Question about a dual purpose truck

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Halo

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My girlfriend has been given an opportunity to pick up a fifth wheel trailer at a fantastic price. Unfortunately its due to a divorce. But she has been offered an almost new 15,000 lb (I dont know the brand) 5th wheel that was $75k new for $50k. Her question to me (being the good car guy that I am) was which truck would be the best choice for her.

Im a life long Chevy guy and suggested the Silverado 3500 dualie 2 wheel drive with a 454 big block. Now the thing is she will be using it to puill maybe a half dozen times a year but it will be her daily driver the rest of the year. I know the Duramax 6600 is an awesome performer and a torque monster in the 600 ft lb range right? But like I said this will just be her daily driver 95% of the time.

What do you think is the best choice as a compromise? Shes a very petite lady so the truck cant be some hard do deal with brute either. I suggested 2 wheel drive as she doesnt anticipate any wild and woolie hard core back woods travel. It will probably be to the more "civilized" campgrounds.

I thought the big block engine a better choice as it is a heavy trailer and mid range gearing on the rear end because like I said before it will also be a daily driver and a gas engine just because its easier to deal with on a day to day basis for regular travel than a diesel. So am I fulla crap in my thinking? Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!
 

N Smock

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Since  you asked I will give you my opinions which are just that. I think that the trailer may be too heavy for the truck, you said the trailer was 15,000 # is that empty or GVW? The last time I looked at the GMC site the Duramax was rated for 27,000# CGWR. To get the max capacity you will need the 11,400# chassis which not yield a real comfy ride for a daily driver. You will find that 4 wheel drive is very helpful in campgrounds on wet grass, it takes a lot to start that big load moving on slippery grass.

Here is the GMC site: http://www.gmc.com/sierra/specsDimension.jsp?vehicle=3500
As far as the engine is concerned the only way the gasser will get big towing is with 4:10 rears, so much for gas mileage. With the diesel over the road you get 18-21 mpg with a 35 gal tank stops are not often. The economy of the gasser will not be that good and towing the gasser will be worse too.

Attached is a spreadsheet you can use to help evaluate the numbers and see if it works for you. Remember the leave some slack so you can climb hills. Just fill in the blue cells with your numbers. Remember that the curb weight will increase by 400-700# based on options.


Nelson
 

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  • Trailer analysis GMC 1-ton.xls
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Halo

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Excellent! Thats exactly the sort of information I am looking for. I checked back with the GF and she said its 13,000 lbs empty and 16,000 GVW. I havent seen it myself yet but from what you have said it sounds to be on the large side. Do you think that a 2500 HD with the 6600 Power Package and Trailering Package would be suitable? We dont post much here, mostly just read but the site is a real wealth of info.
 

Carl L

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.... I checked back with the GF and she said its 13,000 lbs empty and 16,000 GVW. I havent seen it myself yet but from what you have said it sounds to be on the large side. Do you think that a 2500 HD with the 6600 Power Package and Trailering Package would be suitable?

The truck is barely adequate to pull a 16,000 GVW trailer.? ?Go to the 2005 model year Trailer Life Towing tables at
http://www.trailerlife.com/output.cfm?id=42175 ?You will see that it has a tow rating of 16,000 in the ext. cab configuration.

We generally recommend a head room of some 10% to allow for hills, wind, and aging truck.? ?I like 15-20% if you plan to travel in the mountain west to allow for long, long 6% grades over 7-8000 foot passes.

With a 16,000 lb GVWR? Fiver you are edging into medium truck territory -- check them out.

You also may want to check out the licensing requirements of your state.? In California, you cannot drive a Fiver over 15,000 GVWR on a class C license -- a non-commercial Class A is required.? ?A Class C can drive a Fiver over 10,000 but under 15,000 lbs GVWR with endorsement

Sorry to be a crepe hanger but that is a big trailer.

 

Halo

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I will check on the licensing, thanks for all the info. So you would suggest the burliest 3500 we could get? Or bigger? I will check the tow tables at Trailerlife for sure. I have not seen the trailer myself so Im trying to make semi-educated guesses (thanks to the knowledge base here) at this point. I will get my girlfriend involved in this thread as soon as I can. Shes actually away from home right now on a camping trip in a rented class A coach. Thanks again!
 

caltex

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"You also may want to check out the licensing requirements of your state.  In California, you cannot drive a Fiver over 15,000 GVWR on a class C license -- a non-commercial Class A is required.  A Class C can drive a Fiver over 10,000 but under 15,000 lbs GVWR with endorsement"


Carl, is there any requirement for a Class A license for motorhomes of any weight in CA?
 

Carl L

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So you would suggest the burliest 3500 we could get? Or bigger?

Bigger.? ?The move to 3500 from 2500 does not seem to get you much in towing -- if anything at all.
Take a look at the specs on the Trailer Life tables for F450 and F550 trucks.? ?Yeah, I know Ford! ? ::) ? But hey, whatever works. ?No?

Medium duty trucks. ? There are a lot out there. ? Check out this site http://www.rvtruck.com/rv_truck_002.htm. ? I do not know about the dealership, but the site shows a lot of MD trucks adapted to 5th wheel hauling. ? You might want to look at them before you dump a ton or two of money into an heavy duty light truck. ?
 

Carl L

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Carl, is there any requirement for a Class A license for motorhomes of any weight in CA?

Extracting? the motorhome related material in the 2005 Driving in California hand book published by the SC Auto Club (AAA) dated Jan 1, 2005.

Class C:? ?Any two axle vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs or less;
? ? ? ? ? ? ? Any three axle vehicle weighing 6000 lbs or less, gross.?

Class B:? Any single vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs;
? ? ? ? ? ? Any three axle vehicle;
? ? ? ? ? ? ?Motorhomes in excess of 40 with a motorhome endorsement.

Class A:? ?Any legal combination of vehicles including those under Class B and C.?


It looks like motorhomes have to sweat out the difference between B and C.

I will not bore you with the trailer towing rules which are even more complicated.
 

Halo

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Ahhh! I should have explained. I live in Ca and the girlfriend lives in Virginia. The 5th wheel is also in Virginia and most likely wont be coming out to Ca. Thats why I havent seen it yet. I asked her about needing a class A to drive the coach and she said they told her no, A class C was fine. Maybe thats just Virginia.
 

Carl L

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Thanks Carl, looks a lot like Texas - go over 26,000 GVWR and you need to upgrade your license.

It may be a part of the uniform vehicle code that the feds tout.  That said, state towing laws and licensing laws vary a lot.
 

Tom

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Carl,

Looks like you omitted the last line of the CA code for a Class C license holder. From the CA DMV web site:

  • any 2-axle vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less
  • any 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or less gross
  • any house car

That would suggest a motorhome with no weight or axle restrictions. But, like so many CA traffic laws and regulations, there's more than one correct answer.

P.S. thought I'd check on the DMV definition of house car:

A "house car" is a motor vehicle originally designed, or permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation, or to which a camper has been permanently attached.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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With a trailer that size, she will need at least the 3500 to carry the weight the fiver puts on the hitch, which will be almost directly over the rear axle.  The 3500 will have about 1000 lb greater rear axle GAWR.

I know a guy pulling a similar size (actually a boit heavier) with a Chevy 3500 diesel and it say sit handles it well, despite the fact he is over the truck's GVWR and GCWR. Whether she is willing to take that kind of risk, though...

She will also want a long bed truck for towing a big fiver. Guessing she will also want a extended  cab or even a full 4 door drew cab, that makes it a Looong truck, about 21 feet in overall length.  That's a handful in the mall parking lot!


That is a BIG trailer, one a fulltimer might use. Really overkill for an occasional outing.I wonder if she might not be happier trading down on the trailer and getting something a bit smaller. There are many really nice 29-31 footers that will weigh in around 9-11,000 lbs and be more manageable for the occasional weekend.  And stay within the capabilities of a lesser truck.  If she is getting a good enough deal on the big one, she might be able to swap even or maybe even get a few bucks in her purse.
 

Carl L

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That would suggest a motorhome with no weight or axle restrictions. But, like so many CA traffic laws and regulations, there's more than one correct answer.

My bad.? :-[

In quoting the AAA book, I omitted the most significant phrase.? ?Let me correct:

Class C:? ?Any 2-axle vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less
? ? ? ? ? ? ?Any 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or less gross
? ? ? ? ? ? ? A motorhome 40 feet in length or less.


It would appear that the staff lawyers at the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) have interpreted the legalese of the Vehicle Code's house car, as motorhome.? ? ?So land yachts 40-foot on down require only a Class C.? The 41-foot plus battleships require an endorsed Class B.

Thanks for the catch.
 

Carl L

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That is a BIG trailer, one a fulltimer might use. Really overkill for an occasional outing.I wonder if she might not be happier trading down on the trailer and getting something a bit smaller. There are many really nice 29-31 footers that will weigh in around 9-11,000 lbs and be more manageable for the occasional weekend.  And stay within the capabilities of a lesser truck.  If she is getting a good enough deal on the big one, she might be able to swap even or maybe even get a few bucks in her purse.

Good advice as always Gary.  As big a trailer as that is a full timer's rig.  It requires a big pricey tow vehicle, a medium truck to haul it safely.  Amortizing that cost as principal housing makes sense.  As a vacation home, it is a really expensive vacation. 
 

Tom

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LOL Carl, I was just checking to make sure I was legal  :)
 
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