Johnny - I have attached below some of the replies I received back from my inquiry on the Escapees BBS regarding MDTs. This might help to answer your question about 'pulling' a heavy 5er versus 'stopping' a heavy 5er.
Carl & Cheryl:
Opinions will differ, we're sure, but what we have learned (from making a HUGE mistake previously) is that an MDT consists of a vehicle in the Class 6 or 7 category.
Thus, the F450 and F550 are definitely NOT MDTs, by any stretch of the imagination, whereas the F650 and F750 certainly are. Ditto for the Chevvy Duramax and one ton Dodges; they just do not possess the properly sized parts -- or the tow ratings -- for what we're towing.
Our mistake was in purchasing a "big" one ton Dodge dually diesel, without considering the weight carrying capability. Or, more accurately, the weight TOWING capability. The Dodge turned out to be pretty puny, given that it was rated at 10,500 lbs. Our trailer is about 16Klbs!
The MDT that we now have has a 40,000 lbs gross weight. Which means that we have over a one hundred percent safety margin.
Thus, we've gone from white-knuckling-it to hey-this-the-way-it-oughta-be!
Be sure to see our web site for tons of pix.
Leigh & Byron Hurder, KY1T
2000 Coachmen ~16K triple slide
2001 Ford F650 300/860 CAT diesel
Carl & Cheryl,
Don't make the same expensive mistake that I did. I started out with a 97 F250 Power Stroke and then moved up to a 99 Super Duty F350 Power Stroke Dually. I decided I still didn't have enough so I had a custom built 99 F450 Power Stroke for me. (Very Expensive) and I was still not happy with the performance and stopping power. I now have a converted Volvo class 8 semi. I pull a King of the Road 32' that weighs in at 14700 lbs (looking to go bigger shortly). This is just to much weight for any of these trucks. I found another annoying thing about the dually pickups (I don't know if anybody elses experienced this or not). When traveling on a rutted freeway that has been caused by semi's the truck wanted to squirm because the front tires do not track true with the rears and so they are constantly trying to line up front to back. It is not serious but very annoying.
I wish I had not bought all of the other trucks and the expense of them and went right to a MDT or bigger.
My truck started out as a tandem axle semi tractor and it is now a single axle with a puller bed. You can see pictures of it at.
At first my wife thought this thing was huge but after riding in it she now loves it. She can see over the top of all of the other rigs on the highway even the SUVs. The only thing you can not se over is another semi rig.
If you can get used to it I recommend a class 7 or 8 used rig. I looked at the MDT class 6 but I couldn't find one with the power I wanted and at a price I was willing to pay.
Hope this helps and good luck on your choice.
posted June 28, 2002 20:20
Carl & Cheryl,
Some examples of a New Horizon GVWR, taken from their website;
33RLSS/33RKSS - 15,500 pounds
33rlsss/33rksss - 16,750 pounds
GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is not the actual weight of the trailer. It is the maximum weight that the fully loaded trailer is designed to weigh. Exceed that weight rating, and your warranty will be void, and you may be liable if you are involved in an accident.
If the manufacturer posts an empty weight inside the trailer, it will most likely include only the standard equipment. Any other options added by the manufacturer, would probably not be included. In addition, most manufacturers understate their empty weights. The only sure method is to accompany the dealer to a local scales and have the trailer you are considering weighed.
A fully loaded pickup will average between 7,500 - 8,500 pounds, depending on which brand, 4 x 4, diesel, and how much stuff you load into it.
I believe the 2002 Ford and Chevy are each rated at 22,000 GCWR. The most a 2002 Dodge can handle is 21,000 pounds. I am not 100% certain these are accurate so I would verify all these ratings. The 2003 Dodge will be rated up to 23,000 GCWR.
GCWR means Gross Combined Weight Rating. The sum of your fully loaded truck and trailer cannot exceed this amount.
There is also a GVWR for the truck, which also must not be exceeded.
If you add the lightest (15,500) fifth wheel to the lightest (7,500) estimated weight for the truck, you get 23,000 pounds, which is over the GCWR for all the 2002 models, and right at the maximum rating for the 2003 Dodge.
As you can see, you must have accurate weights for your truck and trailer, both empty and loaded, or you run the risk of being overloaded.
I am guilty of making the mistake that many RVers make, which is pulling overloaded. I used the same justifications that many people use, "most people are pulling overloaded" and "trucks have some excess capacity built in for overloading".
We bought a 2002, 40 foot, Travel Supreme. We already had a 2001 Dodge, 3/4 ton, 4x4, Cummins, 6-speed. The truck is stock at 245hp. The rear axle ratio is 3.54. The GCWR for the truck is 20,000 pounds.
The total scaled weight for the truck and trailer is 28,520 pounds.
I have no problems with not having enough power. The really long, steep grades slow me to 35-45 m.p.h., depending on steepness (percent).
The real issue here is braking capacity, especially going down the hill you just went up. I have a BD exhuast brake. It helps, but don't be fooled. It is downright dangerous pulling overloaded. If you make one mistake going down a steep hill, you are dead. If the brakes get too hot, or you are not in the right gear, you will be searching for one of the "Runaway Truck Ramps".
This is the "white knuckle" sensation that Byron mentioned in his post.
Again, "I have been there and done that". I thought I knew what I was doing when the TS was purchased.
I was wrong.
The empty trailer weighs nearly 3,000 pounds more than the placard in the trailer. I did not know this going in. I trusted Travel Supreme to provide a realistic empty weight for the trailer.
The other problem you can have is the liability issue. This is what finally hit us right between the eyes.
If you are involved in an accident, you are now negligent, as a result of operating your truck in excess of the rated capacity (GCWR). Even if you are only overloaded by 1,000 pounds, you are still overloaded, and liable.
The following is a post from a member of another discussion forum regarding an opinion that their attorney gave them regarding the overloading issue;
"While you're researching, you might want to look into tort (civil) law regarding this subject. The potential scenario my attorney described to me is as follows:
Imagine you are involved in a collision with a loaded school bus while you are towing your 5ver. Regardless of who received the citation, every child on that bus, through their parents, can lodge a civil suit against you on the grounds of contributory negligence. Each of their attorneys could base this suit on the fact that a truck manufacturer has rated their vehicle for a maximum load carrying capacity (GVWR) and maximum towing capacity (derived from GCVWR). By knowingly exceeding this capacity, you have created a hazard that caused injury to their client since the higher weight vehicle (1.) cannot stop or maneuver as quickly, thus could not avoid the collision and (2.) carried more kinetic energy into the collision due to its overweight condition, thus causing more damage and injury than a rig operating within the manufacturer's ratings would have.
At this point, it is up to a jury to decide whether or not the plaintiff has presented a plausible argument. If it decides that the argument "makes sense", your negligence has contributed to the plaintiff's injuries, and you have some degree of financial liability.
Now, multiply the above by 66 kids, and the problem with insurance coverage becomes obvious. The standard automotive liability policy has caps that are so low as to leave you dangerously exposed financially.
Is this scenario realistic? We thought the risks were high enough that we just purchased a truck with adequate GVWR and GCVWR to pull our 36' 5ver without exceeding the manufacturer's ratings. Insofar as others are concerned, each individual will have to make his/her own decision. You can pay a "little" now to avoid the risk of having to potentially pay a "lot" later.
Another question to consider is that, if towing over manufacturer's limits is OK, then where (if anywhere) does one draw the line? Once one has said that overweight towing is OK, is the Ford Ranger towing a 40' King of the Road 5ver really any different than the dually towing a 5ver that puts him 1000 lbs over GCVWR? If 1000 pounds over GCVWR is OK, where does it stop being OK - surely somewhere before the Ford Ranger/40' KR example, but where?
Most likely your insurance company will deny your claim, leaving you responsible to pay for your truck, trailer, the persons vehicle' you hit, their medical bills, and to satisy the lawsuit for damages they will most likely bring against you. Many have an escape clause. If they do not, they will pay the claim, then sue you in court for damages."
Also, if you injure or kill someone, the judicial system will put you on trial for negligence. This can and does happen.
We made a mistake! We are now looking for a MDT or possibly converting a Class 7 or 8 tractor.
Please, do not make the same mistake we did.
Yes, your truck will probably pull the weight. However, it will not stop going down the mountain, when the light turns red at the bottom of the hill, or someone pulls out in front of you.
Given the trailer you have selected, you will need to purchase a Medium Duty Truck. I realize they are expensive, as I have been shopping hard for one for about five months.
However, can you afford to risk loosing everything you worked all your life for, by traveling overloaded?
Do not base your decision solely on what I have said.
Byron and many other members have "been there and done that" also. Continue to communicate with members on this site, and other sites, and make an informed decision.
Sorry for the long post.
Carl & Cheryl Jackson