Dog Days of Summer... by Torklift Jen

66056_105774042821964_1828172_nThis 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.

http://www.torklift.com/products/safestep.php

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That's a great IKEA... by Torklift Jen

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.

IMG_0796 copyI 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.

http://www.torklift.com/products/lockandload.php

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Hitting the track with StableLoads... by Torklift Jen

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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.

 

http://www.torklift.com/products/stableload.php

 

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Whoa, Nellie!... by Torklift Jen

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.Truck

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.

http://www.torklift.com/products/stableload.php

engaged

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Boondocking- it just sounds scary... by Torklift Jen

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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.

WHAA!!!!!

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


 

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Black water is not a song by the Doobie Brothers... by Torklift Jen

What’s black, grey and sometimes potable?IMG_0777

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.

IMG_1125I 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.

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Thar she blows! fears and fallacies of the camper electrical system... by Torklift Jen

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.

Wiring_Diagram

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

3waywiringharness

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Advice for camping with a cat... by Torklift Jen

419589_10151354407658972_1580098168_n“Don’t!”

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.

“MEEEEOOOWWzza!”

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.IMG_2645

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

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Nothin' but net... by Torklift Jen

DSCN2954 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.IMG_1653

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.

IMG_1677 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

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Top 10 reasons to camp in the rain... by Torklift Jen

IMG_1340Rain 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.

7.  Um

8.  I’ll get back to you

9.  Still thinking

10.  A truck camper- a new found refuge.

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Forklift Jen... by Torklift Jen

Forklift Jen

Beep, Beep…here I come.IMG_0628

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

http://www.seattlebusinessmag.com/article/100-best-companies-work-2013-midsize-companies

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Mini me... by Torklift Jen

securedownload

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. IMG_1035

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.

IMG_0119Pick 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.

http://www.torklift.com/w.php?w_page=tie_downsIMG_0117

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Balancing work, play, and the right way to get into a kayak...by Torklift Jen

I’m making a splash … literally.DSCN2934

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.

“KERPLUNK.”

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

http://www.torklift.com/products/supertruss.php

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Take Two... by Torklift Jen

The F-350 seat adjusted: Check. IMG_1258

 

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.

 

http://www.torklift.com/products/stableload.php

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SCRRRAAAAPE...! ... by Torklift Jen

“SCRRRAAAAPE…..!”

Imagine my surprise as I made shave-ice out of the sidewalk on my first turn onto the main street in the Ford F-350.  I’m thinking they are going to need a “Don’t Trip” sign over that nice etching.

This is a continuation of my first trip in the dually, time elapsed now less than 30 seconds.

There was just one oversight in my pre-flight check list, I had forgotten to remove the SuperHitch Everest weight distribution shank and head.  Oops.

EverestProduct

I had to consider if that awful sound was normal.  I opted to turn around and head back to the plant, but not before getting to perfect my 20-point turn into oncoming traffic.  This truck and camper amounts to a huge road block at times.

At this point I had to wonder if “Torklift Jen” would be scrapped for her weight in metal when she returned.

Fingers crossed!

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The squiggle indicator of death... by Torklift Jen

IMG_0249
I was warned by my manager at Torklift, “If you see the light on and you start the engine too soon you will blow those bulbs out and the bulbs are $600 each.”

Those are very expensive bulbs I thought!

Later I was told it was engine parts that were the concern not the bulbs! :)

I was already nervous enough about getting to drive that behemoth of a truck, so this was just one more thing to make my teeth clatter.

Also, I was unaware if my guinea pig status included an expense and incidentals account, let alone hazard pay.

The squiggle light of death ended up being not so scary.

The diesel engine started right up with a mighty roar and that comforting rattle that reminded me of riding in an elementary school bus, which felt about the same size, by the way.

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This is not a Hyundai...by Torklift Jen

“These are my feet and those are the pedals,” I thought to myself.

This was my first observation upon getting into the driver’s seat of the Ford F-350.  If you could call it a driver’s seat.  It’s more like a king’s throne that requires a ladder to get in.

There was going to be a problem if this is as far as the seat goes.

With some major adjustments and what seemed like a ridiculously long time inching forward in the automated seat.  I crossed the great divide between my feet and the pedals.

Without having to opt for a high-heeled hiking boot to reach the gas pedal, I was able to get into position for the next challenge ahead.

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My new job title: Torklift Jen

IMG_1639I experiment with Torklift products and take them out in the real world with a uniquely “Torklift Jen” perspective.  Some people say I’m like an action figure All I need is a cape!

What is the “Torklift Jen” perspective you ask?

Well, I get lots of advice during my work week on what to do, and most importantly what NOT to do by some of the best in the industry.  I look forward to sharing what I learn and passing on what I find about new products, engineering information and technical advice.

Just as a preview, you’ll find out what it’s like for little ole’ me to drive a giant truck!

I will check-in from the roads traveled with the people I meet while wearing my “Torklift Jen” hat.

Let me know if you have any great ideas and what makes your off time work for you.

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I could be called an experiment... by Torklift Jen

IMG_1624When I told my team at Torklift International that I had never truck camped, the room went silent.  I could tell that this was a serious offense.  At that moment, I was dubbed an experiment, a newbie … a truck camper.

Since that day, it has become my job to truck camp and document my experiences.

I used to drive a Hyundai.  Now I drive a Ford F-350.  This truck and the Torklift products installed on it will endure the test of ultimate user friendliness, my active recreational use and performance with grace-under-fire.

Let’s hope not literally.

My job is clear.  I am an experiment and the mad scientist is Torklift International.

And to start, a good question for a new guinea pig should always be: “What happened to the old guinea pig?”

I think she probably became an expert!

Join me on my trials as I form a hypothesis on what this truck camping thing is all about.
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