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Old 06-01-2014, 09:42 PM   #1
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How heavy is too heavy?

Iíve spent a great deal of time on this forum and elsewhere researching RVs and tow vehicles and plan to buy both within the next 6 to 12 months. The sooner the better! We arenít yet committed to a specific model, but weíve whittled down our choices to a short list of 5th wheels suitable for full-time living. A few of the units weíve considered, in the opinion of some experienced folks on these forums, require a MDT or HDT to haul them. I donít want to go there, and instead would rather limit our options to those that can be safely, comfortably, and legally towed by a Ford F-450 class (or similar) pickup truck.

According to Fordís 2015 towing guide, a new F-450 has a GCWR of 40,000 lbs., a GVWR of 14,000 lbs., a rear GAWR of 9,100 lbs., and can pull 26,500 lbs. Judging strictly by the numbers, this truck should be able to handle a 20,000 lb. trailer, provided the pin weight doesnít overload the rear axle. But is it safe? The 2nd generation 440 HP turbo diesel incorporates an exhaust brake to help on the downhill, but still, is it safe? Is it controllable?

Again, the numbers say yes. But Iíve heard too many horror stories to blindly accept that. So Iím looking for the voice of experience to guide me. Whatís the biggest 5th wheel (length and weight) that you would hitch to that truck? And what factors contribute to your conclusion and advise?
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:11 AM   #2
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Just worry about the combine weight rating and do not overload the tires.
There are much more Scarry stories written then are actually happening in the rear world.

I refuse to think that a 5000 lbs trailer will overload a F150. Again I have a friend with a F450 that tows a 14000 lbs trailer with only 30 lbs of air in his rear tires because him and his wife can't stand the ride.
He tried to sell the truck but in 3 years he still has it.
I believe in having a good solid ride with full aired tires all around my truck. He still can't believe I tow with full tire pressure. They are no longer going south anymore. So Oversizing the truck works 2 ways. For comfort his set up is unsafe and when properly loaded the ride becomes a chore. The F450 is an MDT with cheaper build and suspension. The GMs and IH look much heavier and are not used by RVers.
So choose right and don't end up like my friend that stop his traveling while still questioning my comfortable setup.
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:37 AM   #3
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John and Kelly....I have towed a number of different trailers with just about every type truck made and I have done it right and wrong, meaning within weight limits of the tow vehicle as well as overloaded. (just being honest)

My advise is this...as long as you are within the recommended weight allowances of the rig you are buying, I would be perfectly comfortable towing whatever I wanted to right up to the limit if necessary. The length is something you will have to decide on based on your own comfort level. I currently tow a 37' 5th wheel and I do not think that a few extra feet would bother me. I told my wife I set my personal limit at 41' when we were shopping. After you exceed 32' you have already excluded yourself from staying at certain campgrounds anyway, so it didn't make much more difference to me since I knew we were going to be buying something over 35' based on past units we owned.

Back to the weight issue...all of these trucks are designed to tow their weight limits safely. They will have the appropriate brakes, frame strength, etc...if you are looking at 5th wheels that exceed the 2015 F450, then you will likely end up with a true MDT or even a customized Volvo hauler or something similar.

Best of luck in your search and thank you for your service in the USN.
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:53 AM   #4
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Radio Flyer,
A 20,000#GVWR trailer towing with a 40,000# GCWR 450 will be fine. You will be within the limits of both the truck and trailer. It actually sounds like a very good setup. The new motors of the big 3 have made vast improvements in power and reliability compared to the 1st DPF models.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Flyer View Post
According to Ford’s 2015 towing guide, a new F-450 has a GCWR of 40,000 lbs., a GVWR of 14,000 lbs., a rear GAWR of 9,100 lbs., and can pull 26,500 lbs. Judging strictly by the numbers, this truck should be able to handle a 20,000 lb. trailer, provided the pin weight doesn’t overload the rear axle. But is it safe? ... Is it controllable?
Double-check the hitch weight to be sure you don't exceed any of Ford's weight ratings.

A 20k luxury 5er could have a pin weight of up to 24% of gross trailer weight. That's up to 4,800 pounds of pin weight. GVWR of 14,000 pounds means the wet and loaded truck could weigh up to 9,200 pounds without exceeding the GVWR of the tow vehicle. That's a reasonable max weight for an F-450 doing full-timer duty, but it's still a limit that you'd have to worry about. Some full-timers load that truck to 10,000 pounds before they tie onto the 5er.

To not have to worry about it, consider instead the F-450 chassis cab. GVWR is 16,000. Or if that's not enough, then the F-550 looks exactly line the F-450 except it has a much heavier duty rear suspension and rear axle and a GVWR of 17,500. The chassis cab trucks are available in Lariat trim, but not fancier trim. They come without a bed, but there are numerous aftermarket upfitters that will install a bed of any type - a pickup bed, RV hauler body, flatbed, you name it and it's available.

Many of those upfitters are Ford ship-thru upfitters. That means your dealer can order your truck with the options you want, including the bed or tow body, then have it shipped to one of those upfitters for addition of your choice of bed or tow body. Then that upfitter will send it on to the Ford dealer without any additional freight charge to you.

Check out this link to expand your knowledge of this topic.
Beds and Tow Bodies for Chassis Cab Trucks - Ford Diesel Forum

Note that thread has not been updated lately, so it may need a few tweaks. But it will give you some ideas. Your Ford dealer's fleet manager will be able to provide you with the up-to-date list of ship-thru upfitters.

Just be certain you order the high capacity tow pkg on a chassis cab. With a diesel engine and high capacity tow pkg the tow rating exceeds 20k for the F-450 and 25k for the F-550. For your use, I would probably go for the F-550 with the 4.30 axle ratio.

I'm a fan of Western Hauler in Fort Worth. Here's one of their upfitted chassis cab haulers:


And here's a Mountain Master F-550:
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info, guys. Since we won't be buying the truck or trailer for several months from now, I'll have plenty of time to digest your advice and continue my research.
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Old 06-16-2014, 12:33 PM   #7
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When i weight my vehicle with total loads. I should compare the weights to the GCWR. Is this correct?
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:27 PM   #8
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When i weight my vehicle with total loads. I should compare the weights to the GCWR. Is this correct?
Depends on why you are weighing the rig. If you are weighing it only to see if you are exceeding the GCWR of the truck, then compare the gross weight of the rig to the GCWR of the tow vehicle.

But if your tow vehicle has single rear wheels (SRW), then the GCWR is probably not your limiter. Add the weights on the two truck axles and compare to the GVWR of the truck.

But why not use all the weights the CAT scale gave you? Compare the weight on the rear truck axle to the rear gross axle weight rating (rGAWR) of the tow vehicle.

Combine the GAWRs of the trailer to get a gross trailer axle weight rating, then compare to the actual weight on the trailer axles.

The CAT scale will not give you the weight on the hitch or the GVW of the trailer. You need a trailer tongue weight scale to get the tongue weight. Compare the actual tongue weight to the maximum tongue weight rating of your receiver. Add the weight on the tongue to the weight on the trailer axles to get the GVW of the trailer.
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