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AlRohrer

Towing a Silverado

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I've read nearly everything that has been written the last four years on towing on this forum and several others and I know everyone has their own opinion. What I would like is feedback from those who have done what I am doing.

I have a 2005 Damon Challenger with the 8.1 Vortec (before this, a 2002 Coachmen Mirada with Triton V10) and I use it to pull a 2001 Silverado 1500 HD 4x4. I use a Blue Ox Hitch rated for 10,000 pounds, and my gross combined vehicle weight (MH and pickup) with all tanks full is 25,430 pounds with my wife and I on board. The GCWR for my MH is 26,000 pounds.

Three things I'd like those with knowledge (not just opinions) to comment on.

First, brakes. I do not have a brake system for my pickup. I have talked to people all over the country and found many do not use a brake system. Some never have, others tried it and didn't like it. I've been pulling farm trailers and wagons most of my early life with heavy loads hooked behind a 1/2 ton pickup and never had a problem. I did a panic stop in Alburquerque, NM two years ago with the Coachmen and Silverado, set it down in four lanes of traffic, and it stopped fine.

Second, hitch. Hitch on my MH is rated for 5,000 pounds. Can't find one rated higher unless I have it custom built. I reinforced it with two 5,000 lb cables linked to the truck frame and through the hitch for extra security and am not worried about the thing coming off or losing my pickup, just the legality.

Third, pickup weight. FMCA towing PDF shows approx curb weight for a 2001 Silverado 4X4 as 4,413 lbs. My pickup wieghs more. But my gross combined weight is still under legal weight for the combined unit.

I have pulled this pickup in every state west of the Mississippi except Washington and Oregon and most of the midwest. I've had it on grades up to 7% and 8%, never had either MH overheat or smoke a brake. Anyone that says a gas engine, Ford Triton V10 or Chevy V8 Vortec, can't pull a load this size in the mountains has probably never tried. I'm not the fastest rig on the road but not the slowest either, especially considering I seldom run over 62 miles per hour, even downhill.

I'm a professional driver, over 42 years on the road with rigs of all kinds and sizes. I keep my CDL because I still drive on weekends sometimes. I'll put my driving and safety record up against that of anyone out there. That being said, I would upgrade my hitch to a heavier one if it could be done for a reasonable price and would install a brake system to comply with various laws if I found one that I was sure I could trust to not damage my pickup brakes.

Now, comments and discussion from those with personal knowledge and experience are welcome.

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Great post, will read with interest the responses as that is one of the options I'm considering.

Wished I had heard about this last week. I met a couple that were trading in their ACE for a Newmar gas Class A.

He pulls a Silverado 1500 behind him. First time I had heard this was an issue. Thanks.

I would suggest you shoot a similar email over to RVSEF to see if you can get a response from them.

http://www.rvsafety.com/contact/contact-us

Rodger S.

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Thanks for the link, Rodger. I'd never heard of them before but I have now shot them an email with my post attached. I will be keeping an eye out for their answer and be back here with any new information.

I don't believe that gross weight on a 30' or 32' gas motorhome is much of a problem. The main problem is the hitch and the way I understand it is they won't put a higher rated hitch on it due to the way the MH manufacturers extend the truck frames. When I first got my Coachmen, I looked under it and could see where the extension had been welded on, even had a plate welded on the side, and when I installed support cables, I ran them all the way forward of where the extension began and connected to the original truck chassis.

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Trucker to Trucker. Me 46 years. We have probably both broken the rules from time to time ??would we worry about a few hundred

pounds over the hitch weight rating. I would not. There is always a fudge factor built in. Yeah we will hear from the worry warts. I had to do pads and front rotors because of the auxiallry brake so I remedied that?Now that is trucker to trucker. Everyone else beware.

I lived in swamp east MO as a kid for four years in the late fifties. Dexter. Tough town if you are not from there, but I still have all of my teeth and a couple of scars.

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If you want a relatively inexpensive solution, get the ready brake (NSA). I bought the whole tow bar with the Ready Brake built in from the factory in Kansas and I told the guy on the phone that I love mountains, and he assured me that I would be fine. It is even in their description on the website. I adjusted the cable with more play in the unit than advised. I still lost all pads and front rotors on our Subaru. Advance Auto for parts maybe $200 or so and my labor. Been doing Subarus for my wife for years. Easy. If you decide to buy one for your Silverado, adjust the cable very loosely in the mountains. The Subie is 3400 lbs.

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That is why I suggested a cable with a lot of slack in it. It is just for show . I wish some of the folks that have had trouble with the more expensive solutions could get some of their money back. There are so many so called solutions out there. How do you decide? Lot of systems tried and a lot of money lost. It is like the Flim Flam Man. How can they be all good?? What are there . Maybe 15 or even more choices? Gives me a head ache and a pocket book ache.

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Alrohrer...this has been posted on here before...this is what the 'book' says:

Tow rating is the lower of:
1. Coach's hitch rating.
2. Coach tow rating.
3. Chassis tow rating (sometimes different than the coach's).
4. The difference in weight between the coach's GCWR and the coach's actual weight when ready to tow.

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Believe me, I know what the book says. That wasn't my question. The cable with the slack in it is an idea that had occurred to me and I was wondering if anyone else would mention it. ObedB, Dexter is a nice little town now, settled down some. It's about 75 miles from me. That NSA Ready Brake has been the one I've been considering, mainly for price. I just don't want to fall off some mountain grade out west and discover my brakes on my Silverado burnt up and needing replacing so I probably wouldn't fully utilize it's abilities. Trucker to Trucker, I just need it more for show than anything else.

Any more ideas, I'm open to suggestions.

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Another thought. I will be attending the RVSEF conference in Kentucky in May.

Their course list for attendees suggestst to me that would be a good place for you to be too.

You can have access to their instructors and some of the mfg specialists to help sort it out.

http://www.rvsafety.com/conf-info/conf-courses

2016 RVSEF Technical Education & Safety Conference Registration May 15 – 19, 2016 Pritchard Community Center, Elizabethtown KY

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AIR,

One of the problem with towing over a certain weight without an auxiliary braking system, Insurance. Should you be involved in an accident and do not have a braking system your insurance company could refuse payment.

Just my thoughts.

Herman

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Al has been reading the posts on this topic on this website for several years. He knows all of the warnings just as I do. I have the Ready Brake System and perhaps he will also have one. For me it was not a complicated choice and he is a retired professional driver so perhaps he will decide on one as well. There is a major difference between men that have driven tractor trailers for many years in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions with all kinds of loads, AND RVers. It may sound condescending, but I don't mean it to be. There is just plain a difference in experience and there really is no substitute for that. Period.

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Al/ the cable is very easily adjustable. I keep a 1/4 " ratchet with the right socket in my Subaru at the ready. Not even five minutes involved to adjust for conditions. Good luck to you and live a long life. Enjoy your retirement.

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AIR

Never been a trucker, just 48 years of Class "A's". In the 80's we would tow a toad with a A frame hitch and no thought of brakes, but then they came out with laws! I like to keep the Insurance people and me happy. In 06' to 09' my toad was a 07' Silverado 2500 Duramax 4 x 4, Blue Ox 10K with brake master, newer had a problem with rotor or brakes, my coach was a 07' DP Winnebago Tour 40'.

The law in most states, says that a toad or trailer over 2,500 pounds need it's own supplemental brake. So, unless you want a Smart car, that a rabbit will wipe out if you hit it, you need brakes! Your hitch is fine, as long as your coach is rated for 5K or more per law...I've seen some rally scary combinations on the Hwy's and am sure you and ObedB has also!

Carl

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ObedB

" experience and there really is no substitute for that. Period."

Actually, as an expert witness in my previous life, the Judge would always look at your mix of experience, education, skills, and research that supported ones opinions.

It may be frustrating when it appears responders aren't following the guidelines a poster requests, (it certainly is for me) but restating how insurance companies would react or what some of the legal requirements are doesn't hurt the discussion, even if it doesn't add value from the point of view of one or more of the readers. It may inform some readers and actually provide a chance for some to rethink the issue along other lines of thought.

One thought. Professional working drivers are often backed up by a company, with deep pockets, lawyers, insurance, etc. Yes, some are independent as well. RVers are 100% responsible, legally and financially, which means they may be more focused and sensitive to legal and insurance issues and maybe they are worried about putting their retirement funds at risk and maintaining their access to this lifestyle.

RodgerS.

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Al,

The vehicle we tow the most behind our coach is a Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 diesel. I always install our supplemental brake system and adjust it for heavy/hard braking conditions. So, the coach's service brakes and our 2 stage Jakes do most of the routine stopping and deceleration for us. It's not often that we need to stand on the brakes hard, but good peace of mind for me that when I do need to hit it hard I can feel the truck helping out. I've never had a problem with our toad brakes getting hot or rotors warping.

Blake

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Rodger, again thanks for the link. I have plans that are not finalized for May but I may be able to work at least 3 days in to get to Etown.

Herman, you make a very good point and it has been one of my main considerations.

Yes Carl, I've seen some very scary combinations out there, and I don't intend to be one of them.

Back to Rodger, I don't mind a bit you or anyone with knowledge or experience expanding on my post when it may bring up things neither I nor others may have thought of.

dd690, that is what I am concerned about on a brake system. Only drawback to my gas rig that I can see is lack of an air brake system. Guess you can't have everything.

Obed, appreciate the info on adjusting the Ready Brake.

Thanks, Blake. Appreciate your experience, especially towing a truck that large and heavy. My biggest concerns with a supplemental brake system is them dragging and getting hot or locking up at the wrong time. Glad to hear you have had no problem.

Appreciate all who have responded. I will continue to watch for more info.

Safe Traveling to all of you!

Al

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Did not mean to hurt your feelings Carl. You Good Guy 125,000 miles a year would be a little low for my target $$. I remember one

November when I was home for just one day. Another time when I was gone for just over two months. Followed the money. I sure did catch the dickens from Betty that time. I am surprised that I am still relatively healthy in view of my occupation. Loved looking at the country from the inside of a windshield .

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Al.

How long is the extension to the truck frame? The extension is your weakest link. Your cable hook up is a great idea. I had a 97' Allegro 31' and a friend removed my hitch and welded extension rails that was long enough to make the new attachment point on the frame in front of extension weld and two other attachments to extension! I hauled a 16' enclosed trailer with 12 Honda 750 motor cycles for El Mina Shrine temple motor patrol, with no problems, all over the US.

Just a suggestion.

Carl

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Carl, the extension on my Coachmen was about 48", butt-welded to frame, then an approximately 1/2" slab overlapping each and welded to the outside. Plenty strong I thought but that seemed to most to be the weak link in the hitch and is why I ran the cable all the way forward to the truck frame which conveniently had holes already in it to weave through. I haven't installed them on my Damon yet so really not sure what I am going to run into. I would prefer to, and probably will, have a local welding shop reinforce this hitch as we intend to keep this one for a while. I may still put my cables on as I already have them and they will be out of site and out of the way. I'm always one for backups.

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Al, have the weld shop check the integrity of the cross members. I was told by Coachmen (the original not the Forest river Coachmen) the weak link in my old coach was the cross members within the frame extension, the side to side push/pull when not driving straight was the concern.

I had 11' after the rear axle center, so there was a lot of leverage when not driving straight if I was into a turn and slammed on the coach brakes, something was going to bend. In an effort to keep the weight down they skimped on those, I was told if they were built as strong as the Ford cross members it would take too much weight off of the steer axle making the unit unsafe to drive. Mine was a bit different than yours, the hitch was rated at 5000, but the frame could only support 3500.

I met a fellow last year with the same brake box I have that is broken (different post) anyway, he fiddled with a crimp on the compressor wiring so inside so it looked like it worked if he got stopped or was in an accident, but it was just for show. The lights worked, just no compressor would turn on. He told me if ever in an accident he would just play stupid as if it just broke.

I do not recommend that route but just an example of what's out there. Some manufactures make kits for coaches with hydraulic brakes so you can still have proportional brakes on your truck, yes they can get pricy, but it pays to shop around.

Good luck, hope this helps

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jleamont,

Interesting point about the cross members. I'll have to look into that. I always figured that if I had to slam on the brakes going into a turn, I was probably pretty much out of luck anyway.

I think the price of all the brake systems out there are pretty much ridiculous, especially since none of them seem to be that great (except to some individuals), but I would pay it if only to stay legal, as long as they don't cause me problems. I hope to get one that I can adjust to where it only comes on when I apply the brakes vigorously and not every time I touch the brake pedal.

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Al, glad to help. One brake system to look at that when you search the web for these systems and it doesn't show up is M&G link below if you wanted something to read up on.

http://m-gengineering.com/index.html

They have a system that might suite your needs. While none of them are cost effective in my mind this system for a coach with hydraulic brakes is the price of the removable box type, but fully proportional. No doubt the cable type mentioned above is the most cost effective route. I thought I would pass this on, when I was looking M&G never came up on my web search and I wanted to look over all of my options and digest the pros and cons of each one before making a decision.

good luck with your search.

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Al.

Also fully adjustable is Invisi Brake by Roadmaster. If it was not for the legal/insurance issue, I would not bother!

Carl

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