From the chart, you should be able to tow at least 16,000 pounds (less cargo weight) and since it is a dually you'll have the excess cargo capacity for typical hitch weights of fifth wheels that large.
How big a fiver is that? Depends on how it is built. 40-foot lightweights can be under 15,000 pounds, so you can get pretty close to "maximum legal length" territory. 30 foot lightweights might be as low as 12,000 pounds. More heavily-built premium fivers might reach 15,000 pound weight at 34-foot length, going over 18,000 pounds as they reach 40 feet.
Unless you are going for a heavy full-timing fiver, most of what's offered is in the range of what you can tow with a diesel "one-ton" dually pickup.
The Wranglers that come up are not Load Range E LT tires, have about 1200 pounds less capacity per tire than the BFGs.
Does that matter to you? It would to me, because my truck is a one-ton, and needs Load Range E tires for carrying capacity. But a Tundra maybe doesn't even have the 80 PSI wheels to support a tire with that capacity.
I suspect you can find the Wranglers with that tread pattern and that size in Load Range E, if that's what you need, but they'll likely then be more expensive than the BFGs, probably close to Michelin prices. I've priced the heavier Wranglers in the past.
I don't understand why there is a question. It is a beautiful place, although somewhat empty, as it should be. Fill up on fuel before entering, if low, as services are few and far between, more so than other parts of southern Utah.
I guess I'm accustomed to the idea, living the past 35 years in the Cherokee Nation, at the edge of the Osage Nation.
Most of our RV club members have managed to stay active into their 80s. Some have been doing this all of their life, some started at retirement, but coming from a long experience of outdoor activity, including tent camping, so that RVing is getting away from "roughing it." There is a lot of farm or ranch operating experience as well, in these cases.
If you've not had this sort of lifestyle, there can be a lot to learn. Living in a RV is not like living in a house, there are "taking care of the RV" chores regularly. RV travel is not like road tripping in a car or traveling in an escorted group tour, again because of the things you have to take care of yourself.
For a number of our RV club members, age 78-85 has been about the range where RVing has gotten to be too much to handle, then they start going on escorted tours with the travel club, along with a bunch of 55+ youngsters who have never RVed or camped. I've met a few folks RVing in their late 80s or early 90s, but not many, and they are often with someone younger to handle the heavier chores (e.g. my 93-year-old friend with her 85-year-old ex-rancher third husband).
If just starting, the first question to think about is "can I even get into this?" I've known some folks who tried in their late 50s, with a really nice small diesel pusher, and it lasted a little less than two years before they decided for the cost, and the amount of work, their money would be better spent cruising than RVing. If you are thinking about doing it full time, that is a huge lifestyle change.
The other, if you like it, is "how long can I do this?" The answer is "as long as you are both healthy enough for the role each has chosen." That's indeterminate, just a risk you take at any age. I know nobody, in my ten years in an RV club, who has managed to keep RVing alone after the death of a spouse. I've tried, and first two years have been able to go RVing with the club, but I find that camping out alone, and RV traveling alone, is a lot more difficult than just living alone, or traveling as part of a larger group.
Still, I've kept the RV, and while it has been idle for almost two years, plan to get it out and get it road-worthy this summer, for some road trip attempts and visits to family, and maybe I can find a camping club still active (too many deaths have put an end to the one I was in).
Ages and experience. My RVing started in the 1960s, when I was a late teen, having already tent camped for five or six years. As young adults, my wife and I tent camped, but got away from it, except for scouting leadership roles, in our mid thirties. Retiring young (58-59) with thought we would try it again, this time RVing, and we got in 4 years of road trips and group campouts before my wife got sick, three 3 more years of outings in between treatments for an incurable condition, with camping activity also curtailed so we could work on her world travel bucket list (seven cruises, two escorted tours). My RVing has essentially stopped at the age you are considering starting, but that's because it is something I find I do not want to do alone, not that it is something I can no longer do at age 71.
From a year into retirement 2005, until she died early 2012, my wife and I used a 30-foot C as you describe.
Getting around, parking, there is not much difference 22 to 32 feet in length, because the greater problem parking is the width, 8 to 8 1/2 feet vs maximum standard vehicle width of 80 inches. Beyond 19-20 feet you are already spilling into a second space with respect to length, or sticking out into an aisle. One thing that sometimes works with a C, because of long rear overhangs, is backing into a space at the edge of a parking lot, to put the overhang off the edge.
Getting around, and parking, also depends on how crowded a place is. Small towns, rural areas, even some suburbs are not too bad. Getting into the center of large cities is a different issue, there are places like Houston and Chicago where even my standard length van is a problem because parking spaces are tighter, other drivers more aggressive about taking position in traffic, tightly filled traffic lanes make wide swings more difficult, open parking lots tend to be full and have narrow aisles, and much of the parking is in ramps with low clearance.
But most of our RV travel was in places where a 30 foot RV fit fine, we did our shopping and sightseeing enroute, seldom had to leave a campsite once hooked up. Most of the time if I plan to leave for a while I can hook up only power (needed for air conditioning 6-8 months here in the middle of the country) so the only problem left getting in and out was putting interior stuff away (including grandchildren) so slideouts could be pulled in and the C safely moved. I didn't want slides, wife wanted the space, so we dealt with the extra trouble. If I buy another motorhome, it will not have slides, I prefer greater mobility over a little extra interior space.
I have 42 gallon fresh water capacity, 25 gallon black waste, 31 gallon gray waste, 18 gallons (~ 60 pounds) LPG, two Group 24 house batteries. Wife and I could go 3-4 days between having to dump waste tanks or refill fresh water. With wife, daughter, two granddaughters aboard, they could fill the black tank in less than two days (thus the experience with quick trips out of the campsite) and could probably do the same to the gray if they didn't go to the bathhouse to wash their hair.
Furnace could go through 30-40 pounds LPG in a week in winters with 40 F days and 20 F nights, otherwise a 20-30 pound fill might last a year or two heating water, cooking, and running the refrigerator when not hooked up. Furnace needed power, though, and could drain the two batteries overnight if we didn't have an electrical hookup.
Where and when we traveled, I didn't worry much about finding parks with hookups for overnights. When we had to be in a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific length of time, we did make reservations, unless the place did not allow reservations (e.g. our state parks). But we also avoided the difficult times and places: holiday weekends, weekends on recreational lakes, parks a short drive from major urban areas, family theme park or amusement park destinations, the sea shore, California, Florida, and the whole East Coast. My middle of the U.S. experience may not apply to the densely populated areas where 80% of our population is concentrated in 20% of the space.
If we didn't have a power hookup, we could run microwave and air conditioning from the generator. Coming into a campground with a full fuel tank, we could do that for 40-60 hours if we had to, but generally did not. Power hookups are relatively easy to find, power and water only a little less, mostly in dry parts of the country where a remote campground has no wells or city water service at all. Also, I will not run the generator while sleeping, so dry camping for us meant places or seasons where outside temperatures were comfortable.
Since my wife died, I use the RV differently, don't care much to road trip in it alone, it is too big for me. Since I still own it, I've taken it on a few RV club outings where I have friends around who take care of my transportation when we go do things together. A dozen or so times I've driven it out to local lakes for a week or so, to overnight in that environment. For this I've towed, first my small pickup, then I outfitted a Honda Fit for towing. This lets me take care of business in town, go out to the lake at night, where the motorhome is functioning as my cabin at the lake. For that, a small trailer would work just as well, maybe better. But for what you want to do, a motorhome works.
A sign of the times, local Jayco dealer who used to do a substantial business in pups, particularly the Sport line, has taken on a Rockwood franchise to get the models Jayco/Starcraft no longer supplies. If the Starcraft pups are really gone, then the Starcraft dealer is just out of luck, unless he can manage a pup-only franchise for Flagstaff (local Flagstaff dealer doesn't sell pups).
I know Jayco tries out new markets briefly, model lines expand and contract, new model lines might be a year or two, or the start of something long-term if they work. But pups have been a Jayco mainstay for many years. Strange to see them abandon a core market.
While inflation has been responsible for prices rising generally, the pups have also been getting more expensive because they are more feature rich to attract buyer who want more, and this has pushed them to where they overlap entry-level lightweight TT prices. According to the pup dealers I've talked here, it has lately been the smaller basic models, like Jayco Sport and Rockwood's LTD level, that sell well new. Used pups, if priced low enough and in good condition, tend to sell within a couple weeks, sometimes a few days, of coming into the dealership. So there is still a market, at least for the "basic camper" models.
Chevrolet's first "big block," the W-series truck engine, was originally as small as 348 (grew to 409 and the Z-11 427) but that won't be in a 1978, GM stopped using it when Chevrolet introduced the Mark IV (366, 396, 402, 427, 454, 502, 572) in 1966.
So the 350 is a version of the original small-block V8 (262, 265, 267, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350, 400 working with combinations of six different cylinder bores and five stroke lengths). Most likely it is an LT-9 "heavy emissions" build, available only in 3/4 or larger chassis. Rated 160 HP at 3800 RPM, 250 lb-ft at 2800. Not a screamer, but design to run at full load all day. Engine code will be "M" on the VIN.
I would say you can tow with this engine, and the TurboHydramatic 400 it is most likely paired with. It is just not going to accelerate quickly, nor go up hills very fast, but should be able to handle any Interstate grades in second gear, and any grade on which you can get enough traction in first. One of the guys in our RV club pulls his 30 foot trailer behind an old G20 van with the LT-9 and TH-400, but he doesn't go very fast, usually limiting his speed to 55-60. Only problem he ever had was losing power when the rear fuel pump started failing.
Most likely limitation will be the hitch, which can be changed out, if the OEM frame rails extend to the rear of the vehicle. This is not always the case with RVs, some manufacturers extended frames, I've seen others hang the house over the back of the chassis to make some nice big storage space. But probably not in 1978.
In that vintage of motorhome, I would be looking for P30 chassis with the 454, or the Dodge chassis with the 440. While not rated for much more than 30-40% more HP than the Chevy 350 or Chrysler 360 small blocks, these big block engines were rated with at least 100 lb-ft more torque, and they got that at engine speeds about 1000 RPM lower. Won't be climbing hills faster, but engine doesn't have to scream to do it.
I buy this insurance on a per-trip basis. Some countries require it for entry (e.g. Czech Republic) but I've never had the documents examined. I haven't had to use it, but fellow travelers have, issues like emergency room trips for dehydration, sprains and broken limbs from falls. One trip we had two "return of remains" cases.
I've looked at Good Sam's plan as a full-time, low cost alternatives, but it is focused mostly on RVer needs, has too many restrictions and exclusions for the foreign travel I also do.
Almost all manufacturers have a few floorplans like this, but some favor them more than others. When I was shopping in the 2004-2007 era, that would have been Newmar and the Monaco Corp brands (at least the Monaco and H-R gassers being built in the H-R plant). It looked like there was a standard bathroom module that was fit somewhere in each floorplan.
Many other manufacturers were using mostly a split bath plan so that a center aisle became part of the bathroom space, usually opening into a rear bedroom. this saves some space in the RV but can be a problem for occupants that prefer more privacy.
What I've been seeing more of lately, particularly in larger motorhomes, is a bathroom combined with master bedroom, and a second more private half-bath nearer the living area. Usually at 38 feet or longer, and particularly in the 42-45 footers designed for two-person full time living.
Private bath with side aisle models are out there, you just need to do more looking. Price? When I was looking, and the motorhomes were new, some of these models were around $50-60K list price. That's about doubled since.
If you are not going to be traveling in the RV, just leaving it one place forever, doesn't much matter whether it is a diesel pusher, gasser, fifth wheel, travel trailer or park model. If the park handles park model hookups, that's probably the best solution short of an actual mobile home, which should be a better built house at any given cost because you are not paying for roadable chassis and RV self-sufficiency items like waste storage and on-board generators.
The one that has the floorplan and living features that suit your needs. After that, condition of the house.
My experience in 10+ years with a RV club is that more folks end up trading RVS, or giving up RVing, over livability issues than one chassis or one engine being better than another.
30-foor MH (with big windows) here, single 15K heat pump.
My experience is it depends on where you are and where you can park. In moderate climates, or maybe even the desert if you can manage to be shaded, a single 15K BTU might keep up with the solar heat load. In places where it is hot, sunny, and humid, it might not keep up. The A/C has to do a lot more work condensing moisture from the air before it can cool the air below dew point.
Mine does fine in 80F Michigan summer heat, sun or shade. In 90-105 F high humidity, full sunlight conditions we have on the central plains and down into Texas, the best I can hope for is to cool the interior down into the high 80s unless I can find a fully shaded place to park. Once the sun goes down, I can cool the interior as much as anyone wants, even when it is still in the low 100s outside.
Chevy/GMC Tahoe/Yukon with 6.0/4.10, or Expedition with 5.4/4.10 are the only smaller SUV's I would consider.
The standard length E250/350 vans fit in most garages fine for the length.
You can always do it the old fashioned way... a 3/4-ton pickup with a fiberglass camper shell, window boot and carpet kit...
Length OK, but the vans are just enough taller than SUVs to be a problem for garage door height. E250/E350 sits at about 84-85 inches unloaded and a lot of residential garage door openings are just under 7 feet when finished. It is even trickier because the vans sit a bit nose low, so you check that it is going in OK, then end up scraping the roof at the back of the van. My E-350 van has the marks to prove this. Not my doing, it is ex-rental.
The other gotcha is backing a loaded van in to unload it, it just fits, but take the load out and it rises 2-3 inches on the springs and you are stuck under the door.
Best for what needs, besides towing it around?
Best for me would be a manual transmission Fiesta SE Hatch because it fits my space needs and doesn't include a lot of fancy extras I would rather not pay for. But I'm already there with a four-year old base-level Honda Fit with manual transmission, and that still has more interior space flexibility than either Fiesta or Focus.
Fiesta would be tempting for 1.0 Ecoboost if I actually drove a small car more than 1500 miles a year, but with that little driving, 40 MPG vs 30 MPG doesn't mean much. Saving the cost of 10 gallons of gas a year, the payout on a new Fiesta would take me about 800 years.
You need to look at online directories (traveltrailer gave you a comprehensive list), rather than trying to use web search engines. The search engines are set up to find what is on the World Wide Web, and I suspect that many of the smaller parks you are looking for have no web presence. Getting onto the World Wide Web often costs more than what some smaller park operators think they can afford, or they don't think it would help their business.
It has been my experience that most commercial RV parks, even the largest, have sites suited to camper trailers, and many also accommodate tent camping. Some large chains like KOA and Jellystone also require franchisees to provide cabins for folks who come in with neither tent nor RV. Only a few specialized resorts limit their clientele to
Don't use Eco mode with surge loads like air conditioning.
The A/C startup surge is almost always beyond the rating of the minimum size generator that will run the A/C. The surge is usually handled by a generator running at full rpm being briefly pulled down in speed, trading rotational energy to produce a burst of power. In Eco mode the generator is running only fast enough to handle the existing load, so the startup surge is pulling voltage way down, and at the same time the generator is trying to build up speed against a load holding it back.
While the generator will usually protect itself (cutting out if it has to) the load voltage starts can be really hard on the air conditioner compressor motor and starting circuits.
In some RV parks you may find "big rig" sites that do not have the 30-amp connector in the box. I've not yet encountered this in a public campground, but I mostly go to old campgrounds that do not offer 50 amp service at all.
You will not usually be assigned to a 50-amp only site if you need 30-amps, because park owners like to save those for folks willing to pay extra for the 50-amp service. But it can be all that is available when you arrive.
Park stores often have an adapter to sell, sometimes a loaner or rental, but I preferred to buy one of my own, of the quality I wanted. I've used it twice to work around a bad 30-amp connection, and loaned it as an extension to a fellow RV club member who found himself about a foot short on his 30-amp cord.
You are just going to collect more opinions. Here's mine.
I would follow the "severe duty" schedule for the E-250/350 van or F250/350 pickup of the same era (1992-1997).
Some service information (service intervals, fluid capacities and fluid specifications, part numbers for Ford filters) will be in the Owner's Manual for either series. You could work from a Haynes or Chilton, but the information there is pretty generic, typically covering all Ford vans from 1975 through either 1997 or 2014. I think only one of the two publishers split out a separate manual for the Triton engine model update.
You should have an Owner's Manual for the E-Series van, if you can find one. If looking for used, you don't need the exact model year, most information was unchanged 1992-1996. Chances are good that the chassis is 1994 model year, since Fleetwood would have started building 1995 models in February or March 1994, and Ford will not have made the model year change until September or October. That's just the way the RV industry has done things.
Your transmission will be E4OD because the engine is a 460. While Ford also used the FMX-derived AOD in that era, it was never matched up with the 7.3 diesel or 7.5 gas engines, those went from C-6 to E4OD sometime around 1989-90.
The E-350 should not have had auxilary oil or transmission coolers, the transmission was cooled by the heat exchanger in the radiator. Motorhome manufacturers did not usually add aftermarket coolers, but a prior owner may have, and that would add capacity but not necessarily change the amount drained for service, because they don't always drain fully from the plug in the pan.
In Great Plains summer heat and sunshine, if you don't run the AC continuously there is a good chance interior temperatures will go higher than you want, and you won't have the AC capacity to get them back down where you want them until the sun goes down. My RV, sitting in the sun on a 80 -90 F day, will get to well over 120 F ina couple hours. Sometimes the most effective thing I can do for cooling is open the windows and run the power vents to pull in that "cooler" outside air.
You can run your RV AC 24/7. That's the duty cycle for RV and window units. The manufacturers know we buy on cost, and tend to greatly undersize for maximum heat loads.
A tandem axle trailer is slightly more resistant to changing direction of travel. Whether tat works for or against you depends on trailer - tow vehicle geometry and your own skills. From personal experience, a short single axle trailer is easier to back into very tight places but can jack knife very quickly.