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Old 09-02-2014, 02:37 PM   #1
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Choosing the right tow vehicle

I am trying to make and educated decision on a new truck for 5th wheel towing, but let me tell you where I am coming from first. Bought my first truck ever about 3 months ago. Got a great deal on a f150 platinum 4x4 with all the options after the VA paid me back pay for about two years waiting for benefits. Now I am 100 percent disabled and bring in enough that my wife can quit working and we can hit the road in an rv. We looked into roadschooling our two daughters, figured how to rent out our house and store all of our belongings. At first we thought we would use the f150 for our tow vehicle, but the more I researched, the more I realized that it is grossly under spec for what I want to tow. Really can't see all 4 of us in a 25 ft trailer. I Put enough down when buying it that I am not upside down on payments, so I want a new truck, or rather a used truck. I did some figures and researched trailers and have figured out what we want. We want to go with a 5th wheel for ease of towing, but I cannot figure out max payload and king pin weights. The trailer we ar interested in has a gvwr of 14000 pounds and figuing the max pin weight would be 3000. Now I am fairly sure most 3/4 and 1 ton trucks can tow that, but I want to be able to load up kids and wife, some misc junk, and a small dog and still be under max payload and axel ratings. I think we will go with a 2011 truck to keep payments down. Could anyone help me figure out what I should look for, but no Chevys, just preference.

Thanks.
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:43 PM   #2
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for your service.

Glad you're aboard. Probably gonna want a dually and from there it's search and check the VWRs. Best of luck in your search and decision. Enjoy your adventures and be safe.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:11 PM   #3
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Wanted to avoid the dually

But if that is the best way to go, so be it.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:58 AM   #4
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Instead of getting a MONSTER truck. Take a look at some Ultra Light Travel Trailers instead of a fifth wheel. We love ours.
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:00 PM   #5
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The trailer we ar interested in has a gvwr of 14000 pounds and figuing the max pin weight would be 3000.
So you need a tow vehicle with enough GCWR to tow a 14,000 pound trailer, and with enough GVWR to have 3,000 pounds of unused payload capacity before you back up to the trailer. You're reluctant to go for a dually. So let's run the numbers on a 2011-up F-350 SRW (single rear wheels) with diesel engine, CrewCab body, and 8' bed. The 6.5' bed will also work if you buy a slider fifth wheel hitch instead of a less expensive and lighter weight regular hitch. 4x4 will cost you about 400 pounds in reduced available payload that could be used for hauling more tools or something in the truck.

GCWR is 23,500 pounds. 23,500 minus 14,000 trailer weight leaves 9,500 pounds max wet and loaded truck weight. That's possible. As a full-timer, you have to haul everything you own with you when you move between RV parks, but keeping the weight of the wet and loaded truck down to 9,500 pounds is certainly doable, while still hauling your family and some tools in the truck.

GCWR tells you the maximum weight your rig - truck and trailer - can gross without overheating anything in the drivetrain, and without being the slowpoke holding up traffic when climbing a steep hill or mountain pass.

Now for the bad news. GCWR is not your limiter as to trailer weight. GVWR of the tow vehicle is your limiter.

GVWR is 11,500 pounds. Oops! If we load the truck to 9,500 pounds, that leaves only 2,000 pounds for max hitch weight. And we need 3,000. So now we get into the compromises that causes most people to buy a dually instead of an SRW pickup for towing a 14k 5er.

We have to get the weight of the wet and loaded truck down to 8,500 pounds if we don't want to be overloaded. That's possible, but limits what you can haul in the truck. First step is move the heavy tools to the trailer. Buy a 4x2 instead of a 4x4 and "make do" with a 4x2. I bought my first camper trailer 46 years ago, and have never owned a 4x4, so you're not going to convince me that you have to have a 4x4. Don't haul any firewood when towing. To reduce hitch weight, dump the holding tanks before you get on the road, and haul only enough fresh water to flush the pottie while on the road. Then use the CAT scales religiously to monitor the weight on your 4 truck tires. Because your family is in the truck, you don't want to exceed any of Ford's weight limits, and GVWR is probably the first weight limit you will bump up against. From the CAT scale ticket, add the weights on the front and rear truck axles, and compare to the GVWR of the truck. Compare the weight on the trailer axles to the combined GAWR of the trailer. Compare the gross weight of the truck and trailer to the GCWR of the truck.

For a Ford F-350 SRW, buy at least a 2011 model. The diesel engine is 2011-up SuperDuty trucks is much better than earlier diesel engines. It has gobs of power and can tow that 14k trailer with no problems.

What would I do in your shoes? I'd also want the SRW truck instead of a dually, but walking the tightrope of not overloading the tow vehicle that has barely adequate payload capacity is no fun. So I'd do more shopping for a suitable 5er that has a GVWR less than about 12,000 pounds. Then you won't have the compromises required to tow a 14k trailer without exceeding any of Ford's weight limits.

Or bite the bullet and get a 2011-up F-350 dually to tow that 14k trailer. You'll love the stability and driveability of the dually. More GCWR than you need. More GVWR than you need. No need to worry about throwing some extra stuff in the bed of the truck when moving to a new location.
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Old 09-12-2014, 01:00 AM   #6
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Get a real nice used MH and tow the F-150.
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Old 09-12-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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Thank you for the input.

The wife just took a job that will financially open up our options. We are going to put things on hold for about a year for now. But after that year is up we will go with a brand new dually and a new heavy weight trailer. The hard part will be waiting as we are both ready for a change of scenery. With the new job, my wife can pay off all of her student loans and the truck so it's an opportunity she can't pass up, not to mention that our budget will be considerably freed up.
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Old 09-12-2014, 10:31 AM   #8
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Great news...hope the year flies by for you two!
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Old 09-12-2014, 03:14 PM   #9
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But after that year is up we will go with a brand new dually and a new heavy weight trailer.
Good decision on the new dually.

Not so good on the new 5er. You can save thousands of dollars on a slightly used 5er that someone bought then decided the lifestyle was not for them.

Since you have plenty of time, plan WAY ahead and order your new truck at least 90 days before you might need it. New duallys usually require about 6 to 8 weeks order and ship time, but things can happen that makes even 12 to 13 weeks anything but a sure thing. If you order, you can get exactly what you want, without having to pay for anything you don't want to pay for. Hole in the roof? I have absolutely no use for a hole in the roof, but most dealers order it on all their high-end-trim models.

If you're like me and hate the negotiation process for buying a new truck, then study up on the Ford X-Plan - also called the Friends and Neighbors Plan.. You can order any new Ford at right around invoice cost with absolutely no negotiation about price, and no overpriced dealer-installed ADP items pushed at you. (ADP = additional dealer profit.)

Same advantage to ordering your new 5er from the factory instead of trying to fine one in stock. If you get tired of looking for a suitable slightly-used 5er, then consider "build and price" your favorite brand/floorplan and order it several months before you have to get on the road. Again, you get exactly what you want and are willing to pay for, but nothing else. If you go for a luxury 5er such as an Excel, the Excel factory will even make minor changes to the floorplan to accommodate your weird tastes.
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Old 09-13-2014, 07:44 AM   #10
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We live in the dually state, Texas, it won't be hard to find a nice one. And my wife's new job will be as the Internet sales manager of a Ford dealership, so we can get a good deal on a truck for sure. Will definitely keep in mind ordering the rv. I am leaning towards a Heartland Gateway 3650bh right now.
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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We live in the dually state, Texas, it won't be hard to find a nice one. And my wife's new job will be as the Internet sales manager of a Ford dealership, so we can get a good deal on a truck for sure. Will definitely keep in mind ordering the rv. I am leaning towards a Heartland Gateway 3650bh right now.
Great choices. Best of luck. The next year will probably seem like the longest year ever.
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:21 PM   #12
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I am leaning towards a Heartland Gateway 3650bh right now.
Good choice for a large, luxury, bunkhouse 5er. Way too heavy for any SRW, but should be a good match for a new F-350 Dually diesel. I almost suggested that one last night, but then thought, "Nah, he already has his eye set on a 5er."

The 3650BH has 14k weight capacity on the trailer axles, so that is your limiter. Use the CAT scale often, and be certain you don't allow Darling Wife (DW) to overload the trailer axles. As a full-timer, overloading the trailer will be a big temptation.

The trailer's 15,500 GVWR is useful only when matching trailer to tow vehicle. The CAT scale will not give you the GVW of the trailer, but it will give you the gross weight on the trailer axles (GAW).

The F-350 DRW diesel has GCWR of 30,000 pounds, so with a 15.5k trailer that leaves 14.5k for the max gross weight of the truck. But even on a dually, GCWR is not your limiter. GVWR is your limiter.

Truck GVWR is at least 14,000 pounds, so with a pin weight of 20% of the GVWR of the trailer, your pin weight could be as much as 3,100 pounds. The dry hitch weight of the 3650BH is less than 16% of the dry trailer weight, so 20% wet and loaded pin weight should be a generous estimate. If you manage to load the trailer to 3,100 pounds pin weight, that leaves 10,900 pounds for max wet and loaded truck weight. "Normal" would be around 10,000 pounds for a heavily loaded F-350 DRW, so even a full-timer probably won't have to worry about exceeding the GVWR of the truck.

But if you notice DW loading some pretty rocks in the bed, then be sure to use the CAT scale.
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