Sell the camper or get a bigger truck

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New member
May 9, 2006
We just bought the fifth wheel a couple of weeks ago. I had a feeling going into it that the weight would be borderline. I think the engine is a bit underpowered but the truck rides and handles very well.

If anyone would care to look at the numbers, I would really appreciate your comments. All of the weights are from the manufacturers stickers.

One question about the trailer - How do they take a GAWR of 4300 per axle and come up with a GVWR of 9000.

1995 Chevrolet 2500 4x4 6.5TD 195HP 3.73 4L80E long bed extended cab:
Do not know actual weight of truck
34 gal. fuel tank
Overload springs on rear
Towing with goose neck adapter

Cargo weight rating = 1757 lb.
GVWR = 8600 lb.
GAWR Frt. = 4250 lb.
GAWR RR = 6000 lb.

1999 26.5 Wilderness Fifth Wheel:
Do not know pin weight
Front bedroom slide
4000 ONAN Genset permanently mounted in front

GVWR = 9000 lb.
GAWR = 4300 lb. per axle
UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) = 7348 lb.
NCC (net carrying capacity)  = 1652 lb.

56 gal. water = 467 lb. @ 8.33 lb. per gal.
I believe the pin weight (15 to 20 percent of trailer GVWR) has you a little over.  Remember, when you figure the cargo weight your truck is carrying you have to include everything including you, family, tools, hitch, fuel to mention a few.  I suggest you first load your truck like it would be when pulling the 5th wheel and fill it with fuel and weigh it at your local truck stop CAT scales, moving company, gravel pit or salvage yard.  That will tell you what your remaining payload can be.  This might be a good reason (excuse) to get one of the new Silverado or Sierra duleys when they come out next month.  Good luck.
One question about the trailer - How do they take a GAWR of 4300 per axle and come up with a GVWR of 9000.
A portion of the trailer weight is always carried on either the kingpin (hitch) or the front landing gear when unhitched. The axles never carry the entire load, so the GVWR is greater than the sum of the axles.  The drawback to this is that the brakes are sized for the axles, not the GVWR, so the trailer will always be under-braked when the manufacturer uses this approach.  When shopping for a trailer, it is wide to look for one whose axle GAWRs are closest to the GVWR or to request  upgraded axles to get bigger brakes.

The 6.5L diesel in your truck is a notorious wimp and Chevy finally replaced it with the excellent Isuzu (Duramax).

You need to learn the GCWR of the truck, the max combined weight of truck and trailer.  I suspect it is under 20,000 lbs, maybe 18k or so. Some research on the web may turn it up, but Chevy doesn't maintain the official trailer guides online back that far. With everything you have onboard, you are probably pushing the limit.  The first step is to weigh the truck (separately) and then weigh the truck with trailer hitched, axle by axle and then you will have a clue.

You are quite likely exceeding your rear axle GAWR, especially with that big Onan on the front of the trailer.
Well the question was "Buy a bigger truck or sell the camper"

As a dedicated viewer of Tim Allen's "Home Improvement" show. there can be only one answer

BUY A BIGGER TRUCK (Even if you don't need it which it appears you do) :)

I will tell you... I've seen some big campers (And boats) pulled by some, in my opinion, WAY TOO SMALL tow vehicles.

And as a police dispatcher with "Long Eyes" (over 150 remotely controlled cameras that could see most of the freeways we were responsible for) I've seen what happens to those consists too... Way too many times.

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