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Interested in F-250 5th wheeling... am I out of my league?

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Interested in F-250 5th wheeling... am I out of my league?

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Old 07-14-2018, 09:14 PM
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Interested in F-250 5th wheeling... am I out of my league?

Hey all! I'm Chris from NE FL. I'm in the market for a new truck and wanted to pick the brains of some of y'all more experienced Ford drivers, to see what your honest take is.

The story: over the past couple of months, my wife and I have been becoming increasingly interested in getting into RVing. We've been doing our homework online, and have narrowed in on Towables being the direction we want to go in. Originally we were looking at a Toyota Tundra, but quickly realized that a 1/2 ton really limited our options for upgrading down the road if we decided our first RV just wasn't big enough (the payload of 1500lb just wasn't going to cut it). With that in mind, and with a bit of research into the various options I've narrowed in on the 2018 Ford F-250 as likely being the truck I want.

After poking around a bit, we've decided we'd like to go for a fifth wheel, as the sway reduction inherent in them is pretty great, and the difference in available livable space vs a travel trailer is pretty amazing as well. In the end we've got our eye on this particular model: Arctic Wolf 265DBH8 Fifth Wheels by Forest River RV

Dry Weight: 8284lb
GVWR: 9900lb
Hitch Weight: 1359lb according to the site, but that makes no sense... seems like it should be closer to 2000lb?
Length: 32ft
Height: 12.5ft


Anyhow, I wanted to get everyone's opinion here on the towability of this particular 5th wheel using a SRW extended or crew cab F250 with a 6 foot box, particularly for someone who is NOT very experienced towing large trailers. I'm basically going to be thrown into the thick of it when it comes to this; I used to be a stone mason in my younger years, driving an old 1980s Chevy Scottsdale towing trailers full of equipment and stones, but no more than maybe 1500-2000 pounds tops. This is a whole new ballgame.

I'm completely open to any feedback; I want the honest opinions of folks who do this for a living. Our safety is my number one priority, so I'm one of those who wants to stay well within the legal and safe limits.The only thing I am dead set on is that I do not want to upgrade past a SRW F-250. I'm willing to downgrade trailer if I must, but this truck is going to be my daily driver and I work at an office with a pretty tight parking garage; I do not want to try to squeeze a dually into one of the cramped spaces in that garage.

So, what do y'all think? I know the numbers work out pretty well, as the current payload charts say that either of the configurations I'm looking at (extended or crew with shortbed) can handle 3000+ payload, and 10,000lb falls well within the tow limits, but I'd love to hear the actual experience of those who have tried to pull fifth wheels with a 250 and how you felt it pulled; bonus points if you've pulled a decently long travel trailer for comparison.

Thanks in advance folks. I appreciate any and all advice you might be able to give.
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 07:37 AM
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If I were you, I'd go F350 long bed. That would be the best for a 5th wheel.

If you are interested in a diesel then that will eat into the payload capacity. A SRW F250 is still capable of pulling a 5th wheel but most of the payload is eaten up by the motor.

You are correct in figuring the GVW of the trailer in determining king pin wt or bumper weight. I recommend 10% of the GVW for bumper pulls and 20% for king pin wt for 5th wheels. That is always, imho, a good place to start.
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:31 AM
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First off, that "hitch weight" (also called "pin weight") spec listed for that trailer is "dry weight". No propane, batteries, food, water, clothes or gear. Your loaded pin weight will be much greater due to adding all these things, plus the way you pack it and like to travel (some travel with all tanks empty, some travel with water tanks full, etc, etc), the position of your storage areas and water tanks in relation to the axles, etc.

I would say Senix has it right. On payload numbers, you take a huge hit against your payload if you go diesel engine. You will not come close to that 3K payload number if you go diesel crew cab F-250. My gas engine (much lighter) extended cab truck has a payload of 3156 lbs. My loaded pin weight on my rig is 2500 lbs (actually 2520), but with full water tank and all gear + 4 Labrador retrievers on board. My loaded trailer weight is 12K (11,800). By the time I add everything else when underway, I'm close, but under on all my weight ratings. If I went up any size (weight) at all in 5er, I would go dually F-350.

If you ever think you may go bigger on the 5er, and don't want to upgrade truck at same time, then I strongly suggest a SRW F-350 now. The price should be about same (may have to order it vs. finding one on a lot).

2 of the last 3 trips we've taken recently (short, "turn and burn" weekend trips) have been coming back Sunday night during a high wind storm. I'm talking gusts to 35-40 mph. Taking those on the nose, or tail just affects fuel mileage. But taking those gusts as a cross wind, will make you get out and change your shorts frequently. Being very tall (mine's just under 13'), it becomes a pretty good sail. Now for "normal" wind conditions, a cross wind is really a non-event. Normally, a 5th wheel pulls very stable. But during a high wind event (up here in ND, we just call it "breezy" until it gets over 50 mph wind), it can be a real issue.

For this reason, for the first time, I'm seriously considering trading in my beloved F-250 on a new F-350 dually. Not because the truck I have now won't handle the weight. Not because I think my truck is lacking any power, or any other reason. But to get more lateral stability during cross winds when pulling the 5er. I'm just throwing that out there for you to think about. It's not only about "weight". Sometimes it's about "stability". I do have airbags on my truck, which normally pulls very stable. But there's not much for it during gusty wind conditions ( I mean 30-40 mph or more), but to widen your footprint. Now, if I was retired, I could just sit it out until the wind dies down. But I don't have that luxury, so my return times are pretty rigid.

Just some random thoughts I've thrown together for you to think about.
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:05 AM
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We tow a 30' 5th wheel which has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs with our 2011 F250 crew cab short box (6 3/4') and 6.2 engine. It has the camper special helper springs. Does an amazing job but as stated earlier strong cross winds are an issue. I generally just slow down and take my time when that happens. Only issue I have with the truck is the turning radius. If you are parking in a tight underground garage you will have to do some back and forth to make it into the parking spot and getting out again. The extended cab will have a shorter wheel base and may turn tighter.
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 11:29 AM
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If you're thinking of the diesel, you'll want to get the F350. If not, then an F250 may be doable but I would definitely want to see the payload sticker to confirm you've got 3000+ with all the optional equipment. The long bed would be better for towing (bigger fuel tank, no worries about turning sharp). The short bed would be easier in your parking garage. If it is a garage, make sure you consider the height of the truck... they are pretty tall (7 feet or so).
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:04 PM
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A f250 will pull that 5th wheel with no problem at all. But and there is always a "but".... If myself had to do it all over again I would have got the F350 single rear wheel truck for myself instead of the f250 I have now. Looking back now the f350 was only going to cost me 700.00 more with the same options that I have on the f250.... Good luck in what you decide and let us know what you decide on...........
 
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:07 PM
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Welcome to FTE and good deal on doing your research. I have done a lot of RV research myself. I was considering going this route for full time residence last year. Some things have changed around a bit in my world. This option is still there, but not in the near future. It would be neat to do under the right circumstances.

That having been said, researching is very smart and as part of my research last year I came across a series written by RV Daily Report on issues associated with the RV industry. I do not post this to deter you from RV'ing, I sincerely hope you find the "right" RV for you and your family because it really is an enjoyable way to spend time with those you love, rather I post it so that you are more informed and a smarter shopper. As you have time please read through the whole series:
Opinion: The RV industry death spiral ? Part 1 | RV Daily Report

All of that having been said, without reading the series some things that you will want to make sure you pay attention to are the manufacturers claimed ratings. There is an example given where the axle ratings were actually several thousand lbs LESS than the manufacturer's spec sticker on the RV for GVWR etc. That is not a very safe set up. For the unsuspecting buyer they won't have a clue until an axle breaks off the trailer going down the highway and the insurance company does their investigation etc.

As far as trucks - if I were getting a truck to pull a bed mounted hitch I would not get anything but a dual rear wheel F350. I had a 2006 F350 DRW that I used for hot shot car hauling for a couple years. It was a very stable towing platform. At the time I got my 2011 F350 I was not doing that line of work and was not towing regularly to make the dually a sensible option, so I went with a single rear wheel. For what I have towed with it the truck has been fine but it does have its limits - the stability isn't what you get from the stiffer springs and wider track width of a dually.

Side note - a properly set up F350 has a higher payload than an F450. The options the truck is built with affects this (springs, gearing, 2wd vs 4wd, etc).

If you are dual-purposing your truck as a daily driver (as mine is for me) and RV hauler then I would look a bit more at a single rear wheel. A dually is a beast to drive around town and park. My crew cab long bed is enough of a beast as it is, but I make it work and wouldn't change much about it. If you have the option of driving another vehicle when you aren't pulling the RV, or can drive the truck on occasion, then please get a dually - you will not regret it.

As far as gearing - the newer trucks are fine with 3.73's. I have 3.55's in my SRW and wouldn't change it. For pulling heavy all the time 3.73's are where you want to be. 4.10's are too much. Before the 6 speed transmissions came about in the Fords the 4.10's were the way to go. There is enough range in the 6 speed, and enough torque available from the 6.7, to where the 3.73's are good. You are eating up fuel economy with the 4.10's. For pulling heavy all the time 3.55's would be great on flatter ground but would hinder hill performance a bit. Can you do it? Yep. The 3.73's will give you a better balance of headroom though.

Your wheel size will also make a difference in the overall gearing. An SRW with 18" wheels vs 20" wheels for example - the 20" wheel will be a higher effective final gear ratio than an 18" wheel = bigger tire. I am not sure how the math works out, but that, for an illustration, is like the difference for the same size wheel/tire going from 3.73 to 3.55 gears when you go from an 18" wheel/tire combo to a 20" wheel/tire combo. The reference to 3.73 gears above is to a dually.

Edit - I see the new builds on the Ford site do not have the option of 3.73 gears for duallys - either 3.55 or 4.10. Anyone know why they pulled the 3.73 option??? Doesn't make sense. The wheels are 17" for the duallys.

Another note on truck options - I highly recommend the factory 5th wheel hitch prep package - the puck frame system. I would not get any actual hitch that Ford offers, however. There are a lot of options for hitches that you can use with this - the B&W Companion is highly recommended. Another route is the Trailer Saver TS3 if you want to go with an airbag hitch (note - these are heavy and the hitch weight eats in to the pin weight available for the trailer).

The only two hitch frames I would run on a truck that does not have the factory prep package is to convert it to the factory package (Reese I believe is the manufacturer of it actually) or the B&W Turnover system. The B&W is standard as a Gooseneck ball. Then the original Companion 5th wheel hitch they make plugs in to the ball socket in place of the reversible "turnover" ball. Both the B&W system and the factory system allow full use of the bed with the hitch removed.

I hope this helps. Again, best of luck in your searching, research, and decision making.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 05:01 AM
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Excellent input Steve! I think Ford did away with the 3.73's as a cost measure.

I too agree 3.73's is the overall gear to get. That is what I have in mine.

Also an item to note on hitches, Reese does make the Ford hitches, so you can just get that item later from amazon or some where else.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:26 AM
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Wow! Thank you so much Steve; that is an absolutely amazing post and definitely some great information. I've bookmarked the RV Daily Report and will be reading about it quite thoroughly. I had actually heard once before that the RV industry has much different oversight than other industries, which can lead to stuff like this. I had not, however, heard about the rear axles... that's some scary stuff!

I definitely appreciate all the info. As a first time RVer, stuff like that is exactly what I'm looking for. =D
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by JaxRVing View Post
Wow! Thank you so much Steve; that is an absolutely amazing post and definitely some great information. I've bookmarked the RV Daily Report and will be reading about it quite thoroughly. I had actually heard once before that the RV industry has much different oversight than other industries, which can lead to stuff like this. I had not, however, heard about the rear axles... that's some scary stuff!

I definitely appreciate all the info. As a first time RVer, stuff like that is exactly what I'm looking for. =D
I read that example about the axles in the RV Daily Report. It's a good series all-in-all but that one example wasn't as dramatic as it might appear. The apparent difference between the GVWR and the sum of the GAWRs is the tongue/pin weight. Most of us would expect the sum of the GAWRs to match or exceed the GVWR. The RV industry accounts for the fact that some of the weight is carried by the tow vehicle itself. As an example, the 2019 Grand Design Imagine XLS 21BHE has a GVWR of 5450#. It is fitted with two 2500# axles. They assume the tongue weight (~500# dry) will be carried by the tow vehicle and not by the trailer axles. I don't like it at all... but it is common practice. I'd prefer if the common design practice was that the axles/tires never exceeded 80% of rated capacity with the trailer loaded to GVWR (axles assumed to support entire trailer weight).
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:41 AM
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I had a 6.2L gas 2016 F250 SRW CCSB. We had a 28' TT at the time. Within a year of the purchase we bought a 35' Montana High Country. I was nervous about the increased weight but my better half was in love with the layout of the Montana. The salesman said he's sold the same trailer to customers with gas powered 250s. No problem. We bought the trailer. Towing the empty trailer home from Tampa was a breeze. We loaded the trailer and headed north.

I have a bunch of horror stories but I only need this one to make my point . I was downhill on a road, the display on the dash showed it to be a 9% grade. This was the first hill that steep since we left Florida. From previous experience on lesser grades I knew it was going to be a challenge when we left the campground later in the week. I got to that hill on our way out and put the transmission in first gear. When I reached the hill I glanced down and saw the tack was above 5,000 rpm. The rpms immediately began to fall and when I reached the top the truck was down to 5 mph. Maybe less. I was sure we wouldn't make the top. I don't believe it could have done another 25 yards. I've never switched to 4W low while rolling backwards and didn't know if I could, thankfully it didn't come to that.

We made it back to Florida. I traded the gasser for a new diesel 250. Same configuration. We've been back to the mountains with the diesel and I'm a happy camper again. I can't compare it to a F350 but I'm pleased as it is. The best the gas 250 could do was 8 mpg. Many times less than that. The diesel does around 11. I try to keep it around 63-65 mph. My problem now is trying to get the trailer level. The changes Ford made to the '17 makes it a few inches taller.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by UnclKracker View Post
I've never switched to 4W low while rolling backwards and didn't know if I could, thankfully it didn't come to that.
Nice thing about a diesel is, comparatively, there is a surplus of power. For the most part...

As far as rolling backwards - I would hope you would have enough brake power to hold the load. I believe all the super dutys have a hill assist mode for starting off on a hill. Mine does - the brakes stay on when you let off of the brake pedal and pulse as you apply throttle until you are rolling.

I would be curious if anyone has done the 4w low trick. I imagine that is quite widely used for boondocking in remote places when pulling in trails, but to get to the point of needing the extra low gearing on a road hill? It would be a slow climb but I suppose it would work.

Running 4wd on pavement in general is a bad idea, though - especially around any turns. The traction you have on pavement adds a lot of strain to the 4wd system because there is little slip in the tires. If you are going straight the front wheels roll at the same rate as the rear so you're good, but as soon as you turn the front wheels don't follow the same track so they turn at different rates - the tighter the turn the bigger the difference and the higher the strain on the system.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 03:28 PM
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I"m the new kid on the block when it comes to towing and the last person you need to be taking advice from. My situation is a little different in that I already have a truck (f250) and i'm looking for a trailer to fit my needs. Truck first trailer second seems to be the wrong way to go about this. You are in a much better position. If you are serious about RVing, then find the trailer that fits your needs and THEN look for the truck to fit the trailer WITH ROOM TO GROW. My research tells me that f250's are good for pulling travel trailers, not so much fifth wheels. The PIN weight will push your ADVERTISED GVWR. BIG debate among-st folks as to if you CAN/SHOULD do that or not. You might find some value in this recent thread that I started. It pretty much outlines everything that I have been dealing with mentally: Truck Weights. Please keep in mind, My truck is NOT a NEWER truck so there are some differences with the newer trucks but I think you can take away some information regarding the challenges of dealing with weight measurements and the f250.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by flysniper View Post
You might find some value in this recent thread that I started. It pretty much outlines everything that I have been dealing with mentally: Truck Weights.
Good information in that thread regarding axle ratings vs. manufacturers claimed GVWR's. That is a common debate on the forums here.

The two ratings that absolutely should never be exceeded are the axle ratings or the capacity of the tire set on the axle, which ever is lower. For example - D rated tires vs E rated tires. You may have an axle rating that is well over a pair of D rated tires' capacity so it is important to know both.
 
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Old 07-16-2018, 05:53 PM
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Like others said, just get the 350 now. I had a 250 with my previous 30' TT toy hauler and had to get a 350 for my current 5er. The tongue weight with my 250 was around 1800 and the truck needed air bags to be level. I don't recommend a 250 for anyone for towing since the 350 is barely $1k more, if that. You're CCC will be 1000-2000 higher with a 350. I went from 2251 to 3447. Look at CCC, GVW, and GCVW, not just max trailer weight.
 
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