The Modular RV—Part I: The Truck


GREELEY, CO—Today I bought a truck, the first step in acquiring my RV rig. I gave Jacob, the former owner, some cash and my fuel-sipping Escort (I’ll miss her) and he gave me a 1997 Ford F250 with an eight foot bed, a bed topper, and a little over 100,000 miles on it (not bad for a pickup).

When I ran across the truck on Craigslist (and drove it a week ago), it had that “light” feeling—the same feeling I got when I found the Escort—even though it has the “check engine” light glowing (but a believable explanation for it).

I like this truck because it is very flexible. It has a medium sized engine (balance between towing and gas mileage), a medium sized “build” (3/4 ton can handle more load than a 1/2 ton), plus it has a topper which can provide lots of room for storage if I decide to go with a travel trailer (nod to Randy). If I decide to go with a 5th wheel or even a slide in camper, I can just sell the topper.

A couple days ago I was in Bullhead City, AZ to check out my friend Paul’s rig which he was/is looking to sell. It too had that “light” feel, and I was ready to buy it sight unseen, but Paul didn’t want to sell until he found a replacement.

Still, I learned a lot from Paul when he showed me how his solar panel system all fits together and how to connect and disconnect a 5th wheel trailer. Useful stuff. Plus his girl friend has a strong spiritual leaning, so we were able to swap some “God tips.”

After visiting Paul, I had planned to head down to Phoenix because there are a lot of RVs for sale down there, but, as soon as I turned south, I got that “dark” feeling. Having learned my lessons, I did a U-turn and headed back east to Flagstaff, AZ. Cooler weather and a better feel all around. I called Jacob to see if he still had his truck for sale (I had looked at it while in Denver) and he did, so I drove all day yesterday and picked it up this afternoon.

I’ll aclimate to the truck for a few days until I learn her quirks and (hopefully) gain confidence in her reliability (damn that check engine light). Then start looking for a trailer or 5th wheel (or even a slide in camper).

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6 thoughts on “The Modular RV—Part I: The Truck

  1. It’s not so much the miles as the maintenance and unless Jacob is a good body man the truck looks well cared for. What is the believeable explaination for the check engine light? I had one come on in a car once. I was told to add a can of “Sea Foam” engine cleaner in a tank of high octaine gas and it would go away – it did.

  2. @Doug: She must be working through you. I was looking through the fuel and oil additives in Walmart when my phone ‘binged.’ I read your email, reached up with my left hand and pulled down the Sea Foam (which I had just looked at). Just filled up BOTH tanks with high test and Sea Foam. We’ll see. 🙂

    BTW, the story of the engine light: Jacob had the truck hooked up to the diagnosis computer, saw that it was the 02 (oxygen) sensors, replaced the sensors himself, had the computer cleared and the same code came back. His mechanic friend said it was probably a short somewhere (though I suspect he didn’t wire one or both of them up properly), but who knows. I tried to take it to a Ford dealer yesterday (Fri), but they didn’t want to do business with me because they don’t like to work on Friday afternoons or something.

    But… this is a good lesson. My mind says, “Worry” but the Light says “Everything is OK.”

  3. I have a story for that too. I cut the wires to the 02 sensor while changing the manifold on my Jeep. Taped them up but the light would come on after the engine warmed. finally had the sensor changed and was told I would see an improvement in my mileage after a few tanks of gas. That was a year ago, no change in mileage but the light doesn’t come on; so it must have been working fine.

    Glad I could have been of help.

  4. Glad you found such a good looking truck. I am still looking.

    I am sorry to hear of your Mom’s illness! I am glad to hear you are going to be with her. I am sure she is very grateful to have a caring son, and one who can practice his art where it pleases him. And so SHE acted in your best interest, when I hesitated.

    I am looking again at “The Tiny Dancer” with new appreciation. I am delighted we spent some time together once again. Thanks for the gift of your time. Perhaps by the time your Mom is well and fit, we can talk of a trade again.

    That is a very cool picture of the Watchtower. I must get to that spot for a shot when I am there again. The levels of the rocks in the tower are from the different levels of shale and sandstone in the canyon.

    Funny, I am here in the forest in Flagstaff now. A summer nomad retreat.

  5. @Paul: It was good to meet up with you again… and I agree with you, I suspect SHE was the inspiration behind your hesitation – and I’m grateful. See you soon (I hope) and enjoy Flagstaff (where I was going to head if I bought your rig). 🙂

  6. If you go for a new slide in camper, consider a travel lite 770 SL. It weighs in around 1500 lbs but comes nicely equipped, but not OVER equipped, something hard to find in a camper. The MRSP is around 10k, very reasonable for a new camper.

    Also these Flex Solar panels caught my eye recently. You can’t find a lower profile or lighter weight panel than this. At 100 watts a piece they put out a lot of power. No affiliation with either the truck camper or the panels…

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