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Old 03-16-2010, 08:18 PM
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 23,892,293 times
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We are getting ready to "upgrade" our tow vehicle.

We have a 30 foot 1968 Holiday Rambler 6000lbs empty.

We sadly have to admit our 5.7L auto Z71 is just too tired to do much more.

We are also thinking we might go to A 5TH WHEEL in the future so that affects our choice for a new tow vehicle.

We are pretty sure we want a diesel, probably 5 or 6 speed over drive and a crew cab to accomodate our dogs.

Where we get concerned is--

Do we need a 1 ton or will a 3/4 ton truck be enough?

We have also been looking at these Western Hauler beds on trucks?

Do they have any advantage over a standard truck bed?

And the other day we heard that a F450-F550 might be a good idea as well?

Realizing that some criteria is a personal choice --- Is there TOO big a truck?

We will be traveling from NC north to Michigan and west to Colorado before returning home on the southern route to NC in 2011.

We plan on doing 4500-7000 miles a year in the summer months.

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Old 03-16-2010, 09:03 PM
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I occasionally pull a 16' car-hauler (bumper-pull) with a 3,000 lb. tractor (maybe with a few pieces of equipment) on it and I use only a '91 3/4 ton GMC Sierra, F.I. 5.7 L. It does fairly well except on uphills where it can get pretty slow going. For pulling a 30' RV trailer any distance, especially in parts of Colorado, I would think a 3/4 ton diesel would be close to minimal. A 5th wheel would also be helpful.
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:58 AM
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 23,892,293 times
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We are going to do some local traveling this summer along the east coast where it is relatively flat.

My wife has very little experience trailering, though she is an avid camper in using a tent.

We are going to use this summer to look at 5th wheels and compare the space and size to our 30 footer.

I guess our thoughts are that we have seen 450 / 4500 series trucks (with flat beds) at about the same price range as the 350/3500 trucks with typical truck beds.

We have also seen many folks with the 5th wheel style beds like the western hauler / chariot set up pulling massive 5th wheels.

We do not need to decide on a vehicle right at the moment and can wait until next fall or even spring.

We are pretty sure we would like a truck that has some mods--banks upgrades--

THANKS for sharing...
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:46 PM
Location: Wyoming
9,415 posts, read 17,378,768 times
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A few things to consider.... (You probably know most of this)

A 5th wheel pulls nicer and the bigger ones have lots of storage space in the "basement". Overall length of your tow vehicle and RV will also be less, since living space is over the bed of the truck instead of 5 feet behind it. Looking at campers in excess of 30 feet, I wouldn't consider a travel trailer.

But there are some negatives associated with 5ers too. First and foremost, you'll have considerably more weight on the truck's rear axles -- usually 20 to 25% of the total 5er weight, and 5ers weigh more that TTs due to heavier frames, etc. So it takes a bigger tow vehicle; not for "towing" but for load carrying capacity. You're also giving up most of the storage space in the bed of your truck.

A 3/4-ton diesel would do just fine towing your 30-foot travel trailer, but if you upgrade your trailer to a 3X-foot 5th wheel, you'd likely want a larger truck -- again, not necessarily for the towing capacity, but for the load capacity. My advice would be to get the bigger truck now.

There's not much advantage to a 3/4-ton truck over a 1-ton. If you stick with single rear wheels, often the only difference is an extra spring, but when it comes to hauling capacity, there's usually a major increase. The purchase price difference is relatively small, but check with the cost of insurance and licensing fees in your state. That would be the only reason I'd consider less that a one-ton.

If you think you might want a high quality 5er in the 30 to 33-foot range, I'd go with a 1-ton dually, and if you might want one in the 34 to 40-foot range, definitely go with an F450 or larger medium-duty truck.

The nice thing about the F450 is that it still looks like a pickup. It's heavier and has a shorter turning radius, etc., but the exterior dimensions and looks of it are still the same as the F350 dually. It's currently my dream truck. (I've been driving an F250 PSD for the past 10 years, and it's not big enough for the kind of 5er we want.)

I don't know if I'd want a Western Hauler bed or not. I think only if the truck I got was too big to have the standard pickup bed on it.

We've considered getting a large used HDT tractor for a tow vehicle -- probably a Volvo that's been singled out (one rear axle) and converted to motorhome status. But they're just so darned big, and you can count on 8 mpg whether you're pulling anything or not. I haven't ruled them out. The MDTs make more sense, but used ones cost more, and it's harder to find a nice used one.
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Old 03-17-2010, 08:36 PM
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 23,892,293 times
Reputation: 7812
Mileage is a big factor for us as well. The reason we are set on a diesel and not a big block gas engine.
We are leaning towards the 1 ton truck unless we see a good deal on a 3/4 ton that has banks or a few mods to start with.
Here in NC we have been looking the ads to get an idea of cost and the few 450/4500 series are close in price to their 35/3500 counter-parts.

The real difference from our point of view is that a 350/3500 is easier to find with 4X4 (which is a wish list item) than the 450 series.

We havenot really been in many 5ers, but imagine if/when we do upgrade, it would be a 34 or bigger as we would be spending more time on the road with each passing year and the room / storage would be nice.

My wife's uncle has been on the road for several years with a 35+ foot 5er and loves the room it has. He has a 1 ton for towing.

My wife thinks it may be slight over kill looking at this nice F650 crew cab...
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:38 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,537 posts, read 39,914,033 times
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For longevity, dependability, simplicity, economy, robustness you will want a 1T dually Dodge Cummins. '97 - 99.5 is the preferred 'jewel' (last of the 12V, simple engine, plenty of FREE / cheap power enhancements, few computer gadgets, they will go 1 Million + miles EZ) get CTD info here;
you want to avoid a #53 block (ez to tell LARGE casting #) 53 Block FAQ and Information
Strongest block - Page 7 - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum

Free fuel is another benefit for diesel; (I know several direct 'grease burners', that don't bother to brew Bio-D)
The 12V Cummins loves Bio-Diesel Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) - Montana DEQ - Truck in the Park Biodiesel Demonstration (http://www.deq.state.mt.us/Energy/bioenergy/TruckInTheParkBiodieselDemo.mcpx - broken link)
brew your own - Appleseed Processor Examples - Collaborative Biodiesel Tutorial (http://www.biodieselcommunity.org/appleorchard/ - broken link)
that said... USA Bio-D is pretty bad if made from SOY feedstock, just so happens the National Biodiesel Board is owned by the Soybean council... Europe enjoys the use of Brassiere crops for feedstock, and also new vehicle warranties to 100% BD (not 5% BD cap like in USA).

If using Bio-D or Grease do yourself a favor and install a HEATED Racor Pre-filter and a 'pre-injection pump' fuel pressure gauge. (2,000psi+ Injection pumps are $,$$$, and they very much dislike running dry of fuel)

Try towing HEAVY with a Dually (DRW), you will be impressed with the difference, they track and corner MUCH better than SRW. I traverse Mtns and heavy wind so I prefer the dually. And prefer 10 wheelers even more.

I tow 30,000# GCVW through mtns with my stock 'beater' '93 1T 4x4 dually Dodge CTD. It only gets 12 mpg towing heavy, but will get 20 mpg towing my 5000# flatbed trailer.

6 speed would be nice, but I would seriously look to an earlier truck -NV4500 5 spd w/ a 'gear vendor OD / splitter' (Like a Brownie). Auto tranny is fine if you upgrade it (+ Torque converter) and add external underbody tranny cooler w/fan boost . (preferred Diesel tranny builder by HD users/ towing / pulling / performance) DTT Performance Diesel Transmission and Power Accessories

You will want an engine compression brake, very helpful. (Need a 'lockup' automatic tranny torque converter to realize braking benefit (most post '94 vehicles had lock-up converters))

I personally would not add the 'toter' bed. I think they depreciate the truck and are less useful than the pickup box. If I was to stick with a 'bumper-pull' I would use a 'utility bed (like a service truck) with a canopy for dry storage.

I am a proponent of Semi Tractors converted to a toter, as they are very comfortable, (ride very nice and have MUCH room inside). I met a guy from Canada that used to have a MDT 'toter' / Freightliner w / Cummins. He custom made a toter from a Volvo OTR tractor and it is a huge improvement. (Mileage from 7-8, now 10-12 towing; queen condo sleeper w/ micro / ref / genset, double bunks, TV / DVD, LOTS of storage, closets, MUCH, MUCH quieter on the road, much safer, cheaper to service and better parts and tire availability). He hauls his CDN 'Smartcar' (50 mpg diesel) cross-ways behind the sleeper. (6" Shorter than US version). His total cost on the 'used' volvo + conversion was less than 1/2 the price for the toter. Personally, I would leave the semi tractor as a tractor so I could make some extra $$ (paying for the required 'permits', / insurance of course for commerce use. I keep my CDL and those awfully expensive drug tests current, just for PT jobs)

FWIW... I bought a '73 Dodge 1/2 ton w/ 360 that had been used to pull a 30' HR trailer for 130k. The PO thought it was 'wrung-out' so he bought a Ford with International diesel... I worked the Dodge very hard till 320k miles, with only $19 for a timing chain. He spent oodles of $$$ on the Ford and was NEVER happy with it. (granted this was yrs ago, but I won't even begin to elaborate on the the issues with new TD Fords). Our local Fire Dept has gone through 6 turbos on their 'brush rigs' (i.e. light duty use). They frequently get 'towed home'. I'm not much into that type of experience.

If you love your Chevy, you will find plenty of info on making a conversion (Cummins + allison is well respected conversion for RV towing)

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 03-23-2010 at 01:12 AM..
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:46 PM
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 23,892,293 times
Reputation: 7812
Rabbit...many of your points were what we were discussing and trying to decide if they were viable.

We are leaning more towards the cummins (THANKS for the links!!).

95% we will go dually (just in case we step into a 5er).

Many trucks we see with the service / utility bed seem to be lower price than regular pickup, but we have not seen many Dodges with the utility. Not crew cabs anyways.

There just seems to be so many 7.3 powerstrokes and at reasonable prices/

We have seen 97-99 Dodges at $9000-$13000 with less than 120K miles and 1999-2002 for $7500--$9900 with average 150K miles.

Suppose we are also leaning towards the manual -- 6 speed OD would be great...

THANKS again...
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:57 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,537 posts, read 39,914,033 times
Reputation: 23634
another Dodge to consider is the last yr of 5.9L (2007) NOT 2007.5

I had a friend just take a crew cab 6 spd on a 2000 mile trip; 23 mpg average.
The 1996-7 12V might be too noisy for you, but I prefer their less complexity. They were only available in club cab, and I think a few '97 xtra cabs (rear door, but not a crew cab)

Utility beds are cheap and ez to change. I would not try to find one, as they might be an EX- commercial fleet rig. I buy 'one-owner / By owner', and from a person who kept good records and used synthetic oils. You can use 'crazedlist.org' to search regions in USA that don't have rust issues. TX and SW USA have some bargains on trucks.
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:41 AM
Location: On the brink of WWIII
21,093 posts, read 23,892,293 times
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What about earlier Dodge cummins? 1992--1997s?

With an auto in the 3500/4500 series would looking at a gear vendor application be worth while or would just a quality upgrade of the trans internals be a better investment?

We haul our two hound dogs so any engine noise would be overlooked.

We are just wanting an engine that will have, or be able to through mods, the power to get us through the mountains without feeling like the rods are ready to bust loose.

As much as we love our K1500 chevy Z71, the 5.7L was never meant to haul so much weight--IMHO...

and the 8-9 mpg were costly last summer when you travel 1000 miles.

Seems crazedlist will not work with IE...is that similiar to jaxed.com and the mash?
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:50 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,537 posts, read 39,914,033 times
Reputation: 23634
Your K1500 has served you well, the HR is a massive task for a 1/2 T to handle on a daily basis.

The earlier dodge's are fine, but:
1Gen 89-93 are really tough work trucks but ride quite rough, they have smaller cabs (jump seats for rear in 'club-cab', fine for dogs, not for people.) The 1Gen owners are pretty passionate about 'The first and last REAL cummins Pickup' - for brute work, cost and ease of repair (open engine compartment), taller truck, more metal instead of plastic on interior, part interchangeability, they have a good point. This model has some susceptibility to Rust in cab, and vibration breaks in frt pillars of cab (base of windshield)

2Gen '94-02 are more 'comfy' and don't beat you to death driving a bumpy interstate (I-80 in NE). Larger cab with creature comforts, have been known to have suspension and steering needs (something you can fix, but not dirt cheap.) Once you upgrade suspension parts you can get HUGE longevity. Many used ones have been upgraded, especially 1 owner w/OCD (common with 'diesel' breed... always must be spending $$ and time on their trucks). The split seats, integral storage, cab lay-out, riding comfort and noise abatement are really superior in the 2 gen dodges. They are also more abundant on the used market, but as you have found, the 96&97 fetch higher price. (better injection pump, free extra HP) Look diligently and be prepared to act fast when you find the RIGHT one (don't take a consolation prize, get the one you want).

No Gear vendor required for Auto (post '91... OD came standard). Trannies are very tough, they just need the best components and a Torque converter (TC) with a correct diesel RPM stall speed and a lock-up (tough to get in a 1 GEN, must modify). Dodge messed up by not recognizing the TC issue. Early CTD's had TC's that slip, even at max diesel RPM (2800). (governor spring $9.00 will increase the engine RPM, but a good TC will be $300+ for parts). A good tranny builder will swap in the correct factory combination of components and you get a robust diesel specific tranny.

Sorry I can't help with IE, I avoid Microsoft products like the plague (even tho I'm windows based). Hopefully LINUX Soon!
There are ways to use 'advanced' search in google to get similar results of crazedlist. (you can query "Searching multiple craigslist"). I use Firefox for anything but multiple audio / video. It is quite handy to have both, especially if you have multiple web email accts.

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 03-24-2010 at 11:00 AM..
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