Questions about a 1/2 ton Fifth Wheel

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Kaycee

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Posts
5
Location
Minnesota
I know that you see quite a few questions like this but bear with me I'm new!

We are looking at possibly getting a Fifth Wheel to do some short ( 400 mile round trip) weekend trips.? And have been looking at some smaller units.

Tow vehicle is a 2005 Chevy 1500 Z71 4x4 extended cab short box. 5.3L, 3.42 rear, w/tow pkg.

Trailers that we are looking at are:
Amerilite 21FMS? ?640 hitch wt? 4405 dry wt
Insbruck 23FRBL? 940 hitch wt? 4705 dry wt
Rockwood 2320? 746 hitch wt? 4106 dry wt

Adding 1000 +/- for accessories etc puts us at a trailer weight around 6000 lbs,? the book at the dealer showed a max fifth wheel weight of 7900 lbs.

But now for the questions, this is the first larger trailer that we have owned, we have a boat and a 5x8 enclosed trailer. I do not like to overwork a vehicle asking it to do something it is not designed to do. Is this size trailer going to be a load that will turn out to be more of a pain than it's worth.

The last thing I want is to get a trailer and then not want to pull it because the truck has to work too hard just to get it out of the driveway.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Kaycee

 

N Smock

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Posts
246
Location
Long Branch, NJ
Try using the attached spreadsheet to help understand the loading on the truck. Just type in the corrcet numbers in the blue highlight cells.
 

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  • Trailer analysis bruce.xls
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Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,964
Location
At my Silver Springs FL home
According to Chevrolet, your truck has a 13,000 lb GCWR and a conventional trailer towing capacity of 7700 lbs. The tow capacity for a fifth wheel is the GCWR minus the loaded weight of the truck but is also limited by the truck's rear axle carrying capacity (which has to carry the  considerable "pin" weight of the fifth wheel).  The empty weight of a 1500 is about  5100 lb range, which leaves about 7900 for passengers, gear and trailer, but the payload capacity is listed as only  1350 lbs Your 4x4 will be slightly heavier and have slightly less payload unless it also has an increased payload option (stronger springs & larger tires).

My guess is that the pin weight of a 4500 lb fifth wheel is going to somewhat greater than the figures you listed. Fifth wheel pin weights tend to increase dramatically when the trailer is loaded and I would expect them to be in the 1200 lb range when ready for the road.  The Insbruck model probably has realistic "dry weight" figures but the others look to me like a "low ball" number.

Bottom line: These trailers are probably at the practical max for your truck.  Perfromance should be OK except on steep grades (hope you don't live in the Rockies!), but you aren't towing long distances and should be OK.  Go light on the gear and don't travel with full water tanks.

Your best bet is to get a fifth wheel hitch installed before buying a trailer, then insist on taking your prospective purchase to a scale for a weigh-in. Or get a written agreement that you can return the rig if it exceeds your trucks payload capacity or GCWR.  You might also want to look into a payload increase option for your truck - don't know how expensive it is to dealer-install, though.  It's conceivable you just need heavier duty tires and maybe different rear springs.

See  http://www.chevrolet.com/silverado/specifications/  for weights and towing information.

 

Kaycee

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Posts
5
Location
Minnesota
Thanks for advice. It has taken us a while to go through N Smocks program to find a trailer that would not bring up red flags all the way across the board.  Working with a payload of 1300 lbs, the normal load of passengers 200 lbs of cargo (went a little heavy on this) and 185 lbs for fuel. Left us about 465 lbs for tongue weight.
So this took the fifth wheel's right out the window.

So after lots of searching on floorplans and spec sheets, we have narrowed it down to an Ameri-lite 24RB.
It lists a dry weight of 3500 Max loaded of 5800 and a dry tongue wt of 330.

With N Smocks program it shows an average load with [email protected] 99% and [email protected] 82%

Now these weights are MFG listed so we figured the average load would allow for most variances. The 3.42 gearing in the TV will not make us speed demons but for midwest towing it should work.

Anyone have any comments on this set up. Is is a feasible combination? Or do we need to do more tweeking?

Thanks
KC
 
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