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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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Old 03-29-2012, 06:53 PM   #11
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"If one has to run their gas engine at 5000 rpm to get up a hill,their engine is too small or their camper camper is too big."

Spoken by a true flatlander with a diesel.One who doesn't understand where a gas engine produces it's power(the power band) which is closer to the max horse power then the max torque.With the hills here in BC and a gas engine of the correct size for the camper in tow,if you held your rpm to 3500 you would in no time be in 1st gear for miles on end.My truck engine is a 5.4l Ford and is run at 4000-5500 rpm as nec to keep the engine in the power band it was designed for.I do agree with using the same gear or lower(at a slower speed)when going down the same hill.

Go ahead and flame(fireproof suit on).

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Old 03-29-2012, 07:08 PM   #12
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"don't lug it down"
============
Actually, you will never hurt an engine by "lugging" it, but reving the snot out of it will definitely shorten its life.
We have run everything from massive old Cat Diesels that ran at 1200 rpm, to screaming Detroits, to all sorts of gas engines. We over-reved none of them, ever.
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:11 PM   #13
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My 1/2 ton dodge sounded like I was going to blow it apart I fixed that by trading it in on a 3/4 ton Chevy 6.0 motor 4:10 rear end.. Now I tow with a 1 ton dodge try knocking the smile off my face.
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:13 PM   #14
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09Grizz, we have pulled in the mountains of BC right down to Colorado with a gasser, so I ain't no typical "flatlander". I never found the need to rev the heck out of my engine, seldom pushing it past 3500 rpm. I guess I just wasn't in as much hurry as some?
By the way, I am proud to be a 'flatlander', nothing better than being able to see for 50 miles in all directions, and watching thunderstorms coming over the horizon from the next province! Montana might be Big Sky country, but ours is bigger!
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:56 PM   #15
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I ran my Dodge V10 8.0 liter engine at 4200 RPM's in second gear to get up true mountain grades in the Rockies. It takes high RPM's to achieve maximum horsepower in a gasoline engine.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:03 PM   #16
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Crocus.

We have had some manual trans diesels (at the repair shop I work at)(Ford,GM, and Dodges) that have worn out the crank bearings from being lugged at a too low of rpm(old highway rig drivers)accelerating in 4th gear with a load at 1000 rpm(they should have been in 2nd gear)But typically lugging doesn't hurt an engine.Yes,you have every right to be proud of being a flatlander(have a few friends and family that live on the prairies)as I am of being a mountainer and a Canadian.Maybe our paths will cross and we can have a Beer or other together,Cheers.

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Old 03-29-2012, 08:15 PM   #17
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We live in STL and we're wondering what hill to which you're referring?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:18 PM   #18
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I also go through the mountains of BC and I try to keep the RPM's below 3500. Most time I pull in behind a 18 wheeler and follow him up. By the time we reach the top we might only be doing 35mph but what is the rush?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindy View Post
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.
Crocus is correct, I have a gasser.....the 5.4L. Yes, I would get more power in the 4000 rpm range, but 3000 to 3500 is plenty power for me....without working the engine hard.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:55 PM   #20
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One thing you get taught when getting your Commercial Drivers license is "never go down a hill faster than you would go up it". Has worked for me, and I rarely go uphill at more than 3200rpm, so I come down them pretty slowwww.
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