Gas rationing is fresh in the minds of those of us in New Jersey. October 2012 brought Hurricane Sandy and then a shortage of fuel delivery. Gas was available on odd/even days and some stations imposed gallon or dollar limited. Many lines were hours long. Makes you appreciate what we have.
Thanks in advance to all the other non-Ford truck out there for staying right as I pass you going 65. My Ford will do good, but not "the best it can". That speed would be too fast to safely tow our 5vr. I'll keep it down to 70 so as to not blow everyone off the road as we go by.
This is a great thread! We camp with a group with Chevys, GMCs, Fords, Dodges and even Honda TVs. Everyone gets there, everyone is happy and we all have a good time. Now there was the time the Ford went to rescue the Dodge with the blown motor. Or the family who never made it when their 6.0 Ford grenaded. Or the Chevy that kept going into limp mode with the 5th on its back. Or the GMC that overheated pulling a 6% grade with a big 5th that I almost went to get from NJ to Virigina. You get the idea, right?
Keep it going!
You've gotten some good advice. Try visiting the 7.3 forum over at ford-trucks.com.
FWIW, my '02 has 165k mile on it. Orig trans btw. I could run through repairs made but that's not what you asked,
I have a chip in it. Specially a DP Tuner. I also put gauges in it (trans temp, boost and pyro). The chip certain wakes the truck up. Holy smokes it moves (and smokes if I get on it hard). BUT I rarely use anything but the stock setting. I can feel the trans struggle to settle into gear under heavy throttle. The EGTs climb fast – a intake and exhaust would help this. I find I can't take the hills any faster stock vs. the 60hp tow tune. The EGTs get too high.
What the chip does have that I really like is a setting to CLOSE the exhaust back pressure valve for additional downhill engine braking. It makes a real difference. There are numerous options for e engine brake for the 7.3.
Do some reading at the ford-trucks forum. You'll see lots of things to consider like the type of rods you have, trans, intake, exhaust, gauges.
Personally I'd look at the exhaust brake, upgraded trans (even a BTS valve body and TQ converter - google Brians Truck Shop or John Woods Transmission). I'd add gauges, 4" turbo back exhaust to help keep it cool. If you have 3.73 gears I'd go to 4.10. The engine will turn a little faster but you'll get more grunt in return. I'd also take a good look at the oil pan as they are known to rust out and require replacement. You don't want to do this one the road as the engine has to be pulled out. Consider upgrading the shocks to a Bilstein or better. Much much improved ride for us.
For me, more power out of the engine will somehow mean a shorter life. My truck has plenty of power. I can pull a 5% grade at 62-64mph at 3/4 throttle. Or 72 running flat out. That's pulling about 17,500 GROSS. Trailer is about 9000#. It will pull a nearly a 20% grade in 1st gear at about 20mph. That's a h#ll of a hill. I'm satisfied.
Now, a new truck could do it faster. Maybe quieter. But this one is paid for. Has no emissions equipment to deal with. Since I want it to last and last I keep it stock as I feel that is the best chance I have to keep it going.
Some maintenance things I'd look at before hitting the road... glow plugs, UVC harnesses (under valve cover wiring for glow plugs and injectors), condition of turbo.
Hope my rambling helps somehow.
PT - I have to give you a huge amount of credit for doing this. When temps get down (and not even close to -40º) I'm at home in the S&B with the wood stove burning quietly away.
One poster put up a link to a propane stove that uses no power but needs to be vented, but I'm not sure if it's straight up vent (ie roof penetration).
The other option, if you can find the right spot for it to work, is a vented heater similar to this:
I'd be looking for something like this in your situation. I too won't go the route of a unvented heater. And I want something that doesn't use any electrical power. Now if it until like this would keep you warm, your batteries can run your lighting, bed heater, etc. Drive time, solar and the occasional 15a shoreline to keep charged no seems so much more do-able. Years ago we had a venter propane heater similar to this built into our pop-up. It was only 7000 or so btu but really made a lot of warmth with no power draw. Miss that little heater.
FWIW - I'd also consider a small, VERY inexpensive genny. Something like what Harbor Freight carries for ~$100 USD. Yes, its two-stroke, not super quiet. But I look at it as insurance.
You have a puzzle here. You don't mention if you're able/willing to delete/add windows, so here goes.
You say you removed the two chairs in the back, replaced with a dresser. Remove the dresser. Build bunk beds there. Remove back window, or put in two smaller windows. Keep the bottom bunk up off the floor as much as reasonable. Add 4-6 drawers under it. On the right (door) side you'll likely have room for a wardobe/pantry. Close up window. At whichever side will be the head-end of the bunks consider walling that in a bit to provide a barrier for light/sound. Add pouches for storage of small items like flashlights, books etc in each bunk. And a LED light that stays cool. Making the beds might be a nuisance.
Keep the sofa where it is. Loose a pull-out in favor of one with storage under it. A lift-up seat would allow large flat area, or build drawers for easier access. Or combine the two - a shallow area for items such as fishing poles etc with drawers beneath.
For storage reasons, retain the dinette. Build big drawers to allow easy access to storage.
The kitchen... agree with another poster - smaller, single bowl sink. Consider permanently adding counter top to the right of the sink as a peninsula with storage cabinet below – if the slide will allow for the addition when retracted. Consider adding upper cabinets over the peninsula. Lots of storage but will make it feel smaller. At the same time shift ti refer forward to the bathroom wall to gain countertop. Electric and gas are easy for this. Are you ready to cut/patch your roof?
Bathroom. Moving the toilet may or may not be feasible with plumbing/tanks. Let's assume it stays. Flip the wardrobe to the wall against the bath tub. Extend the bath wall out as far as possible considering the slide. You'll gain some floorspace in there for drying/dressing. The "hallway" created might feel cramped, not sure.
TV - on that newly extended bathroom wall, see if you can mount the TV. Watch for clearances when the refer door opens. Depending how tall your refer is you may also be able to angle it up high in that corner.
Bedroom - The island bed is nice, but given your requirements turn the bed. Add a dresser against the bathroom wall - consider building it in as cabinets. Drawers under, wardrobe up top. You cold include a counter/dressing table area. Or a secretary/desk space. Take your pick. Remember its longer now. Explore/consider options for the bed. A platform bed would offer lots of storage. However a murphy style bed would open the space up during the day. The space could be used for a play area or who knows what. If not for the desire to keep a mattress you could search out a futon/pull-out/convertible bed of some type that would provide a second, comfortable seating area. Add a small flatscreen on a wardrobe door.
Some things we don't know is furnace and water heater location. You'll have to deal with those. You'll also be adding a lot of weight to the trailer. Take it into consideration. Look for unused spots such as over the refer for storage.
More that carpentry skills, you'll need some cabinet making skills. Not sure what you have. Remember to build everything light-weight. No 2x4s and such here.
Note: I offer ideas only. I don't know how they will fit together, balance weight out, etc. You might want to make cardboard mock-ups to see how the space will really feel. Appliance boxes come to mind.
We use EZPass with our truck/5ver. Just one tag. With the exception of the Delaware RIver Joint Toll Bridge Commission tolls the system automatically counts the axles and bills accordingly that we have the 5th along. The 5th IS listed on the account also.
As for the DRJTBC -- they charge us as a tractor-trailer EVERY time. So a $2 toll turns into a $12 toll. And it takes them weeks to credit the amount due back to us. So now we bag the tag and use the cash lanes. Not worth my time to fight with them for the credit. And they can't seem to fix the "known issue" which they even have a page dedicated to on their website.
EZPass is WELL worth it! Especially with the newer high speed tolls - no slowing down.
Tow ours to the dump station with the truck when we do use it, which truthfully isn't that often. But when we need it, so much better than packing up enough to move, hitch, relevel, you get the idea.
Pneumatic tires sound wonderful. Yet to do the mod as we just don't use it enough.
BTW - I think its a 25 or 32 gallon. I don't recall right now and it is store in the attic of the shed for the winter.
Like a nice hot fire on a cool or cold night. Relaxing with friends. Wood smoke can be annoying, but not bad from a proper fire. Garbage smoke - uhg.
The idea of a propane fire doesn't do it for us. Not nearly enough heat off it for those cool nights. The colder the night the more wood is on the fire.
Our camping group is known to burn through a full cord in just 2 nights. FWIW.
BUT there are times for no fire too. Traveling, long days touring, etc.
We didn't ride the Williams-GC train, but did the Durgano train (a MUST). Also, check out the Cumbres & Toltec. The ride up to the dining hall is awesome, but I would the the trip back down the hill and not all the way to the far end.
We carry a dual mantel propane, a dual mantle gas, a single mantle gas and sometimes 2 kerosene lanterns (with citronella oil). The propane gets used the most. When camping with a group we hang it high off our awning - street light. Then the two gas models get put on tables. The kero models are mostly for bug control (debatable if it helps!)
We do like the LED flashlights however. Never tried a LED lantern as we have a ample supply of other options.
Not clean on where in the front corner is has been leaking. If its from the top I wouldn't buy it back. From somewhere at bottom, big maybe. Been there, done that with repairs to water damaged trailer.
I would be seriously looking at new to me (used) trailers.
Good luck in your decision.
Getting there and back. Twice I have traveled from northern NJ to Yellowstone (and beyond). We drove 12-14 hour days to get there. Cruise set at 70. Day 1 we got to Rockford, IL. Next day I think was about Sioux Falls, SD. Then the Black Hills/Rushmore area. Then another day into Yellowstone. So 4 days of hard driving. First trip I was ~13 and a passenger. Second trip was with DW and I was primary driver.
The return trip was just a long hard push for home. DW and I made it from Cheyenne WY to NJ in 2.5 days. We could have easily pushed home on day 2.
You have to have a comfortable rig, both seating and towing ability. The rigs could each hold 70 on most interstates, comfortable seats etc. The kids need to be able to handle the long days in the car.
Two weeks for just Rushmoore/Yellowstone is just enough. Consider that we used 3 weeks and after Yellowstone we continued to Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Durango, CO. Staying in Yellowstone will save a lot of driving time over staying outside the park.
So if you can stomach the hard driving days, the rewards for taking your kids to Yellowstone are simply incredible.
Enjoy the trip - however you decide to do it.
I camp with a friend who runs a v10 dually pulling a ~13k lb 5th. I've ridden in it and driven it. Quiet, smooth and powerful. I would consider one myself. FWIW I currently run a 7.3 diesel Ford. Hook it up and enjoy.
I'm used to a 2002 F350. Most any newer truck will ride much better. Mine is my daily ride - I average 20,000 or so a year on it. When I get into a car or even late model anything it rides like its on a pillow to me. I'm so used to my 02 that it doesn't even register that it is loud, rough-riding, diesel smelling beast. Driving a family members 09'ish 150 feels like a Caddy to me.
Drive a F250 gas – I think you'll see similiar towing MPG as as 150 and slightly lower unloaded. And experience a far better ride quality than I do. But a F150 with max tow and HD payload would likely server you real well too.
If I were in your shoes I'd have to go 250/350 for the pin weight on our 5ver. Plus I'm used to a 8' bed.