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Old 07-31-2016, 08:00 PM   #1
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Towing Capacity and vehicle upgrades for towing

2013 F150 / 5.0L V8 / SCREW / Wheelbase 145 / L9 axle - 3.55 / Non-HD Towing Package / GVWR 7350 / GCWR 14500 / Tow Rating 7700 / Rear GAWR 4050 lb / 275/55R20

I want to tow a travel trailer with a dry weight of 5602 lbs, est. (Hitch weight 678) - Forest River Surveyor 294QBLE. We will be pulling a minimum of 14 times per year. The average trip is between 80 & 400 miles.

Using an excel towing calculator which:
adds to vehicle - the weight of Gas / People / Cargo / Hitch
adds to trailer - the weight of options / battery / propane / cargo / fluids

It calculates the Actual GCVW = 12,981 (96.16% of Capacity)
Final GVWR = 7470 (120 lbs over)
The calculator explains that anything over 90% as causing excessive wear & tear and as being unsafe.

Questions:
1) What is the real-world towability of this trailer with my truck? Must be able to tow it in the Smokies, at or around Knoxville, TN. Don't want to kill my truck in the process.

2) Are there upgrades that I can do to increase my towing capacity?
My first thought was changing the gearing to 3.73 (several forums on that)
My second thought was swapping the axle for the HD axle used on the 15 or newer trucks. I know the 15 truck with the same 3.55 has a 9000 tow rating.

3) Wanting to switch the tires to 285/55R20. The 10 ply tire has 1000 lbs per tire more load capacity. Is it even necessary when the GAWR is only 4050 lbs. My current tire's load rating (4 ply) is 2403, or 4806 total. Wouldn't the axle give before the wheels?

Advise!

Note: trading the truck is not an option. I just purchased it last weekend. Please, no 3/4 & 1 ton trading talk I just want to know what I can do realistically to safely pull a trailer.
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Old 07-31-2016, 10:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acanania View Post
2013 F150 / 5.0L V8 / SCREW / Wheelbase 145 / L9 axle - 3.55 / Non-HD Towing Package / GVWR 7350 / GCWR 14500 / Tow Rating 7700 / Rear GAWR 4050 lb / 275/55R20

I want to tow a travel trailer with a dry weight of 5602 lbs, est. (Hitch weight 678) - Forest River Surveyor 294QBLE. We will be pulling a minimum of 14 times per year. The average trip is between 80 & 400 miles.

Using an excel towing calculator which:
adds to vehicle - the weight of Gas / People / Cargo / Hitch
adds to trailer - the weight of options / battery / propane / cargo / fluids

It calculates the Actual GCVW = 12,981 (96.16% of Capacity)
Final GVWR = 7470 (120 lbs over)
The calculator explains that anything over 90% as causing excessive wear & tear and as being unsafe.

Questions:
1) What is the real-world towability of this trailer with my truck? Must be able to tow it in the Smokies, at or around Knoxville, TN. Don't want to kill my truck in the process.

2) Are there upgrades that I can do to increase my towing capacity?
My first thought was changing the gearing to 3.73 (several forums on that)
My second thought was swapping the axle for the HD axle used on the 15 or newer trucks. I know the 15 truck with the same 3.55 has a 9000 tow rating.

3) Wanting to switch the tires to 285/55R20. The 10 ply tire has 1000 lbs per tire more load capacity. Is it even necessary when the GAWR is only 4050 lbs. My current tire's load rating (4 ply) is 2403, or 4806 total. Wouldn't the axle give before the wheels?

Advise!

Note: trading the truck is not an option. I just purchased it last weekend. Please, no 3/4 & 1 ton trading talk I just want to know what I can do realistically to safely pull a trailer.
First thing, never use the dry/unloaded weight of the trailer unless you plan to travel that way. Instead, always use the trailers published GVW when making calculations. GVW for that trailer is 7,384#. Keep in mind the towing capacity of your truck is calculated using a 150# driver, no passengers, no cargo, 1/4 tank gas.
Towing in mountains will put a strain on your truck if you attempt to keep up with traffic flow. Instead, set your own pace, dictated by your trucks performance at different speeds.

Changing to a higher 3:77 ratio will help, as you project, but fuel mileage will suffer. You wrote you already have a 3:55 differential, so that is not what increases the tow rating for the 2015 model.
Your tires should be LT rated tires. I would recommend upgrading to 6-ply tires and keeping them aired-up to sidewall maximum will help with both load and side-sway(handling).

You will wear-out your truck(you will be towing over rated capacity) at an accelerated-rate compared to towing at 80% capacity, but as you noted, it is your decision.
I suggest looking at a shorter trailer = less weight to tow and truck will last longer.
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Old 07-31-2016, 11:26 PM   #3
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Welcome,
96% hmm. nice looking TT.
Another thing to keep in mind is all of those ratings are really more based on what your vehicle can safely control and most importantly stop!
Every hill you go up (rarely do you hear about white knuckle experiences) has to be safely descended. Now this is where things can and often do get dicey. An over revving engine and that unmistakable smell of hot brakes can be humbling indeed.
As Ray,IN mentioned rarely if ever do campers pull light. We're almost always towing heavy.
Like the old saying "rubber meets the road" go with the tires.
Ever heard the horrible racket made by an improperly setup ring & pinion gear lash? You better have confidence in that mechanic / artist.
HD transmission cooler.
Check the sticker on your door jam, with the tire pressures. Max payload= xxxx use that on your excel.
The listed tongue weight sounds light too. Would bet you'll need to be somewhere about >850# for it to not get squirrely on you.
When you get set up weigh it for $10 it'll help you set up your WD hitch.
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Old 07-31-2016, 11:51 PM   #4
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You got too little truck for that bigga trailer. No matter what you do you will be in a bigger truck next towing season. You will not be happy towing in that part of the country. I travel lots and that is a bad area to be towing any where max capacity.

Save you money on expensive changes to the little truck and put that $$$ toward a 3/4 or better a 1 ton SRW truck.
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Old 08-01-2016, 06:44 AM   #5
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Thanks to everyone for the replies. We have looked at smaller trailers. The microlite by Flagstaff and some expandle options. Both options are under 5000 lbs, but still around 85% of GCWR and nearly all the GVR.
Our biggest concern is having enough space for the family on rainy days and not wanting to kill each other...lol.

We deliberately bought the 1/2 to force us into a smaller, lighter trailer. The pricepoint and size was getting out of hand as we were considering our options with the bigger trucks. However, we did not expect the smaller 5500 lb trailer to be an issue.

Sounds like I will definitely be upgrading the tire before our first pull.
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:06 AM   #6
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Invest in the best brake controller you can buy.

I installed a Tekonsha 90195 P3 Electronic Trailer Brake Control Controller on my Jeep GC to pull a dual axle trailer that I anticipate will be loaded to the 7K weight limit. It was easy to install and I like the digital display showing me volts as I apply the brakes. Amount of braking is easily adjustable. Also has boost options depending on conditions.
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Old 08-01-2016, 01:03 PM   #7
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Well the ford has a built in brake contoller. Are you saying to replace it with an aftermarket controller?
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:36 PM   #8
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No, the built in controller works great.

The thing people forget when trying to size a trailer to their vehicle is all the stuff and people you will bring with you.Especially in a smaller trailer you will be loaded to it's gross weight limit and still probably want to carry firewood, wood blocks for leveling, bicycles, maybe a generator. The point is that with your truck and a trailer that grosses 7500 pounds you are going to be at or over your payload without all the extras and your towing experience will not be pleasant.

Yes, your truck will do it but next season you will find a way to upgrade trucks or camp a lot closer to home.

The max tow ratings are derived by towing flat bed trailers and boats because both of those only require 7% tongue weight. Travel trailers require 12 to 15% and 5th wheels are upwards of 20%. Even at just 12% your 7500 pound trailer will have a tongue weight of 900 pounds plus 100 for the hitch. Your cargo capacity is probably about 1500 pounds so after the trailer and your family there is no room for other stuff.
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:59 PM   #9
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I went through the same exercise, on a smaller scale, about 3 months ago.

In my case , I bought a 3600 lb (dry) trailer, and towed it with my short box V6 GMC (6100 lb rating). I put on a brake controller, a Trans Cooler, and, got a WD hitch, along with new tires.

I pulled it 5 or 6 times , it was OK at 62 mph...but not fun...I just never trusted the rig. The trailer was too small to be comfortable, as well. I had considered changing gears, but I began to see that the trailer was not right for us.

So, I guess I am saying that it is a tough job to try & upgrade the tow capacity. If you have done all you can, then just decide if it's safe enough to use....and move on. Good luck with your project.
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:51 PM   #10
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tow capacity

acanania, your concerns arevalid no dought,however we pull 5.5k toy hauler, always empty as travel trailer. use my 05 f150 s/c w 355 gears all the time. now here is how i fell. my 3//339tire 2700 lbs time 77 devidedby 19 -58 time 900000 probably is my spare tire tow capacity.in other words buy what you like feel comfortable with.LOL/LOL/LOL/
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acanania View Post
2013 F150 / 5.0L V8 / SCREW / Wheelbase 145 / L9 axle - 3.55 / Non-HD Towing Package / GVWR 7350 / GCWR 14500 / Tow Rating 7700 / Rear GAWR 4050 lb / 275/55R20.
You misread something, somewhere. Your "tow rating" is 7,700 when your tow vehicle grosses less than (GCWR minus tow rating = ) 5,800 pounds, but your GCWR is only 13,500 per the 2013 RV and Trailer Towing Guide.

Quote:
I want to tow a travel trailer with a dry weight of 5602 lbs, est. (Hitch weight 678) - Forest River Surveyor 294QBLE.
Dry weigh is meaningless. The GVWR of that trailer is 7,678, so you can expect a normally loaded trailer to gross about 7,000 pounds or a bit more.

Quote:
Questions:
1) What is the real-world towability of this trailer with my truck?
The real world maximum trailer weight you can PULL without burning up anything in the drivetrain, and without being the slowpoke holding up traffic on hills and mountain grades is the GCWR of the truck minus the wet and loaded weight of the truck. So 13,500 GCWR minus about 6,500 wet and loaded truck weight = 7,000 pounds max wet and loaded trailer weight.

The Surveyor 294QBLE has GVWR of 7,694 = too heavy for your 5.0L.

But that's just the first obstacle you have. If you leave out the heavy stuff so the TT doesn't gross over 7,000 pounds, that's still 910 pounds tongue weight. Add 90 pounds for a good WD hitch and that's 1,000 pounds hitch weight. That's right up against the weight rating of your receiver when towing with a WD hitch. So plan on investing in a good WD hitch.

Quote:
Must be able to tow it in the Smokies, at or around Knoxville, TN. Don't want to kill my truck in the process.
Your limiter is the payload capacity of your truck. Load the truck with everyone and everything that will be in when towing and drive to a truck stop that has a CAT scale. Fill up with gas, then weigh the wet and loaded truck. Subtract the weight of the wet and loaded truck from the 7,350 GVWR pf the truck and the answer is the max hitch weight you can have without being overloaded. If your max hitch weight is less than 1,000 pounds, then you're probably going to be overloaded when on the road towing that trailer.

BTW, my daughter and her family lives on the shore of a TVA lake near Knoxville. If I were rich I'd move there.

Quote:
2) Are there upgrades that I can do to increase my towing capacity? My first thought was changing the gearing to 3.73.
Your problem is payload capacity, not pulling power. Going to 3.73 gear ratio will increase your GCWR (and tow rating), but GCWR is already enough with the stock drivetrain. There is nothing you can do to increase GVWR and payload capacity. The only option is to tow a lighter-weight trailer.


Quote:
... I just want to know what I can do realistically to safely pull a trailer.
You can safely pull a trailer that doesn't overload your F-150 over the payload capacity of your F-150. That probably means you need to get a lighter trailer, one with GVWR around 6,500 pounds that you would load to around 6,000 pounds.

Or of course you could get an F-250.
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:46 AM   #12
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SmokeyWren amzing information thanks. I feel from the context of this thread that we will be considering a smaller trailer. We already have our eyes on 2 possible options.

You were right about the GCWR it is 13500. I had to go double check.
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:26 PM   #13
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First time I towed a travel trailer years ago I learned this lesson. Had a 1/2 ton Suburban with 350 ci V8. Rented a 23 ft. travel trailer (under 6,000 lb). First RV towing ever. Didn't know much of anything about weights, etc. at that point. Took off for West Texas. No problems on level roads. Big lesson came when I got to the Guadalupe mountains. Long 7% grade to get up to park we were going to.

Long story short, I barely made it to the top. Started at about 60 mph. Halfway up could barely maintain 15 mph in low gear with accelerator to floor. Engine overheating well before top. Miracle I didn't burn up transmission. Gasoline engine had nowhere near the torque needed to haul the trailer up the mountain. Going _down_ that mountain was an experience I would very much not want to have again.

Lesson learned. When we bought first RV (5th wheel) also bought 3/4 ton diesel pickup. Have pulled 10,000 lb. 5th wheel up 10% grade coming out of Palo Duro Canyon with no problem at all.

Too little truck will make you VERY uncomfortable on hills, and is seriously dangerous. Many RVers have had these experiences.

Pickup manufacturers push their tow ratings as far as they think they can possibly get away with. Operating close to or above the ratings in the mountains is risky business.

Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:04 PM   #14
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I recently had to upgrade my TV. I was maxing out the GCWR and GVWR of my 2015 2500 with a bumper pull TH and my family.

No worries with 3500.
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