The parts are here!! After such a long wait, it's hard to believe that we can finally take the truck to the shop and start the repairs. But that means we have to remove the camper. I've done this dozens of times since we bought it, and, while a little time consuming, it's usually a pretty simple process. This time though there are several complications.
First of all, we're parked on a beach. I'm pretty sure that the jacks will just sink into the soft sand if I don't put something down to spread the weight out. Luckily there are lots of flat rocks lying around.
Secondly, one of the jack brackets was damaged in the wreck. The screws holding it into the aluminum frame of the camper were pulled out which damaged the frame and stripped the screw holes. With Carlos' help back in San Quintin, we got it reattached, but I haven't actually put any weight on it until now, and I'm a little nervous that it won't hold.
The third, and probably biggest problem, is the crumpled panel on the side of the truck. It's now sticking out about eight inches farther than normal around the wheel well. I have to somehow drive the truck out from underneath the camper without it running into the damaged jack, possibly hurting it further, or knocking the whole camper over.
With a nice big rock under each of the jacks I start to crank, Natasha looking on anxiously. The rocks take the weight and the camper starts to rise ponderously. Eventually it's a couple of inches off the bed of the truck and the damaged jack seems to be holding.
I start to pull the truck forward until the crumpled panel is almost touching the jack. It's not looking good. Natasha and I both start scratching our heads. Normally if I need to reposition the camper slightly, I'll tap the feet of the jacks one way or the other to shimmy it to where I need it to be. Even at the best of times, a thousand pounds of camper being supported four and a half feet off the ground on four skinny stilts is a wobbly proposition. With one damaged jack and the whole thing sitting on rocks on top of soft sand, it's making us very nervous to try this...but we do. We manage to get a couple of inches of clearance without the whole thing collapsing, but it's not quite enough.
Natasha has the brilliant notion that the panel is already ruined, so why not just try pounding it flat. This seems reasonable, so I get out a hammer and start banging away. This gets us quite a few more inches of clearance but I can't quite get it flat enough. If I try pulling forward now, it will still clip the jack. Natasha's true stroke of genius comes when she figures we should let the wobbliness, that is making us so nervous, work to our advantage. I get into the truck and prepare to drive away, and she gets on the other side of the camper. She plants her shoulder, leans with all her weight swaying it several inches, and yells, “GO GO GO!!.” I slam on the gas and before I know it, the truck is clear and the camper is still standing.
We begin the slow laborious process of lowering the camper four feet onto some cinder blocks we found to support it. And when it settles, solid and level, we finally breathe a sigh of relief.