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S&S Campers, Thoughts!


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#1 OFFLINE   podunker

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 01:38 AM

  Hi folks, new member and hopefully soon to be new to truck camping. I would love to get some input on what my wife and I have planned. We are getting close to retirement, 5 years away and want to start traveling and seeing the country. We looked at all the options and have done a ton of research over the last year. These forums have been invaluable. We decided that a Truck Camper is the way we want to go.  We are planning on getting a better/bigger truck this year. Unfortunately, that will take up much of our budget. So instead of waiting a few more years to purchase a newer 15,000 plus camper, we have decided to look at buying a used one in the 5,000 to 10,000 ranges. The lower the better. I have some handyman skills and am willing to put in some work on a used one. Not to mention the fact, that we have never even done it before, so we wouldn’t be out a lot if it ends up not being for us. 

 

   So I have been scouring rvtrader, craigslist, etc. for campers. We really like the floor plans in the S & S campers and have found several in our price range. Most built in late 1990’s to early 2000.  I am having a heck of a time finding out any information on S&S truck campers, but the pictures look promising. Just curious if anyone owns one or has owned one in the past. Love to hear your thoughts on them. I can’t seem to find anything on the weight of the campers, length, etc. I would love it if we could get one that would fit on a F250/F350 non-dually. Not just limited to S&S, just like the look of them. Obviously any of the name brand guys would work also, but usually more expensive. (Lance, Northernlite, Northstar, etc.) Also like Alpinelite, but man they are heavy. 

 

  Basically we are looking for a fixer upper that has a good reputation. We would love to get started this year truck camping, but probably would only be able to do it with a used camper. Thanks in advance for any help!



#2 OFFLINE   the tc life

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 04:58 AM

welcome to the forum first of all.

 

s&s made a lot of campers in the past. the last few years they have been doing a government contract and not building very many truck campers for the public. they are based in kalispell montana. the web site for them says it is under construction but there is a phone number for them listed. i know for a fact that you can reach them by phone...they actually answer. lol. i dont have any other input on that brand of camper but there are members with a s&s and hopefully you will get some input from one of them.

 

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#3 OFFLINE   Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 10:58 AM

Both my brother and I have 2000 S&S 9.5 SC models. They are great campers with good floor plans. Wish the bath was larger but fine for smaller thinner folk. Both campers weigh 3000 pounds. I use mine 4 seasons mostly in the mountains, coast, and more remote places, and he only goes where he can take his boat. My walls are filon, his aluminum.
Look your potential campers over well. Signs of rot, watch the TC go up and down on the jacks watching for shifting at the jack mounts. Open drawer under frige looking for signs of rot under the frige and the front right jack. Open the water heater compartment and try to inspect the left rear jack area for rot. Look for discolorations on the ceiling and any roof protrusions. Run all the systems. A fifteen year old camper won't be perfect but it should give you years of service with some fix up and proper care along the way. I would guess the value 6k to 8k with a really nice fully loaded model being 10k.
<img src='https://pqeo5g.bn1.l...humb.jpg?psid=1' alt='Posted Image' class='bbc_img' /><br />Tatoosh Island .5 miles offshore in the distance from Cape Flattery, the Northwestern tip of the lower 48 United States, the Olympic Peninsula, and Washington State, also the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Home of the Makah People.<br /><br />Visit Our Blog:<br /><a class='bbc_url' href='http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/'>http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/</a>

#4 OFFLINE   67rs/ss

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 04:21 PM

We just sold our S&S ,we enjoyed using it every weekend in the summer while racing. The problems we experienced with it were pretty few. The TV antenna was installed by the dealer when we purchased it new. First couple times it rained we found water in the sink and finally realized the antenna was not sealed around the mount. Because of that our ceiling had ripples around the inside knob. After using it 7 years the aluminum siding on the drivers side was loose and I found that water had found it's way into the wood on the side of the overhead. Pretty easy fix actually. We are now using a Diesel pusher motorhome to tow with and many times we miss the convenience of the truck camper. I would say after close to 10 years with our S&S it was a great camper with many miles and lots of use.



#5 OFFLINE   podunker

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 04:47 PM

Wow, Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli thank you so much for the great information. Especially the info on what to look for in a used model. I feel so lucky to have you respond to this. Your setup with the F250 is exactly what I would like to do. Did you have to do any modifications to the truck? We have found 4 or 5 on rvtrader so far. The 98 and 99 have aluminum siding and the 2000 and up have filon. Do you have any preference on those. I know you have filon, figured you liked it best. Just curious about the front windows, do they have any leak problems with those? I'm also a pretty big guy, 6'1"- 260, will it be possible for me to use the shower at all? We really love the floor plan of these. Seems like there is more room to walk around in for some reason than others. Probably because of not having a face to face dinette. I would love to stay in touch with you through out this process, I'm sure you would be a valuable resource. My email address is mitch_bush@hotmail.com, I would love to see a picture of your setup, truck and all. Thanks you so much!

 

PS. You were right on about the prices. We found a 98 in CO. that was around 5000 and looks like a great deal. The others are around 9000, but they may have a few more things. 

 

If anyone else has one I would still love to hear about it!


Edited by podunker, 09 January 2015 - 04:51 PM.


#6 OFFLINE   Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 07:42 PM

I had a bunch written out here and it all just disappeared. I have frequent trouble using this post system.

Quickly, check and recaulk the outside of the camper. The roof frige vent, escape hatch fans should have the sealing material inspected and replaced quickly if they are bad. On Rv.NET, in the TC university, I have posts showing how to install large battery cables from truck to TC. How to repair the jacks when the bolts are rotted out Installing rancho 9000 shocks. Firestone airbags. 275 series load range E tires rated at 34xxd pounds each over the stock 3042 # tires. Think of the bath as a phone booth, Showering is easy but throne is tight. SS's new version of the 9.5 has about the best bathroom of any TC ever designed. Very roomy and easy to use. If you can, go with the F350 for this TC but setup like mine, it works great. I have front and rear sway bars. The front window has never given me a problem. My TC does not have the corner bubble windows so it stays warmer in winter then TC's with the corner windows. Check out some of my trip reports on RV.NET and also in the TC university stickies. Plenty of pictures and information.


<img src='https://pqeo5g.bn1.l...humb.jpg?psid=1' alt='Posted Image' class='bbc_img' /><br />Tatoosh Island .5 miles offshore in the distance from Cape Flattery, the Northwestern tip of the lower 48 United States, the Olympic Peninsula, and Washington State, also the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Home of the Makah People.<br /><br />Visit Our Blog:<br /><a class='bbc_url' href='http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/'>http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/</a>

#7 OFFLINE   btggraphix

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 08:59 PM

I responded to you briefly on another forum. Good advice on standard things to look for in a used camper. For a 2500 I would get no bigger than an 8.5SC model. Mine weighed about 2800 wet and 3500 loaded with all our junk. I had a 97 GMC 2500 (non HD model) and I did several of the normal upgrades but it was all my old truck could handle. I had airbags, ranchos, stronger rims.

For reference in 2006 we paid 11500 for it (in pristine barely used shape) and sold it in the fall of 2008 for about 8500.

The "hard side" as the option was called (filon) was an OPTION not standard for a number of years. I had no issues with the aluminum and it was actually Lighter than the hard side.

There are two model lines in that vintage, the SC ponderosa (SC stood for self contained and included seperate black and grey tanks or something along those lines) whereas the "Bitteroot" series was not the SC model. We would NOT have wanted the bare bones Bitteroot series. As I recall the Bitteroot was cheaper and came in even number lengths like 8 and 9 whereas the Ponderosa SC series had the full features. We got our hopes up that an 8.5SC was coming in on trade locally and we were crushed when we skipped work to go see it when it arrived (we had a hold) and it turned out to be a Bitteroot. The DBS series stood for Dry Bath Slide and are the heavy guys with the slides.

I actually have a number of the old S&S brochures from about 2003 or 2004 to about 2007 so if you find something in that range I might be able to dig it up for you, but only between now and February 1 as we will be back at home between next Monday and then. Incidentally, home is Colorado, so of you have one not too far from Buena Vista through the Denver metro area I might be able to go by and look for you. I would also suggest calling Jay at 5 Star RV in Henderson just because he used to be an S&S dealer and has been in the business forever.....maybe he'd have a lead on one for you.

When we did out search they stil were I business and had a good dealer network but we drove to Albuquerque NM once to look, Nd in the end drove to Boise Idaho to guy the one we did. So be prepared to search the country, and make arrangements to fly to check one out if you need to. I searched every other day online for 6 weeks until we finally made a deal.

Hard work, but it may pay off if you look. Call dealers everywhere and ask. Sometimes TCs sit at a dealer lot after trade that doesn't know what to do with it....you just need to know exactly what you are looking for. The vast majority of them are in the west, mostly Rockies and mostly the northern Rockies. However, we saw one east of Tuscon today on I10 and we smiled with recollection of all the memories we made in our first REAL TC!

Good luck!
2006 Lance 1191 - loaded, on 2005 Chevy Kodiak/4500 4WD. Average GVW 18,250 pounds not counting trailer.

#8 OFFLINE   podunker

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 02:32 AM

All I can say is WOW!  I am overwhelmed with the great information you all have put in your responses. This is so wonderful of you all and I can't thank you enough. 

 

Ok, here is the question. From my understanding, most, if not all used campers have had some sort of leak. What is an acceptable amount of leak or water damage someone can deal with? I obviously can't look in the walls or pull the aluminum off and check for damage when we start looking. I will look in all the normal places, and will probably find some water damage, at least a little. What would be acceptable, or could be repairable by me?

 

I have noticed a lot of these S&S campers come with no AC unit. At least the used ones we have seen on RV sites. I guess it's because most are used in cold climates for the most part? How hard, and at what cost would it be to put in a roof AC unit? 

 

btggraphix- The 1998 model is in Longmont, CO, at Century RV. No doubt, we love the price, and even like the interior by looking at the pics, but want to get a look at it in person or with someone that knows what they are looking for. If you get around that area, I would love to hear your input on the unit. 

 

We have not purchased a truck yet, and as much as I was trying to avoid a F350, I may be better off getting one rather than a F250. Once again, money is the factor, those dang trucks are not cheap, even used. That's why we are going used in the TC. 

 

One other question. How tall is the cabover as in would I be able to set on edge of bed and not hit my head on ceiling. I have been in a few that I can't and they seem like a small cave when you go to bed. Not a deal breaker, but just curious. 

 

Once again, and I can't say it enough, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR THE HELP! I will keep in touch and let everyone know how things are going with the search.


Edited by podunker, 10 January 2015 - 03:02 AM.


#9 OFFLINE   Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 11:09 AM

My brother added AC to his very easily. It did come pre wired and we removed the sky light vent over the dinette area.

The wires were already there in a 120 volt electrical box in the ceiling next to the opening. The opening was the correct size for an AC unit.

It was an easy project.

Sitting on the bed. Yes I sit up right with my feet hanging over the side and my head up in the escape hatch. So it's doable.

As for rot. Acceptable is if it isn't in a critical area of structure like jacks, tie down brackets, or in excessive amount of area. If you can repair it, then go for it.


<img src='https://pqeo5g.bn1.l...humb.jpg?psid=1' alt='Posted Image' class='bbc_img' /><br />Tatoosh Island .5 miles offshore in the distance from Cape Flattery, the Northwestern tip of the lower 48 United States, the Olympic Peninsula, and Washington State, also the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. Home of the Makah People.<br /><br />Visit Our Blog:<br /><a class='bbc_url' href='http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/'>http://camperjeffandkelli.wordpress.com/</a>

#10 OFFLINE   KnightEagle

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 11:34 AM

Welcome Podunker there are lots of us here that love to help you in your search. Back when I was a kid there were lots of TC makers now it seems to be a hand full. There are several rules to look at here. Have the most truck you think you need, then get the next larger one. Next find the camper that will fit the truck at 3/4 of the trucks max weight limit. But I belive you said  you have a 3/4 ton Wolf Creek, most 850's I belive will fit your truck. Under 2800 dry weight is in your weight range. I fond of Artic Fox. We get to retire in 4 years at least I do. Thinking of getting a new TC then and keep coming back to the AF-1150 don't know why but it the same as our 990 but 6" longer? But I wish you louck in your search, I would look at least 2007 or newer you have less problems and one that may of been used very little. Case in point our fox worth 21k at a dealer but on a trade 15-16k for me to sell lucky to get 18k. Look at privet sellers and rvtrader on line.


  :sign0007: I got it fixed!

 

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#11 OFFLINE   wirenut

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 06:47 PM

If you're buying a truck to handle this TC, or any TC, by all means get the F350. Skip the F250. I'm not sure why you're "trying to avoid" the proper truck for the job. They're the same size, drive the same, cost almost the same, but the F350 will haul more. Honestly, depending on the configuration of the truck, camper, and passengers you may be overweight on an F350.



#12 OFFLINE   btggraphix

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Posted 10 January 2015 - 09:29 PM

Posunker, I will see how things go as soon as I get back and see if it looks like I can get to Longmont for you. It's not too far from me though I have a lot to do whenever return.

I agree with others, if at all possible, think about a 3500 just on principle since price and ride not much different but capabilities typically are.

98 is a pretty old camper. Not saying it wouldn't be fine but getting job to that 2003 to the end if their run 07? 08?) ought to still less than 10k, at least for an 8 - 9.5' camper. I may have undersold mine but that was over 6 years ago, was on great shape and I sold for 8,500. When I was looking an 05 or 06 model year was about 17k new. Not sure exactly the rule of depreciation versus inflation work, but I'd think a 98 for 5k is high unless it is in truly great shape. I'd think an 06 would be less than 10 by now and there can be a really big difference between a 6-8 year old camper and a 17 year old camper.

Just off the top of my head, there was a dealer in Casper WY named Stalkups I think, and one in Albuquerque named Sundance, then 5 Star in Henderson CO, there was a pair of dealers Bob something with outlets in Grand Junction and Fort Collins CO. They may all still be in business just not selling S&S but Id call them all.

Then is also call any dealers in the Kalispell MT region, northern and central ID, Spokane WA. Oh yeah, Billings MT had an S&S dealer and I think I've seen then on their lot from I 80 in recent memory.

Call call call and call again! I used a printed out an RV dealer directory from somewhere online that had them by state and focused on the northern Rockies but spread out all over as I went. In the end it was the S &S dealers that worked out the best leads....any dealers that used to be S&S would be the most likely to have a trade in even now.

I'll try to keep an eye on this thread and I'll see if I can find time to get up to Longmont for you.

If you manage to get a hold of S& S in Kali.....Doug Sieler was the owner and a great guy. I met him a few times. He came to the NATCOA show in Nebraska the first year and maybe second. It's a family run place and if anything, ask if he has a list of his past dealerss or if he can suggest the dealers that sold the most campers for him over the years.....they'd be the best ones to call now if they are still in business....

Old S &S's are still all over in the Kalispell area, check the Kalispell newspaper?
2006 Lance 1191 - loaded, on 2005 Chevy Kodiak/4500 4WD. Average GVW 18,250 pounds not counting trailer.

#13 OFFLINE   podunker

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 03:03 AM

Ok, shopping for trucks now. Things I know we want:

 

4x4

4 door or at least a rear seat

I guess I'm going F350 or 3500

Gas ( Not diesel)

I prefer Fords, but not stuck on it

 

I have no idea on what bed length we should get. Also not sure about getting a DRW. I know everyone says they will never go back to a SRW after using DRW to pull a Camper. My big problem is we will only be using the Camper for vacations and some weekends for the next six years, until I retire. The rest of the time the truck will be my daily driver. Don't know how I feel about a dually for that. 

 

I would love opinions on a sweet deal I found on a 2003 Dodge 3500 DRW gasser. I don't know anything about Dodge gassers. I have heard a few things on their diesel engines, but nothing on gassers.

 

I also found a 2008 F350 SRW with 11,000 GVWR. For all I know that may be higher than the 2003 Dodge DRW's GVWR. I don't know the differences in Ford and Dodge or if newer models make a difference. 

 

I do know the Ford is about 10 Grand higher!

 

 

Thanks again for all the help!


Edited by podunker, 11 January 2015 - 03:14 AM.


#14 OFFLINE   KnightEagle

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 11:03 AM

The dodges are good they just look cheap due to all the plastic. Even thought all are made with lots of plastic. Aye my self is a dye in the wool chev person. Between DRW and SRW the ride is more stable with DRW and less mod's. Down side to DRW are the TC, lot are 7'8" wide are mainly for SRW and those for DRW are 8'. We had a Weekender it was 7'8" on are DRW to back under it we had about 1/2 inch clear on each side or less a very tight fit. But once loaded it was like what TC, is it there still. I say go for it at least really look it over, low miles I hope. 


  :sign0007: I got it fixed!

 

2012 Ram 3500HD DRW. RideRite 5000 Air Bags. Hellwig sway Bar rear. Curt hitch 17000/2550. Engine: 6.7-Liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic 68RFE. 2017 Adventure Alp 116DS 5153+ lb. Reg Cab. Torklift Frame mounts. Ranch Hand Front Bumber, Duel hitch and 4' extension . C.B channel 19 most times. Towing a 16 ft storage trailer with a jon boat inside.

 

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#15 OFFLINE   Bedlam

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 11:30 AM

Look for a Super Cab long bed SRW F350. It will not be as long as a crew cab, yet still give you a back seat for occasional passengers or storage.


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#16 OFFLINE   67rs/ss

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 06:59 PM

Our 04 SRW F250 4X4 worked fine after I installed Supersprings and Timbrens on the rear. Our S&S was a 04 8.5 Bitteroot and we also pulled a 24ft. enclosed car trailer with race car weighing upwards of 7,000 lbs. loaded using a Superhitch.

"http://s63.photobuck...200848.jpg.html


Edited by 67rs/ss, 11 January 2015 - 07:01 PM.


#17 OFFLINE   kayakin

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 09:54 PM

https://billings.cra...4830187884.html

 

 

We can go look at it for you if you are interested.  The picture was taken before our last snowy spell.



#18 OFFLINE   podunker

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 01:22 PM

Kayakin- I don't think so right now. Curious that doesn't look like a 2003 Model, looks more like a 1998-99 model. I really appreciate the offer though. 

 

On another note. Do the 8.5 just fit in short bed trucks? Will a 9.5 fit on a short bed truck also?

 

I guess I am still questioning on which truck bed to get, short (regular) or long. Long beds are harder to find. I guess I still don't understand how the fit really works. Won't most campers fit in regular or short bed trucks, just hangover more on the end? On the other hand, it takes campers made for long bed trucks to fit on a long bed, right?

 

Do the S&S Campers all fit on short (regular) bed trucks? Or not?

 

Still loving the old S&S's on the inside!


Edited by podunker, 13 January 2015 - 01:28 PM.


#19 OFFLINE   67rs/ss

67rs/ss

    Grand Potentate

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 04:38 PM

The rear storage "wings" hanging in the rear on the lower side in the add is what limits what truck bed it will fit. One made for a short bed will not fit in a long bed because of those. We actually had to run a 2x4 in the front of our short bed truck tokeep them fom rubbing on our tail lights.



#20 OFFLINE   KnightEagle

KnightEagle

    KnightEagle

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 05:53 PM

Need to keep in mind one thing also older TC will not fit every truck built today. Some people have to place 2x6 up by the cab wall because the rubber stops arnt long anoff to touch the wall, others have to place plywood or a rubber mat down first or both to raise the TC up to clear the bottom edge of the round corners of the tailgate opening. Or to clear the cab of some trucks are taller than others. Think someone here had to build a frame out of 2x4's and ply to clear his running lights on his truck, cant think of who. On are AF-990 have the rubber mat but hooking up water at the camp site is fun due to my dullies fenders are almost in the way. Could place a 3/4 sheet of ply down then the mat but each time I have the ply off I would end up using it some where.  But the one Kayakin showed would fit a long bed. In most case's a long bed would fit but the cg be off on a short bed truck. Wile a short bed TC wouldn't fit on a long bed truck due to the placement of the wheel wells and the wing areas hitting up against the bed and or lights.


  :sign0007: I got it fixed!

 

2012 Ram 3500HD DRW. RideRite 5000 Air Bags. Hellwig sway Bar rear. Curt hitch 17000/2550. Engine: 6.7-Liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic 68RFE. 2017 Adventure Alp 116DS 5153+ lb. Reg Cab. Torklift Frame mounts. Ranch Hand Front Bumber, Duel hitch and 4' extension . C.B channel 19 most times. Towing a 16 ft storage trailer with a jon boat inside.

 

ALP116DS2017
ALP116DS10.JPG

 





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