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First Time Towing a Fifth Wheel => Tips?

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Old 10-21-2017, 09:37 AM
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First Time Towing a Fifth Wheel => Tips?

I am headed to Kansas, from MN, to pick up a fifth wheel (2015 Keystone Alpine 3536 RE) in a couple of weeks. I have my 2017 F350 6.7 CCLB Platinum Ultimate, so I should have plenty of truck to pull a nearly empty fifth wheel. It has ~4,300 miles on it.

Fully loaded the trailer is slightly over GVWR (135 lbs.) based on specs. I will likely never be fully loaded. I will get actual weights at some point after I pick it up.

I will be installing an Andersen Ultimate hitch.

When I pick up the truck, I will be headed to FL. A distance of ~1,500 miles.

I have never towed a fifth wheel. The best I have done is pulled 16' a tandem axle landscape trailer loaded with mowers. And a Tandem axle 22' boat trailer (with a Ford Ranger manual trans). I have had no issues with towing either of those.

I may head to a local parking lot and see if I can maneuver around a bit. I am not sure how many hours of practice I can/should do, if I can even find a spot. I may also pick up a Garmin RV 770 LMT-S to avoid any low hanging overpasses. I have Ford Pass and Google Maps on an Android.

Will it be a white knuckle 1500-mile ride? Or will I just settle in? Any tips? How did your first time fifth wheel pull go? Is there a better GPS?
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:23 PM
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First up, no it will not be a white knuckler! A fiver follows differently so watch your turns till you get use to it. Cut tight and the fiver will be up on whatever is on the inside of your turn. Your truck will handle the load so no sweat there.

What's your route? I don't think overpasses will be an issue, boredom maybe. Not a lot to see running the Interstates on that route.

Yes it will take you a little while to get the backing down. I have too every time I am away from it for a while. The key there is get out, take a look at the spot, then back very slowly. Once the fiver starts to turn follow it. It will come around on you more than you expect if you keep it turned for too long. All of this is just part of the learning curve and everyone of us has gone or continues to go through it.

Overall try to relax. It is supposed to be fun. Where you headed in Florida? We cancelled all our winter plans this year in Florida because of the hurricanes and are camping closer to home. Keep us updated.

Steve
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV_Tech View Post
First up, no it will not be a white knuckler! A fiver follows differently so watch your turns till you get use to it. Cut tight and the fiver will be up on whatever is on the inside of your turn. Your truck will handle the load so no sweat there.

What's your route? I don't think overpasses will be an issue, boredom maybe. Not a lot to see running the Interstates on that route.

Yes it will take you a little while to get the backing down. I have too every time I am away from it for a while. The key there is get out, take a look at the spot, then back very slowly. Once the fiver starts to turn follow it. It will come around on you more than you expect if you keep it turned for too long. All of this is just part of the learning curve and everyone of us has gone or continues to go through it.

Overall try to relax. It is supposed to be fun. Where you headed in Florida? We cancelled all our winter plans this year in Florida because of the hurricanes and are camping closer to home. Keep us updated.

Steve
Thank you.

I am headed to Willison and then to Labelle, which is near Fort Myers. Mostly, if not all, interstates. By design.

I periodically pull an 8' trailer and I know how quick they come around... I suspect a fifth wheeler will be slow motion compare to that one.
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Old 10-21-2017, 04:09 PM
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Towing a 5th wheel is much, much easier than a travel trailer. Believe the hype!

Just take your time, double check your mirrors and take really wide turns. Don't go too fast for conditions. Even on the interstate my maximum speed is 65 MPH, because I am not in a hurry.

My first experience in pulling a 5th wheel was driving 1000 miles from home to buy it, then towing it the 1000 miles back home with the newly installed Andersen hitch. Be sure to take an allen wrench of the proper size with you for the pin adapter. Also, a wire brush to clean debris/crap off the pin was useful for us.

Just take a deep breath and relax before starting and if you start to feel uncomfortable, find someplace to pull over and relax a bit before heading out again.
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Old 10-21-2017, 04:58 PM
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It will be a non issue.


use a spotter and practice a bit in a parking lot. See how tight you can turn and then do a little backing with the spotter.


Use cruise control so you don't speed. You most likely have china bombs for tires and 65 mph is the max speed.


Feel your tires at gas stops and retorque the lug nuts at least once after about 50 miles.
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Old 10-21-2017, 07:05 PM
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The first thing I did when I picked up my 5er was go to an empty parking lot and make sure that I had truck cab to 5er front cap clearance at 90 degrees. That is just one more thing you donít have to think about. When backing, slow is the word. The faster you try to look like a pro the stupider you will look. Just because your in your spot, if the angle is too much, the tailgate wonít clear the rig to let it Down.
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:24 PM
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Realize that even if you were a pro backer on a Tagalong trailer, a fifth wheel backs differently. It will feel sloooow to react. Personally, I had no problem backing into a spot, but backing up my long curved driveway took practice.
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Old 10-21-2017, 09:40 PM
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One more word of advice. If you have a significant other that will be helping you back into places, use 2 way radios. They will save a marriage or friendship and a few lives...
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:09 PM
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I have 46 years over the road and have found that the longer the trailer the easier it will back up because it will be slower to react, you must remember that and allow accordingly. We teach all our young beginning drivers the G.O.A.L. idea, it means Get Out And Look, even with a spotter it is always a good idea, I still do it in some situations. You will also find that as others have said, you need to swing wider or go deeper into an intersection to make your turns, especially to the right, there again the longer the trailer the wider you need to go to keep from jumping the curb, just make sure you don't give someone following you enough room to try and cut inside you when you are turning, you will be surprised how often it happens. It will seem to be a lot to learn but if you take your time you will be fine. Another comment on tires, most OEM equipment tires are barely able to get from the factory to the dealer, so check yours very closely, run them at the max pressure listed on the sidewall and check the manufacture date code, if they are over 2 years old I would replace them with higher quality tires. I run Michelin XPS ribs on mine, but there are some other good choices out there as well. Take it easy and enjoy.
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:19 PM
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All good advice, you will really enjoy pulling a 5th wheel versus a bumper pull trailer. I would add that you might want to check into a backup / observation camera if it doesn’t already have one. I have the Furrion since my 5er was prewired for it already, I put everything on at the dealer during my PDI and I love it, while moving down the road it’s good to see what’s behind you, what’s coming up rather quickly and works great for checking behind you before lane changing, it projects to the sides enough that you can tell if that car is actually still far enough behind you before you move over.

Here’s a link to it, you can find them a lot cheaper on Amazon, etc. and I’m sure there are other brands but this is the only one I have experience with. You could probably hook it up in about 20 minutes before you even leave, it wire’s into the rear clearance lights then you have to have your lights on while driving.

https://www.furrion.com/store/camera...ket-p-916.html
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:05 AM
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As others have said, the truck part will be a non-issue. Just make sure the hitch is installed properly. As far as pulling a longer 5er, it will track more to the inside of whatever curve you are going into as the hitch is in the bed, not on the bumper. It will take a few miles to get used to it. My wife pulled ours for the first time two weeks ago having never pulled any kind of trailer in her life. Just keep the opposite headlight closer to the outer part of the lane and you should be fine(if left hand turn, keep front of truck closer to the white line on right)

Everything else on here is true. Watch your speed with the tires, check the pressure BEFORE you leave and put MAX pressure in them, feel them at fuel stops, set your brake controller before you leave(some will be set as high as 8.5) use the TOW/HAUL mode as it makes it easier on us, slide out the mirrors, buckle up and have fun. The power of these things will amaze you.
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:03 AM
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I don't agree with the advice about always towing at max pressure. I recommend that you run the proper pressure for the load. The tire manufacturer's load/inflation tables will give you the proper pressure if you know your axle weights. My trailer tires are rated for just over 16k# at max pressure (110 psi). My axle weights are just under 13k, which needs 85-90 PSI minimum. I run 100 to give a little room for slow deflation. The actual load isn't too far from max rated load, so max pressure would be OK, but not optimal.

My OEM F450 tires are rated for about 23k# at max pressure (110 PSI). I have just under 13k# on my truck tires when fully loaded and towing. Max pressure would result in a smaller contact patch -> poor tire performance. This is not optimal, nor OK. I run 80# in the front (rated for just over 6k#) and 70# in the back (rated for 10.8k#).
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:23 AM
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If my memory is correct, the tires on the trailer are E load rated, manufactured in the 19th week, or 2014. Speed rated M, up to 81 MPH.

They are Taskmaster Provider tires. ST235 / 80R16. ST Radials. The maximum pressure is 80 PSI.

I am planning on using the tires at least until I get back up to MN in summer 2018. After that, the tires will be four years old, and I will likely go with a 14-ply G rated trailer tire.

I have read that a trailer tire (ST) is better than a Truck tire (LT), as the sidewalls are stiffer - assuming the load range is the same. If they have the same load and speed range, that might be OK.
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:29 AM
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don't exceed 65 mph, they are not rated that high, even if they say they. China bombs do not do well, period.


They are already beyond their lifecycle. I'd have them put on new tires myself.
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Old 10-22-2017, 06:04 PM
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Fully loaded the trailer is slightly over GVWR (135 lbs.) based on specs. I will likely never be fully loaded. I will get actual weights at some point after I pick it up.

Why do you think this? So many people think this...

Especially when fulltiming, you load much much more then you think you will. We moved about 2500lbs of "stuff" into our trailer when we started. Also - water is heavy. You'd be wise to keep the fresh water tank full, always, and that's 500-900lbs of water right there.

I weighed today, and was at....you guessed it, GVWR of the trailer, like always.

That trailer GVWR's out at 15,500 lbs with 3,084lbs of cargo capacity per some specs I found online. Expect to be at it. You won't have any issues with the 2017. I just upgraded and its a dream.
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