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What does Properly Equipped Truck Mean?

I’ve heard this term many times in response to what truck would pull an X fifth wheel? What the answer really means is selecting a truck of a given year, constructed with several of the available equipment options that give the truck the various weight ratings required to efficiently handle the trailer.

  • Over all truck capacity: Don’t forget, you may want to add a margin for safety. Some say as much as 20%. So if you are going to pull a 16,500 pound fifth wheel, adding 20% means you want a truck that can handle 19,800 pounds. Of if the trailer is 17,500 then the truck should handle 21,000 pounds. And get a hitch that handles the same weight!
    • Taking a look at the 2017 one ton dually trucks rated at least 21,000 pounds.
      • Ram: You can do it with a 68RFE transmission but you will need 4.10 gears.  With the Asian transmission you get the high output Cummins would need 3.73 gears.
      • Ford: A little easier to decide because they have the same transmission and same engine regardless of gear ratio. The 3.55 gear ratio will handle 27,300 pounds. Remembering that the max fifth wheel rating for all Fords is 27,500 you have to go to a gooseneck to get the 31,300 pound rating in the 4.10 gear, otherwise 27,500 is the max.
  • Axle Gear Ratio is the relationship between driveshaft revolutions per minute and the rear axle’s revolutions per minute. The most powerful and efficient ratio for each individual is determined by the frequency and the usual weight being hauled. By efficiency I believe they mean at a certain engine RPM at a preferred speed, the truck is performing at it’s best.  This is effected by matching the gear ratio with the tire size and transmission. I read when they build base models of certain trucks, for example a Chevy Silverado with 4×4, long bed, 17″ dual rear wheel, the Chevy engineers will equip it stock with the rear end having the gear ratio best for that truck on average. The buyer should decide the weight of the trailer they will be hauling and what terrain they will be doing the most hauling in. For example if they plan to rarely travel in the hills then they may go with a  different gear ratio than what comes stock. A typical gear ratio for heavier than average loads might be a 4.10. In this gear ratio the axle turns 4.1 times for every rotation of the tires, giving the truck increased hauling capacity. Some say this is at the added expense of mileage per gallon and comfort of the ride. Others says that even though the 4.10 ratio gets less mileage per gallon when not towing, it saves when hauling because, for example a ratio of 3.55, would work the truck harder when hauling.  However the 3.55 would save a small amount of fuel when not hauling. I played around on various auto manufacturers web sites building different trucks. There are several other construction options that effect the trucks rated towing capacity and payload capacity.  Some of this also has to do with the trucks base curb weight as well. Play around building trucks and you will see how all of the options change the trucks ratings. The way I think I’ll handle the issues is by knowing that max weight we will be hauling is 19,000 pounds, and most likely around 16,500 if we buy a new fifth wheel. A better constructed fifth wheel will weigh more and I’d have to buy that used. We also don’t want to have to buy a new truck if we decide later to upgrade to a heavier fifth wheel.
    • I’ve done a lot of reading in the truck forums about axle ratios and have come to except these conclusions more than note. Read this post by RV 101.
  • Tire size for all the dual rear wheel trucks I built online is 17″ in the F350/F450 and 3500 class. Without the dual rear wheels one has a wider selection of tire size. Of course tire selection also effects hauling capacity as tires are rated for certain loads as well.
  • Building various trucks online is a very good way to learn about what options change the trucks weight ratings. I really recommend doing this before you go looking for a truck to buy on a dealerships lot.  Of course the truck weight ratings will be posted inside the trucks door. But if someone changed the tires and other options from what the truck originally came with this could effect the ratings.
  • Air bags
  • Understanding all the various weigh capacities is important. For example GCWR stands for gross combined weight rating. This is the maximum total weight of the truck and loaded trailer which the truck is rated for. The max weight a truck can really haul will be in consideration of any of several ratings, the weakest being the defining capability. More on this later.
  • I’ll add more content as I learn about it.

General Information:

  • Matching trucks to trailers:
  • All about weight. (7/4/15)Fuelly.com: Compare  MPG by vehicle. (12/30/15)
  • MDT truck reasons to buy. One reason for me not to is having to keep a second car to tool around in. Here is another good link.  (1/3/16)
  • Figure once we get closer to selecting a truck I’ll make sure and get a list of changes by model year. That should avoid missing big changes such as the 2016 to 2017 Ford.
  • Series of videos on trucks. Here is a good one regarding what truck to tow with (1/15/17)
  • Good 2017 video on selecting a build for a Chevy, Ford or Ram truck (1/16/17)
  • It is much better to have enough truck to keep the loaded trailer weight at or below 80% of the trucks GVWR and GCWR. – I’ve read
  • RV Safety video for matching truck to trailer.  Explains all the weight issues.
  • Here is an RV Dreams 2015 forum thread that I’m keeping an eye on. Looks like Bill could be someone to give advise on trucks.
  • I need to do some research on truck insurance. Would this be a reason to stick with one truck or the other?
  • RV Tow Check: I’ve not used this site but will go to it once I get closer to truck selection. You input various weights to see if truck can handle the trailer. Did not see a blank to put in the gear ratio but assume that is covered by what the manufacturer rates the truck at with any given gear ratio.
  • What does air suspension mean?  Here is a forum thread. An here is a video.
  • As have most people our age, we have owned a few different colored vehicles. I think back , white, gold, bright red, silver and maybe grey where the easiest to keep clean. Black is too hot in the summer and hard to keep clean as is brown. White reflects the heat in the summer.
  • Here is a good Poll on what folks are towing with. For a 3500 dually truck, the Ram is winning by a large margin of more than double. The Ford and Chevy are running neck and neck.