For the King of Beasts, You Need the King of Trailers

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(editor's note) 

Our King Of Beasts max towing test is coming next week but we wanted to give you a deeper look at the impressive pair of trailers we used to carry our monster payloads with our 2013 Ford F-450 Platinum and 2013 Ram 3500 HD Longhorn. We'll have all the details and test data for you when we publish the full story on Monday. Stay tuned. --text updated Oct. 12, 2013--

 


 

By Kent Sundling

When Ram announced that its 2013 3500 dualie pickups would have a 30,000-pound maximum towing capacity, the truck wars (especially the heavy-duty truck wars) were reinvigorated. Likewise, the 30,000-pound capacity ignited another race, this time among trailer manufacturers who now need higher-capacity trailers. A few companies were making large gooseneck trailers for the "hotshot" hauler crowd, but, for the most part, this is new territory for them.

One reason that it's difficult to find gooseneck trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds is that there is a federal excise tax on trailers with a weight capacity of 26,001 pounds or more. This particular road tax is 12 percent, so you can see why trailer makers didn't rush into that market. Then came a little company named Load Trail.

Load Trail, makers of just about every type of trailer, loaned us two 2014 Low-Pro Gooseneck Hydraulic Dovetail trailers for our recently completed King of Beasts extreme test. These heavy-duty goosenecks, called Load Max trailers, were sprayed Kubota orange because we thought that would make them easier to see, for us and other truckers. In fact, these trailers were so new we kept a close watch on the electricals and brakeline fittings, which needed occasional adjustments, even a few repairs, during our trip. It's always a good thing to remember that when dealing with new trailers, you should always be prepared to make at least some of your own repairs. Thankfully, we were prepared. In the end we were able to complete all of our tests, but it did make for a few long days along the side of the highway making one or two on-the-fly road repairs. 

Load Trail manufactured the trailers to our specifications once we let them know that we had a 2013 Ford F-450 and a 2013 Ram 3500 HD. We opted for a pair of dualie 12,000-pound-rated axles underneath a 32-foot gooseneck flatbed. According to the manufacturer, that gave us a rated GVWR of 29,000 pounds.

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Loading the trailers to more than 24,000 pounds for our 1,600-mile test, we wanted the best brakes on the trailers to handle the Rocky Mountains' 11,000-foot passes and steep 7 percent descents. We went with electric-over-hydraulic disc trailer brakes on the dual tandem axles; that was probably overkill, but we wanted to be safe. This is as powerful as it gets in a gooseneck without air brakes. We know stopping power is as, if not more, important than torque and horsepower when towing more than 12 tons. We also know Interstate 70 through Colorado has many emergency runaway ramps, but we never want to test one of those.

As a special feature on our Load Max trailers, each had a 10-foot hydraulic ramp, making it easy to load wheeled cargo like the 1942 World War II half-track troop carrier that we used in our 40-to-zero brake test and zero-to-40 acceleration runs. The hydraulic ramp makes the Load Max versatile, allowing you to load tons of material on the trailer, then drive the forklift onto the trailer (and strap it down) to help with unloading duties.

We chose a Trailer Flex air suspension system for our trailers to help keep things stable and level. Like tractor-trailer over-the-road rigs that have air-ride suspensions, Trailer Flex is a trailing arm airbag setup with shock absorbers that provide a stable and smooth ride. For the hotshot rig drivers who make a living with their trailers, air-ride systems will get them more jobs because there is less potential for goods to arrive damaged.

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During one part of our test route, U.S. Highway 191 (crossing from Arizona into Utah) was more like a motocross trail, but the Trailer Flex air suspension kept the trailers floating, while the trucks wanted to bounce like a basketballs. We even had one strap close to the gooseneck break because the hits were so hard.

The empty weights of the trailers was 8,270 pounds, due in large part because of the over-built construction. That included a stiffened "pipe bridge" steel spine, 14-ply tires (just like the big rigs), 12-inch I-beam frame rails that sit flush with the trailer floor to keep load heights low, and oil-bath axle lubricated bearings (also like the big rigs). Lastly, we had several optional features, such as two 25,000-pound-capacity jacks, spring-loaded drop legs and chain racks at the front of each trailer.

There's no question that we couldn't have done this test without this pair of strong goosenecks, and for that we thank Load Trail. We also want to thank Aaron Zbierski and his crew at Jayhawk Trailers for all their support as well. Look for all of the test data we generated, our impressions of the two trucks, and the spectacular photography of our trip on Monday. 

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Comments

Wow them are some nice trailers. Can't wait to see the trucks go head to head. The Ford has more Hp so it may win the race up the hill but the Ram has more torque and I heard and from video's I seen it is a great Towing truck.

Way excited to see this review. I have favoured Fords in the past but I recently have started looking harder at the new Rams. Pretty impressive stuff there.

why didn't they test the 3500 dually GM twins?

@nitro

The 2013 Ram is rated 30,000lbs Max towing which is best in class. The 2013 Ford F450 is rated 26,400? I think. correct me if I am wrong. But the GMC/Chevy twins max towing is 23,000lbs. The Chevy and GM don't town enough to be in the Tow king contest. PUTC is trying to find out which truck is the King of towing......Chevy/GM for 2014 still aren't close to 2013 Ram's towing. I think Chevy admits Ram 3500 is King of towing. I just want to see if 2014 Ford trys to match Ram's or if they don't up their towing.

@Nitro: as much as I like the GM rigs, they aren't in the same league. I think the max possible towing with the best GM dually is like 24k lbs? Not sure, but its way below the 30 k max of a ram 3500. The ram we see being tested isn't a 30k truck, but neither is that F-450. Both are still several thousand pounds above a similar Chevy 3500.

The Duramax needs another refresh, and the axles need strengthening for GM to compete at this level. I still think they make excellent tow rigs for hobby-ists and such, people with horses, some property to take care of, etc. And other than hotshots and a few types of small business, not many people will be buying trailers above 26,000lbs just because of both the tax and what exactly do they need that much capacity for?

No, new trailers shouldn't need repairs. But back to the testing, I'm sure Ford won again. It's 400hp vs 385hp. The torque numbers are at an RPM range that isn't used when you're going wide open throttle.

@Kendall: "Repairs" is, I think, the wrong word. A better word would be "adjustments." Think about it: For those of us who buy clothing off-the-rack (as opposed to bespoke or tailored) but still want it to fit well, it generally needs to have adjustments or alterations made. And the clothing needs to be worn for a short period of time in order to find out what needs to be adjusted or altered. Same thing here.

Also, who said they're going to be at WOT? Not trying to defend Ram or Ford either way (I have nearly equal preference for both brands), just wanted to put my $.02 in.

I work for a heavy haul trucking company and we buy Double drop, step deck, and other trailers. Thiers usually ajustments needed to be made when they are new.

I am a Ford fan and also see that the higher horsepower truck will most likely win. How about a long term test towing these trailers for say 20K or more and do a cost of ownership? I would like to see how the 6.7 Powerstroke does long term towing really heavy.

Not sure 15 HP is really going to make any difference in this test. It's all about engine management, gearing and turbo. If Ram wins this test then they will only enjoy the accolades for a year since Ford is upping the ante with the new 2015 Powerstroke.

Sweet trailers though.

Chrysler bought new trailers for testing at GCW as well- they went with triple axle dually trailers to have plenty of overhead capacity.

I could see Ram winning this one, Ford wining with the 2015 truck. Ram has yet to announce if it will upgrade the Cummins for 2015.

At these trailer weights, I would be more than happy with either one. My 5er is 14,500 lbs loaded, wasn't that long ago that was considered a very heavy trailer, and for my 04 Ram 3500, it's just shy of max trailer weight, which for my model is 16,300 lbs. The towing capacities have nearly doubled in less than 10 years. Pretty amazing stuff, and some awesome engineering by all the players in the game. But, I'm gonna stick with my old Ram for the time being, it's got 160K on it, does everything I need, and most importantly, doesn't give me any problems.

Cheers

Towing this kind of weight is such a niche market market I could really care less about the results.

RAM has this competition won. It will be hard for Ford to win with such an ancient truck that has substandard suspension.

Nitro... GMC/Chevrolet didnt provide a truck because they dont currently offer what is essentially a medium duty truck in 1 ton clothing. Find me a Ram and a Ford with 3.73:1 rear dif (or to make it fair a similar final drive ratio which btw even with 3.73 rear dif the F350 from HD Hurt Locker still had a deeper final drive ratio than the chev). We all know how the tests come out in that scenario so I guess we dont have to revisit that time and time again. Much like the Schumacher years in Formula One it gets tiring to see the same guy at the front all the time. It has taken a complete powertrain overhaul and a 15% lower final drive ratio just to get the SD barely ahead of a truck that gives up 35 HP and another small handful of torque and has an engine trans combo over 10 years old.

The cross section of everyday truck drivers who buy a beast like these two is so small they probably dont even make a significant difference to the Brands overall sales. Equally optioned the GM still spanks the Ford and the Dodge in diesel wars so I know where my money goes when its time to go toy shopping.

@devilsadvocate. They have never tested the duramax to the ram with 850 lbs tq and an aison tranny. Take that back ford did in their test against ram gm and their 15' model. Not sure how accurate it was but the dmax got spanked bad by the other 2. Might be a different story with them being able to get all that power to the ground.

brandon... that is true about the Ram, the HD Hurt Locker Ram only had 800ftlbs, although it has a lot of ground to make up as it got thoroughly beaten in that bout, is 50ftlbs and a new tranny enough? Maybe, it will be interesting to see how the Ram fares against the SD in this King of Beasts thing. Although in all seriousness I think you shouldn't be taking much of anything in that Ford promo video very seriously other than showing the new SD is heavily changed.

I still think if Chevrolet offered what basically amounts to a medium duty truck with a 1 ton body on it like these two it would be exactly where it was the last time all 3 of these trucks were when they were on equal footing. Remember the GM from HD Hurt Locker was the closest to its Max GCWR and it still walked away with the hill climbs and ran cooler and didnt work as hard as the other two. Until they offer 4.10 or 4.30 dif gears in a duramax truck though we will never really know. I think Chevy?GMC arent missing out much by not putting a truck like this in the market, this segment is just far too specialized to be worth chasing for anything other than braggin rights.

I agree on the accuracy of the video. I know its only 50 ft lbs but with the new aison tranny i think a lot more power will be transferred to the ground. Like they said in the hurt locker test they felt like a lot of power wasn't getting to the wheels.

Last time these tests were run the Ram was really hurt by the rule that the driver was not allowed to downshift the trans, just to keep his foot in it. The 68RFE needs to be bumped down a gear or two manually when approaching a hill, it's kind of lazy in that department. It'll run with anything when driven in this way. Maybe the Aisin will be different though this time.

If your going to be pulling this kind of weight why not just a Kenworth, My two axle CAT Kenwoth will outpull any of these little pickups.

GM needs to do a 4500 pickup and chassis-cab.

This test will be TOTAL CRAP because the BEST HD TRUCK ON THE MARKET IS NOT IN IT. Yes I am referring to the SILVERADO HD you Ford girly girls.

Lol, the girly TROLL is here.

@michiganbob. For being the best they sure have some low tow ratings! :-)

Sorry I fed the troll lol

@John, What I would really like to see is what we have seen this to a large degree with Sportscars in Europe and beginning finally here in the US with Half Tons albeit slowly. At some point I would like to see manufacturers switch from trying to move the needle on power output and towing capability and switch towards doing the same or more with less. We have now gotten to what everyone would argue is a very reasonable baseline for capability, Half Tons are overlapping significantly with 3/4 tons and to truly utilize a 1 ton dually you now need a CDL. Why not try and hit the same target with 2 less cylinders or a smaller smarter and more efficent V8 diesel as opposed to these mammoth 6+ liter engines? Why not keep the power where it is and up the MPG and make the truck clean enough where it doesnt need $10k worth of emissions equipment to not kill polar bears. It can be done, and it can be done reliably, and if the big manufacturers get on board we might actually get standards for diesel that doesnt carry some inherrent risk of destroying your $15k fuel system
Look no further than what Toyota has done with the Land Cruiser 70 Series. Hate it as much as I want to the Ford Ecoboost is at least over the short term showing a turbo gas engine can work hard and not pop. Will it last as long as my NA 6.0l, it might and if it does then no one has an excuse not to try turbo charging a small V8 for HD work. Look no further than the Ecodiesel, it doesnt gun for top towing spot, it boast 99% the capability of the most popularly optioned Ram 1500 while using 30% less fuel.

What really is amazing is that Government Motors does not even have a horse that can compete in this race! As far as the other two its a tossup, do you really think anybody towing this kind of weight gives a crap about speed? LOL

Please tell me this is not going to be one of those test,where the fastest one to the top is the best truck.

Both these trucks can beat me to the top in my semi,but we all know there not better.

I think both these trucks are awesome machines that can get the job done.

@Truckerman
I think many of the bloggers on PUTC aren't truckers.

They are car people. They like pickups so others can think they are truckers :)

I agree with you the ability of a truck isn't how fast it can do a 0-60 run towing. Who does that anyway? You'd have to be a fool.

I think a greater emphasis on FE and handling under load is a better measure. Comfort is significant, especially for a trucker who sits behind the wheel most of the day.

Or, what about ergonomics? Are switch positions logically placed.

If it's a 4x4 then load the truck up and see how well it does off road and far it can go off road on a tank of fuel off road. If you buy a 4x4 wouldn't that be a very important aspect of your purchase?

Any vehicle that can do 0-60 in under 12 seconds is more than quick enough to keep up with traffic.

But, that's my view.

Someone should test the Ram with the full 30K GVW trailer to see if Ram can put their mouth is

This max tow race is silly or just plain stupid. If I were planning to tow 30K or even 26K on a regular basis, I'd be shopping at Freightliner or some other dealer with real MDT to HDT tractors.

Tourist season drives me crazy in the Great White North with a constant procession of geriatric drivers operating vehicles well beyond their capacity in a quest to add one more slip of paper into the "done that" file of their bucket list.

The only saving grace is that when one looses control of one of these civilian spec monsters, the areas are remore enough that they aren't picking off a bunch of bystanders with them.

I hate to sound like the rest. but yes.
i too want to know wich truck.
GETS BETTER MPG.
FEELS MORE STABLE.
STOPS BETTER.
AND GETS TO REASONABLE SPEED FASTER.

BUT PLEASE PUSH THEM TO THE LIMIT.

@Lou_BC
I think there are blogger on this site who think the more or larger or quicker determines how good a truck is.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

A truck is bought to fit into a class. If you need to carry 4 tonnes, you then buy a truck to carry 4 tonnes.

A truck that can carry 4.5 tonnes isn't any better at the task.

It's like a coffee mug. Is a 2 gallon coffee mug better than a 3/4 pint coffee mug or a half pint coffee mug?

Its about what you require from a vehicle or in this case a truck.

If you only need to tow 10 000lbs how much better is a truck that can tow 60 000lbs?

Like I stated, many who blog on this site don't understand what a truck is. They think they do.

This is the logic I use when buying any vehicle, or for that matter any product.

All you have to do is ask yourself, 'what do I need this product to achieve?' Then you will buy what suits you best.

@Lou_BC
I think there are blogger on this site who think the more or larger or quicker determines how good a truck is.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

A truck is bought to fit into a class. If you need to carry 4 tonnes, you then buy a truck to carry 4 tonnes.

A truck that can carry 4.5 tonnes isn't any better at the task.

It's like a coffee mug. Is a 2 gallon coffee mug better than a 3/4 pint coffee mug or a half pint coffee mug?

Its about what you require from a vehicle or in this case a truck.

If you only need to tow 10 000lbs how much better is a truck that can tow 60 000lbs?

Like I stated, many who blog on this site don't understand what a truck is. They think they do.

This is the logic I use when buying any vehicle, or for that matter any product.

All you have to do is ask yourself, 'what do I need this product to achieve?' Then you will buy what suits you best.

@Lou_BC
I think there are blogger on this site who think the more or larger or quicker determines how good a truck is.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

A truck is bought to fit into a class. If you need to carry 4 tonnes, you then buy a truck to carry 4 tonnes.

A truck that can carry 4.5 tonnes isn't any better at the task.

It's like a coffee mug. Is a 2 gallon coffee mug better than a 3/4 pint coffee mug or a half pint coffee mug?

Its about what you require from a vehicle or in this case a truck.

If you only need to tow 10 000lbs how much better is a truck that can tow 60 000lbs?

Like I stated, many who blog on this site don't understand what a truck is. They think they do.

This is the logic I use when buying any vehicle, or for that matter any product.

All you have to do is ask yourself, 'what do I need this product to achieve?' Then you will buy what suits you best.

@Lou_BC
I think there are blogger on this site who think the more or larger or quicker determines how good a truck is.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

A truck is bought to fit into a class. If you need to carry 4 tonnes, you then buy a truck to carry 4 tonnes.

A truck that can carry 4.5 tonnes isn't any better at the task.

It's like a coffee mug. Is a 2 gallon coffee mug better than a 3/4 pint coffee mug or a half pint coffee mug?

Its about what you require from a vehicle or in this case a truck.

If you only need to tow 10 000lbs how much better is a truck that can tow 60 000lbs?

Like I stated, many who blog on this site don't understand what a truck is. They think they do.

This is the logic I use when buying any vehicle, or for that matter any product.

All you have to do is ask yourself, 'what do I need this product to achieve?' Then you will buy what suits you best.

The crack smokers at Nissan are looking at those trailers thinking "Yeah! We're gonna sell trucks to those guys!"

So why are they pitting a 1-ton against a 1 1/2-ton?

@jrt. Because fords f350 isn't rated for that kind of weight. I'm sure the f450 will have a diff advantage with 4.30 rear axle ratio. Still going to be interesting to see the results though.

Looks like the 2015 F350 also has the 4.30:1 option, at least on the dually.

@Alex the F350 also has the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) switch that may have been incorrectly manufactured and could fail. This would allow the transmission gear shift lever to be moved out of the PARK position without depressing the brake pedal. Depending which gear the driver selects, the vehicle could begin to move forward or backward immediately. This movement could result in property damage, or cause the vehicle to strike a bystander, potentially resulting in personal injury.
Wow Ford has got all the bells and whistles!

Towing capacity isn't just torque!

1. How fast can you stop?
2. Can you control your trailer once you're up to speed?
3. Can you do it in the rain?

If your truck is slow getting up to 55mph you'll live--if you can't make it stop, you can die.

Lol, the girly TROLL is here.

Posted by: Frank | Oct 8, 2013 2:05:11 PM

And I see that FRANK THE CLUELESS TROLL IS STILL HERE. During my time away from this place I was hoping that YOUR SORRY ARSE WOULD BE BANNED. There is still hope that maybe that will happen some day. THE SOONER THE BETTER. Now go back and play WITH YOUR PINK BARBIE JEEP YOU GIRLY GIRL TROLL.

Hey, Mr. Truck is writing for PUTC! Way to go, Kent!

@michiganbob. For being the best they sure have some low tow ratings! :-)

Sorry I fed the troll lol

Posted by: brandon507 | Oct 8, 2013 2:31:00 PM

LMAO!! Good one brandon507. I gather that you must be one of the FORD TROLLS just like Frank. Ford is NOTHING BUT HYPE. The test HASN'T EVEN TAKEN PLACE YET. Even if they do win the comparo they had to USE 4.30 GEARS TO DO IT in order to try and trump an engine that dates back to 2001.
Ford is just like McDonalds. Just because you sell the most hamburgers, IT DOESN'T MAKE YOU THE BEST FAST FOOD JOINT IN TOWN!

Point of correction; big rigs don't use 14 ply tires. They use 3 or 4 play tires that are load range rated to be equivalent to a 14 ply rated tire.

The play rating comes from the old days when tires were made with cotton plies in them. More plies generally meant more capacity.
Nowadays tires are made with polyamide, steel, polyester, etc plies in the casing, which are stronger per capita than cotton. Stronger, thinner, lighter, more capable.
That "ply rating" system is slowly being erased and replaced with the load rating system which is more accurate.

@devil'sadvocate
Who do you think you are, bringing common sense and reason to this arena?
Just kidding. I like your thinking. It's exactly that mindset that will move this segment on. Not bigger, but smarter. Not faster, but more efficient. Not just higher GVWR, but more stable in all dynamics. Bravo sir.

Wow - Hey Michigan Boob - vacuum sales slow and the company Impala in for an oil change?
Nice to hear from you again, I was wondering if you had gone subterranean ie. dead.
Halloween is around the corner - a resurrection of sorts ;)

@ Michigan Bob. Did you not see what i posted about that already?

@jrt. Because fords f350 isn't rated for that kind of weight. I'm sure the f450 will have a diff advantage with 4.30 rear axle ratio. Still going to be interesting to see the results though.

BTW as i pointed out before i do drive a Ford. However i am partial to Dodge as well. You however raised your bowtie flag and stated how chevy is the almighty of trucks and ram and Ford are not worthy of its time. I simply pointed out that your beloved GM doesnt even make a truck that can compete with this weight!

The GM twins have the largest payload in their segment, and also the highest bumper pull rating.

You're right Greg gm does have the highest payload numbers. Interesting how they bumped them 600 lbs without changing anything suspension wise. I'm assuming their reciever hitch is a higher rating one with their rating.



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