Friday, April 1, 2011

Harken Camper Shell Hoist

Those with pickup trucks usually fall into two categories; the ones that run a camper shell and the ones that don't.  Both have their benefits, both have their draw backs.  For many years I had a pickup truck with an open bed.  The ability to simply toss large items in the bed was one of the major draws of owning a truck.  But once you have a shell , it is hard to go back. The secure storage, shelter from the elements, and the ability to over load the bed without worrying about things flying out is nice.  However the shell does get in the way when you really need to transport large items in the bed.  Such a dilemma.

Camper shells however are not permanent installations.  They can be removed when you need to carry something that is too large for the capacity of the cap.  Though typically not to heavy, 100lbs or so, the large dimensions of the shell make it nearly impossible to remove and install by yourself.  Even with two people it can be awkward. 

A friend suggested that I buy a hoist system for my camper shell so that it would be easy to take on and off.  Taking the shell on and off was happening more often, now that transporting motorcycles became a regular thing.  Me, being the "do-it-yourselfer" of course looked into a homemade hoist system.  However once I found the Harken Hoister I knew that this was one of those things best left to the professionals.  From my years of sail boat racing the brand name Harken was synonymous to quality.  At a price of under $150 dollars, I knew that there was no way I could put together a system as good or as cheap as the one Harken made.  So I bought it.  At the heart of the system is the 8 to 1 block and tackle pulley.  This mechanical advantage device not only has all of the pulley nestled within itself, it also has a line lock, similar to that found on your mini blinds.  Of the many hoist systems Harken makes, the 200lb rated version was designated as the "camper shell" hoist. 

Prior to getting the hoist it is key to find a place where the hoist can pull the camper shell out of the way.  Carefully measure out the location as some spots which might look like it will work simply won't  As seen in the first picture my camper shell fits snugly between the back wall of the garage and the garage door opener.  It also sits high enough so that the back door of the garage can be opened without interference. 

The installation was pretty straight forward.  Though upon initial unpacking, the parts and lines are a bit over whelming.  The detailed instructions clearly lays out the steps required.  In addition to the parts included, you need to provide some 2x6s and some lag bolts.  It is recommend that two people do installation.   The most tricky part was to insure that cross member was bolted to the joist.  This isn't one of those things that will hold if bolted to the dry wall alone; you must sink ALL the lags into solid joist. 

Once installed the system perform flawlessly.  If you plan on leaving the shell in its hoisted position for any amount of time, it is a good idea to provide a safety back up.  Two fixed length of rope under the shell in case the buckles let go, and to securely tie off the primary hoist line in case the line lock gives.  Though I write this precaution, I have yet to add such safety back ups and had not had an issue. 

With this hoist I can now go from camper shell to open bed in less than 15 minuets.  A great addition to any truck owner debating a shell.  Now you can have the best of both worlds; thanks Harken.


  1. Awesome you finally got this up in the garage. Did it take 7 months? That actually doesn't seem too bad in new home owner/new fatherhood schedule.

  2. Superb work!
    At last you got it. This is a good work of garage.
    Motorcycle Garage Storage Lift

  3. I am impressed by the quality of information on A.R.E Camper Shells . There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this blog again soon.