RAM 3500 - Too Harsh for an Escape 19 or 21? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 07-25-2016, 09:21 PM   #1
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RAM 3500 - Too Harsh for an Escape 19 or 21?

I have a 2011 RAM 3500 4x2 truck that I use to pull our full-time 40' Montana from long-term-destination to long-term-destination. Needless to day, this monster combinaton is not conducive to spontaneous side trips. I pine for something smaller. An Escape 19 or 21 would perfectly fit the bill.

My question is, would a 3500 truck beat an Escape to death? Mine does ride quite smooth for a truck of this capacity but it's nowhere near as smooth as a 150/1500 series truck.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:51 PM   #2
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I don't think it would beat it to death, because the trailer suspension isn't dependent on the truck. But, the relatively low tongue weight of a 19 or a 21 and the stiffness of the truck's rear end might mean a little harsher ride for the trailer.

I wouldn't be as concerned about the trailer ride as I would the efficiency. A 3500 is way overkill for a lightweight trailer, and would waste fuel. Then you have to consider the side trips at a campground with a larger vehicle.

I've seen lots of small rigs being towed by overlarge trucks. It works of course, but it's a mismatch.
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:01 PM   #3
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If I remember right, the first of the 5.0TA's was setup for an F350. Heck, you already have the hitch on the truck.
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Old 07-26-2016, 12:27 AM   #4
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Is it a dually, or are you lucky enough to at least have a single-rear-wheel 3500?

The tongue end of the trailer will get a rough ride, compared to what it would get with a softer truck, but it's probably no worse than the trailer's own suspension. Reasonably matching the trailer suspension and the suspension holding up the tongue is probably better for stability, anyway.

You can smooth out the truck's suspension by ditching all of the overload leaves and replacing them with airbags, so the springing can be matched to the load (which is relatively light when towing an Escape, unless you're carrying a lot of cargo at the same time.

Another factor in ride harshness is tire pressure (on the truck). They need enough pressure to safely carry the load, but much more than that just causes excessive stiffness and harshness. As with most trucks there is a choice of tires, but if (for example) you have SRW with LT245/70R17 tires they might be Load Range E, with a maximum inflation pressure of 80 psi... but you don't need that much air if you're not carrying 6,000 pounds on the rear axle.
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Old 07-26-2016, 01:04 AM   #5
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Good info folks. Thanks. Here are the specs on my truck:
2011 Ram 3500
4x2 (if I need 4x4 I'm too far north!)
SRW (single rear wheel, not a dually)
Full Crew cab (four doors)
8' box - this thing is long
Cummins 6.7 diesel
Six speed manual trans
373 gears in rear end
Air bags on rear
Weight with half tank and two passengers: 7700#
Probably more info than necessary but...

As to efficiency - This is an extremely efficient truck for what it is. When I pull my 14k+ trailer, I average 11 mpg. Not pulling, around 18mpg. Yes, for a small trailer like the Escape, there are more efficient trucks, but this is what I have and I need it for my big trailer that I am not going to get rid of, plus, I am not in a position to plunk down another $30k for a new truck. Efficiency is a big concern for me but I have to live with what I have right now.

I considered a 5.0TA but I want the storage of the truck bed when, and if, I get the Escape. So a cap may be in the mix as well. You are correct tho, I do already have a 5th wheel hitch so that would be a plus.

I do air down the tires when not hauling heavy. The Michelin inflation chart says I can go as low as 35 pounds based on my weighed numbers. I drop it to 50 in the front because that engine is so heavy, and 40 in the back. I tried 35 but it was a little too spongy for my taste. Thanks for bringing that up tho. That is one of the main reasons I am overall pretty comfortable with the ride, again given that it is a 3500.

I see what was said about the truck hitch ride being similar to the suspension on the Escape. Had not thought of that. Has anyone ever changed the suspension to something a bit smoother with disc brakes and shocks? I ask, because I just did that on the behemeth and the ride was dramatically improved.

Anyway, thanks for the input. It appears that my truck would work. Worst comes to worst I could put some weight in the bed, but then the discussion of efficiency pops up again. And round and round we go.

Great forum - terrific info and support. At this time, just daydreaming but like I said, I pine for something smaller to meander about with.
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Old 07-26-2016, 07:28 AM   #6
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How will you move both units when you chase the sun for warmth?
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:13 AM   #7
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I towed my 19 a few times with my F-350. It too is a Crew Cab, has with an 8' box. You can't get a much bigger pickup. It has a 6.7 litre PowerStroke engine.

I much preferred driving the Honda Pilot I had for towing it, especially when needing to do a lot of driving around without the trailer in tow. A much better run around vehicle for driving and fuel economy.

Where the F-350 shone was pulling through the mountains and with a headwind, as it got at least as good of fuel economy while towing as the Pilot, had tons of power to spare, plus made it almost three times the distance while towing.

If mostly towing on leveller terrain, and going for longer trips, I would much prefer the comfort and generally drivability of the Pilot. There were very few inclines it struggled on, and 95% of the time had great performance.

I know many here promote "The bigger the better" for a tow vehicle. For the most part my preference is something that is very adequate. Much of it though also depends on what all you use your tow vehicle for, is it just towing where something with more power is not to bad, or will you use it for lots other than towing where the larger vehicle is a waste of cost and fuel?

If I was buying a new vehicle for towing a 19 or 21, I would be looking for a mid-sized SUV with adequate towing capacities. In your case with the Dodge 3500, I would likely be inclined to give it a go, and then decide once you need to upgrade.
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:37 AM   #8
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I agree with the "give it a go" response.
I looked up your truck's length, and Ram says it's 21'7".
That sounds like a perfect match for an Escape 21'

Moving down from your big trailer, I'd also recommend the Escape 21. It's not only longer, but also wider than the 19'.

As far as efficiency, I'd bet your truck would get 16 mpg towing, if it already gets 18 not towing. That's about as good as it gets.
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Old 07-26-2016, 10:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill and Earline View Post
As far as efficiency, I'd bet your truck would get 16 mpg towing, if it already gets 18 not towing. That's about as good as it gets.
Bill
18 is exceptional, although owners of the same truck report an average of 12.9 mpg when not towing.

Still, I've seen much worse on a larger truck.
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Old 07-26-2016, 02:48 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
18 is exceptional, although owners of the same truck report an average of 12.9 mpg when not towing.

Still, I've seen much worse on a larger truck.
There are at least four difficulties with reporting of fuel consumption of larger trucks:
  • Government regulations do not require the testing or reporting of fuel consumption, as they do for light vehicles, so all reported numbers are individual experience which may not have any relevance for anyone else's situation.
  • Favourable fuel consumption for these trucks is often quoted for constant-speed highway conditions, which is the ideal case, because owners buying these vehicles with a concern about fuel economy are usually buying them for this type of use.
  • Reporting is very selective, with numbers often provided as a defense against accusations of excessive consumption, or as justification for the substantial price premium and higher operating costs of the diesel engine.
  • As with any vehicle, the occasional number in miles per Imperial gallon is thrown in among miles per US gallon values, reinforcing a myth of high fuel economy.
I know a guy with a 2013 GM Duramax 2500, selected to get a diesel for fuel economy; it consumes more fuel than the same body size of decade-older gasoline GM 1500 which it replaced, driven the same way. His response to high fuel economy numbers reported for big diesel pickups is unprintable in this forum. He should have waited for the 2016 Colorado/Canyon, and bought one of those... with the gas engine.

Kevin knows his truck, and knows what to expect for fuel consumption the way he will drive it. If that's workable for a lighter trailer - especially as an interim solution - then it seems reasonable to me to use the truck.
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Old 07-26-2016, 03:15 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info, Kevin.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin H View Post
I see what was said about the truck hitch ride being similar to the suspension on the Escape. Had not thought of that. Has anyone ever changed the suspension to something a bit smoother with disc brakes and shocks? I ask, because I just did that on the behemeth and the ride was dramatically improved.
As far as I know, no one has upgraded an Escape suspension, but it has been done many times with similar trailers. Due to the Torflex suspension on an Escape (other than the 5.0TA) the ride is better than with a basic beam axle with leaf springs, but retrofitting shocks is a challenge. This discussion might be illuminating:
Any Damage From Driving on Rough Roads?
(All the real shock description is in the first few pages)
The supplier who was preparing a shock absorber retrofit mounting kit has not yet offered the product.

Disk brakes - as factory equipment or aftermarket conversion - are extraordinarily rare on trailers of this size, although they are available, although they would have the same advantages as they do on larger trailers. I've never heard of a disk conversion on a moulded fiberglass travel trailer of any brand, let alone an Escape.
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Old 07-26-2016, 05:53 PM   #12
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I think the 5.0TA has switched over to the Torque Flex axles too.
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Old 07-26-2016, 06:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
...Due to the Torflex suspension on an Escape (other than the 5.0TA) ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
I think the 5.0TA has switched over to the Torque Flex axles too.
Yes, while I was trying to keep this as simple as possible for a potential buyer of a 19' or 21', and no 5.0TA has had Torflex axles yet, it is true that the next generation of 5.0TA reportedly have will. That's an important detail for people who have a new 5.0TA on order, or are considering ordering.
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Old 07-26-2016, 07:59 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Thanks for the info, Kevin.
Disk brakes - as factory equipment or aftermarket conversion - are extraordinarily rare on trailers of this size, although they are available, although they would have the same advantages as they do on larger trailers. I've never heard of a disk conversion on a moulded fiberglass travel trailer of any brand, let alone an Escape.
The Dexter disk brakes are hydraulic actuated, not electric so the conversion would be complicated.
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Old 07-26-2016, 09:59 PM   #15
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Disk brake alternatives

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Originally Posted by SFDavis50 View Post
The Dexter disk brakes are hydraulic actuated, not electric so the conversion would be complicated.
No electric disk brakes are offered commercially yet (by Dexter or anyone else), in any size, although hopefully someday the Siemens Electronic Wedge Brake will make it to production. In the meantime, the options are air or hydraulic. Air disk brakes only come in very large sizes (for big trucks), so disk brakes for travel trailers are all hydraulic.

Yes, being hydraulic means more parts so it is somewhat complicated and expensive, but is now routine and can easily be done on any trailer. Disks and hubs are installed instead of hub/drums, caliper brackets with calipers are installed instead of drum brake backing plates, and hydraulic lines are run to the front of the trailer instead of wires. For an Escape axle, the Dexter retrofit kit is K71-633-00; its suggested price is US$591 per axle, but of course it would be less expensive to substitute disks for drums in the original axle purchase, and less expensive from a competitive retail source. From there you have a choice:
  1. replace the coupler with one incorporating a surge brake actuator (and so you don't use an electric controller in the tow vehicle and there is no braking system connection to the tow vehicle, but you need a reverse light signal to lock out the brakes in reverse); or,
  2. install an electric-over-hydraulic converter or actuator, which receives the normal electric signal from the tow vehicle and applies pressure to the hydraulic fluid in proportion.
Most travel trailers owners would prefer the electric-over-hydraulic approach, and that's the only option for fifth-wheel trailers; it is presumably what Kevin has on his big Montana. That adds at least a few hundred dollars to the parts bill, although eTrailer has a whole system (brake kits and actuator) for tandem 3500-pound axles for US$1020.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:43 AM   #16
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Good info everyone, thanks. It looks like my truck will continue to serve me well should I get to go smaller. I'll answer a couple questions that came up:

Regarding fuel mileage - I suspect the 373 rear end has a lot to do with it. That and my driving which is pretty conservative. No lead foot. I agree that the published mileage figures are under ideal conditions and most people's will differ. Mine always have. Our 2007 Prius, which we traded in on this truck, never achieved the mileage figures touted, especially after Ethanol was introduced. Oh well...

As to how will I move two trailers - good question. My urge for something smaller is for an extended, say 8 months between summer employment stints, wander all over. I would store the big rig during that time. When we return to Yellowstone for the summer, I would retrieve the big rig and either store, or (gasp) sell the smaller rig. That of course would depend on how the wandering suited us.

Given our lifestyle, we really like the big rig for extended stays so there is very little chance it is going away. The smaller one is to fulfill, or perhaps increase, my wanderlust.

Anyway, thanks again for the info. Although I rarely post here, I lurk a lot and really enjoy the community.
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Old 07-27-2016, 01:26 PM   #17
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Some states do allow "double towing" so you may be able to tow behind your fifth wheel.
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Old 07-27-2016, 04:36 PM   #18
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Some states do allow "double towing" so you may be able to tow behind your fifth wheel.
I believe that this might be legal in some places, but very few. The combination of the Ram 3500, 40-foot Montana fifth-wheel trailer, and an Escape 21', would meet some common legal requirements:
  • first trailer uses fifth-wheel hitch
  • first trailer has tandem (or more) axles
  • second trailer is shorter than first trailer
It would fail the requirement in some places that the second trailer is only for boats or other vehicles (not a travel trailer). It would likely exceed the allowed total combination length for a non-commercial vehicle everywhere.
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:00 PM   #19
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You could always get an "Escort" service for over size load......
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