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Author Topic: Matching truck to camper  (Read 16987 times)

Rosamindy

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Matching truck to camper
« on: July 24, 2006, 02:12:10 PM »
I just bought a Travel Lite slide in camper, 2004 (I think the model is 890 something or other) from a used-camper lot.  The dealer said it would fit onto my Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab just fine, and it should be able to carry it well.  He suggested and installed air bags to beef up my suspension.  However, when my husband drove it home, he said it made the truck sway quite a bit, and felt very topheavy.  I'm very new to this (this is my first RV), and don't know if this is normal.  I want to drive this to Disney World this winter solo, but don't know if I should risk such a long road trip with this combination.  Any insight out there?

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2006, 03:18:29 PM »
Not a truck camper type myself, but when you said....

Quote
The dealer said it would fit onto my Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab just fine, and it should be able to carry it well.  He suggested and installed air bags to beef up my suspension.

....the red flags went up.    How do you tell when a dealer is lying?  His lips move.  And then you said....

Quote
However, when my husband drove it home, he said it made the truck sway quite a bit, and felt very top heavy.  I'm very new to this (this is my first RV), and don't know if this is normal.

... and the sirens went off.

First thing is get the  the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck.  Check on the plate on the drivers side door.  It should give it and both axle maximums.  Now you need the weight of that camper.  It may be somewere on the rig itself on a plate but it is better to actually weigh the truck and camper as loaded to travel.   

Go to a public truck scale.*   Tell the weighmaster that you want two weights and that you do not need certified weights.   Pull the truck fully on to the scale and get that weight.   Then pull the truck's front wheels off the scale, leaving the rear wheels on the scale and get that weight.
 
If the first weight, the total weight,  is greater than the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck, there is nothing you can do.  You have a mismatched camper and truck.  It will be unsafe to operate.

If the second weight, the rear axle weight,  is greater than the rear axle gross axle weight rating, but not by much, beefing up the springing and shocks may help.   I would consult a shop that specializes in suspensions and alignments or a Dodge dealer that sells a lot of trucks.    If the weight discrepancy is too high this condition may not be curable either.

If all the weights are in specs, then I would recommend looking into heavier duty shocks and maybe airbags.  The 1500, like the GMC 1500s or the Ford F-150 are light duty trucks, with a compromise between load carrying and passenger car ride.   A 2500/250 class of truck will be a lot happier with any camper bigger than a camper shell.

Hopefully actual truck campers will butt in here and give some advice.  In any case you are right to be anxious.


[*Public scales are found at truck stops, terminals, contractors rental yards, and such.  Look in your yellow pages, or, better yet, your local business yellow pages.]

 

 
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 08:09:07 PM »
Rosamindy,
Only the lightest truck campers can be carried on a half ton (1500 series) truck. Get it weighed as Carl advises - this is really crucial to your safety!

The current year Travel Lite 890 model campers weigh between 1640 and 1820 lbs "dry", which means empty and with no propane or water in the tanks. Travel Lite specs  That's quite likely in excess of  the max payload of your Dodge 1500.  The Quad  cabs typically have a lower payload and regular cabs because the body is heavier.  A quick check of the 2007 models shows payloads as low as 1300 lbs for 150 Quads, which would mean your truck is dangerously overloaded.  Get to that scale but drive extremely carefully!
« Last Edit: July 24, 2006, 08:13:15 PM by RV Roamer »
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Rosamindy

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 07:43:04 AM »
Thank goodness you guys are here!  I checked out with the Chrysler company, and my little truck is only rated for 1275 lbs payload!  The camper weighs in excess of 1900 lbs!  It was an accident waiting to happen...no wonder it swayed so badly.  Too bad I can't get my money back on this...it was a private sale with the dealer acting on commission, so it looks like I'l stuck.  Anyone want to buy a beatiful, almost-new camper? :'(

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2006, 09:09:02 AM »
First of all, the dealer was acting as the seller's agent (that's why he got a commission) and so shares in the  responsibility for the transaction.    Since he is in the business of buying and selling campers, the law presumes him to be (or should be) knowledgeable enough to give proper advice.  When the dealer represented to you that your truck was adequate for the camper, he committed a  gross error that put you at a severe safety risk.  I think you have a very strong case to get your money back - I'm sure a lawyer would happly take the case.  And the dealer likely has insurance for "errors and omissions" commited in the course of doing business.

Go have a talk with the dealer. Try the reasonable approach first but don't be afraid to push if he tries to evade responsibility. Or perhaps the dealer could help you get a truck that will carry the camper safely.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Ron

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2006, 04:01:29 PM »
Gary is correct even though it was a private sale the dealer received a commission therefore is responsible for giving you bad advise putting you and your family at risk of possible injury or worse.  If the dealer doesn't settle to your satisfaction best to see a lawyer.  These type of dealers could cause you or somebody else serious injury or death by giving out bad advise to make a sell.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

ZuniJayne

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 03:17:28 AM »
Rosamindy,

The previous answers about NOT believing RV dealers are correct.  Weight limits are VERY important.

For example, I would love to put a 10.5 ft Arctic Fox camper on my 1993 Ford F250 truck.  However, the DRY weight of this camper is over 3000 pounds.  This combination is a recipe for *disaster* by overloading my truck, even with air bags and other marginal supports.
-- Jayne and Hero
    --  Working on a 1973 Four Winds pickup camper for my 1993 Ford F250 pickup so I can tow the 1988 Dodge Raider 4WD too!
        - Settled near Albuquerque, NM

PancakeBill

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2006, 04:24:47 PM »
For what it is worth, w will not sell an overweight combination, we have forms for all the weights, the truck capacity, dry weight, net weight etc.  My sales manager looks this over, and if the net was not enough he won't approve the sale. 

Air bags are great, but they don't increase capacity.

Why not hold onto the camper and get a heavier duty truck? 
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2006, 06:14:08 PM »
Quote
or what it is worth, w will not sell an overweight combination, we have forms for all the weights, the truck capacity, dry weight, net weight etc.  My sales manager looks this over, and if the net was not enough he won't approve the sale.

Glad to hear that, Bill.  Nice to find a dealership that makes sure the customer will be safe.   I suspect, however, that the forms and the sales manager approval came into being after prevous experiences with salesmen who were a bit too glib.  ::)
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

PancakeBill

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  • Bill & Jolene/USA 97 Southwind 35P
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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2006, 09:23:29 PM »
Not sure about that, just know the policy.  We have customers that tell ius wrong info, we rely on the Trailer Life or manufacturers specs. 

Amazing, customers are pretty much split between "My truck will pull anything" to "Only show me what I can safely pull" 

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2006, 12:42:20 PM »
Quote
"My truck will pull anything"

I'm not at all amazed by that - it's pretty common thinking. Especially among newcomers to trucks.  They figure cause they bought a truck, they are now ready to take on the world.  We see that all the time here on the forum.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2006, 01:01:54 PM »
Not sure about that, just know the policy.  We have customers that tell ius wrong info, we rely on the Trailer Life or manufacturers specs. 

Amazing, customers are pretty much split between "My truck will pull anything" to "Only show me what I can safely pull" 



Bravo to you and your dealership, sir.

As far as trucks that will haul anything.   I know of only one type.  Picture attached.

Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Ron

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2006, 02:02:09 PM »
Bravo to you and your dealership, sir.

As far as trucks that will haul anything.   I know of only one type.  Picture attached.



Yep would probably haul anything but wouldn't go as fast as the F150.  Would take for ever to get where your going at 35 MPH. ;D ;D  That truck only has three speeds; slow, slower, and slowest.  ;D :D ;)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2006, 02:05:09 PM by Ron »
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2006, 03:11:08 PM »
But shoot man, that bad boy has a maximum CC of 840,000 lbs.   That'll carry most any slide in camper and Tom's boat besides.  3-4000 kegs of Bud too.   Up a 10% grade on a dirt road no less.

Can't have everthang, yew know. 8)
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Ron

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2006, 03:31:07 PM »
But then it probably even gets 1-2 GPM too.  What else could a guy want. :D
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2006, 04:00:43 PM »
You'll get the right of way where ever you go too.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

ZuniJayne

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2006, 07:01:44 PM »
Greetings, all....

I did have a crazy idea for a pickup camper sorta thing.  I have an '01 Arctic Fox 26X travel trailer with a slideout.  Its actually a great rig, but now I want to take my little 4WD with me when I travel.  I definitely don't want to tow the 4WD behind the Fox behind my truck.  Too long, too heavy and dangerous.

However, I thought  = what if I got a good used flatbed cabover truck rated under 26k, and put the Fox on that, sans axles?  As long as the truck chassis wasn't too far off the ground, the Fox wouldn't be too high in the air.  Then I could tow the 4WD along behind it.  I don't have a Class A license but I do have lots of trucking experience.

Anyone ever see such a combination???
-- Jayne and Hero
    --  Working on a 1973 Four Winds pickup camper for my 1993 Ford F250 pickup so I can tow the 1988 Dodge Raider 4WD too!
        - Settled near Albuquerque, NM

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2006, 09:24:46 PM »
Go and take a look at the tank plumbing on that Fox and think about it.

You want a motorhome.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

ZuniJayne

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2006, 01:07:58 PM »
Carl,

Quote
Go and take a look at the tank plumbing on that Fox and think about it.

I did, and as long as the flatbed (or just the chassis rails) has enough clearance on each side, I could work with it.  One good thing about a Fox is the tanks are completely closed and insulated.

Yea, a motorhome might work, but most of them don't have high enough clearance for where I want to go.  :)  Besides, they are a lot more expensive than a good used flatbed.
-- Jayne and Hero
    --  Working on a 1973 Four Winds pickup camper for my 1993 Ford F250 pickup so I can tow the 1988 Dodge Raider 4WD too!
        - Settled near Albuquerque, NM

Carl L

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2006, 01:17:00 PM »
Some do.   For instance CLICK HERE
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2006, 01:18:18 PM »
I've seen some home made rigs like that, Jayne.  Not elegant but perhaps workable. Seems like it might be top heavy, though. I've never seen a flat bed truck that was really low - the bed is above the frame rails.  They use low-slung trailers for that sort of thing.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

ZuniJayne

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2006, 02:03:59 PM »
Carl,

Thanks for giving me that link.  Now I really have a lot to drool over and wish..... :)

Gary,

Unfortunately, I think you are right about getting a strong enough chassis without being too topheavy.  This is especially important cuz the Fox weighs about 10k loaded.

Hey, a girl can dream, right??? :)
-- Jayne and Hero
    --  Working on a 1973 Four Winds pickup camper for my 1993 Ford F250 pickup so I can tow the 1988 Dodge Raider 4WD too!
        - Settled near Albuquerque, NM

DavidPhillips

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2006, 12:54:53 PM »
If you have made alterations to your truck that you believe would allow you to exceed it's weight ratings safely would it be possible to obtain an overweight permit from the DOT?


« Last Edit: September 23, 2006, 01:05:17 PM by DavidPhillips »

Ron

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2006, 02:59:05 PM »
If you have made alterations to your truck that you believe would allow you to exceed it's weight ratings safely would it be possible to obtain an overweight permit from the DOT?

There is no way that I am aware of to legally exceed the truck manufactures weight ratings safely and legally without obtaining approval from the manufacturer.  In order for the manufacturer to approve an increase to the weight rating the manufacturer would need to get approval from the vendors of all affected components and issue a letter stating the weight ratings have been increased and justification as well  new stickers and  documentation rivising the weight ratings.  Probably a lot of engineering involved so I doubt it would be practical in most cases.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2006, 03:02:41 PM by Ron »
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2006, 09:01:17 AM »
I don't even think there is such a thing. To the best of my knowledge, no DOT (federal or individual states) certifies weight ratings - they merely accept and enforce what the manufacturer of the vehicle specifies.  And they only do that for commercial applications. For private vehicles, the issue of GVWR etc. arises only if you become involved is a safety dispute, e.g. a traffic accident.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

pipe539

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Re: Matching truck to camper
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2006, 10:51:07 PM »
Greetings, all....

I did have a crazy idea for a pickup camper sorta thing.  I have an '01 Arctic Fox 26X travel trailer with a slideout.  Its actually a great rig, but now I want to take my little 4WD with me when I travel.  I definitely don't want to tow the 4WD behind the Fox behind my truck.  Too long, too heavy and dangerous.

However, I thought  = what if I got a good used flatbed cabover truck rated under 26k, and put the Fox on that, sans axles?  As long as the truck chassis wasn't too far off the ground, the Fox wouldn't be too high in the air.  Then I could tow the 4WD along behind it.  I don't have a Class A license but I do have lots of trucking experience.

Anyone ever see such a combination???


you could get a goose neck trailer put both on that.

 

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