Getting Old... looking for a Truck.

I have a question that I can not find an answer to within this group or googled on the web.... but, first the background of my question.
I am now retired and my wife and I want to travel. We DO have the funds to
purchase a NEW Dodge w/Cummins to pull a 5th Weel (toy-box to carry my Jeep and live in...) and have been looking for both units here in California where we now live.
New Dodges in our area go for 38 to 42K and the trailers are in the 20 to 25K price ranges. I want a manual (hard to find) and a Ram 3500 seems to provide what I may need.
The Question: To save money.... I believe I can purchase a used manual 3500 with 12 valves (1997 or 98) for under 15K and poke an instant 8 to 10K into it and come out with a very reliable truck that will last the "X" number of years we have left. I've been reading within this group the major advantages of the pre 24valve engines and have been persuaded in this direction. My major question is the difference between the 1997 and the early 1998 cummins 12 valves? Are the 97 Dodges the same as the 1998's prior to the 24 valve? And, for either the 97 or 98, what is the most effective engine mods to perform?
I plan on purchasing and registering the vehicle outside California because the Trailer will be located in another state (maybe Missouri). The 5th wheel's length will be just long enough to carry my Jeep and provided the necessary space to cook and sleep while on the road (26 to 30 foot max). Once a destination is reached, the Jeep comes out and will be parked under an attached awning (like a car port.) Also, I understand that new regs will be governing the fuel in the near future. Will the mods made to a 12 valve be compatible with the new fuel regs?
Anything you can help me with will be appreciated. If I'm barking at the wrong tree..... let me know that too.....
Reliability, strength and economy are the major factors.... speed of the vehicle is of no major concern..... we will get where we're going when we get there....
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Hobart Duncan wrote:

Great source for info on the various Ram models: http://www.dodgeram.org Be sure to explore the Tech Menu, Specs and the Diesel Engine section.
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Yes... the 12V's from '94 thru '98 are essentially the exact same engine.

For reliability, or enhanced performance?
On the reliability side, the number 1 problem area on these engines is the infamous "Killer Dowel Pin". This is an alignment pin located inside the front gear case that's used during assembly. The problem is, it can work itself out, and fall into the gear train, often with catastrophic results. Fortunately, it's also pretty simple to fix. TST Products (http://www.tstproducts.com ) sells a repair kit to secure the dowel pin, and prevent it from falling out.
On the performance side, TST also sells kits to increase engine output.

Well, it won't hurt it any more, let's put it that way. All the power mods do is allow the injection pump to put more fuel into the engine. I think the jury's still out on what the ULS fuels will do to the 12V's injection pump (however, it's the toughest of the pumps out there, so it will in all likelihood be just fine - maybe with the occasional fuel additive for lubricity).
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On Thu, 28 Apr 2005 21:50:10 GMT, "Tom Lawrence"

Tom, Yes, I read that article. But, isn't that just with the NV4500? What I was figuring is if the condition of the truck is less than expected, I would go for the NV5600 conversion and either a total overhaul or rebuilt engine from the local Cummins shop here in Bloomington, CA. If the truck is inspected prior to purchase and is found to be very sound, then the less expensive upgrades would be in order.
JMC also made a reply to my post, but like I originally stated... I'm in California and I would NEVER purchase a new vehicle in this state or a used one for that matter, that was conforming to the 5 state CARB requirements.
We plan to have a second (or what some may call a vacation home) place of residence out of California (that's the 5th wheeler). We are deeply into genealogy and will probably register all our vehicles within that state. Here in California, this massive emigration is being referred to as "White Flight". Our taxes, gasoline, property, registrations... everything is being over taxed.
Thanks for the reply and just because you only mentioned two faults with the 97/98 12 valve, I believe I'm on the right track.
later....
G. Hedlund Zip: 92404 Researching: Hedlund, Anderson, Nyrén, Jansson, Heggi, Laszlo, Tako, Taney, Luchinger, Toensing, and Haufle.
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The KDP is an engine problem - regardless of the transmission bolted to the back of it.
You may be thinking of the 5th gear nut problem that existed with the NV4500... different issue.

It's a very sound, reliable engine. 1,000,000 miles isn't out of the question.
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Suddenly, without warning, Hobart Duncan exclaimed (4/28/2005 6:20 PM):

Have you considered ordering straight from the factory? I purchased my 2001 Dakota off the internet, and had a truck factory-built to my exact specifications (I 'built' my truck on the Dodge website, then provided the printout to the dealer).
It was weird, I had a VIN well before I ever laid eyes on my new truck.
I'm not necessarily saying to buy from the internet - I had a good experience and saved just over $6k, but not sure it's for everyone - but I just wanted to suggest that if you're willing to wait, you're not necessarily stuck with what the dealers have on the lot.
jmc
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I own both the older(89) and the newer(Y2K), if you are going to do heavy hauling, go for the newer. My Y2K hase performed absoluetly flawlessly, it has 72K miles and I tote 4500# of truck camper and tow a 4000# a toad. I just now replaced the original lift pump as it was getting a little tired, everthing else is OEM. You do not need to buy a new truck, there are a lot of good used ones. Don't be afraid of high milage, these engines will last many hundreds of thousands of miles. JMTCW
On Thu, 28 Apr 2005 10:20:22 -0700, Hobart Duncan

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