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Old 03-27-2016, 03:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by genehorn View Post
Personally I wouldn't want to do that with less than a heavy duty powered by diesel but I'd bet you could make it. I suspect that when it's over you'll want that 800 pound-foot of torque too.
The 650 foot pounds from my 6.4 is most sufficient........

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Old 03-27-2016, 03:08 PM   #12
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This is a topic I've thought about. We live in relatively flat country...hills but nothing like the mountains. I've made a couple of trips to Arkansas with a small fiver years ago, and the long downhill grades were the most uncomfortable. So for you guys that are experienced, I'd like to ask a ? or three...such as, what speed do you want to be at when you get to the peak? As you descend, what speed do you allow rig to reach before taking action...and I'm assuming you use engine/exhaust braking as much as possible, but when you use truck brakes, do you ride them with only that pressure needed to control speed or do you brake (harder) then let off for a cooling period? Do the descending curves still scare you?
Thanks for the benefit of your experience.

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Old 03-27-2016, 03:18 PM   #13
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I will run 65 or the best I can up hill if it is a straight road, less if curved.

Down hill I will run the black on yellow/orange advisory signs limit.

No engine brake on my 6.4 so I use tow/haul to keep it slow and just tap the brake pedal now and then.

Lived in the NW most all of my life mountains do not bother me much anymore.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:21 PM   #14
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Make sure that you have fresh coolant in the engine/radiator. Also, fairly new belts on the engine.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:33 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by robbdrell View Post
This is a topic i have spent considerable research on basically due to anxiety (fear). I have a Tundra 5.7 4x4 with the Tow / Haul package and i pull a Rockwood TT 2608ws which is about 30 ft / 7000#. I have traveled through the Rockies 2x and learned a lot particularly from this forum which i appreciate. I have the Prodigy brake controlled installed in the Tundra which i think is essential if you're traversing serious mountains. One tip is to pick up a copy of the Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV, and Motor homes. There's a West and East coast editions, 16.95 on Amazon. I have found these invaluable for planning and choosing routes as well as knowing what's ahead. Sometimes i'll only do 1 or 2 long steep grades in a day. Going up is never a problem, its always going down is where you can get into trouble. As said before just go slow, up and down. As i said i have a Tow / Haul mode but i manually use my gears, usually 2nd or 3rd and sometimes 1st with long runs down. Like someone said, never ride your brakes or they might become "glazed" and then you'll have no brakes at all. Occasionally tap the brakes and pull over for them to cool if you have to tap them a lot. i have a cheap Harbor Freight heat gun to measure the heat off each wheel if there is a concern. One thing i've heard since my last trip is i could use the brake controller override lever to engage to trailer brakes to slow down on long grades instead of using the truck brakes. I'll try this this summer when i'm out in Colorado. If anyone has any experience here i would like to hear how that works. Certainly the way to go is a diesel exhaust / engine brake which will be mandatory when i purchase a GMC DuraMax / Allison before my 2017 trip to Alaska. I think you're Titan will be fine if you do the research, prepare and use your head. Take your time, have short days when in the mountains, and be safe.

Before having diesel engine brake I always used the trailer brakes much more than the vehicle brakes on long downhill runs. That practice was used in the 70s when the TV was the family CAR. Prior to the mid-80s when I bought a Dodge Ramcharger our best TV was a Plymouth Fury with a 360 cu in engine and a 727 transmission. I towed a 28' trailer from the east coast over the Rockies several times with that car--- 6000 miles each time.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:37 PM   #16
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Towing a TT through the Rockies

Speed at the peak isn't critical as long as you understand what grades are ahead of you. For instance, as you come out of the Eisenhower tunnel, the grade west down to Silverthorne is fairly steep for a long stretch although the lanes are wide and traffic is usually not bunched like coming up the grade. Once you pass Silverthorne, the grade is fairly up and down with no extremely long grades. Vail pass is pretty easy with a short steep grade as you come into the east side of Vail. Fairly flat once west of Vail.

On the opposite side coming east to Denver there is a long stretch of down grade from Genesee to the I-70/C470 split and traffic is usually heavy the entire stretch from Georgetown to the bottom (Denver). The heavy traffic causes the most stress since you have the Vail crowd (Audi, Porsche, BMW drivers) using I-70 as their own personal autobahn. And the clueless drivers changing into the left lane as you are about to pass , cutting you off, so they don't have to get behind "a camper".

I would agree that incorporation of tow modes and exhaust brakes have made the drive with diesels much better!
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by HESN22 View Post
Just pulled our 35 5th wheel though the andriondacks with our f250 ... slow, easy constant pressure on the breaks ... off and on will heat up brakes faster ... constant light pressure -> learned that through a friend who is a long haul "oversized" load truck driver

YOUR FRIEND IS WRONG and being a truck driver doesn't make him an expert in thermodynamics. Sorry for not being diplomatic but towing in the Rocky Mountains is not a joke and I'd hate to see someone follow advice that could hurt them or others. This article is for commercial trucks but the braking technique applies to our rigs and trailers.

Downhill Braking

John C. Glennon, Jr., BSAT

[ Reprinted from the Trucker's World Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6, June 2001]

When the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) manual was first published, it recommended that a driver use a light and steady application of the brakes when descending steep grades. This recommendation was based on an old theory that heavy brake applications would generate more heat than light applications. This method (controlled braking) was commonly taught to drivers and, even after changes were made to the CDL manual because this theory was proven wrong, the method is still taught and practiced today.

Snub braking is now the recommended method of downhill braking. This method works by: first, choosing the correct gear for the hill; second, allowing the truck to speed up to the maximum safe speed as it descends the hill; third, applying the brakes hard to slow the truck down 5 mph; and then repeating this process to the bottom of the hill. To understand why this method is recommended takes some understanding of the basics about how brakes work. Slowing a truck with it.s brakes, creates friction between the brake shoes and brake drum to convert the kinetic (forward movement) energy of the truck into heat energy dissipated by the brakes. The amount of heat energy produced is dependent upon the weight of the truck and the amount of slowing desired. Assuming these two factors remain constant, the manner in which the brakes are applied, hard for a short time or lightly for a long time, will not change the amount of heat energy and heat produced by the brakes. This heat energy will be distributed among all the brakes that are working. Again, assuming all other factors constant, the more brakes the system has working the cooler each brake will be.

This explains why the old theory of light and steady braking is incorrect. However, to understand why snub braking is the recommended practice, you must also understand the basics of pneumatic balance. Trucks have relay valves to control the application and release of the air brakes. A standard truck-trailer usually has one relay valve for the tractor drive axles and one for the trailer axles. The relay valves are controlled by air pressure from the foot valve (brake pedal). This control pressure opens the relay valve allowing the desired amount of air pressure from the air tanks to pass through the valve and supply pressure to the brakes. Pneumatic balance is created by having equal air pressure at all wheel ends. Pneumatic imbalance is a result of these valves that open at different pressures. For example, a tractor may be setup with a relay valve that opens at 15psi (15psi crack pressure relay valve) and the trailer being towed may have a relay valve with a 3psi crack pressure. A vehicle setup this way would only apply the trailer brakes during controlled brake application, which typically has an application pressure of less than 10psi. However, a .snub. brake application of 20 to 30psi will open all valves and apply all brakes. This type of imbalance can also be a result of contaminants and alcohol in the air system that can cause these valves to hang-up and have higher than normal crack pressures.

Snub braking became the recommended method of downhill braking as a result of testing done by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. This research found that trucks with properly balanced brake systems had basically the same average brake temperature when using either the controlled or snub braking method. However, trucks with poor brake balance were found to have more uniform brake temperatures when the snub method was used. Unless pneumatic testing is performed on a truck to ensure that proper brake balance is maintained, there is no way to know if a truck has good brake balance. This type of testing is difficult to perform in most trucking operations since a tractor is usually hooked to several trailers over relatively short time periods. Therefore, for the purposes of deciding which braking method to use, it would be virtually impossible to determine if a truck has good brake balance. This is why snub braking is the recommended method.

Although snub braking does compensate for imbalances in the pneumatic system of the brakes, there is a misconception that snub braking also compensates for brakes that are not evenly adjusted. Brakes that are not evenly adjusted have a torque imbalance. Torque balance is created by having matched mechanical components that are working properly and adjusted correctly. Snub braking has limited ability to compensate for torque imbalance. A good example of this would be a truck with a six-inch slack adjuster on one side of the axle and a five-inch slack adjuster on the other side. This truck will always have an imbalance at any pressure because the brake with the six- inch slack adjuster has more leverage. The same imbalance can happen with uneven brake adjustment because the force output of a brake chamber is directly related to the brake adjustment (push rod stroke).

Since the snub braking method cannot compensate for torque imbalance, trucks should always be inspected and repaired with the following in mind. A truck.s brake system should have matched mechanical components such as the same size brake chambers and same length slack adjusters on both sides of an axle and, most of the time, on all brakes in a group of axles (i.e. tractor drive axles). When inspecting the condition of the brakes, any isolated premature wear found is an indication of a balance problem. If one brake wears faster than the rest, there is a torque balance problem and that brake is doing more work than the rest. If one brake wears much slower than the rest then that brake is not working as hard as the rest. When brakes are repaired, it is important that the cause of an identified torque imbalance be found before repairs are made. Repairs made without correcting the torque imbalance could amplify the problem causing the overworked brake to work even harder. It is equally important to ensure that the same repairs are done on both sides of an axle. If the brake hardware is replaced on the right side of an axle it should also be replaced on the left side. If the s-cam bushings are replaced on the right side they should be replaced on the left.

Snub braking is the method that every truck driver should be using. Although snubbing is a very good precautionary measure, it is still no substitute for a properly balanced brake system. Brake imbalances not only cause brakes to overheat when driving in the mountains, but also can cause instability both on slick driving surfaces and during hard brake applications. These stability problems (to be discussed in a future article) are the primary cause of jackknifes and trailer swingouts. Therefore, I recommend not only that trucks be tested, repaired, and maintained to ensure that they have good brake balance, but also that the snub braking method be used to compensate for any variances that result from interchanging tractors and trailers.
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:15 PM   #18
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I have a friend that does it with a half ton Ram and the Titian is a very capable truck! You will be fine take your time and have fun!
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:20 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by myezlife View Post
How worried/concerned should I be towing a 28' TT ( 5204lb UVW- 2422lb CCC) through the Rockies with my 2004 Nissan Titan (5.6L V8 w/ tow pkg, 14,600lb GCW)? I'm new at camping and just want to know what I might expect. I have just replaced the tires, brakes, flushed transmission, and the other little preventative maintenance to my Titan. Am I biting off more than I can chew?
I don't think my 2006 Titan had that high of a towing capacity, but we didn't have any problem towing through the Blue Ridge Parkway with our 28' Passport except downhill without an exhaust brake. Lots of RPMs and breaking.
We upgraded to a 2500 HD Duramax/Allison and exhaust brake. What a difference!
You have the power but breaking downhill will be a challenge. Be careful and take it slow.
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:49 PM   #20
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Exhaust brake for the win.

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