper FastGun hook was inserted into the upper tie-down anchor point (on the camper). The tensioning rod inside the FastGun was rotated so the lower hook could be inserted in the lower tie-down anchor point (on the truck).

The optimal angle of the FastGun turnbuckles is diagonal, so whichever Talon anchor provides the more diagonal angle of the FastGun is preferable. However, the FastGun must also clear the fender by a few finger widths so it won’t touch if you hit a bump while driving, so the other anchor point may be the best option to achieve that.

Each FastGun turnbuckle has a label on it where you can use a Sharpie pen to indicate which corner of the rig the turnbuckle is set up for. We have found that as we put the camper on and off the truck, one or more FastGuns needs a small tension adjustment because the camper never lands in exactly the same position in the truck bed as before.

We’ve been really happy with our Torklift tie-down system and we feel much better about taking our camper over rough terrain knowing that it is attached to the truck as securely as possible.

It’s a Custom Fit!

Every truck and every camper are different, and the marriage of the two is not always made in heaven. Be sure to order the Torklift parts that were designed for the exact year, make, model, and feature set for your truck. If you have a dually, make sure you get the correct Camper Anchor Repair/Relocation Kit for your camper. Talking to a salesperson ensures you get it right!

Follow These Steps

Installing Tie-Down Step 1

Image: Emily Fagan

Step One

Two sets of hands position the Camper Anchor Repair/Relocation Kit along the bottom of the truck camper.

Installing Tie-Down Step 2

Image: Emily Fagan

Step Two

We reused an existing camper tie-down point and drilled a matching hole in the Relocation Kit.

Installing Tie-Down Step 3

Image: Emily Fagan

Step Three

Each Talon Framed-Mounted Tie Down comes in two pieces. One piece is bolted onto the truck frame.

Installing Tie-Down Step 4

Image: Emily Fagan

Step Four

The other piece of the Talon is a removable part that gets inserted into a tie-down tube and held in place with a D ring (or lock).

Installing Tie-Down Step 5

Image: Emily Fagan

Step Five

The FastGun turnbuckles are tightened down (or removed) with a super-fast clamping mechanism.

Installing Tie-Down Step 6

Image: Emily Fagan

Step Six

Each corner of the truck is secured by a FastGun turnbuckle hooked onto both the camper frame and truck frame.

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