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Old 03-28-2012, 11:28 PM   #1
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Advice pulling large up/down large hills?

I am pulling our new-to-us, 5200lb. 1999 FR Salem 29BH travel trailer with my 1996 Sliverado 4x4 with the 5.7 V-8. I know I will encounter one big long ugly up hill on the way to our first camping trip of the year. When I pulled our 2800lb pop-up, if I left the automatic transmision in 3rd gear, it wanted to almost bog down going up the hill. Dropping to down to 2 seems to make the engine roar going up the hill. The higher RPM's kinda made me a little concerned I am going to blow the engine or something bad like that. So, how do you attack such a hill? I have fears of not being able to pull the hill and having to back down a 2 lane windy hill with my kids in the truck with me, sending my stress level to a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

What do I do to pull this trailer up such a hill? Put it in 1st or 2nd, find a RPM range that is between bogging down and screaming, and just crawl up the mile or two long hill at 10 or 20 mph?

How do I come down this beast. I worry about the trailer pushing me down the hill and out of control in low gear, ie. 1 or 2. I can pump the brakes, but I worry about them fading.

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Old 03-28-2012, 11:43 PM   #2
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Going up: find the RPM range that gives you the most power with the load then keep it it in that range in a gear that keeps you at a safe speed. If you have to drop to 2nd, do it and take your time getting up.
Going down: Again, drop gears. Let the friction in your engine and tranny add drag to help slow you down. Also, do you have a trailer braking system? Make sure it is dialed in so you don't feel like the TV has to stop the trailer. The trailer should be yanking on your truck a little when you stop on level road.
Another goos idea is a transmission cooler if your truck did not come with a tow package.

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Old 03-29-2012, 04:23 AM   #3
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Gasoline engines produce their max horsepower at high RPM's. It may sound like the engine is trying to tear itself apart at those high RPM's but it won't. Just don't redline the RPM's and you'll be OK. My old Dodge V10 would sound like the engine was trying to come through the hood when I would tow our Wildcat trailer up the mountain grades in the Rockies.

I agree with wneise, get a transmission cooler installed on the truck if it doesn't already have one.

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Old 03-29-2012, 07:15 AM   #4
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I'm slowly teaching my wife to drive combination vehicle and the one piece of advise that I always give her is: don't get in a hurry, the people behind you will go around. If you have to drop down to 2nd gear do it and just put on your flashers and sit back and enjoy the view. I agree make sure your trailer brakes are in good working order. Most of the time on large inclines there is a brake testing area at the top. This is a good time to re-test your trailer brakes and allow your sphincter muscle to relax before heading down the backside. Hope this helps your confidence. GL
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:35 AM   #5
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If my tranny shifts automatically to 2nd going up a hill, then I will manually shift it to 2nd so that it stays there. I will reduce speed to lower the rpms to a comfortable level.....I like about 3000. I don't think my engine has even been over 3500 rpms.

I will also manually leave my tranny in 2nd going down the other side of the hill to help with braking.

My truck engine sounds like it is screaming in the 3000 to 3500 rpm level, but I think it has a 5500 redline (no markings on the tach), so that is only about 70% of the maximum rpms, so I should be good to go. I have plenty of power in that range.

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Old 03-29-2012, 07:44 AM   #6
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I agree with mntguy, no need to rev the snot out of your motor. 3000-3500 rpm and second gear should pull you up any hill. If it doesn't, time to get a new truck.
And as mntguy said, go down in the same gear you went up, and take it slow. A few extra minutes taking your time is no big deal.
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:27 PM   #7
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mtnguy doesn't say if his is a diesel or not, 3-3500 for a diesel pull up hill is good but for a gasser 4-5000 is more appropriate because that's where a gassers power band is at.

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Old 03-29-2012, 06:30 PM   #8
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"mtnguy doesn't say if his is a diesel"
He has a Ford F150, not likely a diesel.
If one has to run their gas engine at 5000 rpm to get up a hill, their engine is too small, or their camper is too big.
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:38 PM   #9
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As my wise father, who is deceased, would tell me " don't lug it down" . I remember those words everytime I go up or down a mountain even though it has been over 40 years.
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:44 PM   #10
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I agree Crocus, I have pulled camping trailers since 76 and 3000 to 3500 is ample rpm going up any grade. Have pulled in the Rockies and had no problems. Let the tranny shift, that's what it is for!!!

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