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Prospective buyer here. Will a base F150 and a FWC Shell model work?

Ford F150 FWC Four Wheel Camper Shell

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#11 natetripsus



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Posted 08 November 2019 - 08:13 PM

Thanks the replies. I'm just trying to see if there's a good sweet spot between truck and camper.  I'm a value shopper, most bang/least buck. I've always bought base models with a few creature comforts and no more. Regular cab looks good and has a shorter wheelbase for my daily/in-town use, plus higher payloads/lower cost.  I must admit that extra cab space would be missed. I plan to solo travel half the time, occasionally bring the gf and her two dogs (dogs in the FWC shell).


I understand 3/4 ton does the job better but its a lot of truck, 1/2 ton seems like a good compromise between too big and too small.  Tacoma's seem popular with an FWC but they definitely seem overloaded, can't understand how people make it work. I'm cheap so if I could put an FWC shell on a base Frontier I would. Again, where's the sweet spot? Truck size/payload vs space vs fuel economy vs safety vs cost?  Is there a perfect value FWC/truck match? 


My other inspiration is John Steinbeck's "Rocinante" which I saw in person on display at the museum in Salinas.  60's era regular cab GMC 3/4 ton 2wd long bed with a cab-over-less camper of an extinct make. Perfect for a guy and a dog. 



Edited by natetripsus, 08 November 2019 - 08:15 PM.

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#12 Beach


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Posted 08 November 2019 - 08:56 PM

Get the payload package if avail. on the model you decide on. Don't short change yourself on the engine as the smaller ones work harder which will affect MPGs.

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#13 klahanie


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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:43 PM

Well, if you're talking value I'd consider the long box vs short with a reg cab part. Think it's only a few hundred dollars difference if ordering new but return at resale might be more. Don't know your market tho.


Of course being the used buyer yourself might provide the most value.

 Again, where's the sweet spot? Truck size/payload vs space vs fuel economy vs safety vs cost?  Is there a perfect value FWC/truck match? 


Now there's a question for the board !


Have to say it's going to depend on the person. FWC is all about light weight and compact size. True, for many that means that overloaded Taco you mentioned - I can see the appeal. But for me, I'd say more truck than is need, in terms of power and payload, so the vehicle is not too taxed.


I don't know the F150 engines enough to answer "will it suck". I'll just say that for hauling, payload would be #1 or 2 on my criteria, because the weight adds up fast. If you can do without 4x4, that's great. But I would also be looking at the payload increase (and tires) the optional engines can come with vs the up charge.

Edited by klahanie, 08 November 2019 - 10:44 PM.

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#14 natetripsus



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Posted 08 November 2019 - 11:23 PM

Further research. This is interesting to me and reinforces what others have been saying.  I'm playing around on the Ford website and the price of a base F150 plus heavy duty payload package plus V8 etc etc is actually higher than the price of a base F250 that has an excessive max payload for my needs over 4000lbs 2wd, 3000lbs+ 4wd. 


So, the ideal F150 would need lots of upgrades to handle the 1000lb FWC shell plus people and stuff whereas the F250 is more than capable out of the box and may actually cost less. The base F150 engine would be working harder and probably bring down the mpg to ~15 whereas the F250 gets 15mpg anyway and wont notice the camper. The lowest price choice is a base F150 with its 1900lbs+ stock payload with no upgrades, which "should" be "ok" with the FWC shell + people + stuff, but could be "iffy" and overworked, running at near max payload, depending on numerous factors and will need upgrades down the road.


I had high hopes someone would tell me that base/stock F150 is going to be just fine and I wont be disappointed. guess not. 


what a rabbit hole. 

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#15 Vic Harder

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 12:01 AM

really look seriously at used trucks.  New ones are very expensive, and used can option affordability options.  And as others have pointed out, bigger does not necessarily mean less efficient.  I average 18 US MPG with the camper on, and that's not driving for efficiency.  I boogie.

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#16 Casa Escarlata Robles Too

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 12:03 AM

Have you looked at an actual FWC/ATC camper?

If not try to check one out to get the real size feeling of what it will be like with 2 people+2 dogs+ gear.

Weight is one thing but having enough room inside the camper for all your gear is another thing.

The space fills up quickly.IMO the bigger cap helps with the space issue.

So many choices.Good luck.


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#17 Oilbrnr


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 02:15 PM

It's nice to see that the OP is listening. It's one thing to spec stuff out on paper and conclude that it 'looks' like it would work, but another to know the difference from experience. 


There is a vast difference between a 1/2 ton and 3/4+ ton chassis. Full floater rear axle, increased brake swept area, frame, steering components, bushing, joints, cooling, driveshaft and u-joints. Beef! Virtually all the components are larger and more durable.


At the end of a days journey, you'll arrive at your destination much more relaxed, calm and collected. Especially since it sounds like the intended region of use is out here in the West where elevation, grades and heat are extreme at times.

Edited by Oilbrnr, 09 November 2019 - 02:20 PM.

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#18 Zirdu


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 02:30 PM

I think the F-150 is plenty for carrying a FWC camper, so long as you have the "heavy duty package". I have 2016 standard cab with heavy duty package, and the door sticker says carrying capacity (camper, gear and people) is 3159 pounds.
If you can't manage to get your total load under 3,159 pounds, I would say you are carrying too much stuff! Even with this carrying capacity, I still try to do everything possible to go light. I guess it is the old backpacker in me.
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#19 NRVhawk


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 03:35 PM

My other inspiration is John Steinbeck's "Rocinante" which I saw in person on display at the museum in Salinas.  60's era regular cab GMC 3/4 ton 2wd long bed with a cab-over-less camper of an extinct make. Perfect for a guy and a dog. 




I can relate.  My wife and I just finished a 8,605 mile, 39 day trip in our F150 XL supercab Hawk combo (2.4L EB).  At a friend's suggestion, I took a copy of Travels With Charley to read during the trip.  Parts of our trip followed the same route that Steinbeck traveled in 1960 (not intentionally, just a happy coincidence).


I had a good laugh when I read how Steinbeck overloaded his camper with a typewriter, cases of booze and beer, and a small library (150 lbs of books, including an encyclopedia), although I guess some would argue that those are essential tools of the trade for a writer.  I had another laugh reading the section where Steinbeck describes blowing out one of the overloaded tires on a muddy road in the rain, which requires him to do some mud crawling to extricate the spare and position the jack.  Fortunately, our modern E-rated tires are much better engineered than the 1960 passenger tires Steinbeck apparently had on his truck, so I had no problems with blowouts.


There are a lot of good suggestions in this discussion.  I'll just add that the space behind the seats in our supercab afforded us the luxury of keeping stuff there that we didn't need to access often (levelers, compressor, tire repair kit, wet weather gear, snow removal gear, camp tools, shower tent).  It would have been a real pain having to move that stuff around in the camper.  As it was, we already had a few dufflel bags of clothes that we to move around in the camper whenever we moved from the dinette to cabover to sleep.

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#20 oldhotrod


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 04:15 PM

Not to stir a ford vs gm debate but i was in a similar search. I located a low mile 2016 sierra reg cab w 5.3 and 8ft bed. Like you, I wanted a short bed but settled for this and happy i did. Found a used base mdl grandby and dropped it on with no mods, other than tires which it needed anyway. Truck hauls camper great with great mileage and power. An reg cab f150 long bed is common with 5.0 and should handle similar i imagine...
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