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Old 04-26-2017, 10:22 PM   #1
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: SOLD 1988 Bigfoot F-20 DLX
Minnesota
Posts: 40
Diesel or not, Bigfoot 5th wheel

Hello everyone,

Last fall I purchased a 1988 Bigfoot 5th wheel (received some great tips and invaluable information from Chris of Chris & Maureen), and I have put myself through the wringer mulling over and researching the best towing vehicle.

The budge calls for a used truck. Initially, I thought diesel for engine longevity and superior fuel economy while towing. However, it very recently occurred to me that with a lighter load the right gas V8 may come close. Some have reported good things with Toyotas (Tacoma and Tundra), MPGs in the 15 range with their Scamp 5th wheels, but I'm not sure how the Bigfoot 5th wheel compares (my guess is it's a bit heavier than the Scamp).

My main consideration points are of course longevity and fuel economy, and I know both of those have much to do with the previous owners.

Basically I'm looking for some real-world experience in this area.

Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-27-2017, 06:50 AM   #2
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Name: Paul
Trailer: '04 Scamp 19D, TV:Tacoma 3.5L 4door, SB
Colorado
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I don't know the weight of the Bigfoot 5th wheel, but I would expect that it is higher than my Scamp. I estimate my trailer is about 3500 lbs loaded for travel (tanks empty, or almost) and the tongue weight is 600 lbs +/-. I get about 16mpg towing, 13 with head wind, 17 with tail wind (20 mpg not towing in summer, 19 in winter). I think the 2013 Tacoma is a reasonably sized truck for the daily use when not towing, and the 6 cylinder engine handled all mountain passes in Colorado well. My $0.02
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Old 04-27-2017, 07:52 AM   #3
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Name: Steve
Trailer: 2018, 21ft escapeó 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
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Originally Posted by traveltrailertyler View Post
Hello everyone,

Last fall I purchased a 1988 Bigfoot 5th wheel (received some great tips and invaluable information from Chris of Chris & Maureen), and I have put myself through the wringer mulling over and researching the best towing vehicle.

The budge calls for a used truck. Initially, I thought diesel for engine longevity and superior fuel economy while towing. However, it very recently occurred to me that with a lighter load the right gas V8 may come close. Some have reported good things with Toyotas (Tacoma and Tundra), MPGs in the 15 range with their Scamp 5th wheels, but I'm not sure how the Bigfoot 5th wheel compares (my guess is it's a bit heavier than the Scamp).

My main consideration points are of course longevity and fuel economy, and I know both of those have much to do with the previous owners.

Basically I'm looking for some real-world experience in this area.

Thanks everyone.
Since fuel economy is your main objective , I can offer no suitable advice.
The list of attributes I wanted in a tow vehicle had fuel economy at or near the bottom
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:08 AM   #4
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MPG or CPM?

By "Fuel Economy" do you mean Miles Per Gallon, or Cents per mile?

In the "good old days", diesel was cheaper than gasoline, and gave more miles per gallon. In these "bad new days', diesel still gives more MPG, but is more expensive, so the cost per mile may or may not be as good as gas.
And, you may find that the price of a diesel TV is too high. They tend to be noisier, are harder to start in cold weather. Fuel is less available.
I would go for a reliable Toyota. ..... but you should work with a dealer you like and will take care of you.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:46 AM   #5
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Name: Tom
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Gas or diesel?

I own a Sprinter diesel, and I am a fan of them. That said, diesels have changed. Sprinters and similar vans have the potential to replace the old VW camper vans, or they are just great for enclosed storage. They drive and park like cars, but sometimes in taller garages. Overall in 2016 49.5% of all new passenger cars registered in Western Europe ran on diesel and 45.8% on petrol. In the US, diesels were 3% of 2014 sales.

Before we get to newer changes, let's review some older ones. I've never ever had trouble finding diesel, but yes, perhaps 20% of stations don't carry it. Propane, or E-85?, now those are a bit harder to find. Second, I've never had my Sprinter not start, first attempt, in Denver. Diesel has anti-gel additives seasonally in colder climates. I do not have a block heater, but I do of course have glow plugs. Cold starts are no big deal. As for noise, my Sprinter isn't noisy, you might not even notice it is a diesel, unless I mention it. The same goes for Mercedes, Audi, and VW passenger vehicles. Noisy pickups? It probably has to do with demand. VW is getting out of diesels in the U.S. for emissions reasons. One more old trait of diesels was sluggish acceleration. Turbos have solved that.

Newer concerns? Diesel fuel had a dramatic reduction in allowable sulfur a few years back. That made it more expensive, and sulfur had valuable lubricating qualities. Eliminating the sulfur helped with emissions reductions. Another recent change is that some diesels, including Mercedes use DEF - Diesel Emissions Fluid, which chemically is the equivalent of pee. I have experience with pee, but not in my engine. Check with some owners. Mercedes is getting about the same torque and hp from a 4 cyl. 2.1 liter, as my 5 cyl. 2.7 liter. Ballpark, diesels get about 1/3rd better mileage. You may want to look into the 3.0 liter diesel option.
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:44 AM   #6
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: SOLD 1988 Bigfoot F-20 DLX
Minnesota
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Paul O. that was helpful, thank you. I think my weight will be near 3,500 lbs. But that mileage seems decent for a six cylinder Tacoma. I doubt I ever achieved that in my straight 6 F-150 without a load!

Thanks for your input, Steve. I would be interested in hearing the priorities that were higher on your list since I certainly could be misguided in my searches and considerations.

And thank you, Wayne. Good advice; I know diesel used to be priced much better, and it has been in the back of my mind that if the actual miles per gallon is very close between diesel and gas trucks when towing, I could actually be paying more for a diesel at the pump and not getting enough of a return on the fuel investment to justify it over a gas.

And Tom, if there was any diesel I would get besides a 7.3 Ford, it would be a Sprinter/Mercedes, but with the 5th wheel I just can't do it unless I had them build me a special "truck van" or found someone who had one. For longevity, towing capability and fuel economy, I don't think they can be beat.
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:50 AM   #7
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We once had a 1994 Dodge 2500 diesel pick-up to pull our 25 foot toyhauler with a Jeep Wrangler inside. It was purchased used (over 10yrs old and with 100K on the odometer) for $10K. It was well maintained and had been used by a person that basically used it to shuttle his 5th wheel between California and Arizona seasonally. When we sold that Jeep we didn't need the toyhauler, the flatbed trailer, nor the diesel truck to pull a 13' Scamp, eventhough we would get 22-23 mpg empty, and the same when pulling the Scamp, as our new Jeep became the towvehicle. I sure miss that truck as the Jeep only gets 10mpg towing.
Dave & Paula
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:01 AM   #8
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: SOLD 1988 Bigfoot F-20 DLX
Minnesota
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Ouch, you've got a point there. Maybe it's a Cummins thing, because the 7.3L Powerstroke engines (F250 equivalent) seem to get closer to 15-17 mpg. That's for late 90s models. With the higher cost of diesel fuel, and basically the same MPG, it seems like a 6 cylinder Tacoma may be a good bet.
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by traveltrailertyler View Post
Paul O. that was helpful, thank you. I think my weight will be near 3,500 lbs. But that mileage seems decent for a six cylinder Tacoma. I doubt I ever achieved that in my straight 6 F-150 without a load!

Thanks for your input, Steve. I would be interested in hearing the priorities that were higher on your list since I certainly could be misguided in my searches and considerations.

And thank you, Wayne. Good advice; I know diesel used to be priced much better, and it has been in the back of my mind that if the actual miles per gallon is very close between diesel and gas trucks when towing, I could actually be paying more for a diesel at the pump and not getting enough of a return on the fuel investment to justify it over a gas.

And Tom, if there was any diesel I would get besides a 7.3 Ford, it would be a Sprinter/Mercedes, but with the 5th wheel I just can't do it unless I had them build me a special "truck van" or found someone who had one. For longevity, towing capability and fuel economy, I don't think they can be beat.
I placed towing capacity , payload , braking ability , RAWR. , ride comfort , cargo capacity , wheel base , safety above fuel economy.
In my way of thinking towing ability , reliability and safety ranks above MPG's.
I too looked at buying a diesel vehicle . The diesel had a $4K to $8K
higher initial cost , maintenance costs were higher and at that time diesel fuel cost $1 / gal more than gas in my area.
I ran the numbers about a 100 different ways and I could never get the diesel to make economic sense.
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:20 AM   #10
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Tennessee
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Secondary consideration is will the 5th wheel fit the truck? I've noticed it's getting harder to find long bed trucks any more. Newer Taco tend to be quad cabs with really short beds. And older Taco hold their value so much it's almost like buying new.

Jason
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:21 AM   #11
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Name: Jerry
Trailer: Casita
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Towing with a Grand Cherokee diesel

Somehow, you are missing one of the best options. I have a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.0 liter 6 cylinder diesel. I have hauled my 17 ft. Casita Spirit Deluxe all over the country for about 30,000 miles. My average mpg hauling is about 21 mpg. Without hauling, I get 27-29 mpg. It has a 7200 tow rating. And it is pure lux - although not cheap. I live in the mountains of CO and this TV never gets tired..
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:35 AM   #12
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Name: Michael
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Alberta
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I have 5 trucks and tow with all of them. When it comes to towing a heavy load, especially through the mountains, the diesel wins hands down! It gets better fuel mileage, doesn't labor or over heat and the power is phenomenal! The 4 gas jobs are 1/2 ton. The diesel is a 3/4. The heavier suspension makes it so much more stable on the highway and on the mountain roads.
Finding fuel has never been an issue plus most diesels come with two tanks. Starting, even at minus 20 C isn't a problem. It has two heavy batteries that can easily power my trailer for a weekend if necessary.
Plus its a blast to drive!
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:54 AM   #13
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Trailer: Sprinter 'til I buy
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Pardon me. I was focused on the gas/diesel question and missed the 5th wheel aspect. Check out the Chevy Colorado Duramax, or its GMC cousin. I think there are others, but I hear the Toyota diesel isn't sold in the U.S. Jeep/Chrysler may offer small, clean diesels, such as the Jeep mentioned above. Hitching a 5th wheel to a Cherokee will be a challenge!

https://fordarea.com/2017-ford-range...l-price-specs/
2017 Ford Ranger diesel specs

"When it comes to power under the hood of the 2017 Ford Ranger, we can find something nice. This truck includes a powerful diesel engine with 2.2-liter capacity. This tough engine will produce 148 horsepower and 285 pounds per feet torque. A single gallon will feed the car for up to 34 miles within the interstate. It will be less within the city area. The additional engine uses the bigger capacity block. Thus, this 2.5-liter Duratec aggregate can reach up to 165 horsepower and 165 pounds / feet torque. In fact, there’s the 3rd variant that offers more powerful engine. It is 3.2-liter Duratorq 5-cylinder TDCi engine with 200 horses and 345 lb-ft of torque."

RAM, like Nissan has hinted at a small diesel. I don't see either yet though. I'm not certain Ford's actually showed up.
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Old 04-27-2017, 12:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerryteits View Post
Somehow, you are missing one of the best options. I have a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.0 liter 6 cylinder diesel. I have hauled my 17 ft. Casita Spirit Deluxe all over the country for about 30,000 miles. My average mpg hauling is about 21 mpg. Without hauling, I get 27-29 mpg. It has a 7200 tow rating. And it is pure lux - although not cheap. I live in the mountains of CO and this TV never gets tired..
I see you picked up the fifth wheel part... I believe the RAM 1500 Ecodiesel has the same engine, but isn't it under investigation by the EPA?

In the end, I'm with Steve. It's really hard to justify a diesel unless (1) you tow a really heavy trailer and require the torque, (2) you tow a lot of miles and keep a vehicle a long time, or (3) you get a really good deal (like David).

Unless you tow a lot of miles per year, towing fuel economy is secondary. However, non-towing fuel economy might matter a lot if you use the vehicle as a daily driver, or if it's your only vehicle while, say, snowbirding.

I, too, wonder about the wider Bigfoot and a shortbed Tacoma. Will you have to put the hitch too far behind the axle to avoid interference?

No one has mentioned the F-150 Ecoboost. They're pretty pricey new, but they've been around long enough that used units are hitting the market. I haven't researched the long-term durability factor or whether there are any issues that have come up regarding the 2.7L or 3.5L Ecoboost engines. Either should give good to excellent performance with a Bigfoot 19 and decent fuel economy when unhitched.
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Old 04-27-2017, 12:36 PM   #15
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: SOLD 1988 Bigfoot F-20 DLX
Minnesota
Posts: 40
Yes, price is a factor so I'm in the used market. An EcoBoost would probably be fantastic otherwise. I aim to buy all things cash rather than on payments.

The bed size is not an issue apparently. I had the trailer delivered by a crew cab Duramax (not long box), and Chris on the forums states he has a Tundra crew cab with an approximately 6 foot long bed and standard (non-sliding) 5th wheel hitch. He also managed to fit a couple bicycles just behind the rear window.

I of course would like the long life of the diesel, but am thinking the gas Toyota may offer semi-comparable service life. It's still up in the air at this point...

But your suggestions have all been very helpful.
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Old 04-27-2017, 02:44 PM   #16
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Name: Steve
Trailer: 2018, 21ft escapeó 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I see you picked up the fifth wheel part... I believe the RAM 1500 Ecodiesel has the same engine, but isn't it under investigation by the EPA?

In the end, I'm with Steve. It's really hard to justify a diesel unless (1) you tow a really heavy trailer and require the torque, (2) you tow a lot of miles and keep a vehicle a long time, or (3) you get a really good deal (like David).

Unless you tow a lot of miles per year, towing fuel economy is secondary. However, non-towing fuel economy might matter a lot if you use the vehicle as a daily driver, or if it's your only vehicle while, say, snowbirding.

I, too, wonder about the wider Bigfoot and a shortbed Tacoma. Will you have to put the hitch too far behind the axle to avoid interference?

No one has mentioned the F-150 Ecoboost. They're pretty pricey new, but they've been around long enough that used units are hitting the market. I haven't researched the long-term durability factor or whether there are any issues that have come up regarding the 2.7L or 3.5L Ecoboost engines. Either should give good to excellent performance with a Bigfoot 19 and decent fuel economy when unhitched.
The 2017 Ram Eco diesel was put on hold by the EPA last September and as of April 1st of 2017 it is still on hold.
It appears that FCA is riding out the storm hoping the new EPA will back off ( Trying not to interject politics )
The other issue is that a decked out Ram 1500 Eco Diesel has a payload as low as 800 lbs ( Hardly suitable for 5th wheel towing)

I own a Ram 1500 V8 but if I was looking for a small diesel truck , I would be heading to my local Chevy / GMC dealer.
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Old 04-27-2017, 08:54 PM   #17
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By "Fuel Economy" do you mean Miles Per Gallon, or Cents per mile?

In the "good old days", diesel was cheaper than gasoline, and gave more miles per gallon. In these "bad new days', diesel still gives more MPG, but is more expensive, so the cost per mile may or may not be as good as gas.
And, you may find that the price of a diesel TV is too high. They tend to be noisier, are harder to start in cold weather. Fuel is less available.
I would go for a reliable Toyota. ..... but you should work with a dealer you like and will take care of you.
:remember the reliable Toyota does not lose it's price even after 15 years on the road but is much better than a Diesel as Diesels need to be driven far not short distances to perform properly, you just cannot get into it and drive to the corner store just down the road as that is really hard on a diesel engine. One nice thing about diesel is the torque one gets when towing.
Where as in gas if you do not mind you can convert to Propane sometimes a bit harder to start when cold out but is okay once going, in colder places pays to plug in then the start is much easier.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:39 PM   #18
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Trailer: 2018, 21ft escapeó 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie
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Considering the OP lives in Minnesota , where winter and tons of road salt go hand in hand ,Toyota with it well documented rust issues may not be the route to take . The motor may well be reliable but when the frame rusts out , does it really matter.
I've never seen a 15 year old Toyota truck that did not look like Swiss cheese.
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:11 PM   #19
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: SOLD 1988 Bigfoot F-20 DLX
Minnesota
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Truth be told, Steve, I haven't seen ANY car, truck or van that didn't look like swiss cheese after 15 years where I live! Minnesota keeps the salt mines running.

That is a good consideration, though, and I had taken some time to look into the recalls and years of the recalls--frame and spare tire mount issues in the early 2000s, as well as a ball joint issue in Tundras years 2004 to 2007. Since it's recall work, though, wouldn't any repairs be covered under the recall if I got one that needed work? Either way, there's an article published just today about another major recall of Tundras, which seems pretty sloppy to me for a company with a reputation for reliability.

I don't want to be sucked in by the "Toyotas last forever" hype (if it is hype), but I think there is some truth to it. What do you tow with, Steve?
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:30 PM   #20
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Sorry, Steve, just saw you've got a Ram 1500. Any particular reason you chose it over the competition?
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