New Member - Full time in the near future
I am planning on buying a 5th wheel and going full time by the end of the year and have been planning and researching for a long time. I just bought a tow vehicle this weekend, a 2002 Dodge 2500 5.9L with 130K, so I figured I moved beyond the "lurker" stage and could legitimately go ahead and create an account and start acting like I wasn't just talking.
I'm a single 56yo woman and am still working as a contract software engineer, and probably will work at least intermittently until I can start getting my money back from the government at 62. However, as a contract worker I often get two to six months "off" and so consider myself to be "semi-retired".
Last time I was off for four months sitting in an extended stay hotel with a rental car I thought, "This is stupid, I could be surfing/skiing/camping/hiking, anything but sitting in Las Vegas!". That was almost a year ago and I started then planning seriously for going full time, although that has been my "retirement plan" for decades.
I've gone through the mental exercises from living in an old conversion van to a new motor home, and circled in on a 5th wheel with a 3/4 ton diesel. I'm pretty happy with the 24V 5.9L Cummins I bought. It's the extended cab short bed, so it's got about the best balance between towing and driving about town or maneuvering into a tight spot. It's not the HO, so the tow rating is eleven and a half thousand pounds, but I'll be limited more by payload due to pin weight more than tow capacity probably. The GVWR says 8800 on the load plate. It seems to be a pretty solid truck, but I've budgeted to spend a few thousand on it in the next few months making sure the steering box and column, ball joints, lift pump, etc. are in good shape before I put much of a load behind it. It's a bone stock truck other than a goose neck hitch with a detachable ball (the kind that has the release lever in the drivers side fender well). So it was used to haul, but it doesn't look like it was used hard. The cloth interior (it's an SLT/Laramie) is pristine. Whoever had it took good care of it. Depending on what fifth wheel I end up with, I may go with a gooseneck to 5th wheel adapter. Obviously that won't work with some trailers and I'll get an auto-slider if I have to.
I looked at new trucks but, even after going through this one to take care of the known issues such as those mentioned above, the auto trans, etc., I'll be at about 35% to 40% of the cost of the new one, and I'll have a stronger more durable and less complex engine. Plus, I have a reasonable expectation of getting in the 20mpg range. I don't think I've ever heard anyone mutter misgivings about buying a 24V 5.9L Cummins.
This one isn't as comfy and quiet as the 2016 Laramie I drove, but it is still a real nice truck, nicer than any I drove or owned when I was young. And honestly, I LIKE hearing the Cummins! I didn't care for any of the new diesels that sounded a sedan on the inside. When I'm towing, I want to hear the engine so I can make sure it's running right. Yes, gauges are a must and I'll install boost, egt, and trans temp before I start towing, but you can tell a lot by listening even before the gauges react. And it's really very comfortable around town, on the highway, and very solid off road. I like it. But I'm a farm girl, your mileage may vary.
I will start circling in on a 5th wheel in the next few months. If I had my preference, Jayco would make a short Eagle HT with washer/dryer hookups, but they don't. I'll honestly probably end up with something used. By the time I've put together a down payment on a new trailer I can pay cash for a used one. That said, there seems to be a lot of progress that has been made in the past ten or fifteen years in trailer manufacturing and amenities.
I'll be spending a good amount of time in the Rockies skiing where I can reasonably expect temperatures in the ten to fifteen degree F range. I live and work in Las Vegas where three to four months in the 115 Deg F range is not unusual. I have family in Seattle and Texas, where you can find gully washer down pours in temperatures from the thirties to the nineties, so I need a pretty solid "four seasons" type of unit. It may make sense for me to get something new for that reason. But I've got some research and thinking to do.
That's just an overview and an introduction. Thanks to everyone here that has posted as I've learned a lot from this forum.
The path does not define the traveler, rather she experiences the path and becomes whom God meant her to be.
2002 Dodge 2500 4x4 Auto, 5.9L24V, 4.10 - 2011 Jayco Eagle Super Lite 25.5RKS