From the rough numbers I was running last night, after accounting for tongue weight of the trailer, I was left with roughly 650lbs of available payload capacity. I've got it all scribbled down on some napkins here at work, and was going to get a nice spreadsheet set up soon to organize it all. Some of the new slide ins I were looking at were an advertised dry weight of roughly 700lbs.
Figure 20 gallons of fresh water, propane, food stuffs, other gear...500lbs additional? I could potentially move some stuff into/onto the trailer as well, freeing up some weight that way.
I also did pull the specs for the rear axle in the truck, a Chrysler Corporate 9.25", which has a weight capacity of 3900lbs. Someone else on another forum said there is 1800lbs in an empty truck over the rear end, so that leaves 2100lbs capacity on the axle, assuming some overload helpers in some form.
I have also upgraded to 275/70R17 BFG A/Ts Load Range E tires from the stock 20" C range tires about a year ago, and found it made a night and day difference in towing stability. At a rated 3195lbs per tire, I'd say they can handle more than the truck will :D
From what I've been reading, at least in 2005, there was minimal differences between the 1500 and 2500 frames, with the majority of the differences in the axles and suspension. So I'm thinking I may be able to pick up a D60 or D70 rear end to swap out my current rear end, and get a bit of extra load capacity that way along with the helper springs/air bags. Obviously it wouldn't make it the same as a 2500, but I think it would be enough to handle what I'm looking at doing.
I know the easy answer here is "just sell what I have, and buy a 2500", but given what I've done to the current truck, modification wise, it would end up being far cheaper to just continue modifying what I have than to buy a different truck, plus I know this truck has been treated right since day one.
Last...for the camper, I've been seriously considering just building something from scratch. I've already rebuilt several campers over the years, so I have a basic idea of how they're constructed (one having considerable rot out, which I eventually scrapped..but it was a heck of a learning experience,lol), and I think I can actually come up with something a bit lighter than commercial offerings plus it would be set up with everything I want and nothing I don't.
My current tow rig is a '05 Ram 1500 Quad cab, 2WD, Hemi 5.7, 3.92 gear running on stock 33" tires and factory tow package with class IV hitch. At the time of buying it, it was largely an impulse buy due to impending doom of the then current DD, and didn't really account for what I may get into in the future.
The current - I'd really like to add a camper of some sort to the stable, as I'm not all that excited about a tent on the ground, or an air mattress in the bed of the truck any more.
The problem - the capacity of the 1/2 ton truck, seeing as how there will also be a Jeep or rock buggy on a trailer behind the truck along with the camper. Replacing the truck with a larger model isn't currently an option, as I don't have the cash to buy what I'd want outright, and I don't want to take on another loan as I'm also looking at buying a house within the next year (largely that I don't want the loan on the credit report, not an issue with the payments/cost)
I've been looking at a few of the slide in truck campers, and in the mindset of keeping weight as low as possible, I've also been looking at some of the stripped down campers meant for small to midsize trucks, such as the Four Wheeler pop up models. I wouldn't be buying new, as they would be cost prohibitive right now, but using that as an example.
Running the numbers on weight, I would still be overloaded by a few hundred pounds, but I'm thinking I'd be OK with the weight distributing hitch setup and some air bag helper springs.
I wouldn't be looking at extravagent models..really I'd be happy with something with a normal bed, a small A/C unit, stove and regular refridgerator as opposed to an ice box.
That said, would there be issues with running a small truck camper in a full size truck bed? I figured they likely wouldn't be tall enough to clear the roof on the truck, but that could be easily solved with a spacer in the bed of the truck.