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Old 10-15-2003, 04:33 AM   #1
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Hello, I have been reading the entries with interest these last few days. Glad to see/read that there are few characters out there and lots knowageable and interesting people. MY KIND'A PEOPLE !!!

My wife and I along with our dog are considering the world of full timing. We live in Colorado now. I have dreamed about seeing this country every since I was a little kid. So has my wife. We feel this is our time.
I knew airstream was The Way.
The model will be a 28 footer... ...not sure of the mdel name...
But this really is about TOWING.
We have only driven Toyotos.
Our big car experience is a Toyota 4 runner. And we have a Camry as well.
I realized that we would need either a 3/4 ton truck or a ton truck.

Now - over to the twin worlds of DESIEL vs REGULAR

[**please excuse any spelling mistakes]


What is the real difference here?

When we unhitch we will be using this vehicle as our "get around " car.
My main concern with a Tow Vehicle is dependency and strength, Not overkill. But if I have to overkill to make sure then,... "beam me up scottie". I am ready for power.


Today I ask a fellow about his 1/2 ton pick up truck and he pointed out the twin steering device his truck had. This is where when you turn the tires left the rear left ones turn as well as the front tires. So all 4 tires turn.
"Neat, HuH?" he said to me. I smiled back with an approving nod.
"Thiss'll get you into spots un'just can't image!"
But what do I know? I"m just a shmoe who don't know the car thing.

More ramblings here : If those questions did ring your bells how about these?

I have to buy a truck...maybe buy it it new, Hmmmm
maybe by it with under 40,000 miles on it...maybe a year and a half old...

But regardless ,,, ,,,My GUT TELLS ME I GOTTA GO USA so .-.


am i missing anybody?

If you had to do it again in terms of your vehicle, what would you have gotton?
Or better yet you are hapy with yours - please tell me why - be brief or not, and tell me model numbers and other ID stuff.
new questions:

*******Any thougths about buying what I need (A/S and vehicle) in a state without state sales tax. I figure this to be about $90,000.oo Are these states Texas , Oregon, Nevada, Delaware? Are there more stastes? Are these even correct?
I usually don't work with these sums of monies but if I can save a few percent, that might be worth my while. any thoughts?

new questions

Do you have any great stories about your dealer? Is buying through a dealer the best or the only way to go?
Would visiting the factory help?

Are there dealers to avoid - I am in the Denver area. The fellow who helped us only new about A/S for 3 months. Not a fountain of knowledge. He tried.

So are there any GREAT dealers out there ? Who are they and why are they great?
Is it importany to buy from a great reputable dealer. and how do you find these dealers? Tomorrow I am going to call the company and get the skinny and as much of this and more if I can.

Those are just a tiny bit of the questions I have.

Thanks for your ears and responses...

with a smile jaleibo
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Old 10-15-2003, 05:19 AM   #2
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Smile Welcome!

Welcome to the Forums! It sounds as though you are planning to embark on quite a journey; the RV touring lifestyle can be a LOT of fun.

You have many good questions; hundreds of posts in dozens of threads on these forums have been devoted to exactly the questions you ask.

I would suggest that you set aside several hours and begin a systematic search of this site using the search engine available in the upper left hand corner of the home page. Just put in "Diesel" for example, and it will give you all of the threads containing "Diesel" for you to read.

You'll undoubtedly have many of your questions thoroughly explored, if not completely answered. While many of the issues you raise come down to personal preference, you'll have the combined knowledge of all of the forum members in making informed decisions.

Best of luck in your quest!

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Old 10-15-2003, 05:57 AM   #3
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Wow ... lots of questions. That's good.

Yes, using the search engine on this site is a great way to dig up info.

I'll jump in here on the GMC - Ford - Dodge question.

First of all, each brand has their own strengths and weaknesses .. so I would suggest you visit a few of the enthusiasts sites for each brand.

Ford: The Diesel Stop

GMC: The Diesel Page

I don't have a link for a Dodge site .. perhaps another member can provide that.

You will notice that these sites are primarily for Diesel trucks ... but you will find some discussion on gas engines too.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-15-2003, 06:14 AM   #4
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Good search advice from Roger!

In addition, try to rent your preferred tow car/van/truck for a weekend or two prior to purchase.

I bought a new Chevy PU a couple of years age, and never could get my butt to "fit" into the seats. Sold the truck with only 2000 miles on it.

To replace it I bought a 1 ton ford diesel conversion van/PU rated in excess of 10,000 lbs. I love it.

With the dogs (we travel with 5) a van/4 door PU is the way to go when towing/travelling.

Err on the side of caution when purchasing your tow vehicle (never heard anyone say "I wish I had a bit less HP, Tow Rating, Seating Area, Storage Room, Braking Ability, Seat Padding, Visibility, etc, etc, etc").

At least one of the Forum Members has a converted Over The Road tractor as a pull vehicle, looks funky, but it also makes a lot of sense. Power to spare, registered as a Motor Home, so licenses are reasonable, all kinds of interior room. relatively cheap to purchase and operate (surprisingly good fuel economy), and talk about collision security!

It all boils down to personal choice, so take your time, research, and buy wisely. Crash a couple of ralleys and don't be shy about asking everyone about their tow/trailer setup. Most people would rather talk about nothing else!

Explore, Experience, Study, Compare.

Be Safe!

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 10-15-2003, 08:42 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums.

Well I guess since I'm a Gear head I'll start with the tow rig.

I'm a GM guy by nature but I don't have a bad thing to say about Fords truck line. The F250 SD's with the Powerstroke deisel is a hard to beat set up. Honestly in the class of vehicles your talking The big three are all putting out respectable products. The Cummings engine is sound, The Durmax is as well.

For what your planning I think overall the Deisel is the way to go. A Empty F250 Deisel will get 18mpg no problem. Identical truck with the V10 gas motor gets 10mpg. With lots of miles the Deisel makes up for it's initial price. Deisels will move big weight with less effort.

Down side to the Deisel is general maintance is a little more. Powerstroke has a Huge sump as does the other manufactures. and takes a little over 2 gallons of oil per change ( more then double what your camery requires). Going sythentic with super high quality filter set ups can stretch the service intervals. Amsoil has some good products and worth looking into. Now Deisels already go a little longer between changes so with the better filter and sythetic you get up to around 8,000 between changes.

There is also items like fuel filters and addatives for cold weather to keep the fuel from gelling, Locating a Deisel fuel station in remote areas that has freash fuel, Water seperators etc that als need regular attention on a deisel. Not hard stuff to attend to but does take time and a little extra money. They are a little more tempermental in the winter when cold starting. Deisel is like 401 in the long term its worth it. I have heard the break even point over Gas is around 125,000 miles.

If you want turn the key and go then stick with the Gassers. If you want something that will still be going strong at 300k then Deisel.

My current tow rig of choice, if money was no object, would be the F250 Crew cab short bed Superduty. All the room most could ever need for four adults, LOTS of storage for stuff you want to keep handy on long hauls. Great power and fuel echonomy.

The four wheel steer is a neat feature and does make navigating tight spaces easier but it's a new set up and yet to stand the test of time. It adds a lot to the cost and it may well increase maintance. Honda played with that on a few vehicles and you often hear of $400 repairs every 100k on them.

Here is an alternative to 4 wheel steer when it comes to moving the camper around in tight spaces. Put a reciver hitch set up on the front of the tow rig. I have this on one of my trucks and it's great for getting the camper in just the right spot. I plan to add the same to my Tow rig that I will be using for traveling. It's $400 at a trailer place instead of $3k on the list price.

Now I will point out that you might want to concider motor homes. You could pick up a good condtion few year old MH for the cost of the Tow rig. Put your camry on a tow dolly and pull it. Your traveling expense will increase with the wrose MPG of a motor home but if your staying at places for 2-4 weeks at a time it will quickly be offset by having a small economical car to use when you reach your destination.
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Old 10-15-2003, 10:04 AM   #6
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For Dodge diesel trucks try these two websites.


All the info you could want on Dodge and Cummins applications.

1987 Avion 34V travel trailer (the other cigar tube).
2002 Dodge CTD 3500 Dually, Auto, 4x4
1986 F250 T/C 6.9 Diesel, LB,S/C,4x4,Auto
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Old 10-15-2003, 10:51 AM   #7
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I buy FOUR GALLONS of Shell Rotella T and a Motorcraft filter for $35 at Wal-Mart, then pay the oil change place at the car wash $15 to change the 15 quarts and top off the other fluids.

At first I was pretty paranoid about diesel fuel quality and used Stanadyne additive every tank. I've discovered that most stations that do any reasonable sales of diesel have pretty quality stuff, and it's winterized so it won't gel when cold.

I do keep a bottle of Racor biocide and a bottle of Stanadyne in the holder in the driver's side suicide door for those times when I must fuel at a station of questionable quality, as well as for when I'm fueling up in the South, where it may not be winterized, and headed North, in the winter. I do put a little biocide in every so often.

I commute with this truck and it gets 14 mpg on all city streets with a lot of stop and go. We've gotten 19-20 mpg at 70 mph on all-Interstate trips without the trailer twice now. I haven't towed far enough with it to get a good fuel calculation.

The Wait To Start light goes out in less than a minute even when cold, but the glow plugs continue to operate for up to 2 minutes when it's very cold. You can see the cab lights get brighter, and hear the relay click when they cut off, and if it's below freezing, I wait that long before starting. Have never had a problem starting in the winter.

As far as cost-benefit, you don't have to amortize the whole MSRP of the diesel option over many miles. In the first place, most pay closer to dealer invoice for a vehicle, and in the second, you get much of that money back on trade or sale when it comes time to replace the truck. Used diesel trucks are popular.

In the meanttime, it's wonderful to be pulling down the highway with the engine ticking over at 1,600 rpm, and climbing hills at 2000+ rpm in Drive with the torque converter locked vs 4000+ rpm in 2nd with the torque converter unlocked and generating heat on a gasser.

We're empty nesters and have no need for a crew cab to seat 4 adults on long trips, so we opted for the extended cab, long bed, which is much more practical for us, in about the same wheelbase as the crew cab, short bed.

I'll never buy another truck for towing unless it has a diesel.
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Old 10-15-2003, 12:38 PM   #8
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Whoever told you Texas didn't have a sales tax?

And it applies to vehicles, too - 6+ percent. We don't have an income tax however. Yet.
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Old 10-15-2003, 12:51 PM   #9
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I don't think it matters where you buy the vehicle, you have to pay the sales tax in your home state, when the title is transfered to that state.

As far as diesel vs gas engine: What RoadKingMoe said.
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Old 10-15-2003, 01:17 PM   #10
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I haven't towed with mine yet, but the first thing I noticed was that there was no more shifting on the little ups and downs in the Texas Hill Country. My 5.3L shifted on just about every hill. The diesel just gets a tad louder and over we go. That 520# of torque at a low RPM really makes a difference.

As to mileage, I got 17.2 first tank and 18.6 second tank about half city and half country driving.
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Old 10-15-2003, 03:00 PM   #11
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diesel vs gas

My two bits...
Before you buy a diesel, stand next to
it while running and try to have a conversation. rattle...rattle....rattle......
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Old 10-15-2003, 03:31 PM   #12
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Haven't stood outside a late-model diesel, have ya? The Duramax started the trend towards quiet, and the new Ford and Dodge (yes, even the Cummins!) engines have even bested it in that area.

I like the way mine sounds... not as loud as the old Cummins, but a lot more like a "diesel" than the Duramax.
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Old 10-15-2003, 03:35 PM   #13
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Newbie with qts

Greetings jaleibo and welcome to the Forums!

If you had to do it again in terms of your vehicle, what would you have gotton? Or better yet you are hapy with yours - please tell me why - be brief or not, and tell me model numbers and other ID stuff.
My recent tow vehicles have included a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (360 c.i. V8), a 1995 K1500 Z71 Chevrolet Club Cab pickup, and my current K2500 GMC Suburban as well as a variety of three Vintage tow vehicles. The only tow vehicle that I would never repeat is the pickup truck, but that is a personal choice (I detested driving the pickup). My favorite by far is the Suburban with its 7400 VORTEC V8, heavy duty overdrive automatic transmission.

If I were to purchase a new tow vehicle today, there would be no question in my mind. It would be a special ordered new C2500 Suburban with the 8100 VORTEC V8 and heavy duty overdrive automatic transmission. My current Suburban has 117,000 miles and I fully expect it to go at least 300,000 miles before it is replaced in about six years. The only weak point on my current Suburban is the electronic transfer case on the four-wheel-drive system - - it has been problematic since the truck was new and since I will have relocated to a warmer climate by the time replacement is needed four-wheel-drive will not be on my next vehicle (limited slip rear differential, however, will be a requirement). I have only used four-wheel-drive twice in twenty years when towing the trailer (it is primarily for getting to work during the Winter), and in both of those cases it wouldn't have been necessary had I waited an hour or two for the heavy dew to dry.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the economy of the Suburban both solo and when towing. Just this past weekend, I completed a trip of 1,000 miles (solo) and averaged 15 MPG using 92 octane premium. My most recent extended trip with my '64 Overlander (6,000 pounds fully loaded) netted 12 MPG towing (with 4.10 differentials, I am able to tow in overdrive on all but the steepest grades with no gear hunting and no adverse effects on the transmission). In daily commuting (7 miles one-way) my average is 12 MPG, but this is in a rural area with limited traffic.

I have never tried a diesel powered vehicle for two reasons. The first, and most important, is that there are no reputable repair shops in the community where I live and driving (or having an inoperable vehicle towed) 60 miles to the nearest reputable shop isn't something that I want to do. The second is cost. I have been able to get more than 200,000 miles out of each of my gas powered vehicles (with the exception of the '95 Chevrolet pickup - - and I traded it strictly because I hated to drive a pickup), and can't see the great economic benefit to diesel when my gasoline vehicles have been exceptionally trouble-free past the 225,000 mile mark. Quite honestly, I prefer the familiarity of the gasoline V8 for my tow vehicle.

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin D. Allen
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Old 10-15-2003, 04:59 PM   #14
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I respectfully disagree with Kevin.

I find there are just too many things that one shouldn't or wouldn't want to carry inside a passenger compartment OR inside the trailer, to not have a pickup truck for camping.

Heavy things, like a coupla Honda generators, or jerry cans of additional water.

Flammable things, like the above generators as well as a coupla 5 gallon cans of gas for them.

Possibly infested things, like firewood (also makes heavy projectiles in a passenger compartment)

Greasy things, like the BBQ grill

Nasty things, like the Tote-Tank

Muddy things, like chocks and blocks, the rolled up patio rug and lawn furniture, and often water hose and electrical cords.

And so on. No problem in a truck bed.

The other problem with SUVs built on truck a chassis is that the additiional weight of the bodywork and all the luxury options, the sometimes softer springs and almost always softer shocks and tires, reduces their capacity, not to mention makes the suspension mushy and more subject to sway.
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Old 10-15-2003, 05:38 PM   #15
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I gotta jump in here and say that while I understand Kevin's preferences .. I agree more with Moe's point of view.

Petunia and I had our hearts set on an Excursion and a 34' Classic .. until I did a weight study and found that I wouldn't be able to load the X with anything of substance .. unless I wanted to ignore the GVWR of the vehicle.

Moe's points in the past about being able to carry heavy, flammable, infested, greasy, nasty and muddy things got me to thinking about a truck instead of the Excursion SUV.

The F-350 I am ordering will be able to carry far more than the X and at a much lower price.

Then I remembered the parents of a good friend of mine ... met them in Pismo Beach ... they were towing their Airstream with a truck .. and pointed out the virtues of being able to put all that firewood and greasy hitch stuff in the bed. They had a real nice Snug Top to keep everything secure ... a real nice arrangement.
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Old 10-15-2003, 05:50 PM   #16
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Wink Things...

Originally posted by RoadKingMoe
...Heavy things, Flammable things, Possibly infested things, Greasy things, Nasty things, Muddy things...
My appologies, Moe for the severe editing... but I confess to be a long-time George Carlin fan, and as I read your post I flashed on one of his more infamous quotes:

"Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things."

Yeah, ok, so free-association ain't my strong suit...

AIR 2053 Current: 2004 Airstream Interstate "B-Van" T1N Sprinter & 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis
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Old 10-15-2003, 07:04 PM   #17
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I'm not wanting to start a "my tow vehicle is better than yours" war here, but for a contrary point of view I'll vote for a van.

I don't carry a tote tank, generators, or gasoline in my vehicle. Nor firewood ( Does anyone else besides me wonder at the atavistic urge that compels people to go somewhere and set fire to wood?). Anyway, hoses, blocks, grill, cords, chairs, etc. are all stored in the closets or ourside storage, in the trailer where it is ready to roll at a moment's notice. I DO frequently carry bicycles, or worse, a tandem bike, and a van is just perfect for that.

Honesty compels me to admit, however, that my tow vehicle is a Chevy 1/2 ton diesel extended cab pickup. I just would rather have a van. And, in the interest of fairness, I have to add that 4X4 vans are expensive, if you need four wheel drive.

The point is that the tow vehicle you choose depends on what you carry and how you use it. Other people will have other priorities.

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Old 10-15-2003, 07:27 PM   #18
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I haven't tried it yet, but I'd bet a bicycle would fit on each side of the longitudinally mounted queen bed, even if the front wheel had to be removed.

And now we approach the subject of 4WD. I am SO GLAD we opted for that! I've been on near level dew-laden grass twice now where the torque of the diesel just spun both of the limited slip rear all-terrain tires tugging against the weight of the 34', which even with the load spread over six tires, caused them to sink into the damp soil about 1/2".

Four tires, driven with the torque multiplication of Low Range, which also got the engine up to enough rpms the turbo was providing boost, made a HUGE difference, and gave me not only more torque, but more control over it.

I never really intended to take the 34 off-road, but it's wound up that's where we've been most times we've been out.

Nevertheless, I still carry a 30,000 lb 3" X 30' snatch strap because one of these days the 4WD may not be enough and there may be a 2WD on better footing that can pull me out.
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Old 10-15-2003, 09:52 PM   #19
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I aspire to your full timing but, wife hasn't bought in yet.

Your 28 ft a/s will weigh about 6800-7000# loaded including hitch weight(assuming late model wide body). That doesn't include water if you are boon docking.

I personally think 28/29 ft is the ideal/max length to tow if you are moving on a regular basis and full timing.

I don't think Toyota will be a tow option for at least 2-3 years. They don't have a true 250/2500 level truck and only 240hp at present. They are building a new engine factory in Tenn. at the present time so they are coming but, I doubt you want to wait that long.

I have the 2003 GMC 2500HD Gas 300HP Crewcab short bed 4X4. GM rates it to pull up to 9200 lbs. I tow a 29' Sovereign and it has absolutely no problem with my trailer at 6800#. However, I am sure the diesels will get 3-4 mpg more loaded or unloaded. My numbers are 11/12 pulling and 15/16 unloaded. The truck has all kinds of power but, there is no way that 330 ft lb of torque will match the diesels 520+ on hills. However, the premium was $5000 for the engine and $1700 for the Allison trans. If I were going to tow a 34' a/s, I would probably have the diesel with 520+ ft. lbs of torque.
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Old 10-15-2003, 11:44 PM   #20
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GM gas engines produced after 98 are subject to "piston slap" and start to knock real hard every time the engine is cold
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