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Old 08-26-2014, 06:31 PM   #1
denverpilot
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Amazing Cummins & First Big Trip

We got back a few weeks ago from our longest trip yet with our 2014 Keystone Laredo 312RE 5er and had a grand old time.

Went from Denver to Oshkosh, WI for the annual EAA AirVenture event.

The ol' 2001 Dodge 3500 DRW Cummins 5.9 HO did a bang up job towing the 5er. Better than we thought! Read on...

Notes:

- The advice to chuck the stock tires and upgrade was dead on from here on this forum and multiple other sources. The Carlisle F-rated tires behaved perfectly.

- Tireminder. Just get one. It's awesome knowing what's going on back there. Can't speak more highly of the product and what it does.

- Vent covers. Just get them. Rained sideways a few times. Didn't get a drop inside. Loved leaving the vents open and forgetting about it. Bought some off of Amazon and had them installed myself in about an hour for two regular and one large one for the high capacity fan vent above the kitchen.

- Don't fill the water tank if you don't need to. It's a lot of unnecessary weight if you're going to stop somewhere with water hookups.

- Alternatively don't go completely empty either and prep the black tank. Nothing like pulling over at a rest stop for a stretch, finding their bathrooms are closed, and taking care of recycling the iced tea in comfort. Ha.

- Both the Honda 3000 and Honda 1000 never missed a beat. (Used for different jobs. Usually we just have the 3000.) I'll never screw around with a different generator ever again. Get the wheel kit for the 3000 from the guys who make them on eBay.

- LED light strip. Find the thread here and buy the stuff from eBay. $20 shipped to my door. Put it on top of the awning roller. Don't bother sticking it to the trailer. It works fine on the roller and you just unplug and roll up. Piece of cake simple and everyone enjoyed the disco color mode from the little controller that comes with it. Well until we got tipsy. Then it's not a good idea. Go with a solid color then. Haha!

Here's the really amazing part: Looking back at the behavior of the truck before and after, the silly Cummins either had a blown head gasket before we left or did it early in the trip. Maybe even before I bought it.

It never cared in the slightest! Other than being louder than it should have been and running about 10 MPG, it towed 12,500 lbs of trailer and crap in the toolbox without complaint other than going through 3 gallons of coolant in 2400 miles.

Unbelievable! I've never heard of an engine doing that! We weren't towing slow either!

The leak was centered right over the top of the water pump and I figured that's what was failing. It was hard to tell. I kept trucking and adding coolant in 90F weather through Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska and the Cummins just politely kept pulling on only 5 cylinders! Wow!

Got home, got her into to diesel shop, mechanic calls and says good news and bad news... Good news is? I can fix it and I know why it happened. Bad news is, it's the head gasket. D'oh!!!

Basically a botched upgraded HX35/40 hybrid turbo installation with a forced closed wastegate by previous owner.

I've never had a truck that would not ruin the vacation, keep rolling, and get us and whatever we were pulling, back home... with a blown head gasket.

I'm just amazed.

Shop pulled the head, did a laundry list of other things that needed doing at 115K miles, including all the usual Dodge steering stuff including a new steering box, track bar, all the bushings, etc... , new intake manifold better suited for the upgraded turbo, tossed the oil based air filter in the trash at my request and installed a monster regular air filter and dust sock, studded the head, reamed and fixed all the guides in the head, replaced rear brakes, cleaned up a ton of shade-tree mechanic wiring mess from the previous owner, replaced all fuel lines for signs of dry-rot and upsized them all, reinstalled the deleted factory fuel filter canister after the already installed AirDog to get the fuel pre-heater back for winter and water in fuel sensor, new wheel bearings, new shocks, re-routed valve cover drains to keep the mess off the engine and tranny, new covers for those while the head was off to life the drain, new cooling covers for the manual NV 5600 transmission, new 40 HP injectors to match the turbo properly, and whatever else he needed.

Bubba got two weeks at the spa.

Why do all that? 'Cause he got us home while mortally wounded.

I'm keeping THIS truck!!!

It has so much more power now! Holy frijoles, Batman! I can't wait to tow the trailer again! Looking forward to our next outing!

And meanwhile the truck is so fun I've been driving it around town. I've already noticed a significant increase in fuel economy. I guess dragging a useless cylinder around isn't so good on overall diesel fuel use! Ha! Go figure.

And... So...

Trailer worked flawlessly. Still dorking around guessing how many blocks to use for leveling but not that far off. Two big 12V data center cast-off batteries ($20, still fine they just have to replace on a schedule), plus the Honda, made power a total non-issue.

I need to install an inverter for the TV.

Wife can't stop talking about how cool it was to "camp" in the 5er with all the amenities.

We are still getting used to someone saying they need something at camp and then a minute or so goes by and I remember I packed one of "those" in the trailer. Not used to that yet at all!

Loved firing up the genny and punching the coffee pot button in the morning. Again, an inverter would be nice. But heck. Still way too nice! Same thing the night we did fresh ears of corn on the cob... "Just toss them in the microwave. I'll go start the generator." Haha! Wow. Spoiled rotten.

Also a side note. We really liked the Coleman LXE. I had been drooling over a friend's for years but already had two regular propane grills at home and couldn't justify it. When we decided we needed something that fit in the 5er, I grabbed a great deal on Amazon and it was on the doorstep two days later. Only regret: Forget the full sized aluminum griddle. It doesn't stay put and is too light. We got both that and the heavier fast iron half griddles and the aluminum isn't going to get much use after it made itself a nuisance both times I tried it.

Loved the trip. Trailer was awesome. Truck got hurt but he's all fixed and my wallet is whimpering softly but it's paid for and it's a STILL a LOT cheaper than a new truck!!!

If you're ever in the Denver area and need Dodge diesel work, look up MaxTorq Diesel in Golden, CO. Top notch people and work. Rob and crew handed me back a new truck that drove completely different and better. Now all I have to do is keep up on fluid rotation schedules, baby that NV 5600 to not have to rebuild it for a long time, brakes, and tires. He will easily go another 100K.

Want to go camping again now!!!
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:58 PM   #2
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Oh I forgot. Thanks to the forum for the interior LED replacement bulb tips also. eBay and just a few buck and shipped to my door and all incandescents replaced in one evening. Great light, tiny power drain. Love them.
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Old 08-27-2014, 02:58 AM   #3
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Great Post! Sounds like a great trip. Good Luck with your rebuilt truck. Around here in New England, it's the rust that does in the frame work after 10 years or so.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:26 PM   #4
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Great report. Glad you had such a great time. Where did you find out about the light change out? Thanks.
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Old 08-27-2014, 02:15 PM   #5
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I know it's the pessimist in me, but I swear you are going to report back after everything is all fixed up and you took a short trip to the lake that it tosses a rod or something......


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Old 08-27-2014, 11:36 PM   #6
denverpilot
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Amazing Cummins & First Big Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimQ View Post
Great Post! Sounds like a great trip. Good Luck with your rebuilt truck. Around here in New England, it's the rust that does in the frame work after 10 years or so.

Yeah we are lucky out here on that. It's the wettest and greenest here this year than I've ever seen it, though. Kinda hoping it chills out on the monsoon precipitation before freezing temps hit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glenalt View Post
Great report. Glad you had such a great time. Where did you find out about the light change out? Thanks.

There a sticky in the tech forum about LED stuff and a search of threads with "LED" in them and a few evening's reading here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GMcKenzie View Post
I know it's the pessimist in me, but I swear you are going to report back after everything is all fixed up and you took a short trip to the lake that it tosses a rod or something......






Bah! Nooooo! Oh well. At least I know exactly where to take it if it does! Rob at Maxtorq did offer to crack the light "53" case off and put the whole engine in a heavy case so we could play with bigger and more turbos... Heh heh. At that point we'd best upgrade all the drivetrain components to handle it, or it'd just break itself.

If it were stock, it'd pull until the cows came home, like all the diesels, really. If you start playing under the hood, stuff is going to break... Just how it goes... I learned that almost 20 years ago on my Jeep. Probably didn't help that I put the Jeep on its side in a ditch on a dirt road one day, either. That shortened it's lifespan a bit.

Really young and really stupid. Only the young part seems to have changed.
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Old 09-10-2014, 06:35 AM   #7
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Now that was a real refreshing read, you just don't get that a lot. Thank you

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Old 09-19-2014, 06:16 PM   #8
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Well keeper for sure, nice list of add on upgrades some $$$ there, but unlike many on here that you say get a new truck don't invest in old.
I think you did the right thing! Only 115,000 miles youcan keep it for a long time, we are at 275,400 or so now pulling a 5er slightly lighter than yours 12,320# GVWR. It still pulls strong and for about 270 hp doesn't slow down much for big hills.

Just keep up on body maintenance, and you will have a long life towing machine.
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Old 10-21-2014, 11:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhagfo View Post
Well keeper for sure, nice list of add on upgrades some $$$ there, but unlike many on here that you say get a new truck don't invest in old.

I think you did the right thing! Only 115,000 miles youcan keep it for a long time, we are at 275,400 or so now pulling a 5er slightly lighter than yours 12,320# GVWR. It still pulls strong and for about 270 hp doesn't slow down much for big hills.



Just keep up on body maintenance, and you will have a long life towing machine.

Oh darn. I saw your reply a while back and was going to reply and then got called away and I just saw the thread again.

Re: Body stuff. Pretty easy here. It's soooo dry. I'm sure many from wetter places are wondering how bad the underside looks on a 2001. Rust is rarely an issue here, but you do see a few vehicles that someone managed to ignore paint chips long enough to have it happen.

Just this morning I was behind the quintessential stereotypical "blue haired lady" at a stop light marveling at the pristine condition of her 70's era Cadillac. She probably had the blue suede or whatever that stuff is, re-done at some point, but that thing was completely stock otherwise, and cherry. Looked like it always lived in a garage, I'm sure, when it was at home. And not even a hint of smoke when she took off from the light from the engine.

Humidity sensor in the house says 31% right now. Way less outside in the colder air. Single digit relative humidity numbers are pretty common in winter, outside.

The thing that'll kill this truck if I don't stay on top of it is our two miles of often badly washboard dirt road to the house. Shake rattle and roll. Hard on stuff.

Someday I'll treat myself to a newer tow vehicle, but probably that'll be years and years down the road.

I've been "bad" lately and using it as a daily driver because it's, well.. Fun! I have a little grocery getter Subaru for that, and a Yukon that can also be pressed into daily service when needed (doing some work on it right now), but I've been in a big truck mood lately. I put another 5K miles on it and need to do an oil change now... Haha.
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Old 10-22-2014, 12:59 AM   #10
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Your Cummins experience parallels mine (without the blown head gasket). A few mods, dirt road, almost the same tow weight, daily driver, snow driver, fun driver, etc. No rust (low humidity)...good maintenance, so hanging in there...and my dog, Charlie, prefers the truck for going bye-bye.

A pilot for fun and means. Soon to be just a pilot for fun.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:06 AM   #11
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Awesome story. Cummins/manual transmission Rams are hard to beat pullingwise. They may not win many races, but they'll pull the load to the bitter end.
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