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Old 02-19-2012, 01:26 AM   #1
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will a CHEVY gas engine work on a 3500HD

I am looking at using a GMC Denali or Chevy Siverado 3500 HD dually to carry a camper. Camper is still up in the air but the ones that I am looking at will put me into the 5500 payload area. The GM 4x4 trucks (dually) have a payload of 5000 with the crew cab and a Duramax. That would not cut it so I dropped the 4x4 and that got me up to around 5400. That would work, barely, but that assumes that I run the water tanks low, use 1 battery , only fill 1 LP tank, do not buy an A/C, truck ladder or rack, or awning. I would like to have some of these other options. If I drop the desiel and go with the gas engine that will give me just over 6000 pounds payload, which would solve all my problems. But I have never owned a pickup or a camper before and do not have a clue how much difference the deisel will make. I know about the deisel's much higher touque and better gas milage, etc but will I have any problems carrying a 5500- 5900 pound camper total payload with the gas engine on the 3500 Dually? I live out west and will be dealing with mountain passes and 6 percent grades. Thanks

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Old 02-19-2012, 06:38 AM   #2
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The diesel would be a better truck in terms of reliability and mileage.
I have owned a Ford F350 diesel crew cab dually 4WD with camper for 20 years. Recently went to a Class A because of the lack of room in a camper.
My camper was 11ft. 6 inches. You are looking at the right things to make a decision, but there is more to consider. It's not just the total weight of the camper that's going to be an issue, but where the weight is centered on the truck. A crew cab moves the center of gravity of the camper 4 ft. back from where it would be with a standard cab pickup. That's a big deal, because almost all that weight will be over the rear axle instead of being shared with the front wheels. Check out how much of that weight you will have on the rear axle vs. the amount it will carry and the max tire load. I ended up putting air bags on the rear of mine as well as anti-sway bar and expensive Michelin tires to cut down on the blowouts I was getting. Also, a large camper is not too easy to remove and re-load. If your camper is longer than the bed, also consider whether you will tow with it. A longer-than-the-bed camper may force you to do additional modifications to the camper/truck hitch setup to tow safely. Also, don't believe what the dealers tell you...figure it out yourself like you are doing now. You are on the right track.

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Old 02-19-2012, 09:30 AM   #3
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New truck

Go for the dually 4x4 diesel , almost everyone is somewhat over loaded, keep that in mind when on the road.
Joe Myers (Retired) GOD Bless Our Troops.
2000 Dodge 3500 CTD DRW 4x4 6 Spd Man. 3.54
2003 Lance 1121 1999 Taco 4x4 Toad V6 5 Spd
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:29 PM   #4
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We have owned a total of four truck campers, and yes technically many of the larger units do overload available trucks. In real life, the HD 3500 will carry any TC made. If you are going to buy a large heavy TC plan on adding Super Springs or some equivalant overload spring to maintain the truck level from front to rear.The frame of a HD 3500 is very stout, and you will not have issues with that part of it. The increased weight of a 4x4 is mostly due to the front axle and the transfer case, which makes the truck nose heavy. The diesel engine adds weight, however the extra weight is also over the front axle. Having a nose heavy truck will help counter balance the extra weight on the rear axle from the camper. Look at the Northern Lite TC. The largest unit is a 10.6, and the units are made like a boat hull. The two halves are fastened together around the belt line and it makes for a trouble free/leak free unit. Since it is a composite construction, the units are lighter then some units of the same size with conventional construction. We hauled a 12 foot Franklin camper on a 88 Chevy crewcab dually 4x4 for several years. The camper had a generator, and everything else one could think to add onto it. The truck did well with it, although one could make the front wheels almost jump off of the pavement under the right circumstances. The trucks of that vintage had a GVW of 9500 lbs, a dry weight of 6700 lbs, and the camper weighed 3300 lbs dry. Add people, fuel, water, food, clothing and other incidentials and the total weight ended up around 11K easy.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:50 PM   #5
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2500 Duramax towing

My off shore boat weighed 12000 with trailer, granted I did not pull it but about 150 mi round trip, but the duramax 2500 did a great job.
George & Kathryn Phillips
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:09 PM   #6
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You are going to have to stop that rig too. Sometimes very quickly. Will it do it?
Gas engines don't offer the compression braking that diesels do.
A diesel will need an air brake.
My Uncle put a camper on a pickup and after one panic brake he sold it and went back to a TT.
I never understood the want or use of a camper.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:01 AM   #7
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A HD 3500 Duramax 4x4 is one very heavy duty truck. If you look at the specs on those trucks they are close to a two-ton truck. Honestly, you are not going to have any problems hauling a large loaded truck camper. A friend of mine hauls a Lance 1190 on a Ford F-350, and has traveled all over the US with it. It starts off as fast as you will want it to. The brakes are more than adaquate to stop the truck, camper, and additional gear. We live in the mountains so we give brakes a workout on a daily basis. The latest GM HD 3500 is a heavier duty truck than an F-350 is. Many of them are hauling 40 foot goose neck car trailers and horse trailers that often weigh 30 to 35K gross. Most Class C motorhomes are built on a one ton rated chassis, utilizing the same brakes, engines and axles as a one ton truck. Many of the Class A's are also built on one ton chassis. The Workhorse chassis is the old Chevy P-30 chassis which the design was borrowed from the chassis design for on ton step vans. A whole bunch of large Class A's are rolling around on those chassis. As for the attraction to a truck camper, if one needs a pick-up and wants a camper, one vehicle can do two jobs. The camper can easily be unloaded at the campsite, and the truck is available to drive. One can tow a boat or trailer behind a truck and camper. When you replace your truck or camper, you don't have to replace both units at the same time. Often a well cared for well built camper can out outlast two or three trucks. There are plenty of valid reasons to choose a truck and truck camper. I have a 2002 F-350 Crewcab dually 4x4 with the 7.3 Liter Powerstroke. It has a six speed stick shift and 4:10 gears. I bought the truck new in 2002 and it is not a daily driver. It is stored in the garage and used for towing and hauling. The truck looks and runs like brand new and currently has 43K miles on it. It has been shopped once for a brake job on the front axle, we replaced the OEM batteries last year, and the OEM tires 2 years ago. Very few problems for a truck that is always loaded. We used to tow our 36 foot HRC Imperial 5th wheel with the truck, however we sold the camper a few years back and have not replaced it. We tow an enclosed Pace Shadow car trailer/toy hauler that we haul our classic car to shows in. We tow our 22 foot boat to lakes around the southeast when we camp and boat. I have a 12,500 GVW dump trailer that I tow to haul gravel, and dirt for road maintenance or building materials for repairs and maintenance on my rental properties. We will probably end up with a truck camper, and I am leaning towards the Northern Lite due to the light weight and superior construction of those units. We can haul a TC and still tow our classic car, or our boat, which ever we want to use at the time. All the time, I am still only maintaining one truck to do everything. A truck camper can be off loaded from the truck, lowered onto a dolly and rolled into a garage for storage. You can't do that with most RV's.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:42 AM   #8
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We ran across a fellow with a 37' Mobile Suite last year towing with a 1 ton Chevy dually wit the 8.1L gas engine. He said he was luck to get 6 mpg on the road with the trailer. Solo he got 10mpg. He wished he had bought the diesel.

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Old 02-24-2012, 07:37 PM   #9
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like everything else, it depends. when I bought my 2500HD in 2001, GM offered no discounts for the diesels - which were a $5000 option. I got more than $2K off the gasser, so $7K delta over a diesel.

I have a spreadsheet that has entries for costs, empty MPG, towing MPG, gas prices, diesel prices, and percent of the time towing versus not towing. It spits out the break even mile point.

At the 2002 differences between gas and diesel the break even point was 125,000 miles - not including maintenance. I'm not there yet. I'll hit it right about the time I decide to get a new truck in a couple years.

In 1993, when a friend of mine was trying to decide on a gas Dodge vs a diesel, the break even number was 250,000 miles.

I get 8-9 around town and 11 highway, 7 towing (less if it's really, really hot). but that's with 4WD and 4:11 gears - the low gears really make it a towing monster, and one of my friends with a Duramax chipped his truck to get the performance mine has. Guess what - his mileage dropped off almost to my level.

With the 3:73s and no 4WD (another acquaintance has this set-up) he's getting 12 around town and 15 highway.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:50 PM   #10
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I love my Powerstroke 7.3L, but don't care much for the later Powerstroke 6.0engines. The current truck is a tow monster, and will pull a 15K trailer up an 8% grade at 45 MPH. If I were buying a new truck now the Duramax would be my first choice. My previous tow vehicle, the 88 had a 502 GM towing engine in it. With an HD clutch, an SM-465 fourspeed, a US Gear two speed spliter, 4x4 and 4:10 gears it did not tow as well as the 7.3 Powerstroke does. The old truck would pull the same trailer on the same grade at 28 MPH. The 7.3 just has a lot more torque. As for costs of ownership when we bought the truck new on 02, the costs of ownership between a V-10 gas and a Powerstoke was 80K miles, however the V-10 did not pull as well as the 7.3. The Duramax has more torque yet, and will present some impressive towing ability. My truck currently has 43K miles on it, so sometime around 2021 or 2022 I should hit the break-even point of ownership. My truck will give a constant 20 MPG on the highway at 65 MPH. At 75 MPH the mileage drops to 18 MPG. Towing our 36 foot 5th wheel one could count on 15 MPG highway and 12 MPG in the mountains like on the Blueridge Parkway. Towing the race car trailer it stays at 15 to 16 MPG, and will average 16 MPG with the 22 foot boat which weighs 5100 on the trailer dry. Diesels with stick shift transmissions give about 2-3 MPG better than the same setup with an automatic. The old truck got 10 MPG empty and 5-7 loaded.

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