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Old 07-24-2012, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Travel Trailers... educate me.

Well, several of my friends own travel trailers in various incarnations: Camper, tow behind, 5th wheel, RV. My wife and I have started to seriously consider buying a tow behind travel trailer in the last week or so. Prices are of course all over the board depending on level of comfort, features, size etc... I'm thinking 26' or less tow behind, not 5th wheel. Don't have an interest in an RV as it would be just another vehicle to license and maintain and have no interest in a camper. We have no kids to accomodate but wouldn't mind having extra space for family/friends. I don't want to tow anything bigger than I really need. We'll mostly be camping in-state but will venture out of state on occasion so there will be some longer trips.

What do you consider to be essential? Waste of money? Wish you would have bought?

Tow vehicle: 2004 Ford F150 super cab FX4 4x4 with the 5.4 and class IV hitch/tow package. Supposedly it can tow over 8,300lbs. I currently get 12MPG with slightly oversized tires. Wish I had a diesel

Anyway, what advice do you have for the newbie looking to get back into camping but with comfort in a tow behind travel trailer?
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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5th wheel is the way to go. Tows easier. I pulled my parents 5th wheel from AZ to GA a few years ago and it was a dream to tow compared to a pull-behind. The down side of 5th wheel is when you unhook you have that monsterous greezy hitch in the bed. Even after you remove it you still have the bracing which limits what you can put in the bed. I also find IMO a 5th wheel is easier to back up as well as hook/unhook. Aslo buy used.....there are some good deals out there
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Don't even consider anything that is more than a couple years old. Make sure it is self contained as many camping locations do not have full hook ups. A metal roof is a must if you plan on keeping it long term.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Buy used and if you want the best in tow behind look at used Airstreams and Avions. Avions are better built and have a better suspension. Unfortunately the last Silver Avions were built in the early 90s. They both tow so much better than traditional trailers. I once towed 36 footer thru 60mph cross winds in New Mexico and I felt the wind more on the truck than I did on the trailer.

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Here is a nice older one in NC:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Vinta...item2a1fde201b
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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5th wheel is the way to go. Tows easier. I pulled my parents 5th wheel from AZ to GA a few years ago and it was a dream to tow compared to a pull-behind. The down side of 5th wheel is when you unhook you have that monsterous greezy hitch in the bed. Even after you remove it you still have the bracing which limits what you can put in the bed. I also find IMO a 5th wheel is easier to back up as well as hook/unhook. Aslo buy used.....there are some good deals out there
I solved this with a goose neck conversion of the trailer, and then put in an under bed removable goose neck pin. I pull a lever in the fender well and the ball comes out to leave a completely flat bed. Works like a charm, and I too would highly suggest the 5th wheel. My buddy has the same truck and same length trailer as we do, but we have the 5th wheel and they have the tag trailer. It is especiaally helpful in tight turn and windy conditions. No comparison on ride quality either. We both have long bed, 4 door, Cummins powered Dodges.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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New or used? If used, when you walk in, smell carefully. If musty, or old/funky smelling, walk away. You do not want a leaker.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Don't even consider anything that is more than a couple years old. Make sure it is self contained as many camping locations do not have full hook ups. A metal roof is a must if you plan on keeping it long term.
Unless it is an Airstream of Avion. I think 60% of all Airstreams that were built are still used and that is since the 1930's. The construction method is total different than regular trailers. Regular trailers are built out of sticks but airstream are built like aircraft with stressed skin construction.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Unless it is an Airstream of Avion. I think 60% of all Airstreams that were built are still used and that is since the 1930's. The construction method is total different than regular trailers. Regular trailers are built out of sticks but airstream are built like aircraft with stressed skin construction.
Well everybody's got an opinion. I had a friend that lived in an older airstream. While you are correct that it was holding up MUCH better than a comparable stick built RV, it still had all the plumbing and interior coverings issues that the rest of the older RVs have. No doubt that an airstream is a great foundation if you want a "fixer upper" but still many issues with the older ones. On the other hand, I wouldn't even consider the other style of trailers for a "fixer upper". The Gear Box line of trailers supposedly was built with a welded aluminum wall structure instead of the prefab stick and glued panel type construction, but those might not be your style.

The round shape of the airstream also makes it rather difficult to install things like cabinets, etc.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well everybody's got an opinion. I had a friend that lived in an older airstream. While you are correct that it was holding up MUCH better than a comparable stick built RV, it still had all the plumbing and interior coverings issues that the rest of the older RVs have. No doubt that an airstream is a great foundation if you want a "fixer upper" but still many issues with the older ones. On the other hand, I wouldn't even consider the other style of trailers for a "fixer upper". The Gear Box line of trailers supposedly was built with a welded aluminum wall structure instead of the prefab stick and glued panel type construction, but those might not be your style.

The round shape of the airstream also makes it rather difficult to install things like cabinets, etc.
There are a lot of in very good shape Airstreams and Avions out there. They both also have a great following and great community of owners like FF. I did suggest the Avion over the Airstream because they were built with higher quality parts and the frame doesn't even compare. Heck my Avion has sweated copper piping real solid wood cabinets and solid foam insulation in the floors where most modern trailers have pex piping, particle board and single layer thin floors that flex like crazy they feel like they are rotten from the factory. Some of the details are dated but I think that is adds to the charm and have gone with it by adding 70's style linens and shower curtains. Your going to have issues with any trailer you buy but which one is going to have more the one with the faucet made of plastic (what i have seen in most modern trailers) or a nice real metal faucet like is in your house?

That round shape is what makes Airstreams and Avions look cool and tow so well in windy conditions. Some campgrounds won't let you bring a trailer older than 10yrs in unless it a Airstream or other silver can.


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Old 07-24-2012, 08:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Good info so far guys.

I'm hesitant to go with a 5th wheel setup. I don't like the idea of taking up bed space as I'd like to load the bed up with firewood etc... when traveling. I know there is still some space with the 5th wheel hitch but it does limit that space. I'm also a bit ignorant about them, never had one. Maybe I should consider a 5th wheel setup. Will have to research as I read more of your comments.

Airstreams are pretty spendy, might be out of my budget of less than 20k. Hoping to find a sale for $16k or so. Wife wants something modern with a good kitchen. I have no problem upgrading things, I'm a woodworker and pretty handy so I can swap out faucets and cabinet doors that might be ugly but am hoping to get a good base in a more modern trailer.

I'm somewhat afraid of used ones older than say 2010 but I know nothing of the different construction techniques at all. I'm a complete newbie as I never thought I'd ever own one.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Here is a pretty one in good condition:
'72 Airstream 23' Safari RV Travel Trailer Recreation Vehicle in RVs & Campers | eBay Motors

1974 29ft. Airstream Ambassador - Remodeled | eBay

This one is nice but longer than you want. Nice thing about airstreams is they are a lot lighter than other trailers this one only weighs 5000lbs at 31 feet.
Vintage 1975 31ft AIRSTREAM SOVEREIGN International Travel Trailer RV in RVs & Campers | eBay Motors

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1965-...item2ec010e43c

This one is cool but over priced:
1954 Airstream Flying Cloud Travel Trailer in RVs & Campers | eBay Motors

This very much like what i have:
Exceptional Vintage 1987 AVION 10.6 Meter Airstream Aircraft Travel Trailer in RVs & Campers | eBay Motors
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Crash brings up a couple of good points. I didn't know you could solve the problem of the 5th wheel hitch mount blocking the bed.....that's good to know. Also towing in windy conditions......my buddy was on his way to my house with his pull behind and got caught in a summer storm and a gust of wind wrecked his truck and trailer. Luckily he was ok. He bought a 5th wheel and says the same thing, that it not only pulls better but that it's way more stable in a storm. In the few thousand miles I pulled my parents 5th wheel I never noticed any wind related issues. I've been considering a small 18-20 ft 5th wheel, strictly for short camping trips. Second the self-contained thing, you definitely want that. It's pretty cool to pull into a remote place and have lights a fridge and a warm shower. The chicks need that
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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We have a 27' bumper pull that I pull behind a 1/2 ton Silverado with a 6.2 gasser. I normally get around 15mpg and towing I am lucky to get 10mpg.

I also would not give up the bed space and have never had an issue towing this trailer. With the weight distributing hitch set up properly they handle well. I just towed mine 1,100 miles over the 4th of July holiday. Most 5th wheels are also much, much taller and I am sure will cause a higher wind load and lower mpg. It really depends on what you want to do with it. If you are retired and want to spend months travelling across the US then you want a 5th wheel with some nice slides (and probably a diesel too). If you are going to use it a few weeks out of the year I wouldn't go so hard core. We bought ours a couple years old from a family who used it a couple of times. It still looked brand new but was significantly less than a new one. Ours is just a basic layout with no slides to keep the cost and complexity down. We essentially use ours to sleep in and some meals/food prep.

I do like the Airstreams but I didn't want to spend similar money for a 1970's project.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Look into a Toy Hauler. That way you can take your Cobra with you and live in comfort at the same time...
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Darren,
Here are a couple things to consider if you are in the market for a tow-behind trailer.

First off, with a 1/2 ton truck, you will need to consider how much your trailer (and carry-ons) will weigh. Even with the 5.4 and the 8300 lb weight rating, you will have issues if towing in the mountains- which you obviously will do in Washington. Also, your 1/2 ton brakes may not be up to the task if your trailer brakes fail for some reason. Your rear axles won't be able to handle the load a 3/4 or 1 ton truck will have due to the design of most 1/2 ton rear ends. The heavier floating axles and bearing arrangements on 3/4 and 1 ton trucks makes them much superior in towing duties and the additional weight will help to stabilize the heavier trailers.

What all this means is you will need to look for a lighter trailer in the 4,000-6,000 lb range for your towing duties. Slide outs will probably be out of the question unless you want to step up your tow vehicle. A Fifth wheel is helpful in this regard as the load is distributed better over both axles and will tow easier. You do lose some space in your truck bed, but most 5th wheels have spacious storage and some have "basements" under the living space for stowing large items.

I'm betting that once you start shopping and learning about RV's, you will be upgrading your tow vehicle sooner rather than later. This is when a diesel vehicle really pays off. I tow my 27 foot travel trailer with my 2003 GMC crew cab with a 6.0 liter gas and it works fine, but there are times when I wish I had the diesel for those hills I always seem to be climbing.

Also, get a GOOD brake control for your tow vehicle. A Tekonsha is the only way to go- either the Sentinel or the Prodigy model will work great and easy to adjust.

Happy shopping, there are some great deals out there right now.

Bob
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'm not terribly thrilled that I only have my half ton but I never intended to haul anything bigger than a small boat or flat bed trailer. I did indeed want to keep the gross weight under 6k if I could. I don't want to pull to capacity, even then I'd prefer a diesel but the wife refused to let me have a smoky noisy machine like that She is starting to change her tune but there is no money in the budget for a truck and a travel trailer.

Hmmm....
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Look into a Toy Hauler. That way you can take your Cobra with you and live in comfort at the same time...
X2 if you want to take any toys along. I've got a 2003 Forest River Work n Play that I use to go dirt-bike riding. It's 28' long with 14' of living space and a 14' "garage". It has enough room for my XR600, my son's XR400, my wife's Honda Rancher 4-wheeler and my 2 daughters' 4-wheelers. It's got 2 twin-sized bunks and a full-size bunk in the back and the dinette and couch fold down into beds in the front. I made a couple mods (fan over the bathroom, 4 fold-down wheel chocks in the back, and replaced the little 27-gallon water tank with a 56-gallon) and it works great for weekend dirt rides with the family or a bunch of guys (holds 5 bikes easy). And there's NOTHING better than a hot shower after 8 hours of riding! It's not luxurious but completely functional! I pull it with a 2001 GMC Yukon XL Denali. I've got the Reese Dual-Cam anti-sway system and it stays straight and stable. The Denali has the engine and transmission from GM's 2500-series trucks so it has pretty good power. The suspension is a bit soft though. The next upgrade will be to a 2009+ Suburban 2500. This setup works great for me.

Make sure that whatever you get your wife LOVES or she won't want to go anywhere in it. See if you can rent one first to try it out before diving into one. Also, there is HUGE markup on these things! Just look at how much they depreciate in a year. I wouldn't buy one that's less than 3 years old. Walk all over the inside of them feeling for rotten spots in the floor. Otherwise, see what's out there, go to shows, and get a good price.

Good luck!
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:39 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Hey Darren, I'm not going to get into the 5th wheel vs. tow behind debate (I haven't owned a 5th to compare) nor will I comment on the notion that a 2year old trailer is worthless (that sure drives up the cost per use if you are replacing it every couple years).

We have a 10 year old 26ft Jayco, weighs about 6000lbs and I used to tow it with a 1/2ton suburban. It worked ok, but I could tell I was taxing the truck every time I towed it and as a result we didn't travel very far from home. I now have a 2005 3/4 ton sub with an 8.1 and I would haul that trailer anywhere with it now. Truck gets about 14 mpg normally and 8-9 towing the trailer in the hills.

One thought on the trailer is the interior layout that will work best for you. When we looked for ours (10years ago), most if not all the trailers were setup for families and generally have bunkbeds in the back and a queen bedroom up front. In your situation the bunks are probably not very useful. Perhaps there are better layouts now. It seemed to me that the fifth wheels were better suited for those without kids than the tow behind trailers. Again this info is based on my hunt from 10 years ago.

The most useless thing in our trailer is the AC and the microwave, because we always camp in provincial sites without hookups and to me running a generator just isn't camping. Not that I could tow a fifth with my suburban, but I also like having the space in the back of the truck for firewood, bikes, etc.

Happy shopping, Jim.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:57 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Might have to make one yourself, but this would be a cool idea for you to consider:




Found it here:
Custom Self Contained Toy Hauler\camper - Pirate4x4.Com

Would be kind of cool to build a Camper/Serpent Express combo so you can take your FFR out with you on long camping trips.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Suggestions for you...
- Keep it light. Over 80% of your factory tow rating is going to be working the truck hard. Once you add people, gear, gas, etc., your towing capacity is usually way below the factory number. Watch the GCWR, as well as the towing rating. Tow without water in the fresh water tank if possible also.
- slides make all the difference. If you can find a light one with slides, you'll be much happier than without the slides. A lot of manufacturers are now building light versions, which helps a lot.
- 5th wheel or TT...it's like Ford vs Chevy. Good and bad apply to each. I tow a 35' TT with my Excursion, but a 5er has good advantages in some ways. Depends on your preference. Backing into a space is easy, even pushing 60' in length, so don't let that scare you away from a TT.
- Expect trouble with a new or used unit. They all have problems! Every manufacturer has tons of warranty issues. A used one has some of the kinks ironed out, but if you want a new one, go for it. Just plan to go through and tighten every water line (by hand), trim the carpet threads here and there, adjust latches, etc. Reading on-line forums for a few days will help you see the really bad ones too. Good warranty service reputation is a big deal...it's amazing how many problems crop up in a moving house. If going used, go up on the roof and make sure they caulked the seams recently.
- If you like power things, be sure to get something with a 50 amp hookup or you will have to watch using your a/c, microwave, toaster, vacuum, etc. at the same time.
- A good hitch with weight distribution and sway control are critical. As is the brake controller, as noted prior. Splurge for the power jack too, you'll appreciate it. 8) The more your trailer weighs, the more you're going to find that you need better tires. Passenger tires (typical 1/2 ton tires) have too much flex in the sidewalls and will cause sway. You may need to buy some truck tires, and a spare (add $$$).

You can PM me if you want to know the brand we have and any other questions.

Dave
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:31 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Come on. If your going to only go 26' that's nothing. My boat is bigger than that.
This one got great reviews on RV 2011.

The videos says it is the no.1 seller at the RV place so there must be something to it. I have not looked at that one yet myself though.

Over the past few years Kathy and I have been thinking of getting an RV. We are still looking, but in no rush. Trailer certainly has it's advantages as you can park it and go. A motorized RV is limited in use by it's size. If I was going to live in an RV it would be motorized. Occasional use...trailer.


Good for prepping too....
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:15 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Well I guess I will go out an burn my 03 toy hauler. 26 ft Pace explorer, I/we use it all the time as a camper and once in a while as a car hauler.

Get the layout you want, whether it is a travel or what ever trailer. If you want light, the newer hybrid units are actually quite versatile. They have a small camper and then both ends flop out like the old pop ups and you end up with a lot of space. Light small but with a ton of room when expanded. We have a friend with a Kia that tows it, not far but it does the job. Another with an old explorer that has a similar set up. Downside is canvas, if it is hot or cold where you go the heat/AC will struggle. What one couple does is leave the canvas folded up with AC on until night time and the plop out the beds and it is fine.

My suggestion is to rent one, see if you like it, rent another and see if you like it. Go to the campground you think you will visit the most, and talk to people. ALL of them will give you a tour. 26 is a lot of camper, we have a bunch of weekenders at the local sailing club and almost all of them have 19s. But they do not spend a ton of time in them, most of it is on the water or at the group area.

Unless you plan to spend a lot (A LOT) of time in it they are generally not worth it. For example, if you camp 5 weekends a summer it is a bad idea. Insurance, storage, maintenance, depreciation and filling it all of that adds up and needs to be divided by the time you spend. At 20K that is a lot of motels and a lot of eating out. On the other hand, sleeping in your stuff, cooking with your stuff, being in your own space is nice. I spend at least 2 solid weeks and about 15 other weekends in mine every year, so it was a no brainer for me to own one. For the occasional camper maybe not what you need.

Tow vehicle, before you buy anything, get it behind your truck and have it full of water, get on the highway and see how it feels. My EXCURSION needed better springs (long story) to tow well. My trailer empty is under 5K but very tongue heavy. My 1/2 ton suburban would not even get out of its own way with it too much sway even with load hitch and sway control. My 3/4 truck and 3/4 Suburban did OK. The diesel is nice but still sucks gas 10 towing. My point is you can never have too much truck, not ever. But you have to live with the truck every day so it is a balancing act either way. One of my buddies has an 06 F-150 that tows his 30ft camper but only about 20 miles at a time. He has air bags and a good hitch but has stated that it is not ideal for cross country.

So now you are thinking, newish camper and a newer truck, do I really want to go camping that bad?

All the above is playing devils advocate but you need to know what is involved in getting one, owning it and enjoying it. There is not much worse than a white knuckle ride to get to where you can relax.

I have been camping since I was 4, we did pop ups, then went primitive in Boy Scouts, then went Van camping (sailing tow vehicle also). Then back to a pop up for super cheap ($500 sold it for the same 2 years later) We never sleep on the ground, and the camper has made life much better. As to self contained, ours has water, grey and black water but no generator, I have one but everywhere we camp has at least Power and most Power and water. I use the campground shower and toilet to keep the grey and black water from getting too full. OH Yea remember you have to empty that stuff too.

Last but not least, a 5th wheel or gooseneck is always easier to tow, no matter what, period end of story but most do not want to deal with the hitch in the truck all the time. Generally, they are more money also and take up more room. They are usually for the 'full timer' group.

Anyway, ramble over, enjoy the hunt and enjoy the time away from day to day in a camper. HTH, Richard.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:52 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Thanks Richard, good open advice. I'll definitely do some thinking on this. I wouldn't mind trading my truck for a similar age Diesel 3/4 ton to get the better mileage and capability. Just need to make sure it still fits in my garage.

Thanks to everyone else as well, keep the advice coming. I'm reading each post thoroughly and adding the info to my list of things to ponder.

Lots of thinking to do.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:22 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:34 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Good point on the water. This will probably be a very difficult trade off for you. My opinion is to have as much fresh water as possible. You can trade off on the black water tank...how many GALLONS of poo do you really need to store? Anyway, I am very particular about my fresh water tanks sanitation. I NEVER hook up to camp ground water supplies unless I know it is a municipal feed and not just a well. Nasty fresh water tanks can be a BEOCH! I carry 100 gallons fresh, and I have stayed a week in the trailer with 8 people and not had an issue. The issue is with the 50 gallon gray water tank. If you can, get the gray water tank to match the fresh water tank in size, although I have NEVER seen it this way. Still it's something that I REALLY want to upgrade on mine.

The big problem for you will be the fact that all this fresh water will weigh too much for the 1/2 ton to haul nicely, so you will likely either be looking for a different truck, or have to make some serious compromises.

As a side note, one quirky thing about a 5er...if you end up wanting to do "doubles", you can do this with a 5er that isn't over a certain length. IIRC that is 23'. Anyway, you must have a commercial doubles license and parking can be a PITA, but it does make for a very versatile package. You have truck, then 5th wheel living trailer, then whatever vehicle or utility trailer you want as a tag behind the 5er. Aside from having one of those huge toter homes that can basically tow anything and what would be the bed area of the semi truck is now your living quarters, the doubles is pretty much the most adaptable setup I can think of. Of course there are trade offs to every setup, and as others have said, what you really need to do is go rent some different models and figure out exactly which type of trailer you NEED. Or if you and the wife even really want to do the camping thing frequently enough to justify the expenses.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:00 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Good discussion... I have some other questions:

1. Diesel Gas Mileage - separating fact from fiction
I have friends who claim their Diesel trucks get 20mpg in every day driving and actually get better mileage while towing. Seems obviously false but why would they lie? Is the difference really that much between Ford, Chevy, Dodge and the Diesel engine they use?

2. What can I really expect for mileage? I'm a Ford fan so am looking at pricing on F250's with a Power Stroke in the year 2004-2006 range. With those having less than 100k miles they are priced similarly to my extremely low mileage 2004 F150 so I might only be a few $k out of pocket.

I am reading here that people aren't getting that great of gas mileage with their diesels... I would expect 20mpg but am reading much less, and not much better towing than what I get with my F150.

I'm opening up to the idea of a 5th wheel hitch. I've seen those that come out with pins and I have a tractor that can lift it in and out easily enough so it could be removed after every trip without problems. Just not sure I want the extra height of a trailer that seems to come along with it.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:16 PM   #27 (permalink)
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1. Diesel Gas Mileage - separating fact from fiction
I have friends who claim their Diesel trucks get 20mpg in every day driving and actually get better mileage while towing. Seems obviously false but why would they lie? Is the difference really that much between Ford, Chevy, Dodge and the Diesel engine they use?
They probably drive in stop and go traffic in their everyday driving and tow down the highway... but that is just a guess on my part.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:42 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Let me put in a shameless plug for my moms 2011 5th wheel she is trying to sell. Currently in PA but delivery considered depending on location
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:52 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Let me put in a shameless plug for my moms 2011 5th wheel she is trying to sell. Currently in PA but delivery considered depending on location
2011 Keystone Montana HIGH COUNTRY 323RL Fifth 5th Wheel RV Camper NO RESERVE in RVs & Campers | eBay Motors
Holy crap that thing is nice. Too much trailer for me but nice
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:54 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I have a '96 F250 crew cab with a 7.3L powerstroke. Lots of people say the 7.3l is the best motor Ford had (not sure, but I hear that lots). Only mods are turbo-back exhaust with no "cat" (particulate filter I think they call them). Anyway, I tow a LIGHT 27' travel trailer (about 4500 lbs). And I drive hills watching my EGT's. When I hit about 1050*, I back out of the throttle so they don't keep climbing. My last camping trip took me up over Mt. Hood. I was in freaking 2nd gear and down to 35 mph! I also only get about 12 mpg towing (and I don't drive that thing hard like most diesel owners seem to) and around 17 is the best I can do not towing. I also have travelled with my brother in law and his Toyota Tundra pulling his trailer. I swear he does better than I do! Now I may get a couple MPG better than him, but that gasoline engine did great towing his trailer.

So the other downsides to diesel are expensive maintenance. I run full sythetics in mine. (Amsoil) at 14 quarts capacit, it costs me about $140 for an oil change. Sure I only change oil once a year, but that's crazy... I also have a 17qt capacity in my tranny. It has two batteries to replace. And the price of diesel fuel is basically a few cents more than premium unleaded at the moment. It's also pretty stinky and my wife isn't a fan of the fumes (I kind of dig the smell). Plus, they're easy to "hop up" so it can quickly become another money pit (chips, injectors, oil pumps, bigger turbos, gauges, exhaust, etc).

I guess what I'm saying is, diesels aren't all that people make them out to be. Gas engines do fine. But I agree that 1/2 ton may be a little "light". But there's LOTS of "1/2 ton towable" campers out there.

Also, don't be tempted by the hybrid models. In our weather you're almost guaranteed to get some rain - especially in spring camping. Putting away a wet canvas sucks. I'd recommend you stay away from pop up/hybrid style campers with canvas ends.

Also, others have noted layout. If you go to a big dealer to walk through their campers you'll find several layouts. It's funny, but I found the opposite as another post I read about most of them having bunks and being layouts for a family. I was LOOKING for a bunk layout and found very few of them. Most of the trailers I saw seemed to be more aimed towards a couple rather than a family.

Also, I LOVE the slide-outs. Lots of people say they add a bunch of weight. I don't see it. There's not really that much more weight. It's a small motor that runs the slide. And there's a little bit more wood, but my 27' trailer with a slide weighs under 4300 lbs dry. Get a slide! I love the room they add. Makes a world of difference.

You'll also need a weight distributing hitch with that 1/2 ton. That will help. You might also want to consider a trailer that's well insulated. Camping in the spring and fall is some of my favorite camping. It's also MUCH easier to get a site when school is in session. I actually rarely camp in the summer because I can't seem to plan my life 9 months in advance like most of these campgrounds seem to require in the northwest!

Well have fun. I freaking LOVE camping! Just go to a big dealer and walk through all their trailers. You'll find stuff you like and don't like.

-Mike
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