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Truck and RV question for mountains


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I am new to the RV way of vacations and to this site. if I put this in the wrong place, please tell me.  I have a 2015 ram 2500 with 6.7 diesel and a 38 foot 5th wheel with a dry weight of 10600 lbs. My wife and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone from Louisiana and I have had people telling me I need more truck or a smaller camper to make this trip with the mountains that I will encounter. I have only been in flatter land with some good steep hills. Any help will be appreciated.

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First, dry weight really means nothing.  You need to load your truck and trailer up like you are going to travel and then get actual weights of both.  You can do this at a truck stop with a Cat scale.  You want the total combination weight, the trailer axle weight, and the truck weight by itself.  With this information, you can calculate the pin weight of the trailer.  You get these weights by running across the scales loaded and hooked up.  The scales will be divided to allow you to put the truck front axle on one pad, the truck rear axle on another pad and the trailer axles on a third pad.  Get this weight, then go drop the trailer in the lot and go back across the scales with just the truck.  With these two weight tickets (for less than $20) you can get the above weights.  With that information in hand, we can give you a much better answer to your question.

You may be fine with your 2500, or you may be marginal or even over loaded, but without the actual weights we can't say.  I can tell you I have towed with a 2500 and with a 3500 dual rear wheel (with the same trailer in the approximate weight range you describe) and the dual rear wheel was night and day difference in stability and handling, but both did the job.  It is all about the weights and the weight ratings of your equipment.

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20 minutes ago, Chad Heiser said:

First, dry weight really means nothing.  You need to load your truck and trailer up like you are going to travel and then get actual weights of both.  You can do this at a truck stop with a Cat scale.  You want the total combination weight, the trailer axle weight, and the truck weight by itself.  With this information, you can calculate the pin weight of the trailer.  You get these weights by running across the scales loaded and hooked up.  The scales will be divided to allow you to put the truck front axle on one pad, the truck rear axle on another pad and the trailer axles on a third pad.  Get this weight, then go drop the trailer in the lot and go back across the scales with just the truck.  With these two weight tickets (for less than $20) you can get the above weights.  With that information in hand, we can give you a much better answer to your question.

You may be fine with your 2500, or you may be marginal or even over loaded, but without the actual weights we can't say.  I can tell you I have towed with a 2500 and with a 3500 dual rear wheel (with the same trailer in the approximate weight range you describe) and the dual rear wheel was night and day difference in stability and handling, but both did the job.  It is all about the weights and the weight ratings of your equipment.

 

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thanks Chad, I am learning this system and this is new to me so I hope everyone has some patience with me. I have weighed my truck and it is 7800 lbs. my towing capacity is 17000 lbs. I know I need to weigh my trailer but I am guessing I will be looking between 12k and 12.5 k in weight. just wondering how much issue I might be looking at going up and down really steep mountains. it pulls great in normal driving.

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Chad gave you some great info.  Does your truck have exhaust brakes, towing package?  Depending on years, the 2500/3500 runs about the same drivetrain.  The 3500 would do good set up right but mountain driving that weight behind a 2500, can be done but I would personally say, trade up.  You will be much happier in the end, even happier in a dually as far as stability/braking ability of the truck.  This is all IMHO.  My camper is close to yours, I sold my F250 and went with what I now have.  Good luck, be safe.

 

Edit:  I would make darn sure my brakes worked well on the RV.  Mine are manually adjusted, I check them often, which I need to do before going out again.

Edited by NDBirdman
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So you go up and down the hills a bit slower and safer... you’re on vacation enjoy the beautiful scenery! Learn how to use your transmission to keep the temps and speeds in the “safe” zone!  Have a great vacation and just take it a bit slower! 

Edited by DesertMiner
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You should not have any problem with your set up.. The Cummings engine has plenty of power and the 5th is no really that heavy.. Exhaust brake makes all of the difference on the down hill sections.. I lived in Idaho and pulled a 40' fifth all over the mountains.. Largest difference is having the exhaust brake and then upgrading to hydraulic disc brakes on the 5th.. Enjoy the trip, make sure you have reservations in and around Yellowstone.. West Yellowstone has a great RV park called the Grizzly RV park If I recall correctly.. It is right at the west entrance and allows you to leave the 5th and drive through the park with just the pickup.. Yellowstone Park campgrounds leave a little to be desired especially in a larger 5th, I also don't enjoy pulling the 5th through the park.. Have Fun!!

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3 hours ago, mark1958 said:

thanks Chad, I am learning this system and this is new to me so I hope everyone has some patience with me. I have weighed my truck and it is 7800 lbs. my towing capacity is 17000 lbs. I know I need to weigh my trailer but I am guessing I will be looking between 12k and 12.5 k in weight. just wondering how much issue I might be looking at going up and down really steep mountains. it pulls great in normal driving.

You need to subtract your truck weight (loaded as if for travel with all the fuel, gear, people, etc) from your Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) to get your actual towing capacity.  It may or may not actually be 17000 lbs.  It is dependent on how much the truck actually weighs as loaded.  

You also need to know your truck’s axle ratings and make sure you aren’t overloading one of your axles (which can be easy to do pulling a 5th wheel with a single rear wheel pickup sometimes).  This is why I caution anyone I talk to about “can my truck pull that”.  I always tell them they need actual real world weights of their equipment before an answer can be given.  

As long as you are within all your ratings and you feel comfortable with the combination, then go for it.  Without knowing real numbers, then it is just a seat of your pants guess that could be right or could be wrong.  You would be amazed at how many RV’s run down the road over weight.  At least you are asking the right questions.  Many RV owners don’t even know what they don’t know about weights and weight ratings.  The salesman told them they would have no problems (to make the sale and because he/she probably had no idea either) and they go on their way oblivious to the potential issues and wear and tear on their equipment.

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Since you're concerned about driving in the mountains, you might want to get a copy of Mountain Directory, either the printed book or one of the app versions.  They've got the AZ section on the site for free, so you can see what kind of information it provides.

http://www.mountaindirectory.com/

You might also invest in an inexpensive Infra-red thermometer.  Fluke has an interesting case study on how it can help with safe mountain driving.  (You don't need to buy a Fluke Thermometer.  They're great quality, but they are expensive.)

Safe on Pike's Peak

 

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