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Old 08-02-2018, 12:31 AM   #1
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Towing a Coachmen Apex 300BHS with a '17 Ram 1500

Hey everyone,

I'm making this thread to document my experience of setting up, and towing a 30 ft ultra-lite with my Ram 1500. I know there are lots of other owners out there with similar vehicles who wonder "if this setup is going to work?" I plan on answering that question, be warned though, it will be long.

When my wife and I started talking about going RV'ing, we discovered we had a long list of "things" we wanted/needed in our rig. That list seemed to grow the more we looked at different units, and discovered the large array of different floor plans.
We found the 300BHS had everything we were looking for, two bedrooms, outdoor kitchen, plenty of sleeping space, and lots of room to lay around on poor weather days. Another plus we liked about this unit? The weights seemed to be in line with our TV.

Our TV as listed above is a 2017 Ram 1500, 5.7L, 4x4, Quad Cab, 6'4" bed, and its an Outdoorsman trim level. We purchased the truck in June '17, with the intent of replacing my worn out '08. Towing wasn't in our minds at the time.
However, when I looked at Rams towing guide for my configuration it shows a max towing of 10,150#, GCWR of 15,950#, GAWR 3,900#, and a payload capacity of 1,570#. I was confident our TV was capable.

When I looked on Coachmen's website it listed the unit as having an unloaded tongue weight of 672#, a UVW under 6K, and a GVWR of 7600#.
Well within what my truck is rated for on paper.

After feeling comfortable with everything we made the purchase, and then the many many purchases that come with equipping a unit of this size. We're also starting from scratch as neither of us had any gear.

In the time leading up to taking delivery I became obsessed with learning everything I could about RV's, towing, TV setup, and safety. I decided we needed to take this seriously. I purchased an Eaz-Lift 1000# WDH w/ sway control from Amazon, ordered tow mirrors, and looked at the possibility of modifying the suspension. I then realized I needed to go weigh my truck.

We went to a government run scale that was closed, but they leave it on so you can check. At the time, the truck weighed in at 6,504#, our max GVWR is 6,900#.

I tried to remain optimistic, I run a small HVAC company, and my truck is setup as a service vehicle. Tool box, hard bed cover to keep tools and material secure, and all the tools that go along with day to day service. My wife and I removed everything, and using a refrigerant scale rated to 250# I was able to document it. With all the tools, and hard bed cover off we dropped 220#. I was really hoping for more, but we still had the tool box that could go, and I figured with that, we would be safe.

Then the day came to pick up Tttimmy:

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On our trip to park the trailer I felt confident, I felt like the truck was doing a good job of pulling the trailer. I knew we were heavy, but I didn't think we were badly over loaded. Either way I decided I had to come up with ways to take weight off the truck.

My first thought was the new nerf steps I put on would have to come off, and I figured they would be good for at least 100#. They weighed a disappointing combined 75#. My next idea became the exhaust system, I could get rid of the two muffler setup, and just get one with a normal tail pipe.
A local performance shop was kind enough to put up with the obsessive weight issue and weigh each component that either came off or went on. In total, the difference only made up 20#. But it sounds way better towing

After that modification to the TV I became obsessed about safety, I needed the data about our setup.
I came across a YT video that discussed weighing the trailer tongue, and the benefits of being able to load the trailer and see what happens. Shortly after I ordered a Sherline 2000# tongue weight scale, and began looking into weighing the TV/trailer combo on a pay per use scale.

I also decided to look at my door sticker, and discovered I don't indeed have the payload I thought I did, we only have 1,354#. One word: Ouch!

This evening we set out to get the data we needed to answer all the questions.
The first thing I did was check the tongue weight of the current setup:

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I tried it 3-4 times, they all came in around the same area. So I decided lets scale it how it sits.

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As you can see, my TV's GVW was 7,140#, 240# over it's maximum. The trailer is showing no load over stock, the door sticker lists it at 6,049#.

I instantly knew we were going to have to empty the front compartment to even have a chance of getting this to pass. I moved anything of real weight into the trailer, as close to over the axle as I could get it. Then we weighed the tongue again:

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Next up came leaving the trailer and weighing just the TV:

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Mrs HVAC decided she wanted to stay with the trailer, so there is some payload that isn't accounted for in there. I'm not going to list what it is, but just so it's a fair comparison for others, we're not small people. I'm 6'4, and the Mrs is 6'. So we contribute to the payload a bit.

I noticed some key issues with the WDH setup, and came prepared to check it, and change it if I had to. I first measured the truck stock unloaded, I had 23 1/2" from the top of the license plate to the ground. I placed the trailer on using the existing setup, and found the nose came up to 24 1/4".
I went up one link on the chains and checked it again. We were now at an even 24".

Off to the scale we went:

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According to this we're still overloaded, but there's a mysterious weight difference between our first weigh and our final weigh. Either way I need to drop another 80-100# from my GVWR on my TV to be completely legal.

That being said, that drive back to park Tim was vassstttlllyyy different than the ride there. The truck felt much more solid, the suspension was completely stable, there was no more of this "wave" effect we felt going to the scale. My wife even commented on how different the truck felt.
It's so good I don't think I need to do anything to the suspension. If I can get the weight down a bit it's only going to improve.

One thing I noticed from the picture I took is it looks like the trailer is riding a little back axle heavy. I was wondering if A) that's a problem? And B) if I adjust the angle of my WDH down, and use one less link of chain to get the same affect, will the nose be more level?

Here's how it looks:

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If you made it all the way, I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts and findings.
Also, I look forward to any conversations, and feedback this information brings.

Happy Camping!
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Old 08-02-2018, 01:26 AM   #2
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Here's a closer look at the WDH setup:

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Old 08-02-2018, 10:55 AM   #3
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Iím on the road today tomorrow & Saturday and behind so wonít have much time to study & respond but another fellow has a similar thread as did I with the roughly the same truck & trailer as you. Please read the 1/2 ton towables thread.
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The answer to what can my 1/2 ton tow; Generically whatever TT has a GVWR less than TVís max tow rating. Specifically is found on CAT scale via weight distribution with TV TT & WDH. Best motor & gearing all 5 Mfgs within specs IE safe & stable normally to 8k but passengers & bedload quickly reduce this. RAM 1500 ED max tow 9,200, max axle ratings 3,900, max Ram CVWR 15,950, axle weights me & gear 3,240 steer 2,560 drive
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by VernDiesel View Post
Iím on the road today tomorrow & Saturday and behind so wonít have much time to study & respond but another fellow has a similar thread as did I with the roughly the same truck & trailer as you. Please read the 1/2 ton towables thread.
Thank you for the response. I have read a bit of that thread, lots of info in there.

Today I went to a local trailer store, they specialize in trailers, hitches, and pretty much anything to do with towing. The reason I went is because of this:

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He told me he has only seen that happen in accidents.

Last night I noticed it was difficult to remove. Upon getting it out I inspected it, and noticed how bent it was. My conclusion, shared with his, is the pin was probably sub par. I purchased a new one, hopefully that doesn't happen again.

After spending a few minutes discussing that, and my current setup, I showed him some pictures. Right away he pointed out that I should have some tilt on my hitch back toward the trailer. Being unfamiliar with my hitch, he suggested I follow what he does when setting up the Reese version. He said he normally starts with 6 washers on the set screw, and adjust from there.

I had some washers at work in our hardware wall, so I grab a few to see how this was going to work. Once I got to the trailer I discovered this WDH doesn't use washers, it just has a set screw. However, I did use the washers as a guide to start. I began by setting it up with the "6" washer gap, reassembled everything, and checked it out.

When I went to put the chains on I noticed I had to twist them to get it on the link that worked for this set up. I ended up taking it apart and adding a few more degrees back toward the trailer. This time when I checked it the chains were not twisted, they looked correct.

I then checked the measurements up front on the TV. Instead of a 1/2" difference like we had before, I narrowed that down to 3/8".
Here's how it looks now:

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It doesn't look like much has changed except how the WDH setup looks. It's tough to tell on this gravel if the stance of the trailer has changed.
The guy at the trailer center said having the trailer leaning slightly back is okay, I'll see how it looks once we get on the some more level ground.

Here's a few pictures I didnt' take of where I had to move cargo:

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All that stuff used to be in the front compartment, it was completely full.

I plan on running it over some scales again in probably about a month. We're going on a trip in September, and we'll be rolling right by a set of CAT scales.

Between now and then I have an idea to try and remove a bit more tongue weight, I'm going to put an under-mount spare tire mount on the frame behind the rear axle. Removing that weight up front and putting it back there should give me (hopefully) around 50# off the TW. That would bring me to 750#, around 10% of this units GVWR.

I think that change would help the TV's GVWR situation. I was thinking about taking the tail gate off, but I would like to keep from doing that, the back up camera is just to good. If it came down to it though, I would. Other than that I can't think of any other way to lighten the vehicle up. I've taken pretty much everything out lol.

I guess we'll find out if it's enough in September
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Old 08-02-2018, 06:40 PM   #5
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Towing a Coachmen Apex 300BHS with a '17 Ram 1500

The guy said it was okay to have the trailer higher in the front, then the rear? Just curious. Iíve always worked at level or slightly nose down. Just sayín.
How much load is on the chains? Do you have to elevate the hitch with the tongue jack, in order to connect them?
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by katkt View Post
The guy said it was okay to have the trailer higher in the front, then the rear? Just curious. Iíve always worked at level or slightly nose down. Just sayín.
How much load is on the chains? Do you have to elevate the hitch with the tongue jack, in order to connect them?
When he looked at my pictures he said it was okay. I too believe it should be level, but if I lower the hitch I think it would be to much, its just slightly higher in the front.
There's still 800lbs on the hitch, so it's not nose light.

Yes, I have to raise it quite a bit to get the chains on comfortably. Since changing the angle of the hitch, I had to go down one link from the original set point, two down from where I had it at the scale. The truck still had a slight amount of rake, but it feels a little softer than a few days ago.

We made our first highway trip yesterday, anything before was low speed, or really short distance. Everything seemed good, the truck behaved pretty well. The suspension did a good job until the road got rougher, then I could tell the rear is pretty soft. Some stiffer springs would probably make me feel more comfortable, and the ride as a whole.
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Old 08-03-2018, 08:04 AM   #7
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I added Tuftruck variable rate coil springs to my 2017 Ram 1500 and it made a big difference in how it handles the weight. Tow a 233s tongue weight about 650 lbs and 650 lb motorcycle in the bed.
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Old 08-03-2018, 11:10 AM   #8
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I added Tuftruck variable rate coil springs to my 2017 Ram 1500 and it made a big difference in how it handles the weight. Tow a 233s tongue weight about 650 lbs and 650 lb motorcycle in the bed.
Awesome, glad to hear more positive feedback about them.

Those are most likely going to be the springs I upgrade to.
Initially when we weighed and set it up right I didn't think I would need to do anything, it felt good. But after a longer trip down the highway I think I welcome the added rigidity.
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Old 08-03-2018, 11:40 AM   #9
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WDH with built in sway control and quality axle to frame bags has worked great for me over 4 years lots of trailers lots of miles. Supports and dampens ride & NVH so much more road control on rough pavement. Best ride in towing IMO.

https://timbergroveenterprises.com/

Fan of the 1223V springs but don't believe you need both new springs and airbags. Apparently they now do as they now offer an additional small non adjustable bag or air block bump stop to go with the springs. When it comes to airbags bigger is better as they dampen the ride with better control. Smaller bags higher psi can get bouncy. Non adjustable bags like the Timbren bump stops can be harsh if spring, load, and terrain push you on and off the bump stop.
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The answer to what can my 1/2 ton tow; Generically whatever TT has a GVWR less than TVís max tow rating. Specifically is found on CAT scale via weight distribution with TV TT & WDH. Best motor & gearing all 5 Mfgs within specs IE safe & stable normally to 8k but passengers & bedload quickly reduce this. RAM 1500 ED max tow 9,200, max axle ratings 3,900, max Ram CVWR 15,950, axle weights me & gear 3,240 steer 2,560 drive
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:09 PM   #10
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Looks and sounds like he is close with his current setup. My Ram also had a ‘floaty’ feel until I added the Tuftruck 1223V springs, a Hellwig rear sway bar and Bilstein shocks all around and now it is rock solid towing my 233s, even with a load in the bed.
2017 Ram 1500 Reg cab 8ft bed.
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