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Couple Put Camper On The Back Of Old Truck For An Amazing Truck Camper

One retired couple who got a great deal on a practically brand new Lance 1181 were wondering how they were going to lug it around. Their old single rear-wheel truck wasn’t able to safely haul the Lance, so they looked into a Ford F-550, but at a starting price of $80,000, it was over their budget. Then they looked out in the back yard and saw their old Peterbilt truck just sitting in the back yard, and got a brilliant idea.

Ernie Buchanan, a retired long-haul trucker who has driven his Peterbilt all over North America, said to tells Truck Camper Magazine that it occurred to him that he could rig his Lance on it. Considering the Peterbilt had more than enough power to haul the Lance anywhere, and the couple already owned it outright, it made sense. All it would take were some modifications to rig the two together.

Ernie and his wife, Julie Greenwood, set to work. “One day we started tearing the Peterbilt apart and figured out what would work.”

Ernie and Julie put a smaller sleeper on the Peterbilt in place of the old sleeper. They then added the Lance to the back of the frame, and in the empty space between, they built a storage area.

Ernie, with a background in trucking and mechanics, was more than up to the task. When there was something he wasn’t sure about, he had people to which he could turn.

“We have friends who do body work for a living and they guided us on the process,” said Julie. “ At one point we had to start over because we missed a step. It just took us a lot longer to do it compared to someone who does it professionally.”

They started the work in June of 2013. At the end of October, they took a break for the winter, but resumed work in April of 2014. By June, they were ready to go.

Of course, there were a few logistical problems. For one thing, they sometimes have to go through weigh stations like other truckers. Ernie isn’t worried, though. “I’d never be even close to the weight limit of my rig. Plus, being a former truck driver, I’m used to it,” he said.

In Canada, they couldn't license the truck as a camper, so it is licensed as a big rig. That means only Ernie, with his CDL license, is the only one who can drive it.

"I have to go every two years for a medical to keep my license in Canada, and another one every two years to drive a commercial vehicle in the United States. I’ll keep my CDL license as long as I can. I have friends in their 80s still driving big rig trucks," he says.

There are a few perks, too, though. For one thing, the Lance-Peterbilt can hold more than 380 gallons of fuel, and if they were to fill it up, the couple could literally travel for 3,800 miles before needing to refuel. It also has a lot of power.

“Our rig may be overkill for the roads in the lower 48, but the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Alaska where the roads are not as good as the highways and secondary roads in the United States,” Ernie says.

“In northern Quebec, there are some hills that would scare you, even in your Ram. That’s what I built this truck for. I already know because I’ve been there. I wouldn’t go with a fifth wheel. There is more room, but they can’t go to all the places we can go. That’s the reason I wanted a truck camper.”

Source: Truck Camper Magazine
Photos: Flickr/Daniel M. Hendricks, Frank Deanrdo, dave_7, Andy Arthur

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