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...
- 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.
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!!!