How to find the right tow vehicle for a 32' 5th Wheel

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GOJODO

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Joined
Mar 21, 2005
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7
My wife and I just sold our chinook 21' and want to move way up to 32' 5th Wheel, either an Artic Fox or Montana by Keystone.  These show weights of 13,000lbs, but I don't know if this is empty or with the full capacity. Anyway, we are therefore looking to purchase the right tow vehicle. I am looking at two, the Ford 250 or 350 and the Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500 single wheel with the 6' bed (I think that is medium). Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated. Also, where I can get accurate information about towing weights would be helpful. Thanks to everyone in advance.
 

Bill_Frisbee

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Jul 2, 2005
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Location
Guelph, Ontario
We are hauling a 2005 Montana 3400RL which has a "posted" GVWR of 13, 975 lbs and a stated pin weight (when the coach is empty except for standard equipment) of 1,975 lbs. Our tow vehicle is a 2005 Dodge 3500 Quad Cab 4X4 with the Cummins Diesel, auto transmission, single rear wheels, the short (6.25') bed, and 3.73 gears in the rear end.

The Dodge itself has a GVWR of 9,990 lbs (effectively 5 tons) and a towing capacity of 13, 950 lbs. The vehicle weight including me, a full load of diesel fuel, and the hitch is approximately 7, 680 lbs. With a more realistic hitch weight of at least 2,100 lbs, I am up to 9,780 lbs. That leaves 210 lbs for my wife and any other cargo we want to carry in the truck.

The message is that a Dodge 3500 (as ours is configured) is very close to being "maxed out" in terms of both towing capacity and weight-carrying capacity. In truth, we are likely over weight.

The two Montana models that come closest to your stated preference for a 32-footer are the 2955RL and the 2980RL. The 2955RL is well within the towing capacity and weight carrying capacity of the Dodge 3500. It is also within the capacity of the Dodge 2500 (but the difference in cost is only about $400)  ... so my advice is to go bigger.

The GVWR of the 2980RL is slightly higher than the 2955 RL (still well within the towing capacity of the 2500) BUT the hitch weight is significantly higher ... higher than the 2955RL and the 3400RL. That fact also suggests that a 3500 (one-ton) pick-up is the wiser option.

All that having been said, many folks haul 2955RLs, 2980RLs, and 3400RLs with 2500 (3/4 ton) pick-ups and seem to have no significant problems. Many with whom I am familiar install air bags or some other device to increase the carrying capacity of the pick-up ... but the new diesel engines that reside in the Dodge, GM products, and Fords are all beasts and have plenty of power to haul the weight.

With regard to the short bed, we have an automatic sliding hitch (PullRite Super Glide) It became evident very early on that a sliding hitch was necessary with the Montana and the short bed in the Dodge. In a tight turn (almost always backing up) there was a very real risk of a collision between the front cap of the coach and the rear of the quad cab. Our first hitch was a manual slider which we found to be annoying and a pain to operate. As a result, we bit the financial bullet and installed the automatic slider. We no longer worry about the problem. If you buy the long bed (8') dually, no problems. No slider hitch is necessary.

It has been reported (allegedly according to the PullRite people) that different brands of trucks have different dimensions in their short bed models. While all short beds are 6.25 feet, the critical dimension is the distance between the center of the rear axle (where the hitch is mounted) and the rear of the cab. Obviously, the greater the distance, the less one has to worry about clearance problems. The information I have seen suggests that GM short beds have the greatest distance (clearance), Fords are next in line, and Dodges have the shortest distance (least clearance).

As you are also likely aware, the 2006 Montanas have a new front cap design that is supposed to reduce (or eliminate) the clearance problems for short bed pick-ups ... and the need for a slider hitch. I would certainly investigate whether that is indeed the case with whatever truck you wish to buy ... but I would NOT recommend that you simply assume that there are no clearance problems.

On balance, I am a big advocate for getting the biggest truck you can afford ... a 3500 if possible ... and diesel powered. I also encourage you to join the Montana Owners Club Forum

http://montanaadministrator.forumco.com/default.asp

It is a great forum, very friendly, and loaded with information, good and bad, about Montanas. Any questions you may have will be answered there.   

I cannot comment on the other RV brand that you mentioned ... but hope this is somewhat helpful re Montanas.

Bill

 

GOJODO

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Posts
7
Bill, thank you for your thoughtful reply to my questions. It really helps to be able to ask these kinds of questions to someone who actually tows a large trailer.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At our Silver Springs FL home
Get the F350 or 3500 model - you will need the extra 1000 lbs or so of payload capacity to carry the pin weight of the trailer you are considering.  You might want to reconsider the short bed, though.  A long bed will be more convenient for towing (and carrying miscellaneous gear), though it does add some overall length when you have to park it at the grocery store.

I've towed fivers with both short and long bed trucks. Never had a problem towing with the short bed, but would not discount Frisbee's actual experience with the Montana. There can be considerable difference between trailers when it comes to pin placement and front cap projection.  The hitch can also be mounted if slightly different positions in the truck. Generally you want it slightly ahead of the axle (about 6 inches) to improve maneuverablity when backing, but on a short bed that may  not be practical.  And the configuration of the truck has an effect too, as Bill has described.  You might want to discuss your choice of truck with a hitch shop to see if they know of truck-specific factors on the model of truck you are considering.

As for "towing weights", the truck dealer will have a brochure with detailed towing data by model of truck. It depends on model, body style, bed length, engine, transmission and rear axle. Sometimes there is a suspension option that can have an effect as well.  You need to know the GCWR, GVWR, and rear axle GAWR figures. Don't pay any attention to "max trailer towing" - it is irrelevent to a fifth wheel. You can also find these numbers online in the truck manufacturers web sites - just hunt around the vehicle specs area or Google for terms like trailer towing or weight capacity
 

2006F350

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Dec 6, 2005
Posts
393
Location
Memphis TN
I tow a Keystone Everest 364Q. Max weight is just over 14K, unloaded, just under 13K, pin weight 2380. I pull with a F350 Crew Cab dually long box. It has the Tow Boss package (beefed up suspension and 4:30 gears) which up's the CVW / GCVW to 13,000Lbs / 26,000Lbs. According to Fords Trailer and Towing guide, the truck is capable of legally pulling a 19,000Lb fifth wheel, that being the case and being a bit pessimistic, I think I have about 5,000Lbs to play with.
 

Chet18013

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Mar 5, 2005
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1,861
Location
Full time in RV. Home is where we are parked
You'd better really check and make sure the 31' fifth wheel will be capable of being towed on a 6' bed. This discussion was real hot about 5-6 years ago and I seem to remember the it took a special extended hitch for a 6' bed and the bigger 5th wheels had to much hitch weight for the extended hitch.

We used to have a 40' TETON and I towed it with a Dodge diesel, 3500, 4x4, dual wheels. Alwys got about 4 to 6 mpg better than any Ford owner I talked to said they got. Had plenty of power.

Chet18013
 

rubysamm

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Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Posts
81
Location
Rhode Island
I don't tow a trailer but if I were to switch from a MH to 5er would you recommend dual wheels on the pick up? and what would the advantage or disadvantage be.
 

2006F350

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Dec 6, 2005
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393
Location
Memphis TN
Strictly personal opinion. Highly recommend. Go with the dually. More side to side stability and not just when towing. When the aftermath of Katrina blew up thru Memphis, I was watching vehicles being shoved side to side all over the road while riding in my truck that was as rock solid as in a non-windy condition. The down side, when the time comes, you have 2 more tires than the SRW guy that needs to be replaced / balanced, etc.

Larry
 

Bill_Frisbee

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Jul 2, 2005
Posts
49
Location
Guelph, Ontario
Rubysamm ...

I am hauling a big 5er(described above in an earlier contribution to this thread) with a single rear wheel (SRW) truck. I bought that particular configuration because I live in Ontario and have to drive in snow. Those with far more experience than I recommended the SRW (and 4X4) because it handles much better in the snow than a dually. The truck is also my daily driver and I have to maneuver and park in downtown urban areas. The short-bed, SRW Dodge is bad enough trying to park. The longer, wider dually would be a nightmare. I can appreciate the added stability argument that favors the dually ... but must admit that I have had no stability issues of any kind with the SRW. On balance, I think the choice depends on the weather conditions in which you drive the truck, the traffic/parking conditions that you commonly encounter, and the configuration with which you feel most comfortable and in which you have the most confidence. Were my driving requirements different, I would have no hesitation about purchasing a dually.

Bill

 

RTO1942

New member
Joined
Jan 18, 2006
Posts
2
Location
Albion, NY
I have a 3500 GMC dulley pulling a 32ft Snowbird. I used to pull the same rig with a HD 2500 single axle. With these bigger fifth wheels I would highly recommend the bigger truck with duals. The ride stability with those 4 tires is much better. I also feel better with four tires back there than two.
 

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