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View Full Version : Towing with a conversion van-UPDATE P2: Back to Square One : (



2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 11:18 AM
1996 model with F350 engine.
Coming to dealer from FL on consignment.
Looks very well-kept & has all the amenities except bath (fine w/me).
I'll be borrowing a friend's DH to check out the mechanics and test-drive w/me.
What should I look for when it gets here?


I posted this a while back and recall responses were favorable.
But since I am now truck/trailer shopping I wanted to get more current input.

How do you guys view a conversion van: 8cyl, 4WD(is this possible?) to be used to haul a 2H BP. Trailer will have WD & sway bars.

My thoughts are:
1-a pickup truck is of no use to me aside from being a tow vehicle. Driving a pickup with an empty bed is not the safest way to get around IMHO & who wants to haul groceries in the back of a truck?
2-GN means I'd be jumping in & out of a truck to align the hitch. Not so good for an OldLady with a possibly wonky knee. I can hitch a BP with my eyes shut.
3-Van could be fitted up as a camper. Plugins for microwave & fridge would let me use it for short camping trips. Short trips are all I'm interested in. Plus it could save the cost of a motel at multi-day clinics.

What am I forgetting to consider?

Janet
Feb. 1, 2010, 11:44 AM
I haul with a (12 passenger) Ford Econoline E350 (not "converted"), and love it.

I don't believe they are available with 4WD, and I do occaisionally get stuck when a 4WD pickup would not. But that is the ONLY downside.

I can keep all my "stuff" inside the van, where it is out of the weather and can be locked.

I would NOT tow with an E150, and an E-250 may be marginal, depending on how big the trailer is.

Long Wheelbase is good.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 12:15 PM
Thanks!
Gonna check Carmax to see if they show any E350s or like in my area :)

Another selling point - cheaper than a late model pickup :yes:

EventerAJ
Feb. 1, 2010, 12:52 PM
I learned to haul with the family's 1996 GMC conversion van; had a 2500 engine, plenty of wheelbase. It was a bit top-heavy to drive, but I almost feel the trailer made it more stable! We did have the WD hitch and sway bars. It was great for horse shows-- you could camp in the van, or at least have a nice place to hang out during the day. Hay storage was limited though-- some things just belong in the bed of a pickup. ;)

I *much* prefer hauling with my pickup, but the van was great for me to learn. It FORCED me to use my mirrors-- you simply cannot see out the back (curtained) windows. I used to have to back the trailer around a curve into a tiny 12' wide parking space every week for dressage lessons, in the dark. After two years of that, I'm a back-up pro!

2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 01:43 PM
It was great for horse shows-- you could camp in the van, or at least have a nice place to hang out during the day. Hay storage was limited though-- some things just belong in the bed of a pickup. ;)

I *much* prefer hauling with my pickup, but the van was great for me to learn. It FORCED me to use my mirrors-- you simply cannot see out the back (curtained) windows. I used to have to back the trailer around a curve into a tiny 12' wide parking space every week for dressage lessons, in the dark. After two years of that, I'm a back-up pro!

My thoughts exactly - great for a long weekend or 3-day clinic.
Now: why do you prefer the truck?

LOL!
After 15yrs I STILL need a couple tries to back up w/o jack-knifing!
Wanna give lessons?

mypaintwattie
Feb. 1, 2010, 03:19 PM
I haul a 2 horse bumper pull with my Pleasure Way van. It is on the Chevy express 3500 chassis, and has plenty of power to get me where I need to go. I love the fact that I can change, sleep, eat, or even watch tv when I get to where I am going. Oh, or use the bathroom:winkgrin: Here it is with a 3 horse trailer, it towed that one fine but I prefer the 2 horse.

http://i616.photobucket.com/albums/tt249/wattie824/P1040878.jpg

2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 04:01 PM
I haul a 2 horse bumper pull with my Pleasure Way van. It is on the Chevy express 3500 chassis, and has plenty of power to get me where I need to go. I love the fact that I can change, sleep, eat, or even watch tv when I get to where I am going. Oh, or use the bathroom:winkgrin: Here it is with a 3 horse trailer, it towed that one fine but I prefer the 2 horse.

http://i616.photobucket.com/albums/tt249/wattie824/P1040878.jpg

Exactly what I need to hear!
Looks like the bigger van will do the job nicely.
Back to Carmax.....

2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 04:12 PM
Carmax has an '07 Chevy Express 1500
34K miles
5.3L V8
rated to tow 6300#

Too little van?
Good enough for 1 1300# horse?
what other specs should I look for?

wildlifer
Feb. 1, 2010, 05:16 PM
Too little. I have an '08 1500 Silverado with the small V8 -- it SUUUCKS. Fortunately it is my work truck, not my personal truck (which is an F250 diesel for towing). But I tow johnboats with the Silverado for work. Even NOT towing, it gets horrible mileage because the engine is so undersized. Towing, it's working even with a johnboat on the back. I would never haul a horse trailer with that engine, blech. And the new chevy transmissions are geared too high for my liking for regular driving. If you put it in cruise control, it shifts down two gears about about redlines the engine going up even a slight hill to maintain speed, its ridiculous. Did I mention how glad I was that I don't actually own this truck?

If you can find one with the 5.7 that does a much better job -- I had that engine in a 96 Tahoe and it pulled most excellently. The tranny wore out but that's gonna happen unless you go up to 3/4 ton. Do they make 3/4 ton vans? I used to have a 3/4 ton suburban in high school so they do exist.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 1, 2010, 05:29 PM
Thanks wildlifer, I figured that might be the case
2 Good 2 B True, eh?

But it is good to hear details from someone who actually towed with this van.

The hunt goes on.....

EventerAJ
Feb. 1, 2010, 06:49 PM
My thoughts exactly - great for a long weekend or 3-day clinic.
Now: why do you prefer the truck?

LOL!
After 15yrs I STILL need a couple tries to back up w/o jack-knifing!
Wanna give lessons?


I prefer the truck for its visibility-- it feels like cheating to be able to look out the back window! It's also more stable to drive in general; the van could be so top-heavy and got pushed around in high winds. Though this was more noticeable *without* the trailer, actually. And it did suck gas, a little more than my truck-- though that could have been the engine and its age.

Working on a farm, it's just more convenient to have a truck with a bed for "farm stuff." But for more multi-usage, family & people activities, with hauling horses occasionally, the van is great.

mypaintwattie
Feb. 1, 2010, 11:41 PM
I think in 'van speak' the 3/4 ton would be the ford econoline 250 or the chevy express 2500. Like I said, mine is on a chevy express 3500 chassis, so the 1-ton, and power is adequate for a 2 horse. I've also towed a 3 horse, but with only one horse in it. The only thing I would add might be a brake box, give you a little extra stopping power. Oh yeah, and gas milage is not great, but fair enough, and the benefits of having a toilet and tv outweigh that of having a big diesel truck. It's great for a mini- RV for roadtrips- very comfortable!

2DogsFarm
Feb. 3, 2010, 06:36 AM
I'm still waffling...haven't even looked at either - truck or van - seriously yet.

I do not do a ton of hauling - maybe 6X a year?
And until I can retire camping will be limited to weekends.

So the van would probably be a better choice for me.
Now I need to find a nice, big one with an affordable pricetag.

Or a truck....

see?
waffling...

mypaintwattie
Feb. 3, 2010, 06:25 PM
If you have any RV dealers around look there- mine is a pleasure way but they also make a lesser priced model called the road trek. Perhaps you could find a used one? They manufacture them on either a ford or chevy chassis.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 4, 2010, 06:36 AM
Good idea!
There's an RV dealer right down the road from me.
May have to stop in there this weekend.
I'm thinking sales might be a tad slow - mid-Winter in the Midwest - and a deal could be done. ;)

wildlifer
Feb. 4, 2010, 11:22 AM
What about a truck that you stick a camper in the bed? Just wanted to add to the waffling....

I have a camper shell on my F250 and I throw an air mattress back there, it's perfect! Now, I don't have TV, but I am not really a TV watcher, I like watching stars and sunsets and books and such things so I guess it doesn't have that.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 4, 2010, 01:46 PM
What about a truck that you stick a camper in the bed? Just wanted to add to the waffling....

:lol:
Gee thanks, I guess...
But the van offers the plugin option for a small fridge & microwave.
I used to sleep in the back of my Explorer when I went horsecamping, but then I'd be begging coffee & shelter from my friends with the LQ trailers :o

BTW: does the plugin in a van run off the van battery or is there a separate battery/power source?
It would suck to go camping for a weekend & wind up with a dead battery in the tow vehicle :no:

mypaintwattie
Feb. 4, 2010, 04:00 PM
Since mine is an RV, it has two batteries, a starter battery and a house battery. It also has a 'whisper quiet' generator. So yes, you can camp for the weekend and not worry about plugging it in anywhere. And the microwave and everything is already installed. Anything else can run off of 12v or AC power, 12v just runs straight off the house battery, for anything AC (like the oven) you need to turn on the generator or hook it up. My van, a Pleasure Way, and its counterpart, the Roadtrek, are both made in Canada. They are well insulated so not to worry about camping any time of year. I'm sure there would be a dealer near you, try looking through their websites. They are considered Class B motorhomes. Another added bonus: tax deduction for a second home;)

Gnalli
Feb. 4, 2010, 04:15 PM
We have an 87 GMC conversion van (aka The Pimp Mobile, lol) that I fully intend to use for hauling to over night shows etc. We already use it for camping. It is a 3/4 ton, and has enough power to pull it and enough weight to stop anything I would care to pull. We parked it facing down hill on my driveway, and its weight pushed it down a little YIKES. I would not have the least bit of trepidation pulling with it.


Oh, I so get the deal about the batteries dying. Every trainer I know carries a little generator with them to the shows-one of the little ones that 1 person can handle runs about 200. Then you don't have to worry about it, and you can even plug in a fan if you want to.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 5, 2010, 06:43 AM
More good info! Thanks Gnalli & MPW
:D

Right now my plan is to hit the RV dealer tomorrow.
Crappy weather is forecast but I imagine I can still see inside some vehicles and then to their office for specs and the "salestalk".
Now I need to surf the net a bit for used horsetrailers, so I'll have a mental price range for the RV. ;)

2DogsFarm
Feb. 18, 2010, 07:02 AM
looking for COTH input :lol:

wildlifer
Feb. 18, 2010, 10:19 AM
Which engine is it? The diesel or the V10?

2DogsFarm
Feb. 18, 2010, 12:14 PM
Well, things have changed - not certain I'm getting the "sales talk" or not.
Now the van that came in is a 1995 Road Trek with 38K miles.
Gas engine, so shall I assume it's the V10?

This one has a bath & owner "expects high teens"
I lowballed with my best offer in cash & we'll see how that flies.
I'll know after I see the van if I want to go ahead.
What do you think?

mypaintwattie
Feb. 18, 2010, 02:35 PM
Do you know what Chassis it is on? Chevy, Ford, or Dodge? Once you know that you can sit down and do a little googling to find out if there were any issues with the model. That's nice low milage- just have it checked out to make sure everything works. Being that old there may be a few things that need upgraded- the generator comes to mind, it may be a little loud. See how many hours are on it- they like them to be run occasionally to keep them at their peak.

FWIW- there are a few roaktrek and pleasureway groups on facebook- you might have some luck joining them so you can ask questions- or contact Roadtrek directly if your local dealer does not specialize in their sales.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 18, 2010, 05:45 PM
thanks MPW - that is the kind of thing I need to know.
I can even get away asking w/o looking too female & dumb as the one he offered 1st had the F350 so it was on a Ford chassis, right?

OK - making a list:
1-check generator hours
2-find out chassis model
3-?

wildlifer
Feb. 19, 2010, 03:31 PM
If it has the Ford F350 diesel in it, I think 1996 was pre-Powerstroke. You can run over to www.ford-trucks.com and find out more than you ever wanted to know.

In general, you want to crawl underneath and make sure there are no leaks. The clear plastic fluid container for coolant under the hood should have fluid in it (empty means a leak in coolant system). Trans fluid should be clean and not smell burnt. Wires and connections should be in good shape on visual inspection (insulation not cracked, connections not corroded).

3Dogs
Feb. 19, 2010, 04:19 PM
cool thread! I like the Road Treks - but I got a big truck instead and just got a camper shell for it!

good luck - sounds like you may have found a vehicle :yes:

2DogsFarm
Feb. 20, 2010, 06:43 AM
OK - so slesman never emailed pics like he said he would.
Googled the dealership and found this:
http://www.rollinonrv.com/Showroom/tabid/185/agentType/View/PropertyID/4736/Default.aspx

SO:
it is a 1994 with 39Kmi
16yo vehicle makes me a little leery, but it does look good in the pic.
May have to drop in today and see it in person.

I also read some very unhappy online reviews of the dealer so that is Strike 2 (salesman w/bad info & no follow-thru is Strike 1)

Worth followup?

wildlifer: thanks for the hints as to what to look at under the hood and beneath.
But I'm sure they will cover up anything leaking from beneath since they can move it around & it just got to the lot (so they say...).

mypaintwattie
Feb. 22, 2010, 05:17 PM
are there any other dealers in the area you can contact to see if they carry class b motorhomes? Might be worth a try.

I took mine out yesterday and hauled to a show, hadn't hauled since last Oct. and I forgot how much I love it! It hardly feels like anything is behind you, and I tow a 2 horse steel trailer. So easy to drive! I love mine! Oh, and the addition of a backup camera makes hitching up an absolute breeze!

2DogsFarm
Feb. 24, 2010, 04:28 PM
Well, I looked at the van yesterday and it looks brand-new outside & in.
But......
Young salesman #1 who told me the owner wanted "high teens" obviously hadn't drunk the Dealership Koolaid.

Slimeball #2 took me on the guided tour. I had asked him to put a bottle of water in the fridge & freezer overnight to make sure the freezer froze & the fridge didn't.
No water in the fridge, but he had put a styrofoam cup in the freezer...which was nowhere near frozen, not even cold.
He tried to steer me away from that with a lot of blahblahblah about how they would walk me through each system before it left the lot.
Whatever
The clincher was him trotting out their freshly-minted pricing sheet - listing it at $23,900
I told him I could buy 1/2 the van in cash and walked out saying "Call me if anything else comes in"

So on to Plan B - used truck at Carmax.

Why are most vehicle salesmen creeps?

mypaintwattie
Feb. 24, 2010, 07:15 PM
LOL they aren't all like that. Too bad your not out here- we have a plethora of RV dealerships within a 20 mile radius that carry class B vans, RoadTrek, PleasureWay, you name it. We have had motorhomes from two of the local dealerships, and they both have taken care of us. It's nice going back and the manager remembers your name and what vehicle you bought. Keep looking, maybe try the RV trader magazine or the like, or a facebook group that could recommend a dealership? Also, if there is a big RV show near you be sure to visit there, they always seem to have great deals.

Hannahsmom
Feb. 24, 2010, 10:35 PM
Also, if there is a big RV show near you be sure to visit there, they always seem to have great deals.

I just went to the big RV show and they had nothing as nice as the Pleasurehomes for the vans. I saw one of those dodge high top vans with a kind of icky conversion. I too would like to move to a Van that I could use for dog shows and pull the horse trailer occasionally. but not willing to pay 50 grand.

2DogsFarm
Feb. 25, 2010, 02:45 PM
I do have a huge RV dealer not far from me: Campland in Burns Harbor.
Just missed their big show this past weekend.
I checked their inventory online and found nothing listed that meets my needs.

However, MPW: I have family in the San Fernando Valley so maybe on my next visit I could check out OC dealers.
Of course, by then I'll have probably gotten a truck & trailer.
My bank account is vibrating with the desire to be empty :winkgrin:

mypaintwattie
Feb. 25, 2010, 04:36 PM
I do have a huge RV dealer not far from me: Campland in Burns Harbor.
Just missed their big show this past weekend.
I checked their inventory online and found nothing listed that meets my needs.

However, MPW: I have family in the San Fernando Valley so maybe on my next visit I could check out OC dealers.
Of course, by then I'll have probably gotten a truck & trailer.
My bank account is vibrating with the desire to be empty :winkgrin:

Between the OC, San Diego, and the Inland Empire you will have a week's worth of shopping. And always plenty of big RV shows in Pomona or the convention centers. KIT, and if you're out I'd be glad to take you for a ride in mine and show you around some of the dealers. Have your checkbook ready:D

2DogsFarm
Feb. 26, 2010, 05:47 PM
Young RV salesguy called me today to ask if I was still interested.
Which tells me:
A)He must really want that commission

B)Slimeball was a liarliarliar when he tried to give me the impression the Roadtrek would fly off the lot

Price has incredibly dropped down again, closer to my lowball offer.
My, my.....
Told Young Guy I was going to look at a truck/trailer next weekend (true this) and would check back with him.

So now I will have to reconsider BP trailers to go with the van.
Aaarrgghhh!
Wish I could hire someone to do this for me.
Where is that Clone when I need her?

mypaintwattie
Mar. 2, 2010, 01:50 PM
I can't believe I forgot about it, but have you looked at a Ford Sportmobile? I saw one driving around the other day and it shook my memory that we had looked at them before purchasing our PleasureWay. They are much more customizable too- wheels and other aftermarket products are so much easier to find- a lesson we learned when we went to change the suspension and wheels on our van. A local trainer hauls her horses with one.

2DogsFarm
Mar. 4, 2010, 05:19 PM
Thanks again MPW!

I just Googled Sportsmobile & sadly the used ones in my price range were all SOLD.
But they sure look like exactly what I need.

This is making me crazy - I am going to stop thinking about it until after I see the truck this weekend.