1997 Dodge 2500 Ram Van to tow a 17' Casita or Scamp? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-05-2014, 07:44 PM   #1
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1997 Dodge 2500 Ram Van to tow a 17' Casita or Scamp?

It is the V6, 3.9 Liter, with auto. It has 107K miles and is running nicely now. The owners manual states a maximum of 4800 but after reading a great many threads in this forum, I think I need to take that with a grain of salt.

I really want to tow a Casita or Scamp or other light trailer but am very nervous. This is my work van and I really love it and don't want to blow it up.

Should I be realistic and forget about it but if not what do I need to do to the van to make this happen?

Thanks in advance for any advice from you kind folks in this forum.

Charlie
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:26 AM   #2
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Hi Charlie, welcome to FGRV. I tow a 17' Casita SD with a '02 Ranger with a 4.0 V6 auto and it's been a good tow and I don't use a WDH. Even with LONG 10% grades, 3600 rpm's at 55 mph I still got 17 mpg. The Casita 17's are heavy on the ball, mine weighs in at 365#. I think your 4800# and 3.9 will be more than fine. If you are worried about the weight you may want to look at Scamps as they have a lighter toung and overall weight than the Casita's. Good luck in your search.
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:12 AM   #3
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Here are some of the specs on your van. 1997 Dodge Ram Van 2500 Cargo Van 3.9L V6 3-speed Automatic Features and Specs

Almost any modern mini van will out perform the 1997 Dodge full size van and they all have a 3,500lb tow rating. It is a mystery why Dodge would put a 175HP engine in such a larger vehicle.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:48 AM   #4
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CHASSIS...CHASSIS...CHASSIS....
You can move a freight train with an eggbeater motor if you gear it right, but a TV's CHASSIS is what matters for towing safely. Your Dodge (in good shape) aught to do just fine.
In fact...I thought you might have been joking when I first read your post. A smaller engine might just mean keeping acceleration and towing speeds at a more reasonable (and safer) pace... like maybe the speed limit.
We have of course, experienced arguments to the contrary, Ad Nauseum.

Fifty years ago, a hundred thousand miles was high mileage, today it is more like twice that.

Below is an example of a small gas engine (4.9L) in an application which proved very successful for many years.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:59 AM   #5
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CHASSIS...CHASSIS...CHASSIS....
After that an example with an adequate engine and an inadequate chassis.
Like this VW that uses a unibody?..........
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:04 AM   #6
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Like this VW that uses a unibody?..........
So does an older 3/4 ton GMC van, nothing wrong with a unitized body.
Besides ... as the speed goes up, the "trailer" in your picture probably gets lighter!
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:12 AM   #7
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Like this VW that uses a unibody?..........
Just for context...Here is the photo (which I edited earlier) referred to by the quote...
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:12 AM   #8
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So does an older 3/4 ton GMC van, nothing wrong with a unitized body.
Besides ... as the speed goes up the "trailer" in your picture probably gets lighter!
A good point. I think you could be right about that floyd. lol
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Old 05-10-2014, 11:46 AM   #9
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Transmission cooler?

I myself would be wondering more about the transmission than the motor or the chassis. Our church used to have Dodge vans back in the 70's and 80's. The motors were pretty bulletproof, but the transmissions seemed to be the weak link. No idea about the newer ones, though. Just wondering if the OP should be considering an auxiliary cooler… Also wondering if the 4800# mentioned in the manual had any caveats about being "properly equipped."
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Old 05-10-2014, 12:01 PM   #10
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A good point Jon. We need a Chrysler Guru to chime in to let us know exactly what tranny went into that drive train configuration.

Sometimes vehicles with small, low powered engines get the big trannys.

For example. The current big sedan offering from Chrysler (300 series/Dodge Charge/Magnum) use the same heavy duty transmission in the V8 Hemi vehicles as they do in their V6 vehicles. That is why these V6 vehicles are so popular as TV's. They don't produce enough power to cause any stress or strain on the heavy duty transmission.

Another example is our own Infiniti sedan. The G35 gets the same tranny as the big V8 Infiniti FX45 SUV. Once again the lighter load (260HP/260TQ) of our V6 car can never hurt the tranny that was designed and used in the heavier V8 SUV.
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Old 05-10-2014, 12:18 PM   #11
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Late thought - rear axle ratio is another issue that is sometimes addressed in the towing caveats. Been so long since I have owned a RWD body-on-frame vehicle, I am forgetting the right questions!
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Old 05-10-2014, 02:21 PM   #12
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Just for context...Here is the photo (which I edited earlier) referred to by the quote...
I wonder if that was a borrowed car?
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Old 05-10-2014, 02:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CharlieReno View Post
It is the V6, 3.9 Liter, with auto. It has 107K miles and is running nicely now. The owners manual states a maximum of 4800 but after reading a great many threads in this forum, I think I need to take that with a grain of salt.

I really want to tow a Casita or Scamp or other light trailer but am very nervous. This is my work van and I really love it and don't want to blow it up.

Should I be realistic and forget about it but if not what do I need to do to the van to make this happen?

Thanks in advance for any advice from you kind folks in this forum.

Charlie
That's a "3/4 ton" fullsized van that has more payload capacity than MOST half ton pickup trucks. 2500 pounds, at least according to this link.

Towing capacity listed there is interesting- a range between 4500 and 8500 pounds. Likely due to vast array of possible finished interior options; lowest being front seats only, highest being fully fitted for max number of passengers etc. Specs given on your doorplate should tell the real tale- should give both curb and gross weights; perhaps even GCWR (gross combined weight rating), which would be the combination of tug and trailer.

Fact is, though, that neither Scamp nor Casita would even approach the midpoint of that range....I wouldn't have the slightest qualms about pursuing ownership of either trailer for goin' behind this van.
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Old 05-10-2014, 02:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
I myself would be wondering more about the transmission than the motor or the chassis. Our church used to have Dodge vans back in the 70's and 80's. The motors were pretty bulletproof, but the transmissions seemed to be the weak link. No idea about the newer ones, though. Just wondering if the OP should be considering an auxiliary cooler… Also wondering if the 4800# mentioned in the manual had any caveats about being "properly equipped."
We had some problems with Dodge truck transmissions in fleet service due to the viscosity of the proprietary fluid. We would then have the trans rebuilt and ports drilled out to allow the use of Dextron III with no subsequent problems. These were trucks in very harsh in plant service.
Towing a Scamp using a foot made of anything other than pure lead should not be much of a strain.
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