tow capacity/fifth wheels

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diver110

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I am new to rving, don't own one yet.  I sort of got the idea of why people like them after driving around the country in a car last summer.  The hotel thing got old, and could be expensive.  Of course, buying an rv ain't exactly cheap either.  Still, looking forward to retiring and maybe full-timing, if I am on my own I would lean to a fifth wheel and a truck to avoid having to tow a car (though I am told it is not that big of a deal).

I would tend to want to err toward a smaller fifth wheel and smaller truck.  Is there anywhere I can look up truck tow capacities and matching fifth wheels?  I did a search of this cite, but did not find anything.  Thanks!
 

Carl L

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We use the Trailer Life Magazine's tow rating tables on there website at http://www.trailerlife.com/output.cfm?id=42175  (Click on the URL for a look see.)

Trailer weights a bit harder to come by.  The number you want is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the trailer.  This can come from two sources.  One way, for units you see on a dealer's lot, is the DOT plate usually found on the driver-side front of the trailer.  The other way, is on a manufacturer's website or in their brochures.  There it can be found either a GVWR number or as the sum of the Dry Weight plus Carrying Capacity. 

We like to allow a safety factor of 10% in the tow ratings.  If you plan on towing in the mountain or Pacific west, allow 20% to account for high altitudes and long, long grades  altho turbo diesel trucks can cut that back to the original 10%.

With 5th Wheel trailer, you should look for nothing less than a F250 or 2500 truck.  The F150s and 1500s are too light for most all 5ers.
 

diver110

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Thanks for the feedback.  Most weights given are dry weight, so figure the fifth wheel weighs 9000 pounts, figure the better part of 2000 pound for the hitch, maybe 1000 pounds for water and stuff one adds, that is 12000 pounds plus 10% if we assume diesel, I am at 13,200 pounds, 14400 for a gas engine.  Am I figuring this intelligently?

I did not see anything in a V8 that would tow that, so it pretty much looks like a V10 or a turbo diesel.  I would tend to favor that latter.  It would last longer and I assume would get a bit better gas mileage.

Am I missing anything?  Thanks for your help!
 

Carl L

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Most weights given are dry weight,

Look harder.  Somewhere in most ads there is a number for carrying capacity (CC) as well as dry weight.  The sum of the two is, or should be, equal to GVWR.  Work with that number if you can at all, it is a DOT number and will carry across brand and model designations to give you a comparison.

 

diver110

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Thanks.  GVWR is not always listed, but it sometimes is.  Depending on how much the hitch weighs, and adding in the 10%, 15,000 pound towing capacity would be right at the margin for a 30 footer, 16,000 pounds would be better.  Takes a big engine!  Am I right, that fifth wheels are easier to tow than travel trailers?  I notice you have the latter.
 

Carl L

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diver110 said:
Thanks.? GVWR is not always listed, but it sometimes is.? Depending on how much the hitch weighs, and adding in the 10%, 15,000 pound towing capacity would be right at the margin for a 30 footer, 16,000 pounds would be better.? Takes a big engine!? Am I right, that fifth wheels are easier to tow than travel trailers?? I notice you have the latter.

The reason I keep harping on getting either a GVWR, or a dry weight plus carrying capacity, is that is a single number with no guesswork involved, and you will inevitably fill a trailer to something awfully close to GVWR.  Every website I have seen has one set of figures or the other and the DOT plate always has GVWR.
If you start adding guesses together as to weights of various items with no experience in the RV thing, the more likely you are going to be to guess wrong.

Travel trailers are easy to tow.  All that is needed is a good weight distributing hitch and an anti-sway system.  There are a number of such on the market.  Yes they cost money but then 5th wheel hitch is not free either.  TTs track the truck better than 5ers on a turn, they have flat floor plans, run to lighter weights than 5ers, have lighter tongue weights which is distributed between both truck axles by a WD hitch, and can be towed by SUVs and Vans as well as pick ups.  5ers can run to very large sizes better than TTs.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Most weights given are dry weight, so figure the fifth wheel weighs 9000 pounts, figure the better part of 2000 pound for the hitch...

Im unclear about this "2000 pounds for the hitch" you are adding to everything.  The only hitch weight you have to consider is the 200 pound weight of the actual fifth wheel hitch on the truck, which is part of the total load on the truck.  It sounds as though you are adding the kingpin (hitch) weight of the trailer, but that is already part of the trailer dry weight. The exception to this would be a weight called "axle dry weight, which is the weight on the trailer's axles when the landing gear are down and supporting the nose (kingpin). In that case you would indeed add about 15-20% to get the total trailer weight.

As John says, forget about dry weight, unless it is to add dry weight plus carrying capacity to yield GVWR. And jst about all the manufacturer's web sites have GVWR in the specs somewhere.

A 30 foot trailer of the mid-to-upper end class usually weighs in around 10,000-12,000 lbs. So called "lite" models may be less.
 

diver110

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Carl, thanks for all of the help.  If I can impose on you for another couple of questions, at what size to fifth wheels become preferable to TT?  It seems like I see more fifth wheels on the road that TT?  Perhaps I am just not counting right, but given what you say, why are there as many fifth wheels as their are?

Also, based on the other post, I may have been misinformed about fifth wheel travel hitches.  Do I have to factor in the weight of the hitch (for fifth wheels or TT) in figuring  tow capacity?

Again many thanks (and ot Gary as well).
 

PancakeBill

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Fith wheels that have standup headroom in the front are preferable to TT's, when you go for the Lite version where you need to stoop up there, for comfort and liveabiliy, the TT would win out.  5ers are easier to back up.  Going forward I think the 5er is more tracking.

As to capacity, everything you add, subtrracts from total.  IOW if you have a 16k cap and you add a gallon of water, you just decreased by 8 pounds. 

 

Carl L

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diver110 said:
Carl, thanks for all of the help.? If I can impose on you for another couple of questions, at what size to fifth wheels become preferable to TT?? It seems like I see more fifth wheels on the road that TT?? Perhaps I am just not counting right, but given what you say, why are there as many fifth wheels as their are?

Also, based on the other post, I may have been misinformed about fifth wheel travel hitches.? Do I have to factor in the weight of the hitch (for fifth wheels or TT) in figuring? tow capacity?

Again many thanks (and ot Gary as well).

1.? That is a decision that depends on market.? There simply are more big 5ers than TTs.? If I were to pick a dividing line it would be at 30 feet/10,000 lbs GVWR.? It is a very fuzzy dividing line.? ?People like big floor plans -- understandable if they are full timing; less so if they are into a vacation use.? In my opinion folks are trying to buy a replacement home instead of a cabin in the wood -- a mistake for a vacation trailer since you should do most of your living outside the trailer.

2.? Hitch weight?? Whut Gary said.? The hitch itself is on the truck not on the trailer.? It counts as truck weight and in the GCVWR not in tow rating.? ?Pin weight is a percentage of the trailer weight (for a 5er, 15-20%) and is a factor in rear axle weight ratings, not tow rating.  It is merely the part of the trailer weight that bears on the truck axle, not on the trailer axles.

 

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