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Old 03-14-2009, 10:13 PM   #1
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Can you have too heavy of a tow truck?

I bought a 17.5 foot tt three years ago to travell to art shows with my wife and her stone carvings. The first trip out with our 85 G.M.C. 3500 dually with 5000 pounds on board and our 6000 lb travell trailer we got home to find the front wall seperated and the front of the frame with all the welds cracked. The dealer had the welds rewelded and the wall reatached to the sides. Now just back from the Big Apple to Revelstoke B.C the whole a frame had to be redone. My dealer says my truck Now a Stearling Bullet 5500 is the cause.This time a local heavy duty machanic repaired it right and said the frame was way to light and had nothing to do with my truck being heavy.?????

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Old 03-15-2009, 06:10 AM   #2
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Unless the trailer is pulling the truck, or if you have some sort of rocket truck that pulls too hard, the weight of the truck doesn't matter.

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Old 03-15-2009, 06:16 AM   #3
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I agree with 69RoadRunner, You can never have "too much Truck". That should have nothing to do with structural failures of your Rig! I think you unfortunately got a BAD one.:( I hope you get it fixed right, so yous don't have any more problems. Good luck!
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:41 AM   #4
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the dealer says my truck rides to ridgid and claims this makes the trailer act like its riding on a buck board
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:21 AM   #5
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wksand, in theory the stiff truck could have some effect on the trailer, but more than likely he is using this as an excuse for a not so well built trailer. Even with a softer riding truck, the trailer will still see the same loads overall.

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Old 03-15-2009, 01:17 PM   #6
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I have to disagree with the previous responses.

The frame & structure of the trailer was built to deal with 2 sources of road surface input.

a. The trailer suspension.
b. The trailer A-frame connected to the TV.

Obviously, the trailer manufacturer has total control over the compliance of the suspension over road irregularities because they chose the suspension design and specs.

On the other hand, the trailer manufacturer can only assume that the consumer will use a tow vehicle evenly matched to the trailer. As trucks increase their load and towing capacity, their ride quality suffers proportionately at best.

A 1/2-ton truck looks like a truck, but it was designed to ride as much like a car as possible and based on a car-type frame or even unibody construction, coil spring suspension and P-series tires. The resulting ride is nearly as soft and compliant as a passenger car. Since the ride is soft, the hitch passes very little ride motion to the trailer. In fact, the stiffness of the trailer generally passes road motion to the truck instead of vice versa.

A 3/4 & 1-ton trucks might look like a 1/2-ton trucks, but underneath there are pure truck, albeit a light truck. They have a full frame, usually leaf spring suspension, full floating rear axle and LT tires. Newer versions are cleverly engineered to provide a ride that is firmer than the 1/2-ton but still compliant enough to be comfortable ride. The firmness of their rear suspension is well matched to trailers in the 8-15,000# range, depending on the particular truck's rating.

As you move on to heavier duty trucks like the F450 & F550, Kodiak, M2's and so on, the design focus shifts sharply from a car/truck compromise suitable for daily family use to a no compromise truck. As the GVWR & GCVWR ratings increase, so does the base weight of the truck, it's rear spring rates, and the stiffness of the tires. The result is a far harsher ride which means much more sudden movement of the hitch in response to road surface irregularities.

I've known two people who had large 5vers that they first towed with 1-ton dually pickups but later upgraded the TV to business class tractors. Both loved their tractors but both also commented on how they did have problems with the truck riding too hard for the trailer and the impact on things coming loose in the trailer. It's not a stretch to go from this to having structural problems with a trailer that wasn't engineered to be towed by a tractor.
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Old 03-15-2009, 01:53 PM   #7
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Dealers will say anything to get out of a repair

Can you have too heavy a truck? In another forum there is a member who's sig file says "There's no Replacement for Displacement" he has a 5-er and the tow vehicle is a genuine Peterbuilt.. Yes, a SEMI tractor. He's right you know.
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Old 03-15-2009, 02:14 PM   #8
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I would completely agree with TXiceman. Clearly an excuse. I'd further say no way could the truck (unless a rocket sled) be at fault. UNLESS Are you exceeding the tongue weight on the TT by incorrect loading? Is your TT overweight (have you actually weighed it)??? Are you off-roading the setup in any way? Exceeding some capacity of the TT?

Given the myriad of suspension stiffness available or retro fitted on 1/2. 3/4. 1 ton trucks one could easily make a smaller truck out bump an MDT/HDT in terms of ride. Heck, a monster HDT w/ air ride probably can ride smoother than a spring based truck suspension.

Have you ever seen a TT spec that said anything about the TV (except for towing capacities) or anything that said must be towed by a Rolls Royce? To Steve's point b, the alleged shock induced damage to the a-frame by the TV whether from hard suspension on smooth roads or soft suspension on rough roads (of course up to TT road condition design specs) would signal an a-frame design/build flaw. Now, that said, it is certainly possible to roll or load your TT on roads and conditions way beyond its design - hence the questions above.

BTW You could use an air-ride tow hitch if you even had the remotest thought that a slightly harder suspension is to blame.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:08 PM   #9
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"...too heavy of a tow truck..." IMHO it's not the larger truck that is causing the frame issues -- I would agree with several other posters, the manufacturer most likely used light-weight components for the the frame. We've pulled our Excel over 25K miles without a problem. I do recommend going with a TrailAir type hitch to absorb some of the energy when you're running with a heavy suspension.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RVDude View Post
Given the myriad of suspension stiffness available or retro fitted on 1/2. 3/4. 1 ton trucks one could easily make a smaller truck out bump an MDT/HDT in terms of ride. Heck, a monster HDT w/ air ride probably can ride smoother than a spring based truck suspension.
First, there is a major difference between the ride motions in the cab and the motions at the hitch.

Secondly, there is no way you can spec a 3/4 to 1-ton truck to ride as stiffly as a MDT or HDT truck. The MDT/HDT will still have a much higher spring rate . . . pounds per inch of spring travel. As a result, the jounce motion at the rear of the truck is directly related to the spring rate and the load supported by the springs. As you reduce the load, there is a corresponding increase in jounce motion simply because the of the increased spring rate. The resulting vibration, shaking and extreme jounce at the hitch could exceed the engineered limits of the trailer structure.

While air springs can soften the effect, they can not eliminate it. Our previous RV was a diesel pusher on an excellent Spartan chassis with full air suspension. It had a very nice ride, but if you were in the rear of the coach when it hit a big bump, it definitely got your attention.

Thirdly, if you want to include possible modifications to the LDT and try to use those examples when comparing to the MDT/HDT you also need to include the possiblities of modifying the LDT similarly. For example, we converted our F350 to Mor/Ryde rear suspension and we have a friend that converted his to the Kelderman air suspension. On the other hand, we have a friend that tows his 10,000# TT with an F550. Perhaps I should point out that he won't go to Alaska because his rig rides too darn hard.

Fourth, the scenario is similar to driving off-road or pulling a trailer over a speed bump at high speed. Very few trailers are built ruggedly enough to sustain regular use off-road. Just like very few trailers can sustain driving over a speed bump too fast. The typical trailer suspension only has 2-3" of upward jounce travel available. Once that is used up, you're depending on the flex of the tires to absorb the bump and the ability of the trailer to be lifted quickly. But, every once in a while someone drives their trailer over a speed bump without slowing down. The axle bounces up and reaches its limit, the tires only flex so much, so the center of the trailer frame has to suddenly lift the entire trailer several inches. The result is the frame is broken at a spring hanger. A flaw with the trailer? No. A flaw with the driver? Yes.

If you don't think that the stiffer suspension of a MDT/HDT truck can wreak havoc on a trailer, just read some of the things posted by folks that have upgraded to tractors and the subsequent issues they had.

Originally Posted by RVDude View Post
To Steve's point b, the alleged shock induced damage to the a-frame by the TV whether from hard suspension on smooth roads or soft suspension on rough roads (of course up to TT road condition design specs) would signal an a-frame design/build flaw.
Exposing a vehicle that was designed for highway use to rough use similar to the rigors of off-road use and experiencing a structural failure does not signal a design flaw. That's merely an indication that the vehicle was abused by using it in a manner that it was not intended for.

As for the trailer manufacturers not specifying an upper limit on the tow vehicle? Sheesh, for every trailer towed by an over-the-top tow vehicle, there must be at least 5,000 towed by tow vehicles that don't have adequate weight ratings. Sub-standard tow vehicles are a safety hazard and a menace to everyone. A radically over capable tow vehicle is both rare and a bother to the owner and no one else.
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Old 03-15-2009, 05:16 PM   #11
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well some interesting points made. All my travells have been on interstates. Most of those mile have been dry meaning nothing in the tanks water sewer I calulated about 50 thousand km. The frame desighn is bad. Now I have it all tied together with channel and welded by a qualified person. The repair was in the 300 mark and I realy dont care if the dealer comes good for it. The main thing is this was a near disaster. I could literly pick the front corner up three inches. thats a combination of flex in the a frame back to where it is joined to the rails and the trailer seperated from the frame. I dont buy the idea it being because of my tv. With 5000 pounds of delicate stone carvings on board and they all travell well and both my wife and I home after 110 hours driving with no sore back ? I would think regadless of tv all those hunters and bush worker going down the back roads would be pounding thier tt 100 more than mine. My truck rides very nice when we travell as it has a good load on it.The trailer does also its not like its bouncing around. Out of intrest what about these air ride hitches ?
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Old 03-16-2009, 07:21 PM   #12
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Can you have too heavy of a tow truck?
I would answer no.
Can you have too stiff of a rear suspension in your truck?
I would answer yes.
Teton, the manufacturer of our fifth wheel strongly recommended an air suspension hitch for all their fifth wheels if pulled by a medium duty or heavy duty truck.
Our little Teton (33-ft Sunrise Grand) has a pin weight that runs between 4,200 lbs up to 5,000 lbs depending on how I load the basement. This weight is very light for my rear suspension, (26,000 lb Airliner). Even though there is not much pressure in my truck’s rear suspension it is stiff.
With the load you say that you have in your truck bed your truck’s rear suspension should not be stiff. I too would suspect frame problems with the travel trailer.
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:05 PM   #13
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Maybe you should look into one of these: http://www.shockerhitch.com/

I don't have one for my TT but it looks like it could reduce the stress on the trailer.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:15 PM   #14
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One can have too heavy a tow truck in this senario. Suspension is integral to truck classification. GM and Ford tried to satisfy customers who wanted a pickup, yet wanted it to ride like a car; result- Ford Ranchero, and GM's offerings. Both were a failure- because it did ride like a car, but 500# load capacity made it a grocery getter at best.
Which would haul eggs better, a 1/4T "truck" like those, or a CL 8 box truck with spring suspension?
Even respondents who said "no, you can't have too heavy a truck" qualified it with suggesting an air-ride pin box or ball-hitch air ride to soften truck suspension effects to the trailer.

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