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Old 02-22-2011, 09:57 PM   #1
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Is this a reasonable set up for . . .

Hello all:

Very new to all this and have been reading and doing research before I buy my first TT. I don't have the money to buy my F-250 diesel but I do the following and its paid off so I can buy my TT .

Here's the stat's:

1996 Chevy C1500 Ext Cab, Short Bed.
2WD / 5.7 350 Cid / Auto-Tranny / 3.42 gears.
Rebuilt tranny with external cooler.
My wheel base is 141".

GVWR = 6,200 (lbs)
GAWRF= 3,600
GAWRR = 3,686

Book says I can tow up to 6,500 in the manual.

Here's the real story, I had it weighed on scales this weekend.

Gross Weight = 4,920 witih full tank of gas and myself only.
Steer Axle = 2,860
Drive Axle = 2,060.

I cannot find my CGVWR, I believe that's a combo of the max trailering and GVWR? That would be 6,200 + 6,500 which is close to what I see on the internet in various tables. I cannot find it in my manual or on the sticker.

Anyways if I get a TT with a dry weight of 5,000 am I okay? I do not plan to dry camp where I need full load of water (40 gals or 332lbs) but with propane, batteries it all adds up.

I am trying to stay under that weight but want to keep as many options open and am looking for a 21'-23'er. I cannot imagine that I will put 1,000 lbs of gear into it but then again I am planning on seeing what linens, towels, appliances, tools, etc will weigh when its all done. I also figured that if I don't like how it pulls I can always move to 3.73 gears.

Let me know if I am offbase on this....

Thanks all.

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Old 02-22-2011, 10:05 PM   #2
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All i can say is " good luck". You are going to work that truck even at 5000lbs. I cant tell you how man transmissions I have replaced in trucks that are maxed. You will be fine in the flat, but hills will kill you.

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Old 02-22-2011, 10:20 PM   #3
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At least you are asking yourself the right questions.
Your truck has a few miles I'm sure and may not be up to par for pulling a trailer.
If you are just going on dhort trips locally 100-300 miles I would say go ahead but if you plan on going longer distance with hills I suggests lighter mini trailer or get a basic F-250 that is a few years old with a little more HP and torque.
I would also check out this thread and the Mini-Lites
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:05 AM   #4
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Looking at the posted numbers, you have about 1300 pounds you can add to the truck. Now 600 pounds worth of hitch weight, leaves 700 pounds for the truck. Now wife, children, dogs, bicycles, ect,? You didn't mention these. We don't need to know these weights, but you do. Also how many 50 pound coolers you are putting in the truck. And I may be light on the tongue weight. You are asking the right questions, but only you have the answers. we can guide you on where to look for the answer.
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:17 AM   #5
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Tachdriver, it is great that you are asking the questions before you buy, and considering a smaller trailer. Many trailers in the 21-23' range should weight in less than 5000 lbs. ready to camp. I pull a 28.5' trailer, and it is right at 5500 lbs.

The 3.42 final drive is a little high, but by sticking to a lite-weight trailer you should be OK there......might not be very fast off of the line, but camping is not a race. Towing in the flats should be no problem, but if you plan on towing in a mountainous area than you may need to reevaluated things.

Adding a axillary transmission cooler is a plus, but that leads me to believe that the truck might not have been equipped with the heavy duty factory tow package.

Check the weight sticker on the hitch to make sure it will handle the trailer that you intend to buy. There should be a sticker there even for a 1996.....I had a '96 Blazer that was stickered.

Double check with your local Chevy dealer to see if they can find a tow rating for your setup........sometimes the manual just presents an generic figure for all engine and transmission combinations.

You will probably be fine towing a 21-23' trailer with a camping weight less than 5000 lbs. without stepping up to a 3/4 ton truck.

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Old 02-23-2011, 09:07 AM   #6
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I just love this forum! You get lots of valuable information that can help you make a better decision.

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Old 02-23-2011, 11:10 AM   #7
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Tachdriver – You will be fine towing a 5000lbs trailer with this vehicle.

But, of course, I have a few thoughts for you. Sorry this is long, but I'm bored.

I would suggest that you ignore dry weight and concentrate on GVWR.
One argument is to keep the trailer's GVWR at or below the towing cap of 6500lbs. Then, you won’t be tempted to load more than that. I personally am comfortable towing to the vehicle’s max, but would not do it with this truck. I’m sure its been well cared for but its 15 years old.

Frankly, I’d want to keep my trailer’s loaded weight under 6,000lbs to give myself some cushion with this truck. If you can do that with a trailer listing a dry weight of 5000lbs, then you should be fine.
Keep in mind that the dry weight is a work of fiction at the best of times and the actual unloaded weight will be greater (batteries 60-120lbs, propane of 60lbs, manufacture’s options, dealer add-ons, a little water, etc). I add 500lbs to any brochure’s dry weight unless you are able to look at the yellow door sticker or weigh the actual trailer. With a 5000lb trailer, that limits you to 500lbs of cargo. Very doable with one person.
Just so you know, I ran the math for the weights and limits you posted and you’re fine with those, too.

GVWR, Cargo cap and tongue weight
This calculation is one of the first a 1/2 ton owner should do because it is usually the first to limit the weight of the trailer you can tow. This is not your case (you're special), but its correct for most people.

Back into what you can tow through your cargo capacity:
6200 GVWR - 4920 scale weight = 1280lbs Cargo cap remaining

Get your cargo weight: Add up the weight of any passengers and cargo within the truck and bed of truck. You would normally add your weight as well but you did the right thing and weighed the truck at a scale. Your truck weight already includes you.

Get your TT's tongue weight: Subtract cargo weight from 1280. This is the amount remaining for the tongue weight.

Divide the tongue weight by 0.13. 13% is a reasonable percentage for tongue weight. The result is the weight of the fully loaded trailer that you can tow.
For example, assume you camp as a single (I didn’t see any mention of a wife) and only have some cargo weighing 200lbs.

1280 - 200 = 1080. This is the max hitch, but in truth, your hitch is probably a type 4 so you will want to keep this under 1,000lbs. Verify that your hitch is a type 4 and if you have any other hitch limits.
1080 / 0.13 = 8308lbs. This is the max towing allowed going by tongue weight only. Obviously, with a towing cap of 6500lbs, you are not limited by the tongue weight.
Gross Combined Weight Rating
Note that GCWR is not a combo of the max trailering and GVWR. You need to get this number from Chevy, your manual, or door sticker.

Some say that GCWR applies more to warranty issues and your 15 year old vehicle is out of that. However, it also applies to how well the total system is going to fare.

Going over the GCWR is not something you generally see with a half-ton because most people are limited first by their cargo cap. However, if your case you could go over it so I’d check if I were you.
GAWRF= 3,600 – 2860 = 740
GAWRR = 3,686 – 2060 = 1626

A 6000lb trailer with a WDH and a tongue weight of 800lbs (13% of 6000lbs) would load some of that TW to the front tires, most to the rear tires of the TV and some would go back to the TT. Without going through that math, which is more complex, your axles are not going to be overloaded.
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Old 02-23-2011, 01:44 PM   #8
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Unfortunately, GM doesn't give CGVWR rating for that year truck. My 98 K2500 TD doesn't have one either.

There is a chart in the owners manual that gives you a max towed weight (IE: 10,000lbs, 8000lbs, etc) depending on engine, gearing, etc. For example, from my manual: a 1998 C2500 with a 454 ci engine and 4:11 final gears is rated for 10,000 lbs with a weight distributing hitch.

Keep you tow vehicle under it's max GVWR, the rear axle below it GAWr and the towed weight below what's in the manual and you'll be "legal".

The truck will struggle if you're maxed out though and components will wear at an accelerated rate. If your truck has any worn or weak components, they may be subject to failure sooner if at your max rating while towing.


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Old 02-23-2011, 06:13 PM   #9
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@Iggy: Yes I am all for the mini-lites, after reading the posts above and the replies to other threads I am planning on making sure I am comfortable with with my set up.

@Windrider: So far it is just me, I am single (for now) and as far as coolers well.....maybe switching to hard stuff to lighten the load.

@Triguy: Thanks for all the info, this is very helpful. I used to tow a small jet boat and the weight was so light you could not tell it was back there with a 1/2 ton. I want to be sure I buy the largest TT I am comfortable towing that will not over do my TV. What I mean is that I do not want to buy too small a TT and kick myself later realizing I may have been able to get something a bit larger and stay within my ratings while not regretting getting a TT that may be too heavy in terrain that is not flat.

Your math on the tongue weight makes sense, thank you that is what I was looking for.

@mtnguy: My plan was to find the TT that would fit my needs and tow well with my truck. If I did not like the gearing I was going to have it retrofitted with 3.73's. I agree that its not about speed but the making sure that I can develop HP from the starting line to get the truck from buring out the tranny. The shop that did the install on the rebuilt tranny put in a large external cooler. The truck did not come with a factory tow package so I had a frame mounted hitch installed.

I got in the truck today (its not my daily driver) and the floor mats were wet. Somewhere I have a leak and the truck smells like a wet dog and I don't even own a canine.

I would prefer to upgrade the truck but I am trying to keep from having to pay on loans. I figured if I got married then I will ask my future in-laws that as a dowry they kick in for my new F-250 diesel . Maybe not....

My close friend has a class "A" and camps with a few other RV'ers, I am tapping all of them for advice too.

I have to say I do appreciate this forum and thanks for all the advice, I am going to consider all that has been replied and let you know when I do that first purchase.



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