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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Purchasing first TT, need a bit of sanity checking advice

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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 05/11/22 04:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your rear axle is the only thing that isn’t easily upgraded (like tires and springs) that will be close to it’s actual “rating.” Corporate 9.25 rear axle is a 3900-4000lb rated axle. Nothing special. However they are basically Bulletproof even at that weight. But there’s a reason they’ve used the same axle in the back of half tons for almost 50? Years now.

But since you’ll be using a good wdh even that won’t be an issue.
I’d still have good LT tires on the back and something to stiffen the springs. The little red airbags that go inside the springs are a cheap easy adjustable option.


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29

Boomerweps

Hills of PA

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Posted: 05/11/22 05:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

To answer your final question:
Yes, you were stupid
UNTIL you realized you were a bit out of your depth, posted here, and ran the math for yourself.
So congrats on that [emoticon]
In giving new by RVers purchasing advise, I always recommend using the Travel Trailer’s GVWR in decision making math. That way when you really load it up (or your wife does), you don’t get into overloading arguments (been there, done that). Also try hard to keep that around 80% of your tow vehicle’s rated towing capacity. That stops you from frequently towing at or over the various capacities of truck or trailer.

I won’t rehash the whole story but my first CAT Scale weights showed me overweight on my SUV (2008 Explorer) rear axle & my trailer axle by near 200# each. Not earth shattering but my SUV and trailer went on a weight reducing plan that included no fresh water in the tank, no firewood, not much extra stuff for visitors, and less most everything. Bought a stronger tow vehicle (TV)(F150) shortly after the beginning of our 2nd RV camping season. Bought the trailer to ~90% match the Explorer capacities and it worked but a weak TV.

Side note, in general: A good trailer brake controller (TBC) is a must. A good Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) is a must on a half ton truck towing a Travel Trailer at half or more it’s tow capacity.


2019 Wolf Pup 16 BHS Limited, axle flipped
2019 F150 4x4 SCrew SB STX 5.0 3.55 factory tow package, 7000#GVWR, 1990 CC Tow mirrors, TBC


kcstrom

US

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Posted: 05/11/22 05:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:


GVWR =/= GCWR
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (Truck by itself or trailer by itself at max loading)
- Gross Combined Weight Rating (Total of both truck and trailer combined at max loading)

Though you will struggle with the GCWR as you found. Keep in mind battery, propane and water count against the trailer payload, so the odds of you staying within the GCWR is basically nil before you add clothes, food, cooking utensils, kids bikes, firewood, etc...

But that still leaves the GVWR as a potential issue....If the 6800 GVWR I found online is correct (check the sticker on the door jam), you have less than 400lb of payload in the truck, once you put the family in it. That's way too light of a hitch weight assuming you put nothing else in the truck.

If I already had the truck and was legitimately within a couple hundred pounds, I might try to make do but you are likely going to be over by 800-1000lb if you are very strict about not taking anything unless it's absolutely needed. If you aren't careful, you could easily be 1500-2000lb over some of the limits. That's not something I would be comfortable with.


That all makes sense. GVWR of trailer wasn't a major consideration for me since I planned to not pack it to the gills. Also not planning on boondocking, so I shouldn't need to haul the weight of water around except maybe at campsite, and I could keep it unpacked while doing so.

GVWR of the truck alone is also concerning as you point out (in addition to the GWCR0. The thing I'm struggling a bit with now is figuring out why my truck weighs in 653lb more than the spec'd base weight. Ram's towing capacity chart specs a base weight of 5407, but my truck weighed in at 6060lbs with the excess pretty evenly split across both axles. I'm about 50lb more than the "driver" used for the spec'd base weight. I do have a few things in the cab, Line-X spray in bedliner, rubber bed mat, bed rails, and ~180lbs of gas. I don't think those should add up to near 653lbs though.

If that's normal, I don't see how a 1500 can really tow much of anything unless the trailer has a hitch that weighs pretty much nothing.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 05/11/22 05:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am not familiar with RAM trucks, but on Ford trucks the HD trailer tow option includes a HD radiator, an extra transmission cooler and a higher rear axle ratio. If you don't have these consider adding them.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 05/11/22 08:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

kcstrom wrote:

valhalla360 wrote:


GVWR =/= GCWR
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (Truck by itself or trailer by itself at max loading)
- Gross Combined Weight Rating (Total of both truck and trailer combined at max loading)

Though you will struggle with the GCWR as you found. Keep in mind battery, propane and water count against the trailer payload, so the odds of you staying within the GCWR is basically nil before you add clothes, food, cooking utensils, kids bikes, firewood, etc...

But that still leaves the GVWR as a potential issue....If the 6800 GVWR I found online is correct (check the sticker on the door jam), you have less than 400lb of payload in the truck, once you put the family in it. That's way too light of a hitch weight assuming you put nothing else in the truck.

If I already had the truck and was legitimately within a couple hundred pounds, I might try to make do but you are likely going to be over by 800-1000lb if you are very strict about not taking anything unless it's absolutely needed. If you aren't careful, you could easily be 1500-2000lb over some of the limits. That's not something I would be comfortable with.


That all makes sense. GVWR of trailer wasn't a major consideration for me since I planned to not pack it to the gills. Also not planning on boondocking, so I shouldn't need to haul the weight of water around except maybe at campsite, and I could keep it unpacked while doing so.

GVWR of the truck alone is also concerning as you point out (in addition to the GWCR0. The thing I'm struggling a bit with now is figuring out why my truck weighs in 653lb more than the spec'd base weight. Ram's towing capacity chart specs a base weight of 5407, but my truck weighed in at 6060lbs with the excess pretty evenly split across both axles. I'm about 50lb more than the "driver" used for the spec'd base weight. I do have a few things in the cab, Line-X spray in bedliner, rubber bed mat, bed rails, and ~180lbs of gas. I don't think those should add up to near 653lbs though.

If that's normal, I don't see how a 1500 can really tow much of anything unless the trailer has a hitch that weighs pretty much nothing.


What you are missing is that spec on paper is BASE WEIGHT.

Base weight means and is derived from the absolute barebones configuration of the "base" of the vehicle.

The "base" of the vehicle is 4x2, smallest engine, regular cab short bed with the lowest trim level offered and zero other options.

Buy a crew cab, that adds weight.

Buy a long bed, that adds weight.

Buy 4x4, that adds weight.

Buy the larger engine above the base engine and that adds weight.

Buy the top level trim package with all the trimmings and that adds weight.

Buy any dealer add on options, that adds weight.

Add up all of those options above the "base" and there is your 600+ lb discrepancy and reduction of your available cargo weight of that amount..

Folks get caught up with that supposed tow rating advertised on paper while never reading and comprehending that the number thrown out there is not what you are going to get once you doll the thing up like a Christmas tree. That "tows up to number" is a number used to "market" the vehicle. The real number is just how much cargo capacity you have to work with which unless you bought the absolute barebones vehicle configuration will be considerably less in real life.

Fortunately you have discovered this before committing to a trailer which will be over your available cargo rating..

kcstrom

US

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Posted: 05/11/22 09:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:


What you are missing is that spec on paper is BASE WEIGHT.

Base weight means and is derived from the absolute barebones configuration of the "base" of the vehicle.

The "base" of the vehicle is 4x2, smallest engine, regular cab short bed with the lowest trim level offered and zero other options.

Buy a crew cab, that adds weight.

Buy a long bed, that adds weight.

Buy 4x4, that adds weight.

Buy the larger engine above the base engine and that adds weight.

Buy the top level trim package with all the trimmings and that adds weight.

Buy any dealer add on options, that adds weight.

Add up all of those options above the "base" and there is your 600+ lb discrepancy and reduction of your available cargo weight of that amount..

Folks get caught up with that supposed tow rating advertised on paper while never reading and comprehending that the number thrown out there is not what you are going to get once you doll the thing up like a Christmas tree. That "tows up to number" is a number used to "market" the vehicle. The real number is just how much cargo capacity you have to work with which unless you bought the absolute barebones vehicle configuration will be considerably less in real life.

Fortunately you have discovered this before committing to a trailer which will be over your available cargo rating..


That all makes sense, but the RAM 1500 towing capacity sheet, I'd link but it looks like forum will remove the link (sigh), lists the different base weights of all of those variants you mention: engine/transmission/length of box/4x4 or 4x2/and base trim level package. The only exception I can think of is things like audio and comfort packages. Seems hard to believe the ones in my truck add up to at least 400lbs...but it's in the somewhere. Actually, most definitions I see online of base/curb weight should include a full tank of gas and a driver. This spec'd weight would be off more than 700lbs if that's the case here. It's not real clear on the towing chart sheet. I do see it says "NOTE: BASE WEIGHTS CAN CHANGE". I guess they can change by a lot.

MitchF150

Puyallup, WA

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Posted: 05/11/22 11:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

"NOTE: BASE WEIGHTS CAN CHANGE". I guess they can change by a lot.


Yep.. Brochure numbers rarely meet reality when the rubber hits the road..

You weighed your truck and have those actual figures. You can do the math to figure out your actual 'payload'.

What you do with that number is still up to you. Go over, stay under, pack light, pack heavy...

We all do it our own way. Just like that post not too long ago about "your style of camping".. Each to their own. What works for me is not going to work for you and visa versa..

Sometimes you just have to jump in and go from there to find out.

I'm only on my 2nd TT in almost 20 years.. The first one was towed with my 97 F150 with only a #6250 GVWR. I was over that GVWR by an amount that would get me "banned" from this site, ha, ha.. And that was with just a #5000 GVWR TT. (I pack heavy). Did just fine for close to 16 years and that trucks "tow rating" was around "#7000"..

Fast forward to trading that 97 (with 255,000 miles on it) for a brand new 13 F150 with a GVWR of #7700.

I towed that same #5000 TT with it until 2019 when I got the current TT.

Now, I'm basically maxed out on the current truck with a #7000 GVWR TT for my personal towing comfort level and towing satisfaction. (still packing heavy).

Your truck, your camping style, your choice in the end.

In the end, get something and get some miles under your belt towing and then you'll know what you like and don't like and go from there. I was lucky, in that I've been towing stuff since I was 16 years old and none of it was on my dime! Towed heavy, towed light... Never knew anything about ratings or weights back then (early 80's). Just knew what was heavy and what was not..

Good luck! Mitch
[image]


2013 F150 XLT 4x4 SuperCab Max Tow Egoboost 3.73 gears #7700 GVWR #1920 payload. 2019 Rockwood Mini Lite 2511S.

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 05/12/22 12:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

And if you read the post above, Mr. Mitch from lovely Puyallup is still here with us today, after towing heavy and light since he was 16 years old. Before the internet said he shouldn’t and given he’s still with us, probably learned a thing er 2 along the way and used some good ole common sense and skill rather than google and rvnet.
That is the point I was trying to make.
My other point, is read virtually every response that is warning you against the purported atrocity of towing a 7klb TT with a modern 395hp truck with an 8 speed trans that shifts better than an old log truck driver and big 4 wheel disc antilock brakes. Then read why they explicitly think this is a bad idea.
Then realize not one of those responses cited any particular issue, feature or short coming that supports their fear or admonishment. Lol
This is one of those threads that I wish I’d taken a pic every time I hauled 3 - 20’ street plates on a 14k tag trailer behind my old 1500 Silverado.
Or a 10klb mini exc on a trailer that weighs bout 5k empty, over 3 mountain passes before breakfast time with a truck with less power and worse gearing than yours. Or , or , or…..
And not a wdh to be found. Working folk don’t use them on their trailers. And they don’t work so good with pintle hitches anyway!
To put it succinctly, there are those that “use” trucks and those that pay their bills by using trucks.

valhalla360

No paticular place.

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Posted: 05/12/22 06:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

kcstrom wrote:

GVWR of the truck alone is also concerning as you point out (in addition to the GWCR0. The thing I'm struggling a bit with now is figuring out why my truck weighs in 653lb more than the spec'd base weight. Ram's towing capacity chart specs a base weight of 5407, but my truck weighed in at 6060lbs with the excess pretty evenly split across both axles. I'm about 50lb more than the "driver" used for the spec'd base weight. I do have a few things in the cab, Line-X spray in bedliner, rubber bed mat, bed rails, and ~180lbs of gas. I don't think those should add up to near 653lbs though.

If that's normal, I don't see how a 1500 can really tow much of anything unless the trailer has a hitch that weighs pretty much nothing.


Ultimately, you did the right thing and got the real weights. There is probably something to explain the current weights if you dig around but unless you are ready to strip body parts off, you aren't likely to get that payload back.

1/2ton trucks come in a wide variety of flavors. I've seen payloads as high as 2500lb which will support a fairly big tow rating. Unfortunately, you are at the low end of the range.

A lot of 1/2 ton trucks never tow or only tow a small utility trailer, so they never test the limits. Manufacturers have learned that a cushy ride sells more of these trucks than payload/towing capability.


Tammy & Mike
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BurbMan

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Posted: 05/12/22 07:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are a lot of hidden weight adders to a truck, like oversized tires, tube steps, bed cap or cover, etc etc. 400 lbs over the spec'd weight is not a lot.

So by now you should have the gist that this trailer is a little over what your max ratings are...but honestly I wouldn't stress too much about it. We towed a 34' TT with out 2500 Suburban, the GVWR on the truck was 8600 lbs and it was at least that when we loaded up to go camping, sometimes 8800+ if we had kids' friends in the 3rd row + firewood in the back.

Before you get too caught up in the numbers, think about your options...

Option A is you buy this trailer, load it up, dial in the hitch, then take the rig to the scales and see where you are. My guesstimate is that you will be a few hundred lbs overweight on the truck, it will drive OK but it will work pulling that trailer. You may have to make some mods to the truck like a trans temp gauge, external cooler, possible airbags or spring helpers in the back, and managing weight and what you pack will be part of every trip. You may or may not want a bigger truck down the road depending on how happy you are with how it drives. Plan on taking most hills at 55mph or under.

If you're not up for that and just want to hitch 'n' go and not have to worry about any of that, then option B is to just buy a smaller trailer.

The challenge with Option A is that there are no guarantees, you can invest $$ in truck upgrades and still not get to where you want to be. We went down that path, as did many other members here, only to wind up with a bigger truck, and in our case, followed by a bigger trailer.

You need to stay under the axle capacities, because those ratings are safety-based and tied to brake and tire ratings. GVWR is a rating set by Ram to ensure component longevity and a good driving experience. You can load past GVWR but the truck won't drive the same and stuff will wear out faster.

You're not going to be wildly overloaded to say that this TT is a non-starter for you, but you'll always be right at or a little over the trucks' ratings, and know what that means going in.


2015 Ram 3500 SRW 4x4 Laramie Crew Cab Long Box, Cummins diesel
2008 Heartland Big Country 3250TS
SOLD: 2002 Lance 811 Slide-In Camper
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