The Rig

This is my home for the next few weeks.  It’s a Northern Lite 9’6″ camper built in Canada in 1994, making it only three years older than the ’97 Chev K2500 it’s setting on.  The Northern Lite brand is generally regarded as one of the highest quality campers on the market.  I like that it’s made of fiberglass.  Besides being lighter, it’s built like a boat;  I understand boats.


The camper is fully self-contained and well equipped.  It has air conditioning, propane heat, a bathroom with a shower, a three-way refrigerator, a stove with an oven, hot and cold running water, and a full size bed.  In other words, it has just about everything a guy who’s desperate to avoid airlines, hotels and rental car companies would need, and, it’s larger inside than a Tokyo hotel room.  There’s even room for my piano, should I decide to take it with me.

I’ve spent the last five months getting the camper and truck ready for the trip.  Along the way I’ve also made some upgrades including all-LED interior lighting, LED clearance lights, a new battery charger and fuse panel, and  a new 8″ memory-foam mattress.  New roof vents and miles of butyl tape will hopefully prevent any water leaks.

On the truck I’ve installed frame-mounted tie downs and an automatic charge relay along with all of the other wiring necessary to run the lights and charge the camper battery.  I also splurged and fixed the truck’s air conditioning and had a new windshield installed.  With new plugs, wires, tires, rear shocks, radiator, air filter, brake and transmission fluid,  I’m hoping to avoid any mechanical problems while on the road.  The truck just turned over 100,000 miles, so a lot of the maintenance was needed anyway.

A shakedown trip to Ocean Shores uncovered the need for longer sewer hoses, which presented a problem — where to put the smelly things?  Guessing that I wasn’t the first to have this problem I searched the web.  It turns out that you can fabricate a hollow bumper with a sliding hose tray out of a vinyl fence post and a section of rain gutter.  So, after a trip to the big box stores and a bit of welding to fabricate a support that fits into the truck’s trailer hitch,  I now have an extra “RV bumper” with 20′ of hose.  That plus the 10′ in the camper should handle most situations.  If not,  I guess I’ll cut back on the coffee.


I’ve borrowed my high-gain WiFi antenna and router from the boat.  While not properly installed outside on the camper roof, I’m hoping that it will work well enough to pick up the WiFi signal in the RV parks.  With WiFi and a small portable inverter to run the computer, I’m ready to go!

If you’re into specifications…

  • Fresh Water tank (US Gal) 24
  • Waste tank (Us Gal) 6
  • Gray tank (US Gal) 11*
  • Hot Water tank (US gal) 6
  • Propane Gas lbs 40 (two standard bottles, like on your BBQ)
  • Approx dry weight (lbs) 1450  (guessing more like 1700 with the options).

* I was wondering how I was going to tell when the gray water tank is full.  During the shakedown cruise I discovered that it’s quite simple; the tank backs up into the shower pan. Not fun, but not a disaster either.  The gray water tank is mostly soapy water from the sinks or shower.