Enemies of Liberty are ruthless. To own your Liberty, you'd better come harder than your enemies..

Friday, June 7, 2013

Motor Vehicle Advice

**UPDATE** From you folks who have owned small Class C rigs - is it worth it if you plan looping the country a few times?  I know diesel is better.  The advantage - I get to have Holly and the dogs with me 24/7.  I get to save on hotel.  I get to live among my own stuff and not live out of suitcases.

Downsides - I move slower.  I pay more in fuel.  Repairing parts and pieces is more frequent. 

Anything I am really missing?  Screw the CruiseAmerica - I have found hunting on Craigslist can find a few gems.  But I'd like some insight from folks who have done it.  I'll probably need either a pair of motorcycles or a small car for local jaunts.

Thanks - K


I am considering a used RV from CruiseAmerica as my primary means of transportation for CQB training.  For instance, this first trip will have me looping the entire country in about 5 weeks: DC, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Sothern California, and WV - and I haven't even sorted dates in the queue for the southern part of the country.

A used RV would allow Holly and the dogs to travel with me, and I could avoid all the housing costs and imposing on kind Patriots.  There are downsides, but not important for this post.

So - I am reaching out to you folks who are good with automobiles.  Back in the day before computers (specifically Jeeps and Chevys) I was competent enough to keep my machines running - but I suck at diagnostics on automobiles. 

So, what should I look for when considering a used RV from a drivetrain and suspension perspective?  From what I can tell, CruiseAmerica buys predominantly V-10 Fords (gasoline) and they sell once the truck hits about 180,000 miles.

I am particularly considering the 23A model.

Here's a link.

Any insight would be helpful from car/truck gurus.



  1. Don't get the V10 it sucks when you have to up and down a lot which you will be doing cross country..Get a diesel it will save you money on fuel and will have more power....

  2. I used to own an F350 longbed crewcab with a V10, averaged 13 to 14 mph on the highway, never had any problems. The V10 has a flat duration cam, which is why it's a little underpowered, but it should be more than adequate for your travels.

    1. My 450 that I drive for work gets six miles to the gallon on average 8 on a good day...The 10 might be OK if you don't have any weight to move but a motor home weighs more than my work truck so he's going to get sucky gas mileage and going up a long hill ain't fun when you have weight and that V10 motor...I agree with the others about just buying a truck and trailer...

  3. Don't walk away, RUN. I agree with what Lineman said. You would be much better off with a diesel. The Ford 7.3 is a good engine, it is the engine the commercial truck I drive has. 205K miles pulling a 40' gooseneck and heavy loads. Can't go wrong with a Cummins diesel. A gas V 10 with 180K is nearing the end of its life, and they drink gas like there's no tomorrow. I've driven Dodge V 10 duallies pulling a moderate load of 10K lbs. Six MPG was good mileage, on flat land here on the Texas coast. Hill country and mountains will have you down to 3-5 MPG...

  4. I concur with lineman, and I've got a '99 V10. It'll handle the hills OK IMO, but the gas is a total killer; that's why mine has been mostly sitting this year.

    Diesel is the way to go, but then you've got to learn the different motors and you gotta keep up on maintenance. The Ford 7.3 is unbeatable, but they stopped making it mid-year '03 and mileage ain't so great. I don't know much about diesels except on green tractors, but I get the impression Cummins is best all around, considering both power and mileage.

    My dream is a mid-90s Cummins--older motors can be made EMP-proof--and just pull a travel trailer. Should there ever be an EMP attack, you're talking major advantage. Also, be sure to check craigslist...not necessarily to buy, but there can be big price differentials in different areas of the country.

  5. I would get a 3/4 ton diesel pickup with a small trailer.
    When you get where you are going, you can set up camp
    and have a vehicle to drive around.

  6. Thanks everyone. I did not know that the V-10 was nearing the end of its life at 180k. I expected to have to do an overhaul on the suspension - but a new motor after spending $20k on the truck and at least another $5k on suspension is too much. I'd prefer a diesel for multiple cross-country runs, but that's not an option for CruiseAmerica. So, I'll have to look for other options. I was looking to do this on the cheap, until I know for certain the CQB program will last a few years.

    Thanks, all.


    1. You will be miles ahead with a used Dodge Cummins diesel and 5th wheel. You can find those for a total of $20K and you will get much more for your money.

  7. I've done a bit of research on used camper/rv's the last couple years.

    Ford dealers tell me a 3/4 ton will have the same towing capability as a 1 ton when it comes to a bumper pull style camper. Increased payload should only matter with a 5th wheel style.

    the V10 Ford's are notoriously bad on gas, and virtually every one I've seen for sale is being replaced by the owner for that reason. This is the first I've seen 180k as a mechanical limit. It may just be everyone gets tired of buying gas before they get to 200k :) 200k is not uncommon for well maintained V8's.

    RV repair shops tell me some brands have gone out of business and while this makes them cheaper to buy, they are also harder to maintain because there is no support.

    Long term RV-ers tell me space gets tight over time. So when there is more than 1 person they recommend slide outs to keep from tripping over each other.

    I prefer Ford over Dodge, but that's political not mechanical.

  8. we have a 2009 dodge cummins diesel 1 ton dually 4x4 automatic used to pull a 33 ft 5th wheel , could have went 100 mph up hill all day long if had enough diesel. Its really what ever you prefer. dealers will tell you anything to sell a vehicle or trailer or rv.
    Just make sure tires on what ever you get are new, by manufacture date. if they are over 5years old from the date they were made they are old and will not last very long at all, I found out the hard way. watch on loading up the gear so it is balanced from one side to other and don't over load on weight. a lot of dealers, people will have the cheapest tires on.
    We couldn't fill the water tank up ( 100 gal ) without being over. Of course we lived in it. drove from montana through canada to maine then to new mexico and finally back to nw montana and blew 4 tires first 200 miles out. and i was told by tire dealers the tires were fine. they were out of date.
    You can get diesel fuel pretty well anywhere now,
    we sold 5th wheel and got a slide in pickup camper so we could go places couldn't with 5th wheel
    you see a lot of fords, chevys and dodges, they all have good and bad things

    1. My folks have an '03 Dodge Cummins. They hauled their 33' 5th wheel from Texas to occupied Kalifornistan, up the west coast, through Canada, and up to the wilderness in Alaska. Yep, you need to replace tires. They had two blowouts. The trailers I used to be in charge of maintaining, hauling fish and water, were used up in two years. Plenty of tread left, but they would blow out due to the constant flexing. RVs are the same. Bouncing down the road and carrying the maximum of their capacity.Being made in China does not help. Those tires are crap, and they will leave you stranded. 50% tread life is the best you can hope for. Beyond that, you are gambling.

  9. If you are familiar with 1rst gen chevy s/b, and are mechanically inclined enough to keep one of those running, why not stick with that? A simple mid 70's to early 80's 3/4 ton will pull a decent sized trailer with ease. Even a heavy 1/2 ton (6 lug axle) would do it. Not to mention it'll cost far less than a newer model motorhome. I've seen both examples of these trucks in excellent shape for far less than $5000. What's a used travel trailer go for?
    To save even more on the initial purchase price, find one with a worn out engine, because if it does need overhaul there is an option to ease the gas quite a bit. Its the 383 ci small block. The 383 ci s/b is very easy to make. It's a 400 s/b crank and rods put inside a 350 block. If you were to overhaul a 1rst gen 350 & were going to replace the crank, it's a simple matter to use the 400 crank & rods in lieu of of the 350 crank. And you can get a 400 crank already machined to fit the 350 main journals. The benefit? a massive increase in torque over a std 350, which directly translates into far better gas mileage.
    My 3/4 ton 4X4 with a 400 s/b gets 11 mgp. this with a stone stock cam & heads & it weighs 6500 lbs. The old 350 in it got around 8 mpg.
    I have cast iron ramhorn manifolds on it, not headers & I run a balance tube on the dual exhaust. That also makes a major difference in the torque, due to far better exhaust scavenging, the 1rst gen s/b having a not very good exhaust port.
    Any of those will come with the 350 or 400 turbo trans, dirt simple, stone reliable, and next to nothing to overhaul. If you look at one with the sm465 trans (granny 4speed) bear in mind 2nd gear on those can really use a shim & snap ring upgrade. 350 or 400 turbo? rebuild & drive on. The one ton truck torque converter ( for a 400 turbo trans) has a slightly higher stall speed than a car torque converter, anvil reliable bolt-in & lets the engine get a little further into the torque curve before the converter stalls out without flailing away like a high-stall converter.
    A very simple and effective upgrade for heads would be the vortec heads instead of the 1rst gen heads. Far better intake velocity and a slightly better exhaust port. Most anything you'd need to use these on the 1rst gen blocks is available in bolt-on, no machining required. A far better intake velocity again translates into a better torque curve, which means better gas mileage.
    Just some food for thought

  10. I will must assuredly regret posting this, but here is my suggestion:


    I await my smiting.

    1. That's fucking hilarious...Good One Zoomie

  11. Thanks for all the help, folks. I was hoping the V-10 used CruiseAmerica would buy me a few years of service, but obviouslu it won't, and even if the engine lasted, that fuel economy would break the bank!

    I owned a 2008 Chevy Dooley with the 8100 V8 and it was a monster, wish I still had that truck. If it looks like the CQB training is going to last more than a year or so, I'll just have to invest in a solid diesel.

    Thanks again.



Please post anonymously. III Society members, please use your Call Sign.