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Old 01-26-2014, 01:28 PM   #1
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Need advice/input 1st post

Hello all,

My wife and I are not new to RVing but about to make the leap into full time RVing, I have had every type of camper except popup and a 5th wheel, currently have 34' Bounder Class A motorhome. But for full time use I feel a 5th wheel would be best choice and I already own a 1 ton dually. In looking at 5vers we seem to be drawn to 35' & longer. Plan is to buy used camper.

Question on my truck is it is an older model, 1997 Chevy silverado, but has a new Jasper long block 454 and a new tranny both with 100,000 mile warranties. This was used in my business and tranny went out 1st and then 2 months later motor went out. So I was darned if I do & darned if don't. Truck is nice and clean and I know what I have. Realize a diesel might be better choice but I own this one free & clear.

I was in construction business and had a bumper pull dump trailer that we regularly had 12-14k of debris in and had to go up a pretty decent small mountain to the landfill, truck performed great

We are on a pretty tight budget due to some health problems, advice on using this truck and what size camper needed for full time would be appreciated. We have a 2008 Honda Fit that will probably be driven while traveling to be our run around vehicle so truck would see limited use.

Thanks in advance.
Randy
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Old 01-26-2014, 01:28 PM   #2
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Good luck with your search.
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Old 01-26-2014, 02:00 PM   #3
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Assuming that you will sell A class to get 5th wheel, I don't know the value on your A class or the 5ver you want, hope you can do what you want since you mentioned a budget. Another consideration is - the Honda will have to be driven separately to get it where you go. That will add to the fuel bill. Use the dually as transportation once you get there and unhook.

If I had the A class already, I'd use it and get a dolly or trailer or check to see if it could be towed 4 wheels down behind the motorhome.

Good luck on your research.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Q View Post
...advice on using this truck and what size camper needed for full time would be appreciated.
That truck will be fine for towing an RV trailer with GVWR up to about 12,500 pounds. You already know the awful gas mileage that 454 gets, so that won't be any news to you. Newer trucks can tow a lot heavier trailer without being overloaded but your '97 has a "tow rating" of only 12,500 pounds. That's a medium-size fifth wheel or a large travel trailer (TT).

Most full timers would agree you want the biggest trailer you can safely tow. So look for a trailer with a GVWR of 12,500 or less, that has a floor plan you can live with. Ideally, you want provisions to include a washer/dryer in the RV, and you want a "4-seasons" RV that's insulated for wintertime residence. But you may not be able to get the ideal full-timer's RV and stay under the 12,500 pounds weight limit.

If you promise to always spend the coldest months of the winter with the "snowbirds" on the Gulf coast or along the Mexican border, then you can get by with a 3-seasons RV. Those are lighter weight and cost less than the typical full-timer 4-seasons RV.

And you don't have to have a washer/dryer in the RV. Most RV parks have laundry facilities.

For 3-seasons RV 5ers, look at Keystone Sprinter Wide Body fifth wheel. This is the original Sprinter. I bought a new one in 2000 and one of our daughters is full-timing in it now, 14 years later. We've put at least 100,000 miles on that trailer over the years, visiting all parts of the lower 48.

Check out the current model 296 FWRLS (FWRLS = fifth wheel rear living space). 33'10" long with GVWR of 12,100 pounds. Almost perfect match for your tow vehicle if you don't require washer/dryer provisions or 4-seasons insulation.
Sprinter Wide Body

The most popular "affordable" full-timers' 4-seasons RV trailers are Artic Fox by Northwood. They make both TTs and 5ers.

One Artic Fox that meets your weight requirements is the Artic Fox 32A travel trailer, with GVWR of 10,400 pounds. It is about a 30' long box plus another 4' for tongue and rear bumper, total 34'4" long. Hook that one up with a ProPride hitch and it will tow as good as any 5er.
Northwood Manufacturing: Arctic Fox Floorplan

Some of the bigger Artic Fox 5ers have a washer/dryer provision, but all of the Artic Fox 5ers are too heavy for your tow vehicle.
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Old 01-26-2014, 09:11 PM   #5
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Thanks Smoky,
It was an eye opener on actual towing capacity for my model truck I made the stupid assumption that all duallys were basically equal. I see where major changes were made in the 2000 time frame, upgrading towing abilities. To add to original info: yes we plan to sell existing class A, reason we do not want to use it is that it has no slide outs and that seems to be a huge help if you are full time RVing. Orinal idea of driving the Fit was due to the horrible gas mileage of the 454. New plan appears to include a upgraded truck, found a pkg deal on a 2008 35' Keystone and a 2001 f350 dually with 7.3 diesel, I currently own a 2002 E350 van with 7.3 and everybody I have talked to seems to think it is best motor Ford made. Opinions??
I had felt keeping the Chevy was only option as few to none would pay what I have in motor and tranny (7500.00) but I will just have to eat the loss.

This 2001 F350 with 7.3 I found owner said they get 17mpg towing, that seems high? Any feedback appreciated. If I go this route then we sell the 08 Fit and 97 Chevy 3500 along with 93 Bounder class A.

Any one have any input on buying insurance sale RV's?

Thanks in advance
Randy
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:19 PM   #6
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If you do get a ford, get the 7.3L, and check for common problems with them. They are very reliable. But no engine is indestructable at that age and mileage. The 6.0 diesel motor is a total failure, i forget what year they went to 6.0, but definitely don't get that, nothing but problems.

I've towed plenty with the 7.3L, it's a good towing engine, but it's nothing compared to today's modern engines, and it was always loud. Very loud, your DW might not like it on long trips.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:28 PM   #7
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We had a Ford F-350 with the 7.3 and used to tow our 31' snowbird LS with it for many miles. We NEVER got 17 MPG even when not towing. But we did get over 10 which was better than our old gasser(460) used to get, when towing.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Q View Post
New plan appears to include a upgraded truck, found a pkg deal on a 2008 35' Keystone and a 2001 f350 dually with 7.3 diesel, ...
2001 f350 dually with 7.3 diesel has GCWR of 20,000 pounds. The wet and loaded truck will gross about 8,500 before you tie onto the 5er, so the max 5er weight you want is 11,500 GVWR.

Quote:
Opinions??
Great engine. Easy to make it better with exhaust, intake, and a towing tune. Lots of folks sell turbo-back performance exhaust systems for that truck. Mine was a Magnaflow.

If you can still get it, you want the aftermarket Ford Severe duty air induction system (AIS) for 7.3L diesel. Yes, I had that too.
Ford AIS Severe Duty Intake System 98.5-03 7.3L Powerstroke FA-1759

And even though you'll be within the weight limits if you keep the weight of the trailer to under 11,500 pounds, the tranny will downshift for every little bump in the road. No fun. So you can fix that with a "towing tune" that adds about 80 horses of power without decreasing longevity or reliability of the engine. I got mine from:
Diesel tuning products for Ford PowerStroke

The 4R100 automagic tranny that comes with the 7.3L is good for about 100,000 miles, then it usually needs replaced or a complete overhaul. There are some steps you can take to prolong tranny life:

1. Run Mobil 1 ATF, and change it every 30,000 miles using Mark Kolvasky's procedures.
Changing ATF: 7.3L PowerStroke Engine and 4R100 Automatic Transmission. - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com

2. Install a tranny temp gauge with the sender in the port on the driver's side of the tranny, then never allow more than 225 tranny temp.

3. Replace the oil-to-air (OTA) tranny cooler with the bigger one from a SuperDuty 6.0L.

The torque converter will probably be the first tranny problem. If you replace the torque converter with an OEM converter at the first sign of racket from the torque converter, your tranny will last much longer between overhauls.

Cost effective way to overhaul the tranny is to have your Ford dealer install a Ford factory rebuilt 4R100 tranny and new torque converter. About $2500. Even better is to have the dealer install a Ford factory rebuilt HD4R100 tranny and torque converter. About $3500, but it should last twice long as the regular tranny. Or do what I did - drive to the Ozarks and have Bryan's Truck Shop (BTS) do a complete "bulletproof" rebuild of your tranny. About $4,500, but you'll never have to pay for another overhaul of that tranny/torque converter.
E4OD | 4R100 | 5R110 Ford Diesel Powerstroke Transmissions

Quote:
This 2001 F350 with 7.3 I found owner said they get 17mpg towing, that seems high? Any feedback appreciated.
That's hogwash. My '99.5 got 16 MPG when unloaded on only one tankful over 197,000 miles. Usual unloaded MPG was about 14 to 15. Towing 8,000 pounds, MPG depended on speed and terrain and wind direction. Best was a hair over 12 MPG at 62 MPH on the plains gradually losing altitude with a slight tailwind. Worst was a hair under 8 MPG. You soon learn to cruise at 62 MPH and no faster unless you enjoy buying diesel.
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:57 PM   #9
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If you do get a ford, get the 7.3L, and check for common problems with them. They are very reliable. But no engine is indestructable at that age and mileage. The 6.0 diesel motor is a total failure, i forget what year they went to 6.0, but definitely don't get that, nothing but problems.

I've towed plenty with the 7.3L, it's a good towing engine, but it's nothing compared to today's modern engines, and it was always loud. Very loud, your DW might not like it on long trips.
Ok when you say todays modern engines which ones specifically are you referring to ? I'm not hung up on a brand just voiced my experience with the 7.3 in my work van. Please keep in mind I don't want to buy new, so lets talk about modern engines from say 2006 and newer.
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Old 01-28-2014, 07:56 AM   #10
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Ok when you say todays modern engines which ones specifically are you referring to ? I'm not hung up on a brand just voiced my experience with the 7.3 in my work van. Please keep in mind I don't want to buy new, so lets talk about modern engines from say 2006 and newer.
Well, it's all sort of pros and cons in regards to refinement(noise), power, and reliability. Heavy duty trucks, really didn't give you all 3 until the last few years, say 2011+.

In Jan 2007, new EPA emissions regulations started. So each brand had to launch their next generation engine. Ram(cummins) released the 6.7L, Ford(Navistar) released the 6.4L, and Chevy released the new duramax 6.6L. In order to meet emissions, manufacturers had to adopt 32bit ecu controllers, not only did this help with emissions, but more refined control over timing parameters also made the combustion far more efficient, far far quieter, and produces more horsepower and torque. The downfall is that they still needed to add a DPF(Diesel Particulate Filter) into the exhaust system. This filter basically catched the soot and particles, then every so often has a fuel injector that pumps into diesel fuel into the filter which burns out the particulates like cleaning off a BBQ grill. The DPF is a restriction which the ECu takes you 2 steps forward, this takes you one step back in efficiency. Overall, the mpg drops a little because of the DPF.

Overall these next generation engines are not as reliable as the 7.3L, or the 5.9L cummins, or pre 2007 6.6L duramax. But many owners have had relatively good reliability with them, some with no problems at all. Our 2008 Ford service truck has been super reliable, with over 150k miles on it now. Our 2010 Ram 6.7L's have also been relatively reliable, no powertrain issues, just a few nitpicky issues with the new interior. But i do see alot of people with issues on the forums, so i'll leave you with that. I think alot of the issues are related to the DPF filter being a restriction in the exhaust. Our service trucks see a lot of highway driving, so they get fully up to temp and go through their regen cycles(burns out DPF) regularly. Usually trips are no less than 30 minutes. Diesel engines do not like short trips.

As for performance, they all totally outclass the pre-2007 engines, especially this year, they all make 800-850ft-lbs of torque with around 400hp. It's just totally rediculous for anything a 2500 would want to tow.

As for refinement, the next gen engines are really really quiet. They are no louder than a gasoline 4cylinder economy car. The cummins has a little bit of a growl to it, but it sounds good. Cruising on the highway, they are silent.

I understand you are retired and no longer have a large income coming in, so i wouldn't want payments either. The last generation of the 5.9L cummins is probably what i would go for, that's the 2006-2007 ram pickups. Still a louder engine, but not as bad as the 7.3L.
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:31 AM   #11
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Ok when you say todays modern engines which ones specifically are you referring to ?
In a Ford, I wouldn't want a diesel before the 2011 model year. Before 2011, all so-called Ford diesels were made by International with a lot of tweaks by Ford engineers. The 6.0 before 2008 was trouble prone. The 6.4 from 2008 thru 2010 was thirsty. Beginning for the 2011 model year, Ford produced their own 6.7L diesel engines. They did an outstanding job, considering all the EPA regulations they had to meet. All engines in pickups whether Ram, GM or Ford will have at least a few nit-noid problems, but overall the 6.7L is an outstanding success.

If a 2011 is still above your budget, then the 2008-2010 6.4 is a good engine, just thirsty. So plan on buying more diesel than you would with a newer engine, but other than MPG you will probably be happier than a pig is a slop trough.

If you have to go back to 2006 or 2007, the Ford 6.0L PowerStroke engine can be made reliable with a few mods. Get on the 6.0L forum on TheDieslStop to find out what is involved. Since the average pickup buyer is gun-shy of the 6.0L, demand is low and they are relatively cheap, so you can probably afford the tweaks required to make them reliable.
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Old 02-12-2014, 05:47 PM   #12
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Thanks for input

I am definitely going with a 5vr, as I had a real bad experience with a bumper pull in 2000, it was a 27' had all the weight distribution hitch/sway control and we had been from Al to Maine and out to west coast Oregon/California with no problem. Then in a 40 mile relocation after moving to the lake I had both tires on one side blow out on trailer and it started driving the truck, ended up rolling numerous times and destroyed truck and trailer and I was Blessed to walk away alive. State Trooper called for 2 roll backs 2 dump trucks and a front end loader. We had a 4 lane state highway blocked for 4 hrs with the cleanup.

With all that said I am sold on 5th wheel campers, one thing that puzzles me is that there were lots of big 5vrs in mid to late 90's just looked at a 96 King of the Road 38' long with weight of 14,700, My 97 dually would have been one of the most common tow vehicles in that time frame. Were folks just uneducated about how overweight they were? I seem to be missing something in the more "modern" trucks. After the 7.3 Ford has been a total failure in the diesel line until this last engine and that new of a truck is out of our budget, the Dodge folks brag on the Cummins but trash the truck body, interior & comfort. Chevy does not even seem to be in discussion. Not trying to start a brand war, just talking about the research i have done.

On the 5th wheel campers, anyone have experience with repo's or insurance sell's?

Thanks again in advance.
Randy
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