01 March 2011

Dodge Ram and Rockwood 8265WS Review Part 1


Dodge Ram Truck and Rockwood 5th Wheel Trailer

We have had a few request to post a review of our tow vehicle and our trailer. We now own the truck for a year, and we added 20,000 km on the motor. As you may recall, we got the trailer last fall (2010) and did a great trip from Vancouver out to Saskatchewan and back to Victoria. That trip was over 5000 km, and we got a really good feel for the trailer and the truck.
2008 Dodge Ram Laramie 4x4 Quad Cab and 2011 Rockwood 8265WS 5th Wheel Trailer


Our first blog on the truck and trailer was about why we picked them and what we did. We will now tell you some of the things we like and don't like with the truck and the trailer. Here we go:


Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie 4x4 Quad Cab

Overall the truck is just fantastic, we would not change anything. The 6 cylinder 6.7 liter cummins diesel motor has an incredible amount of power and torque. Really, if you need more power, you should get a dump truck or a Terex Titan like the one below.
Anders just had to check it out. This is in Sparwood, British Columbia.


With the trailer loaded up and tanks full, we pull around 9,000 lbs which the truck pulls up and down the Rocky Mountains (on cruise control) with a smile, and with lots of power to spare. The truck has full torque at very low rpm (1,300 rpm) and produces somewhere around 650 ft lbs of torque.


The truck is further equipped with a 6 speed automatic transmission that is just great. You can gear down manually just with a toggle switch on the gear shift if you choose to.
2008 Dodge Ram Laramie 4x4 Quad Cab and 2011 Rockwood 8265WS 5th Wheel Trailer
A great place for information on the Cummins motor is the Cummins Forum, also you can check out the Diesel Truck Recource for more of your questions. At both places you can get any question about diesel motors or trucks answered.


I did a lot of research prior to buying our truck. I compared the Chevy, Ford and Dodge. At the end we picked the Dodge (and it's really personal preference) and one of the reasons was the cummins motor. I did go out and test drive all three brands. 


At first we were going to buy a new truck, but when we saw the difference in price, we settled on a two year old unit with 52,000km on the motor. By  the way, I have been told, a cummins motor is just getting broke in at 50,000km.


Further we were also fortunate to have some family giving us feed back. My brother in-law Allan and his son Jason, who farm in Saskatchewan have nothing but good things to say about the cummins motor. 
On the Ray Family Farm

On the Ray Family Farm


Allan and his family have several trucks on the farm. They have one Dodge Ram that has over 1 million km on it. I also read an article that stated that most big Semi Trucks on the road have a straight 6 cylinder motor.


Another article that I read stated that (now referring to 2008 models) the Cummins motor was rated for a re-build at 350,000 km compared to 250,000 for both Chevy and Ford motors. 


I'm not sure what they have done with the exhaust system on these trucks, but it is the best in the industry. You can smell less fumes from our exhaust then you do from a car.


The quad cab in our truck is perfect for us. It gives us extra room in the back should we have extra people with us. When we are on the road, we most of the time keep our (hiking) back packs and a cooler with lunch and snacks in the back, so the extra room is nice.


Never really thought I was going to talk about a sun roof, but it is very nice and I'm happy we got that option. 
The sunroof option gives you a different point of view.


When driving in the mountains you do get a better view of the surroundings, and when you run in to some wild life on the road it's a great place to shoot a movie.





A comment from my wife, Liz


I asked my wife Liz to write a comment on the truck to get a woman's perspective on things. She does drive the truck and trailer when we are out camping and it is great for me to sit in the passenger side as well. 
Liz at Frank Slide in Alberta. Canada


To share the driving will be especially important when we go across Canada and back this year, we will drive around 20,000 km from May till the end of October.


Here is Liz's observations and comments:


"Our truck is great for towing our 5th wheel. I feel confident that it has the power to get us up the mountains, and more importantly has the capacity to control the weight and push when we come down mountains.  
At first I was very apprehensive to drive the truck pulling the trailer. But I feel confident, that the truck and I can handle it. I have been driving through the mountains and passes no problems. In the cities with the trailer I am still a bit cautious. In the city without the trailer is fine, although in my opinion this truck is way too big and parking is a challenge. 
I still call it the beast, but I have learned to tame it."
Liz at the Wheel, Driving Through Banff National Park, Alberta. Canada
Tow Haul and Exhaust Break


Our truck is equipped with a full tow package including Tow Haul and Exhaust Break, these are features that should not be overlooked when purchasing a truck as a tow vehicle.


Tow Haul. The Tow Haul is a feature that is activated with the press of a button (at the end of the gear shift). The Tow Haul feature keeps the transmission in the first 4 gears (out of 6). It will gear down on it's own when you let off the throttle and especially when it senses a load pushing from behind, like 9000 lbs, in the form of a 5th wheel trailer. It is a feature that I would not want to be without. We even use the Tow Haul when driving in the city. It is great, because the truck does not go in to over-drive ( gear 5 and 6).


Exhaust Break. Exhaust break is what the big truckers refer to as a Jake. On our Dodge Ram it is activated by pushing a button on the dash. What happens is that the exhaust path of the motor is closed off by a valve, and the motor has to force the compressed gases past the valve, slowing the motor down. 


Driving with the exhaust break is a bit louder, especially when you go down hill, but here again, a must feature if you are thinking of buying a truck to tow. Now they can be installed after-market as well. According to the Dodge Ram manual, if you turn the exhaust break on when you start the truck up, it will help to warm up the motor faster.
Camped for the Night in Golden, British Columbia. Canada


These two features together make towing a trailer down hill a breeze, and you do not ride the breaks. It is very rare that we use our brakes coming down most hills. 


With the 29 ft trailer behind us, we came across the Coquihalla, Highway 5, coming down to Fraser Valley and Vancouver last fall. With the Tow Haul and the Exhaust Break engaged I had to touch the manual breaks once or twice in the steepest part. During the rest of the downhill grade, I had to keep the foot on the throttle or it would slow down too much. The grade on the Coquihalla is 8.5% in some places, and it drops 3000 ft in 20 km.





Fuel Economy


The truck has better fuel economy than we expected. It is improving as we go along. At  first, at 52,000 km, we got around 18 liters per 100 km (13 mpg), by now at 72,000 km it improved to approximately 13-14 liters per 100 km (18 mpg).


When pulling the trailer we average about 18-20 liters per 100 km (11-13 mpg). We travel at a speed of 90-100 km/hr if roads are good, otherwise we drop down to 70-80 km/hr.


Other Stuff

The side mirrors on the truck flip up for tow mode. This is a great feature, easy to do and works like a charm.

Extras we purchased for the truck are, a tool box for the back that fits under the cover (referred to as "underbody tool box"), a soft roll top cover, a lock for the tail gate, a TomTom XXL GPS and a set of Uniden Two Way Radios. We use the radios for backing up when parking in tight campgrounds. If you want more info on those, just let me know.
Liz and Anders at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, BC. Canada

The only extra that would be nice to have in a truck, is a built in GPS. As you know we purchased a free standing unit (see above picture). I don't like having the GPS on the front window, so I will show you later, in a separate blog how we handled that situation. 

On second thought,  maybe it is better to have a free standing unit. Reason: you have to think about how all technical gadgets change from year to year. The GPS units have come a long way since 4 years ago. So maybe it is better to have a free standing unit that you can replace when you would like to. 

Next time we are in the market for a GPS, I will also look at possibly using an iPad,  Galaxy or BlackBerry tablet. By using a tablet with a GPS app you can look at your route and plan the next day much easier. You can get a TomTom app for both the iPhone and iPod touch. If you have a Google phone like me, I use an HTC Desire Z  smart phone and it has a GPS app. I have not used it yet so I can not give you any feed back there.


We will cover the hitch and the trailer in the next two blogs.


Cheers, Anders and Liz


PS. Just in case we forget, remind me, and I will let you know how we set up for our on wireless Wi-Fi network when we are on the road.



















1 comment:

  1. That's true by the by.I completely agree with your point of view. For roadside assistance vancouver, tow truck serves the best as per my perception.

    ReplyDelete