question aboutn travel trailer brakes

We have a 1997 Gulfstream Class C that we have put 110,000 miles on in approx. 8 years. We know we will have to buy a new rv eventually. Since we now own a Ford F150 we were considering a small travel trailer (no greater than 18/20 ft. total length). Since we have never pulled a tt, what would we have to install on our truck? We have trailer lights as we pull out ski boat but would we have to have some kind of brake controller & a sway bar? We looked under the hood of our truck & it looks like we have some time of transmission cooler but what else would we have to have?


Senior Member
Re: question aboutn travel trailer brakes

Be sure your small tt does not exceed the tow weight of your truck, that will be a big one. Second you will need trailer brakes I am sure which if you already have a brake unit your truck for towing your boat you should be ok. A anti sway system can depend on the weight of the trailer and how you drive. You might want to give yourself a shot with it first to see if you need the sway system.


Senior Member
Re: question aboutn travel trailer brakes

Remember that an F-150 is a 1/2 ton truck. That means that it's carrying capacity is roughly 1000# and towing weight will be fairly low as well. No amount of added equipment will make that truck able to safely tow a heavy trailer. Make sure that you know what the weight limits for the truck are and do not believe the word from sales people who want to sell you a trailer. Lying is part of that profession.

You will need a good brake control such as the one from Prodigy. You will also need a receiver installed on the truck if it don't have one. Since you seem to not have a towing package, you probably do not. It will also need to be wired for lights. If the trailer is near towing capacity, you should probably consider an equalizer hitch and I would not tow at highway speeds without a sway bar of some type. Do not risk your safety in order to save a few dollars.
Re: question aboutn travel trailer brakes

Interesting question and this is one that many people ask when are considering buying a travel trailer. There are a couple of key things to keep in mind that you need to know from your truck owner's manual and that you need to know about the trailer that you are considering for purchase. For your truck you need to know:
1. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck - this is the total weight that the truck axles can carry.
2. The curb weight or empty weight of the truck - this is the weight of the vehicle itself.

For example: The GVWR of a truck is 6,900 pounds and the curb weight of the truck is 5,400 pounds. You subtract the curb weight from the GVWR leaving a total of 1,500 pounds of cargo capacity. 1,500 pounds is all the weight that you can add to your truck's axles before you exceed the capacity of your truck.

How does this relate to a trailer?

For the trailer you need to know the GVWR of the trailer (the total weight the trailer is designed to carry) and the tongue weight. With travel trailers most of the weight of the trailer is carried by the axles of the trailer, but some of the weight (typically 10-12% for a bumper pull trailer) is transferred to the tow vehicle through the tongue. If you have a trailer with a GVWR of 7,000 pounds and a tongue weight of 820 pounds this means you are adding 820 pounds of weight to the truck through the tongue when you are pulling the trailer.

How does the math work up?
1. Find the cargo carrying capacity of your truck (GVWR minus the curb weight). 1,500 pounds in the example above
2. Figure out generally how much cargo and passenger weight you will have in the truck (2 people + 1 dog + 2 kids) 500 pounds
3. Subtract the the cargo and passenger weight from your cargo carrying capacity - now we have 1,000 pounds of capacity left to work with
4. Compare the remaining capacity to the tongue weight of your trailer - 820 pounds of tongue weight will work!

820 pounds of tongue weight is a lot of may likely find that you can pull a 25-26 foot long travel trailer with your half ton truck. Most bumper pull travel trailers are designed to work with half ton trucks. Of course, each truck is different, so be sure to verify all of the weights and double check with the camper sales vendor when you go to buy.

What equipment will you need:
1. I would recommend a trailer brake controller. The Prodigy mentioned before is a great controller and that's what I have in my truck.
2. For a heavier trailer (e.g., over 5,000 pounds) I would suggest a weight distribution hitch. This will smooth out the ride and better distribute the trailer's weight between the tow vehicle and the trailer.
3. Add an anti-sway bar on the hitch. A weight distribution hitch will not keep your trailer from swaying when you're passed by a semi-tractor trailer on the highway. An anti-sway will help you.

Lift bags? Not necessary...they will not increase your weight capacity, but they can help level out the load.

We've got a video podcast on this topic coming up next week on our camping blog. Stop by and visit if you want more details.
Re: question aboutn travel trailer brakes

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Triple E

Senior Member
Re: question aboutn travel trailer brakes

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