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Old 09-14-2018, 05:45 AM   #1
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Cougar Half-Ton Fifth Wheels

Surprised by my DW's interest in getting a fifth wheel, we went to see if the Cougar Half-Ton fifth wheels are light enough for my 2013 1500 Dodge Ram to pull. I'm far from an expert at determining a safe towing maximum and know there are a lot of factors that enter in the equation. I really would appreciate input from the forum so here is some data: According to the Dodge dealer, my truck is rated to pull 8,850 max dry trailer weight. The max payload weight for my truck is 1,580. All is based on my 5.7L engine and 3.55 rear end. My goal is to find a HT towable fifth wheel without upgrading my truck to a 2500. By the way, a few of the Cougars I saw on the lot have a max dry weight and hitch weight that is within my truck's maximums but I remain leery.

Based on the above, what would be considered as a safe max trailer weight and payload to pull with my truck?

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Old 09-14-2018, 06:37 AM   #2
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Pin/tongue weights are listed dry (nothing in the trailer). For instance my TT has a dry tongue of 550# yet when loaded for camping it comes in at 880#.
As you can see dry weights are a bit misleading.
I would not pull a 5er with a 1/2 ton truck.YMMV


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Old 09-14-2018, 07:02 AM   #3
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Remaining leery is good.... Do some "easy math" before you buy !!!

You say your payload is 1580 pounds. That figure is full fuel tank and a 150 pound driver. So, from that, deduct your "additional weights" starting with the your weight in excess of 150 pounds. Then deduct your DW's weight, any and all "personal cargo", mats, tools, coolers, GPS units, seat covers, running boards, spray in or truck bed liners, mud flaps, etc that you've added since the truck was new. Then deduct 150 pounds for your fifth wheel hitch. What's left is your maximum fifth wheel pin weight.

Typically, most fifth wheel pin weights range from 15%-25% of total trailer weight. The data on the Keystone website and in their brochures is EMPTY trailer weight for the standard trailer with no options, no battery and no propane in the tanks. So, you'll need to add 60 pounds for propane and 100 pounds for two batteries to the weight, just to tow the empty trailer home. Almost all of that weight is "pin weight" since the propane tanks and batteries are in the forward storage compartment area.

Most people add at least 1000 pounds of cargo/fluids to any trailer when towing, so you'll also be adding a portion of that to the pin weight, which is directly taken from your truck payload.

To be "on the safe side" many calculate anticipated pin weights by using the trailer GVW (shipping weight + cargo capacity) and using 20% of that GVW as the pin weight.

As an example, if you weight 200 and your DW weighs 150, you have a 40 pound dog and carry 100 pounds of tools in your truck, have added 50 pounds of accessories to the truck (running boards and a LineX spray in bed), you'll have about 390 pounds to deduct from the payload. Add your hitch and you're about 540 pounds of "deductions from payload" So in reality, your 1580 pounds is 1040 pounds. Assuming you'll never add a generator to your truck bed, never carry firewood or a 5 gallon fuel tank, never throw in an axe or any 2x8 blocks for leveling, the maximum pin weight your truck can carry is 1040. If you do add camping stuff to the truck bed (most of us do) then that comes off the maximum also....

If you use the data on the Keystone website for the smallest Cougar Half Ton, the 25RES, you'll see that it is going to overload your truck.

The EMPTY specs for that trailer are: Pin: 1500 GVW: 10,000
Anticipated specs: Pin weight about 20% of GVW: 2000

Even if you could manage to keep the pin weight to 15%, with an 8800 pound maximum trailer rating, the empty trailer weighs 7500 pounds. Add your hitch, propane, batteries, camping equipment and you're going to be at/over your maximum trailer capacity as well as being over your maximum payload....

Simply put, while your truck can "PULL" that trailer (make it go forward while hitched) it's not a capable vehicle to actually "TOW" a fifth wheel in the Cougar Half Ton line.

Are there people who do it? Yes, and some of them are successful, until they have truck problems or get stranded with an overheated transmission or have axle problems, etc.

There's also people standing on the beach in NC, watching the waves and waiting for the storm surge.... Risk takers typically aren't "safety conscious"....

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Old 09-14-2018, 07:05 AM   #4
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Many,many posts regarding this, do a search on the forum and a large volume of reading will be at your fingertips. Start off with writing down the weight restrictions from the yellow sticker on the truck. That is pertinent information on YOUR truck as it was delivered, not a sales pamphlet from the dealership.
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:28 AM   #5
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Not meaning to dispute any of the info but my personal opinion is that "1/2 Ton Towable" is a marketing jingle more than a fact. There likely are 1/2 ton trucks that if optioned correctly may be able to tow SOME of these units marketed as 1/2 Ton Towable but MOST 1/2 ton trucks are going to over their head. I am not saying you couldn't pull it down a straight flat country road but your truck will struggle in hills, you will not have any margin of safety and it will be tiresome to drive.

Count it as a blessing that your wife wants a 5ver and start looking for a more appropriate truck if you can budget it or if not, look for a smaller bumper pull; most gals will like the condo like interiors of a 5ver over a smaller bumper pull so use this when begging for that truck to pull it. Remember that if you are not going to be doing full time pulling, you might just be able to get away with a gas engine and used truck. 5vers are great to pull and provide a lot of the comforts of home when camping! Good luck.
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:56 AM   #6
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Dry weight: I may look into what Keystone does. Our sales staff went to Grand Designs seminar recently and dry weight came up. Grand designs has a battery and filled propane bottles that are placed on the unit at the plant scales for an accurate tongue weight.

I don’t know that others are doing it, but I would suspect that it might be something more and more are going to do.

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Old 09-14-2018, 08:30 AM   #7
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This is the email I received from Keystone CS in December 2017 explaining their published weights. While things may change on a daily basis, I haven't heard anything about Keystone changing their procedures.

Bettina Rogers [email protected]e
To jrtjh

Hi John,

Yes, that is correct.

Bettina Rogers
Keystone RV Company
Keystone Shoppers Konnection
[email protected]

From: jrtjh
Sent: Today 2:58:04 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Keystone RV Shopper's Konnection

Thank you for your response. If I understand you correctly, the hitch weight as it appears on your website does NOT include a battery or propane, but it does include the weight of the empty propane cylinders. Is that correct? Thanks much !!!

-----Original Message-----
From: Bettina Rogers <[email protected]>
To: jrtjh
Sent: Tue, Dec 12, 2017 2:16 pm
Subject: Keystone RV Shopper's Konnection

Hi John,

Thank you for contacting Keystone RV Shopper's Konnection. You are correct, the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) is the shipping weight plus the carrying capacity. The shipping weight is when you pick it up from the dealer-nothing added to it. The carrying capacity is the maximum amount of weight it can carry due to the axle size. The hitch weight is the amount of a trailers weight that rests on the tow vehicles hitch (also empty). When you are adding weight to the RV you will want to distribute it evenly. Yes, add the weight (100 #) to the trailer weight. Please let me know, if you have further questions. Happy Holidays,

Bettina Rogers
Keystone RV Company
Keystone Shoppers Konnection
[email protected]

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Old 09-14-2018, 08:42 AM   #8
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Good advise above. The reality is that you will have to be so careful with a 1500 not only in what 5er you purchase but you will have to be very mindful of what and how you load. Yes, you can pull it but is your or your DW's life or health worth it? Upgrade to a 2500 as I would bet you could sell your 1500 and buy a used 2500 for not a great difference in cost. Life is too short to take needless risks.

I was recently in your shoes and I decided to upgrade the truck first. Ended up buying a 350 as there wasn't any difference is what I found used. Did I need a 350, no, but I am totally comfortable in that I made a safe and sound decision. Temping fate is for teenagers and fools.
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:12 AM   #9
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It's not as much the "go" that I would worry about, but the "whoa" that would be the biggest issue IMO.
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Old 09-14-2018, 11:20 AM   #10
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While I would rather see someone towing a lite 30’ 5er and be slightly over GVWR and still within axle and tire ratings, than towing a 30’ TT. The reason is much more stable towing package.
In the OP’s case he will not be too happy getting near max tow rating with 3.55 gears. Then there is thee 1,500# payload, just not enough to get pin, hitch, and people even if you go over a couple hundred pounds.

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