Ahhh. That clears that question up regarding the camper being slid all the way forward or not. Thanks.
Would you happen to know what the measurement is between the top of the cab and the bed of the pickup box? I sent an email to the seller of the Kodiak I'm most interested in late yesterday asking him to tell me what that measurement is, and what the height of the bed is from the ground, and the width of the tailgate opening. Haven't heard back yet, but he probably hasn't seen the email yet.
I know at some point in the past, the cab height on the Ford F350's got a little taller than my truck. Not sure when that happened, or how much taller they got, but I know that owners of older TC's had to start putting them on risers if they wanted to put them on one of the newer trucks. The 1191 being an '06 model, undoubtedly is sized for the newer light duty truck cab heights, so it would most likely need to be lifted up less than my camper would.
But, with my camper not being a basement model, the height from the bottom of the camper to the top of the air conditioner is shorter by several inches. So, even after lifting mine to clear the Kodiac cab, the total height of the rig should be shorter than the one with the 1191 on it. Does that make sense?
So far, I haven't seen anything that's making me back away from this idea. I'm in no rush to do anything, neither my truck or camper is in immediate need of replacement. I'm just looking ahead a few years when I can retire, and thinking about the kind of trips I'll want to make, and the truck I'll want to have at that time.
Thanks for the info. I'll keep looking, and asking questions I'm sure.
I know you've been around the forum for a while, so maybe you have already seen this article in TC Magazine..........
Yes I remember that article well, and in fact I've emailed with btggraphix regarding the Kodiak/1191 from RV Trader, and he's provided me with some very good info. There are some important differences between the two rigs, though. Flatbed vs. pickup box, Monroe air suspension vs. Kelderman, 4x4 vs. 4x2, etc. All info is appreciated, though. That's what's so good about this forum, just a wealth of experience here.
More on the cab clearance.
From the bottom of the bed to the top of the cab is 53". I was on the Lance website doing some looking around and did not find the distance from the bottom of the camper to the bottom of the bed. Yes the newer ones are taller due to the changes that Ford made to there cab few yrs back.
Mine is 45" from the bottom of the camper to the bottom of the bed. Mine actually measures 3" between the roof and camper. I would not go any less.
I like the way you think. You've worried your way through this project very well. Congratulations! I like that you've posted a lot of pics....worth a thousand words.
You and only a few others on here operate in a very thin TC atmosphere with larger than life TC's. Great stuff.
Oh, and a word about those tabs to hold down the front of the box. If they are tied only to your wood framing, fine. If they go through the bed of the truck you had better spring load them or you will eventually pull your camper apart from the twisting.
regards, as always, jefe
Sorry I haven't sent the next E-mail with some additional comments - I never got around to talking much about your SO's questions about ride quality.
srl520's got you covered on a lot of that - nothing he has said I'd disagree with based on my experience.
I also had a "near-miss" on buying my rig to begin with; I had given up on that coming through (somebody's else's offer came in the same day I called to make an offer to purchase.) I briefly worked on the former owner (Brad) to fly out to Maryland and just look his over before the guy came and picked it up, but it was near Christmas and he was too busy but he promised to give my info to the new owner when he got it. We started looking at other used and new Kodiaks out there since Brad convinced me that it works, works well, and the height really wasn't that big an issue (heck, if he could drive it through central america and south america on backroads and third world countries, how hard could USFS or small town roads be?)
Anyway, we starting looking at Kodiaks, and went to a couple of dealers and found one that was a possibility and took it for a test drive. It had no bed at all, and no load, so you can imagine the ride. Pretty harsh to say the least. But we did some U'eys and were amazed by the turning radius. The vision from the cab was amazing. But we figured that this was the very worst the ride could ever be, fully unloaded and decided we could probably live with the fully loaded ride. But there was no way to test drive our rig when we bought it, so it was still a crap-shoot.
I'm glad to hear from srl520 that the Monroe air-ride doesn't have any sway issues.....after we got ours, we decided that we really wanted to soften up the suspension (despite being over the 17,500 weight rating for the springs!) and started looking into air-ride options. I spoke at length with the guys from "LINK" suspensions. Mooney has one of their setups for the F550, and loves it. But I found that the fancy 4-link (and no leaf spring) kit for the Ford doesn't exist for the Kodiak in the same form; all they have is the two-bag system that is designed for highways. It interferes with clearance more than I'd like, and they were worried that it would sway a lot with a tall camper, and steered me away from their kit. So I turned to kelderman, which offers a sort of "in between" system. It doesn't replace the springs, rather, it mounts the spring shackle to the air-bag plate. In effect, this makes it like a two stage sort of suspension....the air bag is always there and takes the minor bumps, but the bigger the hit, the more the spring comes into play. It also had pretty good ground clearance and the bags are relatively protected. They DO have a Kelderman 4-bag system that replaces the leaf spring as well, but I didn't go that route.
Normally my rear boxes cover the sides of the bags very effectively but they are off in this picture.
I won't bore you with the details of the whole installation chaos with a local company here, and Kelderman who shipped the parts. I'll say it is probably not wise to start something like that within a month of leaving on our longest trip yet, from Colorado to Vancouver Island. But the short version is we got it in, through a lot of cutting/welding/changing the way it interacted with the hitch, the frame etc. It nearly works VERY well, but there are a couple of issues for me to still work out. Primarily because of that damn slipper spring end, I have a range of pressures that work that is a little narrower than I'd like. Too high and the spring end can contact that plate; too low and the bag kind of collapses and sits the spring down to the bump stop. My range is about 90PSI to about 120PSI.
However, it had made a tremendous difference in the ride for the rear end. The front is still very harsh. A good example is on that trip to BC, when we would come to a bridge edge (on logging roads) we'd hit the lip with the front BAM! And then the rear would hit 'bam'. Way less harsh on the back now. I had been concerned about the long-term effects of the fairly harsh ride on my camper - and I think it helped that a lot. I would like to replace the actual rear springs (very harsh from factory) with some aftermarket ones from Deaver Springs in SoCal. Of course, they only make them with the eye......so someday I want to order those springs (probably $1500 or so) and then take it to Iowa to have Kelderman change the shackle to the one that goes with a spring eye and mount the new springs (and probably shocks.) I'd also like to arrange for some kind of stop that would allow the rig to be driven without major effort, if a bag were ever to rupture but not sure if that will work. I'd be getting spring rated for the 5500 weight range too....the springs are the only difference between the 4x4 4500 versus the 4x4 5500 (not necessarily true in 4x2.)
So, big progress on the rear, but the front is still very harsh.
Now, the front springs are something that most all Kodiak owners hate. The factory shocks are thought to be very cheap as well. So most people that are looking to soften up the front all focus on changing out the springs, again commonly with a Deaver front leaf spring plus really good aftermarkter shocks. The springs raise the front up about 2" more off of the bump stops, and are apparwently way softer and smoother than the stock ones. People rave about them.....I had a Craig's List near miss with a guy buying a used set. Someday I'll get some. The Deaver spring pack is something like 5-7 leafs, whereas the stock Kodiak is basically a two leaf pack.
Here's the rub, the front springs probably have a lot more direct effect on the riders' comfort in the cab, than the rear. So our ride is certainly still pretty harsh - but we love the way it drives, and even rides at least on the highways. There is plenmty of room for improvement and I know the parts I need to make it happen. It's just lower on my list of things I'd like to do if I had the time and money.
Air-ride other stuff - seats: it sounds like you now have these figured out, as far as what is what. The factory shipped with a big variety of air-ride seat options. Having some form is probably a requirement, not an option. What our truck came with was the most basic version.....air only for the seat support. No lumbar, sides etc. Some of them came with these options, but regardless, the versions GMC shipped are only so-so. It is a big help, but could be improved a lot with aftermarket seats. They also basically don't recline much at all. Aftermarket ones come in all flavors, but can be very very nice. The Monroe conversion probably uses aftermarket BETTER seats (possibly from National) but I'd want to know what exact seats they used, and what options are on them if I were buying a Kodiak. Seems like they are $1000-$2000 depending.
Air ride cab: I have read a number of reports of people that added on the cab air later, and were dissapointed at how little difference it made. Sure it helps, but perhaps not as much as they hoped. I was more worried about my camper than my own comfort in the cab, so I have no plans for an air-ride cab at this point. I'd rather soften up the suspension.
Your 1121 has a side door, right? srl520 has a rear door, which is really why he needs that porch. Rear door campers are way higher entry point than a side door. With the 1191, it is way easier to get in than my old S&S witht e rear door on my old truck. We often put down a plastic step stool, but it is by no means required. No more climbing monkeys to get in the door over a trailer tongue, or stepping onto the bumper first etc.
The 4x2 definitely sits lower than the 4x4. Not sure how much.
BTW, the place where you should go read about the trucks themselves, is The diesel place meduim duty forum You can learn all sorts of stuff there, all specific to Kodiaks.
I'd still stick by my comments that 06 or 07 is probably the ideal year. Pre-emmisions (actually, I'd be happy to have the ULSD emmisions standard because on a 0 degree morning with the camper on, you really end up with a black cloud around the camper while the truck warms up....the same thing on an 08 and there is hardly anything) but with the next newer Duramax than mine. Depending on when in late or 5 or early 06 it was built, you actually get a 6-speed Allison, where the 6th gear is unavailable (in other words, the computer and electronics disabled it) so you can actually get the 6th gear enabled cheaply, which would really help the fuel mileage on highways. On my 05 it can't be done. I started a thread over there on the topic, and bowed out after finding for mine it wasn't an option really, but the thread went 18 pages and they got it all figured out. A lot of people found out they had an extra gear they could use. Nice! Anyway....an 07 is probably what I would target. By then I think they got the 6th gear from the factory.
srl520 needed 9" above his bed for camper clearance. On a standard flatbed, you need about 4". Personally, I would be looking for one with a flatbed; for one thing, the pickup bed is a pricey option (like $5K or something) and I'd rather have a flatbed anyway. Of course you could buy it, and then remove and sell the bed.
Camper jacks. Pretty much no matter what, you will be raisers of some sort. I use giant blocks...two of them usually, that total about 16" or so. The 10" or so blocks are tall enough, just barely, on totally flat ground. I prefer to put more, to not be at the end of the extension for the jacks...making them more solid and secure. But it is a bit of a scare having the giant camper that high - but in practice so far, haven't had any real issues and I have gotten used to it. You'll need a place to put those big blocks if that is the way you go. I never take it off any more at campsites, but could if I wanted to.
Cab to camper clearance. slr520 may be right that 2" is the minimum. I'd actually guess that you'd probably need more than that. The former owner of mine used a forklift to twist the frame (picking up one wheel) and then measured the deflection, and kept adding plywood sheets until he felt it was "right". There is probably 4" of clearance on mine, and it does seem like that is more than necessary, but 2 seems a little tight. I may take out one sheet of plywood and keep an eye on it, but haven't yet.
As I said in an E-mail to you, with a 4x2 the options choices are almost limitless. A huge range in GVWR, R&P ratios etc. etc. A 4x4 model the choices are much more fixed. GVWR's of 17,500 (4500)or 19,500 (5500), R&P of 5.13, no spring choices, one fuel tank choice (rear 40 gallon) etc. It made it easier for me. Secondly, the best resource I had was actually a sales guy at a local dealer. He could look up the VIN of the rig I was looking at, and tell exactly what was on it from the factory. That may still be an option for you, but you might have to go to a GMC dealer that has a Medium Duty or Heavy Duty service department, since they don't make the truck anymore. If you tell them you are thinking of buying one, and you will bring them your service work if you do, they may help you out with that.
The comment about costly repairs is to some degree true as well. I think in general, the beefiness of the truck itself helps carry our load properly and makes it work better than a pickup. I can slam on the brakes with a load of 18,500 pounds and I am 99% sure I stop faster than in my old pickup weighing in at about 10K. But yes, when I changed out my brakes (new rotors, 1 new caliper, pads, emergency brake shoes etc.) it was over $2k....on a pickup it would have been half that. But I'd rather have the effectiveness of those giant brakes.....and in the long run, the upkeep costs might not be that much different than a pickup if you were overloading the pickup all the time. But do figure on sticker shock for some service stuff if you have to do it.
I'm going to leave this one go for now. Keep asking questions here - we'll do our best to answer. Go check out The Diesel Place and do some reading in there. There are some great comments from people that went out and bought a Kodiak and are surprised it won't drag race pickups at the stoplights....and find out that they are a different breed. A tuned DOWN version of the engine for durability, and a transmission is perpetual tow/haul mode. By default, a medium duty like ride. But then those same posters telling the newbies how it is, will also be full of the information about why the truck is so much more than a pickup too and help you get a feel for what it really is.
Oh and by the way - one thing that might make your wife willing to have a rougher ride, is riding around in the passenger seat looking down at all the little cars and trucks around you, and looking over and just a little up to the semi drivers. It's a wonderful place to be when driving around with your camper.
We love it and have no plans for changing out to a pickup. Good luck!
* This post was
edited 02/02/12 11:03am by btggraphix *
Since the Kodiak I'm interested in is also a 2006 model, could you tell me about the Duramax/Allison combo used in that year? What generation of Dmax is that? How many speeds is the Ally? What type of brakes does the truck have? What has your experience been, maintenance and reliability-wise?
I'm afraid I'm a newbie when it comes to GM trucks, having never owned one.
srl520 and btggraphix-
Thanks you both very much for all the time and effort you've both put into answering my questions. This still has my interest and my imagination, and I'm certain I could put my camper on one of these and make it a rig that meets our needs. I'm still preferring the Monroe conversions that have all the air-ride options, that way there will be no regrets about it not having cab air suspension. Adding cab air suspension later will undoubtedly cost more than finding it already on a used truck.
The owner of the Kodiak I'm most interested in got back with me yesterday and provided the measurements I was wanting:
Truck bed to top of cab = 53"
Truck bed to ground (air suspension inflated)= 40"
Truck bed to ground (air suspension deflated)= 36"
(My trucks bed is about 32" from the ground with the airbags deflated)
Tailgate opening at narrowest point = 59.5"
The truck is at a GMC dealer, so he was also able to provide me with the build sheet, the truck's service history from GM's database, and a Carfax. It all looks good, but it confirmed that the cab seats are not heated, and a few other things I was wanting are not present. So, I'll probably pass this one up.
My camper's dimension from the bottom of the cab-over section to the bottom of the camper "tub" is 47". Using these dimensions and allowing for a 3" gap over the cab means my camper would have to sit on a riser at least 9" tall. I don't see this as a problem. In fact, that area could possibly be used to haul an additional fresh water and/or waste water tank. Something to think about.
My 1121 is a rear door, not a side door. But, it doesn't have a basement like the 1191, so the rear door is just a few inches off the truck bed. There's a step bumper 10" below the door, and a flip down step on the bumper giving an additional 12" of drop. That step will probably end up about 38" off the ground. I'll probably want to do something about that. I estimate a total height of about 12.5 ft from the ground to the top of my storage box on the camper roof. This is very close to the total height of new light duty truck with a basement camper sitting on it if you include the air conditioner.
Scott, could you tell me how tall the pickup box sides are from inside the box? I forgot the ask the salesman to measure that for me. The sides on my truck are about 20", I'd just like to know how that compares with the box on the Kodiak.