does size matter?

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mysto

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OK after response from my previous post - some looking... and some thinking the DW and I have decided to go with a TT.  We don't have a tow vehicle but are planning to lease a 1/2 ton and go with an ultra lite trailer (we are looking at several).  It appears that we can go upto a 30' and my DW feels the bigger the better,  but I want to know is there much of a difference pulling - turning - backing up between a 25', 28', and 30' or at that size is it pretty much a wash?

I am concerned about pulling and backing up as I have been driving compact cars for the last 15 years.

Thanks.  I am enjoying the posts in the forum.
 

Ron

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I woul;d be inclined to avoid getting a 1/2 ton to pull with first.  I would recommend you let your DW decide which trailer you are going to get then and only after that decision has been made look for the appropriate size truck that will safely and legally handle the desired trailer.  Once you decide on the trailer get the trailer GVWR off the trailer and ask our trailer experts here for recommendations for the right truck to match the trailer.  Remember here you will get facts from dealerships/saleman you usually get what they think you need to hear to close a deal.
 

Carl L

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Have you taken a look at the topics on tow ratings and trailer weights.  For one thing, ultra-light is an advertising term.  I have checked out ultra-lights on their maker's website and found trailers with GVWR in the 7-8000 lb range.  That ain't all that light!

Gary's advice is spot on.  Pick out the trailer you like and then match the tow rating of the  truck you lease to its gross vehicle weight rating.  Allow a 10% safety factor; 20% in the mountain and Pacific west.  You are quite likely to be looking at an F250 not a 150, but the numbers will tell you.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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To answer your original question about size, I would say "No", there is not much difference between 28 feet and 30 feet.  Now had you said 20 feet vs 30 feet, I would have to say "some", but even there it is not all that much.  There are some learned skills for backing, but size is not a major factor in learning.  The technique is the same. Ditto going forward, turning, etc.  Sure, each bit of extra length has some effect, but towing doesn't get 10% more difficult by adding 10% to the length. Probably more like 1%  increase in difficulty for every 10% increase in length.

At some point larger trailers will begin to restrict your choice of campsites. There's typically a breakpoint around 20 feet and another around 30. This applies mostly in older areas of the east (where there is less level/open land) and in mountainous areas everywhere. That doesn't mean you will have a hard time finding a campsite for a 35 footer, but it does mean that some areas will have limited selections.

 

Carl L

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At some point larger trailers will begin to restrict your choice of campsites. There's typically a breakpoint around 20 feet and another around 30. This applies mostly in older areas of the east (where there is less level/open land) and in mountainous areas everywhere. That doesn't mean you will have a hard time finding a campsite for a 35 footer, but it does mean that some areas will have limited selections.

From a westerner's standpoint, I would add USFS campgrounds, California State Parks, and NPS campgrounds to those 20 foot and 30 foot breaking points.
 

Wendy

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Carl Lundquist said:
From a westerner's standpoint, I would add USFS campgrounds, California State Parks, and NPS campgrounds to those 20 foot and 30 foot breaking points.

Also some Utah and Colorado State Parks.
 

mysto

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Thanks for the replies all.  The 1/2 ton was not picked on a whim.  When the truck is not pulling a TT, it will be pulling us.  I can't afford to to keep a vehicle just for towing so this will become our primary means of transportation when not rv'ing.  The 1/2 ton was picked because of cost/payments - mpg/economy - ride/comfort.  I have done some basic calculations and it appears that as long as I choose correctly on engine/ rear end etc that I should have no problem pulling many different ultra-lites upto about 30' and that includes safety margins.  There is no question that I will have to choose based on GVWR but isn't that always the case?  If I am missing something here please let me know.
 

Ron

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Actually you need to use the trailer GVWR when figuring the GCWR of the trailer and truck combination.  Do your homework before acquiring the truck.  It is not safe or legal to tow when exceeding any weight limits.  It would not be good to get a truck then not be able to find a trailer that would suit you.
 

Lowell

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I'm in the minority on this forum in that I have a 1/2 ton pick-up pulling a 28 foot Cherokee lite.  I am very pleased with my 1/2 tons ability to pull my trailer.  I have pulled my trailer through the mountains in Colorado, Arizona and some of California.  In Colorado I have been through passes as high as 11,500 ft. If you want a 1/2 ton pick-up, just make sure you select a TT that when loaded still leaves you margin.  In our case my truck is rated to pull 8800 lbs but my loaded TT weight is 6120 lbs. The trailer dry weight is 5300 lbs.  With 2000 lbs of margin, the rig handles very well, keeps up with traffic, and get pretty good towing milage in the range of 10-11.5 mpg.
 

Carl L

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Lowell said:
I'm in the minority on this forum in that I have a 1/2 ton pick-up pulling a 28 foot Cherokee lite.? I am very pleased with my 1/2 tons ability to pull my trailer.? I have pulled my trailer through the mountains in Colorado, Arizona and some of California.? In Colorado I have been through passes as high as 11,500 ft. If you want a 1/2 ton pick-up, just make sure you select a TT that when loaded still leaves you margin.? In our case my truck is rated to pull 8800 lbs but my loaded TT weight is 6120 lbs. The trailer dry weight is 5300 lbs.? With 2000 lbs of margin, the rig handles very well, keeps up with traffic, and get pretty good towing milage in the range of 10-11.5 mpg.

If you look down at my signature block you will see that I am in the F150 minority too.? ?You have done what I did, got a really light weight trailer.? ?You have allowed a 30% (!) safety factor in respect to your truck's tow rating.? ?

Look, folks come in here announcing that they are after a trailer of a certain length with little thought to weight.? Now in one respect they are right in specifying length, length is the feature that gives you generous floor plans and floorplans are important.? ?They are the real basis for chosing one trailer over another --- if you are choosing in a vacuum.? ?But if you specify a certain truck, you are no longer in a vacuum.? ?You have to chose a trailer, irrespective of length, that the truck can pull in the region that you want to pull it in and that is determined by trailer loaded weight vs. truck tow rating.? ?Length means nothing there.

Terms like ultra-light mean essentially nothing, they are merely advertizing puffery.? What counts is the actual gross vehicle weight rating GVWR, a DOT rating number. or the actually scaled weight of the trailer ready to travel .? ?Dry weight is of no use unless summed up with carrying capacity to give GVWR.? ?

Now given that, and Mstos's enthusiasm for a 30 footer and the bloody dealer giving the usual assurances about the bigger the better, could you iin good conscience not recommend a more capable vehicle than a F-150, say a F250?? Given that we are talking basic safety here, I cannot.
 

Carl L

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mysto said:
Thanks for the replies all.? The 1/2 ton was not picked on a whim.? When the truck is not pulling a TT, it will be pulling us.? I can't afford to to keep a vehicle just for towing so this will become our primary means of transportation when not rv'ing.? The 1/2 ton was picked because of cost/payments - mpg/economy - ride/comfort.? I have done some basic calculations and it appears that as long as I choose correctly on engine/ rear end etc that I should have no problem pulling many different ultra-lites upto about 30' and that includes safety margins.? There is no question that I will have to choose based on GVWR but isn't that always the case?? If I am missing something here please let me know.

If you have indeed done you calculations and done them correctly, well ok.  Did you use the trailer gross vehicle weight ratings GVWR as the trailer weight to be pulled?  If you have not, do so.  Insofar as ride/comfort is concerned, have you sampled 250s as well as 150s?  Remember the choice between an overloaded 150 and a 250 is a safety issue that should override issues of ride. 

Read my response to Lowell.  And do keep your self flexible on truck until you choose your trailer.  If you cannot be, then choose your truck and be flexible on your trailer.
 

mysto

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Hey guys - I hope I didn't hit a hot button.  I really want us all to kiss and make-up (... on second thought let's just make up)

We are pretty well fixed on the 1/2 ton (I wish I was rich) so you are right we will have to be flexible on the TT.  I probably will wind up with an F150 5.6 rated at 8600#.  We are looking at Rockwood trailers and now are focusing on the 2602 - 27' rated at GVWR of 6449.  This appears to be slightly less than a 20% safety margin against the GVWR but it is darn close (within maybe 70#).

I don't know if that is what we will wind up with but the points on safety are understood and will be taken when we purchase. I would never buy or drive something that I didn't feel was safe based on careful analysis and I would never make my decision based on an RV salesmans recomendation (or anyone elses for that matter.) Having said that, as I get to the final stage of this journey I will put up my numbers for this learned groups careful analysis.

Thanks again for everyones help. As a noob I need all the help and advice I can get.
 

Jim Dick

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Mysto,

I doubt that you hit a hot button. Everyone here just wants to be sure you don't find yourself making a big mistake by not researching everything. Sounds to me like you understand what needs to be done and must work within the framework of your budget and daily life. By voicing the concerns regarding towing they have at least made sure you have considered every aspect. Keep asking your questions.
 

Carl L

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We are pretty well fixed on the 1/2 ton (I wish I was rich) so you are right we will have to be flexible on the TT.  I probably will wind up with an F150 5.6 rated at 8600#.  We are looking at Rockwood trailers and now are focusing on the 2602 - 27' rated at GVWR of 6449.  This appears to be slightly less than a 20% safety margin against the GVWR but it is darn close (within maybe 70#).

Actually you are wrong.  You have a safety margin of 25% -- five points more.

Enjoy your rig.  ;D
 

mysto

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Thanks Carl

I de-rated the F150 towing number by subtracting people - fuel and stuff.  That is why I got a different percentage than you did.
 

Marsha/CA

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Hi Mysto,

Just adding my 2 cents here and giving a personal experience.  We had a 1/2 ton Ford and I pulled a horse trailer weighing 6500 lbs loaded with horses, tack and feed.  We live in So. California and I pulled everywhere going horse camping, so my bed of the truck was full of camping gear as well.  The transmission had to be replaced at 20,000 miles and I was wearing through my brakes quickly even though I had electric brakes on the horse trailer.  It really lugged going up the hills out here.  After the transmission went out and was replaced under warranty, I quickly traded it.  Unless things have changed with trucks over the last several years, the 150  just doesn't have the chassis, brakes or stability that the heavier trucks do.  So instead of keeping my 150 for lots of years like I had planned, I bought 2 new trucks within 3 years time.

Not trying to disagree with you, but I did the same thing.  Lots of horse people told me I would be "under trucked" and I was.  BTW, I also found that my mileage was about the same because the 150 was working really hard, while my bigger truck was just "humming" along not under stress.

Marsha~
 

Shayne

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Well Stated Marsha    Should be the end of the debate , but we know it won't. 
 

Carl L

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Marsha,

Thanks.  That sort of story is what Gary and I are trying to spare folks in their first adventure in towing.  Everything you say is correct, that is why we are so hard on the idea of allowing safety factors -- 20% in our part of the country.  You can tow with a F150, I do, but you had better keep those trailer GVWRs in the 5500 lbs areas on down, unless you have a really good set of numbers.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I'd be willing to bet real money that just about every one of the people who try to go with a half ton end up buying another, larger, truck within 3 years. Any trailer much above 5000 lbs is going to over-stress most half tons with small block engines and the rest will peter out around 6500 lbs.  That's a modest trailer by todays standards and most of our readers are looking at rigs well above that.

"Been there and done that".
 
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