5th wheel tow vehicle questions

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draker

Member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Posts
5
Hey all,
I am really enjoying reading this forum on RVing.  I'm brand new to this world and am really looking forward to jumping into being a fulltime RVer this Fall.  After seeing the $$ needed to get a Class A Diesel Pusher (my initial 1st choice), I began looking at 5th wheels and was totally amazed at the interior space, floorplans, and the lower initial investment. 

I just purchased a 1998 Newmar Mountain Aire 39BRSK in immaculate condition, and am now searching for a used pickup for a tow vehicle.  From reading related posts on this subject, it seems like I need (for my 39 footer) a one-ton diesel pickup, preferrably Ford, Chevy (GMC) or Dodge.  I will be driving all over continental US, including mountains (hence, the need for a diesel).  Here are my qs:

1.  Is a long-bed preferrable?  I am receiving conflicting counsel on this issue.  Note:  the truck will be also used for family transportation, errands, etc.  I would actually prefer a normal bed (are they 6.5'?) for general use around town.

2.  The dually issue.  Needed?  Again, I have received both perspectives here.  Some say the added width is advantageous, but not necessary.  Others say the strength of the rear suspension of one tons is enough stability. 

I would love to hear your views, experience, and ideas.  Thanks

Rick
 
M

MTRancher

Guest
Answer 1: If you prefer the 6.5 long bed for the other uses and don't need an 8' bed; then get it. You'll appreciate the extra manuverability with the shorter wheel base and I don't think you'll give up anything in stabilty.

Answer 2: Duallys in my opinion do offer extra stability. You have more tire surface on the road and therefore a better base. However, I don't think they are completely necessary as the single rear wheel vehicles will do the job. So it comes down to the trucks other uses. Duallys can be a pain in town, you have more tire expense, but if the most stable platform is what you are after then you have to go with them.

As for me, I use my truck 90% time w/out the RV (way too much) but pulling other trailers. We get a lot of snow, so I have a single rear wheel vehicle because duallys aren't great in deep snow. I have the 8' box because I haul a lot and need the room.

Bottom Line -- GET what is comfortable and fits your needs.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
While your questions are legitimate concerns, truck tow rating is the most important thing you need in hunting for a tow vehicle.  Take yourself to the Trailer Life website, www.trailerlife.com, and to the Tech section.  The tow rating for units back to 1999 are there.

Take the tow rating of a particular truck model and reduce it by 10% to allow for aging and hills.  Reduce it by 20% if you intend to tow in the mountain or Pacific coast West to allow for high altitudes and 10 mile long 6-8% grades.  If the resulting number is greater that the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your trailer, then you are in business.  If not keep looking.

By the way, designations like 1/2 or 3/4 ton are of little help in determining adequate tow vehicles. Tow ratings are a combination of engine, cooling system, transmission, rear axle, and, most importantly, brakes.  Go by the tables.











5
 

N Smock

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Posts
246
Location
Long Branch, NJ
Just my opinion here, I think you need to look at bigger trucks eg Ford 550 or the medium duty GMC. The factory specs for a Newmar 38slck is 20,000 GVW and 16,800 UVW and 3,350 pin empty. With out looking at a specific truck I suspect that the GCVW will be ~24,000 empty. See if you can find the factory numbers on the inside of the kitchen cabnet. This will help you determine if you need a semi or not.


Nelson
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
N Smock said:
Just my opinion here, I think you need to look at bigger trucks eg Ford 550 or the medium duty GMC. The factory specs for a Newmar 38slck is 20,000 GVW and 16,800 UVW and 3,350 pin empty. With out looking at a specific truck I suspect that the GCVW will be ~24,000 empty. See if you can find the factory numbers on the inside of the kitchen cabnet. This will help you determine if you need a semi or not.

Indeed.? At 20K GVWR, that 5er is definitely in medium duty truck territory.? ?Rick should be looking to the Peterbuilts, Volvos, and other such tractors.? By the time he pays for a heavy duty pickup which would be marginal, he might as well have done things right.  Especially if he plans to schlepp those 10 tons over the 8%, 8000-foot passes out in the far west.
 

draker

Member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Posts
5
Wow!  I had no idea that my fifth wheel would require a medium duty truck!  I guess I thought that a 1-ton series pickup truck- say, for example the Ford F-350 crew cab SD DRW 7.3 TD with a tow rating of 13,200lbs, would suffice. :-\  Since I will be using this truck as my family's primary source of transportation when I'm not towing, I had a LARGE pickup in mind, not a semi!  But, on the other hand, I don't want to tow the trailer with an inadequate vehicle that is unsafe.  Is a medium duty truck much larger and less comfortable to ride and drive than, say, an F-350?
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
If that 20,000 GVWR is correct, yeah.    A 13K rated truck pulling that big boy is going to be in trouble fast when trying to hump it over something like the San Rafeal Swell on 70 in Utah, much less the big Colorado passes. 

1.  Determine the GVWR of that trailer -- look on the DOT plate.  Try toward the front on the port side of the trailer.  If that fails, weigh the thing at a local contractors supply yard.

2.  Shop for a MD truck at a dealer nearby.  Goggling medium duty truck should get you something.

3.  Do what you would do with any truck you are buying.  Try it for fit and convenience and give it a test drive.

IMHO, once you are in a 4WD or something the equivalent of an F 250 PU or heavier, you have left the world of sedan ride way far behind.    At least with a MD truck, you are buying something purpose-built to pull a 5th wheel trailer that is based on the technology of the 18 wheel universe.

 

draker

Member
Joined
May 21, 2006
Posts
5
Thanks, Carl, for your reply.  I have been searching for the F-550 series truck and have found one that may work.  I welcome your thoughts...
The tow rating for this 2002  Ford F-550 CCC 4X4 7.3L TD is 17,500.  I believe it has the heavy duty tow package also, which boosts its tow rating up to 21,500.
These numbers look more in line with what I need. Note:  this truck was used to haul horses and is a manual transmission.
Your thoughts?
Here is the link for this truck:
http://www.minnesotacars.com/inventoryDetail.aspx?vehicleId=4-734-84
Please let me know what you think.
thanks again.
Rick
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
draker said:
Thanks, Carl, for your reply.? I have been searching for the F-550 series truck and have found one that may work.? I welcome your thoughts...
The tow rating for this 2002? Ford F-550 CCC 4X4 7.3L TD is 17,500.? I believe it has the heavy duty tow package also, which boosts its tow rating up to 21,500.
These numbers look more in line with what I need. Note:? this truck was used to haul horses and is a manual transmission.
Your thoughts?
Here is the link for this truck:
http://www.minnesotacars.com/inventoryDetail.aspx?vehicleId=4-734-84
Please let me know what you think.
thanks again.
Rick

The Trailer Life tow rating for that 4WD truck with a 4.88 rear end is 17,100 lbs.? ?I see no bonus for heavy duty towing on it either in the TL tables or indication of such in the dealer's ad.? ?Stuck with that you have submarginal tow vehicle for a 20,000 lb trailer.? ?Most of us old timers like to discount tow ratings by 10% to allow for aging truck.? ?We discount 15% for diesel towing in the mountain or Pacific west to all for HP loss at altitude (3% per 1000 feet) and long long 6-8% grades.? ?That latter would bring the truck's rating to 14,535 lbs.? Keep in mind that tow rating is based on truck suspension, engine, transmission, rear end, wheels, and brakes.

Hey look, this isn't my money or trailer and I do not know how you plan to use it, but if I had a 20,000 lb GVWR trailer to pull, I would want a tow vehicle with something like a 23,000 lb tow rating.? But then I live and travel in the far west and have had to pull some 11% passes.
 
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