Choosing a photographer
Vintage Photo Books

you are at : [Motorhome Notes]

(GCWR)  Gross Combined Weight Rating 

(GVWR)   Gross Vehicle Weight Rating 

(GCW)   Gross combined weight 

(UVW)  Unloaded vehicle weight 

What are the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), GAWR (gross axle weight rating) and dry weight of the rig? If possible, weigh the rig empty as most commonly added accessories (air conditioners, awnings, etc.) are not allowed for in the manufacturer's dry weight. Pay close attention to the numbers.. the difference between GVWR and the actual dry weight is your payload capacity.

Check the weight ratings of the tires to be sure that they are rated to carry the weight of the rig when it is loaded to GVWR.

The fifth wheel is much more forgiving to road and towing deficiencies than a trailer coach. If you are interested in safety, stay with the fifth wheel.  Travel trailer coaches are okay, but the accident rate is close to 10 to 1 when compared to fifth wheels. 

First of all, proper balance on a fifth wheel means traveling level (40% of fifth wheels travel off level) and maintaining a constant on the hitch (between 20% and 25% of the gross weight). If all wheels do not exert the same pressure on the road, balance cannot take place. If the fresh water and waste tanks are located so as to cause a severe fluctuation of hitch weight, balance will not be acceptable. With this in mind, you can see that a proper balance check involves the fifth wheel being perfectly level (if off level, the weight shifts) and checking it with and without fresh water. This will not be necessary if the fresh water tank is directly over the axles (where it should be) and the holding tanks are in proximity of the axles. Either way, what you're after here is to find out if the hitch weight is constant.

Then, of course, you might want to check the fifth wheel from side to side. To get it accurate, this can be difficult because most scales are not set up for weighing in this manner. Most RVers simply measure from bottom of trailer to a level ground and see how close the side-to-side balance is. If you are loaded and ready for a trip and you want a perfect check, the only way to properly check for balance is to weigh each wheel of the fifth wheel and weigh the truck with and without the fifth wheel (fully loaded including driver and passengers). This takes portable scales, so don't expect to do it at a truck stop.

Whether you do your check empty or loaded is important. If you do it empty, you'll have to do it again loaded. If you do it loaded only, you'll never know if the balance is designed into the fifth wheel or whether the loading is the determining factor. Because a fifth wheel is very forgiving unless it's way out of balance, I think an occasional good check when loaded is more important than trying to do a perfect one and never doing it again. All this, of course, is assuming that the trailer weight never exceeds the GVWR or GAWR's or that the hitch weight never exceeds 25% of the total trailer weight.

When a well-designed fifth wheel comes out of the factory, it should have about 20% of the total weight on the hitch. You goal will be to load the fifth wheel in a manner that will keep that hitch weight at 20%.

Dodge Cummins and automatic transmission pulls a solid 12,000 with the 4.10 rear end

 I believe one Carol A. Richards wrote a detailed paper on Registration, License, Domicile, Etc. that is somewhere on the internet. If true, where can I access it? Other good sources of info on these subjects?   

it was on this site but has gone try South Dakota as your home state


Pulliam Enterprises has come up with a cam-actuated hitch that automatically moves the hitch to the rear as the vehicle turns.

BEFORE you Buy....

  1. Read all of the notes at RV Reporter
  2. Read all of  The Poop Sheets
  3. Join and get all of the information on the good, the bad, & the ugly RV's
  4. if you are looking at diesel read The Diesel   page on Chevy diesels

20% of TW for the pin weight as optimum.
The maximum hitch weight should not exceed 25% TW
A hitch weight below 17% can be dangerous.
Axles too far forward = . light hitch weight

All holding tanks should be in the proximity of the axles.

Two primary factors involved in rating fifth wheels for highway safety. The first is hitch weight in percentage and the second is payload in percentage. (30% for payload and 20% for hitch)

The 14,000 GVWR is a total carrying capacity of the truck. What you need is the pulling capacity of the truck (GCWR) to compare with the GCW which is actual weight of truck and trailer at a specific point in time. For example, if the pulling capacity is 22,000 pounds (GCWR) and the curb weight is 17,800 pounds, you can add 4,200 pounds of payload without overtaxing the power train.

A short wheelbase is great for utility, but it's never as safe as the longer wheelbase when pulling loads over 12,000 pounds.

A one-ton pickup doesn't like trailers that weigh over 14,000 pounds with a maximum pin weight of 3,500 pounds.

That factor has to do with the inefficiency and unreliability of electric brakes. Unlike hydraulic and air brakes, magnetic (electric) brakes fade fast and fail often.

Pickup truck brakes generally are designed to stop from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of payload.

Large trailers often weigh from 10,000 to 15,000 pounds.
If the trailer brakes become inefficient or fail, stopping or even slowing these large loads on a downgrade is often impossible. We strongly recommend exhaust brakes on all trucks when the total weight or both truck and trailer exceeds twice the truck's GVWR. (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
With this premise, a truck with an 8,000-pound GVWR will undoubtedly need an exhaust brake when the total weight of truck and trailer exceeds 16,000 pounds.

You can load a 1,000 pounds of gravel in a half-ton truck and it should carry it with ease. It may handle half of that again but not with ease. At the other extreme, a one-ton truck will carry 2,000 pounds of gravel almost effortlessly, but when you get over that amount, you'll start to see the headlight beams aim for the top of the trees and into the eyes of oncoming drivers.

Most highly recommended service, put this at the top of priority list. A fulltime RVer, look for John Anderson at SKP and many other club rallies. Better yet, send a SASE to him at (Updated 10/98) A'Weigh We Go, 211 Mae McKee Rd., Chuckey, TN 37641-2008. (423) 257-7985. E-mail to Tell him where you'll be and ask where he'll be. Ask for a copy of his information and definition sheets. John Anderson gives seminars (and will usually be at Escapades)--don't miss him. If you can't attend one of John's seminars, you might want to order his book that includes the entire text of the seminar plus all charts and tables ($19 includes postage).