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Old 04-03-2018, 07:05 AM   #1
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Towing through the mountains

My wife and I are traveling through Colorado and Utah this summer in our 2017 25 foot Fying Cloud. This is our first trip through the mountains pulling the trailer with our 2015 2500HD Chevy diesel. I need all the advice I can get as to how I should tow the trailer up and down the mountains. I do have an engine brake/towing package on my truck that I will use. I have never used the engine brake because living in Ohio/Mid West the only hills we have are overpass bridges.
I'm looking for any help. Even if it is what speed I should go up and down the mountains, running lights, etc.

Thanks Dave
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:37 AM   #2
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Dave,
congrats on your new adventure.

Biggest advice to me from others was slow BEFORE your decent and DO NOT RIDE the brakes.

Here is a good video from a trucker about using the brakes while using exhaust brakes. Hope it helps.



Dan
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:40 AM   #3
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I forgot to mention. You have the greatest danger around corners heading down steep grades. Again, slow before you get to it.
Take a few minutes and Google going down hill around corners while towing.

Happy travels!
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:40 AM   #4
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C,

I think you are overthinking towing through the mountains. First, you usually don't go directly over the tallest mountains, you usually follow a pass that avoids the tall peaks. Second, you have plenty of tow vehicle so your 25' will not be pushing you around much if properly setup.

I enjoy towing through the mountains. Here is a picture of my 25' Airstream going over the 14,000' mountain at Rocky Mountain National Park. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ml#post1981023

My diesel truck doesn't even have a true exhaust brake, but in tow mode it downshifts and slows by a tap of the brakes. It usually holds the brake tap speed all the way down without touching the brakes again except on really steep downgrades. On a really steep and long downgrade, 7% is about as steep as they get on major roads, I just start at the top at 55 mph and tap down a gear. I just ride that gear down without applying the brakes unless there are switchbacks. For a switchback, I will tap down another gear and then apply the brakes if needed to slow to the switchback corner speed before the corner. I've never felt any uneasiness in towing my 2017 FC25FB down any grade. You should be fine if your WDH is set up properly.
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Old 04-03-2018, 08:42 AM   #5
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I agree with AirMiles that you are overthinking it. Your 3/4 ton will move you safely and efficiently up and down anywhere you are likely to travel.

Crest the hill at a reasonable speed and maintain that speed using a combination of engine braking and light brake applications until you are back down the hill.

I think you will find the experience so non-eventful that the only danger will be complacency -- don't succumb to the "need for speed" because it seems so easy.

You are in for a real treat as the areas you are going to explore are amazing.
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:18 AM   #6
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The west does have plenty of mountain passes to go over. Your tow combo seems well suited for the job. For me when going up I find a gear that the truck can pull with about 50% boost and minimize shifting. In my case that is just under 50 mph. In my Ford the tow mode aids in going up too by delaying the torque converter lockup.

Going down the tow mode (as other have said) will hold the speed down. The speed limit and curve speed warning signs will tell you the speed to hold to. What you should find is that you can setup the truck to control the speed (as stated above by putting the truck in tow mode and using the brake pedal to setup a down shift) and the speed will stay constant or nearly that way.

My similar tow, a 25' Sovereign is easy to setup, the grades on I5 in Oregon, California, and Arizona are signed at 6%. I just completed a 4,400 mile trip and I would characterize the tow through the mountain passes as graceful.
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:20 AM   #7
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Nothing to it. Just be sure to slow before you hit the crest and use caution on the way down.

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Old 04-03-2018, 09:23 AM   #8
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Mountain Towing

I have the same TV and Trailer that you have, and I agree with the above advice. The reality of towing in the mountains, with Chevy 2500 diesel ia a pleasure. No problems as long as you pay attention to speed. The exhaust brake is your best friend. I don't know of any problem leaving it on all the time, at least when you are in the mountains.

I have towed over the divide in Colorado and it is spectacular.

Enjoy the travels

Abe
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:30 AM   #9
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Dave,

Expect no problems with the tow vehicle you have. You have more than ample power and braking.

Marty
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:32 AM   #10
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You'll be fine. I have practically the same rig (25' 2015 International, Ram 2500 diesel). Been RVing for over 30 years. BY FAR this is the most manageable rig I've ever had, and I do a lot of mountain driving. You're going to have fun, don't overthink it. No worries.

That said, take your time. It's a smooth rig and you have to watch your speed, particularly on the flat lands (but you already know that).
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:34 AM   #11
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I live in the west and have done all the major passes around here and then some. You've already gotten some great advice. And your tow setup should handle it nicely.

Is there a particular concern or setup issue you're worried about?

Here's another tidbit of technique I like to use.

When using engine braking, the hitch is in compression and the trailer is still "surging" on the tow vehicle, but in a controlled manner.

I usually will apply the brakes before entering a curve or corner, especially in switchbacks. This serves to have the trailer slow itself down, checking any excess momentum, and bringing the hitch into tension. A hitch under tension is stable for an articulated vehicle.

In this way, I can go around a corner without any added momentum being carried into the curve. It's also a good technique in general for even a car without a trailer. One that is practiced on the racetrack.

Basically, always slow in a straight line, before entering the curve.
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:41 AM   #12
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It's impossible to over-think this, IMO. You're right-on to think about it.

Just keep in mind that ....in a descending turn... the trailer will be pushing the rear of your truck to the outside of the turn.... tending to cause you to skid into a jackknife..... especially if your trailer brakes aren't sufficiently effective/aggressive in application. On slick surfaces that condition can surprise you.
As has already been said.... take it slow.
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbourland View Post
My wife and I are traveling through Colorado and Utah this summer in our 2017 25 foot Fying Cloud. This is our first trip through the mountains pulling the trailer with our 2015 2500HD Chevy diesel. I need all the advice I can get as to how I should tow the trailer up and down the mountains. I do have an engine brake/towing package on my truck that I will use. I have never used the engine brake because living in Ohio/Mid West the only hills we have are overpass bridges.
I'm looking for any help. Even if it is what speed I should go up and down the mountains, running lights, etc.

Thanks Dave
Go down the hill in the same gear as you went up in......and I run big trucks, 100,000 plus for 52 years in the Rocky Mountain area....if the big boys are going slow, slow down also...
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:49 AM   #14
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Nothing to add to all of the above except to say pay particular attention to squiggly lines on your mountain road maps or GPS. A thirty minute flat land trip may take 3 hours in the mountains. Usually very scenic but figure about 20-25 mph for most of the trip and 10-15mph all too often . I've yet to find an accurate GPS ETA (sorry, Estimated Time of Arrival) especially through mountains even on interstates. Chollabill
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Old 04-03-2018, 09:59 AM   #15
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And if signage says not to do a particular pass(age) while towing, don't do it. Do as I say, not as I did.

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Old 04-03-2018, 10:03 AM   #16
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Not everyone has a 3/4 ton diesel; what about us 1/2 ton gasers? Any info for us?
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:28 AM   #17
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You might find this interesting as I posted it in 2015 with my then new F250 with a 6.7 diesel engine.
2015 - F250 Diesel - 1st Major Trip Stats -
OK, here’s what’s happening on the first leg of our first long trip with our new F250 - crew cab, short bed, 26 gal. tank - cap on truck bed - much gear and generator in bed.

In June we did a shakedown trip from Vermont to the Maine coast with 27ft. AS FC & 2, 17ft. kayaks on roof/cap rack. All went well. Now we are headed west to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, where we have been many times. We are towing our AS fully loaded but no kayaks on this trip. Our last truck was a 2007 Ram with a Cummings and Jake Brake and 30+ gallon fuel tank. These are some stats that may be interesting to fellow truck geeks. We averaged about 650+ miles per day for the first 3 days going on the Interstate from VT, thru NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, SD, WY. Day one included 3 hours of slower state routes in VT to get to the NY Thru-way. Averaged 13+ mpg - fair weather driving to OH. We found fueling up was a more common occurrence with this small tank, but thought that it got us out to stretch more often. In reality we miss the longer range of the Ram tank. When we hit quarter tank in our F250, we were looking actively for fuel. Day 2 thru OH, IN, ILL and WI we were in the 12.5+ mpg, keeping our speed at about 65 mph. Day 3 was “interesting” thru MN and especially SD. We had a headwind that was up to 35mph. Our mpg tanked at 10mpg, and that was keeping my speed at 70mph, when the posted speed was 80mph. Day 4 the wind subsided as we continued across SD into WY. I found that 68mph the best for my fuel economy, but it was humbling as we were passed by most people going 85+. We were close to 13mpg that day until we hit the Big Horn Mountains and Powder River Pass (Rt 16). Going up the mountains we had the low of 6.2mpg. The diesel had power to spare. The going down was “interesting”, as I experimented on some of the shorter inclines before the BIGGIES - STEEP pitches including hairpin turns at 20mph. This is what I found best. I left the transmission in “Drive” while engaging my “Jake (engine) Brake”. One light tap on the brake dropped me from 6th gear to 5th. Next tap brought me to 4th - next to 3rd - next to 2nd for the steepest sections with the hairpins. The engine did all the work. I didn’t have to brake at all once I was in 2nd gear. Awesome!!! The down mountain and flat roads to Cody WY got my mpg up from the low of 6.2 up to almost 13. An interesting trip so far to say the least. We are at 2327 miles as of Cody with about 90 miles left to go for Yellowstone.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:33 AM   #18
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Watch your temperature on the way up, and watch your speed on the way down.
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:47 AM   #19
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We have the same Chevy, it is a dream to drive in the mountains. The last two years we have put about 20,000 miles on it. Much of it in CO, UT, WY, MT, WA, BC. Enjoy, you will love it....Andy
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Old 04-03-2018, 10:50 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airtandem View Post
Not everyone has a 3/4 ton diesel; what about us 1/2 ton gasers? Any info for us?
Some notes:
1) 1/2 tons trucks are relatively light in the back. Most people going on trips generally have the bed loaded, so it's usually a non-issue. This "ballast" is somewhat important for lighter trucks, as it gives the rear axle more positive influence and traction to the overall rig. Yes, the tongue weight of the trailer is a load to the rear axle too, but in a different way.

2) Use low gears for engine braking. Don't be afraid to let the engine spin to higher rpm and use even a lower gear. In some situations, even 2nd gear! The lower the gear, and higher the rpm, the more compression engine braking you'll get.

3) It's important to have brake bias correct between the vehicle and trailer. At no time, should the trailer feel like it's pushing the tow vehicle in a downhill braking situation. If it is, increase the gain. If you have a brake boost function (prodigy), use it.
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