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The adventure begins - MG1912 - 07-23-2019

I posted an intro thread here, and things are moving fast since I got back stateside last week.  I bought my truck yesterday -- a 2007 F350 diesel supercab long bed (GVWR 11,400 lbs., Front GAWR 6,000 lbs., Rear GAWR 7,000 lbs.).  It has 80K miles on it.  The truck already had all-terrain E-rated 10-ply tires (max load pressure 4,080/3,750 lbs. each) that were in very good shape.
The truck camper is a 2013 Northstar 9.5 Igloo U, a non-slideout camper that fits long bed trucks.  It is on the heavier side of what I was looking for at almost 3,000 lbs. wet, but it met all the criteria I was looking for in a camper and will be safe to carry on the above truck along with 1,000 lbs. of gear (with myself).
I’ll continue to post as I upgrade my rig, figure things out, and decide when I will head off.  Thanks for reading!

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RE: The adventure begins - [email protected] - 07-23-2019

MG1912 that is a sweet combination. You have one great foundation on the future. Jeff

RE: The adventure begins - AnonymousDog - 07-23-2019

Oh the places you'll go! Smile

RE: The adventure begins - RoamerRV428 - 07-24-2019

very nice rig!! hope you enjoy the heck out of it.

we loved our TC...we had the Elkhorn. Your NorthStar is great! Go roam Smile

RE: The adventure begins - MG1912 - 08-05-2019

So here is the plan/progress to date:

Today, my cousin and I took off the dashboard to install a modern Bluetooth head unit, replacing the 2007 CD/radio.  While we had the dash off, we also permanently installed a heavy duty cell phone holder.  The limiting factor is the dash itself, but we pre-drilled the holes, and the plastic is actually pretty thick in that spot.  We tested the head unit, and it runs great.  Now we have to wait for delivery of the camper to figure out what we are going to do about the Bluetooth head unit’s GPS antenna and the backup camera.  Both will probably go on the camper.  

Out with the old:
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In with the new:
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Mounting the cell phone holder with bolts, nuts, and washers:
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The final product:
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Next steps are Torklift upper StableLoads and Rancho shocks (9000’s in the rear, 7000’s up front).  The truck has a stock sway bar.  We’ll try that set up first and make changes as necessary.

RE: The adventure begins - MaTaLa - 08-05-2019

Very nice!

RE: The adventure begins - Dan 1 - 08-25-2019

Looks like a good strong start, "MG1912". I wish you Luck in your adventure into Modern Nomadism.

RE: The adventure begins - MG1912 - 08-26-2019

Many thanks for the kind comments.  Here is the plan/progress to date:

We installed the Rancho 7000 shocks in the front and 9000 adjustables in the rear.  We will install the rubber bed mat and upper StableLoads later this week (basically right before we pick up the camper).  The truck actually has a stock rear sway bar.

For the truck, we replaced the entire cooling system (new radiator, degas bottle, hoses, engine oil cooler, EGR cooler), as the cooling system is the pivotal failure point on the 6.0 (and is responsible for the EGR failures and, ultimately, head gasket issues).  The FICM was weak (reading 40 volts or lower), so that got replaced.  The injectors were in good shape, practically like new.  We replaced plastic with metal air inlet connections, the turbo got cleaned and rebuilt with a new unison ring, new glow plug harness, connectors, O-rings, any hoses that were getting soft got replaced, new batteries (the old ones were 7 years old), new fluids and filters, etc.

Besides the cooling system replacements/upgrades and FICM, the most critical work was the new O-ringed heads, ARP head studs, and the tuner.  The tuner was a “need.”  The O-ringed heads and the studs were a “want” that we decided to go ahead and do while the cab was off.  The tuner also has a very good gauge displays.  I’ve got Exhaust Gas Temperature, Transmission Fluid Temperature, Engine Oil temperature, and Engine Coolant Temperature on the screen -- all in real time -- and the tuner will alarm when those start approaching critical temps.  The brakes are in good shape, as is the suspension system.  The ball joints are good.  The tie rod on the driver’s side is a tad loose, but still good for another year or so.  We replaced the shocks, as I mentioned above.  I want to replace the spare tire with the same tire as my current Nitto Terra Grappler G2’s (which are larger than the stock 275’s), but I’m not sure if it will fit in the space allotted under the bed.

Regarding the camper, we will install an updated charge controller and a 170 watt panel (for a total of 320 watts on the roof to match with the 300 amps of batteries).  The batteries are in very good shape -- two Lifeline 150 amp 12v batteries.

We couldn’t find any high-quality jumper cables, so we made our own with 1/0 gauge pure copper wire and clamps.  I also have a 4000 amp lithium jump starter.  I will be prepared to start my 6.0 diesel if I ever run the batteries down… or to start a Mack truck.

I drove the truck from northern New England to Georgia and back, and I averaged 16.9 MPG (hand calculations).  The best segment I did was 18.3, and the worst 15.8 (I stopped to fill up and calculate MPG every 200 miles).

So lots of progress made.  I’ll post another update (hopefully with pics) once the camper is on the truck and I start living in it.

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RE: The adventure begins - MG1912 - 08-28-2019

I thought I'd write a little bit about my experience getting rid of stuff in preparation for this new life.  I have been moving every few years since I was 16, including the 10 years I spent in federal service, and I didn't accumulate much stuff.  Nevertheless, I'd estimate that I had maybe 1,000 pounds worth of stuff to my name.  When I got back from Afghanistan last month, I had what was in my suitcases, my shipment from Afghanistan (about 200 pounds), and my stuff in permanent storage with the government in Maryland, which I picked up a few weeks ago.  I had my truck and, luckily for me, all my stuff in the storage warehouse fit in my truck, but I did ask the warehouse folks to dump a few things that wouldn't fit and were of no use to me -- an old IKEA computer desk and chair that had been following me around for a decade, a small dresser that someone had left at the last home I rented, a towel rack...

When I got back to New England from the storage warehouse, I started opening the boxes and discovered that the bulk of the stuff I had been storing for so long really was junk: old receipts and paperwork from college 20 years ago, books I never intended to keep, etc.  Most of it got dumped.  It came out to 15 black garbage liners, 7 of which still have to be taken to the dump.  I did have stuff in my storage that will be useful in my new RV life -- kitchen supplies, tools, etc.

The only things that were a little difficult to decide upon were mementos and personal items.  I almost dumped a folder full of old pictures, but decided to keep it in the end.  I don't have albums and albums of photos, just that one folder.  It doesn't take up much room.  But old ticket stubs from movies I watched 20 years ago, old brochures from shows I went to... all went to the dump.  Mercifully, my lifestyle over the past 25 years has not allowed me to collect trinkets, furniture, or other large items.

The culling still isn't done.  I pick my camper up on Friday, and then I'll have to take another good, hard look at my stuff and do the final triaging:  what goes with me in the camper, what gets stored (I promised my cousin I'd only leave two large boxes in his attic), and what gets tossed.  I hope to have that done by the end of this weekend.

RE: The adventure begins - Rojo Zoso - 08-28-2019

Looks great. Happy Travels!!!