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Old 12-02-2017, 04:57 AM   #1
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Default Towing 6K with 90's era B?

The too long, didn't read version - I'm looking at 90's era B class campers, but need to tow a trailer, that should weigh up to 6,000lbs most of the time, with the camper. Feasible, or am I going to be looking for a unicorn in trying to find something with enough GCWR to pull this off?

The long version with details/explanation -

I currently have an Amerigo truck camper in need of some repair, and long story short, it's looking like it's going to be a very long term restoration project. Knowing my free time schedule, combined with my generally slow working method, I'm likely looking at a multi-year restoration project on my hands now. I thought about buying another one to use while I rebuild the Amerigo, but everything on the "inexpensive" side is going to be every bit as much of a problem child as mine is now, and I'm not paying what new/near new would cost, and it would be hard to justify the cost given that my camping time is limited due to working 50-60 hour weeks still.

I started thinking about alternatives, including going back to tent camping...that ain't happening again But then I started thinking about a Class B again. I like the idea of a B - more often than not, I'm running solo, so I don't need a massive camper that sleeps 8. It would be nice to have something that I can just get in and go to take with me to friend's places, and have an alternative to crashing on their couch if I can't drive home for whatever reason with less chance of having their HOA complain about the ratty old camper on the ratty old truck parked out front. I also make at least one 5,000 mile, 2 week long, road trip every year from Arizona to Michigan and back, and it would be nice to have something that gets better than 5mpg doing it and might blend in better if I do some urban camping.

The kicker for me though, which might kill this entire idea - I'll normally be towing a trailer with a Suzuki Samurai off road toy on it that I expect to normally weigh in at 5K-6K pounds. That being the weight of the trailer plus the Samurai, spare parts, tools, etc. Flat towing the Samurai is absolutely not an option. I play hard enough that considerable damage is always a possibility, up to and including extensive damage to things like axles and steering components. So it always is trailered to the trails. I currently am doing all this with a 1990 Ford F350 diesel, that while it's no speed demon, it handles the weight of the camper plus the trailer just fine.

I'm primarily looking at the 90's era campers now, largely due to budget reasons, but still wanting to get something new enough to have modern AC systems, EFI, big block motors, etc. I'm not really looking at any specific models yet at this point. I assume I'll be wanting to look at campers on at least a 1 ton Econoline or Express chassis, with big block V8 or V10 motors.

I'm familiar with the basic tenets of towing capacity in that towing capacity is GCWR minus the loaded weight of the tow vehicle, and that every camper is going to be different based on equipment and set up of the camper and whatever gear I put in it, thus why I'm not asking if camper X can do this. I also know that just because the manufacturer SAYS it can be done, doesn't mean it SHOULD be done, lol. My 1/2 ton Ram was rated for 10K+ towing, but it's a HECK of a lot more comfortable experience having that kind of trailer weight behind my 1 ton truck. I've seen several campers from the early to mid 90's around me with asking prices around $3500-$5000, which I'm comfortable paying, that look pretty clean. I know that putting a 6K trailer behind a typical 1 ton cargo or passenger van isn't a big deal, but I don't know if the added weight of the camper gear would change this, or if the suspension/drivetrain on a B is altered significantly enough to make this a bad idea.
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Old 12-02-2017, 09:53 PM   #2
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Your vehicle weighs (dry) 6566 lbs
Add fuel (35gal X6) 210 lbs
desired tow load
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Old 12-02-2017, 09:58 PM   #3
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Your vehicle weighs (dry) 6566 lbs
Add fuel (35gal X6) 210 lbs
desired tow load 6000 lbs

this adds up to 12776

You are already 276 lbs overweight before adding driver, passenger, cargo, freshwater.

don't risk it.
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Old 12-02-2017, 10:12 PM   #4
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Your vehicle weighs (dry) 6566 lbs
Add fuel (35gal X6) 210 lbs
desired tow load
I'm familiar with determining towing capacity of a known vehicle with existing GCWR numbers. However, that is not a number I can ever recall seeing listed in a used vehicle ad, and many people wouldn't have a clue how to find it on the vehicle anyways. Given that many of the manufacturers are no longer in business either, its not always easy to find that number online either.

What I'm trying to avoid here is a repeat of what happened when I went looking for my F350 - I spent a year trying to find a particular configuration before learning that particular combo was never a factory option...which explained why I never found one, lol.

In the case of the campers, I don't have a clue what the camper equipment adds weight wise, so I can't exactly use the listed curb weight and GCWR of, say a 1992 Ford E350 van. I also don't know if it's common for the camper manufacturer to alter the suspension of the vehicles to handle heavier weight. I've also noticed that none of what I've been looking at have large motors in them - they all seem to be running 5.7/5.8/5.9 liter motors. While that would be OK with an empty van, to pull 6K, though not ideal, with not knowing how much the camper equipment weighs again...I don't know if I'd be taxing such a motor.
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Old 12-02-2017, 11:00 PM   #5
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You will be a few years newer, but you could probably find a Pleasure-way Excel on a Ford, with a V10, a Great West Classic also on a Ford with a V10, or a Roadtrek 200 on a Chevy with a 7.4 or 8.1. Most of those models did not have the big engines, but some did.

I would think some of the Sportsmobiles were also built with big blocks, as folks get to order what they want.
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Old 12-03-2017, 01:23 AM   #6
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Your original question was about the 90"s genre. Presumably Dodge Ram 350. The plaque I depicted is on all class B-s. In my case, inside kitchen undersink door. I am sure these numbers are pretty much identical for all manufactures of this common chassis.

As far as the Ford truck capacity, you can get the specific data from any Ford dealership. Just ask the Service Manager to look up the "truck book".... It is a technical manufacturer compilation of all models/configurations/capacities.

Back to your original intent.... Class B-s of the vintage you query cannot/should not tow very much.
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:32 PM   #7
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I'm not saying it's a good idea, but my data plate says GVWR is 3402KG which is 7500 pounds. And factory documentation states maximum 1000 pound tongue weight, Max trailer weight of 8600 pounds and GCWR of 13500 pounds.

This is a 92 Pleasure Way on a B350 chassis with a 318 (5.2L) and 4 speed automatic transmission. That kind of weight on the van would probably scare the crap out of me. You would need to do some upgrades such as equalizer hitch, electric brakes, upgraded cooling system, upgraded transmission, sure grip differential etc.

So are there vehicles that are rated for the desired weight? Yes. Is it a good idea? Probably not.
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
The kicker for me though, which might kill this entire idea - I'll normally be towing a trailer with a Suzuki Samurai off road toy on it that I expect to normally weigh in at 5K-6K pounds.
What exactly are you carrying? A Samurai weights in around 2100 pounds (dry)! You might want to consider what you are carrying, either that or take the trailer to a scale and get it weighed so you know exactly what you have for weight.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:35 AM   #9
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What exactly are you carrying? A Samurai weights in around 2100 pounds (dry)! You might want to consider what you are carrying, either that or take the trailer to a scale and get it weighed so you know exactly what you have for weight.
Trailer is a 8x20 open deck tandem axle, roughly 25 feet overall. 12K GVWR. Built it myself several years ago. It's gone through a few changes since, and haven't scaled it recently, but I'm guesstimating the 2500lbs based on other weighs and changes made since. Yes, it's extreme overkill for a Samurai, but the Samurai isn't the only thing that I carry on it. Buying or building a 2nd, smaller/lighter trailer, just for the Samurai is something that I'm considering as well. It would be pretty easy to get the weight down to around 1500lbs.

Samurai weighs 2100 as it rolled off the factory line. It's not even close to factory configuration any longer. Altered suspension, larger engine swapped in, oversized tires/wheels, armor added to body and axles (with larger/heavier axles planned on being swapped in a few months), heavy duty bumpers front and rear, heavy duty tire carrier, winch, 2nd battery, spare parts/tools carried within Samurai for on trail repairs (not including larger/not commonly broken parts carried on trailer). I wouldn't be surprised if it's 2500+ by now.
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Old 12-06-2017, 03:14 AM   #10
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2500 pounds for just the trailer... ouch. I didn't consider a trailer that heavy when asking about the weight you're towing. I would consider cutting down on the trailer weight if possible.

Parts etc and tools could be up to 600 pounds but lets go for 1000 to cover more stuff. So a 2500 pound Samurai, 1000 pounds of parts and could we get to 1500 pounds for the trailer? That's 5000 pounds and getting to a more reasonable weight to pull.

If you're going to buy a trailer, you could go aluminum and maybe get the trailer weight down to 1000 pounds or so. That would cut you down to 4500 pounds and is even more reasonable.

Overall point though, with some lightening, a 90's Class B with some upgrades could tow your stuff.
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