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#103771 - 08/28/07 03:26 AM Bug out RV...
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
I have been requested to start a thread on this topic, so here goes. My wife and I retired to living full time in a RV, traveling around the country, doing volunteer work at state and federal campgrounds to help with expenses. We also did a stint as "workampers" at a private facility, which turned out to be more of a "job" (gasp) than we expected. We started this venture out by buying a used 32 foot Class A motorhome, towing a small SUV (Chevy Tracker, 4wd, 25+ mpg). We had been very happy with this vehicle combo, but then we started having some repeat electical problems, which were nickle and diming us to death (as in about $10k in a two year period). We had also come to realize that a 32 foot motorhome does not have the usable space of a 32 ft trailer. While stopped, the entire drivers compartment of a motorhome is pretty much wasted, other than tossing stuff on the dash and seats, which looks kind of trashy. We also came to realize that doing things this way gives us two power vehicle to insure and maintain. Two time as many oil changes, etc. So we are looking for a new P/U and fifthwheel trailer. Diesel powered, gas engines reportedly don't have the power to pull a 32+ ft trailer up a hill of any size. There are some drawbacks to this switch, generator for example. Most (all?) larger motorhomes have a built in gen, very few trailers have a gen, and having one installed can be VERY expensive. So, does anyone have any input to add to this topic???
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#103778 - 08/28/07 05:02 AM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Paul810 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
I don't know too much about campers, but I do know a bit about trucks. I'm only going to go into the newest trucks, if you are looking at something a bit older there are differences.

First off, diesel is definitely the way to go. Your fuel mileage will be more than double a gas powertrain and it will have much more power than the smaller V8s. If you have to go gas the V10 Ford is the only way to go, but your gas mileage will be a killer.

I'm not sure what the weight of those trailers are, so you might be able to get away with a 3/4 ton. Chances are you'll have to get a 1 ton+ truck. From there you have two choices, singles or dually. A single rear wheel pickup will fare better off-road and in slippery conditions. However, a dually offers the security of an extra set of rear tires supporting your load (which is better if a tires blows out). You could also remove one set of tires if need be, just to get you out. Therefore, I personally would look at a dually. However, that's up to you. The dually trucks are larger, wider, and harder to maneuver. If you are going to use the truck for a daily driver the single rear wheel style is more livable.

As far as the current diesel trucks go, they are all very good, but they have their own quirks. Ford and Dodge both have solid front axels, which makes for a stronger drive train (and better off-road). However, Chevy/GMC with its IFS makes for a better riding and handling truck. Engine wise, the cummins (in the Dodge) is hard to beat since it's the easiest of the three to work on and its inline-6 design is very reliable. The Duramax/Allison combo is also hard to beat, a very powerful stock towing combo. Finally, the new Ford diesel is good with plenty of power, but difficult to work on. The dealers have actually learned how to remove the cab in about a half hour in order to work on the engine, since it's much easier than working with the cab on.

Interior wise, Chevy and Ford seem to be the best (the King Ranch Ford interior is especially neat). Also, the new Ford F450 is a towing monster with the 4.88 rear, however fuel mileage will drop like a stone. Also, I'm not sure if you want a manual transmission or not, but if you do you can only get that on Ford and Dodge. Dodge is also the only one that comes with a built in exhaust brake. It's a flapper style (not a jake, which is better), but it's still a nice thing to have when you are moving a lot of weight.

All in all, my personal favorites with new trucks are the GMC Sierra with the Duramax/Allison and the Ford F450 with the heavy tow package (and King Ranch package). The GMC is quick, will tow a big load with ease, and is very comfortable and even somewhat livable for a daily driver. The Ford is just amazing in it's towing ability and is as tough as you can get in a normal style pickup. If I was looking for a 1 ton truck with a manual transmission then I would go Dodge over Ford (this is also what I would buy for a fleet truck).

With that said, you still have to try them all out and see what you like best. They're all good enough that there really isn't any reason to pick one you don't like driving over one you do.

If you have any questions on trucks let me know, I've darn near driven them all and worked on quite a few.

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#103779 - 08/28/07 05:15 AM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: OldBaldGuy]
GarlyDog Offline

Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 776
Loc: The People's Republic of IL
Our bug out & pleasure RV is a Ford F350 Diesel and 35ft 5th wheel trailer.

It is easy to forget that we are pulling it on flat ground.

So far we have gone up and over hills just fine...I-65 through the Smoky Mountains. Never had it to the Rockies, but I think it would do OK. I have run up some fairly steep grades in the Smokies, off-interstate, with no trouble. Coming down is what scares me, but the integrated tow braking in our truck has worked great so far.

Where I run into trouble is sharp and immediate change in grade. I have bumper-dragged the trailer more than once in this circumstance.

It seems like the truck would rip the trailer in half if the trailer ever got stuck. I haven't had shortage of power yet. However, it's a fuel pig, getting around 13 MPG while hauling.

After doing the math on our RV's power requirements, we went with a Honda EU3000 generator. It runs everything just fine, including the RV A/C and is surprisingly-quiet.

Eventually I will install a permanent cutover circuit in the RV. For now, I just connect the generator to the trailer using it's shore power cord.

Bottom line, for me, the 5th wheel seemed far less expensive than a comparably sized motorhome initially and long term. Trailers can be as luxurious as motorhomes but with a 5th wheel, you get a great big separate truck that you can use to do other fun things, like haul huge limbs from fallen trees.

I have plenty of uses for the truck by itself, which also includes running errands after we set up camp.








Edited by GarlyDog (08/28/07 05:21 AM)
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#103806 - 08/28/07 01:38 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: Paul810]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
At the moment, a Chevy 2500HD is at the top of our list, primarily for its transmission, but it has one failing. We really want an extended cab, 4WD, with a long bed, and the max tlr weight for that vehicle is 13,400. The fifthwheel we are looking at has a GVRW of 13,840 and a pin weight of 1840. I know that we are only talking 440 pounds over the max rated weight for the P/U. I am sure that it could handle that extra weight just fine, but I also know that if there is a problem with the P/U and Chevy found out what we were towing, they would void the warranty. I have seen that done in the past (luckily not to me). If we go to the short bed, it can handle a tlr weight of 14,300. But it has that short bed, which means less cargo space, and the need for a sliding fifth wheel, to prevent the front corners of the tlr smacking the cab of the P/U in a tight turn. We have considered, and are still considering, the 3500HD, but the dealer is trying to talk us out of that, stating that the 3500 is a REALLY rough riding beast. If we go that route, we will probably skip the duals.

We are going to check out Dodge, only because I just heard that they now have a lifetime (of the original owner) powertrain warranty. Auto trans, I got tired of manual transmissions long ago (unless you are talking something hot, low slung, and sporty)

We are not looking too hard at Ford, primarily because I have heard from more than one person that they are having nothing but trouble with their engines since they added a second turbo to help increase power after they had to add the cat converter.

Decisions decisions...
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OBG

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#103822 - 08/28/07 03:59 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Paul810 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Originally Posted By: OldBaldGuy

Decisions decisions...


smile

The Dodge lifetime warranty does not apply to diesels, high performance vehicles (SRT), or fleet vehicles. Therefore, if you get a diesel ram you still get only the 3/36,000 warranty, unless you buy an extended warranty.

Personally, for a ~14,000 load I would look at the 3500. It's better to have a vehicle that can handle more than what you're hauling than one that is overloaded, even a little. It will be noticeably more stable and comfortable to tow with the larger truck.

Even so, definitely drive both the 2500 and the 3500. Don't let the dealer talk you into something without trying out the alternatives.

As far as the Ford goes, they had problems with the regeneration process (it would shoot flames out the exhaust). This was caused by a combination of bad injectors and a computer error. It has since been rectified (personally though, I believe the bad injectors came from people trying to use low sulfur diesel in an engine that requires ultra low sulfur). It doesn't matter which diesel you go with as they now all have a diesel particulate filter, that's part of the new 2007 emissions. New technology needs a little teething time.

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#103824 - 08/28/07 04:07 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: Paul810]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5338
Loc: SOCAL
Doesn't Cummins warranty the engine for 100K miles?
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Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, whats your point??

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#103830 - 08/28/07 04:48 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: ]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
I am not a real big fan of law suits, but in that case I believe I would sue the pants off of the dealer...
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OBG

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#103831 - 08/28/07 04:50 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: Paul810]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...The Dodge lifetime warranty does not apply to diesels..."

Thanks, you just saved us a trip to the Dodge dealer.

We are really leaning toward the 2500HD short bed, unless the dealer can give us one heck of a deal on the 3500. Money is tight for us, thanks to my ex wife...
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OBG

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#103860 - 08/28/07 09:35 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: Russ]
Paul810 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
Originally Posted By: RAS
Doesn't Cummins warranty the engine for 100K miles?


Yes, the engine itself only. However, there is a $100 deductable on the engine after 3/36.

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#103871 - 08/28/07 11:02 PM Re: Bug out RV... [Re: OldBaldGuy]
RayW Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/06/01
Posts: 563
Loc: Orlando, FL
OBG, after you spend all of your retirement money on a truck, save up for one of these,

http://tinyurl.com/2nv6mq

Just "tuned" a friends 06 dodge cummins, it is hard to believe what a difference it made in the git up and go department. It will make your right foot happy, just keep your eye out for those blue light specials or you will be meeting a fellow HP Officer.

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