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Setting Up a 2006 Dodge Ram 4x4 for a Cabover Camper plus a Trailer


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For discussion... What is the best way to set up the 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel 4x4 for heavy towing and hauling. Quad Cab/short bed. Specifically with Truck Camper and trailer. The following additions help the ride for the most part and it is a safe combo, however it is not perfect... yet. Note: Fuel mileage for the combo is a solid 13 flat/mountains highway average 62 MPH.

Note: I used to haul professionally with a previous 2004.5 dodge dually and now above mentioned, the trucks worked great for bumper pull and 5th wheel experiences up to the 13,500 lb max rating, however the truckcamper is a different breed because there is so much weight in the bed and it is top heavy and you don't need sails, its like driving a billboard down the highway on windy days, so needless to say you have to stay focused. The dually is a much better choice, but I don't have it anymore...

I haul a 1,800 lb Lance model 825 Truck Camper in my 6.5' bed (truck weighs 6800 lbs) Advertised Gross truck weight is 9000 lbs (2,000 ish lbs in bed depending on 30 gallons water and 35 gallons waste) and towing a 7'x16' dual axle Interstate LoadRunner trailer (trailer weights 1,800lbs, plus 1,200 lbs cargo) trailer weight is loaded 3,000 lbs. (8 ply trailer tires)

Advertised Gross Combined Vehicle Weight limit  is 20,000 lbs.

* Firestone Airbags (5,000 lb ratings) with in cab controller for the compressor. Note: I made my own pad for the bags to sit on directly above the U-bolts on top of the axle, and this worked great because the bags were as far to the outside of the axle as possible, thus preventing the heavy camper to sway - however, when I was experimenting with tire chain installation the chains were dangerously close to rubbing, so I moved the setup in board similar to after market bag locations and they don't work as well. Note: I normally carry 38 psi in each bag when fully loaded

*Torklift stableloads (these devices are a wedge pack that are manually rotated into and between the lower part of the leaf spring pack and above the single bottom overload spring on front and rear of each leaf spring pile (they make the spring pack come in contact with the overload sooner), when you are done with your heavy load, you swing them out of the way and lock them into place. Note: They work fantastic for pulling very heavy 5th wheel trailers.

*Helwig rear Sway bar

*Bilstein 5100 series shocks (in rear) and new Rancho adjustable XL in front (work much better than Bilsteins in front because you can adjust the ride when unloaded!

*285x 70 x17 10 ply BFG All Terrain tires on stock wheels, carry 65lbs in front, 70 lbs in rear loaded, 55lbs front, 48 lbs rear unloaded

*Solid ball mount with load distribution hitch rated at 10,000 lbs set on 7 links

*Reese 18,000 2.5" receiver hitch bolted to truck frame in place of factory frame mounted hitch

*Reese 2.5' extended hitch (to set ball mount hitch behind camper) safety chains from frame hitch to ball mount, and cross chained ball mount to frame (similar to superhitch setup)

thx, Pete

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Pete...I'd like to see others jump into this discussion around toting the camper.  Like you, I have done a lot of platform hitch conventional trailering (40-plus years) and can speak to that part of the equation.  I do not carry cabover campers for a variety of reasons, I'd be happy to elaborate if anyone is interested in my opinion on that topic.

Your long list of add-on equipment for the camper seems in step with the camper hauling paradigm, what others tend to do, and I know you research thoroughly.  The question comes down to the interplay between all of these aftermarket components and your OEM Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 chassis.

As for the trailering equipment, l like the 2.5" 18000# rated receiver platform in place of the OE frame platform.  I plan to do the same with our Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 for pulling the 2000 Alumascape 30' trailer (8200#-8400# fully loaded trailer weight).  I'm running 5100 Bilstein shocks all around, understand your point about the adjustable Rancho XL shocks with and without the cabover camper, as long as these shocks are compatible front to rear.

Curious about the Helwig rear sway bar.  Have seen the product for many years, talked with Helwig at trade shows, and I understand the principle thoroughly.  How does this work when unloaded?  The Torklift product is intelligent and unique.  Your experience with it?

I always use a load distribution hitch with bars, have great stories about how much difference this makes.  A sway brake can sometimes be helpful, I carry one (or a pair) for crosswinds.  My tires are 10-ply (Load Range E) on both the travel trailer and the car hauler.  If you're curious about my car hauling trailer, I did an article some time ago about hauling a Jeep:   http://www.4wdmechanix.com/Outfitting-and-Loading-a-Jeep-Hauling-Trailer?r=1

I've since lifted the Ram, added oversized tires and installed the winch bumper and 75 gallon TransferFlow fuel tank.  The truck was "stock" in the article and very happy to deliver a consistent 21-24 mpg unloaded.  With our XJ Cherokee on the trailer, we made Moab at I-80 and I-70 speeds and still got 17 mpg.  I've been struggling to get that mileage back ever since modifying the truck!



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Pete...This involves either a complete rear axle assembly swap or outer hubs (must match spindles) and wheels swap…You need to make sure the brakes are compatible front to rear plus the proportioning and ABS.  If a complete axle swap, the donor vehicle should be compared closely with your current model, including hubs, brakes and spindle ends.  

I understand your interest with the cab-over camper and all…The 3500 chassis is not significantly different than the 2500 on the Cummins diesel models.  If your truck is a “keeper”, this would be an option.  You need to spend time at the local Ram dealership, going over the parts diagrams and differences between the single drive and dual mount rear wheel setup.  There may be a way to simply “add dual wheels”.  If so, I’d want to carefully compare the integrity of such a conversion to the factory dually axle.  If you go with a factory 3500 dually axle (matching gear ratios, too), you need to consider the front wheels and the wheel types involved both front and rear.

If you didn’t have so much wrapped up in the ’06 truck, I’d opt for buying a lower mileage dually with the right history, Cummins engine and 4x4.  The dually models do get abused a lot, and you’d really have to know the history of such a truck…

Some 3/4-ton and 1-ton frames have different modular sections.  When you visit the Ram dealer, have them look up the replacement frames for both the 3/4-ton 2500 and a 1-ton rated 3500.  If the same, that would be reassuring.  Both models use the AAM 9.25" front axle and 11.5" rear.  Compare brake sizing.


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