Truck weights and ratings sure are confusing, aren't they? Come on, really? It's a "1.5-Ton" truck, yet the data plate says it's rated for 19,500 lbs? What's up with that? So just what *do* all those ratings and terminology really mean? Dave "53 Moneypit" Gentry (our moderator for the Engine Shop forum) has answered this question so many times in the various forums, we figured we'd make it a Tech Tip so he can just link to it for a change! Be confused no longer!
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
The topic of 1- vs 1.5- vs 2-ton trucks has come up many times in the forums. There really is only one way to determine the capacity of a truck chassis and this is by its GVWR and GAWR -- that's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and Gross Axle Weight Rating.
It's the same for all trucks. Even our lil' Marianne (the '53 5-window) has a GVW tag. It works on old and new trucks from 1/4-ton (small Toyota/Ranger size) all the way up to Class 8 semi tractors and beyond. They are all engineered to take a specific load task so there you have it.
The rating describes how the truck was built and what the builder claims / intends as capacity rating. Forget that it is seldom considered when loading ... happens often to a great many trucks.
The terms "one-ton," "ton and a half" and "two-ton" are hold overs from the old days of the 1930's - 1940's and referred to the capacity rating of the front axle.
So if your truck was a "2-ton," it meant the front axle could support the truck's weight and a load of two tons. Now that isn't much but you must absolutely get a 1940's mind-set going, if this is to make any sense to you. It does to me but I'm older.
Thinking like this allows me to remember the size of delivery / farm trucks from earlier times and then I relate it to today's chassis. Nowadays, the capacities of chassis are considerably higher than from those from earlier times.
Wetwilly says his 1955 2-ton is rated at 18,000 GVWR. Let's see how that compares:
Today, that would equate to a Ford F450-F550 chassis or Navistar TerraStar which has 19.5' wheels and a low profile as compared to yesteryear's trucks which we consider as "real trucks" while newer ones are kind of puny-looking.
Today we have trucks divided into the following classification by GVWR:
So, just do the math.
It's just another aspect of understanding your truck. Plus, we can all use the current terminology so that the "What did I buy?" questions can be laid to rest.
What you can load / haul will begin to make some sense, too.