Truck Towing Capacity?

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Homeskillet

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It has been a long time since I have posted on here, but just a few quick questions to the experts  :):

We are looking into full timing it in a fifth wheel, but currently have a Ford F-150 that only has a towing capacity of 9,000 lbs. (max).  Obviously that wouldn?t be much of a fifth wheel to live in full time.  So, we are trying to ascertain what towing capability we should have - and, I would surmise that you wouldn?t want to get close to the max towing capacity anyway (?).

If a truck has a towing capacity of, say, 12,000 lbs., I wonder what weight fifth wheel a person would want to purchase to travel comfortably/safely?

Or, since I own a smart car we could buy a motor home and just pull it, but, that seems farrr more expensive from what I am seeing at various RV dealers online.

Finally, I have never driven an RV, but have transported plant machinery.  Which is easier to learn for a newbie like myself (out of a fifth wheel, travel trailer, or motor home)?

(Perhaps this is another thread, but do y?all have any specific dealers and packages (e.g., Good Sam, etc.) that y?all would suggest?  I reside in Oregon.)

Thank you much in advance.  May take me a day or two to respond.  I do remember that I enjoyed the general tone of this forum  :).
 

SeilerBird

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I have towed trailers and I have driven motorhomes. I consider both very easy to do. The motorhome might be slightly easier. But I also considered driving either one as fun. I just love to drive.
 

xrated

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If you are going to a fifth wheel camper, I'm going to suggest a minimum of a 1 Ton truck.  And depending on the size of the trailer, SRW or DRW.  Lots of folks mistakenly buy a F250 to tow 5vers and what they find is that a F250 with the diesel engine takes away so much of the available payload capacity (diesel engine and transmission normally add about 600 lbs or so) that they end up with payload numbers in the 2100-2300 lbs.  I'll give you an example of my previous truck.....which by the way was a mistake on my part because I didn't know any better at the time I bought it.
2011 F250 CrewCab, 4x4, Diesel, XLT trim (Lariat and King Ranch have even less payload capacity because of all of the extra equipment and amenities on them), and the payload was.........2148 lb.  Not very much if you are hoping for a decent size 5ver, especially when you figure that about 20 % of the trailer weight will be the pin weight, which is of course deducted from the available payload for the truck. 

So looking at a 5ver that is just 10,000 lbs, the pin weight would be 2000 lbs.  Add in a 5ver hitch and you are at approx. 2150-2200 lbs.  So, you are right at payload capacity before you even start adding in the other stuff that goes along for the camping trip.  Anything and everything that goes in or on the truck will have to be added up, then deducted from available payload.  So, as you can see, I would recommend starting out with a 1 Ton truck.....which normally adds about 1000 lbs of payload over the F250 same or similar truck.  And of course if you are going big....15K and up trailers....probably no good reason to not go with a Dually truck.  My present truck is a 2016 F350 Dually CrewCab, 4x4, King Ranch, and even with all the equipment that it has on it, I still have a white/yellow sticker showing that the payload is 5270 lbs.....big enough for a very big 5ver for sure.
 

Gods Country

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I would focus primarily on the trucks payload/cargo capacity.  That is almost certainly to be the weak point of your purchase, since it varies a lot from vehicle to vehicle.  In general try to stay within 80-85% of payload, and towing.
 

garyb1st

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If owning a small car is one of your reasons to go with a motorhome, you should determine if your car can be towed.  If not, you need to consider the cost of a dolly or trailer. 
 

scottydl

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Your planned usage may be a reason to choose one style of RV over another (motorhome or 5th wheel). Many folks prefer 5ers if they generally park in one place for months at a time, moving around only a few times/year. Motorhomes fare better if they're driven on a regular basis, although you'll find plenty of full-timers who own them also. It might be more convenient sometimes to have the "toad" (your small vehicle towed behind) as your daily driver, instead of your huge pickup. Motorhomes are much more expensive up front because of the heavy-duty drivetrain under the RV body. Of course, with a giant 5er you still need that drivetrain in the truck... so you'll likely be spending the same money either way.

Also, there are a LOT of good deals on gently used RV's out there. Dealer prices should not be your benchmark. NADAguides.com is a good place to start to get an idea of used values for any given year/make/model of motorhome or trailer. It takes a lot of time, patience, and research research research to find the right rig, at the right price, that will meet your needs and wants.
 

grashley

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Welcome Back!

First, go shopping and climb in and out of as many rigs as your knees can handle.  Look at all styles - bumper pull, Fifth Wheel, toy haulers, motor homes, both class C and class A.  Fairly quickly, you will eliminate some styles and lean towards others.

Make a list of what your ideal camper MUST HAVE, like large kitchen or walk around bed and a list of CAN NOT HAVE like dinette (or table) or bunks.  Take lots of notes.

This exercise will help you decide what size camper you want as well.

THE MOST IMPORTANT decision is Floor Plan.  You must love the floor plan or you will never really like the camper.

Once you narrow down your choices, we can discuss Tow vehicle or Toad options.
 

Homeskillet

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Thank y'all for the advice.  After posting last night I went to the library to review the tremendous info.  Much of the jargon is unfamiliar to me, such as "payload," "pin weight," front axle vs. back axle weight, etc.  I well realized that I have a ton to learn & it seems that there are pros & cons to all rigs.

For ex., someone made the excellent point that if you go w. a motor home you will pay more upfront, but if we went w. a trailer we would need a much-much bigger truck...hence, we're right back to a large out of pocket expense. 

What about travel trailers w. a tow bar?  TT seems much less expensive & light, but, again, the weight thing throws me off.  For ex., our Ford F-150 has a towing capacity of 9,000 lbs., which, in my figuring would put us buying a rig of no more than 5,500 lbs dry weight to accommodate all of the extra weight we would put in the truck & rig (which I estimate to be around 2,500 lbs.).  Or, we could go w. a 2500 truck & get a little larger TT.  But, then, I have never pulled so I'm not so sure I could handle a rig over 30ft. (esp. considering camp site regs.).

Just seems so much easier to pull a toad behind a MH, but, then there's the issue of how often to crank & run the MH.  That is, how long can one safely sit w.out risking mechanical issues (not to mention how I would then have 2 engines to look after)?

Would like to purchase something other than dealers, but have no idea where to even begin?  Seems like dealers can get you financed far easier than, say, attempting to get it done independently (esp. for someone self-employed like myself).

Regardless, y'all have really made me think more thoroughly  ;).  Now I remember why I enjoyed this forum so much!
 

Frank B

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Grashley nailed it. Spend some time looking around first, and decide what it is that you need. Then you can start shopping for a fifth wheel. Once you have determined which trailer you want, then go buy the truck that will handle it.
 

grashley

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Homeskillet said:
Just seems so much easier to pull a toad behind a MH, but, then there's the issue of how often to crank & run the MH.  That is, how long can one safely sit w.out risking mechanical issues (not to mention how I would then have 2 engines to look after)?

Would like to purchase something other than dealers, but have no idea where to even begin?  Seems like dealers can get you financed far easier than, say, attempting to get it done independently (esp. for someone self-employed like myself).

Do you plan to stay in one place for extended time - months?  If so, that would suggest a trailer or FW for the reasons you mentioned.

Your F150 is totally incapable of towing a FW.  A FW places 20% of its' weight directly in the bed of the truck.  HOWEVER  a TT only places 10 - 12% of its' weight on the bumper, so a moderate to small TT would work for the truck, but maybe not to full time.

Buying used from private sellers is quite possible.  Once you wear out a few dealers and decide what you really want, go on line to shop.  I suggest  PPL.com,    RVTrader,    RVT      E Bay      Local dealers web sites (they may have exactly what you want). 
I found my FW on RVTrader from a private seller.

For financing, talk to your bank to see what is possible.  They can explain the process they use.

As for towing, the trailer pretty much follows the truck.  The only real issues are tight turns in town where the camper may track a couple feet inside the turn, or in campgrounds with "attack trees" that jump into the side of your camper when you turn.
 

longhaul

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Your F150 truck can safely tow a 5th wheel trailer if the weights match up with your trucks load carrying capacity and tow rating. There are small 5th wheel trailers out here but not really big enough to full time in.

However a 12000 lb 5th wheel can have 2400 lbs of hitch weight (pin weight. Now add 200 lbs for a hitch and another 100 lbs for junk in the bed = 2700 lbs. Your looking at a new gen 3/4 ton trucks with a 6000/6200/6340/6500 rawr (rear axle rating). The higher the axle rating the higher in the bed payload. These can have 3000-3200 lb in the bed payloads.

 

Hanr3

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Look at the K-Z Sportsmen 231RK 5th wheel. They call it a couples camper. Has all the modern conveniences. Rear kitchen, 4 tanks (38 gallon fresh water, two gray water tanks total 89 gallons and a 57 gallon black tank). 30 amp unit with a 10cubic foot refer (upgrade), and 15,000BTU A/C (upgrade), 30,000 BTU furnace (upgrade), insulated under belly for 4 season camping. tv, stereo, dvd player, cable ready, satellite ready, solar ready, power awning with optional wind detector/auto retract, and optional security light, single slide out, jack knife couch, table, queen bed, etc. You will need a slider hitch, the pin box is short and won't reach the 5th wheel hitch in travel position without hitting your lowered tailgate, or buy a 5th wheel tailgate and leave it up. 7,000 GWR about 1,400 pin weight if maxed out. Empty trailer is 5,925 pounds with 850 pound pin weight. I'm towing it with a 1/2 ton. Granted mine has a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds and I have a payload capacity of 2,100 pounds minus the misses, I and the hitch.

 

Homeskillet

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Okay, got it!  Did not think about finding a trailer first, then locating a truck that can handle it.  Since we would be staying in one place for extended periods I would think a TT or FW would be the way to go.  A pastor friend of mine who used to full-time for many years told me that the longer you?re in it the smaller it gets, thus, get as many slide outs as possible (he also favored the FW).

Thanks to everyone again!
 

Homeskillet

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Hanr3 said:
Look at the K-Z Sportsmen 231RK 5th wheel. They call it a couples camper. Has all the modern conveniences. Rear kitchen, 4 tanks (38 gallon fresh water, two gray water tanks total 89 gallons and a 57 gallon black tank). 30 amp unit with a 10cubic foot refer (upgrade), and 15,000BTU A/C (upgrade), 30,000 BTU furnace (upgrade), insulated under belly for 4 season camping. tv, stereo, dvd player, cable ready, satellite ready, solar ready, power awning with optional wind detector/auto retract, and optional security light, single slide out, jack knife couch, table, queen bed, etc. You will need a slider hitch, the pin box is short and won't reach the 5th wheel hitch in travel position without hitting your lowered tailgate, or buy a 5th wheel tailgate and leave it up. 7,000 GWR about 1,400 pin weight if maxed out. Empty trailer is 5,925 pounds with 850 pound pin weight. I'm towing it with a 1/2 ton. Granted mine has a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds and I have a payload capacity of 2,100 pounds minus the misses, I and the hitch.

Sounds interesting - thank you!
 

RVRAC

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I you want a FW, get a 3500 truck.  I learned that the hard way a few years back.  If not, you will regret it sooner or later.
 

rbrdriver

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Ditto on getting the right truck first, especially if you're thinking fifth wheel! I made that same mistake of getting the trailer first and then wishing that I had bigger truck. If you are going full time like we did you will quickly find out that size and floor plan does matter. So I would urge you to consider 1 ton truck if you are thinking fifth wheel. Just saying......
 

Broke Boater

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Buy nice, cry once. I look at a newer or new Diesel 1 ton this way. With a general life of the Diesel truck's engine 350k-plus miles, and if I drive it 10-12k miles a year, which right now it's only about 8k a year. It very well may be the last truck I need. Of course wear parts will be R&R, but that is on any truck. You folks in snow country won't have a long life on the sheet metal as we do out west, I get that. There will be a day when towing a big boat will be too much for Lisa and I and we'll trade out the camper and get a FW, but I'll always have more truck then is required for the towing,,,gregg
 

Homeskillet

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Ok, so I am taking y?all?s advice & currently looking at F-350 diesel trucks.  They are telling me I won?t need a dually and they are significantly more costly.

I am a bit confused on the weight issues.  They asked me how much the FW or TT would weigh.  I responded that I would need to be able to pull 15,000 lbs. easily up and down very large hills since I would be full-timing across the country.  I would probably buy a rig weighing around 11,000 lbs.  Not sure how much to add onto dry weight for all of our belonging (e.g., clothes, luggage, 2 adults & a little dog), etc. 

2 quick questions:

Will an F-350-diesel pull that much weight easily?

TT?s seem lighter & less expensive, but are they more difficult to tow?  I assume I would want a tow-bar for a TT?

I have never towed so I am definitely wanting the easier option for towing.

Thank you all again.  Very informative & helpful in my decision making.
 

rbrdriver

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Having towed both, I prefer the fifth wheel, assuming that you have the proper truck. You get more bang for your buck, such as more storage, etc. The fifth wheel is usually more stable while towing and to me anyway the hitching up is easier and quicker. Backing in to a spot especially if you have to "jacknife" into it is a little more challenging but practice makes perfect. Just my 2cents worth.....
 

Rob&Deryl

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Homeskillet said:
Ok, so I am taking y?all?s advice & currently looking at F-350 diesel trucks.  They are telling me I won?t need a dually and they are significantly more costly.

I am a bit confused on the weight issues.  They asked me how much the FW or TT would weigh.  I responded that I would need to be able to pull 15,000 lbs. easily up and down very large hills since I would be full-timing across the country.  I would probably buy a rig weighing around 11,000 lbs.  Not sure how much to add onto dry weight for all of our belonging (e.g., clothes, luggage, 2 adults & a little dog), etc. 

2 quick questions:

Will an F-350-diesel pull that much weight easily?

TT?s seem lighter & less expensive, but are they more difficult to tow?  I assume I would want a tow-bar for a TT?

I have never towed so I am definitely wanting the easier option for towing.

Thank you all again.  Very informative & helpful in my decision making.

Always use GVWR for weights. No one goes with an empty trailer or truck. Heck, the only time the trailer weighs what the dry weigh says is when in rolls out of the factory. The dealer adds weight. Might just be a welcome carpet or might be lots more.

Pulling is easy. Stopping not so much. The limit on your truck will be the cargo capacity, not the towing capacity. Trailers push down on the truck. Either at the rear bumper area for a TT or middle of bed for a 5th wheel.

You need to subtract from the cargo capacity of your truck (as listed on the drivers door post sticker with the yellow border) things like passengers, tools in the truck, luggage, pets and the trailer hitch.
The remaining capacity is now available for the trailer.

TTs place around 10% to 12% of their weight on your truck.
5th wheels place 20% to 25% of their weight on your truck.
Use the trailer GVWR for figuring this out. The trailer may list dry weight and cargo carrying capacity on the sticker. Add them up to get GVWR.
 

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