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Old 04-26-2013, 08:26 PM   #1
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Towing on steep grades

I plan a trip to Ricketts Glen SP in PA.
The approach road to the park is a four mile long, 18% grade. They recommend that heavy rigs go the fifty miles around and approach the park from the top. Has anyone towed a heavy rig up this hill.
I have a 3500 GMC Duramax dually with a 14,000 Lb 5th wheel. I am leary about towing up and down this mountain. What is your experience?
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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I haven't been to this place, but 18% seems awfully steep for that much weight. If it was me, I think I would drive the 50 miles. 4miles at that grade would be tough without the trailer. I definitely wouldn't go down it, and I have hydraulic/electric disc brakes on my trailer.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:33 PM   #3
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Up is all I would do, and def. not down. And up wouldn't be stock. It would modded for holding the very constant power in the trans and the insane EGTs.
Down would only be with an Eaton trans, splitter diff, and all out Jake.
Heck fifty bucks is nothing. Just more scenery.
I would do the grade with just truck for the fun though
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:52 PM   #4
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I drive a class A and I tow a car I would go up the hill just to put the cat up for a real test and of I had any problems I would slow it dawn or pull over, now going dawn I don't think I would try it.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:20 PM   #5
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I've climbed that hill in my Caravan and I was running about 4k rpms all the way up at 40-45mph and on the breaks all the way down again.. I plan to go around if I go camping there without a 2nd thought. Good luck on your trip and enjoy! It's worth the ride.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:31 PM   #6
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Funny story about that ridge... no, make that scary story! A few decades ago, My Grandpa and I were descending that grade towing a pop-up camper. I'd guess that we were no more than 1/3 of the way down the mountain before the brakes on the Buick wagon were smoked and Grandpa was crankin' the Buick into the lowest gear he could. I had my feet pressed to the floorboards about as hard as you could but it didn't seem to help slow us down. I was especially terrified when we had to pass other vehicles on blind turns because we simply couldn't slow down anymore!

Well, we finally made it down the mountain without crashing and then we approached the stop sign at the bottom... but still couldn't slow down the lead sled and therefore we blew right through the intersection!

Now, Grandpa was not an excitable man and he took the entire event in stride with virtually no outward signs of fear. Me, on the other hand felt the terror of that death run for the next two hours! Even today I can sense the fear of that downhill run and then I think of my calm Grandpa and have to smile about how cool he was under pressure... and otherwise.

Now I realize equipment is far superior today, but I would suggest without hesitation that you take the 50 mile detour while towing. This is definitely one long and steep ridge!

cheers,
Joopy
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jupiter View Post
Funny story about that ridge... no, make that scary story! A few decades ago, My Grandpa and I were descending that grade towing a pop-up camper. I'd guess that we were no more than 1/3 of the way down the mountain before the brakes on the Buick wagon were smoked and Grandpa was crankin' the Buick into the lowest gear he could. I had my feet pressed to the floorboards about as hard as you could but it didn't seem to help slow us down. I was especially terrified when we had to pass other vehicles on blind turns because we simply couldn't slow down anymore!

Well, we finally made it down the mountain without crashing and then we approached the stop sign at the bottom... but still couldn't slow down the lead sled and therefore we blew right through the intersection!

Now, Grandpa was not an excitable man and he took the entire event in stride with virtually no outward signs of fear. Me, on the other hand felt the terror of that death run for the next two hours! Even today I can sense the fear of that downhill run and then I think of my calm Grandpa and have to smile about how cool he was under pressure... and otherwise.

Now I realize equipment is far superior today, but I would suggest without hesitation that you take the 50 mile detour while towing. This is definitely one long and steep ridge!

cheers,
Joopy
Wow! I was imagining the same scenario all the way down! I was white knuckled for sure. Can't imagine going through that!
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:46 PM   #8
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Best of luck going down (or up) if you do try it! Me, NO way!! The end results may not be worth it.
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Old 04-27-2013, 01:28 PM   #9
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I'm your basic coward... If they offer a detour because one direction is a hazard based on weight, length or height; count on me being on the detoured route, and I don't consider 50 miles much of a detour to avoid the wear and tear on myself, let alone the rig.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:02 PM   #10
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18% = 8.1 degrees grade. That is more than federal highway rules allow, must be a state/county road. This is the reason I use a Truckers Road Atlas and only drive the yellow-highlighted routes = safe for large trucks/vehicles.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:21 PM   #11
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I ride this road all the time on my Harley. It is very step and it does have curves. I would not try coming down this with a trailer and I'm not too sure I would try going up it pulling a trailer. Safest way to the campground is from the North. After you arrive at the campground and are setup take a ride down the mountain without the trailer, I'm sure you will love the ride.
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:26 PM   #12
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In days gone by, (1970's) I frequented Rickets Glen SP. At that time I was towing a 24' Travel Trailer with a 1/2 ton Chev 4 wd. with a 350 V-8. I always used the front approach road, the ride up was typically in 1st and 2nd gear, wot. Going up was not a problem. Going down, I would come to about a full stop, put it in low gear and descend. Pumping the brakes when the engine was approaching red line. It was a fun ride back then.

Today with a fifth wheel and my Super Duty Ford, I wouldn't even think about it. I guess I'm getting too old for the challenge.
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:06 PM   #13
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Now picture going up that hill. 3/4 the way up and you overheat and the engine dies. your brakes won't hold the weight on that grade.

Now picture the UTube video of you trying to back down that grade with no power or brakes.
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:14 PM   #14
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Fifty miles ain't much to go around the four miles back down might be the longest ride of your life. Why risk it, even for fun? Relax go the other way.
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