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Old 07-24-2006, 08:33 AM   #1
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Need help in selecting a Pickup Truck for a 34 SO

I am thinking of upgrading both my trailer and truck. I am pretty sure I want to go to a Classic 34 SO but that said what should I get for a truck ? (I do not want an SUV, I really prefer having a pickup). Ultimately we intend to keep our rig out in the western US to explore (hopefully for many years) so I want to make sure I have something powerful enough to take up hills etc. I am not real car/truck savvy so any suggestions will be appreciated.. What are others with 34's using?
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Old 07-24-2006, 08:44 AM   #2
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Any of the big 3 diesels in 3/4 ton HD ot one ton capacity.

Then, either install an expanded fuel tank (transfer Flow) or an in-bed aux fuel tank (or both) for extended range. I have a 30-gallon in-bed tank and wish I would have opted for 60 gallons.

Having plenty of fuel capacity allows you to find cheaper fuel and/or be able to fill up at smaller stations when not attached to the trailer.
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Old 07-24-2006, 10:05 AM   #3
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What John said with a few extras thrown in.

Stay away from dual rear wheel trucks. Too stiffly sprung for what you need.

Think long and hard before you buy a 4X4 truck. In the case of the Ford Super Duty trucks (F250/350) most of the trucks you find on a dealer's let will be 4X4s. I "parked my ego" when I bought my current truck and couldn't be happier. It's a 2WD and to date is the best truck I've ever owned. I've owned 2 4X4 trucks since 2001 and never used the 4WD feature on either truck. With a 2WD truck you end up with a lighter/simplier truck that costs at least $2500 less and get better fuel mileage.

Consider a crewcab. The extra room is obvious and the crewcab is much quieter than an extended cab truck because of the extra door pillar.
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Old 07-24-2006, 10:19 AM   #4
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I've pulled my two Airstreams with four pickups, two of them diesels. The old Chevy 6.2L was a workhorse but didn't have much power. My present truck is an old 1996 Dodge diesel with a manual transmission. I'm totally sold on the Cummins diesel because of the great way it handles my Airstream and for the wonderful fuel economy (I'd be happy to respond to questions about details). What pickup you should buy depends on some things about you.

1) Will you buy new or used? There are issues with every vehicle that is made so when buying used it is necessary to do a little research to find some of these problems with a truck you may be interested in. For example, the older series of Dodge automatics had some transmission issues, especially those with the Cummins diesel. Some of the problems were owner caused (pulling big hills in overdrive being one cause), but there did seem to be design problems. There are aftermarket cures that take care of the problems and some used trucks may have had the upgrade. I'd want to make sure it had been addressed or else I'd want to get a good enough deal that I could make the upgrade when needed. Another example is the way above average problems with the earlier Ford 6.0 diesels. GM Duramax has some issues as well. It doesn't mean any of these are a bad deal, but one should go into a purchase fore-armed and have the vehicle thoroughly checked over. Whether gas or diesel, run a Carfax report and have a trusted mechanic check it out thoroughly. If you buy new at least you have the relative safety of a factory warranty.

2) Do you prefer manual or automatic? I mentioned the Dodge issues with automatics, but other brands may have issues as well. There may be fewer issues with the manuals but nothing is perfect, no matter what the die-hard fans of a particular brand may say! I preferred the manual but when I bought it (used) my left knee was lame and I wasn't sure I could operate the clutch, especially backing up. I've had zero problems with the knee issues and find it easier to back up than my previous automatics.

3) Can you tolerate the higher noise level of a diesel engine? I absolutely love my Cummins, but my old twelve valve engine is noisy. All the new diesels are more quiet than older ones, but compared to gassers they are still noisy! All modern vehicles are obscenely expensive to repair, but diesels tend to be more so. Of course, the good ones won't need many repairs. Also, diesels hold more oil so oil changes will be more expensive.

If I needed a new truck and money was no issue I'd buy a Dodge Cummins quad-cab. However, If God keeps blessing my old '96 Dodge and it keeps going, it may be my final truck! Yes, I like it that much.

Gene
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Old 07-24-2006, 10:45 AM   #5
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Right now is a good time to buy, end of year deals can be had on '06 models.

One poster mentioned that 4wd is not necessary, but he does not live in Massachusetts, where you will get more use out of 4wd.

One of the other posters mentioned Cummins and he also mentioned the noise of diesels. He has an older Cummins, and they are very loud.

The new GM diesels are very quiet, and the latest Ford and Cummins are quieter than their predecessors.

The Allison transmission in the GM pickups is widely regarded as the best transmission, with its tow/haul mode with grade braking feature and now it has six speeds for better fuel economy.

You can see by our signature that we have a Chevrolet 2500 HD diesel and we couldn't be happier with it. Comfortable, quiet, powerful, and economical to drive.
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Old 07-24-2006, 11:55 AM   #6
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A Good Time To Buy!!!

I agree, now is a VERY GOOD time to buy a new truck off the dealer's lot.

Even though I own and love a PSD powered Ford if I were in the market for a new truck I would seriously look at a Duramax powered Chevy/GMC with the 6-speed Allison automatic.
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Old 07-24-2006, 12:32 PM   #7
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What do you want your truck to do besides pull an Airstream 34'? Do you take extra folks, or just you in the front seat? How many miles will you drive it? How long will you keep it? Is unladen fuel mileage a big issue or will it spend most of it's life with you with an Airstream attached when it moves? Do you haul 'outside' stuff, or stuff that you want to haul under a camper shell? All questions to ask yourself before you start looking. They'll help narrow your search a little.

We have an Excursion that we tow our 34' with that we use occasionally as the family 'bus'. I wanted the additional seating. More often than not, it sits in the garage awaiting it's next towing gig. The 4x4 is very useful in starting on wet grass or for moving the trailer on any kind of incline. Diesel v. gas? The diesels have more torque. Maintenance costs are about a wash. Gas has more parts for tuneups but diesels use more oil at change time... LOTS more oil.

Any 3/4 ton truck with a 10k or better tow rating will do. Find one that you like that suits your needs in the price bracket you're willing to pay.

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Old 07-24-2006, 01:00 PM   #8
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Wink pickup selection

All of the above info is good info. I chose an 06 Dodge 3/4 ton crew cab 4x4 to tow my 30' classic/slide. It has more power than needed, even on long steep grades. The automatic in the 06 is great![tow-haul etc.] If cost is a factor, check out Dave Smith Motors in Kellog, Idaho, the worlds largest Dodge dealer. He also has a chevy dealership if that is your choice. I saved over $3200.00 over the best price I could find in California.

One question that you might ask yourself: Why are most,if not all, of the big rig 18 wheelers six cylinder diesels. If you answer that question, then the decision should not be difficult. f.w.i.w.
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEO
I am pretty sure I want to go to a Classic 34 SO I really prefer having a pickup. What are others with 34's using?
hi deo and others pulling triples....
20k miles now pulling with an 05 psd....i really really like it.

as for what others are using,
while at the int rally in salem,
i formally counted tow rigs for a few days....
seems there has been a shift, at least in this subset...

counted 325 fords and 190 gm products....
before i stopped counting....
thats truck and suvs and 1/2-1 ton stuff.
most of the fords were superduties
most of the super duties were psd...
i saw 3 v10s also.
most of the gm products were diesel
but nearly to the extent as the fords...
very few mid cab, and even fewer regular cab....
lots of crew/super/4door cabs
20% long beds....which i have a prefer...
and an ocassional van...not many, less than 10...
almost as many a/s b-vans as tow vehicles...

really the 2nd most common powerplant i saw,
and the one getting by far the most time in use...
were the cummins.....
because all the generators making juice were 6 cylinder cummins!

anyway back to your questions....
there were lots of 34s....well over 100
and more with slides than i've ever seen...maybe 10-12.

so for the 34s....
-virtually all were mated to 3/4-1 ton ford, dodge, gms.
-only the older narrow body models were seen with gas pullers
-but even these models were mostly linked to diesels....
-most (>70%) had hensley hitches...
i stopped counting hensleys at 100, of course they were on lots of sizes/models..

i agree with what other have said...any of the 3 are gonna work...
srw is plenty...unless ya just love the dual look...
steve is correct 2wd is smarter for most of us...
but i've needed my 4x4, 5-6 times in grass or soft gravel,
and once in my driveway without the trailer!
the 2x4s are hard to find...even for a test drive...
i'd like not to have 4x4 and would just learn not to park on grass,
but with boondocking it is helpful....some.

if you are gonna get the 34/slide model put a class 5 receiver on....
with a 2 inch outlet...
you'll be up there on tongue weight so just do it...

i really like the brake controller on the fords... it sold me
i still can't believe dodge/gm aren't on this issue....
the fords DO have a 6 speed tranny...it's just programmed to use 5 gears...

one interesting bit of hype from the rally....
gm had a tv display...
but only set up for one day,
then they vanished...
which was odd given the numbers of people
looking at new trailers in the same space...
anyway, a gm sales/rep guy was heard telling a/s customers....
"airstream is discontinuing the 34 models, because we (gm) have dropped the big block v8 from the suburban line up....so 34 sales are really gonna drop now, with nothing to pull'em with...."

this created a bit of a stir....the part about the 34s....not the suburbans....because the lot really was full of fords...

these are just my observations from the rally,
and should not be interpreted as facts...

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:14 PM   #10
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First to answer a few questions asked:
  • I will buy new
  • Probably 4x4 .. I have one now and it is really useful in slippery situations and
    I have been in them many times.
  • Definitely a double cab We bring our guinea pigs and rabbit around with us
    and they need AC
  • The truck will be for towing the Airstream and not much else
  • We intend to cover the western states with it so we will put a lot of miles towing
    on the truck
  • Probably automatic
Now a few more questions or topics…..

Diesel or Gas … All in all everyone seems to lean toward diesel .. How hard is it to find fuel? I agree with the suggestion to have two fuel tanks it will definitely make life much easier on long trips.
It sounds like Dodge or Chevy/GMC … What models are we talking about ? The airstream website says the 34 SO is 13,500…

Any other thoughts ?? How do others like the 34’ classic?
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEO
It sounds like Dodge or Chevy/GMC … How do others like the 34’ classic?
love the 34. the slide model has some features which are nice...and for 07 all classics are ltd...and come with hickory standard...
my observation is the slide adds
about 20-30 minutes to setup and 20 to take up...
under the best conditions...
so if frequently changing sites...
or making a quick camp stop...
this is an issue.
although the slide can be left in...without much space loss.

trailer has to dead level and fully stabilized before the slide is moved....
short cuts result in stuck slides...and torque on the frame/shell...

"sounds like"? what's it look like........
cheers
2air'
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEO
First to answer a few questions asked:
Diesel or Gas … All in all everyone seems to lean toward diesel .. How hard is it to find fuel? I agree with the suggestion to have two fuel tanks it will definitely make life much easier on long trips.
It sounds like Dodge or Chevy/GMC … What models are we talking about ? The airstream website says the 34 SO is 13,500…
Actually Airstream says that the 34 SO weighs just over 9,000 lbs empty and has an 11,500 lb GVWR. Tongue weight is 1250 lbs.

Diesel can be semi hard to find at time and expensive off the beaten path. Plan ahead and you'll have no problems.

If you plan to haul more than a few hundred pounds of stuff in the truck then plan on a single rear wheel one ton, The tongue weight alone will push most 3/4 ton 4X4 crewcab diesels near their GVWR.
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Actually Airstream says that the 34 SO weighs just over 9,000 lbs empty and has an 11,500 lb GVWR. Tongue weight is 1250 lbs.
hi steve and deo...

these load figures are somewhat conservative...and just a starting point.
my 34, after options lists the baseweight at ~9000 (spec say ~8k) add water and lpg takes it up to 9600lbs, so carrying capacity is 1900lbs...

on the slide model carrying capacity could be much less at 1000lbs or so...which isn't much stuff in a 34 ft trailer...and the tongue weight will be over 1250lbs if using 40#lp tanks....

i worried about finding diesel too...its never been an issue...yet. considered addon tank, but with 38 gals now i've got 400 mile range which is plenty...
and over 100$ per fill now anyway!

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:55 PM   #14
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DEO,
Fuel is no longer an issue like it was in the early days.
Give a look to the new '06 Silverado Duramax trucks. My current model is so much quieter than the '03 I thought I was having hearing problems. New injectors make it as quiet as a gasoline model.
You might also appreciate 630 lbs of torque in the new ones.
The auto tranny with the manual shifting option is new for '06 and coupled with the Allison Tranny is a jewel indeed.
Take a look and a test drive. I think you might be impressed.
Happy Trails
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