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Old 05-24-2016, 07:50 PM   #29
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Ok, so scratch that rumor of only using the manual trailer brakes. Rather I should stab the TV brakes to shave off speed and downshift.
Maybe just semantics, but "stab" is probably not the right word. You want to fully engage the brakes on both the tow vehicle and the trailer to get maximum braking force without locking up any of the tires. Push hard on the brake pedal, don' t stab it. But as soon as the speed has been bled off the rig, then get off the brakes. That technique will generate the least amount of heat in the brake systems.
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Old 05-24-2016, 09:20 PM   #30
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Push hard on the brake pedal, don' t stab it. But as soon as the speed has been bled off the rig, then get off the brakes. That technique will generate the least amount of heat in the brake systems.
I don't think this is true. Basically the same amount of heat will be generated with the "stab" braking technique as any other braking technique, because the brakes will have worked just as hard to slow the vehicle down as if they had been steadily used to maintain the same general speed.

What I mean is that if the vehicle starts at the top of the grade at 25 MPH, and finishes the grade at 25 MPH, and only the brakes are used to slow the vehicle, either technique will result in the same amount of heat in the braking system by the time you reach the bottom.

This is why only very light braking, or preferably none at all, is much better than any kind of firm braking technique, as it is far easier to generate heat through friction than it is for air to remove it.

I drove truck for a few years, and my technique was to use the gear that held the truck back (using engine brakes) without any brake use at all in case I needed to make an emergency stop. I still believe this is the very best plan. If that means the gas engine pickup descends a hill in first gear, than that is the plan I would go with.

I'm more than happy to be proven wrong on this issue.
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Old 05-25-2016, 06:25 AM   #31
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I don't think this is true. Basically the same amount of heat will be generated with the "stab" braking technique as any other braking technique, because the brakes will have worked just as hard to slow the vehicle down as if they had been steadily used to maintain the same general speed.
I have tried to make this point many times, good luck getting the point across. How folks can believe that extreme heating and cooling is somehow better than moderate heating is beyond me.
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Old 05-27-2016, 09:51 PM   #32
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You were given good advice I not sure about the ram trucks but my Nissan Titan I could drop one or two gears lower at top of hill and set cruise control for max speed then computor would decrease fuel to maintain speed if to fast I could tap brake once and trans would drop a gear
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:16 PM   #33
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I have tried to make this point many times, good luck getting the point across. How folks can believe that extreme heating and cooling is somehow better than moderate heating is beyond me.

On our trip through Idaho to Oregon we went down a particularly large hill. The engine brake was certainly doing its thing, but the foot brake was needed for sure. Just a little after the bottom of the hill was a place to pull over, and even though the brakes were operating like normal, I was curious how hot they were and busted out the temp gun. The hubs and tires were normal, so I checked the actual disks themselves and if I remember correctly they were around 300 degrees. Checking them again a couple minutes later didn't change the temp drastically, loosely confirming what you're saying. (Granted, I'm not sure how much of a difference moving air will make on this cooking effect.) Now I wish I had recorded all the information.

Next time I run down the road (probably August) I'm going to take more measurements and log them, as this is very interesting to me. It would definitely be great if someone else were to do this as well.
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:14 AM   #34
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You haven't mentioned what your rig weighs. I'm guessing your 1500 Ram is about 5500# and the trailer is about 5000#. Add two people, water, food, clothing, supplies etc and you have another 1500-2000#. That adds up to 12500#'s. Add another 500 for incidentals for a 13,000# total weight. That's still 1700# below the GCWR of a Ram 1500. If these numbers are correct, you are below the towing rating and also the GCWR. If you have a good quality load leveling hitch with sway control and it is set properly, you should have no trouble on your trip if you use the engine and transmission to control speed both going up and down the hills/mountains. Start your decents slow and gradually increase the speed as you gain confidence in your ability and that of the Ram. Take your time and enjoy your trip. Don't concern yourself with the people that may line up behind you. They're not your problem, but your safety is. Be careful with the cross winds out west, as I have seen more than one travel trailer and tow rig jack-knifed and flipped over.
I'm relatively new here but this is the first online community that I've joined where someone can be within the specs of their equipment and still be told that they need bigger equipment to do the job. Would it be easier with a larger or different truck yes but that's not what the OP asked about. He specifically asked about help driving through the mountains which I found helpful.

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Remember that the "mountains" and passes out east are not like the ones out west.
Is a 6-10% grade different out there? US33 has 9% grades for 5 miles on either side of a pass in WV and I'm trying to figure out how that is different than a 9% grade for five miles on either side of a pass "out west". Sure there are places like Teton Pass that have 6-10% grades for a similar distance on either side but we're splitting hairs. The only difference is elevation at the summit.


This thread has been useful for me as later this year I'll be driving cross country with a trailer for the first time and I've never really come down some of those passes (with a trailer). Thanks for all the tips.
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Old 06-02-2016, 09:46 AM   #35
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If you are using an EB and still have to use your service brakes, you are in too high of a gear.
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Old 06-02-2016, 10:05 AM   #36
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I agree with those who mentioned making sure you were tow/haul mode on your transmission. The use of tow/haul mode changes the shift points on the tranny to minimizing the number of shifts up and/or down.

I also agree with those who mentioned getting as loaded weights of your Ram 1500 and travel trailer. I used to have a Ford F-150 with an 3.5L EcoBoost engine. With the 3.31 rear gearing I had, I was limited to a tow rating of 9,100 lbs using a weight distribution hitch. The advertised internet weight of the truck was in the 5,800 lb range. When I went to the Cat Scale, I was surprised to see the weight of the truck was actually 6,500 lbs.

Personally, if I were in your situation, I might consider upgrading to a 2500 Ram or other similar 3/4 ton pickups with a diesel engine to take advantage of the engine braking capabilities in addition to the braking on the controller.

Or you could do what I did and upgrade to a Class A.
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Old 06-02-2016, 10:19 AM   #37
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Do not be afraid to stop and let your rig rest.

Back in 2014, we did a trip out west in an Escape and a very small pop-up. The pop-up we had weighed between 2000 and 2500 lbs and our tow limit was 3500. So we were well within our ability to tow.

Coming down was one of those mtn passes was scary. We happened to get behind a truck/tt rig riding his brakes which made my husband use his brakes more than he liked. So I suggested pulling off at a scenic outlook to rest and let everything cool off. About 20 mins later, we started back down. The rig in front of us had gone on down. About 2 miles down the road we passed him with brakes smoking and the dipwad pouring water over his brakes. I looked at my husband and said, that is goona make his brakes fail. He said, yeap...

We are familiar with steep grades around here, just not lasting miles on end. We have areas with runaway truck ramps all over this area. In fact we have a 7% grade right up the road and see rigs (even 18 wheelers) burning brakes coming down it.

If a new truck is not in your future, do yourself a favor and route yourself away from all the really steep areas.
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:10 PM   #38
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Is a 6-10% grade different out there?
Of course not, but there are more of them. But you are correct, a 6% grade is s six percent grade. Peak elevation is not what gets you, it's total elevation change that can.
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:37 PM   #39
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Hwy 108 Mono County Ca.
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Old 06-02-2016, 06:58 PM   #40
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Hwy 108 Mono County Ca.
FWIW - The road over Lincoln Gap in Vermont is a similar grade and maintains that grade for over a mile. I've heard that it's the steepest road in the U.S. that maintains that grade for so long.
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Old 06-02-2016, 07:44 PM   #41
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Wow..I thought a 13% grade in west va was steep...26%?!?!
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Old 06-02-2016, 07:56 PM   #42
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I'm glad you made it down the mountain safely. I don't know what he grade was there but sounds like it was pretty steep. To be honest, driving that heavy of a rig down a mountain and not downshifting is really dangerous. Gas engines actually do a really good job of slowing descent when in a low enough gear. I don't know why people keep claiming gas engines don't. They are much better than diesel in this regard due to the throttle plates. Not as good as a diesel with an exhaust brake but better than a diesel without.
Having your transmission in tow/haul and downshifting is the most important thing you can do. Using only the service brakes can get someone killed.
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