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Old 07-17-2015, 05:47 PM   #1
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Full Timing - Quitting or Starting Over... again?

Provocative title isn't it? I'm not really ready to quit, but I've got the itch for some major changes - again. This is where it becomes a cautionary tale about "saving money" by full-timing.

I've got the seven year itch - again - at two years.

Two years ago I wrecked the Safari and the Silverado... got an Eddie Bauer and a F-150 Ecoboost. Never loved the Ecoboost though I have to admit it's pretty capable. At the time I wanted to save money on gas and have ONE more "all purpose" vehicle rather than a big honkin' tow vehicle. Now I realize I screwed myself with lack of weight carrying capacity in the tow vehicle's bed. (Shoulda got an electric bicycle and a big honking 2500/3500 Silverado.)

I'm not great at purging stuff - but I keep plugging away. And if you're going to full-time you need to carry stuff that others leave in their garage - like tools and a sturdy ladder and a small wet-dry vacuum. And as you get a bit older and less flexible a bed slide becomes less and less a luxury and more and more a good idea...


The EB lacks storage, but it's beautiful. I am quite content to think of it as "my last travel trailer." It hasn't been problem free, but it hasn't cost me a fortune in maintenance either. The biggest (and never ending thing) is keeping the seams properly sealed. Can you ever trust a repair tech to do that job right? IMHO, only if he's got a SealTech and bubble tests it in your presence afterwards!

If you full-time what do YOU do for that ladder you'll always need to keep after those rooftop issues? Actually a standard picnic table turned so that one end is facing the Airstream makes a sturdy and easy "scaffold" to stand on, but I'm constantly standing on tiptoe and then I need to move the darn thing again and again and again. Of course any time getting on the roof becomes urgent I find myself camped at a site with either no picnic table, or one that is on the verge of crumbling into dust if I sneeze on it.

I forgot to lubricate the gear in the flipping TV antenna, now it'll still go up and down but won't rotate... I know it LOOKS simple to replace the gear, but damn I'm going to be up and down at least four times hunting for another tool... I just know it! Curses, foiled again!

The EB has now had three problems with the Air Conditioner and/or furnace, and is on it's third water pump. (I replaced it myself this time - not a "hard job" except for contorting my fat self around on the floor to try to work in that obscenely small cupboard where it's located.) I'm getting a rebuild kit for the old pump... figure if I have one ready to go back in it won't go bad again for 10 years.

Any time you think you're going to save money by doing your own repair - think about the muscle relaxers and massages you might have to pay for AFTERWARDS - I was sore for a week. That of course has to be weighed against "can I trust a repair person to do it right?".


I've got the itch. But I will give you the practical advice ... an EB isn't a good full timer unless you've gone overboard with the tow vehicle.


Now I want some practical advice. I will NOT buy another new tow vehicle, but I also don't want anything too ancient. There are very few used 3/4 ton and 1 ton vehicles on any of the lots locally or for sale locally. I CAN certainly keep the F-150 without huge pain while I lurk waiting for the right one to come along. I'm 99% sure I don't want anything but a Silverado 2500/3500. But I would like input on three specific areas:
  • I don't anticipate living long enough to make a diesel "pay for itself". Are there any other reasons to choose diesel over gas that I should think about?
  • pros and cons of a 3500 vs. a 2500? Other than stiffer suspension? (dirty joke surpressed)
  • any "golden cutoff year" - I don't know that I'd consider going more than 5 years old, but any major improvements since my 2008 that I wouldn't want to miss out on? Yes I know about DEF for deisels.

Anyone have an electric bicycle? How the heck does a complete newbie find a good entry level one? (I grew up with a Schwinn that didn't have any gears to shift.)

Paula
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:56 PM   #2
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Paula, all of life is a compromise. Since you have been full-timing for some time now, you have a really good idea of what you need and want. You have made it quite clear that you want/need a Silverado 2500/3500. I just ran a quick search on cargurus.com for a 2006-2010 Silverado 2500 and found a couple of dozen for sale near where we are. Use the advanced search button to find the exact truck you want.

As for the Airstream, give serious thought to what YOU want and need. You mentioned storage space. What doesn't fit in your EB? Can it ride in the truck? Do you need it? If you got a different coach would you have a place for it?

BTW, we're going through a similar issue. A little over two years ago we bought our Foretravel because at that time it was the coach that made the most sense for what we thought we would be doing as full-timers. Since then our needs have changed some, and we're now thinking about switching from a DP/toad to a PU/34' Airstream. We will need to do some serious purging to make that happen.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:20 PM   #3
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Since we're close enough to the traditional model changeover, the range specified is 2012-2016. (?)

DEF is what makes tuning on the diesels able to replicate pre-2008 fuel economy. That said, the latest gassers are more than capable with any A/S.

I mentioned in another thread that the latest Dodge 2500 has a coil spring/link rear suspension. Much better ride and road holding than the usual leaf spring. Air ride available. With the optional 6.4L Hemi at 410-HP it is impressive.

Most 2500s are going to have enough capacity for need. If the only difference between 2500 and 3500 is some additional capacity then I'd prefer the latter (given that the bed may be carrying 700-1100 pounds in solo miles).

Six speed automatic transmissions are the real benefit of this MY range. Any updates to the vehicles otherwise are secondary as gas motor tuning is optimized by being able to keep the motor in the correct range.

Have a look at braking distances from test reports.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:21 PM   #4
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Paula, don't do entry level bike, get de ent. I do not hav one, but I have a road bike and entry levels can be frustrating. As for truck, get what you had before. Keep EB since u like it and put a cab on truck so ladder goes on top.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:42 PM   #5
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Paula, this is what we carry with us for a ladder:
ANSI 330lbs 9 5ft Telescoping Aluminum Extension Telescope Ladder EN131 Std | eBay
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Old 07-17-2015, 11:51 PM   #6
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Miss Paula,
Simply love our 2500 .. Seen in the avatar. It is named "Thor".. The AS is "Mjolnir"... Seemed appropo.

One thing at a time.... A "cap" on truck bed would give storage.. An aluminum roof rack would give more "storage"...and since most is "bulky" should not detract from your weight carry too much. A "slide bed"'in the truck bed would help with the "achy-breaky " issues our high mileage bones are gathering.....

The "shrinking" ladder seems nice... But it is really scary for me... Gravity and I have a troubled relationship. And if I am "alone" that would be a really careful moment or two...when I would use it.

When we travel we mail back home items I won't need on the trip... Like grandkritter gifts. They love getting mail presents.
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:28 AM   #7
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As I am also considering full timing, I have been looking at 3500 cargo vans as a tow vehicle.

Are there any downsides to this choice -- other than appearance?
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Old 07-18-2015, 11:51 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DearCatJ View Post
As I am also considering full timing, I have been looking at 3500 cargo vans as a tow vehicle.

Are there any downsides to this choice -- other than appearance?
Most of them don't have full frames. They have a partial frame, and part Unibody construction. Wheelbases tend to be shorter, as well. If you do get one, make sure it is the long wheelbase, without the body extension behind the rear axle, full-frame type.
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Old 07-18-2015, 01:25 PM   #9
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Would it be useful to rent a local storage unit to hold some collections, and travel light(er) when you travel with the EB and Ecoboost. Seeing as how you travel from and return to a "home port".
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Old 07-18-2015, 01:40 PM   #10
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For a ladder we are adding a 7' collapsible that we plan to carry in a tube mounted under the Shiny Beast behind the sewer tube.
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Old 07-18-2015, 03:02 PM   #11
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Admittedly the extent of my full-timing was only 6 months...I swear I still for the life of me don't know how people full-timed in anything but a DP or 5th wheel...(Okay, Class A Gas but only if you were staying put...completely imho). Kb0zke make me giggle a little because I can't fathom stepping down from a Foretravel. Most time I get into the discussion (or argument) with anyone stepping down from a DP it always boils down to money.

I agree with the others Paula that you definitely seem to know what you want. If you want to stay in the AS TT family I guess get the biggest sucker they make and definitely get a 3500. I personally recommend any year Denali by GMC. I've had one since they came out and usually trade in every 2 years for a new model and I've enjoyed them all. I will say the 2008 and up interior was defnintely a massive upgrade from the 2006.

But I'll make my usual suggestion to anyone wanting to fulltime. Get a used pusher and then you can just tow your F-150. Problem solved and you'll have all the room you need (and a bedroom slide...I currently don't have one hence my impending upgrade)
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Old 07-18-2015, 03:21 PM   #12
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"If you do get one, make sure it is the long wheelbase, without the body extension behind the rear axle, full-frame type." Terry, which vans are you suggesting?
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Old 07-18-2015, 04:02 PM   #13
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Paula,
I would suggest being very careful in figuring the numbers on buying a new truck, vs buying a "very good, reasonable mileage" two to five year old truck. While it's true that at least in theory, we can say the big hit of depreciation has been taken by the first owner, my observation has been that's mostly reflected in the wholesale value. When you go to buy it "retail" ( especially from a dealer, the price tends to be high indeed. Also consider that at four years old or so, you may be looking at needing to spend some money on a set of tires, and possibly brakes fairly soon. Tends to eat into the so called savings of buying used vs buying new.
Having said that, I will admit that buying new is likely the most costly way to go, but, the difference may not be as bad as you think.

Sounds to me like you'd do well to look at a new GM 3500 SRW with a gas motor, a cab high topper ( ARE brand ? ) and yes, one of the really nice bed slides. If I were going to full time in a travel trailer, that is exactly the setup I would go for, except I would go dually. I saw one the other day in that dark cherry color. Ooooh....nice.

As to "ladder", I too have one of the extend a ladders that someone mentioned earlier. Works well for me.
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Old 07-18-2015, 04:02 PM   #14
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Foiled, to answer your question about an electric bike. I built my own using a kit from ampedbikes, but they seem to be out of business now. If I were to do it over and purchase one new, I'd look at this:
New For 2015 | Electric Bikes | ProdecoTech //electric bicycles that make sense : Electric Bikes | ProdecoTech //electric bicycles that make sense

Keep in mind they are heavy, so check the rating on any bike rack you have, and keep the battery off of the bike when it's racked or while you are driving. Think twice if you are using a bike rack attached to the back of your AS. And you will need to be comfortable lifting a 40# oddly shaped object away from your body. But they are super-fun to ride!
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