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Old 12-22-2020, 06:59 PM   #1
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Question New: full time OH living help!

Hello! Family of 2 adults and 2 kids living and working in OH. Selling our home to simplify, pay off all our debt and save some money. We are looking at getting a Cherokee 304BH to park on a family members property with full hook up and live in for 1 year. We will tow it a few times to camp during the year, but not often. We have a 2021 RAM 1500 5.7 L V8 and my husband is nervous to tow the 304 as he’s never towed anything before. Please give us all your tips and advice. Also we do plan on skirting the basement and putting a space heater under it during the winter, along with extra insulation on the slide outs etc as we never know what kind of winters we’ll get in OH. But please give us all your good, bad and ugly advice! Thanks so much!!!!
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:21 PM   #2
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Congratulations and Welcome to the forum from New Jersey, I'm not sure of the weight or the length of that unit,But I'm sure sure the helpful people here will definitely chime in.
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:50 PM   #3
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Get yourselves a good dehumidifier and if possible don’t use a Mr Buddy like heater in the coach. Propane, when burned, puts lots of moisture into the air. Excessive moisture will promote mold growth. Your RV furnace is fine to use as it exhausts to the outside. Your propane stove/oven and even human/pet breath will put moisture into the air but can be controlled with a dehumidifier.
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:37 PM   #4
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That's WAYYY to much trailer for a Ram 1500.
https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/trave...okee/304BH/701
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by FulltimerFourFamily View Post
Hello! Family of 2 adults and 2 kids living and working in OH. Selling our home to simplify, pay off all our debt and save some money. We are looking at getting a Cherokee 304BH to park on a family members property with full hook up and live in for 1 year. We will tow it a few times to camp during the year, but not often. We have a 2021 RAM 1500 5.7 L V8 and my husband is nervous to tow the 304 as he’s never towed anything before. Please give us all your tips and advice. Also we do plan on skirting the basement and putting a space heater under it during the winter, along with extra insulation on the slide outs etc as we never know what kind of winters we’ll get in OH. But please give us all your good, bad and ugly advice! Thanks so much!!!!
He should be nervous, a 304 should be towed with a heavy duty 2500/3500 instead of a 1500. Fortunately Ohio is flat and if you don't go far, it is possible. But you will be over the vehicle's GVWR, possibly over towing capacity and will tax your transmission, brakes and suspension. A couple of times over the course of the year should be OK. Good luck with your new adventure.

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Old 12-22-2020, 08:41 PM   #6
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Hello and welcome!
What part of Ohio are you planning to stay in?
We're in NE Ohio, the Snow Belt and winters can be pretty rough at times
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:49 PM   #7
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Fortunately Ohio is flat and if you don't go far, it is possible.
Northwest OH is relatively flat but certainly central, southeast and northeast are definately NOT flat.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:03 PM   #8
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SO, everyone wants to know... where in OH are you planning to camp for the winter? Below I-70 might not be too bad with usually less snow fall and slightly warmer temps.

I agree moisture inside is a problem especially with four people in cold temps. Water vapor will condense on the thin walls. You will need two 100# or a single 250# propane tank to heat thru the winter. You will need a heated water hose and a place to dump your waste into a septic system. The hose from the black and grey tanks will need to be heated and short. Using hay bales for a temporary skirting might help insulate the bottom of the camper and the septic lines.

Many counties do not allow what you say you are going to do, even on private land.

You will be at the absolute limit of your towing capacity. SHort trips, on flat roads, maybe. No towing experience is NOT good, starting with that large of a camper.

A RAM 1500 EVEN WITH THE MAX TOW PACKAGE is not the vehicle to tow that camper with, however I'm sure you can find someone that will tow it to the property and park it for you.

Help us help you and provide a bit more detail on where you plan to winter over.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:41 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forum. There are a lot of knowledgeable folks here to help with your questions. Go to the Cherokee thread and post your questions there you will get more and better response to questions. Later RJD
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Old 12-23-2020, 08:11 AM   #10
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Welcome to the forum and congratulations! Enjoy, from Central NC
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Old 12-23-2020, 09:53 AM   #11
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Greetings from another buckeye!
First you will be fine staying in a camper, your from Ohio so you already know the temps and snow deal.
Second, have your husband have someone with a bigger truck haul it. Can you: yes, should you: NO.
Third, heat trace everything you can, tank belly heaters are a good thing as well.
Fourth, the furnace should be just fine, you shouldn't need anything else to heat the camper.
Fifth, the skirting will help, especially if you do have an electric heater under it to help keep the floor a little warmer.
I know several people who live in their camper all year around here in Ohio, you will use a lot of propane, the full timers I know use the two 100lb tanks and sometimes have to have them refilled.
Good luck, enjoy the new life style. Happy camping.
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:12 PM   #12
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Many counties do not allow what you say you are going to do, even on private land.
We lived and traveled as a family of 4 for the past 5 years. We never stayed any one place long. I'm all for families fulltiming. I'm not the biggest fan of doing it stationary but lots of folks do it.

But, what rsdata says is what you need to focus on. I've watched people spend thousands of dollars getting site work done on family land only to move in and literally 2-3 weeks later get a notice from the county that they can't live in their RV. And there is no fighting it- it's not, "oh file for this permit and pay the fee". Once you get tagged, you've got to move.

And just because others are doing it doesn't make it allowed. They may just be getting away with it- you might be lucky, you might not be lucky.

Check zoning. Ensure you're allowed to do this. If not, have backup plans.
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Old 12-23-2020, 01:35 PM   #13
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Check zoning. Ensure you're allowed to do this. If not, have backup plans.
Good advice. If they are forced to locate in an rv park, check into a yearly lease on a site.
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Old 12-23-2020, 02:22 PM   #14
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As mentioned prior, check with state, county and local regulations. Some counties here in Wisconsin you can not live year round in a rv full time on a permanent location. There is a work-a-round if you purchase a park model (picture attached) and anchor it to a pad or set on a basement/foundation. These types of park models do not have holding tanks or water pumps and need to be connected to septic systems and city water/wells approved by the county. These park models are built more like a s&b home and have thicker walls, better insulation, central AC, larger water heaters, higher btu furnaces, and imo, better build quality than rvs. The down side is the smallest one starts at least $60k and they are not made to be moved around by the average person.

Forest River sells these under the name of America's Park, Summit, and Quailridge, https://forestriverinc.com/parkmodels/. Several other manufacturers sell their own brands.
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Old 12-23-2020, 11:19 PM   #15
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Absolutely, we’re planning on getting 2 small dehumidifiers. Also getting all the lines heated so we don’t run into problems for the winter. We won’t be in it until March at the earliest, still just in the planning phase. We are in NW OH exactly halfway between Toledo OH and Fort Wayne IN. We’ve been watching lots of YouTubes and agree that getting a bigger propane tank for next winter will be the best option, along with skirting and all the other precautions for the cold weather. As for the truck, yes he will be close to his max towing capacity of 12K# if we are fully loaded, and he’s aware. He’s been on the RAM forums as well. He’s getting a ProPride hitch with sway bars, rear suspension airbags, a tuner/programmer and possibly better shocks. We will not tow this rig through the mountains at all. Thank you for the advice of checking to see if we need a permit or anything with the county, that is in the works! Appreciate it!
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:48 AM   #16
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That's WAYYY to much trailer for a Ram 1500.
https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/trave...okee/304BH/701
^^^^This x 100! That truck should not tow that trailer. Doesn't matter how much extra kit you put on it, that combo will be dangerous. And if you plan to pull that with your family in the truck, then you are being selfish and irresponsible. Borrow a bigger truck to tow it from the dealer to your permanent site (or have the dealer deliver it to the permanent site) and don't go camping until you get a bigger truck. Period. Dot. End of story.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:13 PM   #17
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One other note about weight- there's a limit to how much stuff you can put into the trailer itself. Surprisingly that is quite high for a travel trailer at 2,500 pounds (see the "CCC" [cargo carrying capacity] here - https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/trave...okee/304BH/701 ).

Your actual unit will be lower as it is impacted by how the dealer orders the RV. Common features aren't always included.

You don't need to worry about that CCC too much while its stationary but since you're talking about taking it camping, then you do. I'm a card carrying member of the "buckled trailer frame" club (which I know 5 or 6 different fulltime families [FTF] who are also in it). I attribute it to towing over the trailer's maximum weight rating.

It's amazing how quickly a family maxes out a trailer. I've been involved in the FTF community and of folks who have actually admitted to weighing, a good 90% or more have been overweight on their RV.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
That's WAYYY to much trailer for a Ram 1500.
https://forestriverinc.com/rvs/trave...okee/304BH/701
Let me expand on this a bit... this will be long, so make a cup of hot chocolate and a comfy blanket.

First, a quick definition of tongue weight.


Tongue Weight

Tongue weight is the amount of the camper's weight that pushes down on the truck's hitch. This is typically 10-15% for travel trailers and 15-25% for fifth wheels. For calculations, this weight is carried by the truck.

Now that's out of the weigh (get it? "way". I crack myself up.), let's talk about the various ratings that are applicable when towing.


Ratings

Tow Rating

The tow rating that you see most commonly mentioned is planned for with a 150 pound driver and literally nothing else in the truck. Then it plans for 10% of tongue weight from the camper. From the specs, that camper has an 11% dry tongue weight percentage. It typically increases by 1-2% as you load the camper up - which you want! Tongue weight at 10% and lower can lead to catastrophic sway. I have FTF friends who did a 180° on their first day out due to low tongue weight and too small of a tow vehicle.

You should look at the tow rating and all others. Some people are fine with exceeding one or more ratings. It's not for me- heck, I upgraded a 2012 dually to a 2018 dually because I was uncomfortable exceeding a few ratings. I'm not here to wag my finger at anyone.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

The truck itself is rated to "carry" a specific amount of weight. That's the truck itself, driver, passengers, cargo (in the cab and in the truck bed), any modifications done to the truck (topper, bed mat, cattle guard, racks, etc.), and the tongue weight from the camper. Since 2006-ish, this is found on the doorjamb on a sticker.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)

The truck rides on 2 axles. These axles are designed to carry up to a maximum amount of weight. Generally speaking, the front axle doesn't increase much when towing (in fact, with travel trailers, it loses weight which you don't necessarily want and use a weight distributing hitch to push weight back up front). So you're specifically looking at the "rear GAWR" or "rear gross axle weight rating". Since 2006-ish, this is found on the doorjamb on a sticker.

Tire Loading Capacity

The axles ride on tires, those funky black circular things. They're rated to carry a specific amount. Again, the front tires usually aren't an issue the rear tires are what you need to focus on. Finding this sucks, you have to get down on the ground and really look on the tire. It's molded into the sidewall and will read something like “Max Load single: 3650 lbs. at 65 psi. cold”.

Ok, now armed with your ratings- let's figure out what the heck to do with them all.


Weight the Truck

Definitely go take the truck to be weighed at a truck stop. Get separate weights for the front/steer and rear/drive axles. Take the whole family like you normally would travel for camping. You can go to almost any truck stop, they have what are called "CAT Scales". These are scales that the truckers use to make sure their loads are legal.

Weigh My Truck App

Going to the CAT scale can be intimidating. To make it easier, you can install an app on your phone called Weigh My Truck. This saves you from stretching to reach a call button and shouting into it. And then saves you from having to run inside to get a paper weigh slip.

How To Weight the Truck

You just pull onto the scale so that you're in-line with the speaker call box. This will put your front axle on one scale and your rear axle on another. Press the button and talk to the tiny person inside the box or use the app. Easy squeezy.


Time to Digest this all for YOU

Estimating That Camper's Tongue Weight

First, that camper is very likely going to have pert near 1,500 pounds of tongue weight once it's loaded up. See this calculator for how I came about that:
Estimating Tongue/Pin Weight from Dry Weights - TowingPlanner

Comparing against GVWR

Now, let's check your truck's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Again, this is what the truck is designed to carry. You'll simply take that 1,500 pounds and add it to what the truck weighs. Are those 2 above or below the truck's GVWR? Is it a lot over? What's your comfort/cutoff for being over?

Comparing against the rear GAWR

Generally speaking, tongue weight is carried by the rear axle. It does get spread around a little by a weight distributing hitch, but for planning purposes, let's assume it isn't. Take that 1,500 pounds of tongue weight and add it to the rear/drive axle weight from the scale. Again, are you above or below the truck's GAWR? Is it a lot over? What's your comfort/cutoff for being over?

Comparing against the Tire Load Capacity

Take the number you just calculated for the rear axle. This same weight is going to be carried by the rear tires. Are you under or over? If over, stop. Don't go over on the rubber, you're just asking for problems.


Whew, You Made it Here

You deserve a dang prize for reading all of this shizzle. You can't make any decisions unless you're armed with data.

Now, that all said- towing isn't black and white. I know folks who aren't willing to exceed any ratings and others who are willing to exceed one or many ratings, sometimes by a lot. Your experience with trucks and towing will guide you. Though, I strongly recommend newbies err on the side of caution and ratings (believe me- I was there!).

So good luck and let me know if you have any questions.
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