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Old 04-04-2010, 06:07 AM   #15
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
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Durango , Colorado
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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
I may end up getting one of the folding vinyl toppers that is now on the market. They have a system of bows and rails and fold to the front of the bed. Seems like the best of both worlds. Otherwise there's a lot to be said for tonneau covers, which look better and are much easier to load.
I just sold a truck with a Softopper and the product was not only made in the USA, it fit correctly, quality manufacture and very practical. I liked it so much, that I may ditch the hard tonneau and install a cross box and Softopper on my GMC 2500.

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Old 04-04-2010, 11:25 AM   #16
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2009 30' SO Classic
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
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Thank you for all the comments. Since it is apparent that the majority feels a shell is the way to go; what creative ways have you discovered to keep organization alive in the shell? I am thinking a truck chest mounted against the cab portion of the bed:

with Swing Cases installed behind the rear fender wells near the tailgate:

UnderCover Swing Case

My one concern is the truck chest sits directly on the bed floor and thus will shorten my overall bed length by 20± inches. I prefer to have a traditional truck box that crosses over the rails and allows longer items to slide underneath, but I haven't figured out how this could work with a camper shell. Has anyone ever mounted a low profile cross over box:

and cut/custom fitted the flat portion of the camper shell that rests on the truck bed rails so that it sits around a crossover box (Is that clear as mud?). This would allow me to still have plenty of secure storage with or without the camper shell. It's just a thought, but there has to be some solution out there.

Almost there.........
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:01 PM   #17
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1967 24' Tradewind
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Rivet Cover Options

I have had a Fold-A-Cover folding tonneau cover since I bought my 2000 F150 new. It is not a complete seal, so some water and dust can enter. The instructions tell you this. The tailgate is not sealed anyway, so that issue will always be there. The seals along the hinges cracked and started leaking last year. Replacements are available at the link I provided. It will involve drilling out and replacing pop rivets, though. Not much of a problem for anyone with an Airstream, I think. I just haven't gotten around to replacing them yet.

I also installed a BedRug carpet bedliner at the same time. It still looks like new. I'm sure being out of the sun under the cover contributed to this.

I like the combination. I have carried items too tall to fit under the cover by folding the rear three panels over the front (straps with snaps to secure the folded cover are included) many times. The BedRug liner protects items from damage. I often lay my bicycle down and lock the cover over it. Works great.

Just another option. The shells offer a lot of storage. I really like the increased visibility of the flat cover. I will reconsider my options when I buy a new truck. Shell or tonneau, I will install a new BedRug liner. I really like it.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:10 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Tyrinius View Post
Do you prefer a truck box or camper shell for longer trips and why?
hi ty'

your question skips the tonneau option...

briefly the folks who have them LIKE them,

and it is a better option than BOXES or loose stuff in the bed.

also may improve mpg a TINY bit.

FULL shells are nice too and for longer trips (or lots of stuff) a shell is hard to beat...

-they no longer use GELcoat as the TOPCOAT, many use the oem paints and come with LIFETIME warranties for peeling.

the gel/fiberglass on my shell is light gray, UNDER the 2 coats of oxford white (ford oem) paint.

(mine matches the truck perfectly after 5 years, although it started to PEEL in year one and was shipped back for REpainting)

typically the TAILGATE on trucks, has no gaskets and THAT lets dust into the space...

in fact dust is sorta SUCKED in sometimes, right above the rear bumper.

but TAILGATE GASKETS solve that issue.

once the gasket was installed i've had ZERO dust issues inside the shell (25$ diy )

visibility is reduced compared to a TOPLESS truck, but towing a trailer already cuts CENTER rearview mirror use.

my shell has great visiblity, except when FULL of stuff.

window tinting added to the sides can cut looking IN to almost zero, keeping the prying eyes out.

-5 years of locks, without FAILURE (most latches carry a 1 year warranty)


my shell can go to the NEXT NEW TRUCK which means a SAVINGS 4 me...

lots of OFFROADING or frequent driving on UNfinished surfaces can be hard on a fiberglass shell (it may move around)

inside i use a variety of rubbermaid tubs and boxes, NOT METAL.

the metal ones LOOK nice but are heavy (this cuts into payload) and sharp and not really needed.

also METAL boxes are UNforgiving when they touch the SHELL and can damage it (star/burst shaped cracks seen on the outside)

bikes go inside, gensets, tools, grill, extra spare tire and so on...

most stuff is secured from SLIDING with 'bedbugs'...

with a full size truck bed there is a LOT of space under a shell...

about 1/10th of the box art' uses...

lots of threads on this issue....

Originally Posted by ESCAPE POD View Post
We just purchased a Flip-Pac camper shell, which folds out into a sleeping platform while also allowing the storage of your gear...
VERY NICE e'pod! and great pics.

that would be nifty for brief over nighters away from the base and for KIDS who wanna rough it outside...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:09 PM   #19
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Valrico , Florida
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I've chose a topper also, inside I have plenty of room for the 2 honda Gen's, an inflatable Zodiac Zoom & a 9.9 outboard. outside on the roof I carry a Yakima Storage Pod for the folding chairs, rug & the rest of the outdoor essentials.

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Old 04-05-2010, 07:43 AM   #20
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I bought an Astro-brand topper when I first got my new F250 in 1996. It was matched with factory color, and it is still the same color as the truck. At first glance, some people think I'm driving a Ford-type Surburban.

Since I like to travel with darn near everything I'd need for camping and for repairs in the event of breakdowns, I have a LOT of stuff. Like blue tank, chairs, barbeque pit, assortment of tools, tire plug kit, small generator, small compressor, etc and etc.
I use an assortment of plastic boxes to keep it organized, kind of.

To keep from piling stuff on top of stuff, I put 2X4s laterally across the top of the pickup bed, and use 1-inch plywood in sections on top of the 2X4s to to serve as an elevated floor. So, I have a two-story storage area. My camper has sliding side windows, so some smaller items are accessible from those. For the far-back reaches, I use a pole with a hook on the end.

In the past couple of years, I installed a 91-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in the bed, so I shortened my top story to about 3/4 of the pickup bed to accommodate the auxiliary tank. I now rest my blue tank on top of the fuel tank. No space is wasted.

I'd feel positively neeked and un-boy-scout-like without my two-story camper top.
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:44 AM   #21
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1980 31' Excella II
Drummond Island , Michigan
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I've had shells on previous trucks and I feel the obvious benefits are offset by the drawacks. Such as loading large pieces and finding the item you need buried in the front of the bed behind all the other stuff you have loaded in front. Then there is the problem of climbing into the bed which on a 3/4 T or 1 T truck can be a feat especially with the A/S attached, then you have to get your or maybe it's my creaky old body doubled up and crawling over everything to get to that previously mentioned piece in the front of the bed.

I installed a Roll and Lock retractable tonneau cover on our F350 long bed. It work like a horizontal roll up door similar to the vertical ones found on the back of large trucks. It has vinyl clad aluminum bats that run in a track and can be locked. The thing can be stopped at various places as it rolled in or out so you can fully retract it to reach anything in the bed or load any heigth item you want and/or keep part of the bed covered while loading or unloading. It is water resistant and pretty near theft proof. It retracts and self stows or pulls out and locks in about 3 seconds and you can even get it motorized to open and close with the press of a key fob. Mine is the manual model and it makes me happy evertime I use it.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:23 AM   #22
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I prefer the Shell. I did add a lock for the tail gate handle and a AMP Step to facilate easy entry into truck bed. I have a small triangular garden hoe for pulling pand pushing things around in the bed. I got the Lear shell and have had it for 3 years and there are no leaks and all locks work as new. You get what you pay for.

Rebee - WBCCI #1325
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2007 Dodge 2500, 6.7 Cummins
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:12 PM   #23
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..add me to the Shell list (and not because my dad worked for them for 43 years ;-)... we bring the dawg sometimes and she wouldn't like a tonneau at all ;-) organized? heck, my brain ain't as organized as some 'o you guys..props to ya ocd 'streamerz!... I carry the AS spare, floor jack, coupla big Rubbermaid boxes, etc...
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:15 PM   #24
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Seems we've all kicked this around. We considered the options and finally decided on a locking shell with tinted windows.The tailgate also locks. To overcome the problem of always needing the things stored next to the cab, we installed a roll-out deck for the truck.(The one we got is made by Gem Top, but there are a number of them on the market.) This enables us to easily reach the things up front. If you load it up, throw a cheap tarp over the top of the items and throw a cargo net over that, no one has a clue what's in the back of your truck. The sliding deck came with holes for the cargo net hooks. Now I'm looking for the perfect tool box to fit in that space behind the wheelwell. Saw an interesting one in an earlier post in this thread. jc
2005 22 ft Safari LS
2009 Toyota Tundra
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:50 PM   #25
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There is no perfect cover. With shells you sometimes must crawl in to get things near the cab. With hard flat covers, tall objects can not be hauled with our removing the cover.
When I bought our '99 Silverado the PO had installed a Roll-n-Lock cover.

Roll-N-Lock retractable aluminum truck bed cover

Downside: Is not completely water tight at the corners.
You loose about ten inches of space at the top, front of the bed for the roll-up canister.
Sometimes hard to roll when hot.

Upside: Locks well. Also locks the tailgate, as it locks to it.
Room for most things including EU2000. Can be rolled back a foot or so to run the generator with the tail gate closed. Very quiet
When rolled open you can move your father-in-law's furniture.
Good access from rear and sides when open.
Past President, El Camino Real Unit WBCCI#6620
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:21 PM   #26
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I think shells/caps are great but am an habitual head banger when ever I attempt to store something inside a pick up cap.

Also I wanted to free up more space in the bed itself and think the space above the cab is under utilized with higher cap styles.

So..... I decided to build a combination hard/soft cover with wind deflection as part of the design. The thought was to store the trailer spare and as many other things needed for travel above the cab to be accessed from the rear of the truck bed. The pick up has both a top canvas cover and two side sections. The top was very stable could be left in place while driving, but I mostly wanted it for sun and rain protection while parked.

I is stange but it works the way I imagined it would and is light weight and the top pieces can be broken down in three sections for winter storage. If I consider labor cost along with the materials I could have bought a ARE cap and had it gold plated for less. But it was fun to think up and put together.
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:13 PM   #27
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I have a Leer cover on my truck so I have more storage room, and some security for what's in there...there's a lock. For protection of my knees when I do have to crawl in there, I have a Bed Rug. I'm happy with the setup.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:52 PM   #28
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Jim Foster is right, there is no perfect cover. We've had one camper shell, 2 one piece hard tonneaus and a 3 piece hard tonneau.

The camper shell made visibility bad for backing—this was long before we had a trailer. It looked easy to break into and valuable items were visible. But in 9 years no one ever broke into it. It would probably be the heaviest of all the options and cut into payload quite a bit.

The hard tonneaus we have had, good quality ones, have reasonably good locks, and cut some wind resistance. It's a pain when I need to pick up wood that is too long for the bed, so I use bungie cords to hold the cover down. I never have the back end of the tonneau more than 6" above the tailgate when I buy 2x4's, plywood, etc. That has worked fine. I couldn't carry a refrigerator, but in the last 50 years, I've only moved one refrigerator and used someone else's truck. My guess is a tonneau on a full size truck weighs about 100 lbs.

In '99, we put a three piece hard tonneau on a Tacoma and the advantage was we could remove the pieces to move tall things. It worked fairly well, but seemed a bit flimsy. Maybe the newer ones work better. When we got the tonneau for our '07 Tundra, I never considered a 3 or 4 piece tonneau and maybe I should have.

I think the roll up tonneaus are an interesting choice, but I would think in the winter there would be enough moisture in the can to freeze them open or closed.

I never knew there was such a thing as a tailgate gasket. Thanks 2air, I'll go look for one. The amount of dirt and dust that collects in the bed on a long trip, especially when there are dirt roads, is amazing.


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