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Old 06-19-2018, 12:22 AM   #1
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Towing with a Dodge 3500 EB

Hi Guys,

Hope to get some insights from you guys on towing with a 1998 Dodge 3500 - 5.9l (360 magnum v8) and 3.90 gear ratio.
The original sportsmobile manual shows
GCWR 13000 UVW 6900 GVWR 8700


Now that would leave me with a maximum towing capacity of 4300lbs.
We are planning to live fulltime in the SMB and a travel trailer and use the trailer as a home base, ideally we'd get a 23" Airstream but its GVWT is 6000lbs (dry 4600lbs), so that is a bit too heavy.
Should we settle on a smaller trailer thinking ~4000lbs wet, or is even that a bad idea with that gas engine?

We really don't want to give up vanlife, but our future goal of fulltime work and travel requires a more comfortable base setup and then we would use the SMB for the weekends.
The alternative would be to get a different van, but then how much can a SMB E350 RB realistically tow?

Thanks alot
Max
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:52 AM   #2
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1999 + 7.3 or V10 E350 can tow up to 10,000. But I try not to go past the 80% "rule", its a safety margin.
(I'm not 100% sure on the year)
Hopefully someone knows the 5.4's tow limit, I'm unsure. Maybe 7,500?
And I'd strongly suggest a transmission cooler for any tow rig along with proper guages.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:24 AM   #3
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Personally, I think 13,000 combined is a little optimistic with that motor. I don't like being stuck in the truck lane however, so YMMV.

Have you ever weighed your van? You'll want to find your actual loaded weight, and also your rear axle weight. Your rear axle may already be maxed out before you add any tongue weight at all. For travel trailers, actual tongue weight will be 12-15% of the actual loaded weight. Beware published dry weights are lower than actual empty weights, since they don't include options or propane or batteries.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:35 AM   #4
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This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I will try to spare you the sordid details but I have thousands of miles with a Dodge 360 (Ram) towing trailers up to 8000 lbs.

- Your 3.90 gear ratio is almost perfect if you have standard height tires (225/75 16 or what?)
- The dodge 360 is a dog. It will do it but not as well as more modern engines. Your gearing will be your best friend here for leverage.
- Towing at or near limits is very taxing and long towing days past 300 miles are beyond my pay grade - ymmv - literally
- A short wheel base can make a heavier/longer trailer feel like a tail wagging the dog - but 23 feet is actually a perfectly good size - does that include tongue or not? Some sizes are specified differently by manufacturer
- Weight distribution will be key - a good weight distributing hitch is mandatory and possibly air bags for rear suspension (though your 350 may still have plenty of margin). Keep in mind that these enhancements often become a spiral of chasing a dragon of vehicle stability and safety that never fully materializes even after thousands spent. If one is realistic about expectations, within limits and doesn't expect Kenworth type towing performance, it can be done.
- The 80% mentioned is absolute truth.
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:50 PM   #5
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Awesome, thanks for the replies!
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMB123 View Post
- Your 3.90 gear ratio is almost perfect if you have standard height tires (225/75 16 or what?)
yea standard tires right now, good to know regarding the ratio
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMB123 View Post
- A short wheel base can make a heavier/longer trailer feel like a tail wagging the dog - but 23 feet is actually a perfectly good size - does that include tongue or not? Some sizes are specified differently by manufacturer
We were looking at the Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB, i believe its without the tongue. But then we would be over 1000lbs over the GCWR, not sure if i'd be comfortable with that, but sounds like some people do tow way more than their GCWR. We might settle on a 17-18ft light travel trailer, like r-pod at ~3500lbs loaded, which should get us around ~80% GCWR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SMB123 View Post
- Weight distribution will be key - a good weight distributing hitch is mandatory and possibly air bags for rear suspension (though your 350 may still have plenty of margin). Keep in mind that these enhancements often become a spiral of chasing a dragon of vehicle stability and safety that never fully materializes even after thousands spent. If one is realistic about expectations, within limits and doesn't expect Kenworth type towing performance, it can be done.
- The 80% mentioned is absolute truth.
Thanks I'll look into that for sure
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
Personally, I think 13,000 combined is a little optimistic with that motor. I don't like being stuck in the truck lane however, so YMMV.

Have you ever weighed your van? You'll want to find your actual loaded weight, and also your rear axle weight. Your rear axle may already be maxed out before you add any tongue weight at all. For travel trailers, actual tongue weight will be 12-15% of the actual loaded weight. Beware published dry weights are lower than actual empty weights, since they don't include options or propane or batteries.
I was planning on weighing the van this week. Afaik truck scales don't weight by axel though, where does one go for that?

Agreed regarding the dry-weights, GVWR of the trailer is a safer weight to use.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:31 PM   #7
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I went to a local moving company truck site (Bekins?) when I wanted to weigh in. That may be easier than a truck stop or actual highway truck scale. I paid my $20 and they let me take all kinds of measurements - total, front axle, rear axle, trailer only. If you go at a time when they're not busy - they may give you all the latitude you want.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:38 PM   #8
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The truck scales will give you axle weights. Just roll over slow enough you can catch the front then total then rear. Helps to have a passenger to watch the readout while you watch the tires. The short wheelbase and smallish tires on the Dodges makes it easy to overload the rear tires. Even the Fords can have that problem, hence the reason mine is dually.

Also most truck stops have a "CAT" scale which can weight all corners at once, but you have to pay. Also many landscaping material depots and all landfills have a scale too.
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