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Old 12-12-2015, 02:37 AM   #1
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Question Truck advice

I have been doing a fair bit of lurking and reading, and largely just confused myself, so now I pop up to ask a question.

Situation: My TT is a 26 ft, 5100 lb (dry) 2003 Keystone Outback. Within the next year or so I plan to start travel nursing, which means I'd haul the TT to wherever, park it for 1-3 months, then rinse and repeat. I'll initially start here within Florida, but eventually hope to go all over the USA. From what I understand a 1/2 ton truck WOULD pull my TT, but I will be going with a 2/3 for peace of mind.

Question: since this will be my daily driver as well, and I don't know how far I'd be driving per day (currently about 20-30 miles total per day) would a gas engine be appropriate or would a diesel be best?

I know diesels tow better, but I don't know about daily short range driving, esp. since diesel is currently more expensive than gas. Someone help a newbie out, please?

2003 Keystone Outback 26RS; Tow vehicle pending
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Old 12-12-2015, 02:53 AM   #2
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Brittany, I think you will find that stopping is a much more important issue than pulling. IMO you don't want to go all that fast when pulling anyway. The rough roads can be extremely hard on truck and trailer alike. Slowers speeds will significantly reduce the wear and tear on your equipment. Get a truck with towing capacity specifications to spare, you don't want to be right at limits if you can avoid that. I think a gasoline engine will be much less expensive and will get the job done just fine. Have fun!

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Old 12-12-2015, 06:15 AM   #3
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For pulling, a diesel can NOT be beat. For daily driving short distances I think you'd rather have a gasser. IMHO today's diesels, with all the emissions garbage on them, really want to run at operating temps for an extended period and 10-15 miles isn't going to do it.

I would look at nothing smaller than a 3/4 ton to have extra weight capacity for towing "just in case".
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:02 AM   #4
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I'd jump on a gas job without question. In your situation, weight of the trailer would be towable within spec by almost any half ton, but it comes down to duty cycle. The 3/4 ton will outlive the half ton for the most part. I'd love a diesel, but DTG173 is right, if they aren't brought up to operating temp often enough they will be problematic. That is the biggest reason I avoided them (of the dozens of other reasons) and went gas. Any of the big 3 gassers would tug that around without drama. You won't pass many gas stations when towing though. My 6.4L Ram right now averages 16 highway and about 10 in town- winter fuel and trudging through snowbanks in 4x4 sometimes. I really liked the Ford 6.2L as well but could not find one on the lot with 4.30 gearing. The 3.73 gearing in the Ford felt lame, but the 3.73 gearing in the Ram felt great. With your 26' TT- the 3.73s in either would be more than fine though. Your trailer is almost identical in size to mine, and I expect great things this season since I tugged a skid steer in a double axle dump trailer for 650km and it didn't even sweat it- even on the 7% grades coming out of the Frenchman valley.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:07 AM   #5
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If you were going to stay in a 200 mile radius I would say a 1/2 ton gas powered truck.

But if you think you may end up working in Colorado, California, then back east then a 3/4 ton truck preferably diesel as it would be an easy tow.

1/2 truck towing a (5,100 lb. dry) 6,500lb wet trailer all over the country is a difficult tow.

Look at any diesel truck 2011 or newer.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:17 AM   #6
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Thank you all, you're really giving me things to consider.

As stated, I'll definitely be going with a 3/4 (not 2/3, typo) - the 1/2 ton may PULL it, but I'm just not comfortable with the idea of being that close to limits.

Tuffr2, I'll start out short range, but I do want to eventually go west. (and North, and everywhere else.)

I'll eventually be making one long haul towing, then park the TT and make short daily drives for 2 or 3 months. Then a long haul, park, and back to short drives.
I know diesel would be best for the hauls, just not sure if the months between would justify one. Or if the long hauls would counterbalance the gasser's short trips.
2003 Keystone Outback 26RS; Tow vehicle pending
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:27 AM   #7
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It's the short daily drives for 2-3 months between that are making this a tough call. If you've never owned or towed with a diesel you won't miss the brute force power and torque. If you have, justifying a gasser for ANYTHING is difficult. I guess only you and your pocket book can decide. Overall for what you are considering, my opinion is that a diesel may do it a little more comfortably but your wallet will be lighter for it long term especially if something pops out of warranty.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:28 AM   #8
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Just so you know, diesel prices vs. gas prices varies greatly around the country. You also should know that you are buying much more energy per gallon of diesel. You cannot compare apples and oranges. The real reason diesel engines exist is the greater fuel mileage.

Yes, diesel engines take longer to get to operating temperature, due to the fact that there is no throttle, so very short trips are somewhat worse for it, but bad for any engine.
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Old 12-12-2015, 08:56 AM   #9
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First I would NEVER tow a TT with a 1/2 ton. Tires and suspension are too soft and can lead to trailer sway and a disaster. Some will say it won't happen with a proper hitch setup. I disagree.

I would get a 2500 RAM diesel it will get at least 18mpg and probably more and your commute that is NOT too short for a diesel. With the 2500 you will have room to grow with your next TT or a smaller 5er. With the diesel you will get a great exhaust brake that will give you stress free down hill towing.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:05 AM   #10
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Gas vs diesel

I am a long time diesel guy but I would highly suggest crunching the numbers. Build a diesel truck and then a comparable gas truck. Consider miles driven and operating and maintainence cost. And, yes, a 3/4 ton is my advise also. Just my two cents. Happy motoring.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:18 AM   #11
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There is so little difference in the cost I would go to a 350 or 3500. There will be little difference in mileage and you will have lots of room to grow as you travel around the country. If you head north you will may want to get a better insulated unit if you spend the winter near a ski area.

Gas or diesel will work well for you. You are not going to be pulling daily or even monthly between locations so gas will get you there as well as diesel.

For the price of a new truck you could move into a good used MH and pull as smaller car for the daily commutes.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:25 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gordon Dewald View Post
For the price of a new truck you could move into a good used MH and pull as smaller car for the daily commutes.
This is something to seriously consider. If you don't need a pickup for anything other than pulling the trailer, this might be a very good alternative. If you still think you'd need a pickup, but maybe not a big one, one could be pulled behind.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:43 AM   #13
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Unfortunately I'm not currently in a position to get a truly new vehicle, and used 350/3500's seem to be rare as hen's teeth in my area. I would wait, but my current car is falling apart on me, and I don't see the point of pouring money into something I'm planning to sell soon anyway.

I can find a few 3/4 ton gassers with fairly low mileage in my price range, I just wasn't sure if that would be good enough for the long trips.

And I will NOT be wintering up north. I'm a Southern girl, I don't handle cold very well. I will be going back to Florida when it starts getting chilly - warm weather AND peak season contract pay. Can't beat that.

Again, thank you all for your time and advice. It's wonderful of you to be willing to help me with a question I'm sure you're all sick of.
2003 Keystone Outback 26RS; Tow vehicle pending
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:51 AM   #14
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Ok, here is my $.02.

I wouldn't go 350/3500 or even 250/2500 unless you have a future possibility of moving up to a larger TT. A 1ton diesel is going to be so much overkill for your current needs it's funny.

Your plan to tow every 2-3 months, rest of time empty. I don't see why a capable 1/2 ton is being ruled out. The new Hemi 8 speeds are returning decent empty mileage and are rated to tow north of 10,000 when properly equipped. The EcoDiesel is rated for up to 9200, and will get pretty decent mileage empty and towing.

The 3.5l ecoboost is a strong motor, with over 12,000 towing. I hooked onto my dad's old triple axle tow hauler once just to show him I could. The 2.7l is no slouch either with over 8,000 towing. The 2.7 is rated at 18 city, 24 highway.

Then there is the 6.2 GM half ton. With the 8 speed my dad's boss gets over 20 highway empty and good towing numbers.

The new Nissan XD with the cummins 5.0 looks interesting, but I'd give it a year or 2 to get bugs worked out.

The biggest thing is no matter what truck you go with don't skimp on a weight distribution hitch. Get a good one with built in sway control.

I personally have a Ram 2500 with 6.4 hemi. But I tow 2x the trailer with 1600lbs hitch weight. I looked at diesel but didn't make sense for me to buy one that would be a daily driver in small town Montana or when I could get new gas for same price as 5yr old diesel with 70k.

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