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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As mentioned in the thread I started yesterday, I have an '01 1500 Silverado 4x4, 5.3 engine (whatever happened to Cubic Inches?), with heavy duty towing package. I will get to my question, but here's a little background; my future sis-in-law is going through a divorce, last year, her and her soon to be ex bought a 27' Forrest River 5th wheel camper, real nice. They have it paid for, she's getting it in the divorce, mainly to p*ss the ex off. She said that myself and her sister could have it, we did offer to help get her condo and bills started and to move her and buy her some furniture for her new place. In exchange, she wants to be able to use it when we aren't. No problem, good deal.

My numbers and my question: My trucks towing capacity is 8500lbs, dry (empty) weight of camper is 6950lbs. Am I stupid (like I think I am) to try and pull this 5th wheel camper with a 1/2 ton truck? I know in a perfect and free-truck society, I should do it with a 3/4 ton, but what kind of trouble am I asking for? Will it kill the tranny? Does towing a 5th wheel vs a travel type camper offer any less load on the truck, tranny and motor (although, I know the motor can handle it)? As you can tell, I am not familiar with this type of towing, until now I have only pulled a little pop-up and my 5x8 trailer with this truck. Should I just take the truck and pop-up and sell them or trade them on a new GMC 2500HD Duramax? If so, can I borrow some money? I did borrow a relatives Ford 350 to pull a rented skid steer home, but that was just a weekend of fun. Any advice, thoughts and comments welcome.
 

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Jeff said:
My numbers and my question: My trucks towing capacity is 8500lbs, dry (empty) weight of camper is 6950lbs. Am I stupid (like I think I am) to try and pull this 5th wheel camper with a 1/2 ton truck? .
I think you may be getting Max weight, mixed up with max towing. I have never seen a 1/2ton truck that will tow 8500. your talking 1 ton truck to get that level. Probably looking more around 6k MAX. IMHO that 5th wheel is to big.
 

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Ingersoll444 said:
I think you may be getting Max weight, mixed up with max towing. I have never seen a 1/2ton truck that will tow 8500. your talking 1 ton truck to get that level. Probably looking more around 6k MAX. IMHO that 5th wheel is to big.
You have my truck only 1 year newer. I'm pretty sure my towing capacity is rated at 5500 lbs. In put on about 130,000 miles so far and have regularly towed loads of 8000 lbs and a little over. My horses in our horse trailer is 8500 lbs. My Tractor on a car hauler is around 8000.

I have some steep grades to get up, and I put the transmission in 1 & keep the RPM's up around 3500 to slowly get up the steeper grades. Even on level stuff, I take bumps easy and usually keep it in 2 or 3 on the tranny to keep it from shifting - even with the tow / haul button pressed, I try to control shifting more than it does to minimize tranny damage & keep RPMs up.

I'm not talking about what you should do, just giving you some indication of what an oversized load is like with your truck. That's with 8000 lbs.

Now with my 4000 lb 30' camper (which is probably more like 5000 lbs loaded), I do similar things on steeper grades, but it handles better and pulls easier. I have a 30' bumper pull Award camper. It is lower weight than other campers of the same size, due to it's aluminum frame & overall lower weight construction.

My overall observations with this truck. I would not tow 8000 lbs a long distance but I'd have no problem towing my 5000 lb trailer a couple hundred mile round trip camping. Go over that and it will be a long trip and possibly cause some damage.

Might be a pay me now or pay me later situation. Fork out the money for a heavier duty truck, or spend that money on repair bills on your 1500 later. I'm gambling on my 1500 for now but my next truck will be at minimum a 3/4 ton.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Numbers

I am very sketchy of towing it, I really don't want to, but I am checking the numbers and if it is possible, I will for a while anyway. Here are the numbers out of the owner's manual, keep in mind also that a 27' 5th wheel is about the shortest they make(some make a 24'), these numbers are specific to my truck:

Wheel Base - 157.5 inches
Overall Length - 246.6 inches
Width - 78.5 inches
Height - 70.8 inches
Curb Weight - 4828 lbs.
Tires / Wheel Size -P245/75R16
Rear Tires / Wheel Size -
Spare Tire Full
Turning Radius 50.4
Brakes: Front ABS
Disc
Axle Ratio - 4.10
Ground Clearance - 8.3
GVWR - 6400
Maximum Towing - 8600
Payload Base Capacity - 1288
Truck Bed Volume 71 cu.ft.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
p.s.

I should add that until I upgrade trucks, this camper will not travel more than 150 miles one way. No LD trips here until I know I have a 3/4 ton minimum and a deisel engine.
 

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I have seen 1500's pulling 5th wheel campers but not real big ones. Put some helper spings on and make sure the brakes on the truck and camper are in good working order and you should be ok. Also look into Trans cooler if you have an auto. My dad used to tow a 20' camper with a 68 plymouth and it didnt have any problems.
 

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It's not the towing ability that would scare me...but the stopping ability. You get going good and then have to make a quick stop for some reason that heavy camper would push the light weight of the truck all over the road. Even with the brakes on the camper that would still scare me to push it to the limit like that. :fing20:

Durwood
 
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Jeff, I am not say that it is not possible for you to tow this camper with your current truck but speaking from experience, you will either have to make some major & expensive modifications and even then you most likely will not be satisfied with how the truck performs. You may be able to live with it if you restrict yourself to short trips.

When you load up your camper with water and provisions/your stuff; it is very likely to be tipping the scales around 8,000 lbs. plus. Even though your truck has a tow capacity of 8,500 lbs. you need to check your owners manual or the placard in the door frame for what is the GCVWR or gross combined vehicle weight rating. This is more or less what the design limits of the truck is predicated upon. Things like the vehicle brakes, transmission, frame, etc. are what this has in mind.

You are correct about needing a 3/4 ton at the very minimum and I would strongly recommend considering a 1 ton dually for towing stability at speed. I STONGLY suggest a diesel and MANUAL transmission if you can live with one. I am sure there are differing opinions that will follow but in my opinion NONE of the current Auto Manufacturers make an OEM automatic transmission that will stand up to this type of towing. They will if you make major modifications to them but they will NOT is left stock.

My personal preference would be for the Dodge 3500 dually Quad Cab with the Cummins HO engine and the 6 speed NV5600 manual transmission. In 2006 Dodge is coming out with the Mega Cab which will have 4 FULL crew cab doors and cab space, not to mention 325 hp & 610 ft./lbs. torque or more for 2006. This is about as close as you will get to a pickup built to a road tractor's little brother. Yes.......VERY expensive. But consider the costs of repairs and modifications on your current truck from towing this camper and don't forget the very likely 7 to 8 miles per gallon you will get with your truck vs. the 16 to 18 mpg. with the Cummins diesel. The GCVWR for the 2005 Dodge 3500 Cummins with 4.10 axles is 23,500 lbs. Will you use all of this capacity? Probably not but running a vehicle at it absolute limits has its costs in accelerated wear and tear, not to mention performance and handling on the road.

Just throwing out some ideas and opinions to consider. You can certainly get by with less than the above but just consider ALL the relevant factors you will be dealing with when towing this heavy.

Below is a link to a good discussion on this subject:

http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.ef36949/0

Sorry about the long post! Hope this helps and gives you some food for thought.

Also, here is a picture of what I used to tow. The Suburban was TOTALLY overwhelmed. The engine spun a rod bearing at 32,000 miles and the transmission continually overheated in spite of some expensive modifications. The truck just was not up to it even though it was equipped with the 4L80E HD trans, 4.10 axles, HD tow package, auxilliary trans. oil cooler, magtech deep double capacity trans. oil pan, and synthetic trans fluid.

My guess is that you will be towing at least this much weight and MUCH more wind drag resistance.
 

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Jeff,

Be very thorough in determining the GCVWR when towing such a large rig. At the minium, you can be stopped and checked if highway patrol suspect you are over weight or unsafe. At the worst, if you are involved in an accident and are found to have been towing in excess of your vehicles GCVRW; the fines and penalties can be VERY severe; not to mention the liability implications.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks

All right, most of you pretty much confirmed what I already knew. It would probably do it, but it wouldn't be efficient, practical, or safe. Thanks Cheif for that long post, kind of info I was looking for and expecting. But I am not passing up on this deal, a $2000 bedroom suit, and some manual labor for a nice, year old, camped in once camper. SOLD. Luckily, her dad, my future FIL has a '00 F250 diesel that is ours for the borrowing at any time, but I hate to borrow peoples stuff, especially their vehicles even if he does neglect it.

Where at in TN Cheif? We are taking it down to Gatlinburg this weekend for a little test drive, camp. I'm bringing the beers...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Towing package

4.10 - it does have the HD towing package, trans cooler, HD springs, etc..But I am still too leary.
 

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Jeff -

With that kind of weight, take the tranny out of overdrive for all your towing - even on flat surfaces. Your gas mileage will suck but at least you should have a long lasting tranny. If a Tranny Temp Gauge came with your HVYDTY towing package, make sure you keep the needle out of the red even if it means having to pull over occassionally for a cool-down period.

ED
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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all the research Chief

Thanks Chief for doing all that research, and Ed for the good advice, but going by common sense and those charts above, I'd be an idiot to even try it. That trailer and my truck, EMPTY, would be 50 lbs under the GCVW limit. By the time I added me, wife to be, one dog, case of beers, and some red meat, I'd be screwed. And even then it would be a dry screwing cause I sure as crap couldn't haul any fresh water, and every where I camped would have to have a dump station. Just not worth it, and a new truck knocks me out of a new tractor, maybe even out of a marriage. ROF So guess I will have to do some masturdebating on the whole situation.

Life's a ***** then your SIL divorces her rich husband...
 

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This is a 13000 # McCormic sitting on a 30' duel wheeled tandom Gooseneck Trailer rated at 26,000 lbs with electric brakes on all wheels, attatched to a Dodge 1 Ton Duely with a Cummings and 6 speed transmission!!

It is a handfull and it stops only when ""IT WANTS TOO"" I do this everyday, all day and it is powered ok but a bit light for rough terrein and not near heavy enough to control the weight that is pushing it!!!

Please be carefull on over taxing any vehichel .... The Company has ordered a new 1 1/2 ton Navistar for this task and it is badly needed!!

Dean

What I do!
 
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