Towing trailers, big trailers, big trucks, and your requirements.
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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    Towing trailers, big trailers, big trucks, and your requirements.

    So, I recently fell down a worm hole and really educated myself. Turns out I've been driving/towing illegally for quite some time.

    On a recent trip I was driving my Ram 2500 pulling an enclosed utility trailer. Everything went well and all was good. But I drove many miles, something like 2600 in 4 days. Had lots to think about during that time. I have a 20' open deck car trailer that I'll be using for transporting my model 60 once it's completed and ready to move about. The trailer has plenty of room, has 5200lb axles and a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 10,400lbs. That's pretty close to maxing out the trailer. So I thought maybe I'll get a trailer with 7k axles so I have a GVWR of 14k which allows for roughly 10k load. That should work fine for the 60.

    Perfect. Or so I thought.....

    Hmmm. What's the trailer tow rating for my truck? I looked it up, about 12.5k. Darn. Will it handle it? Probably. But what happens if you get into an accident? Insurance won't cover that..... I could install 7k axles on my current trailer and hope for the best. What happens if that accident happens and I'm over the GVWR sticker on my trailer? Screwed again. Can't fake or get a new rating for the trailer. Manufacturer says that once it's been registered, it is what it is. Bigger axles would mean better reliability, but less actual payload due to their heavier weight. Well that means if I want a better weight rating I need a bigger trailer. That in turn says I need a truck that can handle that trailer.

    In short, your truck has to have the ratings to tow what you want. While DOT and the police may not know this rating, your insurance company will find out. You don't want to be standing there holding the bag after the accident happened, regardless of who's fault it is. It's your fault if you're outside your ratings.

    So, I need a truck that can pull 14k. That's not hard to find these days. But then I find out that here in TN (any many states) there's no longer allowances for personal use trailers/RVs and such. They have simple rules. If your trailer has a GVWR of 10,001lbs or more, it requires a class A license. That's right. A class A regular, not CDL, license. So I've been towing a class A combination vehicle for who knows how long illegally.

    Oh boy, it gets deeper..... What if your trailer is 10k rated? Are you good to go? Maybe. If your truck's GVWR is 16k or less, yup, you're all set. If your combination (add both the trailer GVWR and the truck's GVWR) is rated for 26k or less, you're just fine. 26,001 or more, you guessed it, class A combination.

    Most 1 ton trucks nowadays are rated for 14k. Most trailers with dual 7k axles are rated for 14k. That means when and if your towing setup was to be examined, you would be driving a setup with a GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating) of 28k. Again, class A combination. You have to have a regular, not CDL, class A license here in the state of TN to drive that legally.

    If you are caught driving that combination without that license, you are essentially driving without a license. You could potentially go to jail. Think your insurance still has your back? Nope. They'll drop you like a hot potato.

    These rating are very important, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WEIGH. If you were overweight, that's a whole different ball of wax. Your trailer could be empty, but you're still liable.

    I currently hold a class B CDL. That means I can operate a commercial vehicle (or private) that weighs over 26k. If I tow a trailer 10k or under, I'm ok. If my combined ratings exceed 26k, I'm out of class. So, in short, I'm getting a new license here shortly.

    In TN it's not a big deal. Take the written exam (not nearly as in depth as a CDL) and a driving test. They want you to have your class A learner's permit prior to taking the driving test. From what I understand the test is pretty simple. They want to see you stopping with some distance in front of you, that you can keep your vehicle in the lane, use your signals for full lane changes, and can handle your trailer. Your state may have different laws. Please find out. It's kinda scary knowing that MANY people pulling RV's and personal trailers are illegal.

    Other states generally respect and have reciprocity for your state's laws regarding licensing and requirements. So if your state has exceptions for personal use (non commercial), you'd be fine with your license in TN. However, you'll still need to be within your truck's weight limits. The police and DOT won't know what your truck is rated for towing, all they'll do is read the stickers, add them up, and potentially weigh you. I've never had that happen to me, but I'm going to be prepared.
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    rtgt's Avatar
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    Used to be what you were registered/plated for. (declared GVW)

    You could "de-rate" your plates, but had to stay under that limit.

    U-Haul and the others plate their trucks at 26K but could plate them for 34....... They do that so Joe Smuck can rent them.

    I swear they change the rules just to bust you.



    I've give up caring.
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    thanks, gotta look into this. I like you have never given it much thought till now. I mostly haul boats and sometimes a small tractor under 4k on a 8k trailer. I have been driving towing for over fifty years and have yet to have an accident towing anything. I have a cabover bigfoot short box camper designed for a 1/2 ton i use on my 3/4 F250. The bigfoot is the lightest camper of its type and weighs 1500 pounds. I often wondered how that can be allowed on a 1/2 ton but that is qhat the camper is made for. Most of the 3/4 ton campers are 3500 lb or more and the reason i still keep my old bigfoot 1500 short box...... I think the GVWR is 9400 and the truck weighs 6400 leaving a 3000 lb payload.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieselshadow View Post
    So, I recently fell down a worm hole and really educated myself. Turns out I've been driving/towing illegally for quite some time.

    On a recent trip I was driving my Ram 2500 pulling an enclosed utility trailer. Everything went well and all was good. But I drove many miles, something like 2600 in 4 days. Had lots to think about during that time. I have a 20' open deck car trailer that I'll be using for transporting my model 60 once it's completed and ready to move about. The trailer has plenty of room, has 5200lb axles and a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 10,400lbs. That's pretty close to maxing out the trailer. So I thought maybe I'll get a trailer with 7k axles so I have a GVWR of 14k which allows for roughly 10k load. That should work fine for the 60.

    Perfect. Or so I thought.....

    Hmmm. What's the trailer tow rating for my truck? I looked it up, about 12.5k. Darn. Will it handle it? Probably. But what happens if you get into an accident? Insurance won't cover that..... I could install 7k axles on my current trailer and hope for the best. What happens if that accident happens and I'm over the GVWR sticker on my trailer? Screwed again. Can't fake or get a new rating for the trailer. Manufacturer says that once it's been registered, it is what it is. Bigger axles would mean better reliability, but less actual payload due to their heavier weight. Well that means if I want a better weight rating I need a bigger trailer. That in turn says I need a truck that can handle that trailer.

    In short, your truck has to have the ratings to tow what you want. While DOT and the police may not know this rating, your insurance company will find out. You don't want to be standing there holding the bag after the accident happened, regardless of who's fault it is. It's your fault if you're outside your ratings.

    So, I need a truck that can pull 14k. That's not hard to find these days. But then I find out that here in TN (any many states) there's no longer allowances for personal use trailers/RVs and such. They have simple rules. If your trailer has a GVWR of 10,001lbs or more, it requires a class A license. That's right. A class A regular, not CDL, license. So I've been towing a class A combination vehicle for who knows how long illegally.

    Oh boy, it gets deeper..... What if your trailer is 10k rated? Are you good to go? Maybe. If your truck's GVWR is 16k or less, yup, you're all set. If your combination (add both the trailer GVWR and the truck's GVWR) is rated for 26k or less, you're just fine. 26,001 or more, you guessed it, class A combination.

    Most 1 ton trucks nowadays are rated for 14k. Most trailers with dual 7k axles are rated for 14k. That means when and if your towing setup was to be examined, you would be driving a setup with a GCVWR (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating) of 28k. Again, class A combination. You have to have a regular, not CDL, class A license here in the state of TN to drive that legally.

    If you are caught driving that combination without that license, you are essentially driving without a license. You could potentially go to jail. Think your insurance still has your back? Nope. They'll drop you like a hot potato.

    These rating are very important, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WEIGH. If you were overweight, that's a whole different ball of wax. Your trailer could be empty, but you're still liable.

    I currently hold a class B CDL. That means I can operate a commercial vehicle (or private) that weighs over 26k. If I tow a trailer 10k or under, I'm ok. If my combined ratings exceed 26k, I'm out of class. So, in short, I'm getting a new license here shortly.

    In TN it's not a big deal. Take the written exam (not nearly as in depth as a CDL) and a driving test. They want you to have your class A learner's permit prior to taking the driving test. From what I understand the test is pretty simple. They want to see you stopping with some distance in front of you, that you can keep your vehicle in the lane, use your signals for full lane changes, and can handle your trailer. Your state may have different laws. Please find out. It's kinda scary knowing that MANY people pulling RV's and personal trailers are illegal.

    Other states generally respect and have reciprocity for your state's laws regarding licensing and requirements. So if your state has exceptions for personal use (non commercial), you'd be fine with your license in TN. However, you'll still need to be within your truck's weight limits. The police and DOT won't know what your truck is rated for towing, all they'll do is read the stickers, add them up, and potentially weigh you. I've never had that happen to me, but I'm going to be prepared.
    I just went through that same scenario, after realizing that I have been towing my trailer illegally for the 4 years that I have had it. Just got my Class A regular drivers license since my GCVW is over the 26,001 threshold. See my posting at CDL Information

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    lots of things to think about in ur post -dieselshadow.

    so u have been working on ur JD 60-huh. got any updates with pics to tell.

    this here insurance stuff can get real scary when a accident does happen--i've been sued once in my life-it ain't funny i say.

    but he got nuthing-as back then i told his attorney who had a neck brace on too--that i have nuthing to give--our house back then was still in my dad's name as he held the note for it. both my vehicles was old-like in the 70's(this happened in 86)told him their was no way i was telling him where my deer rifles was at

    so it ended with Allstate paying for his car--and my insurance which i had Nationwide totaling mine too--and i got a ticket for turning on a not green light-which i was making a left turn anyway-i forget the length he went till he hit me-and he actual aimed and ran across 2 lanes to hit me past the intersection.
    back then if u turned left without a green u admitted 51% fault--this was in Md. a cop witnessed it but would not testify -whythis guy ran down the road afterwards to use a pay phone-refused to go to the pital-as a ambulance was there in like 15 minutes that day--yet-i got whatever u call that when someone comes and hands u papers ur being sued after he asks if ur so and so.

    i know my wreck has nuthing to do with what weight ur hauling-but it could be u--if ur in one(a wreck) and ur not legal.

    get legal i say.
    jim

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    First and foremost every state has different laws regarding weight ratings and in particular when a CDL is needed. Also reciprocity is a courtesy but not a guarantee, so if you try to be a huge a-hole to an inspector in a different state they will run out of ink showing you their form of love if your license doesn't meet their requirements. Ohio is simple, a single unit over 26k needs a CDL and a double unit (truck and trailer) needs a CDL if both of the units are more than 10k each. Ohio has an exception to those limits for non-commercial use.

    As for weight ratings, Ohio doesn't care what your vehicle ratings are, you can't exceed the rating of the tire or 20k per axle whichever is less. I have a friend who is an expert on commercial vehicle laws in Ohio, he educated me one the things an inspector looks at when deciding to pull a vehicle over; how a load is secured, how the trailer is attached to the vehicle and weights and balances.

    You plan on getting legal by Tennessee standards which is good especially if you get into a serious crash but if your trailer will haul that model 60 albeit barely I'm not sure I'd be replacing it unless trailering it was a regular occurrence.

    Newer 3/4 ton trucks will haul 14-15k with a gas engine and low 20s with diesel. I have a '17 GMC 2500 with the gas engine, it hauls 10k no problem - all day long, 12k it's breathing heavy on the highway and 14-15k the 6.0 is looking for it's inhaler but the suspension and brakes are up to the task which is the most important thing to consider.
    rtgt, BigJim55, mark02tj and 5 others like this.

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    I forget what year it took affect, but the states to get federal money have to abide by the federal laws. I have copies in my truck even though I'm only over the 10,000 limit with a trailer. For the last 5 or 6 years I went with agricultural plates, according to the fed law you are exempt from most all the requirements last I checked. What gets more interesting when all this stuff started, I checked with NY dot, got one answer, with a NY dot inspector got a different answer, asked questions on the federal web site, got totally different answers. One of the things to remember is you may need the dot number, and you will if you have a business sign on the truck, then it gets even worse. I use my truck trailer, twice a year to transport stuff for my business, got a waiver from my insurance company that I didn't need commercial insurance. Every time I see anyone with a truck and trailer and the sign on the door without a DOT number I tell them they best get one and look up the law, especially people that do lawns. You know that gas can you carry to fill the lawn mowers, now we are into the hazmet signs and bigger fines, and eventually each state will see the money they can get and start stopping them. and dieselshadow that d60 you are pulling, going to show it? even though they give ribbons and not cash prizes, that can mean you need the sign and a dot number, If I remember correctly they have a exemption for horse shows, again last time I looked. and for the guy with the bees that posted above I went with the commercial agricultural NY plates and you get special exemptions for bees, except again last I knew Calif. doesn't have those kinds of plates and you may not have that exemption in Calif.

    luckily I have cut down the number of hives I have, so now I just make an extra trip moving honey or bees, and leave the trailer at home.
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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    A big thing to remember here. Just because your truck CAN pull a load, doesn’t mean it should.

    For example, my Ram 2500 was rated for 12.5k towing. Seems a bit low for what it was equipped with. Would it handle 14k? Probably just fine. Wouldn’t be legal though.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillijp View Post
    First and foremost every state has different laws regarding weight ratings and in particular when a CDL is needed. Also reciprocity is a courtesy but not a guarantee, so if you try to be a huge a-hole to an inspector in a different state they will run out of ink showing you their form of love if your license doesn't meet their requirements. Ohio is simple, a single unit over 26k needs a CDL and a double unit (truck and trailer) needs a CDL if both of the units are more than 10k each. Ohio has an exception to those limits for non-commercial use.

    As for weight ratings, Ohio doesn't care what your vehicle ratings are, you can't exceed the rating of the tire or 20k per axle whichever is less. I have a friend who is an expert on commercial vehicle laws in Ohio, he educated me one the things an inspector looks at when deciding to pull a vehicle over; how a load is secured, how the trailer is attached to the vehicle and weights and balances.

    You plan on getting legal by Tennessee standards which is good especially if you get into a serious crash but if your trailer will haul that model 60 albeit barely I'm not sure I'd be replacing it unless trailering it was a regular occurrence.

    Newer 3/4 ton trucks will haul 14-15k with a gas engine and low 20s with diesel. I have a '17 GMC 2500 with the gas engine, it hauls 10k no problem - all day long, 12k it's breathing heavy on the highway and 14-15k the 6.0 is looking for it's inhaler but the suspension and brakes are up to the task which is the most important thing to consider.
    used to be a scale house on a side road down by Winchester, VA. there they all looked at ur steering tires back then to see what they was stamped for weight. that scale fella knew u was over on the old road for one reason-to by pass the interstate scale house. some guys ran a smaller steering tire to save money-i only had a 12,000 lb steering axle on my truck, but the fella who i started out hauling steel for had the smaller tires on-heck i had 3 different sizes on the whole outfit
    in Pa. u could only scale up to 14,000 lbs per axle--12 on the steering. now if i would of had a 10 ft spread axle setup-then i could of got up to 20,000lbs then. lots-and lots of different laws for sure.
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    jim

    2006 2520 mcut, 2004 x475, 1953 model 50, 1985 318-was my Dad's,
    king kutter tiller-60", frontier-stone rake, jd-4ft brush hog, frontier-6ft back-blade, frontier-forks, 48 inch forks,
    2-54inch jd snow plows, jd-5ft-pull brush hog,

    2018 835R gas model gator-"aka" the Cadillac i say!! 6ft jd snow plow-which already has a dtac out on it. i got just about everything on it i could at the time

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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    TN does NOT have any exemptions or distinctions between a vehicle used for commerce. Simply put, you need a class A CDL to operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001lbs or more, or to tow a trailer of more than 10,001lbs.

    https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/sa...ifications.pdf
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