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How Much Can I Pull?


apackof2

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I have a 1997 Chevy Silverado 6.5L Turbo Diesel, 130,000 miles and maintained
It also has an air lift system as the previous owner did pull a (32-36ft?)fifth wheel however I do not

know the brand/model

I currently pull a small trailer however I am considering a fifth wheel for more room and I

need to know how much I can safely pull before shopping. I understand the fifth wheel hitch and the combined weight of the fifth wheel + cargo is a completely different concern than the bumper pull set up I have know.

I would also consider a bigger trailer if I could not pull the type of fifth wheel I would want (4 season)

For instance an
Arctic Fox 24-5N or a Hitchhiker II 26.RL

I have looked and have not found a site that calculates JUST the truck. Most sites calculate truck AND rig

The manufacture's label on the inside of the door:

GVWR 8600

GAWR Frt 3800

GAWR 6000

CAT Scale Weight of Truck

Loaded with all passengers, (myself and my puppy) gear, full tank of gas,inflated tires (E load)

according to manufacture label

Steer Axle 3480

Drive Axle 2900

Gross Weight 6,380

Specs from Chevy Forum VIN check include;

Gross Combined Wt Reading; 14,500 , 13,000, 12,000

I don't know why there are 3 numbers here?

The only other weight with 3 numbers assoicated with the category is Passenger Capacity with

3, 5, 1 temp front/3-pass rear, 6 (3.0 min 6.0max)

There is another manufacture label pertaining to a slide in camper.

Cargo Weight Rating = 2061 lb

Dimension “A” = 36 IN / “B” = 000 IN

So how much can I tow?


Thank You!

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Fiver or pull trailer the total weight issues remain the same, the hitch weight limit is likely different. The fiver's limit is usually based on rear axle rating and the combined vehicle weight rating as they are the ones you are likely to hit first. The pull trailer hitch weight limit should be in the towing guide for your vehicle and as on a fiver the combined weight is the next one to be concerned about. With an equalizing hitch you will also need to watch the front axle weight since the hitch shifts some weight there.

 

The air lift system is nice for staying level when hitched but won't impact how much you can tow.

 

The three different weight ratings are likely based on differential gearing, more weight for the lower gearing.

 

My first step would be to empty out the truck and fill the tanks and get axle and total weights, under $10 at most truck stops. With the weights you can add in cargo and passengers to see where you are starting from. Subtract your loaded to travel weight from the ratings to see how much more you can carry. Check the weight of the hitches (fiver and pull) you are considering and subtract them from your capacity number. Now you have a starting point for deciding on your trailer weights.

 

Recommendations on trailer weight calculations vary from use the empty weight and add in a bit for your contents to use the maximum rated weight of the trailer. I tend to go with the latter as over time you will accumulate stuff up to your ratings, many folks end up overloaded by the time they have added all they intend to carry.

 

Next is your decision on how close to the maximum weight level you want to go, at the maximum your braking will be near the minimum safe level the factory determined, vehicle stress will be near the maximum as will driver stress. Driving at the limit is not fun, we did it (dumb idea that cost me plenty to fix) but were much happier when we were more lightly loaded, the common recommendation is 80% of the maximum as a compromise on size versus comfort.

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This is my thought.....If I subtract the Gross Combined Wt Reading of 13,000 (saying this is the 3.73 axle) ferom the loaded weight of my truck that leaves me a LOADED weight of 6,620 for a trailer. I do not know if any fifthe wheel that weights so little.

Even if I used the 14.500 (although I think that would be a 4.10 axle) the loaded trailer weight would be 8,120

 

So apparently the gentleman I bought the trailer from was just very lucky to have pulled a big fiver for so long!

 

So I guess I better be happy with what I have cause I am not in the market for a new to me truck unless a once in a lifetime deal comes along

 

Thanks!

 

 

Fiver or pull trailer the total weight issues remain the same, the hitch weight limit is likely different. The fiver's limit is usually based on rear axle rating and the combined vehicle weight rating as they are the ones you are likely to hit first. The pull trailer hitch weight limit should be in the towing guide for your vehicle and as on a fiver the combined weight is the next one to be concerned about. With an equalizing hitch you will also need to watch the front axle weight since the hitch shifts some weight there.

 

The air lift system is nice for staying level when hitched but won't impact how much you can tow.

 

The three different weight ratings are likely based on differential gearing, more weight for the lower gearing.

 

My first step would be to empty out the truck and fill the tanks and get axle and total weights, under $10 at most truck stops. With the weights you can add in cargo and passengers to see where you are starting from. Subtract your loaded to travel weight from the ratings to see how much more you can carry. Check the weight of the hitches (fiver and pull) you are considering and subtract them from your capacity number. Now you have a starting point for deciding on your trailer weights.

 

Recommendations on trailer weight calculations vary from use the empty weight and add in a bit for your contents to use the maximum rated weight of the trailer. I tend to go with the latter as over time you will accumulate stuff up to your ratings, many folks end up overloaded by the time they have added all they intend to carry.

 

Next is your decision on how close to the maximum weight level you want to go, at the maximum your braking will be near the minimum safe level the factory determined, vehicle stress will be near the maximum as will driver stress. Driving at the limit is not fun, we did it (dumb idea that cost me plenty to fix) but were much happier when we were more lightly loaded, the common recommendation is 80% of the maximum as a compromise on size versus comfort.

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I mean by handle, stop safely even in emergencies, comes down steep hills safely. Most all trucks have more hp than needed. I can physically tow 40k but not safely. Could not stop it in any short distance, not much speed but could and it would be very dangerous. I am giving you extremes but some assume if it pulls it we good. Do some driving around the Denver CO area with a heavy load. You will quickly find out if you have big enough truck. I guarantee you would like more truck. They actually have emergency exit ramps with cushioned stops for out of control vehicles.

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Well I agree!

 

That is why I am trying to calculate how much I can pull....safely.

 

I guess I am just trying to get a confirmation on my calculation of a loaded trailer weight of 6,620 -8,000

 

I do not intend to buy a new truck but I may still be able to look for a larger trailer once I can confirm

that my calculation is correct. For instance I know I could pull a 25ft Bigfoot ( if I could find a reasonably priced used rig)

 

 

Thanks!

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The run away truck ramps. Saw them when I went through the Teton Pass. It was a white knuckle drive and I wasn't pulling!

 

 

 

 

I mean by handle, stop safely even in emergencies, comes down steep hills safely. Most all trucks have more hp than needed. I can physically tow 40k but not safely. Could not stop it in any short distance, not much speed but could and it would be very dangerous. I am giving you extremes but some assume if it pulls it we good. Do some driving around the Denver CO area with a heavy load. You will quickly find out if you have big enough truck. I guarantee you would like more truck. They actually have emergency exit ramps with cushioned stops for out of control vehicles.

I mean by handle, stop safely even in emergencies, comes down steep hills safely. Most all trucks have more hp than needed. I can physically tow 40k but not safely. Could not stop it in any short distance, not much speed but could and it would be very dangerous. I am giving you extremes but some assume if it pulls it we good. Do some driving around the Denver CO area with a heavy load. You will quickly find out if you have big enough truck. I guarantee you would like more truck. They actually have emergency exit ramps with cushioned stops for out of control vehicles.

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That 6620 pound number is the maximum, you'll be slow to accelerate, have long stopping distances and hills or headwinds may not be much fun. Driver and passenger stress levels will be high too, not just the truck's components. The pin weight of a pull trailer with an equalizing hitch should be OK although you may have limited cargo capacity in the truck.

 

I towed a fiver that was within a couple hundred pounds of my truck's maximum rating and I'd never do it again. Wasted several thousand trying to beef up the truck to the point it didn't scare the wife to drive it, she refused unless it was dead level, no wind and no high traffic areas along the way. Lost my shirt trading for a truck that could safely operate with the load I had to control.

 

When shopping a couple things can make a nice difference, good trailer brakes are one. Either large electric brakes or better disks will cut down your stopping distances. To go with them you want a good brake controller, one that senses your braking effort and applies the trailer brakes to match is the best. One with a pendulum or the electronic equivalent that tries to match your braking effort is marginal if you are pushing the limits. A timer based brake controller is not going to do the job. I don't have a brand or model to recommend but others here probably will.

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Stanley makes a very good point about the importance of the braking of the combination. That fact was really hammered home to me just last week as we went back to towing a travel trailer two years ago, downsizing from a motorhome we were fulltime in. We were on I-10 eastbound from Chiriaco Summit, traveling at highway speeds when we topped a rise in traffic to see three vehicles stopped blocking 3 of the 5 lanes of traffic. While I had towed the trailer for almost two years, this was my first emergency stop from highway speed and while all was well, it does make an important point about safety!

 

I use and am very pleased with the Prodigy brake controller and it definitely proved it's value that morning. I always set up the control such that the trailer brake applies slightly before and slightly stronger than the tow vehicle brake in order to be sure that in such a case the trailer will stay in line behind you, no matter what. In this case I had to not only stop very rapidly but I also change traffic lanes. Even though I had tested the brake in a hard stop at moderate speeds, this was the first time to really know for sure.

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Kirk, That is one of the better inertial (pendulum) style controllers out there, we had an older version of it that worked quite well on our Ford and 30 foot fiver but when we loaded up to 100% of our GCWR with the bigger fiver it was marginal. We switched to a Jordan 2020 (that is now out of production) that worked off the brake pedal position and gave noticeably improved braking control.

 

I don't know if this one is good or not but it is the type I'd recommend if you are towing at your maximum weight.

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006C2CWWY?psc=1

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It's just hard to accept that a 2500 diesel can only pull less than 6,620 lbs

 

That really crimps my shopping!

 

I was focusing on 5ers since everyone has told me how much better they pull and how much easier they are to maneuver and back up than a trailer.

 

Specifically Arctic Fox or a (Triple E Topaz if I could find one)but apparently those are out of the question, even a 23-5N if I could even find one since Northwood isn't making them anymore.

The only Arctic Fox trailer I could pull is 22 model

but not much bigger than my current rig.

 

I had a gentleman tell me just tonight that he would not hesitate to pull a 30 ft 5 er with my truck. He said he had a very similar truck and a 30ft that he pulled all over.

 

The gentleman I purchased the truck from was pulling at least a 32ft fiver

 

How do theses people get so lucky to not have any accidents?

 

I do not even know the brand/type of brake controller that I am using now. It came with the truck. I will have to check but excellent idea on the trailer breaks and controller.

 

Thanks!

 

 

That 6620 pound number is the maximum, you'll be slow to accelerate, have long stopping distances and hills or headwinds may not be much fun. Driver and passenger stress levels will be high too, not just the truck's components. The pin weight of a pull trailer with an equalizing hitch should be OK although you may have limited cargo capacity in the truck.

 

I towed a fiver that was within a couple hundred pounds of my truck's maximum rating and I'd never do it again. Wasted several thousand trying to beef up the truck to the point it didn't scare the wife to drive it, she refused unless it was dead level, no wind and no high traffic areas along the way. Lost my shirt trading for a truck that could safely operate with the load I had to control.

 

When shopping a couple things can make a nice difference, good trailer brakes are one. Either large electric brakes or better disks will cut down your stopping distances. To go with them you want a good brake controller, one that senses your braking effort and applies the trailer brakes to match is the best. One with a pendulum or the electronic equivalent that tries to match your braking effort is marginal if you are pushing the limits. A timer based brake controller is not going to do the job. I don't have a brand or model to recommend but others here probably will.

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Go back and confirm the factory numbers, unless you got them or your scale weights wrong above that is the limit for that truck.

 

This PDF, about page 37 seems to confirm your numbers:

 

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits/Chevrolet-Trucks/1997-Chevrolet-Truck.pdf

 

As others have said, you can pull more but safety and comfort will be compromised.

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I don't know if this one is good or not but it is the type I'd recommend if you are towing at your maximum weight.

We pull a pretty light, small travel trailer but if I was dealing with a big truck & heavy trailer I think that I would also look at one of the controls that uses brake system pressure for a hydraulic brake system. I went to the Direct Link page and that looks like a great system. I wonder if anyone on these forums is using one?

 

I had a gentleman tell me just tonight that he would not hesitate to pull a 30 ft 5 er with my truck. He said he had a very similar truck and a 30ft that he pulled all over.

 

The gentleman I purchased the truck from was pulling at least a 32ft fiver

 

How do theses people get so lucky to not have any accidents?

You might be shocked if you were to see what some RV folks get away with, often for many years. To me it is a lot like wearing a seat-belt or most other safety devices. Sometimes we go for years and never need to emergency stop, or get caught in a sudden change of weather that makes roads bad. But if you should the risk just isn't worth it. In addition I was once told by a truck mechanic that he can tell when he works on a truck that it has been running overloaded from the condition of the brakes and drive line. He says that you will wear out your tow vehicle much sooner when you run at the maximum or above all/most of the time.

 

 

 

 

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That looks interesting but slightly over $1,000

 

Apparently most people do pull over weight. The gentleman whom I bought the truck from

had a big fifth wheel. The gentleman last night who said he would not hesitate to pull a 30ft

fifth wheel with because he did! He reasoned that because the weight of a fifth wheel is over

a axle that you could pull more than with a bumper pull!

 

 

 

 

We pull a pretty light, small travel trailer but if I was dealing with a big truck & heavy trailer I think that I would also look at one of the controls that uses brake system pressure for a hydraulic brake system. I went to the Direct Link page and that looks like a great system. I wonder if anyone on these forums is using one?

 

 

You might be shocked if you were to see what some RV folks get away with, often for many years. To me it is a lot like wearing a seat-belt or most other safety devices. Sometimes we go for years and never need to emergency stop, or get caught in a sudden change of weather that makes roads bad. But if you should the risk just isn't worth it. In addition I was once told by a truck mechanic that he can tell when he works on a truck that it has been running overloaded from the condition of the brakes and drive line. He says that you will wear out your tow vehicle much sooner when you run at the maximum or above all/most of the time.

 

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I wish I was wrong but got numbers off manufacturers labels on the truck

Combined gross weight was from running my VIN # at a Chevy Forum

(which provided a bunch of other info on my truck too).

 

I weighed the truck twice at the CAT scales just to make sure it was weighed

with me in it as I had to get out to press the call button

 

 

 

Go back and confirm the factory numbers, unless you got them or your scale weights wrong above that is the limit for that truck.

 

This PDF, about page 37 seems to confirm your numbers:

 

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits/Chevrolet-Trucks/1997-Chevrolet-Truck.pdf

 

As others have said, you can pull more but safety and comfort will be compromised.

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I know it may be disappointing but I think you are smarter than the guy that towed overloaded and I think you are more likely to enjoy traveling in the properly weighted set up. I didn't see if your truck is the Chevy 2500HD which typically has the higher rating. The standard 2500's mostly had a limit of 8600 while theHD had 9200 and later 9600 for certain gas ones. In some cases I have seen the 2500 rated higher than the 3500 on weight limit. All this has to do with pulling it and stopping and manuevering is ultimately more important.

 

I think it is too bad that in training and testing for driver licenses we are not required to be put through some emergency stops and manuevers on a test track.

 

One other thing on the rating on your truck has to do with what rear end ratio your truck has. That is not commonly posted and must be determined another way. I think in some cases you can find out using the VIN number at the dealer for some newer one. On some you have to look for a tag or stamp on the differential. You are getting seriously good, albeit disappointing information

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I certainly appreciate the information!

 

According to the Chevy Forum VIN # Check my truck IS a HD and the axle is 3.73

The front axle capacity is 3800

The rear axle capacity is 6000

 

The CAT scale weight of my fully loaded truck is;

Steer axle 3480

Drive axle 2900

Gross Weight 6380

 

Thanks!

 

I know it may be disappointing but I think you are smarter than the guy that towed overloaded and I think you are more likely to enjoy traveling in the properly weighted set up. I didn't see if your truck is the Chevy 2500HD which typically has the higher rating. The standard 2500's mostly had a limit of 8600 while theHD had 9200 and later 9600 for certain gas ones. In some cases I have seen the 2500 rated higher than the 3500 on weight limit. All this has to do with pulling it and stopping and manuevering is ultimately more important.

 

I think it is too bad that in training and testing for driver licenses we are not required to be put through some emergency stops and manuevers on a test track.

 

One other thing on the rating on your truck has to do with what rear end ratio your truck has. That is not commonly posted and must be determined another way. I think in some cases you can find out using the VIN number at the dealer for some newer one. On some you have to look for a tag or stamp on the differential. You are getting seriously good, albeit disappointing information

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My guess is if you had the 4:10 gear ratio it would be rated either 9200 or 9600. Even that isn't a huge difference. A good but stubborn friend of mine did not pay attention to this is and is seriously in trouble with his truck and 5thW and knows it now. Expensive mistake to make right since it is a 1 year old Chevy 1500HD and a new 5thW. He made the first trip after retiring but he was not happy.

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We pull a pretty light, small travel trailer but if I was dealing with a big truck & heavy trailer I think that I would also look at one of the controls that uses brake system pressure for a hydraulic brake system. I went to the Direct Link page and that looks like a great system. I wonder if anyone on these forums is using one?

 

You might be shocked if you were to see what some RV folks get away with, often for many years. To me it is a lot like wearing a seat-belt or most other safety devices. Sometimes we go for years and never need to emergency stop, or get caught in a sudden change of weather that makes roads bad. But if you should the risk just isn't worth it. In addition I was once told by a truck mechanic that he can tell when he works on a truck that it has been running overloaded from the condition of the brakes and drive line. He says that you will wear out your tow vehicle much sooner when you run at the maximum or above all/most of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes - We use one of theirs - slightly different from that Kirk though.

 

Rig - Truck Volvo 780, still tandem, GVW 54,000 GCW 80,000 --- Trailer 2003 New Horizon, wt 24,450, Brakes Kodiak disc electric over hydraulic, triaxle. G114 H rated tires

 

The Direct link operates off the J1939 buss (wheel rotation speed reduction rate)

 

Direct link works well as a brake controller.

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Oh that's great, thanks!

 

I have started looking to find small 5ers that I could pull safely made with quality

and I found this one made by KZ.

http://www.rvt.com/KZ-Sportsmen-235-FRONT-TWINS-2008-Houghton-Lake-MI-ID6179522-UX68852

 

I have heard of them but do not know much about them. However, my initial research is

that owners like them and they report a well built product. I did find that they went to Lippert

frames in 2010 so I would look for one made prior to 2010

 

 

This Fifth wheel weight calculator might be helpful. At the top of the page you may also select the travel trailer weight calculator.

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