For starters these are just my experiences and my opinions below. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I'm just putting down my experiences.
I'm not usually on here so thank my wife for she saw your request. We had a 2013 NorthStar Arrow 8.5. We also have the same model Ford truck, but we have a diesel. We would still have the NorthStar if it wasn't for a $100,000 crop lost one year.
Nothing wrong with NorthStar's quality, well built camper, and company, that's been family owned and operated since its beginning. We ordered ours directly through the factory. We visited Rex Willett the current President, and owner, and he showed us the factory, ,and walked us through what we wanted. We ordered it through him in September, and picked it up in December. If you'd like to know how much we saved, send me a personal email. We picked it up at the factory two days after Christmas. Wrote a check out to his dealer which is about 1 hour down the road.
Solid tc. If you have any problems they will take care of you. We had a new model fridge which were were the first to get and it was a lemon. Rex took care of us and replaced it for free. We liked the cassette toilet for we camp in the winter, and there are usually no places to dump, so the cassette can be dumped in any toilet, rest area, or what have you. Also for short weekend winter trips you can just use the pink, or blue washer fluid in the toilet and not put any water in the rest of the tc. We did this a lot. Very solid well built, quiet when inside tc. hard to hear outside noise. Double pained Dometic windows were great in winter time. Good R value in window's. If it were me I might spend the extra money if your going winter camping much and get the spray cell foam insulation put in. There was nothing wrong with the sheet stuff, its just if you winter camp like us at a lot of below zero stuff for more that 30 days I would pay the extra what $375 i think.
No basement in NorthStar's so not as tall of a TC. Less Top sway left to right while traveling.
The 12 STC (stay the course) that NorthStar has. I have not personally seen but is very comparable in weight to our 1993 Lance 990. Loaded she came in at about 4,3?? lbs. Yes this put the truck loaded at about 13,3?? Lbs. Most all tc's and trucks and overweight. Don't worry about that. Those Load limits are created by lawyers to keep the company safe. I looked up the specs. at North stars website and the 12STC, tc with air, awning, and one battery they say is at 3419 lbs. She's pretty loaded with all amenities so add 1000lbs of stuff and your about the same TC weight as us.
I'm an Ambassador for Torklift International, I don't get paid from them, I just believe in their products and I promote them. Last year they asked me to be a Torklift Ambassador. They have very good products, that are solid. You might pay 1/3 more for their products but you get what you pay for.
Here is what you'll have to put on your truck for suspension upgrades. I have the exact same stuff.
- Sway bar. I have a ford sway bar installed at Ford for $479
- Torklift upper and lower Stable loads. Installed yourself about $1000. tweetys.com not to difficult to install.
Below is a link to a blog report I did on my install, and comparison of my 2008 Ford DRW, and my 2011 Ford SRW. Its hard to believe but the 2011 SRW had less side to side sway than the 2008 DRW. yes its true. made me a believer in Torklifts stable loads.
Here is my opinion, & comparison of how i view load distribution between air bags and upper & lower stable loads.
Example - take a picnic table compare this to your truck bed. Stand one man on the left side of the picnic table, and one guy on the right. Each man takes one hand and places his hand directly across parallel to the other man's hand (pretend these are airbags on a axle) now lift the table. its difficult to balance.
Now each man takes two hands spreads them out (pretending there hands are each end of a leaf spring) and parallel across the table. Now lift. Its easy to stabilize the load.
Airbags, or Torklifts Stable load systems are meant to help stabilize a load not increase payload. When I look at this simple example the 4 points of stabilization makes more sense to me than the 2 airbag system.
Hellwig is a Great After market swaybar company. I've personally talked with a guy who won a Hellwig swaybar at one of our rallies, and he got it installed on his GMC, He said it was a big improvement over his factory swaybar. Hellwig bars cost in the neighborhood of $700 installed.
Another suggestion would be Torklift Tiedowns. They attach to your frame. Other company's claim that theirs do but they don't. Look into it yourself don't go by what a saleman says. They only say what they are told to say, and its only to make money. I have never ran across a TC saleman that actually owns a TC. They have no clue about anything they professionally say they know. Book smart, and actually doing are two different things. To me book smart is not smart. It might be a great place to start.
Here is a link to a report I did on Torklift Tiedowns.
Torklift International's website:
This will be your weak point. Pay attention to payload capacity here.
Not all Load Range E tires are created equal. Some are rated 3100 lbs payload capacity and others are 3750 lbs. I farm and need a all-terrain tire. I have Hancook AT-M. micro-sypts go all the way through the tread for ice, snow, and rain. Most brands don't go all the way through the lugs. they are not noisy on the highway.
I'm assuming you have 20" factory rims. I do.
If I can help you out in any other way just ask me, I would be glad to help you out. Best way to get a hold of me is my email address. It goes directly to my phone, and I get that instantly. I only look on here once a month or less.
Good Luck in the hunt,
Life's Short Go TC'en,
Doug - MidWest Truck Campers Wagon Master / Torklift Ambassador
tweetys upper stable load for Ford:
tweetys lower stable loads for Ford:
tweetys - Torklift Tiedowns and turnbucles:
Customer service at Tweetys is Great too. I've talked with them on the Phone. They seem to be the most inexpensive place to get the above products. Give them a try. I've bought everything through them.
hope I got it all.
Edited by countrycampers3, 08 August 2015 - 08:49 AM.