How big of a 5th wheel can I pull?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

gasman

New member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
Posts
3
I have a 2004 Ram 1500 Club cab with the 5.7 Hemi engine.  How big of 5th wheel or travel trailer can I realistically pull cross country with out hurting the engine of my truck?  Truck specs say towing capacity 8600 lbs...Gross combined weight of 14000 lbs (not sure what this means)...Payload capacity of 1420 lbs.  In reality, how much stock can or should I put in these numbers?  We are considering buying an older 5th wheel trailer in the 25 to 29 ft range and traveling extensively across the US.  I know a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup would be better but really do not have the money to buy a different truck and then buy a 5th wheel or travel trailer on top of that.  Already have a 1/2 ton pickup.  Thoughts or comments would be appreciated
 

Okotoks Camper

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2005
Posts
66
Location
Okotoks, Alberta
Hi Gasman, I know you will get better answers, but thought I'd start it off.

Your payload capacity isn't very large. I assume you are taking the numbers from the truck brochure etc. Once you add your weight, any passengers, full fuel tank, goodies in the box, you probably won't have a thousand pound left for the weght of the trailer pin. Let's say you are very disciplined about what you carry and have 800 lb available for the 5er pin. Since about 15% of the trailer weight should be on the pin, you are looking at a trailer at about 5300 lb. That's a VERY small fifth wheel and I'd guess you are going to have a dickens of a time finding one that light.

My suggestion would be to look for a small (20 ft.) or so travel trailer. The weight works out much better for you that way.

Any other viewpoints?

John B.
 

davidsimmonds

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 17, 2005
Posts
58
Location
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
That pretty much sums it up. We just purchased a 33ft Wildcat. I have a 2005 Dodge 2500 Diesel. For an added safety measure, I had overload springs put in like the 3500 has. This allows me to extend my current 3000 cargo limit. In choosing a trailer, it is most important to adhere to the Max GCWR figure. For a Dodge 2005 1500, that is 14,000 lbs. Add the weight of the truck and the trailer with all cargo as mentioned in the previous post. This must not excede 14,000 lbs for your vehicle. Mine is 20,000, the 3500 is 23,000.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
gasman said:
I have a 2004 Ram 1500 Club cab with the 5.7 Hemi engine.? How big of 5th wheel or travel trailer can I realistically pull cross country with out hurting the engine of my truck?? Truck specs say towing capacity 8600 lbs...Gross combined weight of 14000 lbs (not sure what this means)...Payload capacity of 1420 lbs.? In reality, how much stock can or should I put in these numbers?? We are considering buying an older 5th wheel trailer in the 25 to 25 ft range and traveling extensively across the US.? I know a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup would be better but really do not have the money to buy a different truck and then buy a 5th wheel or travel trailer on top of that.? Already have a 1/2 ton pickup.?

Towing capacity is the weight of the trailer that you can haul.  The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating i(GVWR) s the maximum weight of the trailer plus its payload.  The Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCVWR) is the maximum weight of the truck plus its payload plus the trailer towed plus its payload -- the weight of the whole schmeer.  :)

Now we take these numbers with a bit of salt.  For towing east of the Rocky Mountains that grain of salt is 10%.  For the Rockies west, the grain is 15-20%.  Thus with your rig, figure that the heaviest Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer should be  be 7700 lbs in the East.    For the West, the maximum GVWR* of the trailer should be 6800 lbs.

Now you can buy a fair number of travel trailers 24-25 foot long that will come in under those numbers that will be very suitable for vacation use.  5th wheels may be another matter.  But go to dealers and RV shows and look at those floor plans and features and read the DOT plates on the side of the trailer towards the front to get the GVWR of the units.


[*  Why GVWR and not actual trailer weight.  Because that number is on a plate on the side of your trailer.  Actual weight, trailer + payload,  is just a guess until you scale it, and guesses tend to have a lot of wishful thinking attached. ]
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,433
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Carl has given excellent advice. Beyond that, I see the 1400 lb payload as being a constraint with your truck. Fifth wheels are generally designed with quite a bit of weight on the hitch pin and 1400 lbs is on the light side (most  1/2 ton trucks are at least 1700 lbs).  And remember that 1400 lbs includes the weight of any passengers and gear in the truck as well as the hitch itself, so you may have a lot less to carry the trailer itself.

If you load up to your max GCWR, you are going to have noticeably poor performance on hills, but it probably won't hurt anything as long as you keep an eye on the temperature gauge.  If your Dodge did not come with a towing package, make sure you add a transmission cooler before towing. Heavy loads cause an automatic to heat up and you need all the extra cooing capacity you can get. I would also change the tranny fluid to a synthetic, which will hold up better if it gets hot.

 

gasman

New member
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
Posts
3
Can the maximum payload be upgraded by adding air backs to the rear suspension or adding overload springs?  Is this a good idea to do this?

Gasman
 

Ron

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Posts
18,082
Location
Home is where we park it
gasman said:
Can the maximum payload be upgraded by adding air backs to the rear suspension or adding overload springs?? Is this a good idea to do this?

Gasman

NO  The weight ratings are as given by the vehicle manufacturer.  You can add springs, airbags and even larger tires the GVWR and GCVWR remain the same unless you can get the manufacturer to upgrade the ratings.

Weight ratings are affected by brakes, axles, drive train frame, and many other things.  When one exceeds the weight ratings they are opening themselves to severe liability issues should they ever be involved in an accident let along the potential of being stopped and ticketed.


 
M

MTRancher

Guest
Can the maximum payload be upgraded by adding air backs to the rear suspension or adding overload springs?? Is this a good idea to do this?

Gasman


While Ron is correct, changing suspension components or adding air bags/overload springs will not increase your payload capacity, they will in many cases improve your vehicle handling characteristics while under a load. Carl and the rest of the gang will walk you through most capacity issues and it is important not to tow on a regular basis with a vehicle that's under rated. When you get a vehicle in the upper reaches of it's capacity, I think it's equally important to assist with air bags or over leaf springs. Like others have stated, it depends how far you are traveling, what type of terrain and how often you plan to go.
 
Top Bottom