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Old 06-29-2024, 01:02 PM   #1
EricW
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New to 5th Wheels

Hi, My family traveled frequently for 8 years in a Class A motorhome and retired it when the kids started to become competitive athletes that took us away from always traveling together. Kids are now pretty grown and in grad school and beyond leaving just two of us and a Great Dane and mini-Dachshund traveling together. We decided on not going with another Class A because of the better amenities in a 5th wheel and for better traveling accommodations for the 196 lb Dane.

We’ve been shopping for a fifth wheel for several months and every time we get close, we find something else we like. We’ve been through this many times and know that eventually we’re just gonna have to bite the bullet. Initially, we were looking at 35 foot range, and then sold it a little more room was available at 38 feet so decided something under 40, and yes, you’ve guessed it, now we’re looking at a 41 or 42 footer.

I have one question… other than campgrounds that don’t allow big rigs is there a huge difference in towing a 38 footer or 41 footer? I bought a Ford F350 diesel, but not a dually. I have searched no in the forums, but failed miserably for an answer. Any help would be greatly appreciated, even if it’s just pointing me to the correct section of the forum.

Eric
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Old 07-04-2024, 10:40 AM   #2
DMW
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G'day Eric:

I was in your shoes not too long ago. I ended up buying a 43' toy hauler even though I don't have the toy any longer.

The reason is over 5,000 lbs of cargo capacity, 150 gallons of fresh water capacity, two 30-gallon gas tanks (one dedicated to the generator, and one for toys which gives me a total of 60 gallons for the generator), and room for a residential washer and gas dryer (GE) that I had installed. I had propane plumbed to the garage. I had the dryer converted to burn propane. I also have space for storage cabinets in the 13' garage.

If you haven't considered something like I have, I would suggest you give it some thought. But of course, since you bought the truck already, you may not even want to consider it. I pull it with a Silverado 3500 dually diesel.

Best of luck.

Dave
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Old 07-04-2024, 12:36 PM   #3
EricW
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Thanks for the information. That sounds like quite a rig you have. I almost went for dually but I’m trying to use my truck as a daily driver for now and those are a bit wide for my day-to-day jaunts. And of course I still have two kids at home who aren’t cheap. One going to a local University just starting a masters program, finishing up a private pilot certification working toward a commercial aviation job and he’s also a full time surfer. My daughter now teaches at the same University and is doing research to up her odds at a good med school. So, my monthly dues are pretty high for a retiree 😎😁😎😁 and I don’t see that settling down any time soon.

We’ve looked at toyhaulers with the thought of using the garage and ramp/back porch as a reprieve for our 196lb Great Dane but definitely can’t go too large with only a 20K towing capacity. We also won’t have our kids around much unless they fly to see us for a few days… unless we’re traveling where the waves are good and my son and a couple buddies will surely drop by.

I need to do the math for each 5er my wife picks out but she does like nice things… as do I. Hope not to need to upgrade truck this soon.
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Old 07-04-2024, 05:26 PM   #4
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You sure do have a full plate! Taking care of all of what you mentioned is a lot for anyone these days. Leave your cell phone in the bathroom when you do take off. lol.

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Old 07-04-2024, 11:26 PM   #5
EricW
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I am pretty lucky that my wife is a great mom and raised two great Americans. The phone is a good idea.
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Old 07-05-2024, 02:40 PM   #6
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In answer to your primary question, I would not think you would notice much difference in towing trailers in the range of size you mentioned. Naturally, you always have to be aware of the distance the trailer wheels are from the drive wheels and watch them through turns so you don't climb a curb or hit something.

I have three axles and I try not to have to make any sharp U-turns, which is not always reasonably possible. I just try not to turn too sharply because of the side loads put on the tires causing a scrubbing motion. My trailer tires are rated to take 125 psi, cold. I don't let them go below 120 psi. Unfortunately, they aren't made to caster.

But other than that, I don't have any issues in pulling my 43' trailer.

With a truck in the class of the 3500s, I would think just about any RV trailer in the size range you're considering, with the exception of the few heaviest ones, would be just fine. Keep in mind, there are many weight ratings to consider though. The hitch weight of the lighter ones may not be enough weight to bring the rear of the truck and the front of the trailer down to level, which is theoretically the optimum situation.

My 5er is just right for my Silverado 3500 putting just a touch over 4,000 pounds of hitch weight on the drive axle. The combination is so close to perfectly level it hurts. And it rides and handles just fine. The engine exhaust brake has enough authority to be very, very, useful saving the wheel brakes considerably with the trailer weighing 19,000 pounds loaded. Even in the northern Rockies, I didn't have to use the wheel brakes very often. So with a slightly lighter trailer, I would think you would be really happy with the exhaust brake.

I would not expect you to have any problems with a trailer of lesser weight. Although my trailer VWR is 21,000 lbs, 19,000 lbs is the heaviest it's ever been.

But in the end Eric, I suggest you use the VWRs for the truck and trailer in your calculations. I would also suggest you use 20 to 25% of the MVWR of any trailer you consider for a reasonable hitch weight estimate.

A word of caution: I would be overweight on my drive axle if my hitch weight was over 23% of MVWR of my trailer. The drive axle loading is my biggest concern. So in your research, look hard at your drive axle weight estimates. I doubt you'll have any issues with a slightly lighter trailer than mine though.

My scaled hitch weight of 4,040 lbs came to 21% of the MVWR of the trailer and all of it went on the drive axle. My scaled steering axle weighs the same with, or without the trailer hooked.

I seriously doubt you will have any issues with truck or trailer at all. But don't take my word of it. It's always the operator's responsibility to ensure the combination vehicle is safe to operate.

Be safe out there.

Dave
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Old 07-05-2024, 03:24 PM   #7
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I don't know what the ratings are for a single rear wheel F350. I doubt you would have any problem with the weight ratings except for possibly the drive axle or tires. And maybe not there either. But that's something you have to look closely at starting with the max trailer weight rating for the truck. My hitch weight brings my drive axle up to just over 9,000 lbs and my truck up 13,200 lbs.

But don't take my word for anything. It's the responsibility of the operator to ensure his vehicle is safe to operate.

As for ride and handling, I would think you'd be happy there for the most part if you stay within the design limitations of the vehicles. I found myself caught in a wind storm out west in the desert one day and was glad I had the dual rear wheels for a little more stability. But that only happened once.

My guess is you would likely not see much difference in towing slightly larger trailers. As any 5er driver knows, you always watch your trailer through a tight turn as well as watching ahead.

Dave
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Old 07-05-2024, 05:32 PM   #8
RJShiflet
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In general, towing a shorter or longer fifth wheel is not entirely different. Just remember the difference in what's following your truck.

And, never forget "tail wag" - when the rear of the trailer swings in the opposite direction of the turn. I've known of cases where the tail hit other vehicles on a tight turn and one case where a driver leaving a gas pump started turning too soon and the tail wag hit the pumps doing a lot of damage to the cap of the trailer.
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Old 07-05-2024, 07:38 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the great information. When we had our Class A and traveling with our 2 kids and 4 dogs I know we often traveled a bit heavy but towing a car with a good brake system helped. Now just the two adults, our Great Dane and an old tiny miniature dachshund I don’t think we’ll be nearly as heavy and I’ll do the math beforehand. Once again, appreciate the advice and counsel.
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Old 07-08-2024, 03:11 PM   #10
Dave The AV Guy
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We have a 38 foot 5th wheel and for many years towed it with a 2005 Ford F250 diesel. I eventually learned that the RV, at about 18K pounds, was overloading the truck in 3 different areas. A couple years back we moved to a Ram 3500 dually and I wish I'd done that way earlier. Our combined weight, ready to camp, is upwards of 27K. I think if you check all the weight ratings on both truck and trailer, you will definitely be in dually territory. As for the RV length, we generally found that we could find decent sites pretty much anywhere, with only the occasional time we were too long. The other thing you may want to consider is the age and life expectancy of your Great Dane. Do you want to choose a trailer length based on the dog? I love dogs, but we realize they can be a significant limiting factor in where you go and what you do on camping trips.
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Old 07-08-2024, 09:02 PM   #11
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Considering the size of the 5th wheels you've been looking at, my initial response is that your SRW F350 will be able to pull a large 5th wheel, but will likely run out of carrying capacity to carry the family and weight of the pin box.

An all-too common mistake made when buying a truck/trailer is not understanding that the "hitch weight" quoted in the brochure is for an empty trailer. A well-designed trailer will naturally guide the owner to load more stuff forward than aft. The goal is to have about 22-24% of the actual loaded weight of the trailer carried by the hitch.

To make matters worse, most RV makers quote the empty weight of the trailer without any options; not even the mandatory options.

For example, the brochure weight of our 5th wheel is 10,530# with a hitch weight of 2,230#. Easy peasy for a SRW truck. However, that doesn't include the mandatory "options" such as batteries, rear ladder, AC, electric rear stabilizer jacks, etc. Then figure in the washer/dryer up front, the bedroom AC, generator, and so on. The result is that our "empty" weight is much more resulting in a pin weight of 3,250# fully loaded. Over a thousand pounds heavier than a blind reading of the brochure can lead someone to believe.

The bottom line is that everything adds up, including Ma, Pa and the pups, and anything else you might have in the truck.




QUOTE=EricW;33727],snip>
I have one question… other than campgrounds that don’t allow big rigs is there a huge difference in towing a 38 footer or 41 footer? I bought a Ford F350 diesel, but not a dually. I have searched no in the forums, but failed miserably for an answer. Any help would be greatly appreciated, even if it’s just pointing me to the correct section of the forum.
Eric[/QUOTE]
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Old 07-09-2024, 10:14 AM   #12
EricW
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Thanks guys. Appreciate your knowledge and advice. I have added a couple columns to my selection spreadsheet to account for pin and overall weights. The spreadsheet was initially meant to list amenities so we could delete those that didn’t fit the bill but with the additional weight information we’ll be more assured to select the right rig.
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Old 07-09-2024, 04:52 PM   #13
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We also use Excel spreadsheets to help us compare our choices. When it comes to things like pin weight and trailer weight, we ignore the brochure weights, except for the GVWR.

We use the trailer's GVWR for trailer weight and 24% of GVWR for pin weight. We also factor in our weight, the 3 dogs, the hitch, cribbing, full fuel tank, etc. FWIW, our truck's factory GVW is 8,030#, but once fully loaded with us, fuel, etc. it's ACTUAL GVW is 9,510#.
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Old 07-10-2024, 12:26 PM   #14
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How close are you to your max drive axle weight with your trailer hooked OlympicFox? I'm sneaking up on mine a bit closer than I'd like on my Silverado 3500. If I scaled 24% of trailer weight rating, I'd be overweight on my drive axle. I was only 21% of scaled gross trailer weight as loaded on my heaviest weigh so far.

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Old 07-11-2024, 03:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMW View Post
How close are you to your max drive axle weight with your trailer hooked OlympicFox? I'm sneaking up on mine a bit closer than I'd like on my Silverado 3500. If I scaled 24% of trailer weight rating, I'd be overweight on my drive axle. I was only 21% of scaled gross trailer weight as loaded on my heaviest weigh so far.

Dave
Dave (DMW), excellent question. The short answer is that we hover right around the Ram's SRW axle rating; slightly over or under the rear axle rating depending on details of how we're loaded and what might be in the truck's cross-bed tool box.

The first time we weighed this trailer was shortly after we bought it in October 2022 in Arizona. We only had a few hours to transfer everything from our previous rig to the "new" trailer before the store closed and they locked the gate, so the priority was getting everything stuffed into the 3 basement compartments first, then into the cabin of the trailer. Yes, the Cameo has 3 basement compartments; the usual one, the forward one with the genset and a third under the rear living room.

We had a chance to weigh the rig a few days later in Oregon. The truck weighed 5,600/7,450/13,050# (Front/Rear/Total). The trailer's pin weight was 3,330 (25%). Even so, the Ram's air suspension kept the truck level. Obviously, we were a bit overweight, so we worked on that after we got home.

Part of the weight distribution issue is that our Cameo is a bit nose heavy with the 2nd AC, W/D & genset, 5th Airborne pin box and a heavy 14" full residential mattress. Exacerbating the balance is the lack of living room and dining furniture when we bought it. Lots of work to do.

New solid cherry wood furniture, sofa, recliners, etc. arrived in the Spring, and we rearranged things, rebuilt the trailer suspension, upgraded the tires from cheap Chinese ST235/80-16 to LT265/75R16 commercial truck tires rated for 112 MPH vs 75 MPH. At one point, we had the pin weight down to 2,800# which got the Ram's rear axle GVW down to 6,880#, but that was without my wife's clothes and shoes. Once it was fully loaded for last year's trip, our pin weight was down to 23.1% from 25%, and we were only 180# over sticker on the rear axle with full fuel tanks.

We've researched the details on our 2019 Ram 3500 SRW; with our HO Cummins, Aisin transmission and air suspension, we have the same axle size as the DRW 3500, which has a 9,000# manufacturer rating. The weak link in our GAWR was a pair of OEM tires rated for 3,748# (7,496# total on the rear axle) vs. 4 @ 3,085# (12,340#) and a different spring pack of the DRW. Since the OEM air suspension was keeping the truck level, we weren't concerned about the truck itself, just the marginal OEM tires. So, we upgraded to LT295/70R18 129R tires, giving us 4,079# (8,158# total) capacity; a comfortable margin over OEM. Besides the additional capacity, the rugged all-terrain BF Goodrich T/A KO2 tires are noticeably stiffer construction which has improved the handling, albeit with a stiffer ride. FWIW, the larger tires look really good without looking like we altered the truck.

We will move a couple of other items from the genset compartment to the rear basement which should improve the situation even more. So, while we may occasionally be just slightly over our rear GAWR, the amount is is minimal now, and no longer an issue we are concerned about.
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