Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

English couple to R.V. in U.S.A.

Hi!, I am making plans to travel to the USA and buy a travel trailor and truck so I can spend more time there.
I am used to doing this in Europe and England but will have lots to learn in America.

All advice will be gratefully received.

I expect to buy a new Ford 150 crew cab or similar, perhaps a Silverado or Ram. I took the opportunity to check out a few deals when in California this April and I see I can buy that kind of thing for around $2300. I suppose I would have to pay state tax on that?
I have a daughter living in Philadelphia and would use her address and so would expect to pay Pennsylvania taxes, I wonder how much (roughly)?
The travel trailor I looked at in California was a Salem T23FBL with a single slide out and end bathroom. It looks good for two folks with the occasional visitors. This was offered with awning and a few other odds and ends at less than twentygrand. This looked like a good deal to me, I wonder what you might think. Is this a well regarded van?
Is the Ford 150 the right truck, should I buy with manual transmission?
I plan that when we have done with it all in two years time, that I will be able to sell all for half purchase price. Does that sound reasonable, we use things carefully!

I have travelled the USA before but my wife and I are tired of living out of a suitcase so we will now do it properly with your help and advice.

Many thanks.
Arthur English


Senior Member
Re: Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

I kind of doubt you will buy any new truck for $2300. :) For that money, you will only get a very, very used one.

Ford has a history of making very strong trucks, but they seem to have problems with diesel engines, and lately, they don't seem to honor their warrantees very well. I don't think I would buy a Ford at this point in time. Chevy/GMC and Dodge seem ok, and the new Tundra may have promise. Keep in mind that if you leaning towards a diesel, that all 2007 diesel engines must be a new design and so have a high likelihood of problems. And most if not all diesel fuel is now USLD, who's effect on older diesel engines is unknown, but does seem to have some negative effect (allegedly shrinks gaskets in the fuel system, leading to leaks). I would not buy a diesel for a couple of years, when all of this mess is straightened out.

You will need to pay sales tax wherever the sales take place, and you will need to pay any taxes/registration fees of the state where the truck and trailer are registered. Some states are better than others, like Texas, Florida and South Dakota are popular with 'full timers' who have no permanent address. I don't know how Pennsylvania fares, but I've not seen any full timers bragging about it, so I doubt its that great.

A manual transmission is 'stronger' than an automatic, and from what I've heard, better for towing. But only if you are fully versed in its use, and pay attention. If you get an automatic, then a transmission temperature guage is a must, to alert you of problems before they cause damage.

A half ton truck (F150/1500) is proabably adequate for trailers in the range you are looking at. The one you mention seems to have a GVWR of about 4800 lbs, which is safe for most 1/2 ton pickups with a tow package. The latest 1/2 tons brag about much higher tow ratings, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. The wind resistance of a motorhome will cut down the amount you can tow, as does anything or anyone you carry in the truck. If you are going with gas, get the biggest engine practical; gas engines don't pull loads up hills as well as do diesels.

If you buy 'new', then 1/2 purchace price depends on how good a bargainer you are. New RVs can be had for 25% or more off the MSRP (list price), so if you pay list, you probably won't get 1/2 back. If you do get the 25% off, then your odds of selling it for 1/2 what you paid or more is fairly good. But don't bet your life on it; markets change. A 2005 version of the trailer you mention has a low retail of $10,350, which means that if you had one to sell, you could probably get $9000 to $11000 for it. Which is about half what they are asking, and they will probably take less. Trucks don't have the same degree of discount but do have some, so I would say getting 1/2 back after 2 years is within reason. (you ought to be able to get $20,000 for a 2005 Ford 150 SuperCrew XLT which currently lists for about $30,000),

But if you buy a used ones a couple years old, your initial costs will be less, your resale will be more, and your odds of having a manufacturing problem is reduced (hopefully the previous owner got them all fixed).

Salem is made by Forest River, and they allegedly have serious problems in quality and fixing things under warranty. Search earlier threads for details.
Re: Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

Thanks John, My mistake, I ment a new price of $23,000 for a Ford 150.

I am familiar with diesels here in Europe and I like auto's but feel that manual is better for towing.

Many thanks for your input.

Re: Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

Hello Arthur we are also an english couple hoping to buy / use / and re-sell. Can't give you much help I'm afraid as we are only learning ourselves. you've struck gold with this forum though. We wish you good luck on your travels
Keep safe JA_UK :)
RE: Arthur English coming to U.S.A.

I like America and most of the things that you do, that’s why I holiday there. Now that I am planning an R.V. holiday I have lots to learn about trailer holidays U,S.A. style instead of the more familiar European style so I have been digging for information.
In Europe we just have over run brakes, works just fine. I have a 3000Lb trailer with a weight on the hitch of 120Lbs and pull that with a Nissan X Trail (similar to a Nissan Terra. This works just fine, the general rule is that the trailer should not weigh more than 85% of the tow vehicle. The 2point 2 Litre turbo diesel pulls along at 70MPH without effort and pulls me through the mountains of Europe on my ski holidays without fuss. I would normally expect 25 Miles per US gallon.

I tell you this because I am asking lots of questions and think that you may wish to know a little of what goes on this side of the Atlantic. I am currently based in Spain on the Costa Blanca.

Travel trailer holidays in the USA seem to be very different.

What on earth is this electrical device that I have to have, mounted within reach of the driver for the trailer brakes? Am I expected to fiddle with it as I drive?
1st Is it expensive?
2nd Can I fit it myself?
3rd How do I use it?

How much weight do I put on the hitch, reading the boards it looks like 10% of the trailer weight should be on the hitch?

I am used to a simple friction device on the tow hitch to stop any swaying, what will I use in the USA?

Thanks for any help


Senior Member
Re: Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

Bigger trailers often have battery powered brakes. The 'electrical device' is a 'brake controller', which causes the trailer brakes to be activated at the appropriate times and strength. Note that there is also a 'breakaway strap' between the trailer and the truck, so if the trailer becomes unhitched, the trailer brakes slam on full.

Tiny trailers may have an inertial switch braking system instead, or perhaps no brakes. Check the laws to see which trailers are required to have brakes.

Most brake controllers run in the range of $50 - $200. If the truck has a towing package, then generally they are simple to install, often requiring only to be plugged in. Worst case would be to tap into 3 wires and ground. If the truck does not have a towing package, it's a bit more difficult, as you will need to add the trailer wiring harness as well. Anyone who is mechanically and electrically inclined should be able to do it either way. Although, if the truck does not have a towing package, you will also want to install a transmission cooler at a minimum.

I've never touched my brake controller (except to knock it with my knee) since it was set. They do have a manual override, but I'm not sure when it would be useful. Basically, you set it initially, and the good ones (I like the Prodigy) will take it from there. It senses inertia and/or the brake pedal setting, and computes the voltage needed to get the desired amount of trailer braking. The good ones actually follow a breaking 'program' to ensure the smoothest braking.

The maximum amount of weight which can be applied to the hitch is specified by the hitch rating. There are 2 components, pull weight (how much it can pull) and pin weight (how much weight can be applied downwards on the hitch). Often the pull weight will be higher than the truck can really tow. Pin weight is generally fairly small, usually a few hundred pounds. I would imagine that the trailer would be designed to apply the proper amount of weight to the hitch, so it is just a matter of ensuring that the hitch, and the truck, will handle whatever weight the trailer claims. 10% seems a bit high for a travel trailer (a fifth wheel is more unbalanced, and runs 15 to 25%)

For anti-sway, you can use a friction hitch (cheap), something called 'dual cam' (may be just a better friction hitch, I don't know) or a hitch which does not have the ability to sway (Hensley and PullRite come to mind)
Re: Arthur English comming to U.S.A.

Many thanks for your answer, learning all the time. Now that morning is here in Spain, I will be able to think of the next problem. Getting there one step at a time.