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Starting out in our early 50's.


zen2185RI
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In 2020 I purchased a new RAM 1500 with 3.92 rear axle ratio rated at 12000+ towing.  We are in our early 50's with a junior in high school and a junior in college.  My parents owned several pop ups and Airstreams.  I am looking for something to get us started.  This would allow us to go on short weekend trips locally and slowly branch out.  If things go well and I can sell the wife on it, we'd upgrade to a RAM 2500/3500 and a large 5th wheel. 

For now it's about getting going.  Budget would be up to 18k.  

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Start looking at bumper pull trailers with a GVWR around 10-11k# and see if you can live with the size and amenities. Don't look at empty weights or hitch weights on brochures as they are rarely accurate. Before you buy, insist on getting it weighed for both total weight and hitch weight and think about what your stuff will weigh to put in it including water and propane. Figure at least 10% of the GVWR weight will be where you want the hitch weight at for a bumper pull trailer and verify your truck can handle that. Be sure to look at your trucks GVWR, GCWR and GAWR weights and get some actual weights as loaded for camping to see how much extra you actually have for the trailer. You can't just go by the trailering weight as you have to look at the fine print that was with that number!

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Payload could well be your most limiting factor, rather than tow rating.  Check the door sticker for how much payload your particular truck has (it’s very vehicle dependent and two almost identical trucks could have different payloads, due to differences in features).

If your Ram has a payload of something like 1,600 - 17,00 lbs and you look at a trailer that has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs, you can expect a tongue weight of at least 1,000 lbs and perhaps more.  So that would leave 600 - 700 lbs for you, your wife, one or two kids and anything else you end up carrying in the truck (cooler, firewood, chairs, dog, laptop, etc.).

A hybrid would be one possible solution, though you have to be a bit careful about the trailer’s cargo capacity also.

I’ve seen some smaller bunk models (under 10,000 lbs) that might be suitable for weekends and shorter trips for some people.  The big thing is to be prepared to compromise.  Know what you can and can’t live without - you can’t take everything with you.  It’s amazing how quickly weight mounts up - I ran out of payload with an F150 with over 1700 lbs payload and a trailer that weighs 5500 lbs.  I have too much stuff.

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Not picking on anyone but I despise the term bumper pull for a travel trailer much larger than a Casita or the like. I know it is common but it is just so wrong for anything of any size or weight at all.

Especially considering the flimsiness of new vehicles bumpers.

Edited by bigjim
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35 minutes ago, bigjim said:

Not picking on anyone but I despise the term bumper pull for a travel trailer much larger than a Casita or the like. I know it is common but it is just so wrong for anything of any size or weight at all.

Especially considering the flimsiness of new vehicles bumpers.

What do you suggest as an alternative term?

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Here is what the door sticker has:

GVWR - 7100 LB GAWR Front - 3900 LB, GAWR Rear - 4100 LB

From the RAM Truck Towing by VIN number - Max Payload - 1673 LB , Max Towing 11,290 LB 

 

From the link provided for the EZ Towing Weight Calculator  (using 5227 (range from RAM is from 4798-5227) as a guesstimate) and a tongue weight of .10 says I might be able to tow up to 11,000.

 

Looking at Arlington Trailer near us, they have a New 2022 Keystone RV Springdale 1760BH: (outside of price range, but used as an example)

  1. Hitch weight: 520 lb
  2. Cargo weight: 704 lb
  3. Dry weight: 3796 lb 
  4. C ombined Cargo and dry weight:  4500 lb
  5. Water 27 gallons (8lb/gallon): 156 lb
  6. Grey Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  7. Black Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  8. Propane 20lbs (4lb/gallon): 80 lb
  9. Guesstimate total weight:  5216lb. 

 

Hopefully I captured everything and used appropriate assumptions and didn't miss any needed weights.  

 

One other question I have is at what point do I need to be concerned about the size of brakes?  My dad and I talked about this in the past.  This is why he chose a 1989 RAM 250 with the Cumins diesel.  

 

 

Thank you

 

Jason

 

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40 minutes ago, zen2185RI said:
  • Water 27 gallons (8lb/gallon): 156 lb  8 X 27 = 216
  • Grey Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  • Black Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb

A little math error but.........  

43 minutes ago, zen2185RI said:

Guesstimate total weight:  5216lb.

The total weight of the RV should never exceed the GVWR or the combined dry weight and cargo weight most likely. The GVWR is very important to know. 

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12 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

A little math error but.........  

The total weight of the RV should never exceed the GVWR or the combined dry weight and cargo weight most likely. The GVWR is very important to know. 

The good thing is I know that a trailer of this size and weight for my wife and myself would keep me in the proper range.  Then down the road I can look to get a 2500 or 3500 and a larger 5th wheel.  

 

Around this sizing, could you recommend different brands/models that I could look for used.  

 

 

Thank you

 

Jason

 

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1 hour ago, sandsys said:

Those bunk beds are only 5'8" long. How tall are your boys?

Linda

My son is 6' 4", and two daughters both 5'8".  They are older and will not be coming with us, but that is a good catch.  I'm 6'3".  Plus if they were to come with us, I'd want them to be able to fit in the bed.

 

 

Thank you

 

Jason

 

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10 hours ago, zen2185RI said:

Here is what the door sticker has:

GVWR - 7100 LB GAWR Front - 3900 LB, GAWR Rear - 4100 LB

From the RAM Truck Towing by VIN number - Max Payload - 1673 LB , Max Towing 11,290 LB 

 

From the link provided for the EZ Towing Weight Calculator  (using 5227 (range from RAM is from 4798-5227) as a guesstimate) and a tongue weight of .10 says I might be able to tow up to 11,000.

 

Looking at Arlington Trailer near us, they have a New 2022 Keystone RV Springdale 1760BH: (outside of price range, but used as an example)

  1. Hitch weight: 520 lb
  2. Cargo weight: 704 lb
  3. Dry weight: 3796 lb 
  4. C ombined Cargo and dry weight:  4500 lb
  5. Water 27 gallons (8lb/gallon): 156 lb
  6. Grey Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  7. Black Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  8. Propane 20lbs (4lb/gallon): 80 lb
  9. Guesstimate total weight:  5216lb. 

 

Hopefully I captured everything and used appropriate assumptions and didn't miss any needed weights.  

 

I think you are looking at the numbers slightly incorrectly.  The number that is most important is the combined cargo and dry weight - 4500 lbs.  A couple of other websites refer to this number as the trailer’s GVWR.

That means the trailer is not designed to weigh any more than 4500 lbs. - it can’t weigh 5216 lbs.

The 3796 lbs (shipping weight, according to Keystone’s website) should include a full propane tank (I think that’s normal industry-wide).

But water is not an extra weight allowance.  Water is considered cargo - so falls under the 704 lbs of cargo capacity.  I agree that 27 gal is a really small fresh water tank.

Another thing that isn’t normally included in the dry weight is battery(s).  Batteries are provided by the dealer, so the weight of the battery is part of the 704 cargo capacity.  That weight is variable depending on what battery you and your dealer decide on (some are very heavy).

So all of a sudden, that 704 cargo capacity is actually more like 350 - 400, depending on what battery(s) you get.

There are a number of ways to deal with the water situation - one is to camp somewhere with hookups, so you don’t need a full fresh water tank and can dump your tanks when you leave.

The listed tongue weight for most manufacturers is usually the tongue weight for a dry trailer, and is often a whole lot lower than what it will actually be.  The interesting thing about this trailer is that 520 lbs is 12% of the GVWR of 4500.  I can’t tell if the trailer is likely to be a tongue-heavy model naturally or if the manufacturer actually listed a realistic tongue weight.  A trailer’s design can influence whether an unloaded trailer is tongue heavy or tongue light, and tongue weight can be influenced by how you load the trailer.

Anyway, some points to think about when you are trailer shopping.

 

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20 hours ago, zen2185RI said:

Here is what the door sticker has:

GVWR - 7100 LB GAWR Front - 3900 LB, GAWR Rear - 4100 LB

From the RAM Truck Towing by VIN number - Max Payload - 1673 LB , Max Towing 11,290 LB 

 

From the link provided for the EZ Towing Weight Calculator  (using 5227 (range from RAM is from 4798-5227) as a guesstimate) and a tongue weight of .10 says I might be able to tow up to 11,000.

 

Looking at Arlington Trailer near us, they have a New 2022 Keystone RV Springdale 1760BH: (outside of price range, but used as an example)

  1. Hitch weight: 520 lb
  2. Cargo weight: 704 lb
  3. Dry weight: 3796 lb 
  4. C ombined Cargo and dry weight:  4500 lb
  5. Water 27 gallons (8lb/gallon): 156 lb
  6. Grey Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  7. Black Water 30 gallons (8lb/gallon): 240 lb
  8. Propane 20lbs (4lb/gallon): 80 lb
  9. Guesstimate total weight:  5216lb. 

Your propane number is off. A 20# propane tank has 20# of propane when full, not 80#.

I cannot imagine traveling with full black and gray tanks, but if you do have anything in those tanks or in the fresh tank, it is cargo. I am using Kirk's corrected fresh water weight of 216#. If you are traveling with all full tanks you have room for 8# of cargo (704#-240#-240#-216#=8#. (Buy lightweight clothes if you plan to travel this way.)

If you travel with a full water tank your capacity for food, clothes, bedding, etc., cargo capacity is affected. Your trailer cargo capacity with water is 488# (704#-216#). Propane is cargo, leaving you 468# available if you have full water on board. We travel with enough for uses on the road and no more.

Your hitch percentage is off. The listed hitch weight from this trailer is dry weight, not including cargo (fluids are cargo). That is a 13.7% dry hitch weight [(520#/3796#) x 100=13.6%]. If you evenly distribute the cargo weight in the trailer and use this number your hitch weight is about 615# (4500# x .136). That number varies with where you pack things so it is only meaningful to show possible possible effects on hitch weight, towing and payload. How you distribute the weight will affect towing characteristics and hitch weight. Whatever you buy, weigh it loaded before you start traveling too far.

Your truck payload is listed at 1673#. That is based on a completely empty truck with a full tank of fuel, fluids and factory installed options. It does not include any after-market accessories, driver, passengers, pets or anything else. If you've installed anything (cap, tonneau, etc.) fill the tank and get it weighed. Many truck stops have scales. Subtract the the actual weight from the GVWR to get actual payload. From the payload subtract the hitch weight to find approximate amount of cargo you can carry in the truck. Until you actually have a trailer in mind you will have to use some theoretical numbers, but the more accurate the better.

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Personally, with your 1500 series truck, I would limit my search to trailer with a GVWR of no more than 8000#, maybe 8500#.  When you load up the trailer with kids, cargo and hitch weight, you will be maxed out in most cases.  Start out by getting the truck on the scales with your normal travel cargo, full fuel and add 100# for the hitch.

We have been full time for 9.5 years and see way too many rigs with too much trailer for the truck.  They went totally with the maximum tow numbers from the truck brochure with no regard to the footnotes.

Ken

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On 9/27/2022 at 9:13 AM, Dutch_12078 said:

What do you suggest as an alternative term?

I know I am being nit picky.  I usually ignore it and move on.  TT's of any size and weight are of course towed utilizing a receiver hitch and a weight distributing hitch.  I don't like to see new people that don't know anything yet thinking they can just hitch up to their bumper.  Just me being an old grouch.

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On 9/27/2022 at 11:23 PM, fpmtngal said:

I think you are looking at the numbers slightly incorrectly.  The number that is most important is the combined cargo and dry weight - 4500 lbs.  A couple of other websites refer to this number as the trailer’s GVWR.

That means the trailer is not designed to weigh any more than 4500 lbs. - it can’t weigh 5216 lbs.

The 3796 lbs (shipping weight, according to Keystone’s website) should include a full propane tank (I think that’s normal industry-wide).

But water is not an extra weight allowance.  Water is considered cargo - so falls under the 704 lbs of cargo capacity.  I agree that 27 gal is a really small fresh water tank.

Another thing that isn’t normally included in the dry weight is battery(s).  Batteries are provided by the dealer, so the weight of the battery is part of the 704 cargo capacity.  That weight is variable depending on what battery you and your dealer decide on (some are very heavy).

So all of a sudden, that 704 cargo capacity is actually more like 350 - 400, depending on what battery(s) you get.

There are a number of ways to deal with the water situation - one is to camp somewhere with hookups, so you don’t need a full fresh water tank and can dump your tanks when you leave.

The listed tongue weight for most manufacturers is usually the tongue weight for a dry trailer, and is often a whole lot lower than what it will actually be.  The interesting thing about this trailer is that 520 lbs is 12% of the GVWR of 4500.  I can’t tell if the trailer is likely to be a tongue-heavy model naturally or if the manufacturer actually listed a realistic tongue weight.  A trailer’s design can influence whether an unloaded trailer is tongue heavy or tongue light, and tongue weight can be influenced by how you load the trailer.

Anyway, some points to think about when you are trailer shopping.

 

Thank you.  Great information to look at and thank you for correcting my mistakes.

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On 9/28/2022 at 8:58 AM, Jinx & Wayne said:

Your propane number is off. A 20# propane tank has 20# of propane when full, not 80#.

I cannot imagine traveling with full black and gray tanks, but if you do have anything in those tanks or in the fresh tank, it is cargo. I am using Kirk's corrected fresh water weight of 216#. If you are traveling with all full tanks you have room for 8# of cargo (704#-240#-240#-216#=8#. (Buy lightweight clothes if you plan to travel this way.)

If you travel with a full water tank your capacity for food, clothes, bedding, etc., cargo capacity is affected. Your trailer cargo capacity with water is 488# (704#-216#). Propane is cargo, leaving you 468# available if you have full water on board. We travel with enough for uses on the road and no more.

Your hitch percentage is off. The listed hitch weight from this trailer is dry weight, not including cargo (fluids are cargo). That is a 13.7% dry hitch weight [(520#/3796#) x 100=13.6%]. If you evenly distribute the cargo weight in the trailer and use this number your hitch weight is about 615# (4500# x .136). That number varies with where you pack things so it is only meaningful to show possible possible effects on hitch weight, towing and payload. How you distribute the weight will affect towing characteristics and hitch weight. Whatever you buy, weigh it loaded before you start traveling too far.

Your truck payload is listed at 1673#. That is based on a completely empty truck with a full tank of fuel, fluids and factory installed options. It does not include any after-market accessories, driver, passengers, pets or anything else. If you've installed anything (cap, tonneau, etc.) fill the tank and get it weighed. Many truck stops have scales. Subtract the the actual weight from the GVWR to get actual payload. From the payload subtract the hitch weight to find approximate amount of cargo you can carry in the truck. Until you actually have a trailer in mind you will have to use some theoretical numbers, but the more accurate the better.

Thank you.  Learning more with each post.

 

Jason

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On 9/28/2022 at 10:48 AM, TXiceman said:

Personally, with your 1500 series truck, I would limit my search to trailer with a GVWR of no more than 8000#, maybe 8500#.  When you load up the trailer with kids, cargo and hitch weight, you will be maxed out in most cases.  Start out by getting the truck on the scales with your normal travel cargo, full fuel and add 100# for the hitch.

We have been full time for 9.5 years and see way too many rigs with too much trailer for the truck.  They went totally with the maximum tow numbers from the truck brochure with no regard to the footnotes.

Ken

Ken I would most likely go lower than 8000 to give myself more wiggle room.  Again this will be a beginner RV for us.  If this goes well, then we'd be looking to replace my truck with a 3500.  Wish I had stuck with my original idea of a 2500, but I can make a 1500 work for the 2 of us to start out.  This why I suggested something with a much lower GVWR.  I am going to struggle with meeting my price point along with a GVWR that is acceptable to tow.

 

Just for a little more education, we would be starting with short weekend trips locally.  Overtime we'd extend our trips ensuring that we remain within our weight limits.  With each trip we would gain knowledge and determination if this is what we want to do come retirement.  If we decide to go forward, we'd purchase a larger truck and then a larger trailer to meet our needs.  This first phase will take place over the course of 5-10 years as we approach retirement.  Retirement is when we plan to take our bigger trips whether they be with an RV or deciding to go without an RV and go with hotels.

 

Jason

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2 hours ago, zen2185RI said:

Ken I would most likely go lower than 8000 to give myself more wiggle room.  Again this will be a beginner RV for us.  If this goes well, then we'd be looking to replace my truck with a 3500.  Wish I had stuck with my original idea of a 2500, but I can make a 1500 work for the 2 of us to start out.  This why I suggested something with a much lower GVWR.  I am going to struggle with meeting my price point along with a GVWR that is acceptable to tow.

 

Just for a little more education, we would be starting with short weekend trips locally.  Overtime we'd extend our trips ensuring that we remain within our weight limits.  With each trip we would gain knowledge and determination if this is what we want to do come retirement.  If we decide to go forward, we'd purchase a larger truck and then a larger trailer to meet our needs.  This first phase will take place over the course of 5-10 years as we approach retirement.  Retirement is when we plan to take our bigger trips whether they be with an RV or deciding to go without an RV and go with hotels.

 

Jason

Jason, it is sad that you are not ready to step up to the big rigs.  In late November/early December we will be selling the rig in our signature.  Been a great full-time rig.

Hope you have a fantastic time in the RV.  

Ken

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3 hours ago, zen2185RI said:

Wish I had stuck with my original idea of a 2500, but I can make a 1500 work for the 2 of us to start out.  This why I suggested something with a much lower GVWR.  I am going to struggle with meeting my price point along with a GVWR that is acceptable to tow.

This is why many folks advise buying the trailer before you get the truck, and then getting a truck to fit. We did this by accident and still almost bought less truck than we needed. We bought a used fiver at the end of the 2016 season and ordered a truck based upon what the truck salesman told us instead of our own research. Fortunately, we were able to change the order once I had done more research. We took our first trip in February 2017 and started full time in 2018. We are loving it.

3 hours ago, zen2185RI said:

Just for a little more education, we would be starting with short weekend trips locally.  Overtime we'd extend our trips ensuring that we remain within our weight limits.  With each trip we would gain knowledge and determination if this is what we want to do come retirement.  If we decide to go forward, we'd purchase a larger truck and then a larger trailer to meet our needs.  This first phase will take place over the course of 5-10 years as we approach retirement.  Retirement is when we plan to take our bigger trips whether they be with an RV or deciding to go without an RV and go with hotels.

This sounds like a wise plan except that I would reverse the purchase order and not decide on a truck until I decided on a trailer.

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