So now that we have an idea of which 5th wheel we will be pulling, our research and discussions turned to a truck to pull it. We joined the Grand Design, Full Time RV and 5th Wheel Facebook groups to learn as much as we could from others on which trucks and setups they are using. As for the debate of brands between Ford, GMC and Dodge, I am happy to report that the debate is still alive and well. The answers and reasons behind those answers boil down to individual brand devotion in my humble opinion.
So with brand set aside, we started focusing on what we were going to be doing and where we were going to be going with the RV and truck. We definitely have a desire to boondock, which for those that do not camp alot, means that we would want to camp in places outside of a campground without any hookups to electric, etc. The idea of having space to ourselves in the desert or in front of a mountain range by a babbling brook really gets us excited! Plus the idea of most of those boondocking areas being federal land that is free...free is for me!! This meant possibly driving down dirt roads, some sand, etc. We will also be venturing into the mountains and will need a robust, beefy truck to get our home there. Basically, we want to travel to every corner of this great nation and beyond, so we needed a truck that was going to get us there. After alot of research, we knew that a full ton, diesel dually truck would be the best option.
In early 2017 we went test driving each brand super duty trucks. (Insert heart palpitations here of how much a beast like this would cost!) Rick has always been a Ford fan (and for the most part, owner), so there was probably a bit of an edge there. We took an F350 for a test drive and I was amazed at how smooth the ride was. I guess in my mind it would have rode more like a big diesel semi. Not at all! It was also quiet and did not have the telltale diesel noise upon acceleration. Huh, nice, ok, a potential contender.
Next was a GMC 3500. We had a GMC 1500 truck several years ago and we liked it. Well unfortunately that was not the case in the 3500. It certainly sounded like a diesel and the seats were not as comfortable, which, if we are going to be in this truck alot, that would be a big deal. We walked away with an overall feeling of mehhhh.
Next up was a Dodge that Rick went and test drove by himself and immediately ruled it out. It was a rough ride and he just did not care for it. After researching the specs of each, coupled with the test drives and Ricks overall preference; a Ford F350 it will be.
Since we would most likely have to buy close to or brand new on the RV to get the floor plan we wanted, my hope was we could luck out with a great used truck with an even greater price. Plus, it is only February 2017 and the full time lifestyle wasn't coming into play until summer 2018. We have lots of time to look and find a used truck at a really good deal. I think the idea of a new toy, I mean truck (LOL), was too strong and RIck began looking around. I am sure he will say that he just wanted to start getting reference points on what used trucks were going for, but hey, if you put the thought out there to a man that they will need to get a big, beefy (love that word!) truck at some point for next year...well that is a challenge accepted and the game is on... NOW!
Rick started looking online querying several local dealerships and national car selling sites. Looking for the F350 with dually option and other options we wanted for towing, the available inventory out there on the lot was slim pickings. Oh no, please do not tell me we need to go new again!!! No, no, no! That would eat in significantly to our budget and made me very nervous.
Then one day Rick happened upon a used truck dealer near to where he worked in Fond du lac, WI...Lenz Truck Center. This place was seriously a truck palace with over 500 trucks to choose from. After narrowing it down to a F350, there were a couple on the lot that might fit the bill. Rick stopped after work one night and talked with them about what he was looking for and they said they had one that they thought really might meet all of his requirements, however they couldn't show it to him because it was at a Ford dealer in Plymouth having a US dash put in to replace the Canadian one. You may think I am kidding but this is a real thing! They had to swap out kilometers and liters for miles and gallons to sell it in the US. You see this truck was from Canada and it was used a very short time, perhaps never left the Canadian Ford lot and was then taken to the auto auction in Michigan. It was a 2017 F350 Lariat with all the options, except sunroof and auto start with VERY low miles. Our theory is that they may have not been able to sell it and the incentive in Canada is high to auction off new inventory before the new year inventory comes out so they can replenish with new year vehicles. Unable to resist the urge to check it out before someone else grabbed it, we drove to the Plymouth Ford dealer where it was being serviced to check it out. Yup, it'll do pig! Really nice truck with a tuxedo black (dual black) paint job. This truck was set for towing with the Ford ultimate camera package, 5th wheel prep package, engine break, and tire pressure monitoring for truck and trailer...to name the more important options. BUT, the best part, it was at an unbelievable price! It was mean't to be right???
We brought the vehicle home in early April and had a couple things we wanted to outfit it with to make it our own. We ended up purchasing the Extang Trifecta Tonneau Cover. We had previously had this on our F150 and really liked it. We also did the research to ensure it would clear the 5th wheel hitch so we didn't need to take it out to close up the bed. We then decided on getting some F350 Stainless Steel Tailgate Letting Inserts to give the back end some splash.
Finally, we decided on the B&W Companion hitch that would use the already installed Ford puck system. We really like how this installed and works. Pretty straight forward.
Rick has really enjoyed getting used to driving the new truck and pulling it with our travel trailer prior to pulling a big 5th wheel. Although, people in campgrounds must think it is overkill to pull the little trailer with this!
Up next...The Big Purchases... The Final (and Biggest) Purchase
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