…or a corny idea.
I was inspired by a recent write-in to an auto mechanics online forum.
A car owner was smelling a pungent burnt popcorn smell sporadically from the engine compartment.
As it turned out, when the owner visited her father (a popcorn farmer) mice would stash the corn kernels found lying around on her exhaust manifold, explaining the smell.
And, that is what has inspired me to think of not a better mousetrap for those pesky little mice, but a hitch mounted popcorn popper for your truck!
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “ Build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door.”
And now Torklift is opening their doors for your inspirations and will help you to build them.
Torklift has golden ticket opportunities for your ideas to build new applications for use with the SuperHitch Towing Series.
To find out more about the contest to meet the engineers, design an app, and tour the factory, see our website: http://www.torklift.com/splash/reveal/hero_app.html
…or a corny idea.
“Go find the Mountain Man.” That term was used to describe Casey Cotter, our lead engineer, and master behind so many of Torklift’s innovations.
He’s the real deal, and can be found on weekends out in nature thinking up brilliant ideas to make camping easy and possible for people like me.
Where he could “MacGuyver” an instant wiring fix to keep the batteries charged all night, I need a plug in harness and hopefully a switch labeled boldly off and on.
Where I think it would be genius to use duct tape for an easy fix. He can engineer real lab tested performance solutions to everyday camping needs and problems.
Where he could survive on the land for days, I panic if all the fixin’s for s’mores aren’t in the cooler.
Where he could have made Eagle Scout, I quit the Brownie troop when I learned it wasn’t all about the chocolatey treat.
Where he could tell you if your GAWR is in line with your GVWR and your GCVWR is within your GTWR and GVWR, and your TW better not be over 10% of your GTW and you’re gonna need WD. I would say, “That’s a big RV.”
Casey can directly answer the, “call of the wild,” where my call needs operator assistance and sometimes goes to voice mail.
I can learn a lot from Casey Cotter.
Oh no, he is wearing his camouflage hat again, I think he sees me coming for some more advice.
Casey’s Torklift invention of choice: StableLoads suspension upgrade
Although it’s impossible for me to imagine, and difficult for those who have come to love the FastGun, that there was life before this revolutionary turnbuckle.
I went to the oldest person I know, my 105-year-old grandmother, and asked her what it was like before the FastGun. She said, “ We used bows and arrows.”
So, okay, not that far back.
She’s not a truck camper, but she did tell me a camping story that falls somewhere in the timeline between covered wagon and the Winnebago, but I’ll save that for a later date.
I resolved to find out what it was like. So, I went to the computer and typed in a query.
A generic turnbuckle is really just a simple piece of tension building hardware used in marine applications, sports, shipping and construction.
It is a simple piece of hardware that can make a simple task difficult.
“Big Red,” the Ford F-350, doubles as a work truck and a weekend camper. I can’t imagine taking the camper off and back on this often without the FastGun turnbuckle.
They are spring loaded for superb functioning, easy adjustment and have spring tension indicators, that take the guess work out of tightening and securing.
They have a quick disconnect feature that makes the leveling process fast. They allow use of the electric jacks to level when the camper is left on the truck. This avoids the hassle of leveling blocks under your tires.
100% no tools, 100% lockable, quick-lever handle and a lifetime warranty that means with my genetics for longevity may be a very, very long time.
There is no turning back for the turnbuckle. http://www.torklift.com/x.php?w_page=original_fastguns
The year was 1976.
Gerald Ford was President.
The Apple company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
Landing vehicles from the U.S. spacecraft Viking I and Viking II set down safely on Mars.
The Seattle Seahawks played their first football game.
Punk Rock got its start.
Rocky I was tops at the box office.
And, Torklift International got its start as a company.
Founded by Jon Kay in the summer of 1976, this family owned company has honed its expertise in the hitch and tow and RV aftermarket parts industry with legendary innovation, quality, and exemplary customer service.
The leadership of Torklift continues to inspire everyone here and is at the heart and soul of everything we produce and everything we do as a company.
These leadership qualities are instilled into everyone that works here and help us to continue to challenge each other and ourselves to make great stuff.
I’m finding many of the products and people of Torklift have interesting histories. There are many stories to be told of the names, ideas, and inspirations that make us unique.
I hope to share home of these stories as I continue to research how it all began.
As I get to know the people who make up Torklift, I am seeing more and more of what makes these products so amazing.
I am finding out that my talented colleagues do some extraordinary things not only here, but also in their time off.
To start with there is Amanda. She’s a co-worker, and someone I definitely don’t want to meet while I’m on roller skates.
She is a competitive women’s roller derby team member. She has been skating in various leagues across the U.S and now brings her many talents to the Northwest.
A mild-mannered sales and marketing pro by day she is jammer and blocker at night. She doesn’t need a cape for her super powers, but others in the rink have alter egos with uniforms to match.
I think I see a superhero theme developing.
And, I think not coincidentally, crime in the area seems to be down with Amanda around.
She is also appropriately organizing all of the Torkift Hero nominations for the tribute going on now along with the new Tolklift SuperHitch Hero blog.
The SuperHitch Hero is the new highest capacity hitch made for ½ ton trucks that Torklift just developed.
In honor of heroes everywhere, Torklift is donating $25 for each SuperHitch Hero receiver hitch sold to the Wounded Warrior Project. Nominations for a Torklift Hero are being taken by sharing your hero stories. By participating you have a chance to win a trip for you and your hero to Hawaii.
To recognize your hero and learn more about the contest see our website: http://www.torklift.com/hero/
To read all the nominations and see inspiring stories about people doing extraordinary things follow the blog at: www.torkliftsuperhitchhero.wordpress.com.
What do you think? I think we should start a Torklift team.
I have a valid fear the unknown when it has to do with backing up the truck and camper.
When I’m out there solo and I don’t have a crew of marshallers guiding me in like a 747, I need to rely on technology.
So, I am trying to build a case for a new investment in a back up camera system for “Big Red” the F-350 and camper set-up.
Who knows what goes on back there?
But, it must be pretty exciting because they made a full feature movie about it called the “Blind Side.”
I’ve done my research and I know that comparable systems and solutions may be less expensive.
But I’m skeptical with names and features like the “Backseat Driver Camera,” “The I Told You So Alert,” or the camera app. that links right to your insurance company.
I’m a careful driver, so I’m sure my footage will not be a “hit”. Sorry…
I’ll keep gathering my data for the best system and keep you posted. So, if you’re hearing the “Beep, Beep, Beep” of a truck backing up be cautious, as that truck may be doing research for the movie sequel “The Blind Side2.”
This term has been used as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans for the hottest days of the year.
It has an astronomical link to the rising of the star Sirius which is called the “dog star. “ This happens with the time of the year that usually coincides with the warmest days.
It is also used to describe those lazy days that also occur when the weather outside is so hot that we don’t feel like doing anything.
As it happens, I recently shared the dog days of summer with a dog.
I was lucky enough to get to take a good dog friend on a camping trip and that provided some additional meaning to these long hot days.
As a cat owner, I’ll admit that I was in a dog daze.
There were things that I just couldn’t understand, like how they hate when you try to cool them off with a fan or use the blow dryer after a bath. Yet, they want to stick their head out the window going 60 MPH, no problem.
Or, how the doggie area at the highway rest stop seemed to be the highlight of the trip. All the smells and activity, the dog was possessed.
We tried to stay hydrated with lots of bottled water, but on hikes he was much more interested in natural streams and ponds. I am sure that there were little critters in the water that would have made me sick for a week, but I heard no complaints of doggie indigestion.
However, being locked together in tight quarters for the night, especially after rich camping grub, the aroma that evening could have been from anyone.
I was also surprised at how friendly and happy the dog remained, no matter what. I couldn’t tell if he was panting because of the heat or the excitement, but his tail was wagging constantly.
Do dogs not hold grudges?
When my kitty sees the camping equipment coming out she runs and hides. She hasn’t forgiven me for the one time we tried to go camping.
Of course it takes a lot of extra planning and mutual understandings to provide a safe and fun trip for all. We had a blast riding out the last of the dog days of summer together.
I never know what I am going to be asked to do next here at Torklift. So, I wasn’t surprised to hear from my manager that “We’re sending you to IKEA for a new lamp.”
What I failed to hear was really, “We have the idea for you to remote camp.”
Spotty cell phone service can be so hilarious.
I gladly accepted the offer and couldn’t wait to see if we were going with the traditional table lamp, art deco desk model, or the Swedish modern style.
By the time I had figured out I wouldn’t be shopping this weekend, I had agreed to try out a new receiver hitch application with the truck camper.
They know if I can figure out a new product that anyone can.
We are close to Mt. Rainier and many beautiful camping locations are not too far away for a quick trip. I found one close enough where I could get the feel of dry camping without disturbing anyone by running the generator for my experiment.
“Big Red,” the Ford F-350 is equipped with receiver hitches in both the front and rear. The SuperHitch Magnum receiver in the rear is a dual receiver, as are all the Torklift hitches. So they can tow, but also have the ability to support other hitch-mounted applications.
For this camping trip, I would be using the receiver in the front to carry the Lock and Load for the generator.
Having the generator along was great. Once I learned how to plug it in. I ran every possible electrical amenity just for fun. I promise I would not do this as a “real” camper, but I even ran the hair dryer and curling iron just for scientific research.
I also knew the generator was secure. I didn’t have to lift it, move it or worry about stowing and locking it for the night.
One of these days I may be able to make it to IKEA. I bet if I asked, they would let me camp in their parking lot some weekend.
Torklift let loose and heated up the pavement recently at Pacific Raceways in Washington.
We put our StableLoad suspension upgrade product to the test under extreme towing and hauling conditions with professional drivers.
Disclaimer: “Do not try this at home! Not without StableLoads on board.”
Take a peek at our behind the scenes footage and dramatic track results.
Do you ever get that feeling while towing or hauling when your mental brakes kick in and the weight of your truck is not stopping with you? Those teeth clenching, heart racing, toe-curling seconds can seem like minutes.
I looked up the word for this affliction and it’s called agoraphobia. It’s the phobia of losing control, of not being able to stop. In an extreme case, it’s the fear of leaving the house entirely, but we’ll leave that to a trained psychotherapist to treat.
There is good news when this prognosis pertains to you and your truck’s suspension.
“Big Red” gets all the cool stuff, and I have been amazed with the control while driving this F-350 with StableLoads on and a fully loaded camper and trailer. I was taught how to easily disengage the units myself when I’m not towing, so the ride is not affected at all for daily driving.
The engineers here tell me they help with the forward surge I was feeling and improve the truck’s handling while loaded by pre-activating the factory overload spring. They work alone or in conjunction with air bags as they do two different things.
In fact, to level with air bags when carrying a heavy load means taking the majority of the weight off the factory suspension. The weight is then carried on an area roughly the size of two footballs. By bypassing the factory suspension, you can actually experience an increase in unsafe handling such as bucking, sway, and body roll.
Tame your beast and save yourself an expensive trip to the therapist.
StableLoads are the lowest cost, most effective and highest return suspension modification on the market.
I imagine boondocking will be a camping experience like this.
I pull into the most picturesque, secluded camping spot I can find. Through the deep, dark woods right on the edge of the lake. But, something seems just too perfect about it. Come to think of it, I hadn’t passed another vehicle for miles.
Oh well, I enjoy my afternoon of exploring and as I return to the camper at dusk, I notice I have a neighbor.
The cutest little couple comes out of their trailer to greet me.
They are just so friendly. They go on and on chatting about the history of the area and stories of their travels.
“Did you know they have been camping together for well over 50 years? “
They are so nice, so very, very nice.
The couple invites me over for games. They invite me for dinner. However, I notice a strange glance and giggles between them throughout these offers of hospitality. They still act like newlyweds, how sweet.
I think, “How did they survive out here in the middle of nowhere, out in the boondocks, for so long? “
Wait a minute, wait A MINUTE!
“They want to have ME for dinner!”
I excuse myself back the camper in hurry.
Suddenly, I feel a sharp tap on my shoulder.
Oh, it was just them again.
They remind me to turn my lights down as there are no hookups here.
WHHHHHAAAA!!!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!! The horror, the humanity! No hookups!
Boondocking means camping without hookups.
Have no fear- with HiddenPower you can keep the lights on all night. http://www.torklift.com/products/hiddenpower.php
What’s black, grey and sometimes potable?
No, not a lead in to a bad joke, these are all very important distinctions to make when moving up to camping with plumbing.
Thanks to this new knowledge, I will never be able to hear that lovely, little Southern rock ditty by the Doobie Brothers the same way again.
Black water is the worst kind of water. It is the direct contents of the RV toilet.
Grey water, although nasty, is just the waste of the bathroom sink, shower and kitchenette.
Common sense would have me believe that potable water would relate to the “potty” as well.
So, not so, as I am learning the color-coded designations of the RV tank system.
Potable water is your fresh water tank.
I am used to tent camping and somehow over years of boating and camping have never had the duty to, well, deal with the “duty”. I have just always known that finding a Honey Bucket was a convenient luxury and I could deal with nature calling out in nature just fine.
I am not looking forward to my first time “dumping.” Yikes! A gauge will show the levels on the control panel in the camper and a distinct stink may tell you when it is time. However, this is a highly researched area of RV life and many products have been developed to make this a quick, easy and sanitary process.
The advice from my co-workers is to not overthink things and just do it.
I wonder how long I can get away with never using the truck camper bathroom. I think the space could make a great walk in closet.
I am told that this is not as complicated as I am making it.
Usually, I am a very adventurous person, but in the area of camper electrical systems I’ll admit I have a great fear of the unknown.
I have seen the warning labels, the ones that say that this could result in something blowing-up, electrocution, dismemberment or death. Or even worse, you could be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.
I set out to study how all of these systems magically come together. I tracked how camper lights work, air conditioners hum, microwaves zap and charging everything from the truck battery to a cell phone. I learned how shore power flows, generators create, solar panels trickle, what made the trailer lights glow and trailer brakes ready for action. Of course, I did not forget to add in an additional 12-volt auxiliary battery for that extra boost when you need it.
What all of this looked like on paper was a map to my grandmother’s house through the bad part of town.
I took the advice of those who have gone before me. “Relax, this is not rocket science or brain surgery.”
Actually, I found similar to both fields of study.
I was relieved to find the task of wiring to the trailer and camper was made easy. The 3-Way Wiring Pigtail Harness is a no-splice solution from the 7-pin at the rear of the truck bumper to the trailer and also up to the camper.
Stay tuned for more electrical systems fun.
Here is a simple wiring harness: http://www.torklift.com/products/wireharnesses.php - threeway_crossref
Camping is great fun for the whole family. Including the four-legged ones.
So, it was time to let Ivy, my cat, enjoy the freedom of truck camping and a new second home on wheels. Why not?
Dogs love to swim, explore all the new smells of the great outdoors, sneaking dropped camping goodies, and the thrill of hunting big game, even if it is just chasing a chipmunk.
Her eyes became as wide as saucers and she was all claws, my otherwise docile kitty quickly showed me who was boss. She obviously didn’t appreciate the safety and comfort I was able to provide for her in a camper.
She lived up to the name “Poison Ivy” as in something that you get while camping and never want to be exposed to it again. I left her home to reign over her own little kingdom, maybe it’s not too late to rent a dog for the weekend.
Safe Step: Step riser guard panels protect pets from falling and “see through” anxiety on scissor steps. http://www.torklift.com/products/safestep.php
I’m not referring to basketball.
Fishing this weekend netted me a big zero on my state angler’s punch card. So, I had some time to think about what the word “net “really means.
Net, a device to entrap fish and also a financial term that means what you get to keep.
So, in terms of netting nothing, maybe I’m more of a philanthropic fisherman. I can take pride in the catch and release, giving back what I get.
It can be said what I netted is “gross.” I caught some weeds, a slimy stick and an old lure someone else had snagged.
A wise man told me never make my living from fishing, he was my net “prophet.”
There is no wi-fi out here for my iPad, I’m at a net loss.
Like my boat, I’m starting to drift, so I’ll stop now before my lines get too deep.
Luckily, the flexibility of the camper allows me to pack-up quickly and move to a more promising location or snag a guaranteed Filet-O-Fish on the way back through town.
Here is a great product to get your boat trailer to your favorite fishing spot: http://www.torklift.com/products/supertruss.php
Rain is no excuse to postpone a camping trip.
It is inevitable for people living in the Northwest, so here are some hints for looking on the bright side and thinking about all the great things about camping in the rain.
1. The wet dog smell- A familiar fragrance in the NW, popular on canines and humans.
2. The relaxing sound of pitter patter- The soundtrack of the Northwest, they make meditation music of this stuff.
3. Slugs- They are kind of cute and can make good fishing bait.
4. Keeps the risk of forest fires down- Smokey the Bear love us soggy people.
5. At least it is not snow- Cold weather camping can be fun with the right gear, but when it’s summer, that’s a bummer.
6. Games and conversation time- Time to concentrate on the people around us.
8. I’ll get back to you
9. Still thinking
10. A truck camper- a new found refuge.
Beep, Beep…here I come.
No, not really. I’m actually not Forklift Jen, Tork lift Jen, Torquelift Jen or even Dorklift Jen.
It’s a common mistake when you have an easily rhyming name, and I don’t take it personally.
With all of the new ways I am learning to get around here at Torklift, I hope I eventually have the opportunity to master the forklift mode of transport, too.
There’s a lot of hard work, skilled craftsmanship and innovation that goes on here. It’s inspiring to be part of the team and get to see products start from raw metal and then fabricated into the functional art they become. They are invented, made, boxed and shipped from right here at the factory to all over the world.
I should really get back to work now. Torklift Jen will not be taking on any new job titles until mastering the F-350 and camper first.
See why I’m so proud to work here:
Torklift International Wins First Place in Seattle Business Magazine’s 2013 Best Company to Work For
Looking back to my humble beginnings of truck camping there were many learning opportunities and tips that I should have picked-up on in regard to all this truck camping stuff.
I am reminded that all I really needed to know about truck camping, I learned in kindergarten.
Like coloring, stay between the lines on the highway and go a little crazy when you’re off road.
Don’t run with scissors, but it’s okay to run up a sturdy set of scissor steps.
If you got bad suspension you were in some heavy-duty trouble and you were going to be in a world of hurt when you got home from school. Now with good suspension you can carry a heavy load home and not feel a thing.
Kissing a toad will not result in a prince charming and will result in me looking very silly kissing my little tow behind car.
I learned that if you tie your toy truck bumper to a string attached to your bike and take off down the driveway, the bumper will get pulled off the truck and the part will end up in your baby brother’s mouth and then you’re in a heap of trouble from mom. The worst! Frame-mounted tie downs are always best.
Pick up your toys and someday your toys will be pickups.
Training wheels are not for babies. They were just good practice for driving my dually Ford F350.
Time-out is a good thing if you’re prepared with your best toys and can sit and enjoy the quiet.
I think I’ve got all these new concepts down now and can put them to good use as I grow into “Torklift Jen”.
True Frame-Mounted Tie Downs- Stay snug to your foundation.
I’m making a splash … literally.
I put myself on assignment this weekend and hauled some boating stuff up to the lake. In my mind, this was a professional outing, so I geared-up and had hyped myself into being a rather important researcher.
Then I learned the real meaning of “splash.”
With all my enthusiasm I jumped into the little kayak, both feet first.
I learned the cold hard truth.
The kayak had flipped me out into the cold lake water. I was a human slingshot and I went an impressive distance.
I struggled to drag the boat to shore as it filled with water and became impossible to bail out. I was fully clothed, wearing boots and a life jacket, but now I know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the mob wearing cement shoes and facing an East River demise.
I concluded that balance is crucial to all things in towing, hauling, suspension, mind and body. And getting into a boat.
Gear of Choice: SuperTruss Extension
The squiggle indicator off: Check.
No explosion upon starting the engine and the Everest parts are off: Check. Phew! I think I can do this.
The rest of the test drive went smoothly. Really!
I was impressed by the handling of the truck, especially with such a big camper. I felt no lack of power going up steep hills, good stopping distance and it handled well over rough, un-even roads and railroad tracks.
I am used to driving a stiff suspension little car. It is nice to feel high and mighty on the road. It feels like I’m going places, making it big, and climbing the corporate ladder even if that ladder looks more like a tree…, I’m loving it.