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Old 01-10-2016, 03:58 AM   #1
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Smile Trying to buy used camper/truck -- but which first?

HI, all --

My husband and I are looking to upgrade from a pop-up camper and Kia SUV to a truck with slide-in camper.
Our total budget for both is $25K, max. (preferably $20K)

Our plan is to some weekend/extended (3 week) summer vacations for a few years, and then spend 1-2 years traveling starting in 2020.

But, we are very confused on how to go about this -- but assume we need the truck first, otherwise we will have no way to GET the camper we want.

Having looked around, I think we are interested in a Lance 1030, because we want:
  • Room for 3+ people (2 adults, a kid and 2 dogs)
  • A North-South bed
  • Window on the cab over bed area (I'm claustrophobic!)
  • No slide-outs so we can do some light off-roading without having a dually
  • A non-dually club cab (the 4-door one) diesel pick-up (like a Ford 350 or its Chevy/GMC equivalent)

  • Does this combo work with an extended-cab or regular cab? How to tell? I've looked everywhere and can't seem to figure it out. Lance says the trailer length is 10'11", which seems to be longer than any truck cab I can find
  • What other kinds of things would we be looking for in a truck besides the engine/diesel aspects?
  • What would we need to upgrade on a truck like this to accommodate the kind of camper we're looking for under the conditions we're looking for?

I really, really appreciate any insight or direction you all can give!

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Old 01-10-2016, 06:41 AM   #2
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Looks to me based on a quick peek at Truck/RV Trader you're looking at 10 to 15 year old equipment based on your budget of $25k max. Add that to the fact you plan to do extensive traveling in another 4 or 5 years. So hopefully you and your husband are mechanically inclined. I'd think Lance would be able to tell you what specific trucks their campers fit.

Diesel trucks are great, but ones in good shape are like gold. And while we're all enjoying $2/gallon diesel these days, let's not forget it was nearly twice that price not so long ago. Not a big deal for me with my DP motor home since I'm a weekend warrior for the most part, but I've talked to people with diesel trucks as their everyday drivers and it cost them a fortune to run when diesel was almost $5/gal.

Interesting you mention being a bit claustrophobic. 2 adults, a kid and a dog in a truck camper sounds pretty cozy. Not knocking you're desire for a truck camper, I've always thought I might like to try one. But there didn't seem to be any that fit my Tundra.

Good luck, let us know what you find

2015 Fleetwood Discovery 40G
2014 CRV w/EZ Tow
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:53 AM   #3
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1030 Lance is a great choice.I think u would really be better off in a dually.I have driven a few campers like this on 3/4 ton trucks with single tires ,feels very unstable. I have had 2 Lance campers and 1 caribou all on crewcab Ford F -350 s ( 1 ton ) with added air bags.
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:56 AM   #4
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Lance does make campers for 6 foot box and 8 foot.8 ft is much easier to find. 1030 will hang past end of truck about 2 feet
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:05 AM   #5
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Are you sure you wouldn't want to consider something like this ? Fits your budget, and has a WHOLE LOT more room when parked, and way more comfortable while driving too ! The passenger can easily go to the bathroom without the driver having to pull off the road first !

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Old 01-10-2016, 10:41 AM   #6
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There is no good answer, only compromises.

We have a used 8' 10" Adventurer 810 that we bought for mostly for hunting. We have a 20' TT also. Great floorplan for a camper, lots of windows, larger cab over side windows. Basement, North-South, Wet Bath . On my 1ton Dodge longbox quad cab single I would say I'm at my comfortable max. In fact I added thicker bump stops for the overloads and a heavy sway bar. It'll work on gravel logging roads but not trails. Campers don't play well with trees.

Adventurer still makes that basic model and it's used in a big Canadian rental fleet. You could buy both the truck and camper as ex rentals. And at low Canadian dollars. Check out Fraserway.
adventure before dementia
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Old 01-10-2016, 11:04 AM   #7
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We had a Lance Camper for years and they were (and still are) the top of the line slide in camper. We did a lot of Desert camping, so I hope the off roading you are talking about are the graded type Desert type trails/logging roads used by the powerline companies ect. That is about all you will be able to handle without damaging your truck or camper.

We thought we were in the lap of luxury camping in our camper, it had everything you could want, and we really enjoyed years of camping in it. It wasn't until we moved up to the Class A MH when we realized how uncomfortable we were being crammed into the Camper. Sleeping is much more comfortable and you don't get that claustrophobic feeling. If you can afford the Class A MH(like one shown in the previous post) or a Class C that may be the better way to go, and cheaper in the long run. You won't need to use a truck as your daily driver, and when traveling can always tow a small car behind your MH.
Mike & Charlotte
2014 Newmar Canyon Star 3610
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Old 01-10-2016, 12:23 PM   #8
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"There is no good answer, only compromises."

I would second that, and many are only learned through experience. I say that because we're all different and most of what you will get are from our prospective, basically opinions.

I can only give you our story, which in many ways mirrors what I think you want to do. Looking back I don't think I would want to change it. Of course, with more money we would have had a diesel pusher (DP) and who knows what else the whole time, but we were on a budget.

Our first camper, after tents canopies, and an old tent trailer, was a '72 11.5' Security we bought in '78. The truck was a 3/4 ton 2WD GMC from about the same era. We used that setup for several years for a lot of local trips and one from OR to WV and back. Mileage was about 9 mpg.

By about '81 I was not happy with the GMC, so I bought a '69 F-250 4WD Ford and installed a Perkins 6-354 diesel and transmissions to provide gearing needed to compliment the engine. We used that truck with the Security camper until '93 with many coast to coast trips all over the US during the summer and boondocking trips for fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. That TC combo averaged 15 mpg and 18-22 mpg when empty. We put in excess of 200k miles on the TC. Our three kids also traveled with us from the '70s until they were old enough to have Summer jobs or other activities and could take care of themselves.

In '93 we were looking at retirement in a few years and decided we would like a newer RV of some kind. We discussed everything that was available, looked at a lot of them, and finally decided on a '92 11.5 Caribou and '89 W250 Dodge Cummins, because that combination met our needs better than anything else available, and it was affordable to use. Mileage with it is about the same as the Ford diesel conversion, with a little more power. We have also put in excess of 200k miles on that combo.

When we returned from our trip across the US and back last Summer my wife said, if we are going to continue to take long distance trips we need something that rides better, has a bed we don't have to climb up into, and something with easier access to the camper. We still have the TC, but we bought a '93 26' 454 powered Flair MH for our trip across the US next summer. When we return we will decide which of the two we will keep.

Personally, I would not consider a camper smaller than 11.5 (approx.) because they are not very big to begin with and they seem to shrink in proportion to the continuous amount of time spent in them. I also searched out the largest fresh water and holding tanks I could find along with a built in generator and air conditioner. I would also have a diesel powered 4WD truck because they will deliver around 5 or more mpg than their their gasoline powered counterparts and will last much longer. The down side is that they do cost more when they break. Good maintenance is key to that issue. All our trucks have been single rear wheel trucks because after using a few dually trucks at work I didn't like them for off roading. We never had a problem with ours, although I would not dispute the safety issue. For most of the time we had the Caribou/Dodge combo we towed a Samurai, Tracker, or trailer with bikes. We also towed with the previous TC. Towing isn't just for MHs, and the camper will be more economical in the respect that when not needed for travel the truck can be used for other things. It will also get better fuel mileage, but will have less space inside. We get 13.5-14 mpg towing with our TC. I'm hoping (dreaming?) for 9-10 mpg with the Flair. I will say the MH has a spectacular view from the front, much better than the TC.

HTH, and good luck with the choice.

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Old 01-10-2016, 01:59 PM   #9
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I would say in answer to your question about which comes first, to my way of thinking it would be the camper, then find a truck that would match. Otherwise your camper selection could be limited by the size of the truck you have. Generally, when you agree to buy a camper it doesn't have to be removed immediately, but that would be something to discuss with the seller. Since you will be buying used, perhaps you could find a TC combo on Craigslist, or something like that?

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Old 01-10-2016, 02:01 PM   #10
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I have a SRW with a 10 1/2 Lance. Get the biggest and strongest tires that will fit your rims. I like Michelins. Add some Super Springs and Timbren overloads on the front and rear. Tow an enclosed trailer with an equalizer hitch so you won't be crowded. Diesels can be had for $15,000, probably a 6.0 or a 6.4. SRW's won't have been used exclusively for towing.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:16 AM   #11
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Long time RV'r short time on this sight....
My best advise would be to buy the truck first.
Reasoning: Initial cost , fuel cost, availability on the road, ( believe it or not , diesel can be hard to find in some places ), GVRW... This is the big one.... The gas version of the same truck will be higher, Maintenance cost ( diesel is much higher) .
Once you have acquire the truck add belly mounts then suspension / cooling and power upgrades as needed.
Now search for the slide in that not only fits the truck, but fit's your needs as well.
I will not mention brands here as I am new to the sight and don't want to ruffle any feathers.
Used RV's are a mixed bag of problems. Most will have or have had leaks.
Use your nose. If when first enter'd you smell mold or any other musty odor . Leave immediately.
If none are present , inspect under the mattress and or cushions first. Look for staining.
Then open all of the cupboards. Again look for stains.
At this point check all of the various systems for proper operation.
Walk the floor. If it feels soft, leave.....
You will have better luck buying from a private party. They have less experience hiding flaws.
Don't fall for the bells and whistles... None of the systems required for living comfortably in an RV need a computer to be functional. The computerized systems just add weight , complexity and problems down the road.
Lastly is construction:
Wood framing is an old technique. It is prone to rot and flex issues. How ever, if the rig in question has been maintained properly and stored under cover I have seen them last for decades without issues.
Aluminum framed campers are great if they are constructed correctly. The problem here is most are not.
Research will show poor welds / no welds / tech screw construction / to light of materials etc.
Personally, if I were in the market for a used slide in I'd be looking at molded fiberglass.
What ever you decide on , make sure it has a one peace roof. No seams.
Good luck and happy trails....
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:57 PM   #12
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Boxcar 1, you like gas and I like diesel which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I was wondering, since I'm going to be saddled with a gas rig this Summer, what kind of rig you have and what the fuel mileage is? Actually, I'm wondering what fuel for our 8k mile trip this Summer will cost and I have no idea what mileage to expect from the Flair. It could be something that would interest the OP too.


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Old 01-24-2016, 02:00 AM   #13
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I have more than a few trucks as I own and operate both a garage door co and automotive fabrication business.
My 2 favorite load carrying rigs are both Fords.
I have a 1996 Ford 7.3 super duty super cab 4x4. 410 gears. My go to Tow rig. CGRW 17000lbs ,17mpg average.

The rig I have used to carry the many campers I have owned is a 1995 F 350 super cab 4x4 xlt , equipped with a 460, 410 gears. GCRW 22000 lbs 12-15 mpg average.

The gas rig has a much lower service cost over the life of the rig.
Oil is changed on both rigs every 5000 miles.
Full tune ups every 30,000 miles.
Both rigs are basically the same other than engine .
Gas is 7000lb across the scales , diesel is 9000 lbs.
Same axles , frame , trans etc.
While the diesel engine will more than likely out last the 460, the running gear won't.
The 7.3 has gone through 2 transmissions ($3500 each) and one turbo $3000 in the 150,000 mile life so far.
The 460 is still on it's first trans at 110,000 miles.
Oil changes on the gas engine are less than half the cost of the diesel .
While tune ups are more on the gas.
All in all the gas truck has been a far more trouble free rig.
I love my power stroke though.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:13 PM   #14
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I've got a saying "If I wanted to watch grass grow, I would drive a gasser."

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