Newbie with a Few Questions

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.

tettnanger

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Posts
9
Location
Metro Detroit
Hello,

I just bought a 2003 Coleman Caravan 25SB (Fleetwood) travel trailer with a UVW of 4875.  I'm towing it with a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 4WD 4.7L.  I have a couple of newbie questions before I actually take it out and camp somewhere.

1.  The guy I bought it off gave his hitch bar and sway bar setup.  He didn't have and never used a weight distribution system.  With my configuration do you think I need a WD system?  Someone told me it might be more necessary if my trailer was bigger and/or my tow vehicle was smaller.  Of course the local RV shop told me I absolutely needed one and were ready to sell me one when I inquired.

2.  The hitch ball that the guy gave has "5,000 lbs" imprinted on the top of it.  Does that mean that is the absolute limit on the ball?  If so, should I buy a higher rated hitch ball since my trailer is already at 4875 UVW?  Once I load some stuff in it I'm sure I'll be over 5,000.

3.  How paranoid should I be about loading up my trailer and distributing the weight with my configuration?  To play it safe can I try to load most of the stuff in my truck rather than in the trailer?

Any help would be much appreciated.

thanks!
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
The guy I bought it off gave his hitch bar and sway bar setup.  He didn't have and never used a weight distribution system.  With my configuration do you think I need a WD system?  Someone told me it might be more necessary if my trailer was bigger and/or my tow vehicle was smaller.  Of course the local RV shop told me I absolutely needed one and were ready to sell me one when I inquired.

The guy at the RV shop was right.  With a trailer as heavy as you specify.  It is a matter of safety, you wil be dropping around 750 lbs of weight on the rear axles of your rather light truck.  That spells oversteer and instability. 

2.  The hitch ball that the guy gave has "5,000 lbs" imprinted on the top of it.  Does that mean that is the absolute limit on the ball?  If so, should I buy a higher rated hitch ball since my trailer is already at 4875 UVW?  Once I load some stuff in it I'm sure I'll be over 5,000.

Don't worry.  The guy at the RV shop, or some other RV shop, should sell you a Class IV weight distributing system.  I assume your reciever is 2-1/2", you have two classes of ball,  5-6000 lbs and 10-12,000 lbs.  A Class IV WD system requires a specific ball mount and those should come with a properly rated ball with a 2-5/16" shank.

.  How paranoid should I be about loading up my trailer and distributing the weight with my configuration?  To play it safe can I try to load most of the stuff in my truck rather than in the trailer?

Not very.  The bad thing to do with a trailer is piling load aft of the axles.  A tail heavy trailer is an unstable trailer.  Truck loads have to cope with the fact that the tongue weight of the trailer will add about 750 lbs to the payload your truck can take.  Adding a whole lot to the truck bed may push things a bit.  Load the trailer, load the truck, just do not go berserk.  Determine the Gross Weight Rating of your trailer from the DOT plate fixed to it -- usually at the front left hand outside.  Respect it.
 
 

tettnanger

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Posts
9
Location
Metro Detroit
Thanks for the feedback Carl.  A couple more questions.

The guy at the RV shop was right.  With a trailer as heavy as you specify.  It is a matter of safety, you wil be dropping around 750 lbs of weight on the rear axles of your rather light truck.  That spells oversteer and instability. 

Don't worry.  The guy at the RV shop, or some other RV shop, should sell you a Class IV weight distributing system.  I assume your reciever is 2-1/2", you have two classes of ball,  5-6000 lbs and 10-12,000 lbs.  A Class IV WD system requires a specific ball mount and those should come with a properly rated ball with a 2-5/16" shank.

For my first trip I'm just going to a campground about 45 minutes from home and its a straight shot down the expressway on very flat land.  Do you think I'll be ok for such a trip with just a hitch and sway until I decide on a weight distribution system?  And if I do, should I still be concerned about buying a higher rated hitch ball in the meantime?

Not very.  The bad thing to do with a trailer is piling load aft of the axles.  A tail heavy trailer is an unstable trailer.  Truck loads have to cope with the fact that the tongue weight of the trailer will add about 750 lbs to the payload your truck can take.  Adding a whole lot to the truck bed may push things a bit.  Load the trailer, load the truck, just do not go berserk.  Determine the Gross Weight Rating of your trailer from the DOT plate fixed to it -- usually at the front left hand outside.  Respect it.

Good, that eases my mind.  We're not everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type packers anyways.  Also, most of the places we are planning to go so far have full hookups so we shouldn't be carrying any potable water weight.

thanks! 
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Frankly I would not go near an expressway with out adequate weight distribution.    Speed and passage of crosswinds or truck shock waves is what triggers uncontrolled sway.  That plus the oversteer condition of the trunk under undistributed tongue weight.  If you have absolutely have to go, ignoring safety concerns, stay offf the expressway.  Use surface roads.

You probably want to carry at least a third of a tank of freshwater to allow use of the toilet and washing up along the road.  After all one of the advantages of a TT is that its facilities are available during travel.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,498
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Assuming you have the factory-installed Class IV receiver, it is rated for a max trailer tongue weight of 1200 lbs.  The 5000 lb stamped on the ball refers to the gross trailer weight and yes, you will undoubtedly be exceeding that, so a new ball in in order.  Your trailer almost surely weighs more than the spec dry weight, since that figure rarely includes all the equipment actually installed - it's the weight for a "barebones" version.

Guessing that your loaded weight will be close to 6000 lbs, we can estimate about 900 lbs (15%) for the tongue weight.  That's quite a bit, since the payload for this truck is only around 1350 lbs, based on the 2006 Ram 1500 specs. (See the  Dodge Towing Guide ). With the wife , kids, dog and some toys in the truck, you are going to be pushing that limit, so a weight distributing hitch would be a plus for safety.

Can you tow it without one? Sure, as long as all goes well. It's when the need arises for that sudden maneuver to avoid an accident that you will regret not having one.
 

tettnanger

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Posts
9
Location
Metro Detroit
Carl and Gary, thanks a lot for your input.  I will definitely heed your advice and buy a WD system.  And for the upcoming weekend I'll stick to backroad 2-lane highways instead of the expressway. 

One last question.  When I buy a WD system is it generally transportable from one trailer/vehicle to the next?  I recall seeing one in an RV showroom but I don't remember exactly how it looks.  In other words, if I upgrade to a different travel trailer down the road can I use this same WD system?  Is it welded on to the tongue?  Bolted on? 

thanks!
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
I have a Reese Dual Cam system.  It consists ball mount, spring bars, cam arms, and chain lifts.    The whole mess has been on three trailers, including a boat trailer, and on three tow vehicles, a Burb, a Ford E350 van, and a Ford Bronco over a period of 15 years.

I have really amortized my investment -- I think I am down to about $50 a year.  I blow more than that on beer... easy.  ;D
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
118,459
Posts
1,187,108
Members
123,020
Latest member
Debarnold12
Top Bottom