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Author Topic: towing behind a truck camper  (Read 15958 times)

mommadana

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towing behind a truck camper
« on: October 28, 2010, 03:40:35 PM »
I decided to dedicate a topic to this question in case anyone peeks in.  The general board suggested I just drive two vehicles but IF we end up driving to competitions it'll just be one available driver.  If possible I'd like to figure out how to tow with one driver, a truck camper, and a horse trailer. 
Right now we have a van so if we had to do this we'd be looking at a new truck instead but...hubby has been thinking about it anyway.  I don't like the van in the snow and we were thinking 4wd truck would work better.
Any suggestions or websites would be appreciated.
I've looked at a lot of horse sites that have a camper and  tow a horse trailer but figured this forum might know more about weight requirements.

Jammer

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2010, 05:49:52 PM »
As I said in the other thread the main problem is lever arm and the fact that larger truck campers extend 2' or so past the truck bed.

There are products that try to address this:

http://www.torklift.com/p.php?w_page=superhitch

However the greater effect that tongue weight has on putting extra weight on the rear axle and taking it off the front is still problematic, as is the increased tendency towards sway since the trailer has a bigger "lever" with which to push around the rear wheels of the truck.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

Marsha/CA

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2010, 07:53:31 PM »
Being the resident horse camper on staff I can tell you what I did.  I had an 8' bed dually crew cab gas engine.  My slide in camper was 9'4" long which meant it overhung by 1' 4".  We used a solid extension bar; but had seen others who had support extensions welded onto the frame.  My camper would sleep 5 in beds.  I also used equalizer bars to help with the weight on the tongue.  We pulled a 3 horse steel trailer that when loaded with horses, gear, hay and weighted close to 8,000.  The solid extension bar worked fine with the equalizer bars.

You can get living quarter horse trailers that will sleep 6 and carry 4 horses; but you are looking at close to or over $100,000, maybe more.  And, it will be very long.  Then you have to add the cost of the truck. 

A class A diesel motor home will pull 10,000 #s; equivalent to a 4 horse trailer; especially if the horse trailer is aluminum.  Aluminum trailers weight much less than steel trailers, but also are VERY expensive.

One of the things I saw when horse camping was that people would turn their horse trailers , the horse part, into a living area.  They would put down rugs, set up cots, put in a porta potty, setup tables, camp stoves, coolers and camp.  If your horse trailer is enclosed with windows instead of a something like a stock trailer, that's a cheap alternative where you can use your van, pull the horse trailer and camp, as long as your van is able to pull close to 10,000 #s.

Marsha~
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mommadana

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2010, 08:40:56 PM »
So, do most campers extend to where we'd need the extra extension bar and weight? 

We definitely are looking at a truck since it would be replacing our 3500 Chevy 12 passenger van now.  Not a motor home.  It would have to seat 6.  We don't need a ton of amenities in the camper and the kids are used to squishing together so a bed, table bed, and bunk would be fine to hold them for a few years while some are very small.  I would really like a stovetop and sink, fridge if possible.  It seems like some I'm looking at don't extend past the bed. 
Is that the main concern with a camper and towing?  the extention?
Camping in the horse trailer isn't an option, it's open on the top sides.  Now that we've had our bumper pull trailer we really don't want to tent it again.  I love the safety from bears, more warmth or cool, and that we can have our basics set up without having to unpack every time we stop somewhere new.
I'm so lost on the different kinds of trucks and what they pull/payload.  I stopped by today and looked at a 2003 diesel ford 250 and the guy said it would pull anything I wanted with a camper on top but when I asked more questions he had no idea.  I've found that you all know MUCH more than the salesmen.

Jammer

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 04:36:49 PM »
Doesn't take much to beat the car salesmen on knowledge

Ok so if you're serious about the truck camper route here is the skinny on towing and what you have to consider.

The first limit you run into is the GVWR.  It's posted on the A pillar of the truck and also appears on the Ford etc web sites for their new trucks.

So, for example, my 3/4 ton Chevy has a GVWR of 8600 pounds.

You have to add:
- The empty weight of the truck
- The empty weight of the camper
- Gasoline, propane, water
- Weight of driver and passengers
- Weight of any stuff you're going to bring
- Tongue weight of the trailer.

You can find camper weights on manufacturer's web sites.

Water, gasoline, propane, figure 8 5 4 pounds a gallon respectively.

Tongue weight for a horse trailer figure 15% of the loaded weight of the trailer or around 800 pounds for a guess.

So that's the first problem and I think you'll find that you'll be limited to the smaller campers because of the tongue weight and all the passengers.

Then you have to look at the GCWR which is all that plus the weight on the trailer axles.  Or another way to look at it is the weight of the trailer minus the tongue weight.  GCWR are harder to find documented but in general terms are the empty weight of the truck plus the published towing capacity plus a few hundred pounds.

If you get the right drivetrain on a 1 ton truck you should be ok on that but it will narrow your drivetrain choices.

Then with a longer camper the third problem is stability while towing and the cost of the hitch and hitch extension depending on what you get.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

Jammer

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 05:12:23 PM »
So, do most campers extend to where we'd need the extra extension bar and weight? 

We definitely are looking at a truck since it would be replacing our 3500 Chevy 12 passenger van now.  Not a motor home.  It would have to seat 6.  We don't need a ton of amenities in the camper and the kids are used to squishing together so a bed, table bed, and bunk would be fine to hold them for a few years while some are very small.  I would really like a stovetop and sink, fridge if possible.  It seems like some I'm looking at don't extend past the bed. 
Is that the main concern with a camper and towing?  the extention?

Lots of truck campers out there in all shapes and sizes.  Some overhang the bed, some don't.

If you're going to sleep 6 it's going to be pretty cozy even in a big one.

2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

Jammer

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Re: towing behind a truck camper
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 05:27:58 PM »
I'm so lost on the different kinds of trucks and what they pull/payload.  I stopped by today and looked at a 2003 diesel ford 250 and the guy said it would pull anything I wanted with a camper on top but when I asked more questions he had no idea.  I've found that you all know MUCH more than the salesmen.
Unlike towing capacities which involve a great deal of voodoo the payload information is readily available, and the published figures are relatively closely tied to engineering realities.

Here is a chart for 2010.  The 2003's probably aren't much different but the information is out there if you want to be sure.

http://www.fordf150.net/specs/05sd_specs.pdf

So the F-250 depending on how it's set up will have between 2500 and 3000 pounds payload.

Which, with six people (=1000 pounds) and a camper (=2000 pounds empty for a light one) is going to be squatting like a duck even without the trailer.

With an F-350 DRW you could carry any but the largest campers and be OK on weight, even allowing 800 pounds tongue weight for the trailer.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

 

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