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 > Need advice on my first camper truck

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Dr.Science

Olympia, WA

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Posted: 03/14/21 02:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi. I'm a long time camper and sometime van dweller, but now I've repurposed and am looking for a vehicle to carry an 8-ft Alaskan camper (which I'm also searching for). I do a lot of travel in remote areas with awful roads so I'm looking for a fairly short vehicle, hi clearance 4WD, probably a standard-cab American pickup with a short lift (2-3") and some bash plates added. It must have a payload capacity of 3680 lb to carry my projected loads, and it wouldn't hurt to have some excess on that since it will almost always be carrying the camper. So that means marginally a 2500-class or easily a 3500-class pickup. I've never owned such a big rig before. I'm considering both gas and diesel, each seems to have its own merits and flaws, but engines for those rigs range from 5.3 to 7.8 liter; how important is that displacement, really, if not worried about maintaining 80 mph on the Interstate? Also I notice a lot of options for alternator capacity; if I have the choice, should I go for 300 A or more capacity? Are front-end suspension upgrades desirable for this kind of load? Are stock engine cooling systems adequate, or will upgrades be needed? What else should I be thinking about in the areas of suspension and protection?

Geo*Boy

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Posted: 03/14/21 04:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Look for a 350/3500 series, SRW, 4x4, with gas engine and 6 speed transmission.

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Vermont

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Posted: 03/14/21 05:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Geo*Boy wrote:

Look for a 350/3500 series, SRW, 4x4, with gas engine and 6 speed transmission.


Agreed. Best to have a 350/3500 SRW or DRW truck. Gas is fine. If you can afford a newer truck the ten speed trannies are the cats meow. If the truck has been prepped for plowing with the heavy duty front end that's a plus but not critical. Good hunting.


Shawn
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KD4UPL

Swoope, VA

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Posted: 03/14/21 07:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Any 3500 truck will have an engine plenty powerful enough to haul around a truck camper. I don't see any need for diesel based on the little info you shared. Unless you plan on installing a huge battery bank and inverter with custom high current wiring to the truck's electrical system I think any stock alternator on a 3500 series truck will be fine.
If you notice that Ford trucks with the 6.0 and 6.4 diesel are less expensive than other models you should know it's for good reason. Those engines are highly problematic and expensive to maintain and repair.
I'd look for a GM with the 6.0 or 8.1 gas. With the 6.0 gas a 6 speed automatic will be far better than the older trucks with 4 speed automatics.

LadyRVer

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Posted: 03/14/21 08:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I drove a 2500 Dodge Ram, LB, CC with a 2019 truck camper on it from FL to OR.
Perfectly matched truck/camper weights. Added airbags to truck. No way in hell would I even consider driving a truck camper at 80 mph on the interstate... even on a good traveling day. A whole different ball game to me. Just my 2 cent worth.

My 2500 did great, gas, 5.7 Hemi... if I were to do it again, I would get one with a slide and go the 3500/350 route.. dually.

noteven

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Posted: 03/15/21 05:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a vintage 70’s Alaskan on a manual trans Dodge diesel. A flat deck or utility typebed with camp boxes for outdoor kitchen facilities on the trail or on the road would have rounded out the package nicely.

My current gas 2012 F350 is a nice camper hauler, factory locking rear diff, manual hubs, manual transfer case, low range available in 2 wd for slow trailer backing. It is a cab and chassis model I think the nekked payload is around 4000 lbs. Mine has the rear gas tank so the spare does not fit under the chassis like a pickup.

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CT

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Posted: 03/15/21 06:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Are you sure you need to have the truck "lifted" 2 or 3 inches? Most of the new trucks seem to be really high out of the factory.

Actually, are you looking at brand new or used?


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JimK-NY

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Posted: 03/15/21 06:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would agree with the recommendations above. A 3500/350 would be a better choice. The cost is about the same but the 3500/350 typically has a better suspension, wheels and tires. Definitely avoid the Ram 2500 with rear coil springs.

I am a big fan of diesel engines but with a goal of off road use, I would keep the weight down and go with gas. I don't think the output of the alternator is much of an issue. High output alternators are mainly for using lots of lights such as for snow plowing at night. Few of us are foolish enough to do a lot of off road travel at night.

Are you set on an Alaskan TC? They are heavy compared with other choices.

smarty

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Posted: 03/15/21 10:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The issue of SRW/DRW should be determined by the weight of your camper

noteven

Turtle Island

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Posted: 03/15/21 11:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

smarty wrote:

The issue of SRW/DRW should be determined by the weight of your camper


Alaskans weigh around 2000lbs. C of G is low. A 350/3500 with one is a beauty to drive.

You cannot access the cookery facilities with the top in go mode. I wished I had an outdoor little kitchen on my Alaskan rig. You can sleep on the dinette bed with the top down and get to the fridge.

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