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Old 01-17-2014, 09:47 AM   #1
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First 5th Wheel and Tow Unit - HELP

I've been scanning the existing threads but I either get more confused or they don't address my specific issue so I'm just going to throw it out here and let those of you that know your stuff (or just have strong opinions ) help me decide which route to go with this big purchase. We will take about 6 to 8 RV trips a year.

The wife and I have focused our sites on a Forest River Blue Ridge 3125RT 5th wheel. Specs are:
Hitch wt. - 1,860 lbs.
Ship wt - 11,279 lbs.
GVWR - 13,860 lbs.
Length - 36' 3"

Because we've set a strict budget for this trailer/truck purchase, we have about $25k left to buy a truck. I know a 1 ton DRW is probably the best choice, but the wife thinks duallys are ugly so I've tried to limit my search to SRW diesel 2500 and 3500 trucks (she also doesn't like Ford). Gotta keep the wife happy...

Here's what I've found within my area:
2007 Chevy 2500 LT w/ 89k miles for $25k
2006 Chevy 3500 LS w/ 112k miles for $17k
2008 Dodge 2500 ST w/ 40k miles for $23k

I think a 3/4 ton will get the job done, but I'm sure the 1 ton (especially a DRW) would be even better. The problem is we will also want to drive this truck around once we get to our destination and it may even get used by our daughter to get back and forth to school sometimes. Another reason to shy away from long beds and duallys.

Because we are in Central California, any destination we will travel to will involve mountains. The exhaust brake on the '08 Dodge is attractive to me, but the Allison tranny on the Chevy is a big draw also. The '06 Chevy 1 ton is a SRW long bed with high miles so I'm not sure it's the right choice. I need help deciding.

Can I manage with any of these 3 rigs or do I need to convince the wife to consider a DRW truck?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:21 AM   #2
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I tried to pull a similarly sized 5vr with a 2500 Chev. After first trip to the hills of TX (not EVEN NEAR a mountain) I gave up and went to a 3500HD DRW. Cost me a bundle to upgrade, but now I can go anywhere without white knuckles and more importantly I can STOP. I wouldn't be without the engine brake after having one. DRW is much more stable especially in a crosswind.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:30 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DGriz View Post
The wife and I have focused our sites on a Forest River Blue Ridge 3125RT 5th wheel. Specs are:
Hitch wt. - 1,860 lbs.
Ship wt - 11,279 lbs.
GVWR - 13,860 lbs.
Length - 36' 3"
The dry hitch weight and the shipping weight of the trailer are meaningless. Ignore them and use the GVWR as the estimated weight of the wet and loaded 5er, and use 20% of the GVWR as the estimated hitch weight.

Quote:
Here's what I've found within my area:
2007 Chevy 2500 LT w/ 89k miles for $25k
2006 Chevy 3500 LS w/ 112k miles for $17k
2008 Dodge 2500 ST w/ 40k miles for $23k
Your hitch weight ("pin" or kingpin weight) will be as much as 2,772 pounds. So any three-quarter ton pickup will be overloaded over the GVWR of the pickup by the time you add family tools, jacks, full tank of fuel, and options such as a bedliner. So ignore those 2500s and look for a 3500. Even a 3500 SRW will probably be overloaded with that much trailer. As a general rule of thumb, any 5er with a GVWR more than about 12,000 pounds requires a dually if you don't want to be overloaded when on the road.

Quote:
Can I manage with any of these 3 rigs or do I need to convince the wife to consider a DRW truck?
Put on your big-boy pants and show your sweetheart the numbers. But use real numbers from a truck scale, not so-called tow ratings and payload ratings. I'm well conversed with Ford numbers, so I'll use those for the '07 model year as an example:

2007 F-350 SRW CrewCab 4x4 with diesel engine:
GVWR 11,500
Wet and loaded truck weight 9,000
Max unused payload available for pin weight 2,500

So when the trailer is wet and loaded for the road with a pin weight over 2,500 pounds, you'll be overloaded over the GVWR of the tow vehicle. And the GM and Dodge have less less net payload available for hitch weight than the Ford, so you'll be even more overloaded.

The GCWR for that Ford is 23,500 for both the F-350 SRW and dually. But the SRW will run out of payload capacity long before you get close to the GCWR. The dually has a lot more GVWR and payload capacity, so it can handle that much trailer without being overloaded.

If Sweetheart refuses to buy enough truck for that trailer, then instead consider a big "bumper pull" travel trailer (TT) instead of a 5er. TTs have less hitch weight percentage than 5ers, so they require less payload capacity of the tow vehicle than 5ers. For a 5er, you should use 20% as your estimated hitch weight percent, but for a TT you should use 15%. So if you found a really-big TT with GVWR of 13,860, the estimated wet and loaded hitch weight would be 2,079 compared to 2,772 for the 5er. That almost 700 pounds difference in hitch weight means you could probably tow that TT with a 3500 SRW without being overloaded.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:47 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
Put on your big-boy pants and show your sweetheart the numbers.
LOL, I've tried to convince her of the need for a DRW truck, but she won't budge. She sees all the 3/4 ton trucks at the RV park with their big 5th wheels behind them so she's convinced we can do it too.

So I guess my next question is, what are the concerns with being overloaded? Parts wearing out sooner? Things breaking while driving down the road? I need some ammo to shoot back at her with.

I know there are a lot of people pulling trailers that are too big for their trucks. I'd be interested to hear from some of you about your experiences.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DGriz View Post
LOL, I've tried to convince her of the need for a DRW truck, but she won't budge. She sees all the 3/4 ton trucks at the RV park with their big 5th wheels behind them so she's convinced we can do it too.
If you have kids, ask her how she would respond to "But Mom, ALL the other kids are doing it" justification from one of your kids. Thinking it's OK to overload a tow vehicle because others pull overloaded is no different.

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Old 01-17-2014, 12:01 PM   #6
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If you have kids, ask her how she would respond to "But Mom, ALL the other kids are doing it" justification from one of your kids. Thinking it's OK to overload a tow vehicle because others pull overloaded is no different.

Rusty
That's one angle. But are there safety issues involved? That would probably hit home more than "all the other kids" approach.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:04 PM   #7
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You would be towing with a load on the truck that exceeds the maximum allowable payload set by the manufacturer. Yes, if I were a civil attorney and you hit my client, you can bet that I would claim you were guilty of either gross negligence or reckless operation!

If the numbers don't work, frankly I'd be looking at a larger truck or a lighter trailer.

Rusty
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:54 PM   #8
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I'm completely new to this so I'm trying to get my head around it still. Tell me if this makes sense:

Using the info on a 2008 Dodge 2500HD Diesel and round/estimated numbers:
Truck Weight (loaded) = 7,500 lbs. (6,487 curb weight + occupants & cargo)
Est. Hitch Weight = 2,600 lbs. (20% of 13,000 lb. 5th wheel)

That's 10,100 lbs. This truck has a GVWR rating of 9,000 lbs.

If I understand the ratings correctly, I need the GVWR to meet or exceed this number, right?

Additionally, this truck has a payload of 2,513 lbs. How does this factor into the trailer weight?

The GCWR of the Dodge is 20,000 lbs. If I use the numbers above, I have a 13,000 lbs of trailer and 7,500 lbs. of truck/cargo for a total 20,500 lbs.

If my math is correct, I'm overloaded in both GVWR and GCWR. Is my math right?
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:31 PM   #9
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First, I sincerely doubt that a 2008 Ram 2500 with Cummins weighs 6,487 lbs empty - that's probably the manufacturer's overly optimistic curb weight. Assuming that it's true, however, and that your loading information is correct (you did allow about 200 lbs for a 5th wheel hitch, right?) as well as your GVWR and GCWR ratings, you would be overloaded on both GVWR (by 1100 lbs) and GCWR (by 500 lbs). That's typical for a SRW (single rear wheel truck) - pulling a 5th wheel, they will run out of GVWR before they reach their GCWR.

Your actual remaining payload rating is GVWR minus the curb weight of the loaded truck - the term "payload" includes the weight of truck options and accessories (like the 5th wheel hitch, toolbox in the bed, auxiliary fuel tank, etc.), passengers, pets, cargo, etc. After you've loaded your truck (7,500 lbs), your true payload rating is 9,000 minus 7,500, or 1,500 lbs. That's all you have left for the pin weight of the 5th wheel (2,600 lbs). That's why you're overloaded on GVWR by 2,600 minus 1,500, or 1,100 lbs.

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Old 01-17-2014, 01:47 PM   #10
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DGriz, these guys know their stuff. Listen to them. When we were shopping for a truck & 5-r (prior to our coach), I asked all the questions you did & came a way with a perfectly matched set up that was both a pleasure to tow & safe to tow. Unfortunately, when we traded it in, a week later I saw our 5-r at the dealer hooked up to an F150 & it's new owners were getting ready to leave with it.

It has nothing to do with what other people are doing. If they want to get into an accident that's their choice. This is a safety issue. Getting what your wife wants & when you get into an accident & are found guilty of overloading your truck, she can visit you in jail & then go back home to that tiny apartment she now has because the plaintiff's lawyers took everthing you owned in the lawsuit. You don't see those "been in an accident?" lawyer commercials on TV for nothing. It's BIG business. Don't pad their wallets.

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Old 01-17-2014, 02:37 PM   #11
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Well go ahead and get the underrated truck to keep mamma happy. Then after she has had enough of the horrible ride and ill handling get the DRW. Some people are just slow to learn. Can't see the whole picture. It ain't about looks it's about your safety and others on the road. Ask her how she would feel if someone else was driving an overloaded truck and 5th wheel and caused an accident that involved both of you. Tell her to quit worrying about what others are doing and do what is right, not what looks right.

Funny thing about my wife. She hated diesels till we got our 12 Ram. No smell, pretty quiet compared to 6.0, 5.9 or 7.3's. Last time out she commented on how tough and powerful the truck feels. They all come around, some just slower than others.
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Old 01-17-2014, 08:41 PM   #12
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we get numerous trucks coming into the park we are hosting, 3/4 ton with too much 5er. The truck is riding low in the back...obviously overloaded. But you get to looking at the full timers that have been at this for a while, they have F350/3500 DRW or 450/4500 trucks.

We had a Cameo like ours come in today with a 2500 Duramax. I know the GVWr on his trailer is over 16,000# and his pin weight is probably in excess of 3200#. My trailer sets my F350 DRW down a bit and no way would I attempt to pull it with a SRW truck.

Like noted, get the larger truck or scale back on the trailer.

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Old 01-18-2014, 06:54 AM   #13
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As posted above, you should do what's right. If you are carrying your kids with you, that should be reason enough. I would not put my family in a truck that was not rated to tow what I was towing. It just doesn't make sense to me. The safety factor aside, you will wear out the truck's suspension components faster which will eventually lead to some type of failure. Question is, where will you be when that failure occurs? Will you be towing over what the truck was rated for then? Also, as stated above, these guys are good at this! They know the weights of these rigs, not just what the manufacturer puts out there. Remember, they are trying to sell you a camper or a truck, so they can manipulate numbers all day long. Just this year I had a pretty long fight with FR over the 6k axles under my 5th wheel being too small, as I only had 137 pounds of cargo carrying capacity after only adding the second air, genny and water, before I put the first fork in the rig. They put 7k axles under it under warranty and now I have a good margin and the rig is not overloaded. My family's safety is paramount. I am a 27 year paramedic and have seen numerous accidents caused by improperly loaded vehicles and trailers. I did not want to be one of those in the statistics. If nothing else, get your DW in front of the computer and let her read the hundreds/thousands of posts on this forum, RV.net and any other RV forums you can think of about the weight issue. That alone should show her the magnitude at which this subject is discussed. That too, should cause her concern.
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:15 AM   #14
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Engineering must trump her sensibilities.
Sorry hun but this is the way it will be!
pick your battles and let her win the next one-colour,decor,overall look
but be safe and think about the next unit she falls in love with,constantly changing a depreciating asset(truck) cuts into the kids collage fund.
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