The Diesel Garage banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Loaded question.....What would be considered a "safe" or reasonable trailer size (lenght and GVW) to tow behind a 1997 Dodge CTD 3500?

Factors to consider - I have to dessend /assend several 6%, 7% and 8% grades ranging from 2 to 10 miles. (Dezerts / mountains of S CA).

I currently have a 38' 5th wheel toy hauler that is about 12k empty and every bit of 15+k loaded. And it is NO fun going up and down these grades. I have read lots of posts here and on TDR on the subject, and while towing a 5er that big may be fine on flat terrain, in the dezert & mountains it is not a safe idea.

While an MDT would be a great solution, the cost of ownership in CA is more that I am willing to bear.


Thanks....
 

·
I like beer.
Joined
·
4,301 Posts
I would research a little bit further here and on TDR, and realize that the banks kit isnt what you want OR need for towing anything you want to tow with the truck you have. Some of their items are nice but others make products that will make your towing experience a LOT nicer.

Just my $.02 on things. I would look into a pac brake for your downhill adventures with that trailer (if or if not you have the banks brake, that is a crap product). Possibly bigger rotors (if anyone makes them for our older model Rams-) and better calipers with more pistons as well....

As for more power, as above I mentioned lose the banks, hear what people here have to tell ya!
 

·
'Ol Builder guy
Joined
·
7,051 Posts
Blue Coyote said:
Loaded question.....What would be considered a "safe" or reasonable trailer size (lenght and GVW) to tow behind a 1997 Dodge CTD 3500?
Check your owners manual. It will list your GCWR (weight of truck, trailer and their contents) Stay below that number and you're within the engineered safety limit of the folks who built your truck.

"Factors to consider - I have to dessend /assend several 6%, 7% and 8% grades ranging from 2 to 10 miles. (Dezerts / mountains of S CA).

I currently have a 38' 5th wheel toy hauler that is about 12k empty and every bit of 15+k loaded. And it is NO fun going up and down these grades. I have read lots of posts here and on TDR on the subject, and while towing a 5er that big may be fine on flat terrain, in the dezert & mountains it is not a safe idea.

While an MDT would be a great solution, the cost of ownership in CA is more that I am willing to bear.
Thanks....
Like it was said above, check out an exhaust brake. Have your braking system gone over for any deficiencies and consider higher quality rotors that dissipate more heat. Make sure your 5th wheel hitch is installed properly and check your trailer's brakes.

Welcome to the site! :usflag
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
I have the same issue you have with trailer weight. Our tow truck is a CTD 3500 auto with a tow rating of 13000. We just purchased a Sundowner horse trailer with living quarters weighing 12000 empty with a gross of 17500 and a length of 39 1/2 feet. Our CTD and Chevy 3500 pull the trailer nicely but legally I'm way over my weight ratings. The questions I ask is there are a lot of trailer being pulled by 3/4 ton trucks that one ton trucks aren't able to pull legally. SO is the DOT looking at these folks? I finally purchased a FL50 to become legal and safe in the mountains.

I believe a 97 3500 was rated for 13,000 for towing. Since you have a twelve valve raising your power is easy and cheap. If you have the 5 spd an exhaust brake would be easy to install. I would, as others have said and spend more of my money on making sure the brakes are up to snuff. As for power for the 12 valve the 280 fuel plate with a 14 cm exhaust housing and 215 injectors is the limit for egt's. I had this on my 97 2500 and tried a lot of other stuff and found this to be the best bang for the buck. Remember the 80 / 20 rule, spend just 20% of your investment to get 80% in return but if you go after that remaining 20% you'll spend the remaining 80% of your investment. Sometimes less is more.

I just noticed that you have the Banks Kit. In general I like the reliable performance that the Banks Kit offered (Stinger) but that was a time when no one else was offering much.

For the mountain towing you will get a lot of response from folks who over fuel their trucks and never take them through the mountains and say to add more fuel. Simple on the Dodge 12 valve, the egt's get there fast with the restricted head design so take it slow in the respect of fueling increase. I speak from personal experience as I have made many of trips over the mountains in the Pacific Northwest and West in general with my old 97 2500 and our 01 3500. If you have any other questions on the 12 valve let me know, I had everything from a to z on that truck at one time or another.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys,
The 80/20 comment is right on - while I could swap to better brakes, bigger injectors, turbo, etc I am afraid I will still have a truck that is not matched for the job of mountian towing. The Banks kit was on the truck when I bought it. An exhaust brake would be great, but since it has the auto I was advised not to use one.
DBR64 is right about the EGT's as well - under full load it heats up fast. Add in a 110 degree day and a long 7% grade and it gets scary fast.

My thought was to sell the big 5th wheel toy hauler and get something smaller - say 26 - 28' bumper tow, with a 10k GVW. Any input on towing something of that size / GVWR?
 

·
'Ol Builder guy
Joined
·
7,051 Posts
Blue Coyote said:
Thanks guys,
The 80/20 comment is right on - while I could swap to better brakes, bigger injectors, turbo, etc I am afraid I will still have a truck that is not matched for the job of mountian towing. The Banks kit was on the truck when I bought it. An exhaust brake would be great, but since it has the auto I was advised not to use one.
DBR64 is right about the EGT's as well - under full load it heats up fast. Add in a 110 degree day and a long 7% grade and it gets scary fast.

My thought was to sell the big 5th wheel toy hauler and get something smaller - say 26 - 28' bumper tow, with a 10k GVW. Any input on towing something of that size / GVWR?
Might be a stupid suggestion, but what about something like a GMC 4500 or an F550 with a crewcab with some luxury features? You could put a 5th wheel bed & some storage tool boxes under the bed and make a real nice hauler.

You'd get bigger brakes, stronger frame, more GCWR and with a newer version, as much or more HP/TQ.

It might not pull the hills twice as fast, but it'll probably be faster, and when it comes to actually "handling" the trailer, it'll feel more stable & predictable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
I agree with Duke, look into a nice 2 wheel drive Ford 550 with the old 7.3 and 5/6 speed manual. The old 7.3’s are easy to make moderate / usable power increases and will have the gcvwr to pull your trailer. I will go the way of a F550 or 5500 when it is time to replace my current CTD3500. One other thing to consider, how fast do you really need to go up the passes? Do you really need to be able to go 70 when most everyone else with a load is doing 50. Take a little stress off, get into the slow lane on the mountains with your favorite beverage and enjoy the scenery. Why white knuckle it?
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
4,827 Posts
IIRC, the GCVR on the '97 Ram 3500 is 20k.

Blue Coyote said:
An exhaust brake would be great, but since it has the auto I was advised not to use one.
The reason they tell you to NOT use one, is because you need to keep the t/c locked and with your foot off of the go pedal, that drops your line pressure and can cause the clutch packs to slip. More pedal= more line pressure.

Jacobs DOES have a controller for use with their brakes. Locks the t/c and ups the line pressure. BD Power also have trans controllers. Pac might, but haven't looked.

Blue Coyote said:
DBR64 is right about the EGT's as well - under full load it heats up fast. Add in a 110 degree day and a long 7% grade and it gets scary fast.
Which Banks kit do you have? Just a Stinger or the full PowerPack?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
With a GCVWR of 20,000, and the average 4X4 CTD 3500 weighing in at 7,800 +/_ that leaves you with 12,200 for towing, which put you at your limit empty. Do you have pic's of your Toy Hauler?

Duke, like the picture of the Chevy, they are very nice looking truck's but way to expensive for my blood!

Bmoeller, I had the power pack with the twin ram intake and yes I have to admit, I fell for the Bank's sell's pitch. I was able to resell it on eBay to a fellow TDR member who just had to have one for the cool looks.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,754 Posts
It all depends what your hauling and waht your doing. Sometimes a little bigger trailer then necessary is nicer cause it allows you to put the weight where you want it or need it(granted the trailer weighs more empty) but youll have more room to position the weight where necessary, and a higher gvrw trailer will usually have bigger brakes too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
The C/K 4500 would be great, but they are out of my $$ range. Plus it would need to be a 4x4. Will stay clear of F-anything, too many past F issues. Almost bought a IH4700 crewcab, but the fee's, insurance were 8x what the Dodge runs per year.

The Banks kit is the full PowerPak - twin ram intake, plate, turbo housing, big rear tail pipe, etc. The prior owner installed it along with a B&H goose hitch. Trans has been rebuilt with HD parts, billet TQ, dual coolers, etc. Truck has an EGT / Trans Temp / boost gauge. I have bypassed the TPS, so lock up is controlled manually via a potentiometer.

My neighbor suggested adding a propane set up for pulling the hills, along with the GSK3k kit. He also suggested swapping in a IH4700 Lopro disc brake rear end (MDT truck).
Yes, the big trailer is nice to have - plenty of floor space (21' woth) but if it is not safe on the mountain grades, then it will not get much use. (Nukulus knows the grades on Hwy 62).

So would the propane / 3GSK / Lopro rear end make it 'safe' on the hills or do I continue to sell the 5th wheel?
 

·
I like beer.
Joined
·
4,301 Posts
Coyote as I said in the PM I sent a few mins ago, I would look more into modifying the banks fuel plate in the truck currently, look into a bigger turbo, POSSIBLY injectors and/or DVs, a GSK, and exhaust brake.

If you really wanted to go to an extreme if stopping power after exhaust brake is not good enough, you could do the axle conversion I mentioned in the PM (for all you other guys, I mentioned using an 01.5+ D80 with disc brake vs drum) or even try the idea you have out of a MD truck.

As for those Hwy 62 grades, they are a PITA. I remember before my buddy got his transmission and turbo for his 01.5, goin out to 29 palms up those hills he was sweatin with fear of killin his tranny (at the time it was BAD or grenading his turbo).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Your truck has all the power (fueling) you need, adding more just stresses your engines ability to cool and tow. I seriously doubt and speaking from experience the cost of upgrading will not get you much more “usable” power then you have now. Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. Changing the axle out may improve your stopping power but how much would be anyones guess. Your money would be better off spent on an exhaust brake with 60lb valve springs and thorough maintenance and repair on your current brake system. The question you have to ask is do I want to be legal when I tow? Legal means that the factory rating on the truck match your intended use. Just to change an axle would not make you legal on a pick-up. Also if you have anti lock you would have to address compatibility. Using your truck to tow “safely” would mean going slower over the passes in both directions.

Chevy made a 3500HD chassis in the late 90’s which might get you your intended GVWR and GCVWR numbers. The trucks come with 19.5’s and had a GVW of 14k or 16k, can’t remember. The only issue there is your kind of stuck with the 7.4 with 4:10’s. I have pulled 15K with my 7.4, auto 4:10 and was impressed, and when I say impressed I mean for a gas engine. What I wasn’t impressed with was the fuel mileage.

If you need further input to help you decide on a route to go, contact an insurance agent and explain to them what you are intending on doing, towing over your GVWR/GCVWR. I think when you get off the phone you’ll not want to take on that much liability if you get into an accident.

I know that the older that I have gotten and the more assets I have accumulated the more protective I get in keeping them.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top