Our Lance Camper came with a DVD produced by Atwood, the company that makes the ACME & BALL SCREW TRUCK CAMPER JACKS used to raise and lower the truck camper so that it can be put on and taken off the back of a truck. I’ve watched the DVD a few times and each time when they say “test the jacks a week before your trip so if there are issues they won’t interfere with your trip” I think that will never happen to me. I also read the Lance owner’s manual section on Loading and Unloading.
We have had our truck camper since June and it has been sitting on the back of our truck the whole time. Today (Friday) we were going to ‘unload’ the camper for the first time so I could take the truck in for an oil change. Then tomorrow (Saturday) we would load the camper.
Our first problem was figuring out how to work the remote control. First, we couldn’t turn the remote on. I noticed that the remote had an Android phone style USB charging port. I got my old Android charging cable out of the Jeep and plugged the remote control into one of the USB charging ports in the camper. The remote control turned on. Unplugging the USB cable turned off the remote. We assumed the remote’s battery had gone flat.
On closer examination, the remote had an on/off switch hidden in plain site. Now I’m feeling pretty silly.
After mastering the on/off function, we tried extending and retracting each individual jack. We had trouble with front and back. We were supposed to lower the front first and get the front jacks 4 inches above the back. That didn’t work at all.
We got to looking at the remote again. The lettering for front and back is confusing. What we both thought the button labels meant initially just wasn’t the way the buttons were working. Oh, gee whiz the label below the button was the function. Not the label above the button.
Finally, after 30 minutes of screwing around we have gained the ability to extend (raise) and retract (lower) each jack except for one. The driver (street) side jack doesn’t go up or down.
I check to see that the jack is plugged into the camper. Then I find the internal jack control box under the dinette seat cushion. It sends electricity to the correct jack based on what the remote tells it to do. I find the fuses. I can’t really tell if any of the fuses are blown because I can’t get them out of the control box. Game over.
No oil change for me today. On the way home we both think about different things we can do to resolve the problem. I get on the Internet and try to find more about truck camper jacks.
I recall an incident last summer where I lowered the back awning without unplugging the back jacks. The motion of the awning support pulled the jack plugs out of the camper and on one of the jacks, it pulled the cord part way out of the jack itself.
Two non-exclusive theories about why the jack is unresponsive:
- 20 Amp Fuse is blown
- The power cord inside the jack is disconnected
I say non-exclusive because if the power cord shorted as a result of the disconnect, then that would certainly blow the fuse.
Tomorrow, I’ll get a fuse puller and some fuses from an auto parts store and remove the cowling around the jack motor and see what I can see.
On Saturday on the way to storage, I stopped at AutoZone. They were supposed to open at 7:00 on Saturdays. I had to wait until 7:15 for to the doors to open. I was their first customer. I bought a little fuse kit that included a fuse puller and different fuse sizes including the 20 Amp fuse I thought I might need.
I got to work right away at the storage facility. I removed the dinette seat cushion and removed the jack control box cover. I tried using the AutoZone fuse puller but it turned out to not be the right tool. I couldn’t squeeze the tool to apply enough pressure to grip and pull out a fuse. Instead, I got a pair of needle nosed pliers out of my camper toolkit and pulled each fuse one at a time, examined the fuse and reinserted it into its socket. All the fuses were good.
In order to take the truck camper jack cowling off, I needed a Phillips head screwdriver. The first Phillips screwdriver I found in the toolkit was a really long one which turned out to be the perfect tool for the job.
As soon as the cowling was off, the problem was apparent. One of the wires had been pulled out of the wire nut (e.g. twist on wire connector). I twisted the two wires together and then turned the wire nut to tighten it down on top of the two wires. After putting the cowling back on, I tightened the four Phillips head screws.
I reached into the camper and pulled the truck camper jack wireless remote controller from its dock near the door.
I turned on the wireless remote. Selected the left rear selector and then held extract.
It extracted (extended out). The I retracted it (brought it back in). Then I extracted it. Then I retracted it. OMG! It actually works. I put everything back in its place and locked up.
I texted Linda the good news. Disaster averted.
Next week we will try to unload the camper so we can get an oil change.
The following weekend didn’t exactly work out so we tried again on the 2nd weekend after. See how we did on our Second First Time Unloading the Truck Camper.