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Old 10-12-2014, 07:56 AM   #1
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2001 34' Limited
Tucson , Arizona
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First tow with the "new" Ram

When we purchased our Airstream I owned a 1999 GMC Suburban 2500 and while it did a wonderful job, it was.....less than reliable. Last Nov. I traded it in and upgraded to a 2013 Ram Power Wagon (3/4 ton).
As it was almost winter and we're fulltimers, I havent had a need to hook up the Airstream to my "new" ride and road test it since I bought it!

Well today is the day. Even though it's Sunday, I'm hoping to find a set of scales and get some different readings. I found my way to some flat level concrete last week and took a bunch of measurements front, back, and in all wheel wells for unsprung heights.
I'm not really too concerned about having enough power, the 5.7 Hemi V8 certainly will do the job. The Power Wagon has super low 4.56 gears in both front and rear axels and the selectable 6 speed tranny are well equiped.
My biggest concern is the height of the truck. The new Rams are tall trucks to begin with , but the Power Wagon comes factory equipped with a 2" lift.
Hensley techs got me hooked up with an 8"drop on the stinger (that thing weighs a ton!) I guess we'll see what happens.
I plan on hitting the county roads first and stopping every couple miles to check the running gear on the AS. ( rebuilt the entire system this summer) temps, pressures, etc.... Then if all seems well hit the highway for a little extended drive.
I'll post some pics and weight results for anyone interested. Most Ram stats I see of the forums are for the big Diesels, so weights and performance on my gasser might be interesting. Wish me luck!
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Old 10-12-2014, 09:13 AM   #2
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Good luck, and please post some pictures.
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Old 10-12-2014, 09:32 AM   #3
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I just finished putting my F-250 and 31' Classic on the scales to adjust my hitch. Your numbers should be interesting. I like your Avatar.
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Old 10-13-2014, 01:23 AM   #4
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The primary reason I bought my '12 Ram was to tow with, but it has to do more than just tow (like get me to and from work in the winter). If I didn't plan on spending a lot of time putting our Airstream to good use when I retire (in two years, hopefully) I would have purchased a Power Wagon. IMO, they are the definition of cool.
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Old 10-13-2014, 06:51 AM   #5
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3 weeks away from picking up my 2015 Ram 2500 6.4L V8... waiting to see your pics and hear how it goes.
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:16 AM   #6
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Well, all in all I'd say the "test Drive" went good. I'll admit I was a bit nervous, since the last time I towed the Airstream I've completely disassembled and rebuilt the Hensley, and the same for each hub and brake assy. There seemed to be a lot of room for error.
I was a bit disappointed to find out there are no CAT scales in Wichita. I DID find a truck stop on the North side with some basic weight scales and they weren't busy at all so I was able to make 4 individual passes. Because of the way their scales were set up I wasn't able to see the true effect on the weight dist. being applied to the different axles, but was able to separate the different weights between truck and Airstream.

The truck itself is a 2013 Ram 2500 Power Wagon, 5.7 Hemi, 4X4, Crew cab, short bed, Auto 6 speed tranny, 4.56 Axle gears, and weighs in at 7180 lbs. (this is without driver/passenger or any real cargo in the bed.

The Airstream weight was something I really expected to be the biggest issue. According to the tag the GVWR is 9800 lbs. and being that we fulltime in it. ( 2001 '34 Limited) I really expected it to be way overloaded. But, not the case. It weighed in at 9720 lbs. (thats road ready weight. Tanks all mostly empty) So, we're close!
Total combined weight of the Rig being 16,900 lbs.
The 2 different weight set-ups I ran through the scales look virtually identical. I think I did it wrong. Looking back, I had the truck set with all 4 wheels on one plate and the AS. on another plate. I think I should have backed up till each truck axle was on a separate plate and then the AS axles on their own plate also. (live & learn!)

So, the the weight distributed numbers put the truck at 8360 lbs. and the Airstream at 8540 lbs. Roughly taking 1200 lbs. from the AS and throwing it at the truck. I just dont know EXACTLY where the weight is going to. I DID have intentions of also posting my measurements in the 4 corners of the truck, but looking at my notes I see that I took the measurements in different places I promise I'll do a better job next time.
I did get one measurement right. The truck receiver height. Unloaded measured from level ground to the bottom of receiver 22.5" and 24.5 to the top.
Loaded same measurement were 20" and 22", so it squats aprox. 2.5" under weight.

The biggest thing (as I'm sure you'll see in the pics) was the one thing I was really afraid of.... The biggest drop stinger Hensley has is an 8" drop. and I think I need more like 10"
The AS sits a tad high in front. It handled fine going down the road, but knowing that it SHOULD be riding level drives me nuts. I might have to see if I cant convince Hensley to accommodate my need. Otherwise I'll find a good welder and have him chop it up and make the drop 10-11" and make the truck receiver 2.5" to correctly fit in the class V receiver on the Ram.




The 5.7 Hemi did a lot better than I expected with this amount of weight as far as MPG goes. Granted it wasn't a very long trip and I'm very lightfooted with the accelerator, but our short 60 mile trip averaged 9.5 mpg. ( this may speak a lot to the lack of elevation here in Kansas! ) We're moving to Tucson in a week, that's about 1100 miles from Wichita, I'll have more accurate numbers by then. Performance wise, i'd say it did great. It didn't seem to balk at the weight, accelerated fine, no issues with the Ram factory brake controller. Had it set to Heavy Electric and the gain set to 9.
I seem to remember reading that new brakes take a while to "set-in"?
While in a parking lot we were testing the AS brakes only using the controller. Accelerating to about 25mph and then applying full trailer brake only resulted in a gradual slowing of the rig. I understand the set-up is heavy, but should'nt I get full lock up of tires when we're dealing with 6 brake assemblies? Or at least much "harsher" braking?


I also wanted to post a pic of the Hensley hooked up. Maybe it's been too long, but is that "downward angle" of the main head right? I guess it has to follow the angle on the stinger, but I just thought with my other 4" drop stinger it was more on the "level" side?
Another question about the Hensley.... It still makes some loud clunking noises when turning corners. My kid rode in the bed and observed it for a while and says it's just the "jacks" pivoting on the frame mounted supports. Is this normal? I keep wanting to find some urethane bushings to fit in there to keep the harsh noise at bay...



Opinions & advice are as always... Greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:26 AM   #7
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Just my opinion, but that angle on the hitch draw bar is your problem. It raises the front of the trailer, and inhibits the bars from being loaded enough. Other than that, it looks good. Truck looks good, but wonder about the WD. Trailer like you say is a bit high in the front.
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Old 10-13-2014, 09:44 AM   #8
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OH YEAH! A Power Wagon! Jealous.
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Old 10-13-2014, 04:24 PM   #9
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Need to put a Airsafe hitch on it. Worth the $$$
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Old 10-13-2014, 04:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beetlebob View Post
Need to put a Airsafe hitch on it. Worth the $$$
No sure, but don't think you can use an Airsafe with a Hensley, and besides if you did, the ball would end up four foot behind the bumper.
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Old 10-13-2014, 08:38 PM   #11
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First tow with the "new" Ram

The hitch receiver will have a lot of stress on it. Big trailer on big drop. Worth asking both Sean (ProPride) and Andrew (Can Am) for some perspective. The Draw Tite 45299 Class V receiver and the Reese hitch extension (which will cause me to have move spare tire to bed) are in works for my '04 Dodge. Mine doesn't ride so high, but rear leafs will be upgraded to 3300-lb from 2600-oh

. I am not suggesting you do the same, even if a full timer, but to take the time to explore all angles to best lash up. I purchased an adjustable H/A stinger from Sean (thread hereabouts) as the TT itself may also undergo suspension changes. Don't rule that out for yours either as age takes its toll. I would consider 15 years long enough on a rubber rod axle; take time on that question


A good numerical baseline is the place to start, as you are doing. Sure a great looking rig!


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Old 10-16-2014, 12:39 PM   #12
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There are several different ways you could approach the hitch issue.

1.) There maybe some spacers at the bottom of the rear spring pack on the truck. You might be able to remove these which would get rid of some the rake. It is called a reverse level. I have an 09 Dodge and that is what I did with mine. It dropped the rear about 1.5 inches or so and is much easier to hook up. (cheap solution). The truck seems to have just the right amount of rake now.

2.) The Hensley stinger could be cut apart and re-welded so it would be more on a flat plane. (cheap solution)

3.) An adjustable stinger would solve the problem (a bit expensive). I use this option and have room to move the hitch shank up/down.

4.) Many of the aftermarket class 4 hitches will bolt on without removing the original hitch. The new receiver would be just below the original. This would lower the hitch quite a bit and you would need a new stinger. (somewhat expensive).

5.)Kelderman adjustable air ride suspension in the rear (expensive).

6.) New trailer axles with the 32.5 degree down angle will gain an inch or so of trailer height.
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