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Old 11-10-2022, 08:01 PM   #1
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Update On Campers

We sold our 1999 Sunline Solaris T-2970. I had purchased it new replacing the first 1992 Sunline Saturn T-2251. That Saturn wasn't a basic camper, but had many options, but was called a Saturn because of it's size being under 23 feet.

The T2970 was replaced by a new Outback 266RB. After three years of debugging the Outback things are pretty good now. A number of items failed just out of warranty. It was frustrating at times with failures of the tongue jack touch screen, the power converter, the water heater wiring not being correct preventing the gas portion of the water heater from working properly. A trip back for a floor replacement in the bathroom due to a broken leaking toilet flange causing the floor to sag and flex. Now we are all fixed and I certainly want to keep it as I don't want to go through this stuff again.

The 266RB has a lot of nice features such as auto leveling, power awning, a spacious bathroom and is very comfortable.

We this year added a camper for the grown daughters as they grew up in Sunline campers, for them we bought a 2007 Sunline Solaris. A cute little thing that has been pretty well protected from bad weather and being in the sun all the time.

Still towing with the 2000 Ford E350 Club Wagon. It delivers up to 10MPG with the Outback, it did the same for the 1999 T2970. I haven't towed the T2075 all that much yet, but I have found that it too was delivering the same mileage towing the much lighter trailer. I thought for sure that I would get more MPG, but I have only towed the T2075 a couple of times any long distance. Time will tell.

Happy Camping To All,

Jerry
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Old 11-10-2022, 10:31 PM   #2
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Hi Jerry,

Yes, it is a sad state of affairs buying a new camper now a days and all the problems that come with it. That is one thing Sunline did better, when they shipped it, it was in better condition as it should be as they took a little more time to do it right. And used better materials in many cases. They made mistakes too, but if you called them, they stood behind their product.

Towing mileage, from what I have found, weight of the camper does play a roll in fuel mileage but not as much as wind drag does. The saying, we are towing a brick wall has merit to it.

Not sure what year your Outback is, but that is a slide camper correct? I found this 2018 that might be close to yours https://www.rvguide.com/specs/keysto...ite/266rb.html

The slide setup makes the camper higher and some more wind drag. But, it is still 8 ft wide.

Your 99 T2970 was 29' 11" at a 7,000# GVWR setup. The Outback I linked is 30' 8" long on an 8,600# GVWR. Length is very close, if either are loaded close to full weight, the Outback could be approx. 22% heaver. But it is a taller.

When we had our 2004 T2499 (loaded 6,500# at 25' 11" lg) with our 2003 Chevy Suburban (6.0L with the 4.10 rear axle) towing 55mph - 60 mph all I could get reliable was 8.0 to 8.5 mpg.

Then comes the 2004 T310SR, we towed it home empty with the Suburban. The T310SR was apprx. 7.300# and 32 ' long when we towed it home, it is for sure higher, and longer. Buy, yet the mileage did not change.

Then the F350 came. The 6.8 V10 with 4.10 rear axle. At first before we could load it fully, we where getting about 8.0 mph. As time went on the camper close to the limit, its is now just under 10,000#, still get 7.0 mpg on super head wind, to 7.5 mpg and barely 8.0 mpg.

If I hook the F350 to my T2499, my T2475, my T317SR, I really do not change the mileage much at all. 7.5 to 8.0 mpg and they are empty campers. The truck is not straining at all, the wind drag just eats up that much fuel.

I have not towed my T1950 much to know, my son has though. He has the big 8.1 in his Avalanche. He normally tows his T264SR which is close in weight to your Outback just a little shorter. If he see's this post he may chime in if he can see much of a difference. The 1950 and your T2075 are close in weight, just yours's is longer by about 1 1/2'

The 8 ft wide and at least in the 9 to 10 ft tall is what is doing the work. If you are getting up to 10 mpg, you are doing good! What engine and rear axle do you have?

Thanks for the update

John
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Old 11-11-2022, 09:07 PM   #3
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Hi JohnB,

My E350 has a 6.8L V10 engine, and a 3.73 rear axle.

I know that wind resistance plays a huge part in towing. What I find so amazing in the MPG is that the E350 uses so little effort to move the T2075 that I find it pretty incredible that it doesn't do even a little better than 10.0 MPG.

My 1999 T2970 had a couple of minor problems too, but it had one large one that required it going back to Denver PA. to be repaired. It turned out that the front axle was put on in the wrong place, it was too far forward and would rub against the front edge of the wheel well when it would hit bumps. I had them raise the camper 4" to get some ground clearance as the back would drag going in and out of approaches. They only charged me about $300 to do the work on it, as they knew the axle was put in the wrong place to begin with.

Keystone was actually good to work with on my floor problem. I talked with them about it as the toilet was never right from day one. I took it to an authorized Keystone Service Center in Indiana, about 200 miles from home. I asked them to assess the unit and to take photos of what they find. I then wrote to Keystone and submitted the pictures. Basically the toilet flange couldn't have cracked from normal use, the camper looks like new inside and out and so it is obvious that we didn't do anything to cause it. It was cracked when it was assembled. The crack was right by a seam in the flooring, so it leaked slightly, caused the tongue and groove to give way and there wasn't any floor support under it. A perfect storm for a sagging floor. The repair facility who was fantastic made it better than new, adding supports under it, and using hardwood to replace the entire bathroom floor. It's better than new now. Keystone was very good and covered almost all the repair costs (out of warranty). I feel very fortunate on that one, both with how nice Keystone was and the great place I found for the repairs.

Jerry
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Old 11-11-2022, 09:22 PM   #4
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PS - Our Outback 266RB is a 2018. It's got a lot of equipment on it, fireplace, 50AMP service, prepped for a second AC unit, the one it has is a high output version. Auto leveling, I like the spare tire being stored under the unit. This one also has a ladder on the back along with a fold-up rear storage rack for extra items if you need it.

Jerry
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Old 11-12-2022, 06:31 PM   #5
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Hi Jerry,

I agree on the V10 towing a small camper, it is effortless, yet it dose not really change the mileage much.

We had both our 2004 T2499 and the T310SR for a while until the 2499 sold. The 2500 Suburban was sold when the F350 came which was about 2 months after we got the T310SR.

One year I towed the T2499 back to NY to use as a spare bedroom at Cindy's mom's lake house. Most all our camping gear was moved to the T310 by then so the T2499 did not have a lot of cargo in it. We only used it as a bedroom.

Well I would of thought for sure I would of had better fuel mileage, but nope, it may have only move 0.5 mph better. BUT.... my 3 valve 6.8 V10 really does not like ethanol mixed gas. That trip I filled up fuel in NY and back then, you could still find all gas fuel as we where so close to Lake Erie the boats were using it. Now, real gas moved the mpg like night and day.

I drove the truck across NY empty (no camper) and on the NYS thruway I was getting 15 - 16 mpg on the highway doing the speed limit on cruise control. I have never seen that hold for so long. So it came time to head back home, I filled up with all gas fuel in western NY, hitched up the camper and started heading back to OH. I started out getting 10 mpg towing for the first 120 miles. Then I stopped in PA to gas up, now I have a mixed tank of all gas and a ethanol gas mix. As the miles went by, so did my mpg. By the time I got back home, I was right back at the 8 mpg.

Oh well, the truck pull great, it handles all the weight I need, it just has a drinking problem.

Glad to hear Keystone stepped up to help you. That has not been my findings helping my neighbors with their Keystone campers.

Have fun this coming camping season. The weather sort of went nuts here today, Thursday we had 70F, today we had a snow squall...and the rest of next week is cold with the highs in the mid 30's. Winter is coming...

John
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Old 11-12-2022, 07:26 PM   #6
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I have not towed my T1950 much to know, my son has though. He has the big 8.1 in his Avalanche. He normally tows his T264SR which is close in weight to your Outback just a little shorter. If he see's this post he may chime in if he can see much of a difference. The 1950 and your T2075 are close in weight, just yours's is longer by about 1 1/2'
I definitely see an increase in mileage with the smaller camper. We have taken the T1950 on our long summer trip to visit family 3 times and the T2475 twice. Both trailers were probably similarly loaded weight wise, I believe we calculated about 4500#, both with flipped axles. With my 8.1L 3.73 gear it would get 9.5-10mpg depending on temperature and wind. Our T264SR which is probably 8000# or a little more I get 7.5-8mpg, haven't taken the same exact route as the others, but towed close to half of the same route, and many others. The two small campers I barely know are back there. Weight is some part of the equation, the extra height on the T264SR is probably a decent part as well. I towed a 1/2 ton pickup on a flatbed trailer about 7500# on the same route as the small trailers and got 11.5mpg. It was much less wind resistance than an 8ft wide travel trailer.
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Old 11-15-2022, 08:15 PM   #7
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I suspect engine RPM's and speed is also part of the mpg.

Ben's 8.1 beast and a 4 speed transmission on a 3.73 axle with 16" tires has more torque at a lower RPM then my setup. The lighter camper or less wind, his RPM's may be lower. I get my higher torque up higher in RPM's

In my case, I have 5 speed tranny, and I have 4.10 axle on 18" tires.

As far as MPH, 55 to 60 is all I tow at as a rule short of passing etc. Going 65 mph sucks even more fuel faster and things can go really wrong all that much faster at higher speeds. My engine/tranny combo finds the sweet spot on level no wind close to 60 mph, it will shift down to 1,850 rpm. That is high gear and this Torque shift tranny in Tow Haul finds high gear at different speeds, it is not like the prior 4 speed Ford tranny. It is not a fixed RPM = MPH. If I get a head wind, it will down shift to 4th and the RPM's go up to 2,150 rpm and can stay there until the wind dies down or I back off a little speed. My torque curve is fairly flat once I get to the get RPM's up high enough and it will hold the speed, just the RPM's are little higher.

Keeping the RPM's down, travel speed and a soft foot is a big part of fuel mileage. Then throw wind resistance into the equation. Then weight.

I think we understand it, there is only so much we can do about it with what we have.

John
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Old 11-16-2022, 04:23 PM   #8
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I suspect engine RPM's and speed is also part of the mpg.



Ben's 8.1 beast and a 4 speed transmission on a 3.73 axle with 16" tires has more torque at a lower RPM then my setup. The lighter camper or less wind, his RPM's may be lower. I get my higher torque up higher in RPM's



John
This is probably correct, my RPM stays pretty low with the smaller campers. At 1000rpm I have 400+ ft/lb of torque and the full 455ft/lb at 3200rpm. Towing the small campers on our mostly flat route at 60mph it will cruise in overdrive pretty much the whole way, which is about 2000rpm.
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Old 11-17-2022, 04:02 PM   #9
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We do our share of local camping, under 100 miles away, but we also do a lot of long haul trips. Our Outback being pulled by our Ford Club Wagon E350 went to Key Largo, Key West, Sanibel Island, then to Fort Wilderness at Disney for the long trip this year. In 2021 we went to Memphis, Nashville, & Virginia Beach for the long trip. In 2020, we went through the upper peninsula of Michigan through Minnesota, in South Dakota, and out to Yellowstone. Returning through Montana, and North Dakota and back home. Out on the road typically gives the best mileage for sure. Looking forward to 2023's adventures!

Jerry
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Old 11-17-2022, 04:06 PM   #10
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For my speeds, I tend to like anywhere from 62-68MPH for my cruising speed. I know slower is better, but things feel good at those speeds, and with long distances things seem to settle in around those speeds. I find if I go too slow I tend to downshift more going up slight grades, likely due to the 3.73 axle. As this vehicle is only a four-speed. How much fun I could have with a 10 speed trans!

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Old 11-19-2022, 06:53 PM   #11
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Hi Jerry, those sound like they where good trips. We hope to get to some of then someday.

As for the truck and it's sweet spot with the load one is pulling, Ford did a good job with this torque flight transmission and the 3 valve engine upgrade. (the spark plug saga and manifold studs is a sore spot though...) It only has 5 speeds (actually 6 but the 1st gear is selected based on temperature, I only get 5 shifts points once it starts moving ) If I have the cruse control on, I have learned enough when seeing the size of the hill/mountain coming up, if I feed it some more fuel before I start approaching the hill and loosing some spread, I have better odds of no downshifting or less. It needs the fuel, so I give it to her. If not, the cruise will react and then I sit at 4,200rpm until I crest the hill.

I do like the down hill grade braking, it helps hold you back without having to use the brakes as much going downhill.

As for top towing speed, doing 65 to 68 is well within the means of the truck, just the mileage will be even worse in my case, 55-60mph is bad enough. Truck and camper loaded for a long trip is close to 17,500#

Your older V10 and the van getting 10mph towing is good. Hang onto that vehicle as long as you can. I know I will on mine, it is good for at least another 100K miles.

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Old 11-25-2022, 10:30 AM   #12
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Hi John,

I plan on holding on to the 2000 E350 Club Wagon. It currently has 129,265 miles on it. Looking great inside and out, like when I bought it way back when. Getting ready to store it for the winter.

I too, like to gear down going downhill, saves a lot of effort and wear on brakes. For my four speed, it's easy enough to push the button and turn off the overdrive, then move the shifter to second if needed after that.

The brakes have been very good on it, as I have just replaced the pads on the rear, this is the third set for the back and the front are pretty new and are actually the third set, but the original set was replaced at about 10K as they had some squeaks when braking and the Six Sigma Garage wanted vans that were doing that and took my pads, rotors, and calipers and replaced them to see why they were making noise.

But overall, the fronts have worn less than the rears. Same with the tires, my rear tires tend to wear faster than the front.

Jerry
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Old 11-26-2022, 02:31 PM   #13
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Hi Jerry,

You have a good work horse in your E350. With the cost of new trucks, if you have a solid reliable older one, they are worth hanging onto.

Our 2005 F350 just crossed over 130,000 miles. Two years ago I took it all part, dealt with the frame rust, went through the engine on the weak spots of the 2005 redesign. See here if you want to look at all the pics https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...avy-19574.html

My goal is to get over the 200K mile mark and from what I see now, that should not be an issue, then figure out what to do about replacing it. Hoping the new truck situation has tamed down by then.

Tires, come spring the truck needs 5 new tires and so does the camper. Ouch for sure on the cost, but it is not worth the risk towing heavy on old tires, so we will change them.

Take care,

John
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Old 11-27-2022, 12:45 PM   #14
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Hi John,

Body and frame is good on this one. I have been waiting for a set of tires for it. I have had Michelin M/S2's on it, and they're actually pretty old. They have no cracking at all on them. Their dates show 2010. They've been on longer than I would have wanted, but they've given no reason to remove them. I have ordered the Michelin Agilis and have been waiting for about six weeks to get them.

The camper got new tires this spring caused by a nail in the shoulder of one of them. We got our use out of them. The ones we got, which the brand escapes me at the moment are made by Carlisle but included a one-year road hazard warranty. They've made our trek to Key West and back with no incidents.

We like the ride of the Club Wagon, it's comfortable and I like a van over a pick-up. Though it was fully loaded for its time, by today's standards it is missing things.

It is starting to get looks as it goes out, with more people asking about it, wondering about it's age. There aren't many with a sliding side door, the 6.8L with the Chateau package around. It has the big heavy duty rear bumper on it. Dual A/C and heat, four captains chairs, two-tone paint, along with a factory AM/FM/CD and cassette radio!

Jerry
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Old 11-27-2022, 07:38 PM   #15
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Jerry, just wondering how that E350 does with ground clearance. We pull our T-1950 with a '17 Traverse with no issues, but I get the occasional impulse to hitch it up to my '07 E350 cargo van for a Manly solo run.

Haven't tried it so far, because I have my doubts it'd do nearly as well as the Traverse in the more rugged areas I'd want to take it to.
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Old 11-27-2022, 08:13 PM   #16
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I have never had any ground clearance issues with the van. I would think it would have more ground clearance than the Traverse would, and being rear wheel drive and a much heavier suspension, I would think it would not feel like much of anything was back there. I don't know how the Traverse would be a match for the E350, you would have better brakes, suspension, more ground clearance, and unless you have the 4.2L V6, I would think you'd have plenty of power to do anything with that little camper.

I had towed my T2970 for 19 years, the Outback 266RB since for 5 years now, and we just got the T2075 which would be a bit heavier and longer that yours and my E350 doesn't have any troubles at all.

Are you going off road with it? My van runs LT245/75R16, I think yours might use LT225/75R16, I think they made them a little shorter to make it easier to get into a 7 foot garage. Other than I wouldn't want to take mine into brush for fear of scratching it, I wouldn't be afraid of it making it, I would worry more about the trailer clearance.

Jerry
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Old 11-27-2022, 08:50 PM   #17
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I've done the axle flip on the T-1950, so it has pretty good clearance.

As you say, the E350 has plenty of power for the job. I have the same tires you do, and yes, I'd want to take it somewhat off-road. That's another part of the equation--the Traverse is AWD while the E350 is 2WD and like most of its ilk, is pretty miserable traction-wise. But that's a whole other topic.

Part of the equation is that I found the original bumper hitch was incompatible with the trailer I use for construction work, so I added an aftermarket hitch that goes beneath that. Great for the work trailer, but it grounds out on fairly modest dips in driveways and whatnot. Maybe 2-3" less clearance than without it.

Taking the Traverse and leaving the cargo van for my wife to use as a daily driver is out of the question.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:05 PM   #18
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It also probably doesn't help that I typically have the van loaded with about 2,000 lbs of construction tools and supplies. That would tend to contribute to it squatting a bit.
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Old 11-28-2022, 08:52 AM   #19
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Hi Tinstaafl,

I guess depending on if you have a hitch that has a lot of steel below the tow ball you could have a clearance problem, along with loading it way down. I've not had any traction problems, this van has a limited slip axle, which has helped out a few times over the years getting out of things. Traction hasn't been much of a problem for mine, but depending o what you get into I guess it could be a factor.

I would think that the van would be a much more solid unit to tow with being it has a body on frame, it is a one-ton unit, much better braking, and just larger than the SUV you have.

Jerry
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Old 11-28-2022, 04:59 PM   #20
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Not much steel below the ball, but now that I actually stop to think about it, this is an extended van--which means it has a longer tail than a standard van, thus more susceptible to scraping. Not much to be done about that other than lightening the load. And no limited slip, same as the E250 I had previously. Oh well.

I had my reservations about towing with the Traverse, but honestly it does the job very comfortably. I can hardly tell the trailer's back there.
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