Truck camper article about "out with the old and in with the new" now up


West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Mello Mike has published a new piece about my truck camper metamorphosis.
It deals specifically with moving my Northstar Laredo from a 2001 Dodge Cummins to a new Ford F-350.
This should interest those of you who have a 2017 and up Ford Super Duty and want to install a truck camper.


Jeff, I always enjoyed reading your articles on the Dodge. Good on you for taking it to almost 200K miles. I'm looking forward to your experiences with the new rig.

Did something about the Ford sway you to it instead of a new Ram? I'm considering a new truck and it's a tough choice.


West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
The 2001 Dodge H.O. Cummins is still in the mix. Actually, my son Matt has had the hots for a truck camper and now owns a perfect condition 2001 Lance 865 that now resides on the Dodge.
The "something" about the Ford was the 7.3L gasser mated to the 10 speed truck transmission. 475 TQ. 430 HP.
It's a perfect match for our Northstar Laredo SC camper.
It's quiet, and gets about the same or slightly less mpg and has the same torque and more HP than our old 24v. Cummins.
The biggest deal was: Jeanie was hesitant to drive the 6-speed manual anymore, and we, being in our 70's and slowly failing hearing were unable to converse on long trips. So the noise is gone and the auto trans is in.

Why didn't we buy a Ford diesel? They have over 1K # feet of torque. Come on, man!
What are the woes with new Ford diesels?
It all started going south after 2007 when the new emission standards started to choke off diesel power.
What follows is the list i pulled together from folks on the FTE (Ford Truck Enthusiasts) who actually owned, drove, or worked on newer Ford Diesels.

Ford diesel fuel emissions systems woes:


And what are the woes with the new Ford 7.3L gasser?

It gets slightly less mpg when pulling up to a 15K pound load uphill.

But gas costs less; a lot less than diesel in some states

It doesn't have that testosterone raising rush of power you get with the 6.7L Ford diesel.

I'm pulling together an article on,

with a lot of user reviews that will be given a talk at the Truck Camper Adventure Rally next month in Quarzsite AZ, and as a piece on the website.

I'm keeping my '01 CTD and giving it to my son who just bought a truck camper.

My dog in this fight is in both camps. I've loved my RAM diesel.


Adventure Time!
Have you considered relocating your front factory camper tie down?

It is somewhat inconvenient having the gas door blocked. But the NS tie down is built to hold the camper down (plated on the backside - tied to camper structure) with through carriage bolts. Those jack supports are only held on by screws into wood. Probably fine for the jacks as they are stationary and not moving about like the tie downs do (especially off road). Guess you'll probably see them pulling apart before it fails... but worth keeping an eye on while traveling on rough terrain.

Ford is has much more capability and comfort than the old Dodge. I'm sure it's bitter sweet saying bye to the old hauler.


Thanks, Jeff. Yeah, the simplicity and reliability of diesels is gone now. $5,000 just to replace the exhaust components when they quit working. :oops:

The only way I could afford to own a new diesel is by buying the extended warranty and trading it in when the warranty is about to expire. But I would go gas anyway since I don't tow very heavy and don't want the headaches associated with the newer diesels.

Looking forward to your article anyway! Glad your '01 is staying in the family.


West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Peter, I'll keep my eye on it.
Scott, your idea about buying a new diesel and selling it when the warranty runs out is a commonplace thread over on FTE (Ford Truck Enthusiasts).
The 7.3L gasser is the big game changer here with more and more users reporting their experiences.

Here is a peek at some of the issues in my article: GAS vs. DIESEL without the stats:

I bought the 2001 High Output Dodge CTD new because it had the then new NV5600, 6-speed manual transmission with NV241HD transfer case with the extra wade chain for snow plowing. The shock loading on the T-case during plow work is extraordinary. The RAM had a Dana 60 front axle which I reworked from the 32 spline axles dumping the CAD, to Mosier 35 splines all the way out to the new Dana 70 hubs, and rebuilt the axle using Dana 70 parts that would fit in the Dana 60 housing. Ford calls it a Super 60 for their F-450 and 550. The rear was the venerable 35 spline Dana 80. In both i installed Eaton Detroit True Trac gear driven torque biasing limited slips.

Over the past 20 years the 2001-2002 HO 24v CTD has emerged to be one of the TWO winners in the early Diesel Warz contest. Two?
The other? Yep, the 1999-2002 Ford 7.3 TD. My brother has one. It is bulletproof.

But this is where the trouble began and the carefree fun fades. The start of the Diesel Warz, witnessed the emergence of a seemingly insatiable appetite by the truck buying community for more power and more torque. It is addictive behavior. Unfortunately, the EPA, CARB, and politicians had other ideas about internal combustion engines and thus began the slow inexorable tightening of the pollution control noose. To counter this tightening Ford and other car makers decided to just hang add-ons and other potions to the engines to clear the air. While they did pass muster, the add-ons have proven not to have the life expectancy and endurance of the legendary 5.9L, 24v Cummins TD or the equally legendary '99-'02, 7.3L diesel Ford Super Duty.

The reason I chose the gasser is:
1. I'm not paying the $10K diesel penalty. I did pay $1,705 extra for the 7.3L engine over the stock 6.2L gas V-8.
2. I don't have enough time left to drive it 275K miles and make the diesel penalty pay off.
3. if you are older with less time to drive out the diesel penalty surcharge, the Godzilla gasser could make sense.
4. Another issue is how much you use the truck and camper. If you don’t put many miles on it, nor use it much, the gasser makes even more sense.
5. If you keep the speed in the 60-65 mph range, and drive with a light foot on the stupid pedal, the mpg gas penalty almost evaporates.
6. Gasoline is more readily available and is $.30 to $.75 lower in cost per gallon than diesel fuel, especially in certain states like California.
7. If you have the 4.30 pig gears and want to go to 35 inch tires, it makes the defacto gearing in the 4.10:1 range, a nice neighborhood in which to reside.

Being that the 7.3L gasser has only been about a year on the market, and "New-Truck-a-phobia" is rampant, there is an ever expanding array of reports from new owners about their experiences.
It's my understanding from the many Ford 7.3L gasser owners that the 7.3 will NOT get the big MPG LOSS carrying or pulling a heavy load like the smaller V-8's, due in part to the torque band reaching down into the 1500 rpm range. This feature is new to Ford engines. The only slight difference with my Cummins and the 7.3L gas is the Cummins keeps making gobs of torque all the way down to idle. The 7.3L fades below 1500 rpm. My hopes in this regard have come to pass. Much of this has to do with the new 10 speed auto and using the modes on the stick, especially 'eco' with an MT truck applying more torque at a lower rpm. In eco the rpm's stay around 1500 around town or on the road. This truck will remain single purpose and only carry our TC and not see many miles. No grocery getter here.
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