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The Gearboat Chronicles

Split-Lip How-To Guide

Today on Handyman Corner I’ll guide you through how to call the doctor to get your face stitched up after trying to load a truck camper.

It’s steelhead season and the days are getting longer, so that means camping trips to our favorite Northeast Oregon rivers. I recently came into possession of a pretty sweet old Alaska camper. I don’t know when this was built, but it’s got some Brady Bunch-era looking interior accents.


The Alaska models are the kind that raise up for headroom once you get where you’re going for the night. For those of you who have never loaded a camper before or are curious what it’s like to have a metal bar suddenly smash you in the face, let’s get started.

For this project it helps if you have medical insurance and some degree of tolerance for pain. You will need one heavy camper and some old jacks equipped with cables that are about ready to give out. Here’s an example of jacks lying in wait, ready to inflict injury, pictured below. Note the NRS boat strap. That was being used because I had the wisdom to undertake this job on ground covered with snow and ice. That added a nice element of fear that something would slide out and result in catastrophe. If that had happened I’d probably be going to the doctor for a different part of my body, but let’s get back to how to split open your lip with a suddenly fast-moving piece of metal.


OK. Position the jacks under the heavy load and start cranking. When you feel resistance and hear ominous creaking noises, you can either slow down to assess the situation or just keep cranking away. I went with option B and when the cable snapped in two, things began to happen fairly rapidly. There’s not much warning, just a sudden and sharp impact of the jack handle cracking into your upper mandible. Here’s a picture of the busted cable in question, below, so you know what to look for while holding your hand over your face and walking around in circles, which for some reason seems like a thing to do.


I’ll spare you a photo of the busted lip. I think it’s right on the verge of calling for a few stitches, but I’m going to be a baby about it and go see what the doc says.

In conclusion, old frayed cables under load may not always work out. Ah, but what’s a few stitches in the face compared with the luxury of an Alaska camper set up alongside a promising steelhead run.

That’ll do it for this episode of Handyman Corner. See you on the river. Or at the doctor’s office. Be safe out there.