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Old 03-03-2009, 02:24 PM   #1
56ford
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1 Ton Dodge towing and braking a MS 38LR3

We have a 2001 long bed Dodge diesel 3500 Ram Dually automatic, 4X4 with a 3.54 rear end. We do not have an exhaust brake, but are thinking about buying one. We are in the process of buying a 2005 MS 38LR3 with 17.5 in wheels and disc brakes with a good trailer brake controller; we want to know if we should anticipate any problems. The current owners said it had a weight of 15,620 pounds (dry) when they loaded it with clothes and other contents, but had not filled the tanks. They feel confident that its current weight will be under 17,000 pounds and will be having it formally weighed for our information. Does anyone have an opinion on this? We want to know if we should be able to confidently tow up inclines and readily brake on steep inclines. We want to travel to Alaska and be able to handle any mountainous areas. Also is this Fifth Wheel too long or will the three slides pose any problems if we want to go to state parks?
ANY HELP WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:58 PM   #2
RGordon
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I have the same fiver and mine weighs in excess of 18,000 lb fully loaded and am running the max limit of my F350 Ford with Tow Boss package, which is rated at 26,000 Gross weight. You Dodge will be over it's weight capacity but feel it will handle the job. These Mobile Suites are extremely heavy and I personally find that mine is to long for most camping. It is good for spending the winter in Florida, but hard to fit in most campgrounds. If I had it to go over I would have went with the 36 TK3. I think you will also have difficulty fitting in most state parks. I have run into situations where when calling campgrounds, they all say no problem with plenty of room and when I arrive I find that my fiver would have to swivel in the middle to fit into the space. As far as the exhaust brake, my Ford's transmission will hold the fiver back on hills when in the tow mode and don't need a exhaust brake. I really don't know how your Dodge is set up on the tow mode. Good luck!
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:14 PM   #3
keithandpenne
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Dodge tow vehicle

Your truck will weigh 7k+ loaded when ready to hook up and head down the road. Add 18K+/- for the trailer which will put you at, and probably, well above 25k.

You may be very disappointed in the rate of climb going up and the speed coming down those big hills. I had a Dodge 3500 with 3.55's. (V10) It would run forever in each gear on taking off from a stop (92 mph @ 1850 rpm's) and I had "no" help in slowing from the engine.

The other weak point, the brakes. They were not large enough for the load and would go away (fade) quickly. Forget engine performance help, get the engine brake installed and learn how to use it properly. It will be the best money you can spend. The next add would be to go to 4:10's or deeper if you are really going to pull in the mountains. It does not make any difference how fast you go up but it sure gets scary coming down to fast.

Good luck and post back after you pull a few times and let us know how it goes.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:53 AM   #4
billr
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We have an 05 MS 38RL3. Loaded for weekend trips, no water, scales in at 17.5K

Towed it for a couple years with a Chevy Duramax with 5sp allison tow/haul. Have the hyd elec discs, and exhaust brake. It all worked pretty good. I had no issues with power in the eastern hills.....the tow/haul did a good job but the exhaust brake really helped keep the speed in check on grades and slowing for a stop. The discs are great, but truck brakes would no way stop the rig. Had to rely 100% on trailer brakes.

I got real tired of sweating a stop in a panic, and pushing way past the limits on the truck and tires. So elected to go with a larger TV. See signiture. I'm not saying you have to go that route, just that worked for us.

You will have to make the decision that makes you feel comfortable and safe. We thought the Chevy was fine but after a while it just wore me down.

As far as campgrounds go, we take the MS everywhere we have always gone, we just have to be proactive on selecting sites and calling ahead. Yes, state parks may be an issue, but anything over 32' will be in a lot of them.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:19 AM   #5
Gemstone
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Welcome, and congratulations for asking questions before you buy.

As I've said before, opinions are like noses, everyone has one....and IMO, you are looking at too much trailer for your truck.

That said, I feel I can qualify that statement...as one who started out with a 3500 Dodge, without an exhaust brake. I felt that the Dodge was the best thing since sliced bread, more HP and torque that I would ever need. Kinda like my first computer...what could I ever put on it to fill up the 10 meg hard drive...wow, where are PC's now ?
But as we move along in life, we tend to accumulate "things", regardless of how diligent we hare about excess weight.
Our ES TK3 topped out at 16540 pounds right off of the lot...add the stuff we packed in for our fulltime lifestyle, and I'd bet we were over 19K.
Well, we did OK towing from Indiana to AZ, until we descended into the Salt River Canyon. The 6 speed would not hold the speed down, and by the time we got to the bottom of the canyon, we could not stop....no brakes. Just happy to be able to report that we were able to negotiate the hairpin turns on the way to the bottom ! This resulted in the installation of the exhaust brake, which is what I now consider as a "must have" feature for 3500 series trucks with the 6 speed at least.

As we grew into our fulltime lifestyle, I grew more uncomfortable with the capabilities of the Dodge...an added performance chip increased mileage, HP and torque, but even with the exhaust brake, I was still not comfortable with it's ability to stop.

The Dodge has been retired and now pulls our "garage". Our home is now pulled and stopped with our Kenworth. I have more torque and brakes than I'll ever need in most circumstances, and coupled with a 3 stage Jake brake, I should be able to descend all grades, barely using the service brakes on the truck and trailer. The best part is that the KW will outlast me, and cost less to outfit than the modified Dodge.

If we were to start out new, knowing what we now know, we would bypass the LDT class (3500's), the MDT class of Freightliners or Internationals (too costly) and go straight to the very cost effective HDT class (KW's Petes, Volvo's, etc.). How does $12K sound for serviceable HDT's on the used market today ?

Again, IMO, if you are set on buying that trailer, I'd re-think using your current truck. Spend some time researching HDT's...look at pricing on e-bay, look at pricing on Truck Paper, read the MDT and HDT threads on the escapees website....then make a well informed decision on what to use as a tow vehicle.

Good Luck

Regards
Gemstone
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:15 AM   #6
56ford
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Thanks and More QUESTIONS

Thank you everybody for your thoughtful answers and advice. It has been very helpful for us to get this input and at this point in time have regretfully withdrawn our bid. We need to determine what fifth wheel our truck is capable of pulling and if it means something that we feel is too small, we will then have to think about another truck.
Has anybody had experience with using an F550 and a 6.0 Ford Twin Turbo charged engine? I have heard good and bad things so am wanting advice from anyone who has actual experience with this. We are not yet ready to buy the Volvo like vehicles. This seems like an overkill; but we do want something that can safely pull and stop a 38RL3 or a 36TK3 if we can find one.
Thanks for your input!
We love this website and wish that we had seen it earlier!
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:34 PM   #7
keithandpenne
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Tow vehicle

56 Ford

We tow our 05 36TK3 with an 08 F450 CC 6.4 twin turbo and 4.88 gears.

I would have have an HDT Volvo if I my wife would have consented to lean to drive it. She said to go ahead and get one, but, I would have to do all the driving, including the towing. She had absolutely no interest in driving it.

So, with that, we were relegated to an MTD. In looking at the specs, it appeared the best for our needs was the F450 or 550. I looked at the Dodge but they were limited to 24K as was the GM 4500 5500's. Since the Fords have a max rating of 33k, they were the only real choice. Now, the final reason was that only the F450 is/was available with a puck-up bed, it became the only contender. The F550 can carry additional weight, but when you add the pickup or toter bed, it's ability is only slightly more but the additional cost of the toter body was the deciding straw.

Now, all that said, I am happy with our choice in that it is a great ride as a daily driver and has done everything we need as a toter. We have yet to hit the big hills out west but with the 4.88 gears, should be a reasonable trade-off and with the Ford brake controller, stopping is jerk or push/pull free.

Engine wise, I have not had any problem to date, other than the fuel mileage is less than I would have hoped, but from what I have read all of the post emissions engines mileage are down. What I do like about it is that it is very quiet, does not smell like a diesel and after 16000+ miles the fuel mileage is still climbing with each tank fill.

So far, I am not unhappy with our choice.
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:11 PM   #8
billr
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56ford

You asked for info on the F550, I noticed this post on another forum
http://suitesowners.com/showthread.php?p=4382#post4382 might be of some interest.

You will be happy with the choice of any MS, but note there is not too much wt difference between a 36 and 38.

It's a very smart choice of yours to ask these questions before you choose the right trailer. We didn't and ended up with not enough truck after buying the trailer. Had to stick with it, spend some $$ to make it barley usable until we realized a change had to be made.

For sure moving into the MDT or HDT world is not for everyone. Overkill, most certainly! But there is not a road out there that even makes me think twice about heading down or up. These trucks were designed to haul 80,000lbs so this little MS is no sweat for an HDT in stock form. It does so at 10-11MPG and 1/2 the price of a new PU. Ours is equipped with an Autoshift tranny and my DW is starting to learn to drive it.

Certainly you have other choices out there in lighter trucks. The new model F450 is a very popular choice and this is the truck we were looking at before we got the Volvo. And if we had to change today would get one. But we love the comfort and added safety level in the Volvo, so it would take a lot to force me out.

I'm sure you will find the right solution for you. Good luck in your quest!

Cheers,
Bill
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:34 PM   #9
56ford
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We appreciate everyone's help. We did decide to stick with our current Dodge 3500 diesel and buy a fifth wheel that is appropriate to the truck. We have thought about the MS 32TK3. We would love to hear opinions from anyone who has this unit. What is its approximate loaded weight without water? Do you think the size is comfortable enough for two people with two dogs who generally travel 2-3 months at a time. We are not full timers; but, we also are not weekenders. What are the pros and cons of this unit and are there any other MS that size-wise, can be pulled by our truck? Are there any 32TK3's or comparable models for sale in the Arizona area? We prefer to not go to a dealer. Thanks.
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:13 PM   #10
Ridge Runner
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We own a 32tk3 and pull it with an 06 Dodge. I don't have any problem pulling the camper up or down any mountain and the camper weighs about 15 to 16k when it is loaded. I would advise adding an exhaust brake if you are going to travel in the mountains. Also, you may have to run in a lower gear than what you would like when climbing steeper hills due to your 355 gear ratio. It is the gearing, not the engine, that makes some of the heavier duty trucks seem to pull better. I have 373 gears in my truck and it seems to do fine. If I was full timing, I might opt for a 410 gear ratio but the truck would not drive as nice at highway speeds and would not get as good of fuel mileage when not towing. Add an exhaust brake to your truck and keep your equipment in good shape with good brakes (all people pulling a camper should keep their equipment in good shape regardless of what kind of truck they have) and you should not have any trouble. I used to have class 8 semi's a long time ago that never had near the engine your Dodge has in it. That was back in the 1960's and the trucks had 409 chevy engines and they pulled a lot more weight than a Mobile Suite all over the U.S. Good luck with your decision.

Bob
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