Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: A Bittersweet Return

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Bittersweet Return

Finally back on the road!  Our apologies for the long hiatus - It's just not as fun writing about our boring (read: not moving) lives in the house so we decided to spare everyone and took a break. Waking up in the morning in the same place (even though it's really paradise!) had already begun to wear on us.  Last thing we wanted to do is bore our loyal readers and followers with that!  So, we are back at it and have lots of new information and visits to new places to share!

After six months of being (almost) full-time on the road, we headed back to the house in Cocoa Beach at the beginning of August.  In addition to getting the RV repaired, we had to prep the house for sale including packing, some light repairs, etc.  The RV made it to the repair shop to have my little "oops" fixed and, of course, the truck decided (on our way back) to start having issues.

She did us well but good riddance!
On our way back through Myrtle Beach, SC, the truck started to suffer from a loss of power on acceleration.  After pulling off the highway and scanning the code, it appeared as though there was a drop in the fuel rail pressure.  Having had a previous Cummins, I was relatively sure that this was a first sign of a future fuel pump replacement.  If history had anything to do with predicting the future, I knew this was going to be an expensive proposition - the last one was nearly $2,000!  In addition to that, we had been having some transmission heat problems in the mountains of North Carolina.  Whenever we attempted to downshift on a uphill ascent, it seemed the the transmission was doing everything it could just to keep up, let alone trying to downshift.  It also overheated on us once or twice with simple around-town driving. Needless to say, we needed to part ways with the white beast.

Fortunately, we were able to sell the truck and recoup most of the money that we put into it.  Lesson learned:  you get what you pay for.  You'd think we would have learned that by now!  So the search was on  to find another truck.  Of course, in our true fashion, this wasn't the only task to accomplish.
Our needs were fairly specific - I was researching issues with the Ram trucks where I found that transmission issues were prevalent due to the fact that Dodge (unlike Ford and Chevy) was still using the 68rfe transmission, considered a "light duty" transmission.  Chevy started putting an Allison transmission in its heavy duty trucks as early as 2002 with the introduction of its 6.6 Duramax (Isuzu built) diesel.  Here is a great article on a comparison between Ford, Chevy, and Ram.  Since we have the two big babies that travel with us, our only option was the Ram truck as they have the mega cab option.  We considered buying a Chevy and extending the cab, but the costs were astronomical, so we decided to seek out the toughest built Ram truck we could find.
Ford also started to use their Torque shift (also medium duty) in 2004.  Ram trucks did not start the option of a medium duty transmission (in my research) until 2014 with the introduction of is AISIN transmission and the ability to tow up to 30,000 lbs!  This was what we were looking for.

It took awhile to find exactly what we were looking for - a 2013 or newer 3500 4x4 mega cab with the AISIN trans and 6.7L Cummins.  In addition, we preferred the comfort levels of the Laramie Longhorn or Laramie Limited trucks due to their higher levels of quality in materials and comfort. Finding what we were looking for proved to be a pretty daunting task.  The only way to tell whether or not the truck had the AISIN was to either run the VIN number at a dealership (which they aren't always inclined to do as a favor) or being able to look under the hood.  The AISIN transmission equipped trucks have the dipstick for the trans on the driver's side of the engine bay.  The other transmission options both had their respective dipsticks on the passenger side.  We did find a few, but most of them were either brand new and more money than we wanted to spend.  In fact, we found two different ones from the same dealer in Texas.  (Apparently, Texas is the hotbed for heavy duty trucks!).  One was a gray one (the color we preferred) while the other was black.  Both were the same year and similar miles as well as having nearly identical options.  We were ready to take whichever one the dealer could complete the paperwork the fastest since we knew that we still had all the parts (fifth wheel, tool box, and auxiliary fuel tank) to get installed on the new truck.  As luck would have it, the dealer was unable to locate the title for either vehicle so we moved on.

Finally, we found our current truck - a 2014 Limited.  It was loaded with every option from the factory except the 5th wheel prep package, which we were under the impression we didn't need since we already had a full setup with our Demco autoslide.  Little did we know, the frame was changed with the update to the Ram truck line in 2013.   So, as we found out, we would now need to add the OEM 5th wheel prep package ($225 plus labor to install) as well as an adapter plate (another $500) for the Demco.  (The OEM 5th wheel prep allows for a drop in fifth wheel to attach directly to the frame rails via "pucks" in the floor of the bed of the truck) Hooray for unexpected expenses - especially before setting out on the road for months!

Of course it couldn't be as easy as just ordering the parts and having them show up at our doorstep. After ordering the OEM 5th wheel prep package on a Friday morning, I received a phone call on Tuesday morning (the day before the parts were supposed to be delivered - I even got a tracking number showing this) stating that the part was not available.  After a lengthy, somewhat heated conversation,  we finally located a set in Lakeland, Florida and had them sent right away.  And, of course, wouldn't you know it, a similar lack-of-having-parts-in-stock problem occurred - though not quite what we expected.  The adapter plate was not shipped, but the parts to attach it were.  So we had a bunch of bolts, etc, but no frame to attach to the pucks or to the Demco.  Needless to say, frustration and disbelief set in quickly.  All the parts were supposed to be in that Wednesday to be able to stay on our timeline for departure.  It was quickly becoming impossible for that to happen.

Finally all the parts got to Elmer's Paint and Body and they could finally get everything into the new truck (the RV repairs were already done the week before).  That was the last piece of the puzzle before we could get back on the road.  Fortunately, the rest of the assembly, etc, went off without issue.

Since leaving Florida, our current stops include Badlands National Park, Devil's Tower National Park, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and Glacier National Park.  We will have new posts coming up in the next few days, so keep an eye out!

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!

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