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Author Topic: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks  (Read 19040 times)

JDMazurowski

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5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« on: August 04, 2012, 10:46:48 AM »
I have a problem, I have a 2005 Dodge 1500 4x4 and was told I needed a 3/4-1 ton truck to pull a 5th wheel RV. I would really like a 5th wheel.  However, my wife works for a campground and we see 1/2 ton trucks pulling 5th wheels frequently, especially the Toyota Tundra. What gives? any information on this would be greatly appreciated. I dont know if I could just purchase additions to be able to tow one with my Ram, such as air bags.
Thanks
John

Water Dog

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2012, 11:14:27 AM »
John, it's really all about weights and loading. If your truck is rated for the load you are considering putting on it and pulling with it, then there is no problem, but if it isn't, then you could be putting the people with you as well as others on the road at risk. Just because others are doing it, doesn't make it safe. Trucks are rated for loads using multiple factors, for instance frame strength, wheel base, axle and spring ratings, tires, etc, so although air bags may take some sagging out, they won't do anything for the extra load that is being placed on the rest of the components. Since I've pulled trailers, but not fifth wheels, I'm really not sure if they make ones light enough for half ton trucks or not...I'm sure others will chime in; but I would check your truck's gross rear axle weight rating (door sticker), it's gross combined weight rating (door sticker), and it's maximum towing capacity (manual? or Trailer Life) so you will know by the numbers whether it's doable.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 11:17:13 AM by Water Dog »
Dennis

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Frizlefrak

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2012, 11:14:36 AM »
Most will recommend at LEAST a "3/4 ton" (ie F250, Chevy 2500 or the equiv) to pull a fifth wheel.  It has more to do with frame rigidity and truck weight than towing capacity.

You'll see many threads on this, but as a card carrying member of the newly appointed "Tow Police", I feel compelled to pass this on.  Most half tonners aren't up to the task SAFELY.  Can they pull it down the highway?  Of course.  Can they control the trailer in a strong crosswind, a sway condition, or down a steep grade if the trailer brakes fail?  Maybe.......  Remember...this is the safety of your family we're talking about here.  Serious stuff.  And few things are scarier than having the tail wag the dog when a semi passes you or watching the ditch get closer when a strong gust of wind hits and knowing there's nothing you can do about it.

Find out your trucks GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT RATING.  Should be in owners manual for your cab, engine, transmission, and rear end combo.  Take off 10% immediately if you tow out here in the steep stuff....big mountains, etc. Now take that number and subtract out the weight of your truck, passengers, fuel, luggage, camping stuff, and anything else you lug around.  The balance is the upper limit of what you can safely tow.  That doesn't mean you can do it comfortably, just safely.

Remember, the closer you get to your trucks limit, the less fun towing is.  As you approach the limit, towing in the hills can turn into a white knuckle freak show quickly.  In most practical terms, there is no such thing as "too much truck".  An F350 Powerstroke dually will gladly pull along a 3000 lb 18' trailer. 

I too see a lot of half tonners pulling decent sized fivers.  Many of them, IMHO, are one piece of bad luck away from disaster.  Hope this helps.
2014 Ram 2500 Cummins
2012 Palomino 30' TT

Tombstonejim

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 11:17:58 AM »
Generic terms like 1/2 or 3/4 ton are meaningless. You need the exact specs for you  truck.

I guessed since you did not give them. Look here and redo with your exact specs if  guessed wrong.

click here.

Your limiting factor appears to be GVWR it appears to be 6650 in all cases.  My guess is that with a loaded truck and then a 1000 lb of hitch weight you will be well over that.

Edit: Shortened very long link to avoid page resizing.

There are some 5th wheels that are designed from the factory to be light weight and be pulled by 1/2 tons. If you ain't bought already you might look at some of them.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 03:48:35 PM by Tom »
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eliallen

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 11:19:45 AM »
  Most half tonners aren't up to the task SAFELY. 
I agree 100%

Frizlefrak

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 11:38:03 AM »
Generic terms like 1/2 or 3/4 ton are meaningless. You need the exact specs for you  truck.

Well put. 
2014 Ram 2500 Cummins
2012 Palomino 30' TT

JDMazurowski

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 12:02:44 PM »
I agree 100%

My truck is a 2006 Dodge Ram 4 door 4x4 short box. GAVW for front and rear are 3900lbs  GVWR6700lbs... 4.7 liter V8

Staff edit: Fix quote
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 01:59:52 PM by Ned »

JDMazurowski

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 12:14:00 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.

skyking1

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 12:25:52 PM »
There are many half ton towable 5th wheels out there, but not new ones. I am looking at replacing my 10K Avion in my signature with a late 80's~ early 90's Alpenlite 27' with no slide.
4000~5000 pounds empty, 6600 GVWR.
1000 pounds on the pin.
About 18" shorter in height than my 5ver.
We want to travel and a trailer like that will be a dream to tow behind my diesel truck. I can and do tow the big trailer but for long trips with many miles, we would like a lighter and shorter rig that can go into just about every National Park campground. Camping is the goal for us.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 12:27:39 PM by skyking1 »
Kelly and Mary

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Washington State

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Mopar1973Man

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 12:28:34 PM »
I agree 100%

+1 to that...

Why would you want to set you and your family for a white knuckle trip possibly? Wouldn't you rather have a big roomy truck and plenty of cargo carrying capacity that is very stable and you can relax towing your trailer. I can tell you I own both a 1/2 ton (5.9L V8, auto) and 3/4 ton (5.9L Diesel Manual) Dodge Ram trucks. I can tell you my 31' Jayco pulls like a dream with the 3/4 ton where the 1/2 ton struggles to even move it. Always best to have too much truck than not enough.
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
2002 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel
2000 Jayco Eagle FBS 296
http://articles.mopar1973man.com/members-rides/17-mopar1973man/27-2000-jayco-eagle-296-fbs
2013 BigTex 70TV Utility Trailer

JDMazurowski

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2012, 12:33:05 PM »
+1 to that...

Why would you want to set you and your family for a white knuckle trip possibly? Wouldn't you rather have a big roomy truck and plenty of cargo carrying capacity that is very stable and you can relax towing your trailer. I can tell you I own both a 1/2 ton (5.9L V8, auto) and 3/4 ton (5.9L Diesel Manual) Dodge Ram trucks. I can tell you my 31' Jayco pulls like a dream with the 3/4 ton where the 1/2 ton struggles to even move it. Always best to have too much truck than not enough.

I WOULDNT want to set myself and my family up for a dangerous white knuckle trip. Thats why Im inquiring about this situation.

skyking1

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2012, 12:58:14 PM »
The trouble is, the new "light" trailers are all pushing 7K to start with.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

TomHaycraft

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2012, 01:45:39 PM »
These threads always get lively discussion!  I know, I've been following them for a few months on various forums as I work to select an acceptable 5er to pull behind my 2009 Silverado 1500 (crew cab, short wb, trailering package, etc).  I've had a salesmen (and his sale manager!) try to put me in a trailer "marketed for 1/2 ton trucks" (Keystone's Cougar with helium technology), who's dry pin weight alone, would have put me at 97% of my rear GAWR!  I've found salesmen generally turn a blind eye to the vertical forces of gravity and payload capacity.  Buyer be aware!

While not the ideal, but with close attention to the math and maintenance and upkeep of the TV, I'm looking forward to the purchase of Keystone's Springdale 247FWRLLS.  Based on the weight of items we've removed when renting previous TTs, we estimate we will be at 75% of towing capacity and 92% of rear GAWR.  This is based on a recent weight of the truck with my wife, myself, full tank of fuel and the hitch installed.  Load rating of current tires is acceptable, but we will increase the load rating on the next set for an extra measure of comfort.  Oil, transmission and rear-end fluid changes will be performed more frequently with close attention paid to filings and "haze" in the fluids to indicate premature wear.

I'll report back from time to time, let folks know where we've been and how things are holding up.

Safe Travels!

Tom
----------------------
2009 C1500 Silverado CrewCab - Timbrens
2013 Springdale 247FWRLLS - Reese Sidewinder
Round Rock, TX

BigLarry

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2012, 02:41:17 PM »
I towed a Terry 5th wheel with a 2001 Chevy K1500 for several years.  The weight was within specs but just barely.  It would work, but it just wasn't any fun. :(  Very difficult to use the cruise control.  The trans would kick down on every little hill and the engine would scream.  I rarely got more than 7mpg towing. 

If you're OK on the weight and won't be on the road much, then I'd say you're OK, but if you're planning on towing quite a bit, don't do it.
Larry and Betty
Bryan, Texas
2007 Chevy K-2500 ext cab diesel
2014 Keystone Cougar 19RBE

jje1960

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2012, 02:50:37 PM »
I have a friend that is getting ready to move from their hybrid trailer to a 5Ver, they have a new F150 with the V6 Ecoboost.  While I was constantly advising him to move to an F250, I've been pretty amazed with the specs of the units he has been showing me that are well within his limits, wow, they are really making the units lighter. 
Jim
2011 Ford F350 DRW 6.7 Diesel
2011 Cougar SRX

Carl L

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2012, 03:02:38 PM »
Some general thoughts on F-150 trucks and their equivalents across the brands.   

The most significant factor in determining the towability of a given trailer is its weight as actually loaded for travel.  In estimating that actual weight on a prospective purchase we use the trailers GVWR (unladen weight + max cargo capacity) as provided in the mfr specs or on the trailer's DOT plate.  This GVWR is compared to the tow rating of a prospective tow vehicle.  That tow rating is based on the truck carrying a full load of fuel and a 154-lb driver, only.  To allow for large drivers, passengers, truck junk, and the weight of the hitch mechanism, I like to allow a safety factor of 10% in the listed tow rating of a truck 10%.  (20% for normally aspirated gasoline engines operated in the West.)
 
Take the 2012 Jayco Eagle Super Lite HT 23.5RBS as an exemplar of the lightest 5th wheels, Jayco's specs on the rig list its GVWR at 9950 lbs.  Using the 10% safety factor, that trailer would require a truck with a 11,550-lb tow rating.
 
Using the 2012 Ford F-150 as the exemplar of '1/2 ton' trucks and the Trailer Life 2012 Guide to Towing tables, I find that only one group of F-150s comes close to that tow rating -- those sporting the turbocharged 3.5L V6 EcoBoost gasoline engine.   Those engines turn out 11,000-11,300 tow ratings with the 3.73:1 rear end.  All other engines and rear end ratios run 1000-2000 lbs lighter.
 
Based on that, I would say that the F-150, half-ton class of trucks is a doubtful 5th wheel puller -- bar select units with that Ecoboost engine and the 3.73 axle ratio.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Frizlefrak

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2012, 04:12:26 PM »
So Carl.....I guess you're the Captain on the TPF  (Tow Police Force)   ;D   Guess I'm just a beat cop in the TPF   8)

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=56191.0

2014 Ram 2500 Cummins
2012 Palomino 30' TT

skyking1

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2012, 05:07:19 PM »
Keep in mind that many trailers have an unbelievable cargo capacity as well. My friend's Wildcat extralite has a lightweight of 6950 or so, and a cargo capacity of 4141 pounds!
In this scenario, the trailer's GVWR is not what matters. Load it up as you would use it, and weigh it. If you get 4100 pounds in it you must be hauling concrete blocks out to the job site :D
http://www.rvguide.com/specs/forest-river/fifth-wheel/2011/wildcat-extralite/241rlx.html

I don't know what the manufacturer was doing here. Maybe it got between common axle sizes and they spec'ed it out at the bigger axle, disregarding a typical need.

Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

Carl L

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2012, 05:20:53 PM »
So Carl.....I guess you're the Captain on the TPF  (Tow Police Force) 

Moi?  :o   Surely not.   
 
Quote

Guess I'm just a beat cop in the TPF   8)


Excellent.   Carry on, I will be in the area all day.   
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Lou Schneider

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2012, 05:43:23 PM »
Quote
I don't know what the manufacturer was doing here. Maybe it got between common axle sizes and they spec'ed it out at the bigger axle, disregarding a typical need.

Northwood Manufacturing does the same thing with their Nash and Arctic Fox lines, and in the process builds trailers with near legendary ruggedness. My 28' Arctic Fox 26x came from the factory with over 3000 lbs. of carrying capacity.

All it means is the frame and running gear is overspec'd, which isn't a bad thing.  Instead of everything running at it's maximum rating,  things like tires, springs, brakes, axles, etc. have an extra 20-30% safety factor built-in.

Tom

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2012, 07:38:18 PM »
Quote
you're the Captain on the TPF

LOL, long-time forum members may remember when Carl had the 'official' title of Sheriff here  ;D
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

longhaul

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2012, 08:54:33 PM »
 Every truck has the capability to pull its rated tow rating and carry weight up to the trucks load carrying capabilities.

   A '06 1500 Dodge 4.7 v8 4x4 short bed 6700 GVWR with 3900 RAWR with 3.55 gears has a 6xxx lb tow rating and a 7xxx lb with the 3.92 axle.

 Your trucks has  a 3900 RAWR so it won't have any issues carrying a pin weight from 5th wheel trailers that small.

 http://allencampermfg.com/outpost.html     These folks are small and have been around since the '60 building RVs.

 Look at their 199 RB at 4500 GVWR 5th wheel trailer.

 And the 230 FRKS at 5600 GVWR 5th wheel trailer.

 All 1/2 ton trucks are not equal.

 The 8200 GVWR F150 HD with 4800 RAWR E tires and wheels with a 11200 lb tow rating

 The '01-'05 1500 HD GM with a 8600 GVWR 6084 RAWR E tires and wheels with payloads over 3000 lbs or

 The 1500 Dodge Mega cab with its 8510 GVWR 6000 RAWR 8 lug wheels and E tires with up to 2500 lb payload.

 So when someone says they saw a 1/2 ton truck pulling a  10k 5er its possible. It all boils down to which 1/2 ton truck is doing the towing.
 


glen54737

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2012, 10:12:22 PM »
I've done it as long as you look at the ratings and keep as low as yopu can I had a 2005 f-150 5.4l 3.73 gears rated at 9300 for a fifth wheel and a rockwood 8285ss gvwr 8250. I used air bags to level it out but didn't need very much in them.
I towed from MI to Kansas City to Tampa and back to Mi twice in 2009 and had no problems except stopping for gas a lot.

That being said when we wanted more trailer we needed a bigger truck now i have a lot more options.
2011 F-250 CC short box 6.7l 3.55 axle
2012 Crusader 290RLT

Glen,Nene
Mickey & Jayco (yorkies)

R. J. Barton

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2012, 10:19:35 AM »
There's more to consider when pulling an RV than just the weight numbers. The numbers may say you can pull camper X with a half ton truck, but you may well be lugging the guts out of it and it's service life may be greatly affected. Plus there's wind, braking, ect.

You have to ask yourself; how safe and or stressful do I want my vacation to be?  :o

Personally I wouldn't tow much more than a pop up with a half ton pickup.  ;)
2011 Coachman Catalina 27BHS
2006 Ford F250 PSD CC FX4

Carl L

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2012, 03:33:33 PM »
There's more to consider when pulling an RV than just the weight numbers. The numbers may say you can pull camper X with a half ton truck, but you may well be lugging the guts out of it and it's service life may be greatly affected. Plus there's wind, braking, ect.

You have to ask yourself; how safe and or stressful do I want my vacation to be?  :o

Personally I wouldn't tow much more than a pop up with a half ton pickup.  ;)

I pulled a 23' TT weighing in at about 5000 lbs all over the western USA for some 15 years with a 1995 Ford Bronco with a 4.9L V8 engine.   The Bronco was essentially a cabbed-over, bob-tailed F-150 with 4WD and dual shocks.    I sold the Bronc with some 150K on it.   All systems were in fine shape at the sale.   

F-150s are fully capable of towing a considerable range of travel trailers up into the 24-foot range depending on truck configuration.   
 
That said, the 150/1500 class of trucks is limited in towing 5th wheels.   Rear axle weight ratings limit the relatively high tongue weight of fivers (20-25% of GVWR)   Fivers do tend to group into the heavier gross weights and out of the tow rating limitations of 150s.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

R. J. Barton

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2012, 06:58:30 PM »
Carl, sure, and a 24' is fairly small.  ;)

When I bought our Coachmen, the numbers said that my F150 equipped with a 5.4 V-8, auto and tow package, should be able to tow it. And it could, but it didn't like hills much and I could really feel the trailer back there if you know what I mean.

So, I towed the TT exactly once down to Bennett Spring and back, the next week after we got back I went and bought a 3/4 ton diesel. Everything is now mo betta!  ;D

I feel safer in this rig and can accelerate going up hills, which is awesome!  :P
2011 Coachman Catalina 27BHS
2006 Ford F250 PSD CC FX4

Frizlefrak

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Re: 5th Wheel Campers and 1/2 ton trucks
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2012, 07:00:48 PM »
Trucks.....too much is just right.   :D
2014 Ram 2500 Cummins
2012 Palomino 30' TT