This has been a decision that has taken me a long time to make. After finally realizing that there is not nor ever will be one single vehicle that suits all my needs I had to make some compromises. In the long run I need something that both my family and I could take exploring for long periods of time and still be able to drive some somewhat difficult trails in poor weather conditions. While many vehicles can do all this and much more there are a few items that I needed in specific that really narrowed down my search. Here is a list of things I needed when I was searching for my last truck.
Ability to tow a large load safely
Simple engine design (mechanical injection or Carburetor)
Cost less than $7K and model had to have a long production run.
Strong drive train.
Ability to carry a Camper. (Alaskan, Flipac or just my RTT)
Return 15mpg or better unloaded.
Minimum 450+ mile range on stock fuel system.
Truck: What I ended up with was a crew cab 1991 Ford F350 with the mechanically injected 7.3 IDI International diesel engine and a ZF 5speed transmission. This truck has the solid Dana 60 in the front along with a Sterling rear axle both with 4.10 gearing. I have owned several IDI Ford diesels and although they have some quirks they prove to be extremely reliable and durableóthey are built to work hard. I like these because they require one wire to run, will burn many different fuels and because Ford sold so many F-series trucks these years and International sold so many engines parts for both are very common and not too expensive.
Camper: Although I have wanted one for quite awhile this Alaskan fell into my hands much sooner than I had anticipated. It is a 1971 Fiberglass Alaskan 8í. Aside from it being 40 years old it is in very good shape and still has the features that make Alaskanís desirable. Strong construction, pop top and very thick insulation make these great for backcountry exploring and cold weather camping. They weigh in at ~1100 lbs.
Plans-short term: For now there are a lot of modifications I need to do to the wiring and heating so Iím going to start with the needed items and work my way into accessories. I am hoping to have the heater and stove working and the water system working in time for April. The truck needs new tires too so Iím leaning towards BGF KM2 255/85E 10plyís.
Goals short term: In April we are going through the San Rafael Swell down to Arches and my wife hasnít ever been to So. Utah so this should be a lot of fun. We also have many local camping trips planned this summer along with a trip to Yellowstone/Greyís river area.
Onboard air. Iíll probably go electric on this one.
Solar DC charge system. I am not going to tie the camper power in with the
truck which means I have no easy way to charge the batteries while out and about. The truck needs all the power it can get from the two batteries it has just to crank the engine over so I donít want to take away from that.
Lockers in both axles. Detroit rear selectable front.
Sliders (really really long sliders).
Winch/winch bumper. 12K lb or higher. Aftermarket bumpers are big $$$ so
Iíll try to build and mimic an ARB Bull Bar when I get the time.
Low profile flat bed. These just work so good with off-road campers. I could put all my air tanks, propane and other things under the platform up and out of the way.
Modify departure angle. I already removed the spare tire and brackets now I need to do something with the rear bumper and receiver hitch. May install a non step bumper from a bronco and see how that works out for a quick fix.
Goals long term. Although my last trip fell through I still want to tour Alaska badóreally really bad. Maybe one day I can make it up that way.
Anyway I donít expect this to be a quick buildup by any means, but I will post up any progress as it comes