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Old 04-29-2012, 08:13 PM   #1
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What's the dividing line between 5ers that you can pull with a 3/4-ton or a 1-ton?

I see RVers talking about pulling fifth-wheels with 3/4-ton pickups, with one-ton pickups, and with one-ton duallies. In your opinion, what constitutes the trailer criteria for determining a need for the more powerful truck and/or extra wheels? Is it weight? Length? Tolerance for lowered engine performance? Other?
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSinclair View Post
I see RVers talking about pulling fifth-wheels with 3/4-ton pickups, with one-ton pickups, and with one-ton duallies. In your opinion, what constitutes the trailer criteria for determining a need for the more powerful truck and/or extra wheels? Is it weight? Length? Tolerance for lowered engine performance? Other?
If you wish to stay within the truck manufacturers' ratings, opinion has nothing to do with it. It's strictly a matter of doing the math that is available in several formats on a sticky post at the top of the Towing and Tow Vehicles forum. It's not just what the truck is rated to PULL (related to GCWR), but due to the ~20% of loaded weight that a 5th wheel places on a truck as pin weight, it's what the truck is rated to CARRY (a function of GVWR).

If, on the other hand, you aren't going to pay any attention to the manufacturers' ratings, then you can pretty well tow anything with anything.

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:32 AM   #3
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That's what I originally thought, but I'd earlier posted a question about pulling a 5,000-lb. travel trailer with an SUV that has a 7,700-lb. tow rating and a sufficient tongue weight limit, and was told that I wouldn't want to pull a trailer over 24' with a short-wheelbase tow vehicle or else the tail may wag the dog. So I'm wondering if similarly, there are other dynamics in play regarding how much truck you need for a fifth-wheel. Since a Ford F-250 and an F-350 each have the same 12,500-lb. tow rating, there must be some other reasons to choose the one-ton.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:41 AM   #4
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Since a Ford F-250 and an F-350 each have the same 12,500-lb. tow rating, there must be some other reasons to choose the one-ton.
Yes, the F-350's higher GVWR gives it the capability to handle more pin weight (see my earlier post) than an F-250.

You can't just look at any "manufacturer's trailer tow rating" and make a purchasing decision based on that one number - these are fictitious marketing numbers, regardless of the truck manufacturer. The reasons for this statement are as follows:

1. The manufacturer's trailer tow rating is calculated as truck's GCWR - (manufacturer's curb weight of base truck with no options or accessories + allowance for 150 lb driver). Since the curb weight of this truck is unrealistically low, the resultant trailer tow rating is unrealistically high. By the time one adds options, accessories (5th wheel hitch, bed-mounted toolbox, auxiliary fuel tank and weight of additional fuel, etc.), a realistic driver, passengers, pets, cargo, etc., the laden curb weight of a real world truck may be 1000+ lbs more than the manufacturer's curb weight used for the trailer tow rating calculation. That additional weight over and above the weight used by the manufacturer must be deducted from the trailer tow rating.

2. The manufacturer's trailer tow rating ignores the other important truck ratings - the GVWR and front and rear GAWRs - UNTIL you get to the fine print which will state something to the effect that "None of the truck's other ratings are to be exceeded when towing." This is the basis for your question above regarding the F-250 and F-350 (and, by the way, a SRW versus a DRW truck) and the reason that one must work through ALL the math if one wishes to stay within the truck's GCWR, GVWR and GAWR ratings.

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSinclair
I see RVers talking about pulling fifth-wheels with 3/4-ton pickups, with one-ton pickups, and with one-ton duallies. In your opinion, what constitutes the trailer criteria for determining a need for the more powerful truck and/or extra wheels? Is it weight? Length? Tolerance for lowered engine performance? Other?
If you want wing it listen to a salesman or the guy towing with a 1/2 ton that points to the sky. If you want to much math but the right answer talk to Rusty
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:55 PM   #6
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Pin weight is the difference. For a 5th wheel you can plan on 20% of the GVWR for the PW...NOT the empty pin weight listed in the brochures.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:22 PM   #7
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What Rusty said....

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Old 04-30-2012, 10:37 PM   #8
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Since a Ford F-250 and an F-350 each have the same 12,500-lb. tow rating, there must be some other reasons to choose the one-ton.
Much depends on if the F350 is the SRW or the DRW. Much depends on the GVWR/GAWR/tire a wheel packages. One size don't fit all. Each truck has its capabilities determined by the trucks configuration.

Ford has several GVWR packages for the F350 SRW ranging from 10k up to 11.5k depending on several sizes of wheel/tire packages and 3 different RAWR.
So its possible for a 10k GVWR F250 with a 6100 RAWR to have a bit more payload than the heavier F350 SRW 10k GVWR with the smaller 17" tires and wheel package and a 6290 RAWR, simply because the F250 is a bit lighter in weight.

There's more to tow ratings than a trucks GVWR.

Tow ratings/GVWR/GCWR/FAWR/RAWR are determined by the truck maker. Considerations like a nice long warranty or for fed excise tax purpose per IRS and a host of other criteria. I wouldn't worry about the why or how they determine those numbers. Your paying for those numbers so use them.

Always get a 2nd opinion when it comes to a trucks capability as some folks don't belive the manufacturer knows how to set their own trucks weight ratings.

Another reason you see folks towing big trailers with a 3/4 ton or a one ton SRW or even a DRW truck is they know the trucks GVWR isn't used in any legal sense to determine loads the truck carries. States and provinces simply use the trucks RAWR/tire capacities from the trucks certification placard. In the case of a trailer being pulled or the truck carrying a camper the vehicles RAWR/tire capacities can't be exceeded.

Or you can use the trucks GVWR to figure loads on the axles/tires. However I would caution a owner of certain high GVWR trucks that the payloads from using GVWR will put the trucks over its RAWR/tire capacities. Ignoring the GAWR/tire capacities isn't a wise choice.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:48 AM   #9
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For some reason, these weight threads always come around to commercial DOT-type weight enforcement at the roadside weight stations/random checks (which in all my years of RVing I've yet to see a non-commercial owner-operated RV subjected to) versus legality as would be determined in a state civil action (for instance, if one finds oneself as a defendant after an accident). As an example, let's see what Texas law says is "legal" regarding the manufacturer's ratings:

From the Texas Transportation Code:

Quote:
Section 522.003 - DEFINITIONS (used as reference definitions across multiple sections)

(17) "Gross combination weight rating" means the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a combination or articulated vehicle or, if the manufacturer has not specified a value, the sum of the gross vehicle weight rating of the power unit and the total weight of the towed unit or units and any load on a towed unit.

(18) "Gross vehicle weight rating" means the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single vehicle.
Here in Texas at least, irrespective of how they run things in the weight stations, those are the definitions the judge is going to give to the jury in a tort action where the plaintiff claims you're at fault due to being overloaded.

Ya pays yore money, ya takes yore choice and ya takes yore chances.....

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Old 05-01-2012, 08:04 AM   #10
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Since Rusty started us down the tort road, let me add my two cents. The jury will not be a group of RV'ers sympathetic to your situation. The plaintiff's attorney will use every strike he has to remove people with any experience/knowledge from the jury. Add the definition of "Gross Negligence" and if you are unlucky enough to have made the statement that you knew you were overloaded, or they saw this string on this forum, which is open to the public, you would be in deep poo-poo.

Thank God this does not come from personal experience.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:46 AM   #11
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In your opinion, what constitutes the trailer criteria for determining a need for the more powerful truck and/or extra wheels?
As Rusty noted, it's simple 8th grade math. The weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle plus the hitch weight of the trailer should never exceed the GVWR of the tow vehicle. The combined weight of the trailer and tow vehicle should never exceed the GCWR of the tow vehicle.

For estimating purposes, assume that the weight of the wet and loaded trailer will be the GVWR of the trailer. The hitch weight of a 5er will be 20 percent of the GVWR of the trailer. The hitch weight of a TT will be 15 percent of the GVWR of the trailer.

(Both those percentages are on the high end of "normal", but there are lots of trailers that have that wet and loaded percentage of hitch weight. My 2012 TT has a bit over 15% hitch weight, although most have about 12% to 13%, And most medium-sized 5ers have a pin weight of 17% or 18%, but a lot of them have 20% and some of the luxury jobbies have up to 24%.)

Example: The 5th wheel trailer you like has a GVWR of 12,000 pounds, so assume hitch weight will be 2,400 pounds (20%).

So your tow vehicle needs enough GCWR to handle the wet and loaded weight of your tow vehicle plus the 12,000 pounds GVWR of the trailer. So if your wet and loaded tow vehicle weighs 8,500 pounds before you tie onto the trailer, it needs a GCWR of 20,500 pounds or more.

Your tow vehicle needs enough GVWR to handle the weight of your wet and loaded tow vehicle plus 2,400 pounds hitch weight. So if your wet and loaded tow vehicle weighs 8,500 pounds before you tie onto the trailer, it needs GVWR of 10,900 pounds. So your F-250 4x4 CrewCab diesel with GVWR of 10,000 pounds ain't enough truck for that trailer.

Example 2: If you have the tow vehicle but not the trailer, then you need the GVWR, GCWR, and the weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle to estimate the max trailer weight you can tow without being overloaded. Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle from the GVWR and that will tell you the max hitch weight you can have without being overloaded over the GVWR.

Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded tow vehicle from the GCWR and that will tell you the trailer weight you can have without being overloaded over the GCWR.

For an SRW pickup or SUV, GVWR is almost always going to be your limiter. For a dually pickup, it could be either the GVWR or the GCWR, but usually it's the GCWR.

Divide the max hitch weight you can have by 15% to get the max GVWR of any travel trailer you can tow without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle.

Divide the max hitch weight you can have by 20% to get the max GVWR of any 5er you can tow without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle.

Those are conservative estimates, to be certain you're not going to be overloaded when on the road - assuming you aren't stupid enough to overload the trailer over the GVWR of the trailer. I normally use 12% for the likely hitch weight of a TT, and 17% for the likely hitch weight of medium-sized 5ers. But for my personal TT, using 12% hitch weight for my estimate means I'm going to have to be careful with loading my trailer and how much water I haul in the holding tanks, because my actual hitch weight is a hair over 15%.

Quote:
Is it weight? Length? Tolerance for lowered engine performance? Other?
It's weight.

With the proper hitch, properly adjusted, and with the load properly distributed inside the trailer, length doesn't matter much.

Engine performance is part of the computation of GCWR. If you don't exceed the GCWR of your tow vehicle, then you'll have enough power and torque to climb a reasonable grade at a reasonable speed without burning something up in your drivetrain.

If you never exceed the GVWR or GCWR of the tow vehicle, then you don't have to worry about other weight limits, such as front or rear GAWR. Of course, that assumes you have a proper hitch properly installed and adjusted, and you have the load within the trailer properly distributed.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:41 AM   #12
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Weight of trailer for 3/4 or 1 ton. Weight over the rear axle determines if you need a single or dual rear wheel.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:20 PM   #13
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Lakesinclair,

A lot of good info so to test your final result:

Drive your truck and trailer over the scales.

All axle ratings should be within Mfgr Specs

The sum of the weights on the truck axles should be less than the Trucks GVWR.

The sum of all axle weights should be within the GCWR.

Not part of truck selection follows:

Weigh fully loaded truck only and subtract this value from the sum of all axle weights obtained above. This is the weight of the trailer and it should also be within the GVWR of the trailer.

---------

So when your planning plug in the approx weight values you expect and if your close to any of the ratings and you think the scale test will fail you might want to step up your truck selection.


I do recommend using 25 percent tongue weight for 5th wheels, planning purposes. My old Montana 5th wheel was 22.5 percent of total weight. Other trailers may go higher depending on weight distribution.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:57 PM   #14
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Yeah, don't know why Rusty keeps bringing up the commercial law thing as all vehicles on the road come under fed or state axle weight limits. The tort thing is way over played and simply a scare tactic.

There are no seperate axle weight codes for a truck pulling a RV or a commercially registered truck pullin a trailer. One and the same.
Lawsuits involving overloading in the real word involve being over legal load limits, even in Texas.
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