I thought I would share my TC experiences with you. I felt that a TC was what I wanted for the RV experience. A couple of years before retirement I started looking in earnest, and educating myself by joining RV.net. After reading many threads on truck capacity vs camper weight, and all the threads on leaks and rot, I decided to go with a smaller Bigfoot or Northern Lite and a diesel HD truck. I would be towing a trailer too. I wanted to get the truck and TC before I retired so I could try out the experience and see for myself just what I was up against regarding weight hauling/suspension mods/driving experience/learning about batteries and appliances etc.
I ended up with a Chevy Duramax/Allison 2500HD truck. Excellent choice as the truck now has given me more than 6 years of trouble free use. Because it was to be a daily driver in urban areas I chose a short bed, non dually model. I also found the rather hard to find Bigfoot 1500 8.2 for a shortbed. This again turned out to be an excellent choice as it too has performed well.
The above combo was used for both hunting and fishing trips off road and on. It also traversed the country on 3 week long vacations through many National Parks etc. Short weekend trips too. I didn't need any suspension modifications. The truck/camper combo handled fine, and when put on the scales was 1000 lbs under the rear axle weight, and right at the truck GVWR. I was concerned as a newby that I would have white knuckle driving experiences after reading many suspension and weight police threads here. What a pleasant surprise that the combo handled well without mods. I also learned that it wasn't rocket science to operate all the appliances, manage and dump tanks etc. It was a great experience. When it came time to do tires and brakes on the truck I decided to go up one size on the tires, and to upgrade the brakes too. Shocks were switched out to adjustable Rancho's. These were not necessary with the light Bigfoot, but gave me an extra margin of safety and future upgrade possibilities. I did add a second battery in front of the wheel well in the bed. I connected it to the campers battery using a boat trolling motor plug connection.
Upon retirement I decided to get a bigger camper as I expected to be spending more time on the road. Given the excellent performance of the Bigfoot 1500, and how well it did in freezing weather in hunting camp, I decided to look for another that would fit my truck. I ended up getting a Bigfoot 2500 9.4 from a fellow RV.net member. The 2500 weighs approx 900 lbs more than the 1500, and is 18" taller. I was glad I had made the previous mods. I also added the sway bar in the rear as the camper leaned in turns a lot more than with the smaller unit. It was a bigger difference than I had expected, but still quite manageable. The extra storage of a basement camper with bigger tanks was welcome. Although they say the insulation factor of the thicker walls of the 2500 series is better, I can't tell much difference. On both campers I have used the 1" thick foam boards in the truck bed. Very light and insulate well. A good choice.
Pro's 1500 8.2
Light weight-leak free fiberglass construction-lower and more aerodynamic-shorter rear overhang needing little extension of the hitch for towing.
Con's 1500 8.2 Smaller tanks-less storage-one battery
Pro's 2500 9.4 Bigger tanks-larger storage-2 batteries-room for onboard generator-same construction as 1500.
Con's 2500 9.4 Less aerodynamic-heavier requiring suspension/tire mods-taller with less overhead clearance and a bit more sway-longer overhang requiring a superhitch and extension for towing.
The fuel mileage with the 1500 was averaging high 13's to low 14's towing either a boat or enclosed motorcycle trailer. The mileage with the 2500 on the same truck is about 1 mpg less under the same conditions.
I am very happy with the choices I made. Thanks to RV.net I learned a lot from you guys. There is so much more I have learned and I hope to contribute here and give back. It's time to put the 1500 up for sale and start taking more trips around the country. I think Alaska is on the short list for next year...I hope to see you on the road.
Very nice write up. Now I have another idea for when I retire. I still have 13 years, maybe 10 if I decide I've had enough at 62. Seems the larger Bigfoot with a 3500 SRW is the perfect match. Something I can start buying 5 or so years from now. Hey that's when I get the new metal roof and windows paid off for the stick and brick home on the lake. I'm still trying to decide if I'll sell the house or keep it when I retire. I already notice the up-keep of the 2000 square foot house by myself. Might not be as much fun when I'm 62 to 65.
"Confidence is the feeling you have before
you fully understand the situation"
1999 Toyota Tacoma Pre-Runner
TorkLift Tie Downs
2010 Travel Lite 690FD
1996 ZX11 Ninja
2008 Yamaha Zuma 50 Scooter
2010 "Blue" Bulldog, "Luna"
I do find it interesting that you went barely bigger with space and way heavier instead of going to one of the bigger models since you seem to be keeping both. Or, is your plan to get rid of the 1500 and upgrade your truck? I expect you are significantly over now with the 2500. I'd be concerned with the tires more than anything else.
One other minor comment, I don't dispute that your Bigfoot is leak-free, but reading here, I know that some Bigfoot's leak.
'06 F350 Lariat Supercab SRW, 6.0 PSD 4x4 Long Bed, Intake Elbow, Walker Big Truck Muffler. '06 Host Rainer 950 Double Slide, Fastguns. Firestone Air Bags, Rancho 9000s, Vision 19.5s with Hankook DH-01 245s, Energy Suspension bump stops.
Yeah, in retrospect I didn't gain as much room as I did weight. I did get bigger tanks and a basement for "stuff". The other compromise is that the CG of the two campers is 14" different. The 1500 is about 7" ahead of the axle, the 2500 7" behind. The 1500 added weight to the front axle empty, the 2500 is a couple of hundred pounds less. Loaded I suspect it's a little better as the 2500 tanks are forward of the rear axle.
The 1500 feels more planted when going down the road. The rear axle on the 2500 is at 6000lbs which means the tire and suspension up rating were certainly necessary. The 1500 is going up for sale now, and when the time comes for a new truck I will evaluate the options. I think, like you, I probably will get both a larger truck and camper.
As far as leaks I have been careful to check and reseal all the openings on the roof with dicor. That stuff really seems to work well.